Ipsos MORI have published their monthly politial monitor for Reuters. The topline voting intention figures are CON 40%(+1), LAB 38%(+7), LDEM 14%(-5). I always urge some amount of caution with great big shifts in support, but in this case we have already seen Labour increasing their support into the mid 30s and the Lib Dems dropping into the mid-teens with YouGov’s daily polling, so while it’s not to the same degree (this is the smallest Conservative lead any poll since the election has shown), the trends are in the same direction.

241 Responses to “Ipsos MORI – 40/38/14”

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  1. @WML

    “Jack Straw … is really a liberal.”

    And Richard Dawkins was seen yesterday kissing the papal ring.

    And the Prince of Wales has commissioned Richard Rogers to design a statue of a flying pig outside Clarence House.

  2. @Sue Marsh

    You said “…I say this not to fly the red flag, but to try to convey the real passion many Reds feel at the moment…”

    Sue, without sarcasm, the passion felt by Labourites regarding LibDem participation in the Coalition has been sincerely and clearly expressed and is well understood. My point is that in its passion Labour is trying to engineer a defeat in the AV referendum, kill electoral reform stone dead, and cause a tragedy for the country. My secondary point is that the lies Labour is telling itself (“We support AV under all circumstances except any where it could actually happen” is, deity-of-choice help me, an *accurate* summary of Labour’s current position) will cause it irreparable psychological harm. My tertiary point is that the combination of Labour’s attempted destruction of AV and of the LibDems will, all other things being equal, engineer a perpetual 21st century Conservative majority (in a two-party system, which FPTP encourages, the secondary party always loses) that’ll make the 20th century look like a Labour lake. So whilst Labour’s self-destructive tendencies are its own personal tragedy, if it spills over into killing electoral reform, its pain will become a matter for concern for the whole country.

    Sue, the country gets that you’re hurting. When will you understand that your actions will make Labour’s predicament worse, not better? Right now you’re in Opposition, but honourably. Ditching your principles to ineffectually strike at the Coalition will only leave you in a dishonourable Opposition and (as already discussed) will prolong the Coalition, not shorten it.

    Regards, Martyn

  3. Good Lord, there is a lot of tribal ranting on here tonight, isn’t there? There was I, feeling rather jolly and slightly heartened by the latest Ipsos and YouGov polls, and having just enjoyed watching a splendid TwentyTwenty quarter final between Essex and Lancashire on the TV, and now I suddenly feel as if I’ve intruded into a post match discussion between Liverpool and Man Utd fans, only without the humour and balance you’d normally associate with those fine groups of people! Somebody, who’s name I forget, has even referred to the “border communism” of the last Labour Government! I mean, that’s a comment that is totally beyond parody, isn’t it?

    I return to the theme of some of my previous posts. The interesting aspect of these recent polls isn’t to be found in the minutiae of the their detail and the daily micro shifts in voting intentions that they reveal, it’s what they are saying about how quickly Labour is recovering, some 80 odd days after a resounding rejection at the polls. This is astonishing to me and suggests that their electoral rejection may well have been more out of sorrow than anger. Forget the right wing polemicists and Tory diehards, they loathed Labour from the onset, but they were for 11 of their 13 years a remarkably popular government. Unlike the Tory administration of 1992-97 who were almost despised by the time they were annihalated at the polls, while I detected disdain for, and disappointment with, Labour in May, and some dislike of Brown, I admit, I didn’t detect any of the visceral loathing of them that I remember the Tories inspiring in 1997. These polls suggest maybe I was right and, while they guarantee nothing in 2015, they do suggest a very rapid rehabilitation for the old People,s Party. The Tory dream of banishing them to the political wilderness may have to go on hold for a while!

  4. @Sue Marsh

    You said “…very well done to DC today for getting tough with Merkel/Sarkosy over Turkey’s integration into the EU. They’ve hedged on this for way too long, and given the remarkable economic growth in Turkey, surely Europe should be welcoming them with open arms. That they don’t might start to look like racism…”

    Happy news: something we can agree on. Opposition to Turkey’s accession doesn’t just *look* like racism, it actually is racism (or whatever the word for rejection of those of a different religion is): specifically, the contention that the EU has a predominantly Christian character and allowing the Islamic Turkey to join would dilute it, er, somehow.

    At the risk of injecting realpolitik into the conversation, it also has to be said Turkey has stacks of oil…

    Regards, Martyn

  5. @Jay Blanc

    You said “…But what we can’t rule out is an early election! Coalition and early election have been almost synonymous in the British political history…”

    Did you check? (Rob, check me on this). Since the renaming of the Whigs to the Liberals, Cabinet Governments with Cabinet members from >1 parties are as follows:

    * 1886 (Conservative and Liberal Unionist): lasted 6 years
    * 1892 (Liberal and Irish Nationalist): lasted 3 years
    * 1895 (Conservative and Liberal Unionist): lasted 5 years
    * 1900 (Conservative and Liberal Unionist): lasted 5 years
    * 1916 (Liberal and Conservative): lasted 6 years
    * 1931 (First National Govt and Second National Govt:it’s a list): lasted 4 years
    * 1935 (Third National Govt:it’s a list): lasted 4 years
    * 1937 (Fourth National Govt:it’s a list and Chamberlain War Ministry): lasted 3 years
    * 1940 (Churchill War Coalition): lasted 5 years

    I can’t work out which bits of the Liberal governments from 1905 to 1915 were coalitions, the 1922, 1924, 1929 governments were (I think) minority govts, not coalitions, and the Lib-Lab pact (78-79?) wasn’t a coalition.

    In short, coalitions in the UK (NOT “Britain”, Jay!) last for quite a long time.

    You’re thinking of minority governments (1922, 1924, 1929, 1978), which do collapse quickly.

    Regards, Martyn

  6. Martyn

    Thank you for some excellent objective clarity.

  7. @Martyn

    “I can’t work out which bits of the Liberal governments from 1905 to 1915 were coalitions”

    I suggest you continue to utilise wikipedia ;-)

  8. Having been consigned to political obscurity by a disillusioned electorate, the Labour party now finds itself preoccupied with the big decision of the day, which brother to elect as leader? Which of course begs the question, which job does the losing brother get by dint of nepotism ? Introducing the shadow cabinet will be a challenge…………! :-)

  9. Rob,

    Earlier this evening you reposted a comment of yours yesterday in reply to a post of mine. You did not refer to either of my comments before/after, which touched on the difference between possible / likely amendments to the bill and actually defeating the bill (or the referndum on AV itself).

    Not going to play re-post, but here are some simple questions:

    How will/should Labour Whips be advising the PLP – Aye/No/Abstain – on any vote on floor of house or during committee stage to:

    a – Hold a referendum on implementaion of AV ?

    b – Hold the referendum on a separate date so as to enable the campaign to be decoupled from party political campaigns for MSPs / AMs / local cilrs ?

    c – Implement AV immediately for all elections to House of Commons and not await outcome of Boundary Commission report ?

    d – set a minimum turnout (say 40%) for referendum to be binding ?

    e – Enable a Boundary Review to equalise constituency size within +/-5% ?

    f – Reduce the number of MPs to 600 ?

    g- Reduce the number of MPs to a number below 600 ?

    Finally, assuming a referendum on AV does happen (whether on 5 May 2011 or some other date next Spring) – what is the likely Lab campaign position ?

    Vote Yes ? Vote No ? Don’t vote ?

    Genuinely interested in what you think the Labour Party position should be (and also what it might be).

    But, please don’t suppose that just because some (many ?) Conservative (and possibly even LD) MPs would vote in favour of any (or all) the above amendments, that this means the Bill is “defeated”. The Bill will most likely pass, and unless the Lab leadership can point to some crucial democratic factor which they sought, but failed, to have included in the bill, opposing final reading will make your party look silly or – even worse – self-interested.


    You said “…I suggest you continue to utilise wikipedia…”

    Are my roots showing?… :-) Best I could do at short notice, but I know there’s confusion on Wikipedia concerning UK Governments, so I did some plausibility checks. If I missed any, shout out.

    I must say I was surprised: I thought coalitions collapsed quick in the UK, but generally speaking they don’t – minority governments do.

    Regards, Martyn

  11. @all

    Of course, that should be “…* 1935 (Third National Govt:it’s a list): lasted two years…” Ouch!

    Regards, Martyn

  12. Probably obvious but with the two main parties this close together, LibDems can still (just) manage to hold the balance of power with quite a bit less %vote than they achieved last election. Or else the largest party might look elsewhere for support. That’s if we want to take this sort of polling overly seriously.

  13. Martyn,

    The Whigs were renamed “Liberals” in the same way that the Liberals were renamed “Liberal Democrats”.

    That is, they became a coalition of different parties who coalesced into a new party with a new name.

    I still recall the shorthand WPR from my History notes. The Liberal party was formed from three strands – one of which was Tory. By 1865, I doubt that the Whigs were even a majority within the Liberals – certainly in Scotland – where Liberalism still has strong roots – the party strength came from Radicals and not Whigs.

    I am sure many LDs are keen to forget the SaLaD as it was briefly known before Paddy Ashdown tidied it up by dropping the “Social” part.

  14. @ Paul HJ

    The Bill will most likely pass, and unless the Lab leadership can point to some crucial democratic factor which they sought, but failed, to have included in the bill, opposing final reading will make your party look silly or – even worse – self-interested.
    LOL :-)

    Self-interested? Moi? (as Miss Piggy might say).

    The Dems look utterly self-interested when trying to force AV through for their own benefit.

    The Tories look utterly self-interested in changing the boundaries for their own benefit.

    But Labour are expected to sacrifice themselves for the sake of principle for everybody else’s benefit… we stopped doing that when Michael Foot left office. 8-)

  15. @Amber Star

    You said “…The Dems look utterly self-interested when trying to force AV through for their own benefit. The Tories look utterly self-interested in changing the boundaries for their own benefit. But Labour are expected to sacrifice themselves for the sake of principle for everybody else’s benefit…”

    Amber, AV is in the Labour manifesto, Labour offered to implement AV without referendum during the Coalition negatiations, and Labour elects its leader using AV.

    Labour isn’t being asked to sacrifice its principles. It’s being asked to stand by them.

    Regards, Martyn

  16. @Paul HJ

    “The Bill will most likely pass”

    What makes you assume that. The manoeuvring that is going on (on all sides) is designed to put pressure on Clegg so he either

    (a) pulls the bill completely (some Lab and some LD wish for this) or
    (b) amends the bill
    (a lot of Lab and most Tory wish for this but for different reasons: Lab want an electoral reform ONLY bill; Tories want an election boundary changing only bill- as long as the methodology favours them of course).

    *Either* course can be taken at any time right up to the seconds before the vote on the third reading (in which case the bill will not pass).

    To answer the questions you pose one-by-one

    a – Hold a referendum on implementation of AV ?

    Yes if part of a voting system reform-only bill

    b – Hold the referendum on a separate date so as to enable the campaign to be decoupled from party political campaigns for MSPs / AMs / local cilrs ?

    Agnostic as long as part of a voting system reform only bill

    c – Implement AV immediately for all elections to House of Commons and not await outcome of Boundary Commission report ?

    If a referendum- whenever that happens- votes by a simple majority in favour of AV then yes

    d – set a minimum turnout (say 40%) for referendum to be binding ?

    Not in favour of such ruses- Callaghan tried this and look where it got him

    e – Enable a Boundary Review to equalise constituency size within +/-5% ?

    If you are talking POPULATION size YES: even though this would mean losing a handful of Labour seats (if done administratively correctly).

    If- as some Tories hope- you are talking geographic size NO.

    The methodology would be blatant gerrymandering of rotten borough era proportions.

    In this scenario you can have all constituencies within 5% of each other’s geographic size yet have one MP for a city and its conurbation with a population of circa 400k and one MP for a Tory shire (of the same geographic size) with a population of 70k.

    This is the kind of ‘ism skism’ you hear wanting to be pulled on places like PB when the mob argues that ‘it takes more voters to elect a Tory MP than a Labour MP; we did better than Labour in 2005 and got less seats” etc ad nauseam. In actual fact Labours voters are very efficiently targeted in Labours winnable seats and it is THAT dynamic that makes it possible for Labour to win more seats whilst vote upon blue vote piles up rather uselessly in large seats (with small populations) in rural south, east and west England.

    Sum up- This issue should be in a separate boundaries bill: it should be considered in detail as a separate and important matter.

    If so- then vote yes on equalisation by population; NO on equalisation by geographic size in any way or method.

    f – Reduce the number of MPs to 600 ?

    I think the recent Commission said 612- that was pre ConDem but it seems about right to me. So for 612 YES: 600 NO as that is just an arbitrary piece of number playing “nice round number is 600- the hoi polloi can understand that”

    g- Reduce the number of MPs to a number below 600 ?


  17. @Paul H-J

    Yeah I know, but I didn’t want to go back to 1801 or 1707, so I needed a cutoff: the Whig/Liberal reconfiguration provided a handy endpoint.

    Regards, Martyn

  18. @ Martyn

    Labour isn’t being asked to sacrifice its principles. It’s being asked to stand by them.
    Read what I said. Here it is again:

    But Labour are expected to sacrifice themselves for the sake of principle………

    i.e. I know Labour will look unprincipled if they move away from their manifesto. My point is: The Tories did, the Dems did but Labour are expected not to. And I don’t think AV without a referendum was in the manifesto….

    …..it was offered as part of a coalition deal with the Dems. The deal didn’t happen, so tra la la (you can whistle in the dark with that one). 8-)

  19. Here is the Fabian Society on the AV / boundary changes bill issue.

    It sums up the key issues- from a centre left perspective- succinctly:

    “Labour should support AV while opposing this Bill:

    I want to see the electoral system changed – and look forward to campaigning for the Alternative Vote at a referendum soon, even if the date seems very much subject to confirmation.

    But, beyond AV, I think the government’s bill is badly flawed.

    Labour reformers must advocate that Labour oppose the Bill in a constructive way. I would be interested what other pro-reform voices think the best approach to the conundrum of this hybrid legislative proposal should be, as I am personally still thinking through what it would mean.

    I have no problem with broadly equalised constituency sizes, though size does not explain much of the current electoral bias. But the reduction of the size of the Commons is a poor move for which no decent reason is given. I strongly believe that Lynne Featherstone should be pushing to have the Equality and Human Rights Commission report on its impact on gender and race equality: reducing the House of Commons will almost certainly slow down even recent gradual progress on gender equality, making a mockery of the commitment of every party leader to speed it up.

    This was not a minor commitment of Cameron or Clegg, and it is not good enough to claim it is an unintended consequence when it is so evidently foreseeable. This impact has had much less attention that it merits.

    I am not convinced by the changes to processes of inquiry, even if the status quo is far from perfect, particularly when they are being pursued as a matter of partisan controversy, at odds with British political tradition.

    And the Coalition should take seriously the issue of voter under-registration before it redraws the political map to write out 3 million potential voters.

    In particular, I certainly think Labour should be willing to support and vote for an Alternative Vote referendum on its merits and as a stand-alone measure while opposing or amending the redistricting approach.

    And I particularly think that we need to do this if Labour is to oppose the Bill on second and final reading.

    It would in my view be appropriate for Labour to back AV, while both opposing and offering reasoned amendments on the redistricting proposals, and to oppose the Bill on final reading if these do not succeed.

    The government ought to be able to carry its hybrid package with LibDem and Tory votes: it has a majority of 78, and I expect it would be carried since it is essentially a matter of Coalition confidence. (I think that will also require a willingness to listen to reasoned and reasonable amendments – particularly in the House of Lords – and that Labour ought to contribute to this).

    If it can not carry the Bill, I personally think it would prove possible to secure an alternative Commons majority for the AV referendum to which Labour was committed in its manifesto, and that Labour should propose this..

    So Labour should support and oppose aspects of the Coalition’s reform on their merits.

    The Prescottian argument that everything should be opposed strikes me as short-sighted, though it will find some audience. But there is a perfectly valid principled argument for, on the final vote, opposing the package if there are not very significant changes. It is difficult to see why Labour MPs should vote for measures they oppose.

    I am a bit bemused by how strongly Nick Clegg has been playing to the Tory gallery in his attacks on Labour – including specifically over constitutional and electoral reform.

    The Tory backbenches will be trying to make sure that reform does not pass, while the ability of a Yes campaign to win may well find that the ability to mobilise Labour voters in favour proves decisive.

    Clegg’s current approach is making the job of those in the Labour Party who want the referendum to succeed much more difficult.

    I would have thought Clegg must know that, though he gave every impression to the contrary when taking Commons questions on the issue.

    But I hope that other LibDem frontbenchers, backbenchers and activists can will be thinking about opening an important dialogue how we can try to make sure that members of rival parties can successfully cooperate on this issue. “

  20. @ Martyn

    Amber, AV is in the Labour manifesto, Labour offered to implement AV without referendum during the Coalition negotiations, and Labour elects its leader using AV.


    Just a correction, AV was in the manifesto (past tense). Since Labour lost, it is quite acceptable to review those Manifesto promises, and change them to meet the new situation. Losing parties are not surely expected to stick to the same promises until the next Election and a new Manifesto?

  21. Isn’t it a weird coincidence that the one recent poll giving the liberals a decent share of the vote was done for The Guardian, the onloy paper which told itss readers to vote er… Liberal.

  22. KEN

    “It’s touching to see the Labour supporters on here rallying around the tattered flag and trying to pretend that they have something important to say, navel gazing on a grand scale. Meanwhile the Coalition gets on with managing the country out of the Labour induced mess, doing something important.”

    My sentiments to the word KEN ( except perhaps for “touching).

    DC & team are getting through their programme at a very fast rate.
    They deserve a lot of credit for “just getting on with it”.

    There is so much change needed for this country.

  23. Martyn – You’re totally paranoid. I didn’t mention the Libs or AV once in my post. It was merely about the policies enacted by the coalition.

  24. Rob,
    It’s best not try to pretend you know the “Ins and outs” of AV ! ..
    People on here know that when they need “very professional” advice, they rely on only one expert and I am very happy to behold those within my bossom and instill in them the facts and thoughts from the great mind!

  25. Sue,
    I am ashamed of some of the comments that I have seen !
    I am never one to be egotistic or continually rant at other parties, even when they do good things.
    I myself am always pleased to offer praise, where due, to any party.
    I congratulate Labour on the smoking ban.. It’s one of the most beneficial and sensible pieces of legislation in ages!

  26. Ken

    “Which of course begs the question, which job does the losing brother get by dint of nepotism ? Introducing the shadow cabinet will be a challenge…………! ”

    Not really an issue – the Labour Party elects its shadow cabinet. One Milliband couldn’t leave the other out even if they wanted to.

    Also surprised that the ‘Labour offered the Lib Dems AV without a referendum’ story has emerged again. I thought this was dealt with quite clearly when Jack Straw emphatically denied it in the HoC and Nick Clegg confirmed his version:

    “The Deputy Prime Minister: The answer is no. The right hon. Member for Blackburn (Mr Straw) was right. That was not offered by the Labour Party in
    those discussions … I should know whether it was offered or not.” (Hansard)

  27. @Martyn

    I meant that in general opinion of *modern politics* Coalition is synonymous with early election. And I did deliberately exclude NI, because power sharing has entirely different connotations there. What I was pointing out that it was very silly to discount early elections.

    Also, Martyn, defeat of an AV bill in parliament is not the same as defeat in an referendum. It would not result in “Killing” election reform in the same way, particularly if the bill fails because explicitly for reasons unrelated to electoral reform, and there’s still a lot of public support for AV expressed.

  28. This site is meant to be about opinion polls!
    I had not realised is that the voting intention figures given in the IPSOS Mroi headline is that of people who say they are certain to vote.
    The base voting intention figures:

    Are other polling companies currently giving us base intention to vote or the voting intention of those who say they are certain to vote?

  29. It would take a post as long as one of Rob Sheffield’s to provide a Conservative’s counter to Sue’s “red flag” post.

    That would be a terrible imposition, would probably be zapped-and would merely be re-running the GE.

    But I’m moved to mention the The Times leader today , which for me touches on a topic which is at the heart of the difference in political approaches.

    “The Painful Truth” , comments on the first ever publication of a serious case review-the Khyra Ishaq case.

    It thanks Michael Gove for opening up the system of child protection to full scrutiny.

    Layer upon layer of state “agencies”; page upon page of rules , regulations & proceedures. And the net result-to quote a Times piece on the case ” Everyone wants someone else to take responsibility”.

    ….and “the public to see only a sanitised summary of what went wrong”

    THe Times concludes ” The State did not kill her, but it might have saved her”.

    This reliance on prescriptive behaviour, multi-layered bureaucracy, regulation & process-all of which squeezes out initiative & responsibility will be changed -but it will take time.

    Meanwhile the forces ofthe authoritarian gospel rant at the Academies Bill-which is permissive, not prescriptive or mandatory.

  30. Colin – My “Red Flag” post as you put it was simply an attempt to define current left thinking.

    I have made similar posts about the state of Lib pages on Facebook.

  31. “This reliance on prescriptive behaviour, multi-layered bureaucracy, regulation & process-all of which squeezes out initiative & responsibility will be changed -but it will take time.”

    We all tread into these terrible tragedies at our peril, especially when we attempt to make party political points and I’d urge caution to all those who attempt to generalise from the particular. The Khyra Ishaq case that you refer to has revealed systemic weaknesses in the social services provision of Birmingham City Council (run by the Conservatives, by the way, for quite a few years now) but at it’s heart, like so many of these appalling cases, lies human wickedness, not bureaucratic error or inflexibility. I haven’t read the Times leading article, but I’m sure they’re right that there was a possibility that Khyra’s life might have been saved if the social workers on the case had behaved or acted differently, but she was killed in the end by the cruelty of her parents and nothing else.

    Does anybody else note the inherent irony of those who point to bureaucratic faliure whenever it occurs but who then also rail against “interfering busybodies” and the “nanny state” when social workers intervene in some of these incredibly difficult cases, sometimes wrongly but always with the best of intentions?

    By the way, to show that I make no party political point here, I remember feeling in 1991 how wrong those on the left were in trying to conflate the terrible Jamie Bulger murder with the iniquities of Thatcherism, saying that it revealed a “broken society”. There were plenty of arguments to made about the damage caused to our society and the economy by her governments in the 1980s, but they had nothing to do with an act that was the result of wickedness and savagery, devoid of reason and beyond explanation. That’s what characterises most such deeds and we serve no great purpose when we try to link them to party political arguments.

  32. JohnTY – On the sidebar under the FAQs there’s an article on likelihood to vote which explains what different pollsters do (though I need to go through and check all of them are up to date at some point).

    In short, MORI use a very harsh filter including only those certain to vote – in practice this normally helps the Conservatives, but MORI’s figures are still broadly in line with other companies because they do not have any political weighting, and therefore their unfiltered figures tend to be much more Labour than other companies.

    ICM, Populus and ComRes all weight (and in ComRes’s case, weight and filter) their figures to factor in likelihood to vote, essentially giving more weight to people who say they are more certain to vote.

    YouGov do not weight or filter by likelihood to vote, except during election campaigns.

  33. @Anthony Wells
    Many thanks for the helpful reply.
    I notice that Ipsos find at the moment a higher than usual Labour determination to vote. Perhaps not surprising – and reflected also I think in local council by elections at present. (I know you are sceptical about the predictive utility of these).

  34. @ANTHONY
    So what you’re saying is, MORI get their results right more by accident than design ;)

  35. Julian – they get them right by design, we just have our own opinions of the merits of different designs ;)

  36. Johnty
    In view of your post, I comment that i had a good look at recent local by-elections following a similar post the other day, and only noted typically miserable turnouts of between 20 and 30%. However, among these die-hard voters there was evidence of considerable tribal loyalty, mainly, I noted with pleasure, the LDs who actually made a few gains and caught the other parties napping here and there.

    But to extrapolate from these results would be ridiculous – I think it’s different when it’s a full scale May local election round, when one can detect a trend at least. Even then, these are often short lived and represent an element of protest.

  37. What Amber said is totally correct, maybe people have misunderstood.

    The Tories and ‘Dems were elected to gov’t on their manifestos, and have since totally strayed from them. Labour was defeated on their manifesto, so it was rejected. Of the 3 parties Labour is the only one that has absolutely no obligation or reason to stick to its manifesto, and yet they are the only one being expected to!

  38. The argument put forward that coalition’s dont work in the UK has been roundly put to bed by Martyn. Might I suggest that those who predict the present arrangement wont last, would be singing a different song had Jay Blancs prediction of Lib/Lab pact or coalition been forthcoming. As has been touched on elsewhere, the hatred, fear and loathing (as only Labour can) regarding the LDs siding with the Nasties is really eating their entrails.

    So, Labour, LD deal and in a 1000 years men would still say, this, was their finest hour. Tory, LD deal, no chance.

    Next Week, why clause four was right.

  39. @Roland

    On the contrary. Any coalition in modern British politics and FPTP is going to be hugely pressured no matter who the partner is. I do think the pressure would be less on a Labour/Lib Dem one, because the Lib Dems would have received more that they wanted.

  40. Colin

    Nick Hadley has already answered some points on the topic you raised: the cynicism of politicians denouncing the “broken society” that is miraculously fixed by their election; the idiocy of newspapers simultaneously condemning red-tape and demanding new regulation – “something should be done”; the real responsibility being with those who commit such dreadful acts (surely as fundamental a conservative principle as you can get).

    But there’s also your denunciation of “This reliance on prescriptive behaviour, multi-layered bureaucracy, regulation & process – all of which squeezes out initiative & responsibility …”. This may be true to a large extent, but I think your wrong in making it a political matter – the real problem is cultural.

    Elements of the risk-averse, somebody-else’s-problem culture exist in all bureaucracies, of course – especially those which don’t think of themselves as such, like the Army and the Police. What is relatively new is the elaborate paper trails and organisational hierarchy required. But this isn’t a New Labour invention (much as they may love it). It comes from lawyered-up, capitalist USA; brought to us by consultants and the whole bevy of strange new professions associated with it.

    This is a cultural not a political point because it is implicit in the model of the relationship between the individual and the “state” – one that all three Parties seem to share. (I’m using “state” here because I include those services which provide general public service, but which are or may be privately owned). In the American model the relationship is contractual. Therefore legal and bureaucratic structures are required to regulate and record that relationship. This becomes even more elaborate when the service is privatised to prevent the organisation exploiting its monopoly position and/or public subsidy.

    Over the last three decades or so, the move towards the contractual model and away from the “old-fashioned” public service model has been consistent from both ruling parties. It may have advantages and disadvantages, but you can’t get away from the administrative burden that it comes with. The current government is committed to ideology that it springs from, and I think you’re naive in believing, whatever their intentions, that they can have it without the consequences.

  41. Rob,

    The Bill will pass. It might get revised (perhaps even extensively) but pass it will. There is no mileage for any Con or LD backbencher to vote against the Bill since losing the Bill would do far more damage to the coalition than the actual outcome of the referendum – Yes or No.

    If Lab want to show that they can provide constructive opposition – and leave the door open for a future Lab / LD coalition – they would be best advised to work for improvements in the bill (several of the points I listed would achieve that) so that they can then vote in favour of the bill.

    It seems that Lab is trying to set out a narrative of gerry-mandering. That suggests that you do not trust the Boundary Commission to be other than scrupulously non-partisan. Nobody has suggested equalistion of constiuencies other than by electorate. What other measure could conceivably be used ?

    The geographic exceptions are fairly limited. So why should this review be so significantly different from any other ? As to number of seats, 650 is as arbitrary a number as 600 or 500 – or even 400. An alternative approach – which could just as easily be inserted in the Bill – is to set a figure for the quota and allow the boundary commision to fix the number of seats accordingly. Of course, that number will be “arbitrary” too – should it be 70k, 72.5k, 75k, 80k, 100k ?

    Voting down a reform package because you fear you may no longer be over-represented in the House does not go down well with uncommitted voters.

    As for pocket boroughs – hmmm I wonder which party has a preponderance of those among its MPs ?

  42. @Colin

    “they are moving at a very fast rate”

    I hate to disappoint you colin but if anything can be learnt from the new labour eras is that you should not try to cram in a lot of legislation and policies because thats what New Labour did, especially in its 1st term and third term and not being mean colin but a LOT of Tory and Lib supporters both from the establishment, grassroot members and voters complained about the pace and heavy policies.

    It’s a bit like the pot calling the kettle black…”oh, we wont repeat the mistakes of new labour and force a lot of new legislation but as soon as we get in BAM”….i mean, the Queen’s speech I remember hearing old Tory backbenchers saying this is different to new labour, it’s policy light and we have the deficit and economic committments to be doing.

    But now we have policies about chaning schools, allowing GP’s to have all that money (which HAS been praticed before under Thatcher and failed “internal market”), police reform, voting reform, big society etc. And I don’t think many public sector workers are going to like considering since Mrs Thatcher’s era to this present day every government has tried to change the top-down management of government insitutions and frankly from people I know they HATE it. Sure my mum (a civil servant for the council) did grummble when labour introduced education reform but since then she’s past that but now she’s even more annoyed that ANOTHER government wants yet different reforms.

    So colin, it’s okay to say they are getting on with the job but it was Labour’s lets force through this that eventually lost them respect. I mean, my aunts a DIE HARD tory but even she’s annoyed about the NHS reforms because it was not in either of their manifestos and she came home to Cameron (voted Blair in 97′, never voted since this election) because she thought she could trust him on the NHS but now she’s regretting giving him that although admits the Lib-Con coalition might prevent him that.

  43. “but at it’s heart, like so many of these appalling cases, lies human wickedness, not bureaucratic error or inflexibility”


    …..human wickedness AND bureaucratic error….

    At least we can all read the serious case review now -and not a sanitised half truth version of it.

    That change is political-whether you like it or not,- the previous practice having been prescribed by one of the current Labour leadership contenders-a man who shouted hardest & longest about the “dangers” of giving parents more freedom over their childrens’ education.


    Your aunt’s views are noted.

    I have my own-or rather my wife’s. She was admitted-and discharged -last Friday ( before the weekend you see) with an incorrect leg splint over incorrect dressings, after an operation.

    It took our GP-in a five minute phone call to get the hospital to correct this error -without us waiting in A&E for hours on end.

    GP’s know what their patients need -and when they need it.

  45. Roger Mexico

    Excellent post. I agree with all your comments except the last sentence.

    On the contrary, we now have a government whose core ideology is based on the role of the state as the servant of the people. This is not to say that there is a “social contract” between state and individual. More that the state should provide services to support the individual. The key difference is between “serve” and “control”.

    This underlying commonality in attitude is what the Con and LD coalition negoatiators found (to their surprise) in May. It means that the Coalition is far stronger in terms of internal cohesion than many seem to accept.

  46. @ Colin

    Sorry about your wife’s accident but I am glad she managed to get it sorted swiftley for her. Sometimes, as a say to most people, the NHS can be very hit and miss depending on what’s happened and staff.

    If you asked my aunt about 30 years ago…when they first try to introduce a system like this under mrs thatcher she would have been very happy about it but the only trouble is was that she did experiance this and it turned into a post-code lottery and the GP who would carry out the funding were often pretty useless (good family doctor as she says, crap accounts).

    Labour keep saying we do not need this because it’s a dangerous experiment. Thats just one very pessimistic and narrow-minded but two like I’ve just mentioned it was a experiment that was tested by Thatcher, touched up by Major and abolished by Blair because it just didn’t work and caused a post-code lottery where people from poorer areas could not compete with my affulent areas or visa versa deprived areas got more that the affulent areas because of this label.

    A better argument by them would be for them to say listen, we welcome good reforms for the NHS but this was an experiment that was tested, failed and we abolished.

    My aunt only wanted to see them have less red-tape but no this.

    To be honest, I want these reforms to happen because unlike most Labour people on here I am neutral on the whole GP reforms because perhaps it failed under Thatcher and Major because they didn’t pump the money to meet the needs. I still don’t think it will improve the NHS that much but will have to see.

  47. PAUL H-J

    “This underlying commonality in attitude is what the Con and LD coalition negoatiators found (to their surprise) in May. It means that the Coalition is far stronger in terms of internal cohesion than many seem to accept”

    This is very important in my view.

    I think you are correct. There will be splinters , but the core fusion of Liberalism & One Nation Conservatism is palpable.

    I don’t think Labour understand this, as they rail incessantly against the LIb Dems for “selling out ” .

    ……or maybe they understand it only too well-and it’s implications?

  48. @ Roger Mexico

    A very perceptive and balanced analysis and one of the very few intellectually based, reasoned and non party political arguments I’ve seen posted on here in recent times.

    Be careful, though, Colin and his ilk will soon be accusing you of “border-communist”, Labourist totalitarianism!

    You couldn’t make it up, could you?

  49. @Paul HJ

    “This underlying commonality in attitude is what the Con and LD coalition negotiators found (to their surprise) in May. It means that the Coalition is far stronger in terms of internal cohesion than many seem to accept.”

    You are becoming predictably one sided.

    The Social/ Beveridge Liberals have a very big problem with a stampede towards self interested individualism (or “liberty” as it is pompously and incorrectly termed) at the expense of communitarianism and egalitarianism: both of which require an enabling, active and ‘smart’ state.

    Your comment is correct only for the orange bookers who- as we all know now (if we did not before)- are ‘wet’ Tories/ continental free democrats who despise the centre left/left in the most tribal and partisan of ways. These centre right/ rightist beliefs- naturally- make them comfortable allies for Cameron’s Conservatives: in the same way that the social liberals are natural allies of the post new labour leadership.

    As we shall see over the next year ;-)

  50. @Rob Sheffield (and others)

    Re the use of long a – g lists in recent posts. It reminds me of what my late father memorably told me about great public speaking;

    “There are three secrets to great public speaking:

    1) Never make lists
    2) Always leave the public wanting more”

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