A third new poll

After new YouGov and Ipsos-MORI polls, we have the third new poll in 24 hours. The latest ComRes poll for the Independent has topline voting intentions of CON 46%(+2), LAB 25%(-1), LDEM 18%(+1). It as conducted between the 25th and 26th of June, and there is clearly no sign of that strange YouGov slump in Lib Dem support here.

100 Responses to “A third new poll”

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  1. Gareth 7.59.A very perceptive post – unfortunately, the conclusions from it are wrong. It is easy to formulate popular policies, without giving a thought to the consequences for the economy. GB did this throughout his 10 years as Chancellor, which is one reason why his Premiership is such a disaster.Affordability was never an issue with him- just tax or borrow.

  2. Glenn: It’s v difficult to make statistically meaningful conclusion from by-elections. They are, almost by definition, one-offs.

    Anthony: You’re right historically (of course) but in the dog days of the Major Government (their worst WMA was 24:58:14 in Jan 95) the economy was improving, whereas the UK economy is likely to deteriorate quite sharply over the summer.

  3. john tt

    Brown going in Jan 2010 for ‘health’ reasons? If there was a possibility that his departure could result in turning defeat into victory then the ‘men in grey suits’ might be tempted to seek to persuade Brown to quit on those grounds. But changing leaders just before an election would be a high risk move not just for the party but for the new leader. If Labour still lost and lost heavily this could destabilise the new leader right from the start of his tenure. Much better for he or she to hit the ground running after the election with a clean sheet and no ‘loser’ tag.

    A word to partisans-of which yes I am one-there is no point in conducting a dialogue of the deaf with people whose own opinions are not likely to change no matter what you say.Everyone is aware-probably tediously aware of my political views-but I do try even I don’t always succeed -to listen to what my opposite number is saying and to bear in mind that the party I support is far-are you listening ” Oracle” -far from always being right.
    If I were for example to say to Gareth that Labour were right to bring in the minimum wage but that I felt that they did not take sufficient account of the implications of extended maternity leave and flexible working for small businesses he might not agree with me but I fancy he would adopt a concilitory style in his response instead of berating the Tories as just ‘awful’ which comment merely puts peoples backs up.
    We have to achieve a higher level of debate here.

  4. “why on earth should he make any hostages to fortune by producing detailed policies ”

    I think the pressure on him to do so will come as much from his own side as from his opponents. Calls to be more radical, less complacent, to give a real vision for the future etc.

    I hope so – I’d much rather this country elected people because of their policies rather than because of who they’re not, and what they look/sound like on the telly.

  5. David Cameron writes in today’s Times, in reply to a Times Leader criticising the Tories for not “setting out their vision for Britain”.

    It seems to me to be an effective response-but then I know that I can read it all on the Conservative website, so it’s no surprise.I see no complacency whatsoever.

    There is no lack of strategy so far as I am concerned-but then like all Conservative supporters I suppose I knew already what it would look & feel like.And for me it has been interesting to observe the development phase & the learning curve.

    The “no policies” cry , so often refers to tactics rather than strategy-the “how” rather than the “why”.

    For those who want to see all the nuts & bolts laid out like a National Mecanno Set I suppose this must be frustrating.But for those-like me-who are tired of a leader with his face down concentrating on the nuts & bolts with which he builds structures which are not designed effectively, some statements of “design” principle are very welcome.

    It seems to me that on issues like Health, Education, Welfare/Work,Social Justice, Crime & Punishment,Immigration there is enough on the record from Cameron & his team for anyone to read & decide upon.You may not like them-but that’s another matter.

    I would like to see more statements of intent on Economic & EU affairs-but these two are in such a state of flux right now & I don’t blame Cameron for just letting the failures of the current regimes responsible, sink in to the voters’ consciousness.

    If Cameron & his team are such complacent, empty vessels,why have the voters not turned to the Lib Dems rather than the Conservatives? I don’t believe that the voting public are so stupid as to turn to the Cons in complete blind ignorance. They have seen something they trust & like.

    Just on Glasgow East-what an interesting prospect!

    A heartland of Labour support-appalling unemployment & low life expectancy-and everything that goes with them.The “Road to Easterhouse” on which IDS walked to the Centre for Social Justice.

    Who will these people vote for-and why?

  6. If they vote Tory, it’ll be because they buy the idea that their problems are to be solved by individuals among them, not the Government. That’s it. Encouragement of voluntary sector and individuals to provide the solutions re education, welfare etc. Allowing very wealthy people to keep more of their own money in the belief they will spend it “better” than the Treasury.

    Personally, I think they’ll vote Labour because they believe the opposite, or the SNP because they appreciate them.

    the LibDems have a problem – they are nowhere near the threshold of support that would identify them as a real alternative.

    Sharing the proceeds of growth, lowering taxes when it is prudent to do so. Doesn’t make any sense to me – surely they’ve been saying the Govt should have put money aside in the last ten years, not sharing it with the taxpayers in the form of cuts.

  7. “don’t blame Cameron for just letting the failures of the current regimes responsible”

    I don’t blame him either – for the obvious reasons and also because he’d have to address the fact that free-market capitalism was (and is) the main instrument of failure, at the same time as trying to push “individual freedom” policies.

  8. As a matter of interest what is “the opposite” of
    “Encouragement of voluntary sector and individuals”

    “Sharing the proceeds of growth, lowering taxes when it is prudent to do so. Doesn’t make any sense to me – surely they’ve been saying the Govt should have put money aside in the last ten years, not sharing it with the taxpayers in the form of cuts.”

    What doesn’t make sense about lowering taxes when it is prudent?

    I think the point about “putting money aside” is precisely so that , in the event of a severe downturn like the one highlighted by Stuart Rose yesterday & being experienced by the public increasingly, fiscal stimulus can be provided by Government-and afforded.

    I realise that there is another view on this-notably from BoE’s Governer-that reducing personal debt and taking some pain on living standards is both inevitable & desirable.
    But the point is the Government doesn’t have any funds for fiscal stimuli-even if it wanted them-which it did, but borrowed even more to provide.

    The balance between Public Spending, State Debt Reduction & Low Taxes is not a question of either/or-it is a question of …Balance.

    Of course political philosophy & belief comes into it-the role of the state, the role of the individual etc-but that’s as it should be & as politics should be debated.

  9. “that free-market capitalism was (and is) the main instrument of failure,”

    This is a very interesting point of view.

    The Financial Services sector has been cavalier with the provision of Mortgage & Credit Card facilities.

    Low interest rates & low inflation have encouraged the UK population to use these facilities.As a result House prices increased dramatically-fuelling even more “asset backed” debt.

    When this house of cards collapsed-who was responsible?-

    Answer- Wholly. Mostly, A Little, Not at all
    for each of these:-
    The Lenders
    The Borrowers
    The Government.

    It would be an interesting Opinion Poll question.

  10. “Personally, I think they’ll vote Labour”

    Do you!:-


    If I were them I wouldn’t vote at all-what’s the point?-Westminster does nothing for them-they’re in a foreign country which no one wants to know about.

  11. In answer to your first question the “opposite” is simplythat they will believe the Govt is more likely to help them than the individuals among them. You make the point yourself at the end of that first post.

    It doesn’t make sense to offer prudent tax cuts at the same time as “sharing the proceeds of growth”. You can’t do both at the same time.

    Daft bonkers lending practices in the US, followed by the naive purchase of ZZZ products rated as AAA. A failure to regulate the free market. Not particularly interesting, just plain fact, though more uncomfortable for a free-marketeer to deal with.

    The oil market – a free market, encouraging large scale gambling on the price going up. The cost of producing a barrel at a reasonable profit is around $75 – the traders are betting on being able to drive the price to $300. That’s individuals behaving within the relatively free rules of the free market. Are these the very people Cameron is think of empowering to open schools?

    Your advocacy of credit controls doesn’t sit easily with your free-market instincts.

  12. that’s a bit too selective from my whole sentence.

    You say :
    “The balance between Public Spending, State Debt Reduction & Low Taxes is not a question ”

    How do you like it?

    Thatcher still hasn’t been forgiven in Glasgow – there’s every reason for them to vote. Thanks for the link – it reminds us of us what Thatcherism did to us.

  13. “How do you like it?”

    I don’t understand the question


    Ah yes-the Janus Mask so usefull to New Labour-Source of all evil & the ills of today as well as yesterday….and the “Conviction Politician” like what Gordon is.

  14. Being taken out of context is not very pleasant, that’s all.

    Thatcherism not an area for debate any longer? I think the issues are alive and kicking.

    Here’s a polling question :

    “You’ve been helped to buy your first home by your partents (who’ve just inherited £2m tax free). They decide to give you the £2500 they’ve just saved (stamp duty abolition below £250k). Would you :

    a Spend some time doing voluntary work
    b Buy some gear for the new flat
    c Invest it?

    I know what the results would be in Cameron’s ideal world, but I don’t believe it’d be the same in the real world.

  15. There is an interesting point raised about how the interests of individual members of the public, group concerns (including companies) and those of the government are not coaligned.

    Is there any party which doesn’t set one against the other for the purposes of gaining political power?

    I’m just not convinced that current conservative popularity reflects and positive enthusiasm for their product and anyone who follows the news will see that they are incapable of winning any argument on the basis of intellect, reason or empirical fact. So the gains they make at the ballot box need to be considered conditional on continuing failure of the other parties. They remain the safe ‘default’ position.

    One must wonder at Labour’s fortunes this deep into government and ask whether they are a completely spent force, or if there is a way back for them in opposition, when – not if – they are relieved of their overbearing leader and removed from office.

    In this context I reserve judgement on the LibDems because they are as yet unproven at the highest level and Nick Clegg appears an all-round improvement on their previous leaders.

  16. Thomas:-

    “anyone who follows the news will see that they are incapable of winning any argument on the basis of intellect, reason or empirical fact”

    I follow “the news”.
    I don’t “see” that.
    Could you explain how “the news” demonstrates what you claim please.

  17. To echo Colin-what the heck are you talking about Thomas?
    Could you please provide threee recent examples to amplify your very odd statement.

  18. john:-

    “Are these the very people Cameron is think of empowering to open schools”

    I don’t think so john-the policy says-“charities, churches and philanthropists” .

    It doesn’t specifically say they must also be oil speculators but I suppose some of them might be on the law of averages-particularly the churches.

    The example ( perhaps the only one to cite!) Gove & Cameron always give is Elmgreen School :-


    Their website doesn’t give the impression that it’s for oil speculator’s chidren-there can’t be too many of those in Lambeth can there?


    As I understand it the model for this type of school provision independent of, but funded by the State, is Sweden-not my idea of a free-market devil take the hindermost sort of country.

  19. Three cases which highlight conservative failure: Northern Rock, 42 days, party funding.

    Pretty minor ones which haven’t recieved much coverage, I’ll admit, so I understand why they’d easily be overlooked.

    Come to think of it can either of you, or anyone else, name any subject (I won’t ask for three, as that would be too much) which the Conservatives can claim to hold the moral or intellectual high ground on.

  20. Er – no they can’t, since the site isn’t for partisan political arguments.

  21. Apologies Anthony, am I reading the comments incorrectly?

    My point was to ask whether the basis of current Conservative poll support is along the lines of a question recently summarised by Fraser Nelson as a choice facing Cameron “between a pedestrian government that wins by default or a radical government that wins by acclaim”.

    On each of the three topics I was challenged to provide as example for my point the evidence supports the former position, so I think it is valid to wonder at the continuing implications for future polls (I could go into detail, but I think that would be unnecessary and inappropriate, as you remind us).

    I think it is entirely fair and in-keeping with this sites policy to ask for counter-evidence which demonstrates the connection between the state of debate and public support for the partisan positions. Whether that would amount to a restatement of those arguments is a matter of perspective which I suspect depends on who is on the receiving end of the weight of argument.

    As it is I think the recent slight shift in poll popularity reflects the state I described above, namely that Labour are still failing, falling back and yet to hit rock bottom, while the LibDems are starting to reassert themselves as Clegg establishes himself (at least to YouGov panelists). I find it hard to recognise any ‘acclaim’ for the Conservatives beyond a softening of former opposition towards them, which can only be explained by increasing hardening of opposition towards Labour.

    If we asked ‘so who do we vote for now?’ my best guess is that turnout is heading for another fall.

  22. To back that up the DKs/Others have risen from 7/8% to 10/11% just over the course of this Parliament. This is a remarkable and unprecedented phenomenon.

    I’d be interested to listen to plausible alternative reasonings.

  23. Colin – as I’m sure you know, I was hinting that the “philanthropists” you mention might not actually be as thick on the ground as you think. The mentality of the dealer, rather than the actual offspring.

    Sweden’s system allows a “for profit” basis (I think), which I don’t think Cameron is proposing.

    I would be interested to see the polls after Cameron’s ideals are fleshed out with actual policies. Trying to win “by acclaim”, daring to put real costed policies to the public, trying to demonstrate that the co-alignment of different groups that Thomas referred to is actually achievable, and giving a head-count of all the philanthropists he’s managed to get to contribute.

  24. thomas
    I realise that like Mike Richardson you have great difficulty in distinquishing the facts from your opinions.Therapy might start with the realisation that other people hold equally valid opinions to yours ,that ALL parties have an intellectual contribution to make and that if you LISTENED to your opponent once in a while you might actually learn something for a change.
    Tossing out three examples of where you disagree with a party’s policy without any explanation gets you nowhere. There is a clear case against the imposition of 42 days detention just as there is an argument in favour.All you have succeeded in doing is to diminish the merit of your position by claimimg that your stance is in effect the only one of worth. Such arrogance is perhaps best displayed on another site and not here on Anthony’s.

  25. Two points.

    Firstly I think from a polling perspective it is valid to ask what is causing the rise in Tory support, genuine support for Cameron or disenchantment with Labour.

    Given that there are strong swings away from Labour north and south of the border but to two different parties with little ideologically in come I think the disenchantment argument has more basis than Mikes, ” Britain’s Waking Up” line.

    On the “Swedish” proposals I think what Cameron and indeed Brown and Clegg are offering in terms of more autonomy from local schools is popular but flawed.

    It is largely based on appealing to people who feel that the state system is cumbersome and under achieves who tend to be middle income people who both the Tories and Labour need to win over.

    That appeals to motivated parents, the type of people who would move school to get their child in the right school or support grammar schools.

    However most of these people already go to good quality schools and it’s difficult to see how more autonomy could greatly improve them. Conversely the schools with the real problems will hardly be attractive to those wanting to set up new schools and the parents there may well not have the motivation to turn a school around or to engage.

    In short those who it appeals to don’t need it and those who need it don’t find it appealing. this is compounded by the electoral demographics. Those who get the most want more and all three parties want their votes while those who get least either don’t vote or won’t switch so aren’t of real interest to the three main parties.

    To all intents and purposes the education debate is driven by the electoral needs of the parties not the educational needs of our children.

    In Scotland the agenda is different as there is far stronger support for the Local authority to run schools, effectively no selection and a much tighter policy on placements, with priority given to children within a catchment area over those from outside.

    At the Scottish elections labour did have proposals to move more cash from Education departments to schools but on examination they were for things like school meals and transport.

    The problem was that although on paper the school budget would rise and therefore parents would like it it practice you would move from a small specialist staff organising school buses for all an authorities schools to it being part of the job of every secretary in every school.

    It’s hard not to think that such a change would lead to more expensive poorly co-ordinated provision of transport, as the people doing it wouldn’t have the experience, background knowledge of the issues or be able to check their price against others unless they checked it with the very centralised unit they were meant to replace.

    In effect in order to move more cash to the front line the proposal would have actually meant wasting money. Whether it be transport, meals, utility bills and standards a centralised body providing support to individual schools is all but essential and more efficient than each school trying to do it themselves.

    Sometimes the quality isn’t good enough in some cases as the central services are reorganised or cut back the service to the front line can deteriorate leading schools who don’t feel they are getting enough support to believe that it’s not worth it or they could do better themselves, in effect creating a self fulfilling prophecy.

    We should run our central support as efficiently as possible and try to improve every school so that every community has a good school even if that means putting less resources in to our “best” schools and more in to the failing ones, without branding their staff as losers.

    It often feels that we denigrate the schools who have the hardest job in areas where their are huge problems while praising those who have it easy in the leafy suburbs.

    it’s a bit like condemning the troops who can’t budge the entrenched Germans while showering those who routed the exhausted Italians with medals.


  26. Part of the problem is, I beleive, the way the news is presented. Take 42 days – the arguments presented on both sides are no more than “this is destroying civil liberties” vs “you are in favour of terrorism” (OK, I’m exaggerating the second one a bit). In the broadsheet press there is some reporting of detailed arguments about why this is so, examples for and against particular issues, and possibly alternative approaches, and there are also well-argued opinion columns. In the tabloid press and on the TV news (with the occasional exception of Channel 4 News and Newsnight) there is none of this. Political argument is presented as no more than them vs us, good vs bad. So even where the opposition parties have detailed well-thought out proposals, they’re not goin to get aired. In addition, although the BBC for example is supposed to be politically neutral, in practice they let Government stories lead, so the Government is able to set the agenda by simply having press conferences, announcements etc. To be less “passively” neutral the BBC should allow opposition parties to set the agenda from time to time – approximately 40% for the Tories and 20% for the LDs given their share of the vote.

  27. Also, the BBC (and other TV news) gets stuck in with opinion now, rather than the past ultra-neutral tactic of simply reporting facts, and asking (tough)questions (without offering in-house punditry).

    This means (from a centre perspective) that they try to give everyone a good kicking from all sides, and then try to be pleasant to everyone from all sides, in the hope they’ll achieve “active” neutrality and make good telly.

    I think Nick is over-reacting a tad (though I agree with his general point and am certainly persuadable on many things).

    The “failures” of Cameron , 1. to announce his idea of solving NR last Autumn, 2. to retain Davis by assuring him the next Tory Govt would scrap the 42 days, and 3.to come to an equitable deal on party funding are matters of reasonably valid opinion.

    Personally I wouldn’t pick any of them out as Cameron failures while he’s buoyant and clearly not failing, but it’s a bit much to squeeze Thomas in with the Great Oracular Being !

  28. Sorry thomas – I see what you were getting at now, though you could probably have worded it in a way that didn’t come across as just an attack on the Conservatives. As soon as people start issuing challenges to people on the other side of the political fence though it normally heralds the beginning of a slanging match ;)

    Nick – play the ball not the man please.

  29. The BBC maxim of inform, educate and entertain can get a bit mixed or muddled.

    Certainly in terms of informing the Government does and should get the lead over the opposition, what it does can after all have the most immediate effect on our lives.
    Education is where the punditry comes in and although the quality varies it is a legitimate action for the BBC.

    Certainly in Scotland the quality is the biggest issue as with the exception of a few like Brian Taylor who is excellent it isn’t that good. Often we get the likes of Gerry Hassen (not bad) and Lorraine Davidson ( pretty awful) dishing out what is little more than gossip.

    BBC Scotland’s coverage isn’t biased against the SNP it’s just of poor quality with effectively what is supposed to be analysis little more than people interviewing their mates for a publicly funded fee.

    The other cop out is for a discussion to consist of little more than the chair repeating the attacks your opponents.

    I know one former SNP spokesperson who went through an interview asking a series of questions about defence policy with ease. At the end, the interviewer said off air ” These questions are all crap is this the best Labour could do”. to which my friend asked ” We’ll if you think they are crap why did you ask them”.

    The reply?, “Oh that’s neutrality”

    My other gripe is the entertainment bit, party to many flashy graphics and silly cartoon style presentations.

    However the worst I saw was as part of the audience in a live TV debate. The company organising it (not the BBC) gave most of the tickets to the parties and when I arrived there were two trade union minibuses full of students bringing what turned out to be Jack McConnell’s travelling Clack.

    Before it went on air out came a floor manager who told us what they were looking for, and effectively encouraged people to jeer and heckle because ” We want it to come across as lively on telly”.

    In effect he was pumping up the audience to make it entertaining even if that meant it was less informing or educational.

    So on the media from a Scottish perspective, the issue is to many of the people we see are from a small pool of people with no great talent, with what we need is to widen the net and bring in more varied voices and people with a bit of thought and the ability to discern what is and isn’t a silly question.


  30. john tt-7.42am

    Yes-I did realise that!

    I’m not sure about “philanthropists” actually & I suspect the Independent Schools proposed won’t rely too much on that sector-but it depends what we mean by that word.

    There are & will increasingly be specialist providers-commercial organisations, The Churches, Charitable Trusts etc.

    Yes-profit or no profit is a key decision-I seem to remember DC recently conceding that it would be have to be permitted-but I may be wrong.

    I must say I buy into the idea. The huge oversubscription for places at Elmgreen seems to give the lie to the suggestion that these schools are for tightly knit groups of middle class parents.

    The driver at Elmgreen-the need for children to travel miles to get into a decent school-will be a regular feature I think.And the result may well be a proliferation of smaller local schools-the opposite of the Governments favoured option of fewer larger schools.

    It’s interesting to me that Balls criticism of the new schools is that they will be “unplanned by ministers”-I see that as their main advantage!

    I know we disagree on the role of the State vs the role of the individual, but I like this idea because it shows that if the omnipresent, omnipotent State will step back into the role of facilitator, the individual will step forward in an effort to shape their own life.

    If the architypal cradle to grave state planning of Sweden can see this happenning in practice then I feel sure we can in UK.

    It can’t do any harm to try & find out.

  31. Thanks Anthony, but I guess it’s the name of the game that those among us with vested political interests will always attempt to instigate the forced choice of ‘you’re either for us or against us’, when the truth of good politics is that it is a dual challenge to create options while avoiding false choices.

  32. re three Cameron failures – I think I’d include environmental issues too, as a fourth, to go with political funding generally, considering the failure to reform parliamentary expenses after the Spelman, Conway and Chichester cases – which depended on Conservative votes in the commons.

    Each of these issues will continue to rumble on because they reflect the demarkation line between the more centrist and right-wing elements of Camerons party.

    How successful the leadership is in bridging the divide will the a major factor in determining electoral success, while the imagination with which the two camps are reconciled (if at all) will indicate whether any victory is by ‘acclaim’ or ‘default’.

  33. Has anyone seen this weeks The Economist? Not good reading for the Government’s supporters.

    On topic, there is an interesting poll on student voting intentions (conducted by Opinion-panel). Ditto for the Government’s supporters!

    John tt:

    Thatcher still hasn’t been forgiven in Glasgow….

    Sorry to bang-the-drum, but one Glasgow East voter quoted in The Economist states that “…Gordon Brown has been worse then Thatcher”. Anecdotal, but…!

  34. for gareth to clutch at £100 a week paternity or maternity leave says it all.
    this country is in the biggest mess for 30 years.
    the only party that can fix it is the conservatives.

    just look at the mess the snp took on in scotland from lab/lib.
    the flip side is that it is great news they are so dillusional,much like the tories were about their achievements from 18 years of rule.

  35. we are most of us singing off of the same song sheet gordon brown is doomed the labour party is doomed or is it? the conservatives have no clear policey direction and if pressed could be beaten yet again if in the next few months we see a conservative party which sets out its view then we may have some chance of change hopefuly.

  36. Colin – over-subscription is the opposite of what Sweden does in education.

    The whole point about competition is that there should be unused capacity. Without that, you always end up with the sharp-elbowed in the best schools and the rest miss out.

    Sweden allows profit-making but the whole thing depends on there always being space for more kids. That is what competition is all about.

  37. john-….anyway, I think it is is a good idea & worth trying.

    If parents ( that’s just ordinary parents) think it improves their child’s education they will use it-if not they won’t.

  38. I agree – it would be interesting to see class sizes reduce by the amount that would allow true competition for pupils. Any system should foster a strong sense of identity and community. Good schools stand out because they do that. It’s harder when all schools are the same.

    The only doubt gnawing at me is that the free market depends on regular instances of failure.

    The whole experiment would entail some of the schools failing (ie enough parents move their kids to better schools for the finances of the “failing” school to collapse), and others succeeded.

    What happens to the kids who remained longest in the “failing” school? What happens if the school is a great one, but somehow can’t generate enough profit to satisfy investors?

    Is there really going to be enough money for the extra capacity? If there is, fantastic.

  39. I just can’t see the economics of this standing up.

    The only way it would work is for new schools to open in areas where there is a demand for a better school when people can’t get in to a good one.

    However that demand would almost certainly be in areas where there already was a good school because it’s unlikely that you would generate the income or the enthusiasm in a deprived area.

    Thus what we would have is a shift of educational resources to the very areas that don’t actually need it. Given that Councils are trying to close schools because of falling rolls, increasing capacity and spreading funding thinner right now seems close to economic incompetence.

    I think the whole notion that the way to improve educational attainment is a sort of Tebbit style “on your Bike” approach where the market decides and schools sink or swim little short of lunacy as it relies on a mobility that just doesn’t exist in the real world.

    For a very small number of children mostly middle class and doing well there would be some improvement, for the majority it wouldn’t change much and for the ones in most need who we most need to address it would probably make things worse.


  40. “very small number of children mostly middle class and doing well there would be some improvement”

    That’s who it’s aimed at. The middle class voters they need to win back.
    If the relatively deprived areas can’t muster a similar arrangement between them, that’s their look-out, and they’re not on the radar electorally anyway.

    Councils whose rolls are falling are perfect opportunities in Cameron’s ideal world – keep the schools open, over-staffed, under-subscribed, and get them to compete with one another for pupils.

    Much less of the money comes from the state, more comes from the Voluntary sector, charities and philanthropists.

    Assuming they exist.

  41. john-re your 12.14pm-yes there are uncertainties I agree.

    I have just read a very interesting review of the Swedish system & it’s effects.It is very balanced and does highlight the areas of contention. I don’t seem able to cut & paste it. If you are interested Google for “School Choice and it’s effects in Sweden”-by The Swedish National Agency for Education.

    Gove has said the Conservative plan would provide for additional funding ( on top of the per capita allowance taken with the pupil) for schools set up in “deprived” areas.

    This would appear to address the potential for the “rats leaving the sinking hulk” syndrome.Given that-and most parents’ desire to have their child go to school as near to home as possible,provided it meets their educational requirements-one could hope that standards would be driven up in difficult areas.

    However, the Swedish paper I mentioned concedes that uptake for independent schools is greatest amongst parents with a good educational background.So if it is indeed possible to focus the motivation of better educated parents onto poor local education provision then standards could be driven up in general in the area of the new school.

    The Swedish paper indicates that this can happen-but it is very much depends on how resistant local authorities are.

    The downside,as made clear in the Swedish study, can be increased segregation.

    This will have to be handled with care & sensitivity-but in the end there is a political philosophy here-The parent should be able to choose the school & not the otherway round.That choice will drive up standards of education.

    But of course, the choice has to be real, and freely excercisable by all. If those criteria are met, then we are back to the problems arising in our society which result from those parents who have no interest or understanding in improving their child’s education.

    ie inadequate or non-existent parenting.

    The latter is a problem which stretches far beyond education & is at the root of many many problems.

    Incidentally I completely disagree with the view of Tory motivation expressed in paras 2&3 of your 3.14pm
    I believe sincerely that this initiative is part of an over-arching attack on social segregation & all it’s effects.The objective is “Social Justice” as outlined by IDS’ think tank.

    Solving these problems will be massively difficult-some may be insoluble-some of the ideas may not work-we shall see.

    But I can see no justification whatsoever to assume that they are aimed at deliberately polarising society even more than it currently is.

  42. Mike:

    “Scotland does’nt show any trend that is seen nationally apart from the UK wide disintegration of the Labour Party.

    Any growth in the SNP vote at this by-election is purely on the back of the Labour demise – they are one and the same ideology wise.”

    So what about the massive swing to the conservatives and a twelvefold increase in their seats? Have you fotgotten that?

  43. Peter:

    While I support every word of your lengthy posting, you omitted one aspect of Scottish educational provision.

    The notion of providing faith and other specialist schools “Choice” in rural areas with falling school rolls is simply daft. It may seem a good idea to those who can travel a short distance to several schools in their Chelsea Tractors, but where you have to take the kids down roads where there are real tractors the issue is whether the nearest school will close because of falling school rolls.

  44. “problems arising in our society which result from those parents who have no interest or understanding in improving their child’s education.”

    Colin, that is so unfair. Almost all the parents I know, or know of, who send their kids through the “standard” state school route do so because they trust the system, don’t understand how to play the system (or can’t afford to) or have a sincere desire to give their child what he/she wants, which in many cases is to be with their friends. There are very few parents out there who have “no interest”.

    I don’t think Cameron intends to polarise society deliberately – I’m sure he and Gove hold their views as sincerely as you. However, I think they’re after improving the lot of parents who try and fail to get their kids into the best schools – mostly middle class parents with elbows not sharp enough, and mostly in winnable seats.

    Thanks for the link

  45. BTW, google came up with nothing because of your erroneous apostrophe!

  46. john have just Googled :-

    “School Choice and it’s effects in Sweden”-

    It gave me a “do you mean” to correct the punctuation-and the first search result is the paper in question.

    Try again

  47. I did thanks and I read the piece with interest. The segregation aspect would, I suspect, be an even bigger challenge here than in Sweden. I’m not surprised by any of the findings, particularly that highly educated people tend to work the system better than less advantaged.

    For what it’s worth, I firmly believe that public schools generally leave less to chance than state schools (having been to one, and done a spot of teaching in both).

    What I’d prefer to see is much greater adoption in the state sector of what public schools do better.

  48. OK John

    It’s not that more educated people “work the system” more than less educated people.

    The finding-if I understood it correctly-is that they tend to take up places in the independent schools more than do those with a less educated background.

    I don’t find that surprising.

    What is important is that the impetus for higher standards imparted by the independent schools to all local schools ( which the report acknowledges) works to the benefit of all-including those who are unable to appreciate the significane, or essential features of, good educational standards.

    I found it most interesting that Swedes can talk unashamedly of “better educated” and “less well educated” as features of society, without resorting to value judgements about those conditions, or expressing them in terms of “class”

    Your reference to “public schools” is interesting-but not relevant to the Tory proposal-or the Swedish Model.

    These independent schools are available to all parents who may may take their state funding with them.I understand that they will be non-selective-though I sincerely hope will be allowed to stream by academic ability.

  49. John B Dick,

    The SNP policy is to preserve rural schools and to avoid busing children. In cities where there are several schools within 1 or 2 miles then closure and amalgamation is an option.

    In a village with a small school and nothing for ten miles then retention is the only real way forward. As far as I am aware with the possible exception of the Tories no one is seriously advocating any new faith or sponsored schools for Scotland.

    In fact we don’t have any city academies and virtually no grammar schools. As far as I am aware we don’t really have middle schools either, it’s just primary 5 to 11 with a nursery for 3 and 4 year olds now pretty much the norm and after that it’s secondary school from 12 to 16 or later.

    Beyond that there are traditional private schools. Independent schools in Scotland only educate just over 30,000 pupils out of 715,000 in primary and secondary , about 4%.


  50. Peter:

    My children were educated in Stornoway, and such problems as they had were not the fault of the school. On an Island there is no choice, but the more articulate parents and the parents who are teachers send their children to the same school as everyone else. That keeps standards up.

    My granddaughter has just completed her first year at school in Glasgow. It is in one of the better-off areas admittedly, but we and the parents have nothing but praise for the entire operation.

    I myself went to an independent school. It wasn’t obvious to me at the time that it was a great advantage. The really gifted had a higher level of support, but the music tuition in the Corporation schools was far more developed.

    I did get to know interesting people: four MP’s, two murderers and a spy.

    We know that the only predictor of success at school and university is the level of parental education, so the likelihood is that most places in Scotland you would be wasting your money on private schools.

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