Two new Sunday polls

We’ve been a fortnight without a poll, but after a bit of a drought we have two tomorrow, ICM in the Sunday Mirror and YouGov in the Sunday Times.

Topline figures for ICM are CON 43%(+2), LAB 26%(-1) LDEM 19%(-1) – changes are from the last ICM poll, conducted all the way back in early/mid July. I think this is the second largest lead ICM have ever recorded for the Conservatives, the highest being 20 points in June 2008.

Topline figures for YouGov, with changes from a week ago, are CON 42%(+1), LAB 28%(+1), LDEM 18%(nc). Presumably, with all the main parties up one point, the drop comes purely from the “other” parties continuing to return to normal as the European election effect declines.

Two polls, neither showing much overall change. I haven’t seen the actual dates of the fieldwork confirmed yet, but they were likely both done on or around Thursday and Friday, so in the middle of the “WeLovetheNHS” fuss, suggesting no vast effect.

I would be slightly dubious about any big shift in Summer polls anyway. In theory there is a risk of samples being slightly strange because of people on holiday, although in practice summertime doesn’t normally produce too many wierd and wacky polls. I’ve always believed the summer break has the potential to help out a government in trouble, since the August diet of human interest stories about skateboarding dogs is a break from political bad news, though obviously there isn’t any sign of a summer recovery for Labour yet.

More to come later on, ICM apparently includes questions on Peter Mandleson as Labour leader.

UPDATE: Whoops, the YouGov figure for the Lib Dems should be 18%(nc), not 19%.

128 Responses to “Two new Sunday polls”

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  1. IMHO Daniel Hannan’s contribution is to be welcomed. It doesn’t do Cameron any favours to resort to personal abuse..

  2. COLLIN: The ‘others’ vote is a bit misleading. I think for the Euro elections you have to think that UKIP are an anomoly, without their vote the ‘others’ perform poorly. I do not know the exact figures, but all you need to do is look at the ‘others’ vote in the previous Euro election.

  3. Alec

    The debt in 1997 was actually a problem hungover from Major. Thatcher inherited debt of around 45% GDP and had reduced it to around 26% by the time she left. That is one reason we didn’t have particularly low tax during her years, she was paying off debt. Major borrowed during the early 90s recession and beyond and debt was back up to 42% by 1997.

    Brown, yes he did pay debt off for a few years but then he went on a massive spending spree. Knowing that people don’t like higher taxes he decided to fund this by borrowing, thus giving an illusion to the taxpayer that we could afford Labour without raising taxes.

    The debt problems we are facing now and for the next decade were not caused by the recession. That merely highlighted the crisis. What we are actually going to be paying for is all that borrowing racked up since 2001.

  4. @Mark M – The figures you quote are pretty pointless in that they are based on snapshots. The ‘achievement’ of 26% debt ratios was merely due to the time lag in taxation from the booms years and spending in the recession, which always lags behind. Thatcher only managed 2 years of positive annual PBR when debt was actually paid off (88-89), which peaked at around 1% of GDP, and this was preceded and followed by much larger deficits, starting at about 4% in 79 and rising to 8% during Majors time. In total she added to the national debt – the only reason why the % ratio fell was due to timing and the natural growth of the economy. The recession can be laid entirely at Thatcher’s door as she was at the helm when the economy was allowed to run out of control and poor old Major was left picking up the pieces. This say the debt go back up to 45%. In other words, all of Thatcher’s policies ended for naught as far as debt levels were concerned. It’s also worth noting that the national debt had been in long term decline since the 1950s under all governments and the annual current account PBR had been declining from 1975, so the notion that Thatcher somehow repaired the national finances is illusory. In fact, under her guidance the fall in debt levels stabilised and then increased, which private and corporate debt ballooned. Another key point is that privatisations transfered some debts to the private sector, muddying the waters still further.

    I agree entirely with your second paragraph about Brown’s errors, but he’s only carrying on a proud British tradition of Thatcherite expansion of unsustainable debt. The only difference is that he build things with the debt – she poured it into unemployment benefits.

  5. @collin see Stephen below you.

    @Alec, I have to disagree with much of what you say….ignoring the USA…in the UK, the ‘crappy infrastructure & public services’ under cons argument is pretty much rock solid going by the last cons govt, but it’s not true to say they did so at the same time as racking up debt, debt to GDP was pretty stable under the cons. I also don’t think we’re a particularly low spending government, indeed my figures show us taking a higher% of GDP in tax than any of the other 14trillionUS$ economies.

    Some people (myself included perhaps) would suggest that the level of ~30% GDP debt is pretty much the bottom for a country as rich & stable as the UK…what govt would really put reducing it as a priority when it got so low….not to mention that in some cases it’d be a better idea to save up other money than pay off some of the extreme low interest debt.

    I find talk of ‘unsustainable debt’ because we’re approaching the 50% barrier in the midst of a worldwide recession to be somewhat extreme when you look at the world war legacy of 250% that was mostly sorted in 20 years.

    Many people say it’s better to look at debt as %GDP than as total, and while this is true I say it’s better still to look at the % of government spending that goes as debt service (so long as the deficit isn’t too big compared to income, it’s very high, but not so high as to mess up these figures). Debt interest is currently running at 28 billion, so…very roughly speaking, a sudden doubling of national debt (which would require borrowing of ~a trillion) would make servicing it take up about 9% of the budget rather than about 4%.

    I doubt anyone claims that increasing national debt is a good thing, but it is to be expected during a recession and there really, really….isn’t a need to panic over it.

  6. @Alec

    Aren’t you being a bit hypocritical? Saying that the 45% to 26% reduction was a question of timing but that Brown’s repayment of debt (with Tory spending plans and in the middle of a boom) was down to skill on his part is just a little unfair.

    Amongst many factors that you ignore are the costs of the cold war (and the “peace dividends” so foolishly extracted by Major, Blair and Brown after it ended), the and the increasing oil revenue enjoyed by Major and Blair (which is now declining).

    There is no doubt that the increases in unemployment (and particularly the switch of the unemployed onto sickness benefits) was both costly and detrimental to community and personal wellbeing. You seem to prefer the maintenance of subsidies instead. I don’t profess to know the sums involved but it seems unlikely that continuing subsidy of lossmaking industry would have been financially cheaper than the cost of the subsequent job losses. Do you have any figures to hand that compare the two?

    I have always believed that if a British shipmaker can make a ship for £50m and a Korean shipmaker can make the same ship for £20m then it probably doesn’t make sense to give the customer £31m of taxpayers’ money just to keep the shipyard open. I am pretty sure I have read estimates of “price per job” figures in various lossmaking industries.

  7. ALEC

    If as you put it the German Economy tanked,why has German unemployment only risen less than 200K during the recession,while ours has risen over 750k?

    German & French Government deficits are forecast to be 5%-6% while UK faces 12%+.

    Japan has now also exited recession before us.

    On no level were we well placed as claimed to deal with the recession.

    With GDP revisions we now know we went into recession 6 months before France & 3 months before Germany.

    Alec,you need to face facts!

  8. People often compare debt/gdp,however this does not take into account deficts each year built against inflated GDP figures boosted by credit,what the real ex housing boom growth was is far different,in short the defict was much higher since the borrowing began in 2001 than reported.

    The GDP growth was largely false,the debt is very real,now this is unwinding hence the fall in GDP we have now & debt explodes.

  9. @Neil A – not quite sure where you got the bit about me saying anything about ‘Brown’s skill’ in bringing down the debt. I never mentioned anything about skill, have made it clear that Ken Clarke had a role in this, and have been very critical of Brown’s approach to debt after 2001.
    Elsewhere you said – “You seem to prefer the maintenance of subsidies instead” Where on earth did you get that from? Have I ever mentioned support for subsidies? Why do you feel the need to invent something for me to apparently believe in?

    @Wood – “debt to GDP was pretty stable under the cons” – no it wasn’t – you’re absolutely wrong. The total debt ratio went from 45% to 26% and then back to 45%. The annual current deficit was also all over the place. In fact, the whole Tory period was characterised by wildly swinging economic and fiscal performance, which was much more extreme here than in many other countries. While Thatcher could claim the 81 recession was necessary for rebalancing the economy, and I would see some merit in this arguement, the second crash was largely a result of the Lawson boom that I suspect was either incompetance on his part or a deliberate effort to get re elected, or more likely a bit of both. The almost total reliance on interest rates as the sole means of macro economic management helped create the yo yo economy. Brown carried this forward in more benign times, and fatally failed to take action on overall indebtedness as he followed the monetarist logic that low inflation was all that mattered.

  10. @Rich – it’s all academic, as we all know the situation is poor, but quite possibly if Germany’s unemployment figures are better than the UK (a fact I haven’t checked) it could be because they copied Brown’s policy of a big fiscal stimulus, a fact you tried to deny earlier. And I never claimed we were better placed to face the recession – I actually said quite the reverse if you care to read what I said.

  11. Alec,i will give you the German unemployment figures for the last five months.

    -18K,-11K -15K +1K -18K

    You are the one who has claimed time & time again on here that Browns performance will be seen in the future as the ‘textbook’ way to deal with recessions on the scale of the credit crunch.

    I say you are deluded with all due respect.

    Lets give into the experts Alec,greman/france USA etc still have AAA stable,we have AAA negative.

    I am not being funny when i say it Alec but i will repeat it look at facts.

    German Unemployment has actually risen just over 120K during the credit crunch i said 200k to allow for future rises.

    Either way they are & have performed fantastic compared to the UK.

  12. Alec

    If you want to know why the Germans are doing so well it all goes back to 2006,when during the good times they raised VAT 3% to plug their deficit,this gave them a surplus going into the credit crunch.

    They did fix the roof when the sun was shining.

    Again you persist in claiming they have gone in for massive stimulus they have have not,they have backed the banks,they have not gone in for massive borrowing,what trey have done has come out of small scale borrowing & using their surplus.

  13. Had a look at the underlying figures for YouGov:

    Leader Total Well/Total Bad

    Cameron 55/35
    Brown 26/70
    Clegg 41/29

    45% fear loss of job or family member job, 29% don’t

    Raise living standard:

    Brown/Darling 22
    Cameron/Osborne 33
    Neither 38

    When will growth start?

    Already Has 7%
    End of Year 13%
    Early 2010 20%
    Late 2010 25%
    2011 24%

    FSA handled bonuses well?

    No – 78%
    Yes – 9%

    During Gordon Brown’s summer holiday, Lord Mandelson is in charge of the government this week. What is your opinion of an unelected peer standing in for the prime minister?

    Favourable – 16%
    Not – 67%

    There are no good figures in there for Labour whatsoever, but I think the living standards one is interesting, because it is below the current Conservative top line ratings. Makes me wonder if the electorate don’t think anyone can help but just want a change.

  14. Breaking down ICM, you get these figures:

    All figures are C/L/LD…

    Male voting 47/26/16
    Women 42/25/21

    So LDs doing much better with women (5% off Tory, 5% on LD)

    Labour only lead in the 18-24 range (30/35/19)
    Other age groups:

    25-34 – 47/25/25
    35-64 – 42/26/19

    Conservative’s weakest social class is C1 (38/30/22) whereas they are now very strong in the C2 (45/25/13) and even the DE bands (43/31/16). AB shows a not unexpected 50/18/21

    Regional breakdowns:

    South – 44/20/26
    Midlands – 53/23/15 (Plaid are here at 5%)
    North – 35/34/15 (SNP are in here at 10%)

    UKIP/BNP/Green at about 2% each nationally.

    Finally former voting figures from 2005.

    Intending to vote Conservative (95/17/28)
    Intending to vote Labour (1/67/5)
    Intending to vote LibDem (2/8/63)

    Those Midlands, South East as well as C2 and DE figures look deadly for Labour… Not to mention that considering the North includes the near Tory-free Scotland, those are not that bad. Looking at the South figures, maybe some reassessment of the LibDems prospects might be in order? You will see that the Tories are picking up more LD than Labour voters though, so it might be difficult to work out.

  15. @ Rich – “has come out of small scale borrowing & using their surplus.” Absolutely, I agree with nearly everything you say, and thanks for backing up my arguement. ‘Fiscal stimulus’ doesn’t necessarily mean borrowing, it means adding cash to the economy. If you have a surplus and spend that to go into deficit, that’s a stimulus. Germany has done exactly what Brown suggested they should do, after saying he was daft, as they discovered that they couldn’t afford not to. Everything else you say is exactly what I have been saying about how Germany was much better placed than the UK on entering the crisis. This is why they can ride out the recession probably better than we can, and will certainly come out with less debt.

    I can’t quite figure out why you seem to get so upset when I point out that Brown had the wrong idea oing into the recession, but the right plan once we got there, which has basically been repeated all over the world. I’m not elevating Brown into some kind of superhero – unlike the German’s as you say, he failed to act when times were good. But what’s so difficult about saying he got some some things a little right?

    Incidentally, we don’t have AAA negative – not yet at least.


    The U.K.’s AAA outlook was lowered to “negative” from “stable” because of the nation’s increasing “debt burden,” S&P said in a statement today.


    Seems you have been mis-informed.

  17. @Alec.

    I ascribe to you a belief in subsidies because of your constant references to the “unemployment that Thatcher created”. Unless you are suggesting that Thatcher deliberately destroyed jobs in profitable industries, that implies that her actions in allowing loss-making jobs to go (thereby dumping their occupants onto the dole) were wrong. Given that there is no way to prevent someone in a loss-making job from losing it is to subsidise their employer, I made the assumption that’s what you were advocating.

    And so far as skill was concerned, you were (in a nutshell) saying that Brown’s predecessors had only reduced debt temporarily and as a consequence of timing, but that he had made a better show of reducing it in the first few years of his Chancellorship. I assumed you meant this was because he was doing something right, rather than randomly pressing the right economic buttons like one of those monkeys typing Shakespeare.

    There is a real pattern to your posts. You generally start by saying something that boils down to “I’m not Labour, but Labour have been much better than the God-Awful Tories who destroyed civilisation and did everything wrong for years” and then spend another ten posts pretending you’re not on the left and are not anti-Tory…

  18. @ Alec

    “it could be because they ( Germany)copied Brown’s policy of a big fiscal stimulus, ”

    mmmm-Their’s was bigish-but Brown’s wasn’t despite all the guff talked about it :-

    G20 nations -total Fiscal Stimulus as % 2008 GDP

    Saudi Arabia-9.4%
    USA -5.9%
    China- 4.8%
    Korea -2.7%
    South Africa-2.6%
    Russia 1.7%

    ( 73% of UK total Stimulus was in Tax cuts)

    Source-Brookings from IMF & other data

  19. Alec – you deserve more repect and I agree with most of what you say here and on other posts.
    Essentially The Tories were woeful during office in terms of Macro- Economic management.
    My view ,Thatcher/Howe raising taxes and Interest rates in ’81 was wrong deepened the recession and cost the country greatly in costs and social terms; even if high unemployment helped tame the Unions.
    Lawson then combined over generous Tax cuts with low interest rates to create his inflation blip which led to the second Tory recession and Major, Lamont and notably Clarke dealt with to a degree.
    New Labour where sensible (perhaps austere) for 2 years following spending plans even Clarke said would have been changed.
    They have then relied on a conbination of (Chindia enabled) low Infaltion, Tax from City earnings and highypersonal and Gov’t debt to overspend.
    As a consequence we entered the recession in a worse condition macro-economically (but with lower unemployment rates) than some others notably Germany.
    Having said that, accepting the credit rating danger, the fiscal injection has been correct, it has ameliorated the recession to a degree and will (in many peoples views) prove cost effective when balancing future interest paymnents against future tax recieipts and lower transfer payments due higher levels of employment.
    The debate then should be about how much to spend in 2010/11 11/12 and so on; how quick to bring down the deficit what tax and spending priorities should be etc.
    As I have said on other threads it matters little as unless the Tories make some big cock-ups they will win it is just the size their majority that is in question

  20. This
    “Already Has 7%
    End of Year 13%
    Early 2010 20%
    Late 2010 25%
    2011 24%”

    For expectations of economic recovery is the only good thing for Labour…because (as I understand it) most of the experts are now thinking it’s with the 13%, which, if correct, will it seems be a pleasant surprise for 2/3 of the country. Maybe cons should have been a bit more careful about predicting terrible futures, now the govt may….although it is only a may….get some credit from a lot of people if the economy has recovered by the end of the year. Makes it also probably a bad idea for them to bash the govt policies to deal with the recession too much, because people will percieve those policies as working well….

    Generally terrible numbers for Labour, but that’s hardly surprising….I do wonder why the young support labour so…I’d have thought they’d usually go more for change, and they’re less likely to remember the pre-blair cons….I don’t look at such stats often, maybe I should start :)

    @Neil A, the 80s wasn’t a fun time for a lot of people….you don’t have to be labour or even left to not think highly of the tories of the time. I suspect the feeling that, whatever complaints against new-labour, they’re not so bad as the 18 years beforehand, is the majority opinion.

    “There’s a national debate on Margaret Thatcher’s state funeral. The only debate, is whether she needs to be dead before we bury her.” – Frankie Boyle

    Maybe Alec is secretly a labour activist, but it seems that there’s an assumption within the comments around here that certain views and anti-cons comments could only come from labour voters/’the left’, using being a labour supporter or being left wing as an ad homnien attack isn’t very smart, especially so when the person in question claims to be neither. I’m not necessarily accusing you of making such attacks, just a general comment.

    I also find in situations where everyone would rather not have a discussion degenerate into an argument, it’s a good idea for opposing sides to NOT try paraphrasing each other. I’m gonna go have a cuppa.

  21. @Rich – that’s exactly what I said. UK is currently AAA. The outlook – ie what it might become – has been lowered to negative. It’s distinctly different, but I’m glad you agree with me.

    @Neil A – I understand what you say re unemployment in the 80’s. I think the complaint many would have was that mismanagement led to the need for sharp rises in interets rates which unecessarily hurt investment and profitable companies, whereas a more stable management would have provided a better environment for business – in some ways similar to today. There was also a lack of interest in any notion of preparation for the upswings, and this partially explains the skills shortages that were particularly acute in the booms. On the debt issue, I was trying to say that the rise in debt under Major predated him and was the consequence of the Lawson boom under Thatcher. I didn’t intend to denote any great skill on Brown’s part – he followed Tory spending plans as the global economy grew, so debt fell. I also think you misrepresent my general views. I am anti Tory – I have never made any claims to counter that. I think the last period of Tory rule was in the main a failure, but with some good outcomes, while the next lot of Tories has yet to convince me they have any real answers to todays issues. I don’t support Labour, but I appreciate some of the better things they have done. The general tone of this forum is heavily Tory, so anyone departing from that view however mildly tends to get pigeonholed as a Labourite/socialist etc.

    @ Colin – again – that’s exactly my point. Brown’s policy was for a big stimulus, but as with many things he couldn’t deliver, hence Germany’s better performance.

  22. @Jim Jam and Wood – thanks for the support. Let me know when you’re planning to go in next and I’ll try to give some covering fire. It gets pretty hairy in there sometimes…

  23. Wood – “I do wonder why the young support labour so…I’d have thought they’d usually go more for change, and they’re less likely to remember the pre-blair cons”

    It’s the normal pattern. I think it’s probably simply the case of younger people being more idealistic, older people more cynical.

    Interestingly in the US you can see a cohort pattern in party ID that matches when people came of political age, so people who turned 20 when Eisenhower or Reagan were in the Whitehouse tend to be most Republican. People who turned 20 when Nixon, Clinton or Bush Jnr were tend to be least Republican.

    Sadly I’ve not been able to find a similar pattern in the UK – generally it just looks like the older you are, the more Tory you are.

  24. Anthony.

    As Talleyrand said:

    A man who is not a radical at 20 is lacking a heart.
    A man who is still a radical at 30 is lacking a head.

    As true today as two centuries ago. In those days there were not many pensioners, but older folk were certainly more conservative.

    The Jacobins of the 1790s gave France (and Europe as whole) stability in the period 1820-1845 before the revolutions of 1848.

    The generation which turned 20 in 1940s retired in the 1980s – when Thatcher reigned supreme.

    The generations which turned 20 in 1960s and 70s (under Wilson) are only now retiring – to find their pensions have not lived up to expectations.

  25. @ Ant, makes sense I suppose, I guess moving towards lower taxes as you earn more and more would be a big part of it….

  26. It will be interesting however to see if the long term position in the UK of more conservative pensioners holds up in the next few decades as the demographic changes. Pensioners will become a greater % of the electorate, taking a greater part of the health and benefits spend, will be less directly worried about earnings taxes and more concerned with the more regressive taxes such as VAT, council tax etc. Whether this makes life more difficult for parties proposing tax and spend cuts would be interesting, but there will certainly be increasing political pressure to fund older people.

  27. Alec,

    Not only do pensioners represent a growing demographic in % of electorate, they are also increasingly more active (both physically and politically) than previous generations.

    But that does not mean that pensioners will promote policies that favour themselves at the expense of other age groups. After all, most pensioners have children, and even grandchildren, who are also taxpayers.

    However, just because pensioners may favour better services for older people, it does not follow that this requires increased public spending.

    A typical example of the flaw in much government thinking is the current furore on the NHS. It seems that too many people are reluctant to address the fundamental question: Why does a tax-funded service have to be provided by a state-owned monopoly supplier ? State-funded does not have to mean state-supplied.

    As to the balance between taxation on income and expenditure, I suspect that the bigger issue is what level of aggregate taxation can the country sustain, and how can spending be reduced to alleviate this burden.

  28. @Alec
    “Brown’s policy was for a big stimulus, ”

    His policy was for a big fiscal stimulus from other G20 countries in order to help get UK out of recession without our having to put much in ourselves.
    Whilst Obama granted his wish, it is by no means clear that the results are what Brown anticipated.

    The bit which Brown missed was the astronomical Personal Debt levels in UK which consumers are busy reducing at present.
    An increase in savings levels in UK is not what Brown wants-but it is the inevitable result of his Credit Binge.

  29. @Paul HJ – I think you’re right. I raised it as a possibility, but certainly issues like the NHS make it very hard to have rational political debate about alternative solutions.

    @Colin – absolutely , this is exactly what I was saying. The quote “and fatally failed to take action on overall indebtedness” relates to Brown and is from my post of Aug 17th at 6.14pm. Can we therefore agree that we agree on this?

  30. @Paul HJ – I forgot to mention in relation to the NHS, while I have no real philosophical objection to a mix of delivery methods, one interesting point is that the NHS is often found to be much more efficient than private provision based health care schemes (although comparable measurement is very difficult). Private is not always more efficient – the insurance and legal elements of private schemes can be an administrative nightmare.

  31. Alec,

    You are falling into the trap of assuming that the alternative to a state-monopoly provider is a wholly private system funded by private insurance. This is not so – see my post above.

    The Tory health reforms of the early 1990s were intended as a first step on the road to focusing state involvement on the procurement of health care as opposed to being the provider thereof (early Hospital PFI projects were also a part of the same logic). Since then we have been running around in circles such that nobody really knows what the Government is actually trying to achieve.

    Most European systems provide for universal care paid for from general taxation. The mechanics vary considerably from country to country, but as far as I know, ours is the only one where the Government is both the monopoly supplier and monopoly purchaser of health services.

    Where the present American system (not recommended) fails is that you have to buy insurance in order to access health-care provision unless you are covered by medicaid – which is neither universal nor comprehensive. If you have neither – you die.

    The NHS as it operates in the UK is infinitely preferable to the current US system, but if we did not already have the NHS and were looking to create a public health system from scratch today we would probably have a very different template from the one designed in the 1940s.

    The valid point Hannan was making was that if the US wants to introduce a universal health system, they would be better advised not to copy the UK’s NHS.

  32. The problem the left has is not so much now ,it is in the next 10-15 yrs,i believe it will take at least that long for labour to sort themselves out after the next election defeat.

    What no one has touched on is the amount of outstanding mortgages that there are is a record,once they are paid off,the personnal freedom that gives people could change British politics for ever.

    I already believe England is a conservative country,we just dally with labour every now & again,this is also a factor as Scotland the most socialist part of the UK is the oldest & sickest part of the UK.

    Scotland is expected to shrink to around 5% of the UK population form 8.9% at the last census in the next 15-20 yrs time.

    The days of Scotland having small but decisve say in the UK Governemt will also be coming to an end & more important, perhaps the most truely socialist base for labour in the UK will become more & more irrelevant.

    With more people actually outright owning their homes than ever in our history by 2020,there will be even less reason to be scared of our future and elect big Government administrations in the future if you are in this bracket especially.

    If you look at democracies such as Germany & France there populations seem content with a big government,cradle to grave safety net,it is no conincidence that they also have small numbers of people owning homes,especially in Germany if is the done thing to rent all your life.

    Even with house price falls in any given economic cycle it is always preferable to have some equity in a house rather than dead money renting your whole life.

    The truth is the left is slowly losing its grip on Bitain,the true left was scrared to show its face in 1997,Blair was never the true left he was tollerated as labour had been in opposition for 18 yrs,the fact that seemed to bypass the Labour party however is the country turned their back on the true left in 1979,you can wish & wish but the Bitish people have rejected it.

    The opinion polls pre- recession & in fact going back to around 2004 showed the more power the Brownites got,the more labour lost the middle England voters it needs to win elections.

    By 2004-2005 Blair was scoring in the 20’s% mark in local & euro elections,a fact that a lot forget,he then went on to win the 2005 GE against a totally dissfunctioal Conservative Party with the lowest share for a winning party ever.

    In short the sands of time on ‘any’ Labour Government start running out from day one in this case 1997,you can’t keep the hard left on side or grass roots labour without more socialism 50p tax ,highest taxes ever pre recession,high debt ,massive welfare state,big Government,but the people who are essential to get the left elected middle England & more so in the next decades, do not want those things,every labour Government is doomed to fail in is just a matter of time.

  33. If at the next General Election after next the Tories have become unpopular, which is likely given the economic problems they will inherit, and Labour is still in a mess, which is likely on recent history that defeated Government parties do not get back quickly, then the SNP may well get a majority of Scottish seats, with all that entails.

    By the way, what happens about sorting out the national debt if Scotland becomes independent?

    The left would have to find many new votes to gain a majority in England and Wales alone. Although in general democracies dod seem over time usually to generate parties that provide a reasonable amount of alternation.

    Recent posts for the Wigan. Leigh and Makerfield threads – these are the three seats in the Borough of Wignan – are interesting about a “hard left” (including Green!!) re-alignment that may already be starting.


    I am a tory therefore for the UK,although i am not really wedded to it,if England went alone form a pure financial point of view,it would do fantastic.

    During the last 12 years in particular Government spending in Scotland,Wales,N-Ireland has rocketed.

    If you look at the GDP of Wales,scotland & N-Ireland the government part of the GDP is massive.

    Scotland 55%
    Wales 61%
    N-ireland 70%

    These levels are unsustanable.

    I don’t want to get into arguments with SNP supporters,but without oil the SNP latest figures say the Scottish deficit is 10% of GDP per year,this is pre-recession.

    Now they will say they have oil,i say yes but it will run out.

    Also as i point out Scotland is the oldest part of the UK,the pension liabilities especailly in the public sector would pass to the new Scottish Government as they would for Wales & N-Ireland,England again has had smaller Government in relation to other parts of the UK since WW2,if the tories were looking at it from a financial point of view England would go independant ASAP!

    HBOS & RBS liabilities would be some 100% of scottish GDP,however there balance sheets are £2 trillion that is backed by the UK with its AAA rating.

    Scotland would be a junk rated credit rating £2 trillion is some 20 times scottish GDP.

    This is another reason to keep scotland in the UK they would be a basket case on the HBOS & RBS loans alone,the result would be even more scots would come to England as Scotland would be in crisis,English security needs to be maintained that is why the UK makes sense from a English point of view even if it costs us more,but if only finacial matters were being taken into account England should be independant at the earliest opportunity.

  35. around 10% of everyone employed in Scotland either is employed indirecty or directly by the OIl industry.

    Even if you take SNP claims that the oil won’t run out in 20-30yrs,the fact is the best days of NSO are behind it.

    The SNP often claim that Scotland is well off,they point to the per head income that comes in favourably when compared to other regions of the UK.

    However if you remove the OIl & the high income jobs that would also dissapear,even the entire wealth of these individuals could vanish if they upped and left to take their skills to other OIL hotspots of the world the picture is entirely different.

    Oil jobs skew Scotlands GDP per capita,in fact minus those jobs Scotland comes near the bottom of the table.

    With oil about $100 barrel,NSO brings in about £7-8bn a yr to the UK coffers.

    With the Gas added(mostly in English waters) you can add a further £2-3bn

    So on average about £10bn a yr.

    To date all the Oil & gas extracted form the North sea comes to about £376bn

    UK exports per annum of Goods & services come to about £380bn

    So you see NSO stopped being a huge financial asset a long time ago,it is more of a security asset nowadays.

  36. Rich

    Huge subsidising of Northern Ireland has been going on for many years, and in that sense is demonstrably sustainable.

    However, I would ageee that massive subsidising of huge areas of the nation is in the long-term unsustainable.

    It is not just Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales where the Government is propping up the economy. The same applies to most parts of England, and most notably to Labour’s favourite region, the North East. In fact, only London, the South East (only because of commuting – its remoter areas like Thanet are not at all well off), and possibly the South West and East Anglia (again, really only the parts of these regions easily reached from London), are really sustainable at the level of developed countires.

    It was a former Lord Mayor of Cardiff, a very shrewd man, who told me, many years ago, that Westminster treats the Wales and the provinces as a colony. He was quite right.

    In Scotland, what is happening is overt. In England, it is hidden by the Labour Government’s disgraceful fiddling of EU requirments to develop regional Government by having indirectly elected rather than directly arrangements, and by the outrageous inequality of grants between regions.

    The fundamental problem is that the in UK your Tories, Rich, as much as or even more than, Labour have sacrificed everything else in the economy for banking and finance. The UK is turning into a Lichtenstein or a Monaco with sixty million people looking in from outside the City gates. It doesn’t work (for too many of us unemployed, literally so).

    Even if, as now, the rich of Westminster hand out huge amounts in benefits, useless education and make-believe jobs, they can’t hand out dignity and self-respect. And psephologically we are beginning to see the results in terms of the rise of fringe parties, of which the developments from Wigan on which I have commented are just the latest,

    What is absolutely desperately needed is investment in technologically advanced, environmentally sustainable industry that will enable all the countries and regions of the UK to find prosperity within the developed world. And as an amateur psephologist I report this because it is my opinion that, whatever you want, unless you make such investment the UK is heading for great political instability in the medium term. Including instability arising from demands for Scottish instability.

    A consequence of my opinion is that I think the Conservatives cannot succeed in maintaining the Union of England and Scotland whilst they maintain their present economic policies, which favour London based financial interests. How will they find money to invest in industry? And not least, English regions need to be given equal democracy and devolution as compared to Scotland and Waels.

    Incidentally, Rich, in relation to your previous comments, history repeats itself. The Union happened because Scotland was bankrupted by the Darien Scheme (to found a colony that would provide a crossing over the Panama Isthmus). And James VI of Scotland found prosperity for himself and his cronies when he became James 1 of England in 1603. I think we English are entitled to be fed up with this sort of exploitation.

  37. @Rich – your analysis re the left and home ownership is interesting, although I don’t necessarily agree with it all. Inherently I resist writing off any party, as history has a way of making such predictions look foolish. In my adult life both Labour and the Tories have at times been finished’, and the third party was due to go away ‘and prepare for government’ at one time. I think many would also argue that the ‘left’ has never really had a hold on the UK. We are an inherently conservative (small c) country, that sometimes needs a slightly more left of centre period to effect social change. I also think you need to think more about what modern parties represent ideologically. Neither main party has any real ideology, but we are in a period of managerial politics, and in many ways left/right analyses are bogus in this respect.

    What I did find interesting was your connection of home ownership to more right of centre politics. I would be fascinated if there was any hard evidence of that, but I can’t see that a modern centre left party would be too bothered about high levels of home ownership. In my view however, home ownership is a critical part of politics in the coming decades. The debate about how we fund pensions and care for the elderly has so far been stuck on trying to protect the property assets of the elderly. The Tories are particularly hung up on inheritance, which in some ways is an odd ideological position for them, leading as it does to cascading unearned income without any proof of merit or hard work on the recipients part. For a long time I have felt that the party that can work out a value for money system to utilised property equity to fund pensions and care home bills could well be on a winner. There are significant issues to overcome, not least the inheritance and the ability of parents to help children/grandchildren go to college, buy homes etc, but get it right and the rewards to society would be potentially huge. In essence, your mortgage payments double up as your pension/health care plan. You might not have as much to pass on when you die, but most children will be approaching their 50’s and well set when their parents die – they need the help in their 20’s. At that stage, currently their parents are flogging themselves to pay mortgages and pensions, but if equity release schemes can be made to work they can release pension contributions to help children when they need it most. There is also an equity arguement here – why should taxpayers fund care homes etc so that older people with high value assets can hold onto them for their children? From a low tax/smaller state/personal responsibility Tory perspective, it seems to me an odd position to take. Ideas, not ideology will win the coming decades, and whatever parties call themselves it won’t be a left/right thing.

  38. There is a very strong correlation between tenure and voting behaviour. Owner-occupiers are more likely to vote Conservative, people renting more likely to vote Labour (people renting social housing FAR more likely to vote Labour).

    See here

    Of course, it’s not a given that this actually means anything, given that tenure also correlates with class and income, both of which strongly influence voting behaviour.

  39. These polls make absolutely no sense at all… I can only assume that the poll-takers are getting lot fewer takers for their polls …I can’t imagine them getting a sensible response in some of the council estates I’m familiar with; and almost guaranteed to get a response from the more affluent living in nicer areas… partially echoing Anthony’s comments.

    There are of course many other overlaying tendencies such as established regional tendencies; and the regional demographic.
    Whilst I’d go along with tenure and tory voting as a very general rule of thumb; I think there is a rapidly changing picture out there where urban tenure yields your Labour and Lib Dem (the “Guardian-reading-young-professional with-young-family’s” party); whereas tenure in less urban setting being more of a tory and ukip zone.

    My experience of those in social housing is that those who would be politically interested would habitually have gone old Labour, and mainly due to social and work-related links… but I think this is a decaying picture of a time where working mens clubs were a feature of everyday life in contrast to sky tv, fat food joints, pile-’em-high shopping centres, and pawnbrokers.
    I don’t see rows of terraced houses with “vote Labour” flyers pasted to the inside of the windows any more; I see England flags, and the occasional union jack.

    Alright, you might dismiss my depiction of a typical LibDem voter; or even a caricature of a ukip voter as a odd pairing of a slightly nerdy pasty politics student and grumpy old ale drinking retired history teacher; both it reflects a sense that both can seem less mainstream than the Tories.
    Describe to me a typical Labour voter now though?!
    It seems a long way away from the stereotype of 20 years ago; more to the point, the networks fostered by mass industrial employment that Labour was built on – where is it now?!

    What’s replacing it? Apathy? Or exasperation?!

  40. @ Alec

    …the left and right being bogus… I generally agree; in the sense that, for the left, they seem to depend upon this dualistic perspective to legitimise their position; namely, the left is legitimate because it’s the contrast to the right: right v left as opposed to right v wrong.
    Describing the opponent before they get a chance to describe themselves is an effective political technique to vilify or at least neutralise.

    The most effective response is for those “the left” wants to call “the right”, to simply not use or acknowledge the term, and use a term for which there is no opposite location for opponents to commandeer.
    Better still, call themselves the centre and “the left” the “extreme left” – all is relative is it not?!
    On inspection though, you tend to find that the “leftness” and “rightness” of various parties is often far from where it’s reported to be…

    Here follows a chart locating various parties on a four-way spectrum:

  41. Anthony – thanks for the intervention, and of course you are correct in historical terms. I was pondering more whether the relationship breaks down as home ownership becomes the norm for lower income groups as opposed to the situation in the 50s and 60s.
    One point that Rich perhaps forgot, is that with greater home ownership come higher financial exposure and therefore risk, especially with interest rates the main macro economic tool. As we have seen under governments of both parties, this can lead to extreme financial pain for home buyers, which does have electoral consequences. Overall, I would still maintain that in a hypothetical situation where we had 100% owner occupiers, Labour would still be in the running for government subject to circumstances. In fact, a fairly prevalent view today is that New Labour has done bugger all for the social housing/low income groups, because they have been too busy keeping the great British owner occupier middle classes happy.

  42. “generally it just looks like the older you are, the more Tory you are.”

    This chimes with my view that as the old grey matter decays, along with other functions, so the poitical sympathies swing more to the party that regards decay and renewal as central to life; unavoidable, necessary, and healthy.

    Out with the old and decrepid, in with the new. (and preferably without costly interference holding up the process.)

    Some of us actually started with heads and aim to finish with a hearty flourish!

  43. ALEC

    You miss the point i was making,currently the UK has massive personal debt,i have always said this is a bogus argument as £1.2 trillion of the £1.4 trillion is mortgage related,my argument is this wealth will pass into the publics hands from the banks,so there won’t be that financial exposure,it will go from being debt to asset.

    And as i have stated people in my experience are then more likely to feel less constrained in needing safety nets that are traditional with large left wing ideology.

    As we have all rented in our lives,we know how annoying it is paying the same for rent or sometimes a lot more per year than paying off a mortgage.dead money!

    Germany shows up as having low personal debt,it you looked at monthly rent being paid out however they are spending just as much of their income as the UK on housing costs,it is all just a matter of putting Uk debt down on paper by adding up mortgages that take 15-20 years to pay off,in truth there is no difference between renter countries & high home ownership countries,unless rent is free in these countries.

    Vince Cable & Michael Meacher are both left wing voices that call for the Uk to be more like Germany & our EU friends.

    Until you delve a bit deeper & find cable owns 3 homes & Meacher 9!!!.

    It seesm they have done well out of Thatcher.

    A case of do as i say not as i do that has made this country so fed up with the Labour Party & the left in general.

  44. I stand by my claim,labour have blown it,what i mean by this statement is the people who wanted a true labour Government feel cheated,feel they have never had the left wing ideological Government they wanted.

    People such as myself & i believe the vast majority that gave Labour a go in 1997 & also feel cheated for different reasons.

    Labour has had 12 years of what can be only summed up as failure,you really cannot put it any other way,they have annoyed their own grass roots & annoyed the Middle england voters that they need votes from to govern this country.

    Its not about the recession the reason they hit 23% in the polls May 2008 was:

    Stealth taxes

    Highest tax burden ever

    Highest gun crime ever

    Highest Knife crime ever

    Highest legal immigration ever

    Highest illegal immigration ever

    half truths over Lisbon Treaty

    Military moral on its knees through lack of
    acknowlegment with part-time defence minister when engaged in 2 wars,only recently put right.

    Lack of support for troops in general

    Lack of respect for our democracy in the way labour stitched up the 2005 GE knowing full well they were by-passing the public in electing Brown as PM.

    And all we hear from the labour supporters & the left-wing press,the Government,posts on here & eleswhere, the only reason Labour is on 25% average in the polls is the economy.

  45. @Rich – I think I know what you’re getting at regarding debt and housing, but as some people’s mortgages are paid off, others will need to buy, so there will always be some exposure, although as you rightly point out, as a nation we need to reduce this to sensible levels.

    “And as i have stated people in my experience are then more likely to feel less constrained in needing safety nets that are traditional with large left wing ideology” – apart from your continued references to ‘left wing ideologies’, which I have said I doubt really apply now, I also wouldn’t necessarily agree with your quote. Firstly, the furore over the losers from the 10% tax rate abolition were from all income levels, including those who benefited. It was seen as unfair, and in general the British don’t like unfairness, even if someone else suffers it. Secondly, the biggest clamour for increased spending on care for the elderly comes from the relatively affluent elderly who don’t want to sell their homes and thus demand higher state spending to look after them.

    You’re very fond fond of left/right tags (personally, I think Vince Cable might take issue with you about being described as a leftie, but that’s another story) but I think these things unravel in odd ways. Essentially politics is now driven by issues, rather than ideology. That makes party support much weaker and less tribal, and means parties can happily go and reinvent themselves in opposition much more easily as they have less policy baggage to carry. In these circumstances you should never write off any political party in the long term.

  46. @ PROMSAM

    Strikes me that politicalcompass have it wrong – a Labour Party with less then one quarter of voters supporting them dismissing any critique as unpatriotic or wrong seems to be much more authoritarian than the current Tories.

  47. ALEC

    The reason i believe in Left/right tags is because the mask that Labour were forced to wear for a decade has slipped.

    When a UK Government budget is being carried on Bloomberg CNBC & other business channels worldwide & with great regret Labour does a U-turn on 50p tax rate,was it a somber moment or did labour benches cheer like a football crowd,did our PM have a grin from ear to ear.

    I can tell you the Americans who want to destroy London as the Worlds financial centre & return it to New York were talking about it for week,these programs are watched worldwide.

    When 20% of UK GDP comes directly/ indirectly from that ever so nasty square mile ,we should be careful what we wish for,we may just get it.

    When vince Cable says we should stop the amount of mortgages being given,that sounds very dangerous left wing talk to me,especially when all MP’s have homes or multiple homes.

    It seems to me the left & right wing arguments are very much back on the table,when money can leave one country and transfer to another with a touch of a button,i believe to be seen as anti-wealth anti-business in the 21st century is suicide for a country.

  48. @ Frederic :-
    “Conservatives cannot succeed in maintaining the Union of England and Scotland whilst they maintain their present economic policies, which favour London based financial interests”

    They may or they may not succeed-but their policy is not to “favour London”-it is in fact :-

    “a responsible attitude to economic development that fosters more balanced economic growth ”

    @ Alec:-

    “The Tories are particularly hung up on inheritance, which in some ways is an odd ideological position for them, leading as it does to cascading unearned income without any proof of merit or hard work on the recipients part”

    Why is it odd?
    Why does the owner of a house which he/she has paid for out of a lifetime’s earned & taxed income have to demonstrate “merit” in their chosen beneficiary?-and who is qualified to pronounce on it, or whether the recipient has demonstrated”hard work”?
    This is solely a matter for the giver-no one else has the right-or knowledge-to make any judgement on it.

    “In essence, your mortgage payments double up as your pension/health care plan.”

    And how many times have we heard that before?
    How many unemployed,who were nearing retirement & now face a decimated pension entitlement, and a collapsed house value believe that old snake oil salesman’s story.

  49. Like a pause in a soap opera i reckon we are in this window just waiting on the next instalment of Labour-enders.

    The polls won’t really budge until Oct,when Conference season takes place,the Irish vote on Lisbon,unemployment passes 2.5m & we get 3rd Quarter GDP.

    If as i suspect the tories & Lib-Dems have good conferences & Labour moderate, i believe we could see what the Americans call a perfect storm for Labour.

    By bonfire night Labour 20 points or so behind the tories & with the Libs snapping at their heels only 1 or 2 points behind ,we will see the hard left of the Labour Party put up a stalking horse.

    In none of our deliberations do we factor in the psychological wounds that cut the left in the Labour Party to the bone over facing opposition again.

  50. Just one thought on the inheritance issue.

    Yes by the time those who have long bought houses pass away their children will be home owners with possibly limited mortages.

    However they will also have teenage children seeking support for further education and potentially housing as well.

    It is this next generation that could benefit from reduced inheritance tax and enable them to have a sound start in their adult lives.

    That may be unfair in a broad social sense but that is certainly what we intend to do when we firstly downsize and then pass away.

    However is it so terribly wrong to do what one can for one’s own grandchildren? If so why?

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