ComRes have released what is probably the final poll of the year (though I’m conscious I was rather premature saying that last year when a final YouGov poll emerged after Christmas!). The topline figures, with changes from ComRes’s last poll, are CON 39%(+2), LAB 34%(-2), LDEM 16%(+2).

I’m always a bit wary of weekend polls conducted this close to Christmas – there is the potential for the unusual shopping patterns to produce an unusual sample. Still, if we take it at face value then, like YouGov last week it shows a shift back towards the Conservatives, though given that ComRes were showing the smallest Conservative leads this only brings them back into line with the other companies. Until we see the polls in January I still think it’s a bit early to be declaring – as the Independent are doing – that the poll definitely shows the second Brown bounce is over.

Still, with all the polls now showing Conservative leads between 4 and 7 points, we can at least end the year with a good idea of where the parties stand, even if we can’t be quite so sure which way the trend is going.

UPDATE: The ComRes poll also including questions about how people would vote under various scenarios. Sadly, I don’t think they tell us very much.

Firstly, they are not comparable to the standard voting questions. A voting intention question in a poll is normally quite an involved business – when ComRes do it involves three questions – how likely people are to vote, how they would vote, and how they would vote if forced to by law (plus the past vote and party ID questions used for weighting and reallocation of don’t knows). When alternative voting intention questions are used there is a tendency to skip bits and just do it with one question, rather than go through that whole rigamarole again, therefore making them non-comparable. In this case, likelihood to vote is assumed to be constant throughout (and, in fact, the extra voting intentions aren’t weighted by turnout), so if the Conservatives or Labour promising something energised or alienated their base and made them more or less likely to vote it wouldn’t show up in these questions.

More importantly, they don’t really get at what they are trying to. The argument that people may vote differently in or after a recession is largely based on psychological factors and loss aversion. If that argument is true then these would be psychological biases that people are not necessarily consciously aware of – we wouldn’t expect them to show up in a survey like this. Secondly, people are rubbish predictors of how they will react to future events anyway. It was easily predictable that there would be a big boost in Labour support after Gordon Brown became leader, yet people consistently said they would be less likely to vote Labour with him there – they failed to forsee that they would want to give him a chance, or would be caught up and won over by his honeymoon in office. We can have no confidence that they will or will not be able to predict how they would react to a government calling an election mid-recession, or how they will look at politics after one.

The other questions, about how people would vote if the Conservatives did X, don’t show us much either. If you give a prompt that only mentions one party and says something positive they would do, then miraculously it greatly increases the proportion of people who say they would vote for them. My favourite example is this one from MORI back in 2004, commissioned by UKIP. It found UKIP support in the European elections at 2%. They then asked “At the European Parliament elections the UK Independence Party will be campaigning nationwide for Britain to leave the European Union and put an end to unlimited EU immigration. Assuming the UK Independence Party were the only moderate party campaigning for this, which party would you vote for?” and found support for UKIP at 35%. Magic!

Going back to ComRes, the fact that putting the question from a Conservative angle (the Conservatives will spend less and not increases taxes) and a Labour angle (Labour will spend more, but will increase taxes) results in almost identical answers would be fascinating… if the questions were put independently to different people using a split sample. As far as I can tell, they were asked one after the other to the same people. Asking different groups of people the same question using slightly different wording can give you fascinating results. Asking the same people the same question using slightly different wording normally gives you the same answer.

86 Responses to “ComRes show swing back to the Conservatives”

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  1. Very strange figures if you look at the other questions asked:

    The headline figure:Con 39 Labour 34

    If election held in a recession: Con39 Lab 38

    even more stranger

    If election held after a recession: Con 37 Lab 37.

    Try to pick the bones out of that one.

  2. Scottish results,

    Labour 49%, Tory 18%, LibDem 6%, SNP 28%.

    In terms of rank it’s the same as Yougov except that the Libdems are a bit lower and labour a good deal higher. I prefer Yougov but as these are small samples I think this more or less confirms a now familiar pattern.


  3. Did you ever get a response from ComRes about their weighting system? Is this a shift or just their sampling being weird again?

  4. Tony, I suppose it’s not technically contradictory, as we’re not officially in recession yet, so it could be that, until such time as we are, people would vote Labour in smaller numbers, but as soon as it becomes a reality, the Labour vote firms up and remains that way even once it’s passed…
    I agree though – taken at face value it seems illogical.

  5. Toby – It does go against the theory that people will back Brown to get the country through a recession then back Cameron once it is over.

    Corporeal – The past voting on this was reduced for Labour and up for both Conservative and LD’s compared to the previous poll, but only by a small margin.

  6. Not sure anything other than the headline figures are subject to all the weighting calculations.

  7. Toby,

    Are you suggesting that the recession is not yet a “reality” ? Does anyone imagine that it will not become “official” at the end of this month ? Indeed, were it not for some strange retail sales figures in May, Q2 of this year would have shown a negative outturn instead of 0.0%, so the recession would have become “official” in October.

    Surely what we have seen since the summer is the firming up of the Labour vote as it has become clear that a recession is unavoidable. To a certain extent Brown’s activism has been reassuring, and for many, the long-term implications of his solutions would either have passed them by or be borne by “other people”. That would explain the improvement in Labour’s ratings, but, should it become clear to the wider public that you cannot put out a debt-fuelled fire by spraying more debt on it, then I suspect that those ratings will begin to subside.

    In general, people who have not paid that much attention to how the economy works are confused by what is happening. When the government gives them assurances that it is on their side and it is taking action to sort out global problems, which are apparently caused by events abroad, then it is natural for them to want the government to succeed in doing so, and will lend it their support.

    However, if the remedy actually makes things worse, and the foreign causes of this global problem are revealed to be home grown, and far more severe here than elsewhere, an element of disillusion – and possibly resentment – may creep in.

    For the record, I am less concerned by what the polls show, than by the awesome problems being piled up for our country’s future. Never-mind our children, our great-grandchildren will still be paying for Brown’s spending spree.

  8. Anthony, you give changes relative to the last poll by the company in question. This makes sense if there are consistent, statistically significant differences in the figures produced by different companies. However, somewhat surprisingly,I have not seen any analysis to investigate such differences, only conjecture. Has an anaysis been made for any period? I don’t think it would be difficult for a competent statistician over, say, one year’s set of results. If there are no significant differences it would be better to give the change relative to the last poll or to your most recent weighted mean.

  9. Paul HJ makes some good points. I think the judgement on the strategy in the recession will be messy and probably not clear cut. The point about paying for Brown’s ‘spending spree’ is the key. We had two gruesome recession in the 80’s and 90’s, neither of which were played out against anything like the international background we have today, and with governments that refused any Keynsian stimulus, but left us with extremely high borrowing levels and structural problems that have still not been fully resolved. In Paul’s terms, we are still paying for this now, and will be for many years to come. The point with the spending spree we have now is whether it will work, and is it worse in the long run than trying to restrict government spending in a recession, which would lead to high borrowing anyway, but coupled with declining public services that would need to be repaired at some future date. It really isn’t a question of whether you borrow – it’s a question of what you borrow for, and which is better over the long term. The more valid attack is that there is nothing left in the locker as we spent too heavily in the good years. Unfortunately this represents the problem oppositions always face in a crisis – people get very bored hearing how ‘we shouldn’t have started from here’, and with the exception of Vince cable opposition politicians were busy talking of ‘sharing the proceeds of growth’ and other inanities rather than calling the debt mountain for what it was, so have little long term credibility now.

  10. Ernie – they are some consistent differences, most obviously in the recorded level of support for the Liberal Democrats (though obviously since it’s a zero sum gain, that has a knock on effect elsewhere.)

    The bottom line is that we know there are significant methodological differences between pollsters, and should therefore only draw changes from polls by the same company. If one company reallocates don’t knows in a way that tends to help Labour, another applies a harsh filter by likelihood to vote that helps the Conservatives, we shouldn’t compare one to the other and think “Wow! The Conservatives have gone up”.

  11. As a conservative i can’t say I am exactly delighted at this poll, but then it doesn’t look particularly great for either of the other lot either.

    As for Tony Jones, I really think you get the “Mike The Oracle Award for Spinning Above and Beyond the Call of Sanity and Objectivity”

    You and Mike have so much in common

  12. Anthony, Ernie:
    Just because there are significant methodological differnces between the companies it does not follow that you should only draw changes from polls by the same company. This would only be true if these differences in methodology led to systematic biases one way or the other.

    As you know I have been comparing all the polls you publish with the Weighted Moving Average and the historic interpolated average and there is very little evidence of systematic bias – all the companies give a C-lead on average within 1.5% of the WMA. Theoretically this still allows us to suspect a slight bias if the average deviation is >1% but in practice this is rather in the noise.

    But each company has a Standard Deviation of the order of 3%. So variations between one ComRes poll and another are far more likely to be random noise than a meaningful shift.

    Basically this ComRes poll is in line with the WMA 40:34:16 so we can’t really draw any big conclusions. I suspect that this latest Brown Bounce is over, and the data are consistent with this suspicion, but they are also consistent with the idea of a slow continuing trend towards Labour. We shall see.

    Merry Christmas!

  13. So-a pretty meaningless Poll then?

    Why do they does the Indy bother, one wonders.

    Meanwhile one fact & one opinion :-

    UK GDP shrank 0.6% in Q3

    International Monetary Fund’s chief economist Olivier Blanchard said in comments published on Tuesday.
    “Temporarily cutting VAT, a measure that was adopted in Great Britain, does not seem to me to be a good idea — 2 percent less is not perceived by consumers as a real incentive to spend,”

  14. A pleasing result for the Tories. I would not have been surprised to see a Labour lead.

    It seems clear now that the Tories have stopped the bleeding for at least the time-being.

    I doubt Brown would call an election for Feb/March if these results persist.

  15. David Cameron should now consider a New Year reshuffle of his shadow cabinet. Many Tory supporters and quite a few waverers would like to see both Ken Clarke and David Davis back whatever ehe reservations about the age of one and the judgement of the other.
    By the way does anybody know what happened to the enquiry into ” Nannygate”. Have I missed something?

  16. Nothings happened yet with it, and my understanding is that is why Cameron hasn’t had a reshuffle – he’s waiting for the ruling before carrying out the reshuffle.

  17. Colin – be wary about quoting the IMF. These wonderful bunch of bankers were not the only economists who singularly failed to see the iceberg looming over the Titanic.

    Also interesting to see that as the Tory lead increases we haven’t yet had the chorus of ‘distorted Christmas polls’, which I suspect we might have heard had Labour support risen.

    All in all, what a fascinating year for poll watchers. It’s been a pleasure joining the site and reading the mostly intelligent contributions. Thanks to Anthony, and have a good Christmas everyone. Any polls yet on whether Santa is real?

  18. Alec.

    Are you saying this site has no Sanity Clause…….


  19. Certainly, David Cameron needs to enliven his team in the New Year. Messrs Clarke and Davis are both credible and persuasive advocates, But would they toe the party line? Perhaps DC needs to be adventurous and take some risks. Who should be dropped? He would need courage to remove George O. William Hague is his most talented lieutenant – so an even higher profile job for him. Party Chairman or Shadow Chancellor? Teresa May is bright and effective. IDS has gained much respect for his Social Report. Time for a senior post in the Shadow Cabinet? There is surely an urgent requirement to galvanise the party if it is to appeal to an electorate that is luke-warm to politics at the present time. The poll lead seems to have come about by default rather than by positive action.

  20. I must say I’m surprised – I was half-expecting it to be closer. If the in-depth findings of this survey is true, then the Conservatives will really need to hammer home their message of less borrowing and less public spending.

  21. I have to say that I can’t get my head around all this “freshen the team stuff”.

    To be honest I don’t know much about the Tory front bench, but then neither do 90% of the UK population.

    The team behind the PM or Op leader may appeal to anoraks on sites like this (or McAnoraks like me) but from what I can tell all the evidence says that reshuffled are news for a day or two (a bit longer if a Hezza resigns or the lord of darkness returns) but after a week the effect on the public is pretty much nil.


  22. Nigel J – I feel proud to have won a spinning award amongst so many top spinners.

    If England cricket team had some of you chaps amongst them they would never lose.

    Nice to see you all agreeing what good chaps ComRes are again after showing the “proper” lead.

  23. Peter,

    I agree that a reshuffle to “freshen” the team is forgotten before the papers proclaiming it become fish & chips wrappings (were it not for some bureaucratic Elf & Safety rule prohibiting this ancient British tradition).

    The more pertinent question is whether Cameron needs to “sharpen” his team by ditching non-performers while promoting those who can drive home a positive message, and not just thumping the government – a Davis speciality.

    However, in the current climate, the economy eclipses practically all other portfolios, so, apart from perhaps replacing Osborne with Hague, there is little to be gained from a reshuffle.

    Another factor for Cameron is that, unlike Brown some months ago, he does not preside over a cabinet who are busy squabbling among themselves or plotting against their leader, so has no need to knock heads together and preasent a new team.

    Have to say, Brown got his most recent reshuffle, in difficult circumstances, right – especially his coup in bringing Mandy back. A change from some of Blair’s bungled attempts.

  24. Alec,

    The recessions in the 1980s and 1990s were very different from each, both in their underlying causes, and in the actions needed to address these. Their eventual outcomes were also different. In neither case would a Keynesian approach have provided a viable solution.

    The fierce structural adjustment of 1980 was needed to address serious supply-side deficiencies arising from unproductive and outdated heavy industry with poor labour relations leading to increasingly inefficient plants. It is true that the correction and ensuing devastation left serious scars across much of the North, Wales and Scotland, but the economy which emerged was both leaner and fitter, and laid the foundations for a step change in Britain’s global economic position. Since this was a supply-side structural adjustment, it is difficult to see how a Keynesian demand led policy could have assisted.

    In the late 1980s, due to lax monetary and credit policies, the economy began to overheat. Unfortunately, instead of allowing a “normal” market ciorrection in October 1987, a Keynesian approach was taken to maintain demand and so enable the economy to continue growing. (see any parallels here ?) As a result, the monetary brakes had to be applied sharply, with inevitable consequences.

    The economy can be compared to driving a car. Adjustments to speed can be done either through fiscal policy (the throttle) or monetary policy (the brake). Regulatory policy and direct intervention govern the steering wheel.

    When the road is smooth and wide, amd conditions favourable, it is safe to pelt along at high speed. A safe driver however, always looks well ahead, and eases off the throttle early, rather than making sharp changes to speed or direction. Rapid acceleration or braking can lead to skidding, loss of control, or crashes.

    Like any machine, the car needs regular servicing and maintenance to keep it roadworthy. In time parts will wear out and need to be replaced. If maintenance is done badly – or not at all – then the car becomes inefficient and unsafe. Eventually, it will need to be scrapped and replaced with a newer model.

    In general, Governments, globally, not just in Britain, do not have a good track record. This is usually because they are showing off to the gallery rather than keeping their mind on the road ahead. If you look through economic history you will see many examples of breakdowns, crashes and even pile-ups. In most cases the cause is speeding, but inadequate maintenance is also often to blame.

    The most obvious way in which a car is replaced is through war. Britain’s tragedy after WWII was that, although clapped out, ours could still keep going, while its owner was broke, so we did not take the necessary steps to repair or replace it, until by 1979, it was a complete wreck which could just about travel on the flat but could only pick up speed going downhill.

    Rather than tinker with this old banger, Maggie opted for a thorough overhaul. Unfortunately, that meant most of it ended on the scrapheap, but what emerged was a leaner fitter and more productive machine that soon wiped the smirks off the neighbours’ faces.

    Nigel Lawson got carried away with this snazzy sports car, and went racing along uncharted roads. He even tried overtakiing that heavy German limo. Sadly, a few short cuts later he hit the crash barriers and came skidding to a halt. The car looked a mess, but actually it was mostly body panels in the crumple zone, hence the victims this time were a different bunch from the moving parts scrapped in the 1980s.

    So after some running repairs and a change of course (ignore those Germans and their friends) it did not take Ken Clarke long to have it up and running again. Steady as she goes and a light touch, lost ground was soon covered.

    When Brown took ovwer in 1997 he initially refrained from making many adjustments, so our economy tootled along as before. But he was an insatiable tinkerer, and kept fiddling here and there. Worse still, he started adding bits which became a drag on the engine. As it started to tire he just stepped harder on the accelerator.

    Now there are strange rumblings from the engine, the exhaust is emitting smoke, the body is rattling like a charity collection box, while the dashboard resembles a christmas tree, so many lights are flashing. As the cones start closing in and the signs shout “Warning ! Road Closed Ahead”, Brown valiantly shouts, “more speed”.

    How will it end ? What lies on the road ahead ?
    – A few bumps and potholes ?
    – Floods from those heavy black clouds overhead ?
    – Snow and ice in the blizzard coming off the mountain ?
    – Some sharp bends requiring nifty gear changes ?
    – Thick fog smothering all understanding ?
    – Is there a bridge over that ravine ahead ?

    Who really knows ?

    All I know is that I am uncomfortable, and this car is in no shape to negotiate the difficult road ahead.

    Still, we are British, so hold tight and keep a stiff upper lip.

  25. Correction to my post above:
    Fiscal Policy acts as both throttle (spending) and brake (taxes).
    Monetary policy (interest rates) is the gearbox.

    This raises the interst question of how well one can drive when someone else is controlling the gear-stick !

    Merry Christmas one and all.

  26. Correction – “interesting question”

  27. The problem for the Tories with their message is that aside from one German Finance Minister it seems as though the whole world agrees with the position Brown holds, and they are basically doing the same. A German Finance Minister is not the person the tabloids will like…

    And the argument the Conservatives are putting out becomes easily simplified to ‘less borrowing, less public spending, more unemployed but that’s okay as we politicians and our mates wont be unemployed it’ll just be Labour voters…’

  28. And Peter, I like the ‘McAnorak line, gave me big smile.

  29. Jack – To back your point up – on ConHome a few people on thier board have stated that they should cut as many Public Sector jobs as possible as the main money saver.The reason being….. the people in the public sector are more likely to vote Labour so they wont lose many votes by doing it.

    Oh don’t you love the spirit of Christmas.

  30. Paul HJ’s analysis is interesting if rather apologetic of Thatcher; he fails to mention how divisive she was creating the dependency culture (incl, using sickness beneifits to massage unemployment down) and the underclass that developed whilst she was in power.
    Also through the law of unintended consequences, the individualism message she preached with Reagan created the ‘loads of money’ society and can be said to be responsible for the current turmoil through promoting greed is good – light touch started with her as well.
    Where I totally agree is the gallery playing comment (I am too young to remember Roy Jenkins but I guess all site visitors know the perceived wisdom history). BoE independence is Browns get out, if the committee had thought fiscal policy too slack they should have increased base rates reducing political benefits – they did not to any significant extent.
    The key question for the polls, in my view, is to what extent ‘normal’ cycles will play. Ordinarily, even in the run up to 1997, the government gets a lift in support close to the G.E as the oppositions policies are scrutinised more closely, and their key personel judged. Moreover disgruntled supporters come home.
    In a normal cycle the 5-8% Tory lead would be eroded and become a Labour lead of similar size.
    I believe, though, it would be dangerous for Labour supporters to assume this will happen this time, perhaps the closing from 20+pt leads to now is this effect early.
    Tory weaknesses have become apparent; Northern Rock indecision, Osborne and de-regulation hindsight (inter alia) plus much Labour core vote has returned, yet the opposition still have the current lead.
    FWIW I reckon the lead could close a bit more to near parity by GE time unless Osborne goes as, in my view, it is the public seeing him in action and Camerons apparent failure to lead that has led to the closing in the polls.
    The stick with who you know in a crisis principle has impacted of course and Brown has done OK in general in recent months.
    The crisis could yet work for the Tories as they have time to address their perceived weaknesses; had they been exposed close to the GE it could have been too late.

  31. Three high street chains going bust in 24 hours sounds like a taste of what’s to come next year. Perhaps we’ll see a change of driver sometime in the next 18 months.

    Anyway Merry Christmas from darkest buckinghamshire, I’m off to get a drink.

  32. Jack and Tony could we try and base our opinions on what the polls are revealing rather than assertions backed up by political bias. There are many other forums for those kind of discussions.

    From the YouGov and ComRes polls which have asked explicitly about the positions of the two parties i.e. the Labour charge that the Tories are a ‘do nothing party’ and the Tory claim that the government is borrowing too much have shown that more people disagree that the Tories are a do nothing party than actually agree with it, and that a significant majority believe that the government is borrowing too much.

    Therefore the claim that the Conservtives argument has been simplified to l”ess borrowing, less public spending, more unemployed but that’s okay as we politicians and our mates wont be unemployed it’ll just be Labour voters…” doesn’t seem to be validated.

    As for the wild generalisation that “aside from one German Finance Minister it seems as though the whole world agrees with the position Brown holds,” well as I said lets keep the opinions poll-based.

  33. I loved the car methaphor. If only they made A-Level economics like that too.

  34. ‘the reason we need to cut public sector jobs is because the country can not afford their final salary pensions.’

    The country can afford it if the government used the pension contributions to invest –currently (both Labour and Tory) governments have used the pension contributions as income. Both parties are to blame for the shortfall. Answer is simple– do what was done to teachers, close the current scheme to new members and open a much less appealing one for new members. But use all contributions as investment- in a national wealth scheme- not income.

  35. ‘Jack and Tony could we try and base our opinions on what the polls are revealing rather than assertions backed up by political bias’

    Not quite sure where my ‘bias’ lies as I vote for both parties and for the last 12 months I have decided I will not vote for labour (not sure who I will vote for) and, if you read my comment closely you will see that and no point did I use ‘I’- I suggested one alternative which is in the news and it is an anti-Tory view. The rest of my comment was factual.

    Perhaps the bias was is in the eye of the beholder, namely than any anti-Tory comment is bias?

  36. Jack –
    For info. Just so you know.

    The final salary scheme in the civil service was closed to new joiners in 2007. Since June 2007 all new joiners are put in something that is, sort of, based on average earnings throughout their career. The new scheme is not quite as good as the final salary scheme but still way better than any money purchase scheme. As I say this applies to civil service staff. I don’t know about NHS employes or Local Government staff.

  37. “Answer is simple… use all contributions as investment- in a national wealth scheme- not income.”

    It’s not simple at all-you miss the essential point Jack-which is who bears the risk of investment.

    In a defined benefits scheme that risk lies with the employer-who therefore has to contribute at whatever level the Actuary advises every time the Fund is valued, in order to fund the “promised ” pension”. For the state to properly fund it’s defined benefits scheme would immediately render it’s contributions unpredictable & uncontrollable.

    This is precisely why the Private Sector is switching en-mass to Defined Contributions where the only guarantee is what sum the employer contributes. Yes those funds are invested-but all the investment risk lies with the scheme members.

    The State is guaranteeing pensions as related to salary-but making no attempt to value that promise over time and fund accordingly. Whatever it costs will be born out of future taxes as and when the pension liabilities chrystalise as pensions.

    No company would be allowed to draw up it’s Financial Statements by failing to account for it’s Pension Scheme liabilities in that way.

    Public Sector salary related Pension Schemes are unfair to Private Sector employees who are now paying more to fund State Pensions than they are to fund their own pensions.

    It will have to stop.

  38. Amazed to see that our stalwart posters were still at in on Christmas Day.

    Possibly even Gordon Brown gave himself a day off with the family yesterday…. then again, maybe not!
    Happy Boxing Day everyone :))

  39. Paul H-J
    Great post I couldnt have explained the last 30 years better myself
    Having been a petrol head for most of my life I like to see it from this angle.
    Each new elected government has a chance to start with blank sheet of paper, it calls in designers, engineers, consultants, and a sales team to build and promote their new vehicle, which they gave a sneek preview of in their Genral Election campaign
    Just staying with the Labour government since 1997 I t

  40. Jim Garner

    I think you misunderstand the interest rate setting brief of the BOE MPC.

    Their brief is, as I understand it, is to control inflation and keep it to as near 2% as possible by moving interest rates. They have no other brief. That is one reason why the BOE MPC couldn’t have made interest rate decisions based on fiscal policy because they are not tasked with this. So Brown canot hide behind the BOE.

    IMHO the last year has shown that the brief of the BOE MPC is too narrow (Inflation only) and should be widened. Whilst BOE interest rate independence has been a good thing this does need looking at regardless of which party is in power next.

    On other points – research has shown that support does not move toward the governing party during the GE campaign. It generally moves to the Tories regardless of whether they are governing or in opposition.

    Also I don’t see how Labour are going to get to near parity or go ahead of the Tories in the coming year. This recession is going to be particularly nasty and will hurt the Governing party more and more as we move through 2009 IMHO.

  41. Luke,

    It was my A-Level economics teacher who first gave me the analogy with a motor car.

    Must have been when we asked why fiscal priming is called the “accelerator”.

  42. “Must have been when we asked why fiscal priming is called the “accelerator”.

    So what’s inflation?


  43. I keep hearing how it is going to be bad for the government, however you have been telling me that for the last 12 months as the gap has closed.

    I am a Tory and the same view as above has been given out by the leadership.

    Hope I don’t come on in three months time to hear the majority on here say that the Labour lead cannot last that long.

  44. Peter Rush

    We aren’t officially in the recession yet (although we will be when the q4 gdp results are announced in Jan).
    I feel it will be the constant drip-drip of bad economic news throughout 2009 and the fear of unemployment that will eventually feed through to the polls.

    The Government believe that the downturn will be short lived and we will return to growth at the end of 2009 but I’m yet to hear from an economist that agrees with them.

  45. Peter

    The last gasps of monetary scoundrels.


  46. Thank you Paul H J for your very interesting analogy of the economy as a motor car. What I do have misgivings about is thinking of people’s lives as pieces of a car. But I suppose every analogy has its limitations.

    I prefer to approach economics from a more psychological rather than mechanical perspective.

    We all have an emotional need to feel secure, and a strong economy is very important for giving people this sense of security. At present the polls demonstrate that people are equally divided about which party they feel can give them most security.

    Polls regarding people perception about out the economy will perform next year suggest that at present a lot of people are in denial.

    As the economic situation worsens and the tax bill for all this borrowing gets nearer they will question the wisdom of trusting in Brown for their security.

  47. What really astonishes me is this,everybody who knows economics knows the USA on avg goes into recession every 7 yrs,this has worked to the year this time,2001-2008.

    Taking the USA economic size into account,and its effect on the world economy,also the above statement,it was crazy to borrow in the good was playing Russian Roulette with our economy.

    Also the statement that Labour have predicted we will come out of recession by end of 2009,not true,middle of 2009.

    So if by June 2009,we are not coming out of it,they have to make a choice more borrowng,or service cuts.

    Labour people who are confident about getting re-elected.i would start praying ,6 months and the clock is ticking,or G.Brown A.Darling have some serious explaining to do.

  48. Anthony W

    Are you writing an end of year review this year ?

  49. Paul,

    That hardly fits with the car engine analogy does it.


  50. Colin

    Re pensions

    There is finally a difference between being in the private and state sector (or are you arguing that the state sector should disappear?)

    In essence one you know will always exist, but the private sector company may not. That’s why you take the less good public sector pay for a more assured end income, and why private sector pays better as they may not be there at the end.

    It is a matter of two different options.

    At the moment the private sector is complaining because the result of excess private sector behaviour has come crashing down.

    Now it wants apples and oranges to be treated alike. The PS had huge salaries but now its in trouble it wants those who chose a less good salary to have to also take a less good pension.

    Supported by all govt behaviour who used all pension aspects as income not as investment.

    Bluntly the aspects of pension which people complain about have been changed for new people. That’s fine. But you cannot unilaterally change pension for those who signed up for a life time with the govt. That would be totally immoral.

    How would you like it if the employee decided they needed a 100% wage rise–it would be equally moral as retrospectively changing an agreed contract.

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