Here are some bits and pieces from polls you may have missed.

ICM did a poll on Faith schools for Channel 4. On the principle of faith schools, 37% thought there should be faith shools, 59% disagreed (although the wording was a bit harsh – the anti-faith school argument said “schools should be for everyone regardless of religion”, so it’s possible some people who picked that option may have supported faith schools if they were not allowed to select on the basis of religion). On the subject of admissions, 37% thought it was understandable the lengths some parents went to get their children into their preferred school, with 60% saying it was wrong for parents to pretend to belong to a religion to get into a school. People were split on whether or not schools should have a daily religious assembly – 45% agreed they should, 44% disagreed.

Moving on, there was a short YouGov poll commissioned by the Ed Balls leadership campaign and the CWU on whether the post office should be privatised or not. 60% thought it should remain wholly in public ownership, 13% that is should be part-privatised and 15% that is should be privatised completely.

Interestingly enough, we used pretty much the same wording for this poll as for this poll of Labour members for Compass back in 2009 – back then 66% of Labour members opposed privatisation, 24% supported part-privatisation and 5% complete privatisation, giving us the rather surprising result that Labour members are marginally more likely to support privatisation than the general public. The reason for this odd answer is straightforward – back in 2009 it was Labour party policy to support post-office part-privatisation – I suspect Labour party members would be much less supportive now it is the Conservative/Lib Dem coalition government doing it! On the subject of party supporters becoming more positive towards a policy when their own side puts it forward, there’s a good article here (hat tip to Paul Goodman at ConHome).

Finally, here’s some interesting bits and pieces from the YouGov daily polls. Following Eric Pickles instructions to councils to have less road signs and clutter, 43% of people agreed there were too many road signs on Britain’s roads, 10% too few and 37% that the balance was about right. (here). And finally, on THE BIG ISSUE of the last week, 84% of people said they though the cat-binning lady should be prosecuted for animal cruelty. (here).

The only poll I’m aware of tonight is the regular YouGov/Sunday Times figures at 10pm.


420 Responses to “Things you may have missed”

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  1. Old Nat – Come down and live in the belly of the beast for a while. You might like it. :)

  2. Amber Star

    I just love that imperialist Scottish attitude! Granted that (due to the deal that was made with Henry Dundas [we’re back to lord North again!] ) the Scots had a disproportionate role in the expansion of the British Empire.

    But let me be clear. Your primary reason for continuing the UK Union is that people from Scotland have a disproportionate role in governing England?

    You really think that the purpose of Scots voting Labour is that we can tell the English how to run their own affairs? You really think that? You really, really do?

  3. Billy Bob

    “Come down and live in the belly of the beast for a while”.

    I’m happy to visit on a regular basis. Why shouldn’t I like going to see our nearest (well Norway, Ireland, Faroes, Denmark are pretty close too) neighbours and friends?

    However, I’m not advocating that Scotland should elect representatives to the Danish Parliament instead of the English one!

    I remain a European Unionist. Quite why some of you want to place an unnecessary layer between Scotland and the EU puzzles me.

  4. Eoin:

    I hadn’t noticed I’d changed.

    I was against nuclear weapons before the Labour party and I still am but now the SNP are where Labour used to be on that and most Scots are in the same place. There is quite a long list of SNP positions that would be fine with the Butskillite consensus or further left. Only on Rural Affairs are the SNP distinctive. It’s New Labour that has moved.

    Barney

    You may be a tribalist, and your advice to others is wthless but I’ve offered advice to Con & Lab here that would give them an advantage over the SNP. Your tribal loyalty and the organisational structure of what is in practice a leadershp cult won’t allow you to consider it on its merits.

  5. John B Dick

    You still seem the same to me!

    We share many attitudes, and that probably includes the stance that 19th/20th century concepts of “Independence” are inappropriate in the 21st century (as I think the SNP recognises).

    There are a number of constitutional arrangements that might suit the aspirations of Scots, but as long as the Unionists remain so intransigent (always too little too late), they will eventually leave no alternative but “Independence in the EU”.

  6. John B,

    You misread my post in a sense…. I intimated you had retined your position but changed your party of choice…

    The input on Butskill and Nukes is worth pondering – ta for that.

  7. Eoin Clarke

    “changed your party of choice”

    As have I. Though various political ideas of mine will have changed over time, and due to the changing political climate, I don’t think my core values have changed since I became involved in politics 50 years ago.

    1960 – 1964 : Liberal Party
    1964 – 1980 : SNP
    1980 – 1997 : Labour
    1997 – 2009 : member of no party (voting SNP or Lab depending on the candidate/election)
    2009 – now : SNP

  8. @Nick Hadley

    Yes, I am a U.S. citizen. I can relate to your experience of being one of the only Brits up at 3 am to watch Richard Nixon’s resignation speech. I watched the UK General this year for at least 6 hours straight. I don’t think many other Americans were doing that. I took a night off from studying for a very important law exam (the break was needed and earned) to do it. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a more fascinating election night in my life. I’ve always loosely followed British politics but now I follow it a bit more closely just because when the next elections occur, I want to be more informed. Watching Richard Nixon’s resignation speech was important as well. My once told me that he spent his entire senior year of college watching the Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings on the Watergate Break In and Nixon’s impeachment. I was reading a biography of William O. Douglas and apparently Justice Douglas, who was reportedly a terror to his clerks, called all his clerks and office staff into his chambers upon hearing that Nixon would resign and broke out bottles of champagne to celebrate and drink during the speech.

    I don’t think our system is flawed. I don’t particularly care for caucuses and conventions are something of a waste of time. But primaries are very important for allowing registered party members to pick their own party’s candidates. It helps (though not completely) control candidates from being annointed and adds a level of accountability for representatives from safe seats. If you misbehave, you can’t rely on your district’s heavily Republican or Democratic tilt to save you.

    I also don’t oppose pork barrel spending (provided that it’s reasonable). Congressional Districts often have serious economic needs and major projects that good members of Congress will get for their Districts. Districts with high unemployment and/or economic stagnation often need government projects to help them. And often well off Congressional Districts need certain projects completed that are not a high state or local priority because of the fact that the District is well off. Pork helps. Pork tends to create numerous jobs and economic activity. And often that spending will be beneficial for others who don’t live in those Districts. Limited example, money brought home by Boston area Congressmen to fund the “Big Dig” (Boston spent over a decade placing most though not all of their freeways underground) which was a great help to Boston neighborhoods and Boston business. The project was a complete costly mess if not a disaster during construction but now that it’s done, it’s worked wonders for Boston. However, it benefits others too. Commuters coming into Boston from Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and other outlying areas of Boston benefit from a far easier and quicker commute. Pork barrel spending that helps out dairy farmers in a rural Congressional District means that when I walk into my southern California grocery store, I enjoy reasonably priced high quality ice cream that I might not otherwise get so cheaply or so readily if not for that pork. Pork spending also helps build cross party and cross regional relationships and friendships that allow people to collectively benefit and work together while advancing their own goals. It helps make causes stronger and helps strengthen alliances.

    Obama had a very strong general election opponent in the 08′ election and could very well have lost. In fact, it was presumed for much of this decade that McCain was an unbeatable general election candidate and would win the presidency if he could get the Republican nomination. It’s possible that Mitt Romney might have been a stronger candidate because of his economic credentials but either way McCain was one of the stronger candidates for the Republicans. What helped Obama win was not just the economic crisis but their respective responses. While McCain had spent most of his campaign claiming Obama was not ready for the White House and that he had the experience to lead, when the economic crisis hit, the opposite looked true. Obama was clear and concise about economics, he was calm in the face of panic, he offered solutions, and calmly explained the situation. He looked presidential. McCain didn’t, he looked weak, stupid, out of his league, and unpresidential.

    If the Democrats lose either Congressional chamber, that will spell bad news for Obama. I don’t think they will though and I don’t say that out of naivety or blind partisanship. I say it because the Republicans don’t have the numbers, the candidates, or the money. To be sure, they will gain seats. It’s inevitable. But I don’t see the right momentum gathering for them to take either chamber. Even looking at generic ballot polls (which aren’t particularly helpful), polls that show the Democrats losing their lead to the Republicans show only a fall among Democrats, not an increase in support for Republicans but instead stagnation. Unlike a parliamentary system, incumbency in the U.S. is a huge factor weighing in favor of electing incumbent representatives (as I’m sure you know) and there simply aren’t enough open seats for the Republicans to claim. Additionally, the most vulnerable Democrats will be the freshmen who picked up seats in 08′. But some of them won’t be struggling for reelection because their Congressional Districts are upper middle class or wealthy and the voters approve of the job Obama is doing.

    The biggest example I see for the Dems where crazy Republicans may gift an election is the Nevada Senate race. Harry Reid, who also happens to be the Senate Majority Leader, is terribly unpopular in Nevada. He was trailing his main Republican opponents by a great deal. But the Republicans failed to nominate those opponents and instead nominated a woman named Sharon Angle who is practically a lunatic. A former longtime Republican Representative from Nevada, Barbara Vucanovic, reportedly cautioned her on election night that she needed to moderate some of her stances because she was “scaring the bejeezus out of people.” Kentucky is another one. The seat is open with the retirement of Senator Jim Bunning and should be an easy hold for the Republicans. Only the race has become competitive and could be won by the Democrats because the Republicans nominated Rand Paul, who has called for the repeal of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and attacked several government programs relied on by Kentucky voters. Florida, another Republican Senate seat that should be held by the Republicans, the Republican Party has nominated firebreathing rightwinger Marco Rubio and driven away the popular moderate incumbent Republican Governor, Charlie Crist. He’s left the Republican Party, is running as an Independent, and may win the seat.

    I guess as to disunified opposition helping out an incumbent, I’m not sure if it changes the election result as to who the winner would be or if it simply puts an exclamation point on the victory. Thinking back to the 1972 presidential election, had the Democratic Party been united and nominated a strong presidential candidate, would Nixon have been defeated for reelection or instead would he have won 28 states instead of 49? Similarly, if Labour had been united in 1983 (or 1987) and Thatcher had faced a strong Labour opposition leader instead of Michael Foot or Neil Kinnock, would she have lost or would she instead have won but by a far narrower margin? I think that if Labour had been led by Margaret Beckett or John Prescott or Gordon Brown in 1997, Labour probably still would have won, it just wouldn’t have been the extraordinary majority that Labour won under Blair.

    As you’ve seen, most incumbent presidents in the United States win reelection. There were only four incumbent U.S. presidents who lost reelection in the 20th century. However, if the economy declines again, Afghanistan worsens, and the Republicans nominate a strong candidate, it’s entirely possible Obama could be at risk for losing reelection. The fun thing about politics is that you can never fully predict what will happen and the unexpected often does occur. If you had told me on Election Night 04′ or even on the night of the 05′ Inauguration that things would work out because in two years, the Democrats would gain a large majority in the House and win control of the Senate, and that in four years, the United States electorate would elect a liberal urban Democrat who would be the first black president, I’d have told you that you were crazy. But if you had said so, you’d have been right.

    I remember in early 04′, I was following the Democratic Senate Primary in Illinois. It was a Republican held seat that the Democrats had a strong chance of picking up in November. There were two favored candidates among the Democratic Party, a self-funding multi millionaire Democrat and the state Comptroller who had big union support and old Chicago machine support. Neither appealled to me as a particular candidate. And then there was a third guy, some black state Senator and lawyer named Barack Obama who really did appeal to me. There was another student that year who was in one of my classes and was from Illinois who thought he knew everything about Illinois politics. I asked him if there was any chance that someone named Barack Obama could win statewide in Illinois. He gave me a weird/quizzical look, chuckled, and answered me “no way in hell.”

  9. @Eoin

    I think for Palin, she canget far more money, fame, and personal enjoyment by running around as a political pundit and fundraiser than she can by running for office. I think that’s why she quit her governorship barely two years into her job.

  10. @ Nick Hadley

    I agree with you that had Tony Blair not gone into Iraq with Dubya, he would have handily won reelection in 2005 and he might have held on in 2010 as well. I loved reading Mandelson’s memoirs (what an amazing guy!) and I am looking forward to reading Blair’s memoirs too.

    @ Howard

    I never understood the whole personal appeal aspect of Dubya. I still struggle to understand it because quite honestly, Dubya is not the person who I would want to spend any time with at all. And yeah, it was odd that people wanted to get a drink with Dubya when Dubya didn’t drink as he was a recovering alcoholic (though some people were speculating he was drinking again during his last year in office).

  11. Socalliberal – Really really interesting posts, thank you very much.

    My little boys and I bought red white and blue helium balloons and a whole box of Krispy Kremes and we watched BOs inauguration with our neighbours. They remember that they were allowed doughnuts for tea!!! One day though, I hope they remember the day America swore in its first black president.

  12. Eoin

    …it was the chap I posted about-Michael Meacher.

    I was responding to a poster here who listed amongst the things that made him “puke” about Blair, that he owned a number of properties.

    This left wing poster ( are there any other here now ?) might like to consider the case of Mr Meacher-or indeed a case much closer to his own apparent politcal position-Chris Huhne.

    God knows, I have reasons enough to dislike Blair-persuading me to vote for him once is enough-but using his abilities to better his lot in life is most certainly not one of them.

    The same poster recently railed against recognising individual educational achievement-calling it a “glittering prizes” culture. This from a person who once accused me of not being able to understand the concept of “social mobility” !

    Unbelievable !

    …anyway will leave you to talk amongst yourselves ! ;-)

    I should think you will all be glad when the result is announced-I certainly will!

    Letter in The Times today from Kinnock-not happy with Mandy at all.

  13. Social Liberal

    A long post, but arn’t you just llustrating what was said above about winners being lucky with their opponents.

    In the UK it usually happens that elections are lost, not won.

    On that basis the SNP should win big, but the Green recovery is a known unknown.

  14. Interesting talk on how the parties have shifted. I joined the Labour party as soon as I could when I was 16, this was 1987. Why I joined was because they supported mant of the causes that I supported including Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament. I allowed my membership to lapse after the removal of clause 4, from the constitution. If I lived in Scotland I would probablly find myself attracted to the Nats because of there left wing stance on many issues, yet I do note that many of there Mps take the conservative choice on issues like abortion, that is my kind of politics.

    This links me to the discussion on the Lab leadership, and I have supported AB for some time now, partly beacuse he is on record as saying things like The family is important and partly because his economic attitude is quite radical and more left-wing than he is given credit for. I don’t agree with him on Iraq but I admire his honesty and also think that the idea of distancing oneself from as much of the Blair/Brown years as possible is not good politics. Much good was done, much that could be criticized, it is best to acknowledge both.

    I don’t trust EM, DM is too centrist, DA is not a serious candidate nor particularly left wing despite her reputation, so my order goes something like this AB, EB, DM, EM, DA, but I could easily just give prefs 1 and 2.

  15. @Social Liberal

    Echoing Sue Marsh’s thoughts, an absolutely fascinating insight into US politics and thanks very much for sharing it with us. When I said that US politics was deeply flawed, there was no disrespect intended, I meant it in the sense that all democracies are flawed. No perfect version exists, but as somebody very famous once observed, it’s the least worst of all the alternatives!

    If I have a concern for the US system it is in the low voter turn outs and registrations, effectively leaving large swathes of the potential electorate disenfranchised. The Obama bandwagon mitigated against this a little in 2008, but there still seems to me far too few people participating and engaging. This leaves a vacuum that tends to be filled by the wealthy vested interests and, dare we say, the politically motivated broadcasters. The last time I was in the US and caught a bit of Fox News, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and hearing. Such biased broadcasting, masquarading as independent news, surely pollutes the politicial discourse, doesn’t it? It made me nostalgic for our own ITN and Sky News over here, so it must have been bad!

    And my last minor criticism would be the shortness of the presidential terms. This leads to almost rolling campaigning and this tends to work against long term political strategy. Once elected, mid term Congressionals around the corner and then the next presidential election. That’s four years and then, assuming you get a second term, you’re a lame duck President on his way out. Needs looking at, in my view but, come on, there are many, many strengths in your system too, not least what it produced in 2008. A Barak Obama type figure emerging in the UK? We’re light years away.

  16. Oldnat,

    Lots of mentions of Lord North from you nowadays. Ploughing through yet another work involving winning independence from England? Peter Wightley perhaps?

  17. OldNat/John B

    Very interesting. – Thanks :)

  18. h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/aug/31/ed-balls-affordable-homes

    Oh why why why isn’t Eddy winning?

  19. @Social Liberal

    Dare say plenty of us here sit up on a November night with a map and blue/red highlighters. My ear was glued to the radio in 2000 for weeks. Baker et al on Bush’s ‘legal team’ moved quick and heavy. Gore was too much the gentleman and needed a more forceful team to watch recounts/pursue the courts imho.

    Oft stated criticism of our PMs has been that they become too presidential, accruing executive powers. US watchers are surprised that our PM has to face so much flak on a weekly basis in the House of Commons.

    One difference is the almost reverential tone adopted by interviewers in the US. The open-mouthed disbelieif on the face of a senior Whitehouse figure when subjected to fierce cross-questioning from our Channel 4 News or BBC Newsnight for example, during the Iraq war. Congress fills the role of calling to account more perhaps.

    One thing, There is talk here that Condi Rice told tales to the President to the effect that the Whitehouse declared Brown not acceptable as a PM to replace Blair. Any real discussion of the powers/veto a US president might be able bring to bear on a UK Prime Minister within the Special Relationship?

  20. Eoin

    Like OldNat, I have probably changed my position on a few things over 60 years, but not in the same way and at the same time as the leader of any party.

  21. don’t understand why Ed Balls isn’t in front in the Labour leadership race, given that he:

    a) is the only candidate making hard-hitting points effectively attacking the coalition (e.g. recently on the socially inequitable budget and the building of new affordable homes) with plausible passion; and

    b) is the only male candidate eligible to become Prime Minister, as I understand that it is constitutionally illegal for an individual who is not of the Protestant faith to hold an office under the Crown which is invested with an advowson for appointing archbishops and senior bishops in the CofE.

    The Milibands are likely to be an electoral handicap to the Labour Party because of their cosmopolitan “Polish”/Jewish/Marxist background. Their origins will be mercilessly exploited in attacks by the right-wing media (carefully worded to avoid infringing the Race Relations Act) and will alienate both the Muslim vote and the working class “national” socialist vote – the latter tend to vote BNP in proportional elections (e.g. for the European parliament), but Labour in FPTP elections (e.g. for Westminster). Both these segments of the electorate are important in the Labour heartlands of the Midlands and North of England.

  22. @DAO -“is the only male candidate eligible to become Prime Minister, as I understand that it is constitutionally illegal for an individual who is not of the Protestant faith to hold an office under the Crown which is invested with an advowson for appointing archbishops and senior bishops in the CofE.”

    Not heard of that one. The monarch cannot be a Catholic, but I understand can technically be of any other faith and doesn’t have to be CoE, presumably as when they wrote the rules they didn’t didn’t consider a Muslim, Bhuddist or Tree Hugger monarch to be a remotely possible scenario. (Charles converts to Islam – that would be a laugh!). Can’t see an issue with an RC PM though. If there is, we really need to get a grown up constitution.

  23. Two things interest me regarding polls at the moment.

    1) Whether Labours leadership campaign will desend into a more civil war style dogfight
    2) Economic data

    On the first, there should be a few jitters within the Labour camp at present as the press coverage over the weekend has got a little less easy for them. There are philosophical differences, and great care is needed to ensure the party doesn’t get bogged down into a factional war. So far the absence of this has been much to the parties credit and they will want to keep this up until the new leader is chosen I guess.

    On the economy, things are a bit nip and tuck, but there are some signs that the shocking US data from May/June hasn’t had a great impact (or maybe just not yet?) in the UK. While the balance of forward looking domestic data is still poor, there are some signs that the threatened cliff edge has receded a little. Clearly this will probably help the coalition if it continues, although there will be a logical case for Labour to argue that a swifter recover was largely due to their policies during the recession.

    On that note, a banking report this morning suggests that with modest FTSE growth the taxpayer will net a £30B profit from the bank bail out when share price rises and fees are tallied up. Its a far cry from Osborne’s ridiculous claims at the time that the bail out would cost £800B and it really should make everyone on left and right ponder what the result might have been if Cameron and Osborne had been in charge at the time rather than Brown and Darling.

  24. Dao,

    Correct. It tends to be only those who suffer from such discrimination, that are aware of it. There are a couple of dozen positions cosed to us papists.

  25. Alec – you haven’t heard of it because it isn’t true (though I’ve seen it quoted many times). The Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 removed barriers to Catholics sitting in the Commons, the Jews Relief Act 1858 removed bars on Jews, Oaths of Allegiance Act 1858 for Quakers, and Oaths Act 1888 for others (specifically Charles Bradlaugh, though the Speaker had allowed Bradlaugh to take his seat already, so it was rather a case of opening the stable door after the horse had jumped it).

    There remained restrictions upon Catholics holding some particular roles the main exception being those of Regent (impossible now anyway, given Catholics are excluded from the line of succession) and Lord Chancellor. These were mainly removed under the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1926. The correct interpretation of these Acts was open to dispute, and was finally cleared up by the Lord Chancellor (Tenure of Office and Discharge of Ecclesiastical Functions) Act 1974, which specifically allowed a Roman Catholic to become Lord Chancellor.

    There is no statutory bar on a Catholic becoming Prime Minister. Where the belief springs from is that the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1829 contains a bar in the upon a Roman Catholic advising the monarch on Church of England appointments. This is currently a Prime Ministerial duty, but in the case of a Catholic holding the position of Prime Minister there is nothing preventing them delegating the function to another minister in the same way as the Lord Chancellor would under the Lord Chancellor (Tenure of Office and Discharge of Ecclesiastical Functions) Act 1974 (or indeed, devolving it to the Archbishop of Canterbury, for which there is provision in the Catholic Relief Act)

    The only way one could argue that there is a bar on Catholics being Prime Minister is if one took the view that the Prime Minister could not delegate that power – this was a view some took in regard of how the legislation applied to Lord Chancellor, hence the 1974 act, though that was worded as being “for the avoidance of doubt”, implying the measures in it could have been done anyway.

    Note that the bar on advising the Monarch on ecclesiastical appointments is specific to Roman Catholics, so even if one did take an incredibly strict interpretation of the 1829 Act, it still wouldn’t apply to atheists or Jews, who legally are perfectly OK to advise the monarch on Church appointments (though in practice I’m sure they wouldn’t).

    (Trivia of the day, depending upon whether Alfonso VI of Castille married his mistress Isabel (a refugee Muslim princess) or some other Isabel, the Queen may or may not be a direct descendent of the Prophet Mohammed)

  26. @John

    Sorry for the long post. Sometimes it’s difficult to see how much one is actually writing on this site. I generally tend to be of the opinion that campaigns are more likely won than lost. Though I don’t discount that campaigns can simply be lost. In a few weeks, the District of Columbia will have a mayoral election (early voting has already started). The mayor, Adrian Fenty, is fighting for his young political life against a challenger, Vincent Gray, who really hasn’t much of a campaign. One reason this has occurred is because Fenty is unpopular, he’s in his first term and he has managed to just piss people off at every turn.

    @ Billy Bob

    If that in fact occurred, I think it was HIGHLY inappropriate of Condo Rice or Dubya to say anything to Blair about Gordon Brown’s fitness to be the Prime Minister. That’s an area that is off limits to U.S. presidents and administration officials.

    What I find interesting is that I find Brits to be very proper and polite people and yet for politics, the British let it all go. In the U.S., the opposite is true. We Yanks are quick to eschew manners, we’re opinionated and loud. Yet for politics, we honor all sorts of traditions and rules. For example, personal insults on the floor of the House against other members are strictly prohibited. I can’t think of a starker contrast to the Prime Minister’s Questions where personal insults are the name of the game.

    The biggest mistake Gore made in all that was not to request a hand recount of the entire state of Florida. He would have won. By selectively counting various counties around the state, he looked like he was cherry picking.

  27. Eoin

    There were moves to raise awareness of the issue in the Scottish Parliament a few years ago.

    Alec

    It’s not just a better (grown up) contitution you need. There isn’t one.

  28. John B,

    I wonder if John McDonnell had won the Labour leadership. How might the Queen take his advice on Bishoprics?

  29. Anthony,

    A modern day anecdote from my home Down of Newry. We think Francie should be the next king :)

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2010/mar/16/tony-blair-catholic-ambassador-vatican

  30. @Anthony

    Thanks for the clarification. I based my comment on an authoritative reference (from 1990), which stated that the Prime Minister could not delegate the power of advising on CofE appointments, as it was a statutory duty of this particular Crown office and that any attempt to delegate the task would be regarded as a “serious misdemeanour”. The reference deduced that this effectively debarred Jews as well as catholics from becoming PM. I note that Tony Blair waited to convert to Roman Catholicism until shortly after he had demitted office, presumably in part to avoid any potentially constitutional issues in this regard.

  31. @ Sue Marsh

    1. I didn’t know that Krispy Kreme existed in Great Britain.

    2. The image of little British kids enjoying donuts with their tea in order to celebrate the Inauguration of Obama is priceless.

    3. I did go to the Inauguration. It wasn’t all that pleasant (the standing in 6 hours in the freezing cold, that long row of porta potties, the extreme security) but it was worth it.

  32. Anthony,

    Clause IV of the 1926 act states that this does not apply to NI. :(

    Did the 1974 act overide that?

  33. Anthony,

    Sorry to be a pain but Clause III also excludes Royal titles & deeds. Does the Duchy of Lancaster not all under this? I was also under the impression we ‘papists’ were excluded from that.

  34. @ Nick Hadley

    I didn’t take any offense. I just wanted to defend certain unpopular things that come under criticism. And I think it was Winston Churchill who said that democracy was flawed but the least bad of all other alternatives.

    I worry about the influence of the wealthy vested interests as well and the ack of voter turnout and participation. But that’s one reason why redistricting on the basis of voter registration is a frightening idea to me (what the Tories propose to do with constituency boundaries would likely be unconstitutional in the United States). There are far too few people who vote and do their civic duty.

    FOX News is an absolute joke in terms of its newsgathering abilities but I find most cable news is not that informative or critical of major issues. Giving equal time to both sides sounds good in theory but doesn’t work in practice when (1) there are more than two sides and (2) when one side is right and the other is wrong. I find that Jon Stewart gives a far more balanced and informative reporting of the news than most cable news networks do.

    I don’t think our presidential terms are too short. I think four years is a long time and I think by having set elections, it gives some stability to the system. We know when we’re having an election, we know when we’re having a transition of the administration, we know that the transition will be orderly and amicable, and we can use midterm elections as a way to grade the president mid term. I don’t think presidents are neccesarily lame ducks in their second terms either. Dubya didn’t become a lame duck until his response to Hurricane Katrina. Bill Clinton was not a lame duck either. Members of Congress know that even if a particular president will leave office after the second term, the president doesn’t become muted because there’s still an interest in which parties control the White House.

    I find it interesting to watch the midterm effect in Great Britain where voters will take out their anger over the incumbent government in power by voting in local council elections for opposition parties or doing so in the Welsh and Scottish Parliamentary elections.

  35. @Socalliberal,

    “redistricting on the basis of voter registration is a frightening idea to me (what the Tories propose to do with constituency boundaries would likely be unconstitutional in the United States)”

    Isn’t that ‘gerrymandering’? Something that is quite common in the US?

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/99/Illinois_District_4_2004.png

  36. Eoin

    I read your link

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/wintour-and-watt/2010/mar/16/tony-blair-catholic-ambassador-vatican

    I mistrust everything TB says now, but surely he is has gone too far this time.

    He clearly says the Pope is a Catholic

  37. John B,

    Martin Niemöller would probably beg to differ, but then it was 2005 so I think Papa Givovanni was in town back then….

  38. Actually, having dug around the Jews Relief Act 1858 does also bar any Jewish office holder from advising the monarch on ecclesiastical appointments, but explicitly says the power would devolve upon the Archbishop of Canterbury.

  39. @Social Liberal – Thank you for replying, the story is here:

    h ttp://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/politics/tony-blair/7969925/How-Bush-and-Blair-plotted-in-secret-to-stop-Brown.html

  40. Given that one of the Milibands will almost certainly win, it will result in two of the three parties’ leaders positions being held by atheists. I’m not criticising this, but it’s an interesting contrast with somewhere like the US where lack of religion would perhaps be seen rather negatively.

  41. Michael V,

    It is an interesting point, one which would please the postmodernists among us (I am not one). 21st Century moral vechiles come in all shapes and sizes.

  42. Blair’s iinfamous “I wish I had gone further speech” still haunts me. I think we all knew what he meant, not least Gordon Brown. It is set to be the domineering theme of Blair’s post-Blair assessment. The blame (if we can call it such) for the pause in Blairite refroms is to be laid at the door of Gordon Brown. In several monograph’s detailing the downfall of new Labour it is repeatly asserted that the diminishing emphasis given to the ‘choice’ agenda in helath, education, and local services is the reason for Labour’s defeat in 2010.

    With the interview being broadcast on the same day that Ballot papers arrive- I do wonder about the motives for Blair’s intervention.

    I hope readers will note that I did not answer of the point I raised, I merely raised them. I guess it is for Labour members to decide if Mr Blair is correct.

  43. Colin,

    Interesting article from my least favourite rag (a longstanding gripe, I assure you).

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/aug/31/boris-johnson-dave-cameron-mayor

  44. h ttp://today.yougov.co.uk/commentaries/peter-kellner/labour-not-just-party-working-class

    This is interesting to all manner of debate we’ve had on here.

  45. Michael v
    A bit provacative with appeasement but I do think Iraq was a worse error (ass opposed to a bad thing)
    Nial Ferguson I think proves that appeasement was a mistake but IMO it will still be easier to make a case for appeasement (it gave a chance to build up the air force etc) than to make a case for Iraq.
    Eoin
    on Blair I was taking to heart what Mr Fletcher I think it was reminded us that we were posting about the evidence not necessarily our own morality. I was with a group of business people today who expressed bitter opinions on TB but agreed that he would have won the election with something to spare
    old nat
    My nocturnal habits are governed by my work schedule and my children who only let me on the computer when they are satiated

  46. Amber – (Eoin, this is not contrived I assure you, I was running a fair test)

    So far, DM the only leader (today) to respond to my little challenge. Quite a good response too. Surprised me I confess, as I thought AB would be well in the lead by now!!

    I’ll let you know when all responses have been counted and verified!! lol

  47. Barney,

    The simple fact is that many millions of votes were lost by 2005. Blues captured more votes in 2010 than Blair did in 2005. Reds averaged 31% in the polls in the 19 polls before he left. Gordy lost Labour 900,000 votes but had he not lost a single vote on Blair’s 2005 performance we still would have been beaten by c.300,000. So what in effect you are saying is that Blair could have improved on his 2005 vote tally. On that matter I have a question? Has any post war PM ever improved on his/her previous election vote % share of the vote? In 1983, ’87 ’92’ 97′ ’01 ’05 the ruling party declined in its % share of the votes (although Thatcher managed to improve the numbers voting for as did Major improve on Thatcher’s ’87)..

    Never underestimate the date of the Iraq pullout. Brown did get them out quicker than Blair would have done. Also, never underestimate Blair’s propensity to deploy them again. Brown resisted military initial demands for an extra 1,200 troops- I do not Blair would have batted away such a request.

    I pose these five questions: (events mostly)

    1. Would T B have proposed more or less terror legislation than GB, how would the public have reacted to it?
    2. Would T B have handled the G20 summit/ financial crisis better?
    3. Would T B have pushed ahead with part-privatisation of Royal Mail?
    4. Would T B have handled datagate better?
    5. Could T B have handled expenses better?

  48. I’m really not going to get into another Blair/Miliband slanging fest, but I reckon Blair would have won. He just handled EVERYTHING better, even if you hated him.

  49. @NICK HADLEY.
    Why are we “light years” behind the United States politically?Because they elected a mixed race person as president? Black, White or Rose Chartreuse, he has turned out a rubbish President. The American great unwashed thought because the poor bloke was a non wasp, he was the second coming. Sadly not. Just a smart lawyer who cannot work miracles, or even make good decisions.

    @SOCIAL LIBERAL
    You are right to say that people in this country dont take sufficient interest in affairs and to many dont vote.
    However, I hardly think it behoves a citizen of the United States to preach to us about voter awareness.

  50. @SOCIAL LIBERAL
    Your view regarding Tory proposals to rejig constituency boundaries, which you claim would be illegal in the US, would only be interesting were we in the US. However, in our somewhat older democracy, constantly, election after election, needing to capture 100s of thousands off votes more than Labour, just to break even, is not something we intend to go on with indefinitely.

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