YouGov’s weekly poll for the Sunday Times has voting intention figures of CON 42%, LAB 37%, LDEM 13%. It’s a higher Conservative lead than YouGov have shown recently, and the highest Lib Dem score from YouGov for a while – but nothing that couldn’t just be normal random variation. What it does suggest is that the continuing row over housing benefit is not damaging the government. Full tables are here.

On that specific issue, YouGov asked again about support for the cap on housing benefit, and found 72% of people in favour (this is much in line with the levels of support YouGov found when the cap was first announced in the budget back in June, althought the question itself was not the same so you cannot draw a conclusion about support going up or down).

The regular trackers are broadly positive for the government. David Cameron’s approval rating is up to plus 15, from a low of plus 8 a week ago and people’s opinion of whether the government is managing the economy well is back in positive territory after falling into negative territory a week ago.

Ed Miliband’s approval rating has dropped to plus 2, as those thinking he is doing a bad job rises to 32%. This is largely following the normal pattern for party leaders – when they first become leader people give them the benefit of the doubt for a couple of weeks. After a while supporters of other parties start giving them negative answers and leader’s net ratings fall.

Impressions of the state of the economy have risen following the announcement of GDP figures – 7% think the economy is in a good state, 70% a bad state. While extremely pessimistic, the net figure of minus 63 is actually the highest since the end of July and start of August… straight after the last lot of GDP figures were announced. The boost in optimism then didn’t last very long.

YouGov also asked some questions about Europe. Unsurprisingly people overwhelmingly thought that Britain paid too much towards the European Union. Attitudes towards an expansion of the EU’s powers to limit government borrowing and impose greater budget discipline were more positive though. 29% supported the idea of gving the EU greater powers to stop countries borrowing too much, including the UK. 37% supported the EU having such powers over the Eurozone, but not the UK. We did also ask a question about David Cameron supporting the economic powers in exchange for a freeze in EU funding, but it was alas overtaken by events.

336 Responses to “YouGov show 72% in favour of housing benefit cap”

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  1. Very amused by Colbert and Stewarts comedy rally in the US. I absolutely love some of the banners, my personal favourites being “I’m Slightly Upset, But I’ll Get Over It” and “Hyperbole is the Antichrist”.

    Firing the bullet at exactly the right target in my opinion – not at left or right, or any particular policy, but at irrational and intemperate tub-thumping. Of course, the subtlety and gentle irony of their approach will find far more resonance in Europe and in Northern California than in “Main Street USA”.

  2. @MIKE N
    Are we supposed to be surprised ? I see CND abhor the continuation of Trident. I abhor the bastard who shoot the Emperor of Exmoor.
    If these sorts of groups think supporting a system which pays certain individuals, sums of money which are twice and three times the national average wage in housing benefit, that is their affair. But dont expect the public at large to take them seriously.

  3. roland

    the emperor of exmoor is that our howard you talking about

  4. @ RiN and Mike N

    One man’s ‘fair’ governance is another man’s oppressive state intervention (see inheritance tax).

    The British sense of ‘fair play’ is just as confused as the American concept of ‘freedom’, and just as politically divisive.

    As for your question/statement about the left and arguments for ‘what works’, I think the most powerful recent example (worldwide) is the left’s argument in 2008/9 for massive state intervention in the markets to avoid global depression. That this was miserably preceded by a decade totally devoid of meaningful regulation is a great shame.

    The left on both sides of the Atlantic have miserably failed to expose the total lack of answers the right had to offer when the entire capitalist system appeared to be disappearing down the toilet. However, opinion isn’t formed on ‘what if’, but on ‘what is’ as Obama will discover this week.

  5. @Mike N

    ‘I see Shelter are criticising the HB changes’.

    Well that’s as surprising as landlords criticising the lowering of LHA payments to cover inflated rents.

  6. @ Spencer

    “The left on both sides of the Atlantic have miserably failed to expose the total lack of answers the right had to offer”.

    This is perfectly correct and true for most of Continental Europe as well.

    The real question is why? I’m quite sure that to a large degree it was because they fell for the mirage of the markets too and in the UK, for example, it was politically convenient. Oddly, GB, when still at the university knew some more decent answers (his dissertation is quite good)…

    I actually think that the measures in 2008/09 were incorrect (even the Treasury’s own proposals were much better, but politically Labour did not dare to adopt the civil service’s reasonably measured advice), but they still managed to help the economy. However, from publicity point of view, they are a nightmare now.

  7. Spencer,

    You raise a complicated point about paradigms. We live, and have for decades, in a blue paradigm. IF reds were ever going to get elected in 1997 they had to be good little boys and girls and agree to three basic rules.

    1. Privitisation is good.
    2. Tax and Spend is bad.
    3. Red tape is bad.

    No. 3 quite clearly caused the global recession but reds were powerless to fundamentally alter it. Rule 1 has commericlaised many crucial aspects of our state. Rule 2, when GB finally [perhaps inevitably] broke it, cost reds power.

    Have any of these three rules changed since the crash? I don’t think so. Cyclical recessions will always be part and parcle of the capitalist system.

  8. @Eoin,

    I think there is a difference between the amount of regulation and the quality of regulation. I accept that the right hasn’t been noticeably better at devising regulations than the left overall, but the desire to reduce the amount of them is noble in my view.

  9. Roland and Aleksandar
    I hardly expected your response! ;-)

    The point however is that joe public does notice these things and it enters their subconscious memory. If and when they see images on TV of children, the elderly and the disabled being evicted it will trigger the memory.

    They may also recall that Lab denounced the HB cuts.

    This is one way VI moves over time, I suggest.

  10. R and R in N
    the emperor of exmoor is that our howard you talking about

    Only went there once and I froze in the wind. Like Gaius Julius, it seems we emperors prefer warmer conquests.

    My lot may on an outlier at 13% but it doesn’t sound like demise, yet, does it?

  11. @Mike N,

    The gamble is, as a Labour politician do you predict those things happening, in order to be able to say “I told you so” when they do (running the risk that they actually don’t and you look silly). Or do you just criticise in general terms and try to take advantage of the misery when/if it does appear?

    This is the crux of Labour’s dilemma across a range of areas. I still think their best bet is to be mildly critical across the board, not get drawn into “line in the sand” fights over specific policies, and work on a policy platform to fight 2015 on.

  12. Neil A,

    The problem [if at all it is one] is much bigger than that. Economic growth is what? How valuable/desireable is growth on a personal level and a national level. The weltanschauung seems to suggest that economic growth is the holy grail. I contend that it is the pursuit of growth that jeopardises the well being of the citizens of the state. Filthy lucre is the bane of society. I accept that this is a minority viewpoint, and I have no desire to push it onto others. I merely cite it to point out that reds play [and often lose] a game based on blue rules. Even in the moment of Labour success, it is a failure to their principles but one they are willing to accept in the name of democracy and pursuit of the common good.

    It is a bitter pill when your party is forced to adopt a dregulation framework, one which is kind to expedential growth and private profit, but then you are lambasted when that framework fails. Surely even the most hardened blue must see the irony in Poor Gordon getting blamed for not regulating the banks, when had he done so, he’d have been ridiculed/lambasted by one and all.

  13. @EOIN
    I don’t think Labour have any bigger problem than the Tories with these fundamentals you mention. For example, Tory administrations are always going to have an issue with the NHS. It is a thing one can through zillions at, yet ite never enough. Education is another, any sort of selection is now deemed as utter wickedness. Contributions from parents in order to make a school better would be roundly condemed.
    As for the unfortuate issue of immigration and the Muslim Faith, someone is going to have to come to terms with this matter at some point. How will the Tory solution be perceived ? We have all got a cross to bare.

  14. howard

    i’m so glad you are alive

    roland’s post got me worried

    but who or what is the emperor of exmoor

  15. Roland,

    Yes, a very good point, and one if I am honest I had not thought of before. Hmmm…. Shows what can be gained from listening to others I suppose. My instinctive response is that I am cheered that we get something back for our committment to appluading thatcher’s privatisation, and promising prudent chancellors. I shall have to ponder your thoughts at length.

  16. Neil A
    “I still think their best bet is to be mildly critical across the board, not get drawn into “line in the sand” fights over specific policies, and work on a policy platform to fight 2015 on.”

    The dilemma for EM and Lab is that the LDs could abandon ship (I can’t resist mentioning rats here) in the next six months or so.

    When to dig in on an issue is a matter of political judgment. In some ways I think Lab should changes its focus but then I think, actually this focus on HB is causing the Con gov and the LD MPs problems. All the while Con supporters argue that Lab have this wrong the more I think it’s right for Lab to pursue it. You see this issue could split the LDs.

  17. ‘This is the crux of Labour’s dilemma across a range of areas. I still think their best bet is to be mildly critical across the board, not get drawn into “line in the sand” fights over specific policies, and work on a policy platform to fight 2015 on.’

    I mostly agree with Neil A on this. I know Eoin is frustrated by EM’s policy-lite approach, but there is great danger in fighting overly nuanced policy battles (both as a party and nationally) months into a parliament. However, I think there will be a need to be more than ‘mildly” critical once the cuts start to bite.

    Labour’s best bet is to allow a general ‘not so hard, not so fast, what about the squeezed middle?’ line to emerge as their ‘theme’ in opposition and to use well drawn real life examples of the cuts hurting to illustrate the dividing lines. 1992 demonstrated the danger of costed budgets for Labour – hence no ‘alternative’ CSR.

  18. @EOIN
    A small correction, Eoin. Gordon Brown did regulate the banks. It was own invention and bairn, and was called the FSA. It was not a hangover from Tory times, when “self regulation” was considered adequate by most people. Gordon as the new chancellor said, “not good enough” and unveiled the all new FSA. It is the functionality of the FSA which should be looked at regarding nuts and bolts regulation. Perhaps the culture of risk and debt should also be added.

    Please dont let anyone start another war about whose fault the crisis was. I just felt as an FSA regulated “named individual” I should mention them.

  19. R in N
    It’s a deer or rather an ex-deer because someone shot it in order to create a story to interrupt the endless boredom of shots of Cameron getting in and out of cars and standing at lecterns.

    Nobody knows whether it was he who was shot actually (the deer not DC) but such small detail has not concerned the 4th estate.

    Neither did what was really happening in Brussels interest them either.

  20. Spencer,

    The problem with policy lite is threefold.

    1. In a honeymoon period, people were willing to listen [thus a missed opportunity]

    2. You only get a chance to cast the die once. First impressions are hard to shift

    3. Critique is only newsworthy and credible if accompanied with vision. Thus far, Ed M has shown none of the latter.

    It also goes back to principles. You either have them or you don’t. You either trust them or you don’t. They are either relevant or they are not. I see no rational argument, not to have the courage of one’s conviction. If politics was less about presentation and more about policy, socialists have to believe in the moral weight of our argument. Forgive me blues, but I can fully understand why a blue would want to hid cuts to social security or VAT hikes. I get that. But why does a red wnat to hide a desire to protect the poor, to advance the equality of women, or to stand up or students and homeless? We have nothing to hide, so policy lite, theoreticalyl shouldn’t apply.

    Had Jesus roamed Galilee saying, ” come with me and I might one day tell you good news” He would have been laughed out of town. As it happens he was anyways, but that’s another story. :)

  21. @Mike N,

    I suppose on the prospects of a LD split and the fall of the coalition, it’s a matter of calculation. You either think it will or you think it won’t happen. If you count on it and it doesn’t then your strategy is in tatters.

    My personal view is that it is extremely unlikely that there will be a breakdown of the coalition during this parliament, so on that basis my “neutral” advice to Labour would be to assume it won’t. There are some issues which could form sufficient nexus to split the LDs, but most of those will be about outcomes on the ground rather than points of principle. If there are mass evictions of poor people in 2012 then the LDs will be very unhappy about it whether Ed M has predicted it or not.

  22. @ Roland

    Fair point – poor old Gordon did try his best ;)

    He was the mightiest stag on Exmoor and some bloody foreigner (it is thought) paid money to hunt and shoot him. This happened last week.

  24. Roland,

    Yes, homegrown regulation was at least attempted by Gordon. It owuld have meant electorla suicide had he gone further. The basic point is that he wanted to. The second point is that international regulation was also lacking but necessary. The UK and US were equally complicit in this over many decades.

  25. @ Eoin

    2. You only get a chance to cast the die once. First impressions are hard to shift

    So why show your hand when all the cards are still up in the air?

    We don’t even know whether the yellows will stick, twist or fold…

    Sorry this metaphor has jumped the shark (dammit – did it again!).

  26. Going dark now. (I’m not that far north I should add.)

  27. @ Roland

    The story is even more paradoxical. The previous regulatory framework was even less adequate for dealing with the financial system. Purely, at the level of the idea, FSA was a good one. It recognised the blurring of the boundaries among different financial products – but then the existence of the FSA even encouraged the blurring.

    I’m not convinced that 2008/09 was a regulatory problem – there were countries with a much weaker formal, but much stronger informal, regulatory framework that managed the crisis pretty well (France), countries with universal banking system (Germany), where some banks went mad and some that stuck to the point of business (thus the separation of investment and retail banking would not have helped, separation of insurance from banking has never worked, etc). Also, the banks themselves did not understood some of the products that caused heavoc (apart from a few small groups of people in the banks), so the regulators were unlikely to catch it.

    No regulator in modern market economies have the power or the entitlement to examine – why there was this sudden increase in the demands for such investment vehicles (mainly because the economic recession had been trying for some time), challange the notion that pension funds could buy any kind of risky securities (and believe in the Monte Carlo model), to give the advice to the government: do something about investment, etc.

  28. Spencer,

    It is a fair question. IF you have time, listen to Gorodn Brown’s Citizens UK speech. Then ask yourself this question, why do we need to wait five years to make these ideas of Gordon’s party policy?

    The ills socialism is geared towards solving, have plagued humanity in the UK for at least 2 centuries. I believe solutions are self evident truths, constant, and fixed. I do not think solutions are ‘situational’. Thus, the need for housebuilding, maternity rights, equal pay rights, interest rate caps, regulation of buy to let mortgages, graduate tax, living wage, eco towns, tax rasiing powers for Scotland, and many many more- all form part of one single abiding goal- equality. They are as relevant today as the will be in 5 years. IF our fear is that blue might nick them, I cannot unerstand that line. Surely if blue decided to nick a red policy of one year maternity pay [full] for women, then we should applaud them. My concern is less with beating blue, but more on winning the policy argument. Blue has moved to the centre, thanks to Tony Blair/David Cameron. Let’s say we pull blue a little more to the left? Everybody wins, when blues adopt some of red policy. Possibly, though I am loathed to say it, everybody wins if red adopts some of blue policy. That is to say, that the pursuit of common good benefits us all.

  29. @ Eoin

    “First impressions are hard to shift”

    I guess the current impression of the general public is “who’s this guy”. So, that is easy to shift.

    I agree with Spencer that EM does not have cards. Even if he had, the Labour Party has to sort out itself first. He does not have the authority (not even TB had before 1997) to stop some LP person going out and saying something against what he intends to say or do and gets widely reported. His broad church shadow cabinet is actually a problem from this aspect.

    They really should be very quiet about positive alternatives (especially as some of the shadow cabinet members seem to think that the alternative is a less gloomy Tory policy).

  30. Laszlo,

    Surely better regulation could have improved the level of transparency in companies books and also independant valuation of assets could have improved the honesty of banks balance sheets. Regulation of the bonus/wage system, would have aided the discouraging of risks. A law regulating short selling would also have helped.

  31. @Howard…….I would have thought that suspicious shootings on Exmoor might have induced a slight discomfort in a Lib., you know what I’m alluding to, best left for others to discuss. :-)

  32. @EOIN
    I will probably make a balls of this post, as I know what I mean but will struggle to explain.
    Labour have advanced their vision of universal benefits to a point that “ordinary” people wonder who is kidding who. Yes, if a family arrive in Britain from Africa, they should not be left outside Heathrow on a grass verge to starve. But housing benefit of 45k ?
    Yes, living in London with 3 kids is an expensive pastime, but state handouts for kids to someone earning 50k or 90k ? So it goes on. The constant criticism of moves to change this type of thing, makes Labour look like a “[email protected] paradise” not the party of working people. We have moved from the “bloody Tories” looking after the well off, to Labour finding excuses to support every “undeserving tosser” in the country. This later comment followed by support for people who are genuinely needy, quickly followed by “but so many are not”. That is where we are at.

  33. Laszlo,

    Well then, I guess, that is the way it is going to be for Reds. Let’s see how far it gets red in polling over the next couple of months.

    Tony Blair had concrete policies prior to 1997. I will go back and take the top ten policies out of the 1997 manifesto and list the exact date all were launched. I will then chart them in terms of response in the polls, and I hope demonstrably measure polling perfromance after policy announcements. I will seek to measure two things.

    1. Did Tony Blair keep his ideas up his sleeve until 1997.

    2. When a policy was announced by the Blair shadow cabinet, how did it affect polls.

  34. roland & howard

    don’t know how i missed that story, i must stop reading about trivia like HB and the US houseing crisis and start paying attention to the more important things

  35. @LASZLO
    So, what you are saying is the FSA were insufficiently expert to catch the persons doing non compliant business deals. Or perhaps the treasury did not realise that these deals were non compliant and that disaster would follow.

  36. @ Eoin

    All these were regulated. This is the point. The assets were “independently” evaluated. When the guys who invented structured investment vehicles found out that the valuation agencies accepted the instriment and the way they were graded, they could not believe it. But they were “indepently evaluated”.

    The financial statements and records are structured as they are not primarily for this purpose, but for quick, simple and cheap comparisons. You could have a regulation that you suggest, but then you will have quite a bit of job to sort out the securities markets since they would be crippled.

    The bonus system was not only because of motivation, but because controlling the traders, investment bankers, etc. would have been impossible or extremely expensive. Essentially the same model exists everywhere in the professional services (you may argue that this is why law firms happen to pump up chargeable hours, the same by consultants, the same by insurance companies, this is why you have cross selling).

    The Treasury’s suggestion was pretty simple: make retail banking utilities (and bring them under the same regulatory framework as water companies), make merger and acquisitions prohibively expensive through unregulated markets, make any securities market that operate as futures markets (such as short selling) a closed system (like the Chicago Futures), that has nothing to do with the outside reality.

    Probably those 10-14 days were the only time when a “Western” government could accept such a proposal.

  37. Colin,

    If your about, an article which might interest you lol [note the Author]

    h ttp://

  38. I am slightly surprised, amid so much speculation on whether or not the coalition will come apart, that the two most clear challenges next year: a possible new European Treaty and the LD base in Scotland following the Holyrood elections are not of more interest to contributors, but there it is.

  39. There have been some considered pronouncements on the failure of UK’s financial regulation regime :-

    The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee ( 2009) found that the “tripartite” regulatory system was “unable to fulfil one of its main purposes”, namely financial stability during the crisis.
    The chairman of the Lords committee, described a chaotic regulatory system that “lacked clarity” regarding specific roles. He added: “Even when the rules were clear, the FSA lacked rigour supervising the institutions under its charge.”
    The Lords report on banking supervision and regulation concludes that the key powers should be handed back to the Bank of England, rather than be shared equally with the Treasury and the FSA

    Also in 2009 a paper for the Centre for Policy Studies, by former BoE director Sir Martin Jacomb called for the Government to “re-empower the Bank of England”. In the paper, Sir Martin argued that in the future the FSA ought to become a subsidiary of the Bank, with a new committee set up to monitor financial stability, much as the Monetary Policy Committee oversees the broader economy.

    Echoing the Lords report, Sir Martin said that the tripartite system devised by GB alongside his advisor Ed Balls, was “designed to allow the Treasury to retain ultimate control” but that Mr Brown’s “desire for ultimate control ended in failure. This Tripartite Arrangement has been a disaster.”

    In a Treasury Committe hearing in 2007, Mervyn King
    was so badly battered by his interrogation, that questions about his future were seriously being asked.This was because he came across as the leader of an institution that seemed to have neglected some of its key responsibilities,ever since it was split into two by Gordon Brown.
    The Times wrote :-
    “……this managerial failure was highlighted inadvertently by Mr King’s decision to focus on the Market Abuse Directive (aptly abbreviated to MAD). While he never explicitly linked the MAD to the EU directive of the same name, his implication seemed clear: “Here is another piece of cockeyed European legislation imposed by Brussels against the better judgment of British institutions such as BoE….
    ….What Mr King did not mention – perhaps because he was himself unaware of it – was that the MAD that had stymied his efforts was not the one imposed by the Eurocrats in Brussels. It was a home-grown version, which in the manner typical of the British Civil Service, had hardened and extended the European proposal, making it more oppressive and less workable than the rules Brussels proposed. Moreover, the civil servants responsible for this “gold-plating” were none other than the Bank’s partners in the tripartite structure which Mr King kept defending – the Treasury and the FSA. The bizarre and self-defeating regulations spotted last week by the Bank’s lawyers were invented by officials working for Gordon Brown in 2004-05, just when their boss was promising to end such unnecessary “gold-plating” of EU directives.

    To cap it all, the British MAD was written after long consultations in which interested parties were supposed to raise problems of exactly the kind now identified by the lawyers, but there were no objections from the Bank of England at the time. It seems that the Bank really was caught napping and had forgotten its crisis-management role – not just for the past two weeks, but since 2004 or before.

    The MAD debacle suggests that the communications failures over Northern Rock have been a permanent feature of the Bank-Treasury-FSA tripartite relationship for years. It also suggests that the Bank, since its break-up in 1997, has lost touch with legal and financial complexities and thus undermined its main crisis management skills. “

  40. Another story that will gain traction over the next couple of weeks, and will stir the anti-union faction, is today’s Mail headline, London firefighters striking against changes in shift patterns, approx. one third of these guys and gals are working in second jobs, some of them don’t even live in the UK. The Union is getting ’em to strike on bonfire night, the most dangerous night of the year in their own view. If anyone dies as a result of a mitigated response by the reservists, all hell will break loose in the media.
    Incidentally, I don’t think that the Union call for civil disobedience and marches behind banners, will help the Labour cause, the imagery isn’t going to enhance their polling results.

  41. @ Roland

    Yes, essentially… The BoE, the City, the Treasury and the regulator recruit from roughly the same pool. And there is a pecking order.

    They don’t particularly like each other, many of them do not socialise with each other, so they are compartmentalised (if such a word exists) and do not learn from each other (enough).

    Oddly the tax people could catch the original version of the scheme of structured investment vehicle in the film industry (this is where it was tried first) and then they sat down with producers and distributors and over several meetings they got to an acceptable compromise.

  42. Eoin

    THanks for the link

    fascinating-autre temps autre moeurs, as ED Miliband might say -indeed has said , though in translation :-)

  43. I have been measuring the timing of LAbour’s policy announcements from June 1994 to December 1996. Accurately measuring their polling impact proved too difficult, although not impossible. Instead I had to satisfy myself with retrieving the dates that policies were announced. I include some of the main labour policies that won Blair election in 1997. It is worth noting two things… Blair published an “early manifesto” a full year before the election. Secondly he was crafty with his policy announcements, putting focus on the principle and not the detail, thus ensuring wiggle room remained. I beleive this kind of positioning is entirely possible in Ed Miliband’s case. [see below]

    1. Minimum wage (pre-July 1994)
    2. European Social Chapter (pre-August 1994)
    3. Devolution for Scotland (pre-June 1996)
    4. Independence of Bank of England (May 1995)
    5. Windfall tax (pre-May 1995)
    6. Job Seekers Allowance (pre- Sept. 1995)
    7. Abolition of Hereditary peers (pre-December 1994)
    8. Abolish Grammar Schools (pre-March 1996)
    9. Freedom of Information Act (I can’t get a date for)
    10. Cut class sizes to 30 (pre-June 1996)
    11. Nursery Education for four year olds (Dec 1994)

  44. Last night’s results show that the biggest challenge for Lab is to regain the votes of C2s to E’s (and probably C1s but these are not disaggregated).

    The EU questions pushed open doors.

    The following Q began with a lie, namely
    ‘The European Union has proposed an increase on 6% in their

    Then asked whether the voter approved of DC trying to reduce it.

    I mean, really! Note also, not ‘Our EU and ‘our budget’ but ‘their budget’, as though we were not even Members but put-upon vassals of a foreign power.

    After all that, it was amazing that voters so pleasingly support the daylight saving and unification of that with the rest of central Europe.

  45. @roland – I find your post of 3.26pm a pretty accurate summation of the picture. The issue of universality isn’t related to housing benefits of course – this is means tested – but it all ends up in the same pot as far as the general public are concerned.

    At the moment Labour have a bit of a battle to explain their position, but I think more importantly, a bit of a battle to actually work out their position. That is normal for any party just after a big election defeat, but it does present difficulties when trying to oppose the government while reconnecting to former voters – almost by definition, by having to oppose the winning ideology you are defending much of what got you defeated in the first place.

    For Labour supporters I would say don’t worry. These polls are not relevant in the long run. Governnance is hard and there are plenty of signs that the coalition will find the going tough. If they don’t and things go well for them there really isn’t much an opposition can do except hold together and take another 5 years in opposition – that’s life.

    But if Labour can address some of the issues it failed to deal with in government and have a bit of luck with events etc they are well placed to profit. I’m a lot less convinced by some others that the benefit reforms, CB changes and education policies will end up being as popular as the Tories believe and after all, whatever the doommongers say about labour’s position they are currently sitting as the largest party and only 15 seats short of a majority if Anthony’s seat calculator is to be believed. If Cameron falls under a bus tomorrow morning who knows what could happen.

  46. @Éoin……And the incumbents weren’t crafty enough to see through the plan, I suspect that any good ideas put forward by EM would immediately be nicked by the current lot, a la Blair. He taught us a lot about political integrity. :-)

  47. @Eoin – interesting post, but check the BoE independance one. My recollection is that Brown surprised everyone post election with the BoE move, unless that only refers to the handing over of the interest rate function.

  48. @ken – “London firefighters striking against changes in shift patterns, approx. one third of these guys and gals are working in second jobs, some of them don’t even live in the UK”

    Without getting into the rights and wrongs of the case, I agree with you. Labour will need to think very carefully about how they position themselves in such disputes. I wouldn’t be too surprised to see Ed M take a pretty tough line in the London fire dispute. He needs to build some form of consensus to be ready to go on the offensive as and when he judges the coalition has picked the wrong fight.

  49. Alec,

    You might be right on the official announcement of the policy but on the 12/05/1995 both the Independant and BBC Radio 4 carried stories along the following lines “Mr Brown gave a strong hint on BBC Radio’s World at One that he is to propose ways of strengthening the independence of the Bank of England. Mr Brown, who claimed there was a “suspicion” that Mr Clarke had been overruled last week by John Major, and had then overruled the governor, said: “We need even more openness, because what has become clear is that the system is susceptible to political party pressure.”

  50. Ken,

    If blueys want to nick graduate tax, free nursery care for 2 year olds, 1 years maternity pay [full], living wage, etc. etc. They are very welcome to do so :)

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