Having been disappointed by its absense from the main report of the Times’ monthly Populus poll, I find they did include questions on Damian Green after all. We’ll have to have a proper look when the actual wording of the question is out, but on the face of it the public’s verdict seems to be a resounding Sorry, I couldn’t actually be bothered to read about it – what was it again?.

56% of people said they had not followed the Damian Green story close enough to express a view, though the minority who had followed it split in favour of Damian Green. 29% thought it was right for the civil servant to leak information, with 13% thinking it wrong. 26% thought it was right for opposition MPs to release such information when it is leaked to them, 16% disagreed. 30% thought Jacqui Smith had handled things badly, only 12% thought she had done well.

Overall 39% thought it was right MPs were paying the affair so much attention, but 45% thought it was a “typical Westminster argument that bears no relation to the lives of ordinary people.” In this context the Conservative drop in support doesn’t seem particularly surprising – they’ve switched from attacking the government over huge levels of debt and mishandling the economy, to battering away over an issue which apparently has barely any salience with the general public.

87 Responses to “Most people really don’t care about Damian Green”

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  1. Behold your saviour who is Gordon Brown. Have we seen the return of Mr. Bean. This combined with the controversial white paper (left out of the ‘slimmed down’ Queen’s speech) may be enough to make the media decide that its time to go negative about the government.

    Perhaps this time the Lib Dems will benefit more. For all opposition parties his gaff was a rather nice Christmas present.

  2. As the Romans – 2000 years ago – used to ask ‘Quis custodet custodes?’ Who decides who is allocated extra votes? Do I deserve an extra vote for knowing some Latin? Democracy is not perfect, by any means – but what system is? Shaw put it rather neatly: ‘Democracy substitutes election by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few’. Which do you prefer? With regard to the Damian Green saga, should we not be rushing to judgment, but rather wait for the findings of the police inquiry. With so many concerned about their every-day living, it is hardly surprising that Mr Green’s leaking problem is of little concern to the majority of those who enjoy universal suffrage.

  3. Don’t mean to be picky-but doesn’t “Quis custodiet custodes?” mean ” who watches the watchman?”

  4. Alec. The “owner” did not give consent, any more than a landlord can give consent without permission of the tenant.

  5. I wonder how saving the world will play out in the polls.

    I’ll just give Clark Kent a bell and find out.

  6. Democracy may be a fine enough system. But a parliamentary democracy is barely a democracy at all.

    650 odd seats or whatever it is. And only – in normal times – about 100 of those in play. And even within those, only some several thousand swing voters.

    So policies, politics, press and politicians all try to pander to these voters.

    The voices of the rest are barely heard.

  7. I’m sure the the workers at Woolies tonight won’t be able to sleep worrying how Damien Greens arrest may effect them in the future.

    Philip J W – I thought Gordons performance was rather super at todays PMQ’s but not as super as when I see Osbourne being interviewed on the telly. That is super viewing
    Interviewer :”Hello Mr Osbourne”
    Osbourne :” It is only Hello because Brown is spending too much and Borrowing too much”
    Interveiwer “Nice weather today?”
    Osbourne:”It would have been better if Brown wasn’t spending too much and borrowing too much”
    Interviewer:Are you going to say anything else?
    Osbourne”I refuse to answer anything because Brown is spending too much and borrowing too much”

    …..and so on.

  8. “Police can search without a warrant, if the owner gives consent.”

    Whether or not the Speaker or Serjeant-at-Arms gave consent they do not own the Parliament building – we all do.

    I know I wasn’t asked for my consent and I also know that my official representative in the house wasn’t asked either.
    Unless vote of members, or an election or referendum on the issue was held (which was understandably impractical) then a warrant most definitely ought to have been produced.

  9. Tony Jones

    “How I envisage how it would go on most High Streets in the country…..Interviewer to Joe Public “Joe, the world is in economic recession, you may lose your job, your bank is ripping you off,you have Christmas to pay for and you are struggling to make ends meet” “How interested are you about the Conservative MP being arrested for leaking documents to the opposition?”

    The answer… “very interested, because it is vital to the economic and political wellbeing of this country that opposition MPs are able to discover and publicise documents which expose embarrassing facts about Government policy that the Government wishes to keep secret”.

  10. Phil – I wonder how interested the workers of Woolies are at the moment ?

  11. Well, having trawled through all the posts on this thread, including my own, I am fairly sure that if they were allocating votes by intelligence we’d probably be able to muster about three……


  12. Ok Peter, after my share, I will leave you one vote.

  13. Good thread.

    Alec is right. No-one could give two hoots about the Damien Green story. A politician has been arrested around allegations of dishonesty. No, you don’t say!

    Boring story: always was, always will be. The public have far, far, more pressing issues to deal with.

  14. Peter – and did you decide that you’d be one of the Voting Three?

    Phil C – yes, exactly. People ought to care because all these sorts of things are interconnected.

  15. Thanks Anthony–I knew someone would have the exact history. Still fascinating to know how recently we got one person one vote in the elected chamber. I suspect some would be appalled at how recently it happened…

  16. Jack – it remained even later in the Northern Ireland Parliament, Queen’s University Belfast returned 4 members to Stormont right up until 1969

  17. James,

    The democratic thing to do would be too form an ad-hoc committee to investigate the origins of and relative contributions to our three vote allocation and then distribute inter forum votes proportionately to allocate the three real votes.

    Such a committee need have no more than thirty seven members and should be able to report back it’s preliminary findings in little more than eighteen months.


  18. so when is the next poll? I’m waiting with bated breath for all of the pre-Christmas polls!

  19. Gordon’s gaffe in the Commons might have a temporary effect on the polls, as his mistakes at PMQs have done so before. However, I suspect the German FInance Minister’s comments will prove to be more damaging in the long term.

  20. I think in quieter political times The Green palaver and the World Saviour response may have interested the public more, but as has been said, there are more pressing and personal things occupying the publics mind.

  21. ” However, I suspect the German FInance Minister’s comments will prove to be more damaging in the long term.”

    Yes I agree.

    Firstly it is an unprecedented criticism by one EU government of another’s economic policy. They are supposed to be harmonising.

    Secondly & more sigificantly it strips away the veneer of absolute adherence to Brown’s policies which GB needs for domestic political advantage.

    This is a centre left politician, running the finances of the third largest economy in the world; the largest economy in europe;a paragon of financial rectitude with both trade & budget surpluses and sky high savings levels.

    This man must be fed up to the back teeth being lectured by the bloke who has been running budget & trade deficits, for years, during a credit soaked boom.To have GB tell Germany that they should follow him in borrow & spend is like a drunk urging “hair of the dog” on a teetotaller.

    It tells us that there is another view & another way-and sits with an increasing number of concerned assessments of UK’s State Debt & it’s sustainability. This concern is currently crystalised in the FX market movements.

    It is interesting that GB has at all costs to project an image of his way being the only way. There is not the slightest hint that he will engage in the intellectual debate which is taking place around him.

    This quote from GB encapsulates this :-

    “The important thing is that almost every country around the world is doing what we have been doing ”

    Whether these nascent economic differences of opinion will have any resonance with the UK voters seems unlikely.

    Brown has done a fantastic PR job against all the odds to project himself as the author of the only way to get out of the recession.

    But he has to convince UK voters that it isn’t mostly bullshit by the end of next year.

  22. The comments coming out of Germany yesterday and today seem likely to do damage. However, I think it’s not single incidents (Green, saving the world etc) that do the damage but the narrative to which they each contribute. After a couple of months of improvement in the Brown narrative, it now seems to be slipping back into authoritarian/bonkers/out of touch/blunder mode. Might take a little longer to show in the polls but unless the narrative changes again, he’s back on that downhill trajectory.

  23. What may begin to hurt Brown is that after the huge injection of cash in to the banks not only has lending not resumed but the banks are now openly talking about conditions worsening.

    It may depend on if he can convince people that though it is bad and it may worsen it would have been worst if he hadn’t acted and that that’s what would have happened under the Tories.

    If the public feel that they have been conned and the banks are laughing at us after taking our money and that Browns “saved the system” claims are false then he could be in trouble.

    On balance I think Brown may suffer because in general the “It’s bad but it would be worse under them” is a hard one for a government to sell, particularly when people are looking to the government to say what they will do.


  24. ‘The comments coming out of Germany yesterday and today seem likely to do damage. ‘ James Ludlow

    Not convinced that a comment from a German politician will damage Labour; I would rather suspect the opposite for the average voter (and/or Daily Mail reader)

    Or am I too cynical?

  25. I agree with the opening comment of Thomas (number 2 in the list of comments).

    “Not having an opinion is not the same thing as not caring.” The public trust of Politicians is not high and hence maybe there is some scepticim when MPs complain. However the general principle, and rules of Police intervention, of what happens is of vital concern. Two wrongs don;t make a right!

  26. what a horrible self interested new labour country we have become.

    it would be different if these guys had the police in their front room or office illegally.

  27. @ Jack – not so much cynical as dated!

  28. @Jack:

    As James says very dated. Yes there will be the more intellectually challenged who may take this view, however the average swing voter is likely to be a little more thoughtful. Therefore I would say that among this group (swing voters) the finance minister from one of the top economies saying Gordon is talking rubbish is likely to damage Gordo’s standing, partic when he thinks he is saving the world. Apparently not all th eworld agrees. The more this spun image of Gordon breaks down, and the more hubristic and ridiculous it becomes, his standing will be further eroded and his polling percentages will be proportionately affected. At the moment the only thing that has improved his position is economics (bizarely IMO!), but this sort of thing will badly erode the one strong suit he appears to have in th eeyes of voters.

  29. I would like to point out that the Conservatives on here seem to clutch at any straws they can. I am a Conservative, and for months have been worried about te way the party and Cameron in particular is coming across.He wont get rid of his mate even though he is useless.Labour is pegging us back, Brown/Darling is even in front of Cameron/Osbourne. As I said for months I have read your comments of how it wont last, the public will find him out. Well I for one have started to accept that they will win the next election as our leadership is increasingly looking like they are running out of ideas.Cameron needs tp get rid of his mate, every time he is put in front of the camer Labour must gain a point. The debacle on Newsnight was an absolute disgrace, and we want him to be our chancellor. Cameron wants to stop the petty childish games. First he was caught by his own Webcam laughing about the Green affair and then cracking jokes over Brown saying he saved the world.

    It may go down well with the party faithful but it looks bloody childish from where I am sitting.Oh and get some policies, we cannot live off just abusing the government.

    We need a blood good rocket up the backside or when I post agin in a few months you will all be telling me that the Labour lead wont last to the election.

    Seeing as most of you are Conservatives, and I assume some work for the party,please pass on my comments to the faithful.

  30. Nigel – the vast majority of people will be unaware of anything the German finance minister has said. It won’t have a negative effect on the government in that sense.

    Where it will have an effect is that a huge potential weakness for the Conservatives was the ability of the government to say they were out of tune with the rest of the planet. Now they can rebut that by saying “well, the German finance minister has also criticised Brown, blah, blah” it has severely weakened that attack.

  31. I think the irony/hypocrisy of the Tories quoting the German finance minister in their support could be turned to Labour’s advantage. What has it come to when a party that doesn’t think it should be in the same group in the European parliament as Merkel – never mind the SPD – suddenly suggests that these are people the British should listen to!

  32. getting back to Damien Green…

    Where one week we have a official crackdown on leakers and the recipients of leaks because they may be beneficial to the opponents of the government, while the next we have the government leaking the withdrawl of troops from Iraq rather than announcing in parliament and the Prime Minister making use of unconfirmed and unreliable statistics on knife crime because it benfits the very same government!

    I don’t think it will help Labour’s poll rating to be viewed as inconsistent where issues of major public interest are concerned, especially as partisanship is increasingly linked in our consciousness as the primary causal factor behind the current economic mess (which looks worse by the day).

    A pattern of convenient behaviour is emerging, so will the public will take kindly to convenient government supplanting good government?

  33. I think that an independent cross-party committee which was reviewed and revaluated every five years or so would be the organ I would use to distribute votes.

    That would eliminate the temptation of a government to deliberately design a system that allocated votes their own supporters, but would be flexible enought to account for changes in the political status quo (if, for example, there is a large change to the mould, for example the Liberals becoming the second party again, or whatever)

    Votes need not be allocated on simply knowing certain thing about certain subjects like the economy- using the argument that there is no objective definition of ‘good’ knowledge is certainly a good argument, but it still doesn’t defeat the idea. How about, for instance, simply allocating votes in proporion with IQ? IQ is a universal borrometer of intelligence which has been worked out scienficially- I can’t see any problems with bias there….

    I also don’t think that people were starving in the ninteenth century because we had voting based on property qualification…If anything, the householder franchise after 1867 heralded an era of extreme economic growth and social mobility unparalled in our history. I think history’s on my side, I fear. And in any case, I not proposing to exclude anyone from the franchise- all adults will still have one vote.

  34. Lukw,

    “IQ is a universal borrometer of intelligence which has been worked out scienficially- I can’t see any problems with bias there….”

    Nonsense, IQ tests have huge limitations particularly with regards to ethnic groups and educational experiences. as someone who has been married to s psychologist for almost 25 years and who did two years of it as part of my degree I can tell you that the view of many professionals is roughly this;

    ” IQ tests are a good indicator of who is good at IQ tests”.

    Oh and is a borrometer something that measures debt…..

    I am not trying to be picky, normally I wouldn’t comment on a spelling mistake, particularly as I make so many my self, but it’s just fun to see one in a comment about allocating votes by IQ.


  35. Well, I won’t try to disagree with you on that as you obviously know more about it than I. However, the principle still holds.

    We already make exams to determine a person’s intelligence in life in virtually all areas- common sense, analytical thinking, ability to memorise etc. Nobody is seriously arguing that we should not place considerable weight of judgement on the outcomes of such exams from jobs to university etc. Given we already use exams to do a great deal, I maintain that universal exams could be created (and updated on a yearly basis) to measure all-round intelligence, the results of which would accurately reflect the intelligence of the examinee in the vast majority of cases.

    If people didn’t like the results, they could take the exam again after a period of time had elapsed, and try to improve their score. Much better than most other things we are already happy to use exams for, where you normally get one (or at most two) shots at it and which have a far greater overall effect on your life prospects.

    And because I am proposing votes by intelligence, doesn’t mean I think I should get an enormous number of them (Although I would hope I would get an above average number).

  36. Lukw,

    The problem with letting people take them again is that the more IQ tests you do the better you get so It dosn’t mean you are better suited to do a real life task or vote for a government.

    When psychologists won’t even test people again within about a year because it invalidates the result.


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