ICM have a new poll out for the Electoral Reform Society about the AV referendum (full tables here). Asking about voting intention in the referendum 35% say they will vote yes, 22% no, 9% would not vote and 35% don’t know.

Regular readers will no doubt notice the stark difference between this and the regular YouGov tracker poll on AV voting intention, which on it’s last outing a week and a half or so ago had the NO vote ahead by 41% to 35%, with 7% not voting and 17% don’t knows.

The big differences are in the level of don’t knows – ICM has twice as many as YouGov – and in how Labour supporters say they will vote. In ICM’s poll Labour identifiers (they didn’t ask voting intention) are in favour of AV. In YouGov’s polling Labour supporters, initially supportive of AV back in May and June, have gradually changed their opinion and are now against it.

The contrast definitely won’t be down to the differences between telephone and online polling, which is one of the things I’ve seen floated, since the ICM poll was also conducted online, presumably using their own panel. The difference is more likely in the wording of the two questions – there are three possible differences here:

1) The big difference is that YouGov have introductory text explaining briefly what the two systems are (the actual explanations YouGov use originate from a a survey for the Electoral Reform Society back in November 2009). ICM’s poll doesn’t tell people anything about the systems.

2) ICM actually don’t mention FPTP at all in their question, it asks if people would vote for a new system called the alternative vote, or to keep the existing system. YouGov present it as a choice between two systems.

3) In their preable YouGov mention the referendum as something the coalition government are doing, while ICM just say it is due to happen in 2011.

Now, we know from various other bits of polling that many people have very little knowledge of what AV is – the Electoral Commission’s qualitative research commissioned as part of their evaluation of the referendum question found people thinking the alternative vote meant being able to vote online or by post, referred to an unspecified alternative, or was a proportional system. I think it’s reasonable to assume that a lot of the reason for a lower level of don’t knows in the YouGov poll is that respondents have been told what they are voting on.

I’m more intrigued about the second difference – how come ICM’s Labour identifiers back AV but YouGov’s Labour voters oppose it? Perhaps it’s because YouGov mention that the referendum is a coalition policy that makes Labour voters less supportive.

All that aside, the question people will probably be interested in is which one will give the right steer to the result. Normally my instincts are to give respondents the absolute minimum level of information they need to respond to a question, so an ICM style question has its attractions (I wouldn’t actually use the same question ICM did, but that’s neither here nor there). The big difference wording would appear to make suggests public opinion is still unformed on the issue, and ICM’s finding that 35% of people don’t know how they’ll vote if you ask them straight out tells us something important about how many people don’t know about this.

Equally the fact that when YouGov ask people’s intentions having told them what AV is they are far more negative doesn’t bode well for the YES campaign. As the referendum gets closer people will become more aware of the choice and telling people about FPTP and AV should make less and less difference to their answers. Nevertheless it would be naive to assume that by the time of the election everyone voting will know what AV and FPTP is – the electoral Commission will send all voters a booklet before the referendum telling people what AV and FPTP are – but that doesn’t guarantee everyone will actually read it.

I’d also expect it to be seen as more of a choice between two system, and the political context of the coalition being an important factor – so my guess is that the YouGov question gives a better steer to how things will actually turn out… but my experience is that most people will want to believe the poll that tells them the result they’d like, so feel free to do so. The lessons I’d take away from the polling is that lots of people don’t know, increased awareness appears to help the NO campaign (something YouGov polls prompting people with pro- and anti- arguments and reasking VI have also shown), and that the YouGov trackers suggest that the trend so far has been towards no (probably due to increased animosity towards the coalition government).

Going back to the ICM poll there are also questions on whether people would be more or less likely to vote Labour or Conservative if they backed AV. Regular readers will know my general disregard for questions like this (I have the full old rant here). They give issues of little salience false prominence, respondents tend to use them to indicate approval or disapproval for a policy regardless of whether it will actually change their vote, and people saying it would make them more likely to vote for X are invariably mostly people who are already voting for X.

In this case, 13% said backing AV would make them more likely to vote Labour, 10% less likely. ICM didn’t ask voting intention – but they did ask party ID. The majority of people who said they’d be more likely to vote Labour if they backed AV are Labour identifiers anyway, the majority who said it would make them less likely to vote Labour are Conservative identifiers anyway. Turning to the Conservatives, 8% said they’d be more likely to vote Conservative if they backed AV, 13% said it would make them less likely. Just as meaningless as the Labour question, but kudos to the ERS for releasing questions that probably didn’t get the answers they’d have liked. I admire pressure groups that do that.


247 Responses to “ICM show YES campaign ahead in AV vote”

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  1. @SOCALIBERAL

    “Why have these student protests been so violent? By contrast, I’ve seen widescale protests by UC students in reaction to decicisions by the UC Regents to raise tuitions (and sometimes Cal State student protests) and they’re never violent.”

    Probably because the relevant Californian Police departments would be a lot rougher and tougher than the uniformed wing of the Guardian (Metropolitan Police.)

  2. Excellent news on tuition fees. Too many bums go to university and have a three year holiday on the back of the private sector tax payer. Which is no surprise of course given the nonsensical, arbitrary 50% target that was thought up by some clueless politician or academic in their fantasy land.

    These jokers are no more prepared for the work place after their “higher” education than they were at 18. Now hopefully they will decide to do something useful instead. Or at least know they will receive the bill for their three year party.

    Hopefully a few of the many micky mouse universities and courses will then also go the way of the Gordon. And some of the many, many incompetents known as “professors” that simply couldnt make it in the real world.

    This should bring some much needed deflation to the “education” racket and bring down some of the over inflated salaries going to incompetents like academics.

    (BTW, havent seen Alec post in a while. Is he OK?)

  3. @Neil A

    With EMA you get £30 a week, providing you have full attendance. If you miss anything, you don’t get it. I don’t know if EMA replaced anything else, and as far as I’m aware, as of yet there’s nothing to replace it. I think the cut-off point for getting it is about 29K.

    On the subject of the protests, although immediate reactions may be negative, we are yet to see the long term effects/impressions left, and it’s my feeling that with continued unrest/disorder it will only do damage to the government. There may be people, and quite a lot of people, who don’t think these policies are all that bad, but I don’t think they’re dream-come-true type policies for many people.

  4. @Roland

    “Probably because the relevant Californian Police departments would be a lot rougher and tougher than the uniformed wing of the Guardian (Metropolitan Police.)”

    On the contrary. Although there were undoubtedly some in the demo who planned some form of vandalism, kettling is pretty much guaranteed to make the entire crowd angry and antagonistic. Far from being a crowd control measure, it’s actually a mechanism for inducing violence.

  5. Hopefully this post will survive the list owner’s file maintenance activities. Bad luck AW, we were all hoping you were important enough to be cyber-attacked. You are just too honest for this game I am afraid.

    Interesting posts on demise of LD not being helpful to Labour. I did point out that the majority of Con seats that are vulnerable to winning by LD or have been so won, are going to go Con or stay Con. This is most unhelpful to Lab which is why I still doubt that tactical voters will cease to be so and will be encouraged by a AV implementation.

    The psychology of voting Labour and putting LD second pref will be more attractive than holding one’s nose and voting LD under FPTP. I expect the next round of LD candidate selections to produce the sweetest looking and smelling little lefty PPC’s you have ever witnessed.

  6. I must admit I think kettling is counter productive in the medium and long term. It may well deal with the immediate issue but if I was a vague moderate and the police jail me in as if I was a real ‘anarchist’ it would not be sending me home feeling joy with the world and the police. I’d be furious for my unjust incarceration. Kettling I think must be radicalising whole heaps of people who were moderate.

    Concerning last night; say I’m a student seeing politicians who had grants saying I must finish University with debts of say 4 years by £9000 equals £36000 then on top of that living costs so, what £50,000 of debt BEFORE I get a job and mortgage. As well, I note that the very poorest get some free but not the brightest. And in comes two people in a posh car who by luck of birth never have to work in their lives an in fact who are supported by taxes. I can not imagine a bigger provocation for a person to lose their cool (especially if I’d been kettled!)

    The only sensible option is
    1) make university places for the useful courses and / or a few of the others for the very best ( we do need art history etc etc but not many!)
    2) Pay for it by direct taxation (That way, those uni students who get good jobs will pay for it by tax. Those who get good jobs without Uni will have kids who go to Unis)

    This Thatcherite inability to use direct tax and ‘user pays’ is just evil.

    (Once students land with this level of debt, good luck to the housing market; this lot will never manage a mortgage…)

  7. Kettling is a ridiculous tactic that will always lead to violence, particularly when accompanied by dispersal tactics like horse charges on people with nowhere to go.

    Its effect is also cumulative. Several years of being kettled or assaulted at demonstrations for the flimsiest of reasons instills an unhealthy ‘us and them’ mentality. I have seen the most mild-mannered people flip out when arbitrarily detained for something happening a long way off. These people then cease to be a calming influence as they are so angry.

    While no one likes to see a protest turn into a riot, the anger of these young people is justified, (if not always the violence). They have been lied to and failed. Spectacularly.

    Oh and there have been endless peacful protests, the press just largelt ignore them.

    Sorry for going off topic!

  8. Alasdair Cameron,
    I agree.The sight of police on horseback charging people
    who cannot move away is deeply disturbing as is the
    bashing of peoples heads with truncheons.Also was it
    wise for Camilla to be driving past a riot dripping in
    jewels?Rather a marie-antoinette sort of thing to do.

  9. Boyce, I thought of the Ceausescus but one would perhaps expect that from a republican. The worms certainly turned didn’t they?

    A few rotten eggs, rotten tomatoes, cream pies for red faces, yes perhaps thrown shoes (seems a waste though) are I think the limit of acceptable violence in a civilised society.

    But as Tony Benn has pointed out, it is only when the obscenities start that the rest of us take any real notice.

    It’s an eternal problem for democratic society and I don’t know what the answer is. Polling will reveal a majority for tut, tut attitudes, but I think Benn is correct in his analysis.

  10. When more than 20 years ago I got (not from free choice) training in crowd control, we were explicitly trained not to use kettling except if we wanted to beat many people, which is not the function of crowd control. It’s very lucky for the police that the crowd was rather peaceful.

    As to AV – if it becomes associated with the LibDems, it will fail (the anger is far too big and there is white paper on its way, so yesterday will not be forgotten by May). If it becomes genuinely cross-party issue, it may get through.

  11. @ Robin

    “Far from being a crowd control measure, it’s actually a mechanism for inducing violence.”

    Of course it is – the gov’t doesn’t want people discussing the rise of tuition fees and broken promises, do they?

  12. @ SoCaLiberal

    The media are ratchetting the story up.

    They are using violence to describe vandalism of property. There has been very little violence against people. There have been scuffles & some violence between a few police & protesters but it is being exaggerated by all sides, IMO.

    The Prince & his wife did get a shock/ surprise when a can of paint & a thrown object hit the car but I do not think they were in any danger. Some reports of the incident say that a window was opened slightly & they spoke with some of the demonstrators in a good natured way.

    Apparently, the demonstrators closest to the car were quick to say that they had no intention of harming anybody. As usual, the story was reported in a way that gave it the most ‘shock value’ possible & some important details seem to have been omitted.
    8-)

  13. Kettling of demonstrators? So far the police have been ‘lucky’ when using this tactic. The people kettled have been genuinely peaceful protestors, in the main.

    Were there to be a truly violent element, skilled in inciting crowds & ‘tooled up’ for a fight, the police would not stand a chance. They had to run for their lives in Trafalgar Square during the poll tax riots & any time that demonstrators are unfraid to use violence, the police will not be able to contain them.

    That is why it is clear to me that any violent/ prepared protesters are a tiny minority.
    8-)

  14. @ Roland

    “Probably because the relevant Californian Police departments would be a lot rougher and tougher than the uniformed wing of the Guardian (Metropolitan Police.)”

    I would tend to doubt that. Have you ever heard of Section 1983? Police rioting is generally looked down upon.

    @ Howard

    Having police on horseback doesn’t automatically lead to violence. I don’t think any violence is acceptable (not anymore anyway). Usually police are on horseback so that they can survey the crowd more easily and spot potential trouble spots.

    Mind you, it’s not as if Great Britain is the only place in the world where protests over tuition increases become violent. It seems like riots over government actions like this are common throughout Europe.

  15. @M – “(BTW, havent seen Alec post in a while. Is he OK?)”

    Alive and kicking, and after a short break I’ve been active on the last couple of threads.

    Didn’t like bits of your post though – generalising about all students and academics as lazy and incompetant doesn’t really move the debate on, in my humble estimation.

    @Socalliberal – “Why have these student protests been so violent? By contrast, I’ve seen widescale protests by UC students in reaction to decicisions by the UC Regents to raise tuitions (and sometimes Cal State student protests) and they’re never violent.”

    Britain has a long and proud tradition of violent rioting. It’s been a central part of our development of democracy for one simple reason – it works.

    I’m not necessarily condoning what we have seen over the last few weeks, but think on this;
    One million people marched peacefuly to stop the Iraq war and were ignored. A few thousand students trashed Whitehall and have shaken the government. This hasn’t won the vote in question, but make no mistake – there were more concessions yesterday and there will be more concessions forced through when the policy details come before parliament in the New Year.

    The impact of the protests will rumble long and loud through Lib Dem ranks in particular who will be emboldened to seek some form of face off with their coalition partners to rescue their credibility.

    While not necessarily gaining victory on the day, riots work, at some level at least.

    @Amber Star – in terms of the violence, the injury count I heard today was 12 police (6 hospitalised) and 43 demonstrators (over 20 hospitalised). Of course it’s not possible to know which side was responsible for the injuries, but seeing calvalry charges on protesters makes me wonder quite where the balance of responsibility for some of the injuries lies.

    This riot is going to have particular significance for the Met Police. For some time now their tactics have been highly questionable and general police tactics at political demonstrations has been getting very worrying. For example, two activists peacefully filming police were arrested and held for 48 hours for videoing police behaviour at a climate change demo with one being knocked to the ground when she asked an officer for his identity number that he was obliged to display.

    They were only released when footage of the incident was posted on the Guardian website that directly contradicted police assertions that the suspects were behaving violently.

    This was all part of Labour’s loose grasp of civil liberties and something that we should push hard against.

  16. @ Amber

    What is kettling?

  17. @Socalliberal – it’s the practice of containing large crowds in restricted areas and preventing them moving or separating. In recent episodes it has lasted for hours, with the crowds having to piss on the streets and in some cases faint from lack of water etc.
    Many people (even in the police) now think this policy is wrong and actually increases the risk of violence breaking out.

  18. Incidentally – away from riots, barclays is predicting the pound will strengthen next year and be the best performing major currency.

    Not quite sure this is going to be great news as Osborne wants to maintain a weak pound with low interest rates to help exports. A strengthening currency just when the big domestic job losses come through is going to be interesting.

  19. @Alec

    Indeed. Cage protesters like animals and they’ll start behaving like them after so long. Of course, this is “soft” to the likes of Ronald, who wouldn’t be happy unless the police went into protests with chainsaws.

    @Amber

    Exactly – if the protesters were mainly the violent sort, the police wouldn’t have stood a chance. You seen it at the Millbank tower – even when you get the split off “troublemakers”, who massively outnumbered the few police there, the police went relatively unscathed – especially once they got out of the way – if they’d wanted to, the protesters could have torn them limb from limb.

  20. M

    Excellent news on tuition fees. Too many bums go to university and have a three year holiday on the back of the private sector tax payer. Which is no surprise of course given the nonsensical, arbitrary 50% target that was thought up by some clueless politician or academic in their fantasy land.

    As I understand the new system has no fees upfront, with the bill being repaid only when the graduate earns £21K +, and this level is to increase with average earnings every year. Any outstanding debt is to be written off after 30 years.

    Therefore, it is blindingly obvious that if I was a ‘bum’ and wanted to waste three years on a course, before going on the dole, or serving burgers in McDonalds, the new system is makes it easier, not harder, as you seem to suggest. This is because no money will be required upfront.

  21. @Alec

    “Britain has a long and proud tradition of violent rioting. It’s been a central part of our development of democracy for one simple reason – it works.”

    I partly take your point about this in the sense that much greater publicity is generated by the more violent and dramatic demonstrations (think the poll tax riots, for example), but I tend towards the view that not all publicity, in theses case, is good publicity. Knowing the inclinations of much of our media, the violence will be misrepresented in every way that it can be so as to reflect badly on the demonstrators. It would appear that yesterday’s trouble was a result of some very poor policing, generating genuine anger and resentment, and a small minority of agitators spoiling for trouble. It was an impressive demonstration in all sorts of ways, and a genuine expression of popular anger (wholly to be welcomed in a healthy democracy), but that’s not how it will be portrayed, is it?

    Am I being overly cynical here by surmising that, as the scenes unfolded at peak viewing times on TVs in millions of homes across the country, that the very merest of smirks and smiles were playing on the lips of Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Coulson? If I’m right, I suspect an own goal may have been scored and that’s a great pity for a genuinely worthwhile cause.

  22. @Craig – I suppose it could have been so much worse. The price of petrol is so gross these days you don’t see many protesters who could afford Molotov cocktails anymore – even the squeezed middle class student types.

  23. Re university fees.Given the large amounts of graduates who cannot find work,is now worth students getting into this amount of debt when the chance of a job in the course of their choice seems very low.
    Surely University’s should be for the academically elite and not every tom dick or harry to just postpone getting a job.Regardless of party politics it is surely now incumbent on any governing party to create apprentaships in vast numbers.
    As for the violence ,I am afraid you will always get agitators on both sides,but student organizers should be more strong in their calls for non violent protests

  24. @Nick Hadley – “…that the very merest of smirks and smiles were playing on the lips of Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Coulson? If I’m right, I suspect an own goal may have been scored and that’s a great pity for a genuinely worthwhile cause.”

    I disagree. Governments want to be seen as tough, but no government wants violence and images that suggest they’ve lost control.

    I also need to qualify my statement that riots work. I note Howard earlier said that he no longer supports violence. I’m more ambivalent and I’m not a pacificst, and I certainly wouldn’t rule it out. It just depends on the scale and focus and the cause behind it.

    Violent protests in themselves don’t work. Where they are successful is when the always small violent fringe is part of a much broader spectrum of less radical discontent.

    If large scale political protests and movements have a violent fringe, governments will seek to accomodate moderates and move some way towards the demonstraters stance as they fear a wider spread of violence if grievances aren’t met.

    This is exactly what Thatcher did after the 1980’s black riots. Money was pumped into places like Brixton and Toxteth after the riots, because there was a general seething discontent of which the riots were a small representation. Without the riots, there would have no cash.

    As I said before, I expect more concessions as the details of tuition fees are discussed. The public disorder has created a sense of concern amongst policy makers.

  25. Re M

    Totally disagree. Personally I think education should be a right, like health care, and completely free to all.

    That doesn’t mean that there shouldn’t be stringent entrance criteria for courses before students can go (3 c’s at A-level?) but I think the state should support the students as most work incredibly hard.

    Its not a 3 year party for all – anyone who thinks that went to uni a long time ago and haven’t experienced the current situation where many students often have to work nearly full-time to fund their living costs.

    I don’t want to see lower tuition fees or a graduate tax. I want to see them abolished.

    And I speak as someone unaffected by the current legislation but dismayed for tomorrows young generation who will have to work longer, have lower pensions and pay tuition fees whilst the baby boomer generation retires early on fat pensions having benefited from free tuition and grants.

    Penalising the young is not progressive.

  26. I’m afraid you won’t be surprised to find I don’t agree with most of you on the police tactics.

    Kettling is effective in preventing the spread of serious disorder for reasons of applied mathematics. If a large group of demonstrators are all contained in one place then the “surface area” of contact with the police lines is reduced. This makes it easier for police to control the crowd because they only have to fight with the ones on the outside. Allowing rioters to break up into “hunting parties” and roam around central London attacking buildings (and passing Royals) makes it far harder to control them with a set number of police officers.

    As for the idea that the police “wouldn’t stand a chance” against armed and determined rioters, I don’t think that’s really true. I was actually at the poll tax riots (not as a rioter or a policeman, I foolishly went out for the evening with friends and was trapped in the middle of it). For the most part the police lines were safe. The problem came when individual officers or vehicles were seperated from the herd. This highlights the need to keep the crowd together, so that the officers can keep together (ie kettling).

    British police officers, for all the predictable criticism, are remarkably restrained in public order situations. We don’t carry guns, never use CS gas canisters (as opposed to personal spray), water cannon or baton rounds. If officers were seriously in danger, and threw caution to the winds, I think you’d be surprised at how tough a nut they’d be to crack.

    As for the mounted charge, I watched the BBC footage of it and I didn’t see a single demonstrator injured by it. I also noted that the crowd, far from having “nowhere to go”, got the hell out of the way as the horses came. A lot of them threw missiles at the horses, or even ran up and punched/kicked them and their riders. Mounted charges are used rarely, but have unparalled effectiveness in getting a stubborn crowd to move. The other effective tool is dogs, but that really only works with smaller groups.

    There is a lot of naivete on display here. Suppose the police announced they were going to change tactics and have a “Do What You Like Day” in central London. What do you think the outcome would be? I expect every single government building would be looted and razed to the ground and people would die. The police don’t cause violence, it would happen without them. That doesn’t of course mean that they shouldn’t be accountable for the way they respond but they are not the core of the problem.

    At Millbank the police experimented with less confrontational tactics, I imagine in the hope that as the demonstrators were “students” they would respond well to a more kind-spirited approach. This turned out to be a massive mistake, and it’s no surprise that the Met have reverted to the sort of tactics they deploy against anti-Globalisation protesters.

    As for rioting being an effective tool, I am not so sure it is. I think it will ultimately undermine the protests and stop a wide section of the public wanting to attend them. The only place your views can really get a hearing is through the ballot box, and if history is any guide most of the people on the streets yesterday probably won’t even bother to vote in 2015.

  27. @ Nick Hadley

    …that the very merest of smirks and smiles were playing on the lips of Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Coulson? If I’m right, I suspect an own goal may have been scored and that’s a great pity for a genuinely worthwhile cause.
    ——————————————————
    If you are correct, the trio are being very naive. The more sensible Tories will change leaders (Thatcher/ poll tax) before they will see riots breaking out on the streets of London.

    I don’t like Tory policies but there’s a lot of good people in the Party. David Davis & others seem to be keeping a careful eye on PM Cameron & his clique. Any overt signs that DC is treating the protests as a PR opportunity, rather than a serious matter, will not go well for him in the longer-term, IMO.
    8-)

  28. @ Alec

    Thanks for the explanation of kettling. Across the pond, we have what are known as “time, place, and manner” restrictions where zones can be created specifically for protesters. It’s especially helpful for separating out groups of rival protesters. But time, place, and manner restrictions doesn’t allow cops to lock people into zones where they can’t leave. That sort of strategy (forcing people to go to the bathroom in the streets) sounds like asking for trouble.

    @ Nick Hadley

    Violence in the streets tends to be a turnoff to people who would otherwise support a cause (but may be disinterested because they’re not personally affected).

  29. @Alec

    “This is exactly what Thatcher did after the 1980?s black riots. Money was pumped into places like Brixton and Toxteth after the riots, because there was a general seething discontent of which the riots were a small representation. Without the riots, there would have no cash.”

    I’m not sure about that at all, Alec. The riots in Tottenham, Handsworth, Toxteth and Brixton were partly due to genuine resentment of, and despair with, housing conditions, structural unemployment and aggressive ethnically insensivitive policing in these inner city areas, but there was widespread criminality involved too and very little support or sympathy amongst the general public for what went on. I think Thatcher responded much later to the political disappearance of the Tories from our great metropolitan cities, telling her minions after the 1987 General elections that they had to “get out there and reclaim the cities for the Tories”. A hopeless cause, although it didn’t stop the farcical sight of Michael Heseltine being dispatched to Liverpool to rediscover it for theTories! Any money that flowed was as a result of this nakedly political and electoral exercise and had very little to do, in my view, with the riots that had taken place many years before.

    I also feel that the miners strike from the same era was fatally undermined by the sight of violent picketing, albeit misrepresented again by our pro-establishment media. We should never forget that the tacit support of the much wider, and disengaged, populace is critical to the eventual success or failure of these causes and, once lost, the cause tends to be lost too. Thatcher thrived electorally, remember, during all this social and industrial upheaval and the students should beware that they don’t hand Clegg and Cameron totally undeserved political cards to play. The media will be only too happy to deal them on their behalf, I fear!!

  30. An interesting result from Yesterday:

    Fareham BC, Fareham West

    Thursday 09 December 2010 12:00

    LD Nick Gregory 933 (49.8; +28.9)
    Con 687 (36.7; -25.1)
    Lab 124 (6.6; -3.7)
    UKIP 93 (5.0; -2.0)
    Green 35 (1.9; +1.9)
    Majority 246
    Turnout 35%
    LD gain from Con
    Percentage change is since May 2010

    The LD candidate stood for the blues recently in the area. He runs a Nursery, so probably was a strong local candidate.

    It shows something of a pattern I think we will see going forward; fluidity between LD and Con in areas where Labour is nowhere, as voters now have two centre-right parties to vote for. In addition, a strong Local Candidate can be a real over-riding factor that trumps everything.

  31. @SocialLibera

    “Violence in the streets tends to be a turnoff to people who would otherwise support a cause (but may be disinterested because they’re not personally affected).”

    You make the very point I was trying to make in my latest post, before I saw your more cryptic and telling one!

    By the way, can I say, including Neil A’s post, what a good civilised debate we’re having here on this subject, with views going right across nakedly party political lines. Long may it continue!

  32. @Garry K

    “An interesting result from Yesterday:
    Fareham BC, Fareham West”

    Very interesting and a decent turnout for a local council by election.

    As I’ve mentioned before, keep your eye on the Worcestershire County Council ( Alvechurch ward) by election on December 16th. Similar LD and Tory contest to Fareham with a UKIP wild card to throw in for good measure. Held comfortably by the Tories in May 2009, but the incumbent councillor, leader of the Tory group on the Council, had to resign over rather unsavoury personal issues. This could be a real turn up for the book!

  33. @Socal Liberal

    You wrote
    @ Howard

    Having police on horseback doesn’t automatically lead to violence.

    Wrong correspondent Socal L. I didn’t write about police geegees or any other police action.

    BTW I don’t think it matters what we think about that subject. It is what it does to the polls that matters.

    Amber, I think you love affair with DD is solely based on the fact he rebels. He is becoming a Ted Heath figure as failed leadership candidates are always suspect as rebels (IMO).

  34. @ Nick Hadley

    The Miners strike, Poll tax riots & protests… what has changed?

    The new mass media, instant communication via texts & twitter & everybody carries a mobile video camera. The public get to see both sides of the story now – even if it takes a few days.

    Don’t forget, the Dems & Tories whipped up a whole liberty & democracy vs the ‘Labour police state’ thing prior to the election.
    8-)

  35. @ Amber

    “Don’t forget, the Dems & Tories whipped up a whole liberty & democracy vs the ‘Labour police state’ thing prior to the election.”

    You’re right and I take your point about phone cameras being an interesting countermeasure to our mainstream media. They can indeed capture images that our news editors may be inclined not to use, showing both sides of what could otherwise be an unbalanced and partial portrayal.

    I still worry about media misrepresentation though, don’t you?.

  36. @ Neil A

    Sorry, it seems that no post came through for ages, so it’s quite late to answer.

    Kettling is the wrong method if you have determined protesters, for the simple reason that you have to beat all of them – it’s been used in Eastern Europe in the 1980s, so I’m not quite sure where the Metropolitean Police’s claim comes from that they developed it.

    I agree with you that there is no way that in the current proportions roughly 30 th. peaceful protestors against 2,800 active riot police plus the reserves would have had any chance. Would like to see (actually would not) though the same tactic against 150 th. determined demonstrators (hence my earlier point is “lucky police”) if the kettled people were rioters, not because the police could not have overcome it, but because you could not come off from any media without hearing extreme police brutality. Had the police used any of the methods you mentioned (tear gas, water cannon), the political outcomes would have been just beyond belief.
    and probably the fall of the government.

    It is also important that kettling method inevitably brings in illegal activities from the police, simply because they have to finish what they start.

    There was a clear intent on the side of the police (and it has nothing to do with the vandals) to make the experience of protesting bitter to the protesters. In addition, if the reports of the protesters could be believed at all, it was also a class issue.

    LibDems, I have no doubt, will pay for middle class parents seeing their children being beaten up and underaged children denied their basic human (child) rights.

    Oh, by the way, both dogs and horses are easy to deal with, if the crowd is prepared for it. Evidently they were not.

    I really think, you are wrong – the violance will increase, because in every protest both the police and the protestors will be expecting the conflict.

  37. Garry K
    I think your example of Fareham backs up what I represented when we discussed it earlier. At 35% any candidate with a half good story and a fully good campaign can carpet bag an election and my opinion is that the winner was lucky to get away with that at 35% turnout. His flip flop between the parties would have been less significant than his fame locally one imagines.

    One of my lot defected to the Tories and I expect him to get in next time because he is a very well-liked local lad.

  38. @ Nick H

    I still worry about media misrepresentation though, don’t you?.
    ————————————————–
    Yes, indeed. But I think the demonstrators are learning how to counter it. The start has been a bit shakey but they are getting better.

    There has been some surprise moments in the mainstream press too… when the fire extinguisher at Millbank was shown by the Telegraph to have been in the hands of a ‘nice’ middleclass, Cambridge (I think) student, rather than a ‘professional’, leftwing/ anarchist agitator.

    These things take time – but the students are learning faster than I thought would be possible.
    8-)

  39. The LibDems used the argument of the Greek riots for justifying the cuts – cuts are the way to avoid riots.

    Am I missing something here?

  40. Warrington UA result Dec 9
    Lab 1032 (71.1; +18.1)
    LD Ann Raymond 221 (15.2; -16.5)
    Con 118 (8.1; -7.1)
    Green 47 (3.2; +3.2)
    Ind 33 (2.3; +2.3)
    Majority 811
    Turnout 17.3%
    Lab gain from LD

    What to make of that one Garry K and Nick H?

    Percentage change is since May 2010. Indeed, otherwise the whole thing looks incredible.

    I cannot get excited about these elections one way or the other and I think it’s not relevant to go into print here on such shaky evidence, always quoting only the LD victories.

  41. I agree Howard, the local ward elections are just far too sporadic influenced by a huge number of things (at least potentially).

    Having said that, living only 10 miles or so from there, I think, it fits the picture that emerges in the NW.

  42. I’ll stick to commenting on AV, although I do have views on Higher Education and the political effects of the way recent demonstrations have been handled. It has not been a good week for UK democracy; but it has been a good one who are fed up with a political Westminster establishment that has persistently failed to deliver for ordinary people.

    I have had several email messages from people wanting me to vote “Yes” in the electoral change referendum (they obviously haven’t read my posts on this site).

    It would appear clear that the “Yes” campaign is far better geared up than the “No” one so far, probably because a political clique have been agitating for proportional representation for years, and in my view does not see that a modest change to AV rigged to suit the LibDems will make a change to a principled system of STV less rather than more likely.

    Few people experienced in psephology will be surprised that a lot of people on the AV issue appear to be, if not “Don’t knows”, weakly committed. It isn’t a question which affects their everyday economic or welfare interests.

    On the two recent polls, it would appear that the “Don’t knows” will tend towards “No”. However, a lot will depend on whether the “No” campaign gets going. My initial impression was that it was formed with two many second-tier Conservatives people with similar right-wing views: the “No” campaign will perhaps most of all have to win over Labour and the left, where there is a lot of indecision on electoral reform matters. Not least, the “No” campaign will have to struggle to get out the working class and unemployed, what one might once have described as “traditional Labour” vote. I am not convinced the “No” leaders will understand what they need to do. And on this issue I think the comparative effectiveness of the two referendum campaigns will decide the outcome.

    I am not at all comfortable that such a fundamental constitutional change should depend on such transient campaigning issues when the Government does not have a clear, majority party, manifesto commitment to follow.

  43. @Neil A, @Laszlo

    Laszlo, in response to Neil A you said “…Kettling is the wrong method if you have determined protesters, for the simple reason that you have to beat all of them…”

    The point that Neil was making is that the police don’t have to overcome all of the protestors: they just have to overcome the ones on the edge, since the ones in the centre can’t reach the police (they have to climb over other protestors to do so). The shape with the shortest circumference for a given area is a circle, so if you want to minimise the length of the edge, you herd the protestors into a circular shape.

    Regards, Martyn

  44. @ Martyn

    If the protesters are determined, you have to beat them all at the point where you open the kettle to let them out – the whole point is that eventually you have to let them out.

    Yesterday’s protesters (apart from a tiny group) were peaceful, thus it “worked”.

    Look at the Georgian videos on YT and you will see when it does not – not because of police incompetence.

    Actually it should really be called cattle – because the cattle, until it gets mad thinks that the cordon is the end of the world.

  45. Students get education free till 18 – after that they should be prepared to pay a proportion, if they want to get a degree. I am becoming thorough fed with hearing whining students and others complaining that their freebies are being curtailed. The practice of paying pupils to be at school was barmy when it was introduced and should certainly be cancelled.
    As for crowd control, it’s winter, it’s cold, why not get the Fire Brigade out, to give them all a thorough drenching. They would soon go home then.

    Highly amused that AMBER’S new hero is right winger, David Davis. (I wonder if that would be the case if he had beaten the Liberal Cameron for the leadership, 5 years ago & was now PM?)

  46. @ Robert in France

    “why not get the Fire Brigade out, to give them all a thorough drenching”

    Because probably the police would have got it and not the students…

  47. @Laszlo,

    Gottit, thank you.

    @Howard, @Garry K, @Nick H

    If anybody’s wondering how Lab 1032 (71.1% of the vote, a change of +18.1% from 53%), LD 221 (15.2% of the vote, a change of -16.5% from 31.7%) adds up to a Lab gain from LD, it should be explained this is a three-member ward. The 53% and 31.7% refer to the May 2010 local election which Lab won. For more details, see h ttp://britainvotes.blogspot.com/2010/12/by-election-preview-9th-december.html

    Regards, Martyn

  48. If anybody’s wondering how Lab 1032 (71.1% of the vote, a change of +18.1% from 53%), LD 221 (15.2% of the vote, a change of -16.5% from 31.7%) adds up to a Lab gain from LD, it should be explained this is a three-member ward. The 53% and 31.7% refer to the May 2010 local election which Lab won. For more details, see h ttp://britainvotes.blogspot.com/2010/12/by-election-preview-9th-december.html

    Thanks for that, but I fully aware of that anyway.

  49. Great comment from CIF

    …..This article is about the party political effect of the fees decision, but the more important thing is the ideological effect. The core of the argument over student fees was whether what was hitherto a public good, mainly paid for by the public, should become a private good, paid for by those who most immediately, but by no means exclusively, benefit. With that argument now resolved, the public/private line has shifted just a little more towards the private. So what next? All the arguments made of university fees could be applied to sixth form education – why should this be paid for by the population at large rather than by those who study for A levels? No good reason? Well then let’s charge those who study for A levels. But, then, why should those without children pay for the education of children? No good reason? But why then should the healthy pay for the unhealthy? No good reason? But why then should low crime Isle of Bute pay for the prisons to house London criminals? No good reason? But why then should low crime Richmond pay for the prisons to house Peckham criminals? No good reason? And so on, and so on until any notion of the public good is eviscerated.

    It’s the pulling apart of the public benefit aspect of university funding on the faux-egalitarian argument of ‘why should the dustman pay anything’ which will be the true, and wholly malign, legacy of this policy. And its beneficiaries will be, of course, not the dustman, not even ‘Middle England’ (who will pay ever more for what used to be publicly available) but the plutocrats who have for three decades transferred the commonwealth to their own private wealth and whose crocodile tears about the ‘hard pressed taxpayer’ are cover for the fact that they pay no tax at all.

  50. @Lazslo,

    I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on kettling. I’m not in favour of it’s use per se but I certainly understand how and why it was introduced.

    What I have yet to hear is a blueprint from anyone who opposes these police tactics suggesting what they think the police ought to do. I rather suspect that people believe their own propaganda. If you convince yourself that the police are the cause of all the trouble, then the obvious answer to the question is “the police shouldn’t do anything at all”.

    So let’s set it as an exam question. You are Gold Commander, with 2000 police officers available for deployment. You are faced with a crowd of 30,000 planning to march across London to the heart of government, through/past dozens of potential targets. Your intelligence tells you that there are probably 2,000 to 3,000 in the crowd who are intent on damaging property and/or attacking the police.

    What do you do?

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