The voting intention figures for YouGov’s monthly poll for the Telegraph have finally surfaced. The topline figures, with changes from YouGov’s previous poll in mid-August, are CON 42%(nc), LAB 26%(-2), LDEM 18%(nc).

Once again, not much change in the figures. It puts the end to a month of largely static GB polls, all painting pretty much the same picture. All the pollsters have the Conservatives between 41%-43%, everyone has Labour in the mid 20s and the Lib Dems 17%-19%.

The Telegraph’s report highlights the economic confidence figures – they are sharply rising in the polls, with net economic optimism now at minus 14 (compared to minus 67 last year). We’ve seen a similar turnaround in economic optimism from Ipsos MORI, but neither company has shown this translating into a boost in the number of people backing Labour.


88 Responses to “YouGov’s monthly Telegraph poll”

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  1. A falling pound may be good against the Euro not against the Dollar as imput costs will rise for manufacturing depressing any recovery to much further out,the Dollar is the currency commodities are traded in.

    Against the Euro over 88p no good as it then tips the balance between imports & exports 85p is the sweet spot in this regard in terms of the trade balance.

  2. ALEC

    I don’t see the proof at all behind the idea that the economy will win or lose the election for Labour, one way or another.

    There’s nothing in the annuals of history to suggest it: John Major won an election in 1992 after seven years of comprehensive Tory economic mismanagement; he then lost an election in 1997 after four years of low inflation, steady growth and improving fundamentals. Five years of unrelenting economic misery (albeit largely due to Tory Keynesianism in the Barber Boom) didn’t result in an equivalent wipe-out for Callaghan’s Labour in 1979. Douglas-Home’s Tories went into the 1964 election with a booming economy and the longest period of steady economic success in Britain’s history, but couldn’t get the vote out to win. Though it had started to recover, the economy was still in a parlous state in early 1983, but Thatcher still won.

    Then in recent times, Labour won elections at times of (relative) economic malaise in 2001 and 2005.

    To get more recent still, as you point out there was a “lag” (I would say no verified relation at all) between Brown’s bust beginning and Labour’s popularity going into its current state. In fact, I remember Labour (or at least Brown) getting a bit of a boost initially, due to the rather successful “no time for a novice” narrative, which I suspect Labour would have continued if it wasn’t so utterly open to the “What do you think about Obama, then?” retort.

    I’m not saying the economy is NEVER the deciding factor in elections or that it isn’t a factor in a government’s popularity, but I think there are far bigger issues. I certainly don’t think it will be a winner for either party in 2010: in voters’ ideal world there are both tax cuts and public spending increases; both low inflation and booming house prices; both high savings rates and low lending rates. The aspiring next government is going to be unable to sincerely offer any of these six things. The only viable narrative out there is Cameron’s “Sorry fellas, we’ve got to take the hurt so our children don’t have to”, which even then only works because Cameron has a whole host of popular policies that aren’t purely economic.

    If Labour win in 2010, which is still not outside the realms of possibility (though it’s travelling at speed through the hinterlands), it won’t be because of economic recovery.

  3. @Bill Patrick – as I indicated earlier, I think you’re probably right. There is one significant factor that may actually help the Tories – I think there is residual disquiet at the ease at which the Tories have gone straight for the cuts programme, as it reminds voters of previous bad experiences. If voters feel there is less of an imperitive for cuts with an improving economy they may feel more inclined to back Cameron. Oppositions have often done better in brighter economic times as there is less fear attached to choosing them.

    @Rich (12.45pm) I still think you haven’t understood what these figures mean. They are a purchasing managers index of likely future activity – they indicate what is likely to happen, not what has happened. These figures won’t be revised as they are more the equivalent of forward looking opinion polls – it’s actual output figures that are subject to revision as full data comes in, and at present all the output figures are being revised upwards.
    Your views can be adequately summed up as ‘Labour are totally useless and anything that is good is, and will always be, because of the Tories’. It’s not a particularly accurate or useful view I feel.

  4. @ ALEC :-

    “The mortgage and debt figures are frankly excellent. Personal debt levels are at their lowest for 16 years – exactly what Colin wants – while there has been a net repayment of mortgage debt, which is fantastic news for bank capital balance sheets.”

    You have just chided RICH for being partial & innaccurate.
    May I suggest that you would do well to try & practice what you preach.

    You are perfectly entitled to argue that the economy is turning a corner-but you must try to avoid exaggeration.

    The above quote is an example of what I mean.

    Todays Personal Debt figure announcements are for a reduction of total personal debt in UK of £600 MILLION in July-to £1.457 TRILLION -or 0.04% if my arithmetic is correct.
    To put it another way, personal debt in UK stands at £24,000 for EVERY man woman & child-and
    in July they each repaid £10 of this sum.

    As you rightly observe this is the first time personal debt in UK has fallen for 16 years-but this minscule reduction merely serves to highlight the horror of what went before in those 16 years. It is not,furthermore, “fantastic news for Banks”-it is a tiny drop in the ocean of insignificant proportions when set against the undercapitalisation of our Banks-many of whom are technically bust.

    Further-of the £600 million reduction in debt in July, £400 million was in mortgage reductions-reason?-because those fortunate individuals on VR have used their windfall repayment reductions to reduce the capital sum. The BoE gave them this money-they had to make no adjustments to their consumption levels to get it.

    The Balance of £200 million in Consumer Credit debt actually masks a further rise of £90 million on Credit Card Debt.

    There is still an unprecedented mountain of debt hanging over UK citizens, and they will have to reduce it before long out of their own money-which means spending less.

  5. @Colin – you’re quite right – my language was a little over the top given the numbers. Apologies. Nonetheless, the point still stands that the direction of travel for many of the indicators is positive, or at least much less negative than many would have us believe. I often get into these debates on this forum as I try to point out that many correspondents are either overly pessimistic or seemingly willfully ignoring inconvenient data. In my attempts to counter balance I can sometimes stray too far the other way.
    You’re right that the cash balance is comparatively small. The effect of rising share values will be much more significant for the banks, and here Lloyds, RBS and Barclays have seen rises of around 50% in share prices give or take since early June.

  6. ALEC

    here we go again it seems.

    1)1 week ago you told me i was wrong that the UK had been downgraded to negative AAA,you were wrong.

    2)You said the Governments schemes to help people with mortgage problems had worked,i said you were wrong only 15 families had been helped to date at a cost of £500m

    You then changed your position saying’the schemes had been slow to get off the ground,i’ll say they were as they were announced in November 08.

    You now say above

    I still think you haven’t understood what these figures mean. They are a purchasing managers index of likely future activity they don’t get revised.

    This from the PMI website

    Numbers from the Chartered Institute of Purchasing & Supply (CIPS) and Market Economics revealed the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) dropped to 49.7 last month from 50.2 in July, downwardly-revised…

    There ALEC ,clear as day July’s figure revised.
    .
    So again Alec you show a complete lack of knowledge of the facts.

    This is getting boring i am not here to teach you economics.

  7. Alec, thanks for the details, I’ve found and read the article in question. It still doesn’t really answer my question. Mr O’Neill talks mostly in overall numbers rather than actual marketplaces. It seems his main thrust is that China’s demand has bounced back very strongly, mainly in response to a government stimulus package. The only product he mentions by name is cars. I presume this reflects the long-awaited loosening of consumer spending in traditionally thrifty China. Given his position and the information he presumably has access to I am certainly in no position to gainsay what he says. Interestingly though whilst trawling through Google for Goldman Sachs quotes I found quite a lot of far less optimistic quotes from other analysts at GS.

    As for the reduction in overall debt, I welcome this but I would question whether it represents progress in the economy. I pay £750 a month on my mortgage, a large chunk of which is a capital repayment. Millions of other people do the same every month. So in theory personal debt should reduce by a couple of hundred million per month. It doesn’t normally, of course, because every month thousands of new borrowers withdraw huge new sums in borrowing. It seems to me the current stastic is mainly a consequence of the drop in mortgage approvals over the past few months. A net repayment in normal circumstances would be BAD news for banks. It is only good news for them now because a repaid debt is better than a defaulted debt (but not as good as an increasing debt that the debtor is good for).

  8. Rich, drop the condescending tone mate. I agree with you more often than I do Alec, but you are both agreed on the main point which is that the figures concerned are a future indicator based on what managers think their order books will look like. They are not output figures and therefore are not the numbers we look to with regard to officially being “in” or “out” of recession. They do seem contrary to the optimism that Alec was quoting from Jim O’Neill. But we all know that global economics is a big mess of contradictory and slippery indicators that noone can quite get a handle on.

  9. Neil A

    I don’t normally argue or actually address anybody by name,i normally just post for general consumption.

    I don’t know how to put up a shelf up, cook a meal very well,but economics i know my fair share.

    I studied Economics and Economic History at Warwick University for 3 yrs & its just a case of not being told how to suck eggs.

    However you are right its a forum but we are human & i like everyone get annoyed sometimes.

  10. Alec,

    I think you may have a very good point there, insofar as that (as a general rule) the British electorate have a strong tendency to factor in stability (of their lives) into their voting behaviour.

    Excluding Northern Ireland, most Brits have historically been conservative (emphasis on the small c) in their voting patterns. When long periods of one-party dominance are broken, it’s because the opposition has at the very least got a equally safe offer to put to the individual voter. Even paradigm-shifting elections, like the 1945 election, reflect this: 1945 was a time of great uncertainty in terms of future employment opportunities, particularly for middle class voters who prior to the 1930s had had very little experience of unemployment. Labour have a narrative of stability. Even “radical” governments like the Tories in 1983 and 1987 had even more radical primary opposition parties.

    If Cameron finds himself in a position of having less to cut that he initially anticipated, then he would be in a very good narrative position: “we sorted out the public sector and didn’t we make it less painful than you thought?”

    On a similar note Cameron’s emphasis on maintaining funding for the NHS and international aid is another clever move. It’s natural that voters would want the welfare measures they are most likely to enjoy (subsidised healthcare even if you could pay privately and the “Robin Hood” pleasure of giving rich people’s money to the Third World).

    If I were a Tory (and I’m not) I’d start to play the “spending vs. investment” game, ie. “We will use your taxes to invest in you and your children’s long-term prosperity, rather than spend frivolously”. Brown had already come up with plenty of quotes to provide ammo, while it basically sums up what Cameron’s Tories want to do with the public services: do more, with less.

  11. Neil A

    A tip for you,the one true expert who predicted this whole thing.Nouriel Roubini.

    Forget all the popstar experts like Jim Rogers & Peter Schiff,(Bloomberg & CNBC)they are all in it for themselves like Soros,they will tell the public something & then go the other way,like get out of dollars then they themselves would pile in.

    Again avoid the investment banks expertise,afterall they had no clue about the credit crunch in the first place.

  12. @Rich – I’m struggling with your posts. The UK is still AAA rated – S&P gave notice that they might in future consider a downgrade, and while this leads to an actual downgrade in about 35% of cases, it is NOT the same as a downgrade.

    I made no such claims about the failed government scheme that has only helped 15 families, and if you read my posts you would understand this. I stated that they had, with the agreement and cooperation of he banks, provided much better debt advice than in previous recessions, not the same thing as the particular financial aid scheme to which you refer.

    From today’s Times- “Output rose at its fastest pace since December 2007, with small and medium-sized companies and larger producers recording the strongest growth, while stocks of finished goods fell at the second-fastest rate on record.” The PMI is made up of 5 separate indexes, one of which is monthly production. This rose sharply in August, but overall the headline figure denotes a small possible contraction as the rate of new orders slowed. So production increased in August, which is not what you initially claimed – a PMI of 49.7 is not the same as a contraction – it’s mainly a prediction.

    “This is getting boring i am not here to teach you economics” – I can happily agree with you on this one – thankfully you’re not hear to teach me economics.

  13. ALEC

    I am now calling an end to this,you seem to just want an argument,i will post my comments for ‘others’ thats it.

  14. Alec,

    I have no doubt that what you say is accurate;

    “Output rose at its fastest pace since December 2007, with small and medium-sized companies and larger producers recording the strongest growth, while stocks of finished goods fell at the second-fastest rate on record.”

    However;

    Output rising at the fastest rate in two years doesn’t actually tell us much if the banking crisis started about may 2007 that only tells us that we have stopped falling and have started to go the other way.

    Even if it’s a “V” recession as some hope we will still take another two years to get back to where we were and that assumes we recover at the same rate as we fell, which is unlikely.

    Equally stocks falling fast in itself doesn’t tell us things are getting better. Just as many manufacturers cut production and heavily discounted to move stock last year to raise cash or cut debt it is too early to say that that isn’t continuing.

    I had a presentation to the Council pension fund on private equity last week and one of those presenting it was talking about great opportunities on the secondary market with offers being made to take over private equity deals at 40% to 60% discount forced by people needing raise capital quickly.

    Indeed they had on some occasions been offered a fee to take options off peoples hands, effectively being paid to take over an investment. In at least some of these cases they hadn’t accepted because even with a fee they thought the investment was now junk.

    I am not saying there aren’t signs that the worst may be over but as the saying goes “that light at the end of the tunnell could be a train”.

    Peter.

  15. @Peter – I would agree with you in many ways. There are still problems, not least in the US bank system where the number of banks now officielly on alert has increased. Without the US economy really picking up there will still be risks. I was also fairly surprised at the bullish tone of the Goldman Sachs piece – they really are nailing their colours to the mast. However, if you recall, the mood at the start of the crash turned in a matter of weeks. I was really struck with this at the time and I believe it was an example of a wider social phenomina resulting from globalisation and technological advances creating rapid information spread leading to very rapid shifts in socio economic sentiment. These sentiments are in turn more homogenous with less diversity of thought, so everyone suddenly switches and runs the same way all at once. We are not in the same world as previous recessions, and I suspect that when it turns again it will be just as rapid. It’s not logical, but social factors are something economics is absolutely terrible at, which is why they are hopeless at predicting anything with any great level of accuracy.
    When the recovery comes, it will be down to sentiment, not numbers, and it will happen quickly. I’m not arguing this is a good thing – Colin and Rich are both quite right that we need a lengthy period of slow debt contraction – but en masse people are not logical (possibly stupid?) so I don’t think we’ll get a logic led reconstruction any time soon.

  16. Alec,

    The Goldman Sachs opinion is just that – an opinion. It was also made in the context of the global economy.

    But, unlike most other countries – even including the US, the UK is saddled with both record levels of personal debt and public debt. (And incidentally, your comment “Personal debt levels are at their lowest for 16 years ” is factually incorect. The first monthly fall in 16 years would have to have reversed the whole of those 16 years of growth to deliver what you said.)

    The only way that a country can recover in that situation is by an investment and/or export led expansion. The data on business investment are not promising (record falls) reflecting both lack of optimism, and probably more importantly, lack of credit lines. Growth in exports requires two things; rising global demand, and domestic production of goods and services that are of the right quality and competitively priced.

    That way, we can keep people productively employed and earning money which can be used to progressively reduce both personal and public debt.

    The last thing the UK needs is another consumer binge funded by credit cards which simply sucks in more imports and increases personal debt. Yet if one looks at all the policies the government has come up with, they seem fixed on raising consumption.

    As has been commented by others, it is probable that the UK will be the last and slowest to recover as the rest of the world resumes growth. That is basically down to Brown’s mismanagement of the economy and public finances when he was Chancellor.

  17. Paul HJ – I hadn’t picked up my misleading comment re debt – you’re right, it’s absolute nonsense to suggest debt levels are the lowest for 16 years, and wasn’t my intention.
    I agree entirely with your post though. If you look at the last sentence of my last post you’ll see that we think in exactly the same way on this. In many ways my biggest disappointment with Chancellor Brown was his failure to secure greater industrial investment and improve productivity. Much of the growth was based on supressed payroll costs rather than effective capital investment.

  18. We have effectively 8 months to go before the GE. Over the last 8 months the WMA CLead has averaged 14 with a Standard Deviation of 2.5 (FWIW the C vote has been 41 Std 2 and Lab 27 Std 3.5.

    Of course a lot can change as the economy moves and during a GE campaign. But what we can say is that IF the next 8 months resemble the last 8 then the chance of a CLead of less than 9 is very low.

  19. Alec,

    Not sure as to which sentence of which post you are referring, but never mind.

    With regard to your disappointment in Brown, I think that the crucial point here is that, despite his much vaunted record, Brown has shown himself to not be that well versed in how the economy actually works.
    This has been most evident in his attitude to trade and industry (in stark contrast to John Smith), in particular what actually drives investment and production to generate the wealth which allows people to pay the taxes which fund public services. But is also true of many of his other policies – eg Tax Credits – which seem to take little account of how normal people think and behave.

    Now, one could argue that this need not matter as other ministers should be responsible for these aspects and it is for the PM to act as arbiter when individual departments come into conflict with the Treasury. But as we all know, the former PM was vey much a “big picture” person who could not really be bothered with the details, and, since Gordon seemed very keen on micro-details (at the expense f the big picture), was content to let HMT ride roughshod all over Whitehall.

    If things were bad under the ancien TB-GB regime, it is surely no surprise that they have become catastrophically worse when there is no counter-weight to GB ?

    What I find hardest of all to comprehend is that the PLP have seemed content to let Brown drive them all to the edge of the abyss. Can they not find just 30 MPs with the backbone to call a halt ? Evidently not, as we found in June.

    It is in this aspect that comparisons with Major become all the more striking. Everyone could see that the Tories would be defeated because the government had lost its credibility over the ERM issue and was bitterly divided over Europe. But nobody could accuse Major of cowardice, or of doing anyhthing other than his duty to the country. Hence Major could leave Downing St with his honour intact – even if he left his party in a shambles.

    I doubt the same will be said of Brown – though he will have left his party in an even worse mess than Major did.

  20. @Paul HJ – I was referring to the sentence where I agreed that a lengthy period of slow debt reduction, and not another credit card binge as you pointed out.
    I think you’re right on Brown – both he and Blair failed to articulate any meaningful philosophical analysis of what they were trying to do. It was all micro management and strings of initiatives. Major also suffered from this, but more because he couldn’t unite his party around a coherent central theme. Cameron will also face this problem, and I don’t have any confidence in his ability to outline a consistent strategy other than headline chasing a la Blair.
    In my view there have certainly been successes since 97, with smoking bans, minimum wage, open access, some good work on child poverty, state pensions and third world issues etc, but overall I think that most people will look back on this period as Labour’s wasted opportunity. Brown summed it up for me when he said ‘We’re at our best when we’re at our boldest’, and then proceeded with cutting the 10% tax rate….

  21. @Rich – if you’re still out there – just to hark back to a previous exchange re government schemes to help homeowners, the BBC is reporting 85 families helped to date in the Mortgage Rescue Scheme in E&W, with 116 offers made and 274 further reposession orders lifted, a further 260 cases being processed in Scotland with a further 105 cases since through the Mortgage to Rent Scheme, no figures yet on the Homeowners Mortgage Support Scheme, and 116,000 families benefitting from the new Court Protocol in England and Wales. These figures are only from June, so are well out of date, but overall help explain why reposessions are lower than expected and almost certainly won’t top the 1990s figures.

  22. Alec,

    You missed a few items in your list of Labour successes since 1997 (and there are others which I may cite as failures yet to be reversed), but, in general I would agree, a key message which historians will record is that in 1997 Blair promised so much, then, despite an overwhelming majority in Parliament, proceeded to deliver so little. They will then go on to note that Labour’s rule ended – like all previous Labour governments – in a fiscal and economic mess which the Conservatives had to clean up.

    As for Cameron, I think you have totally misread the man. I suspect that is probably because you have approached him from an economics / public services perspective, and have completely missed the central theme of his policy platform – which is restoring the key foundations of our (broken) society.

    In other words, you may be falling into the same trap that Mr Brown already has, which is to assume that the role of the government is to rule, and that this can be measured by laws / regulations passed, how much the government taxes / spends, and on what.

    As it says in the NatWest ads – there is another way.

    Cameron’s message is far subtler, but it will resonate with the public in subliminal ways which Brown simply does not understand.

  23. If Cameron is about fixing a broken society he will be trying to, repair what many people believe grew and became entrenched under Thatcher, a hard message for Tory to deliver.
    I am biased but feel he is a soundbite opportunist who looks after his shadow cabinet friends whilst savaging less back benchers; and he lacks any vision.
    He most likely will be PM soon so I hope I am wrong.

  24. Alec-you missed what, in my opinion, is Blair’s only demonstrable & enduring success-Northern Ireland.

    “Triangulation”, Blair’s Clintonesque tactic of being all things to all men,never quite saying what you really mean to anyone, & avoiding difficult detail , was the perfect approach for NI.

    He stuck at it & deserves a lot of credit for the result.

    Ironically , in the rest of UK, Blair’s Triangulating simply earned him a reputation for unprincipled posturing -just another joker for Rory Bremner’s portfolio

  25. Paul HJ – we agree on much, but not Cameron. I have to say that reading your view of him confirms in my mind my view that he is a very good PR man. There is no intellectual foundation whatsoever for his ‘Broken Britain’ theme other than snappy headlines. His application of this has been illogical and ill informed, and he swings from one issue to the next with no clear central theme at all. Nowhere is this more evident than the illogical position to protect NHS spending at the expense of, say, education and training. It’s not principled, it’s not logical, and it’s not subtle – it’s political tactics and PR, trying to neutralise an issue. Broken Britain will become an albatross round his neck – his boom and bust – and he doesn’t see this because he has no strategic vision or belief, just a good eye for tactics. His government will be a further continuation of the trend for Westminster administrations to slide away yet further from responsibility, and we will continue to be governed by an initiative obsessed group of professional politicians who do not understand the basic facts of society. OK – I’m a cycnic, but the last time I felt like this about a UK opposition leader was about 1995. I just couldn’t see what on earth the fuss was about, and smug git that I am, I was right.

  26. @Colin & Jim Jam – our posts crossed. Both your posts meld together very nicely. You’re both correct in what you say, and Jim Jam’s point about Cameron’s alternating treatment of his friends and old guard demnstrates his addiction to the Blair doctrine of triangulation, so aptly put by Colin. This is what Cameron is doing, and he will, like Blair, be seen as an unprincipled posturer.

  27. @Colin – thinking about what you said – and get this from me – Thatcher deserves a lot of credit for Northern Ireland. The 1984 agreement explicitly stated the UK had no strategic interest in NI, and that it was up to the democratic process whether or not we stayed. It gave a real kick up the backside to the Unionists, and was the start of a long, slow realisation by the Republicans that the war was extremely stupid and wouldn’t get them what they wanted.

    What wonderful symmetry – here’s you lauding Blair for his Irish achievement, while I salute the Old Witch likewise.

  28. On Cameron I think we should remember that any potential PM has to appeal to a broad church. If he doesn’t he won’t be elected!

    In Cameron’s case I think on the Broken Britain side he’s given the key role to Duncan Smith and whilst he was a failure as a leader a lot of informed and opposition MPs as well as left of centre commentators have said his report is very good. How far or how well it is implemented is another matter.

    The key point though I suggest is this. If Cameron can attract good people and then give to his Cabinet real authority and power to act that will be a fundamental difference from both Blair (who gave all domestic responsibility to Brown) and Brown who kept it all to himself.

  29. @David D “…and then give to his Cabinet real authority and power”. He won’t. That’s why most of the shadow cabinet are already saying they know their opinions don’t matter. It’s friends and media advisors only. A recipe for poor government once again.

  30. I think unless Cameron accepts that insofar as Britain is “broken” it is largely because of, and not despite, the efforts of the Welfare State then frankly he has nothing new to say on the subject. I agree with Alec that 90% of what Cameron says is purely political positioning for electoral advantage but then that is exactly what the Tories want and need right now. The only way Cameron could be a more perfect leader for the Conservative Party in 2009 would be if he had been born to working class parents and attended a Comprehensive in Swansea rather than Eton. But you can’t have everything.

    What I would say though is that just because Cameron’s strategy is very political, slick and pretty cynical that doesn’t mean that he would be a vacuous and ineffective Prime Minister. He is clearly very bright, and the fact that he has worked out how to be a good opposition leader may indicate that he can also work out how to be a good PM. Of course the two things are totally different, but there’s no reason why one talented man can’t excel at both.

  31. Alec

    “There is no intellectual foundation whatsoever for his ‘Broken Britain’ theme other than snappy headlines”

    I think you are quite wrong Alec.

    The evidence is clear & has been compiled painstakingly by IDS

    I would like to suggest that you read IDS’ Centre For Social Justice website & it’s publications ( and proposed solutions) then explain to me where the lack of intellectual foundation exists.

    Better still watch the video of IDS at the Conservative 2007 Conference-particularly the latter part with presentations fromcharity workers in the field of social deprivation.

    However I would not be confident enough to disagree that these ills in our society will not become Cameron’s Albatross.

    Drugs, Alchoholism & Binge drinking, Violent Gang Crime, Feral young children, Family breakdown,Teenage pregnancy ,Sink estates, core worklessness & Benefit dependency, , Poor Social Mobility…………eductational failure & dumbed down school “qualifications”………

    These ills derive from a broad canvas of problems some of which are becoming cultural-its one hell of a task-like turning a super tanker -but Cameron has to crack it-it is the source of all our failures-social & economic…and its one of the main reasons I’ll be voting for him & I don’t want another 1997 let-down.

  32. @Colin – although I haven’t seen the detail, yesterday’s report by the OECD appeared to directly contradict one of IDS’s main contentions re the negative impacts of single parent families. I also think that many of the Broken Britain claims are overdone – in many ways it was a lot more broken pre 97, as crime figures suggest?
    Never undersestimate the power of a hysterical media in persuading us life is cr*p.

  33. I wish I had the spare time that Alex has and i am retired! He seems to have all day to send us largely repetitive messages about his biased views on the economy et al.
    If he thinks we are in a meaningful recovery mode perhaps he would like to visit Northampton town centre and discuss this with the unemployed in this industrial desert. I was shocked by the change there in the 12 months since I last paid the town a visit. And I will happily take him round Easterhouse in Glasgow if the thinks parts of our society don’t need mending.

  34. @ ALEC :-

    “Never undersestimate the power of a hysterical media in persuading us life is cr*p.”

    A new report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, a leading economic think tank, brings together data from 30 countries around the world about the welfare of the young.

    The comprehensive study of children’s well-being in 30 industrialised nations found that drunkenness among under-16s is twice as common in the UK as in America or France.

    Britain has among the highest proportions of teenage mothers, youths who are not in jobs or education, and single-parent families. 23.4 British teenage girls per 1,000 gave birth in 2005, a teenage conception rate beaten only by Turkey, the US and Mexico.

    Britain ranks among the worst countries in the industrialised world in a comparison of educational standards, health and lifestyles.

    In “risky behaviours” – drinking, smoking and teenage pregnancy – the UK’s performance is worse than all countries but Mexico and Turkey.

    Figures collated from schools in 2005-06 show that 33 per cent of 13- and 15-year-olds in Britain had been drunk at least twice, despite being too young to be served alcohol. Just 12 per cent of Americans had done so, and 14 per cent of French youths.

    The report warned that alcohol abuse among the young may also be linked to violence, drug addiction and poor performance at school.

    Britain also ranked 20th out of the 30 in terms of “health and safety”, with infant mortality rates above average and among the lowest numbers of toddlers being vaccinated against measles.

    The study also showed that 11 per cent of 15- to 19-year-olds in the UK were recorded as “Neets” – not in education, training or employment – in 2006. Only Italy, Mexico and Turkey recorded higher numbers, and the proportion is still rising as more youths lose jobs and university places in the recession.

    The OECD claims living in a broken home has a “small” effect on a young person’s well-being.

    It also suggests that the UK Government should consider cutting the generous benefits given to single mothers, as “there is little or no evidence that these benefits positively influence child well-being, while they discourage single-parent employment”.

    Joyce Moseley, chief executive of Catch22, a charity for young people, said: “The UK has consistently scored poorly in OECD reports on the levels of young people not in work, education or training; teenage pregnancy and youth substance abuse. Unless we can start to improve this situation the UK risks becoming the bad parent of Europe.

    Dawn Primarolo, the Children’s Minister, said: “It is disappointing to see the UK rated so low for risky behaviours.”

    Alec , your willingness to post biased or indeed completely incorrect conclusions from improperly understood source material, expressed in trite sound byte terms, is becoming very tiresome.

  35. @Colin “Alec , your willingness to post biased or indeed completely incorrect conclusions from improperly understood source material, expressed in trite sound byte terms, is becoming very tiresome.”

    Now hold on – all I said was that single parenthood wasn’t the scourge it’s sometimes cracked up to be, and there’s no question we have witnessed very substantial falls in crime, whichever figures you look at – I don’t think I deserved your parting shot. We certainly have significant social problems, but all I’m saying is that I see little appetite from Cameron to take the bold steps needed. Yes, he’s pledged to raised the married couple tax allowance, although most of that money will be wasted on well off families and there is clear evidence that if defective relationships stay together ‘for the sake of the children’ it ends up harming them. No one will marry/stay married for the sake of a tax allowance. It’s pure politics. One possible bold action would be to raise significantly the price of alcohol and strictly enforce ancient licensing laws prohibiting licencees from selling drink to inebriated individuals. This would close most city centre bars, but he won’t do that because its too controversial. There is a lot of good stuf in the IDS report, but Cameron is a politician, not a serious social reformer, and he won’t take the awkward choices if focus groups don’t approved. In that, he mirrors Blair/Brown, which is why I am deeply unimpressed.
    Biased? Possibly. Cynical? Absolutely.

  36. @Alec

    I think we all sometimes fall in to the trap of feeling that politicians are hopelessly cynical and that the only thing they are interested in is getting elected. We sometimes forget that the only way a politician can change ANYTHING is IF they get elected.

    I am not saying that Cameron is definitely a serious social reformer. That remains to be seen. But the fact that he is a politician and plays “pure politics”, and the fact that he hasn’t accepted your invitation to propose bold and unpopular policies nine months before the general election just means that he is a competent operator. It doesn’t rule out the possibility that confronted with difficult choices and unpalatable options that he won’t take the hard road and genuinely try to fix things.

  37. Neil A – I agree, and I was initially hopeful and somewhat optimistic when he stood for the leadership position, alhtough even then I thought he made a number of strategic errors. It’s been his behaviour since then that has convinced me he will be a poor PM and a liability to his party in due course. I hope I’m wrong. What you say is exactly what supporters of Blair said in 97. Then in 2001, they understood the need to not rock the boat for a second term. Then in 2005 they thought ‘what’s all this about’, then Brown came along and they said ‘now we’ll get some proper government’ and now they fully understand. I predict the same pattern with Cameron, only much quicker.

  38. @ ALEC:-

    “all I said was that single parenthood wasn’t the scourge it’s sometimes cracked up to be, ”

    Actually, you also said ” I also think that many of the Broken Britain claims are overdone “-and the OECD Report- which you quoted-, hardly supports your opinion.

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