YouGov’s weekly poll in the Sunday Times this week has the first questions asked about Ed Balls as Shadow Chancellor – asked if his appointment will make Labour stronger or weaker, 24% of people think it will strengthen Labour, 18% think it will weaken them (though to some extent, this is respondents believing what they want to believe – Labour supporters think strongly that it will make Labour stronger, Conservative and Liberal Democrat supporters are more likely to think it will weaken them).

More relevant is probably a question asking who will make the better Chancellor of the Exchequer. When we asked it a week ago George Osborne was favoured over Alan Johnson by 25% to 21%. In a choice between Osborne or Balls they are level on 27% a piece, so Balls does get a slightly better rating than Johnson.

Two caveats to this – firstly it doesn’t necessarily translate into any vote of confidence in Balls, it could easily just be people aren’t that enthralled by George Osborne. In my earlier post I noted that people were more likely to think Osborne was a liability to the party than senior Tory frontbenchers. Today YouGov asked how much confidence people had in various figures to make the right economic decisions for the country and people had significantly less confidence in Osborne than in Cameron (31% had confidence in Osborne, 43% in Cameron. 30% had confidence in Ed Miliband to make the right decisions).

The other caveat is, of course, the one I mentioned on Friday – Balls’s upside was going to his vigour and command of the brief that will instill confidence, his possible downsides in terms of party image and positioning would take longer to emerge.

Looking at the rest of the poll, all three leaders have slight drops in their approval ratings. Also note the questions on the economy – 78% think the current state of the economy is bad, one of the worst since the general election. The feel good factor (those thinking the economy will get better over the next 12 months minus those who think it will get worse) is minus 55, the second worse it’s been since the election. As we saw during the last Parliament, economic optimism does have a significant impact upon voting intention, that won’t have been the case so much since the election because the economic state will have been seen as something the government inherited, but over time the relationship will have started to build up again.

The only economic question with even a smidgin of good news was the proportion of people thinking the country will go back into recession was marginally lower on 52%, compared to 55% in September. Everywhere else opinions were still resolutely negative.

On other questions, the government’s NHS plans were supported by 25% and opposed by 39%, with a chunky 36% saying don’t know. Asked how well they understood the government’s NHS policy 43% said they understood it well (37% fairly well, 6% very well), 48% either not very well (39%) or not at all (9%) – which probably explains the very high don’t know figure in the first question.

On education there was a pretty evenly divided response to Free Schools – 33% said they supported them, 35% said they opposed them. The figures were pretty much the same when we asked if people would be interested in a Free School in their local area 32% said they’d like to see one locally, 33% would not. Of those who said they’d like to see one in their area, about a fifth said they would be interesting in helping set it up.

Questions like this, incidentally, are the sort of thing that provoke headlines saying “only 6% would involve themselves in big society” etc, etc. These rather miss the point – if 6% of the population were happy to actively volunteer to help their local schools it would be more than enough (hell, it would likely be beyond Michael Gove’s wildest dreams). The problem is whether people would actually volunteer, rather than telling a pollster they would, which can be an entirely different matter. One requires you to tick a button on a screen, the other requires you to give up lots of your spare time.

Going back to the poll, YouGov also repeated some questions on Tony Blair and the war in Iraq, which were first asked in January last year. Opinions were pretty much the same – 51% think Tony Blair lied over Iraq, 30% think he did not. 24% of people think that Blair knowingly misled Parliament and should be tried for war crimes.


201 Responses to “More from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll”

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  1. neil A

    yes, that is a problem, that’s why counter revolutions are so popular

    i think howard’s story about the lorry driver is very instructive

  2. woodman

    you are assuming that the growth figures are correct, but recent history leads us to suspect that all growth figures will be revised downwards, we may already be in recession, we will know in a years time or there abouts

  3. RiN

    If it takes longer than 4 months to revise the figures then whether we are in a recession or not will have no effect on viting intentions in May. I think also that most revisions are upwards.

  4. eric

    “So will we enter the May elections in the midst of Osborne’s first recession?”

    how many recessions do you think Osborne will have

  5. woodsman

    most revisons up?

    thats not what i notice

  6. Re the Irish polling situation, I think 9.5 may be right, although that might improve slightly with new leadership. It’s just that the other party leaders are better than Cowen (easily enough) none are that great, thus there is no huge movement towards one (apart from Labour, fitfully in the polls I’ve seen)

    I don’t envy whoever takes over. It will however be a fascinating result, seeing a party falling from long-term dominance to electoral disaster. Canada 1993 all over again.

  7. Does anyone know the answer, are more revisions uppwards our downwards, I have tried some searches but can’t find the answer?

  8. Growth on a downward trend – despite the Christmas & pre-VAT increase ‘boost’. That is very worrying.

    Recession is confirmed by 2 quarters of negative growth; a country is considered to be ‘entering recession’ after the 1st negative quarter.

    I have consistently forecast negative growth in the 1st two quarters of 2011 & consistently hoped I’d be wrong. Early signs of my wrongness were encouraging but I’m beginning to fear my prediction may be correct :-(

  9. i know that one of japans growth figures got revised down over the course of a year from 3.6 to 2.2 to 1.? and ended up at 0.6 i think it was but after spending half an hour trying to find the article again i’ve given up

  10. @Woodsman

    “If it takes longer than 4 months to revise the figures then whether we are in a recession or not will have no effect on viting intentions in May. I think also that most revisions are upwards”

    Subsequent growth figure revisions tend to be upwards if the economy is in an upswing; and downwards if the economy is in a downswing or stagnating.

    Other figures that are instructive (in terms of voter satisfaction) are retail sales (like for like)/ house prices/ domestic rents/ road fuel prices/ public transport prices/ childrens clothes and goods prices/ domestic energy prices.

    Other good indexes to watch are the GFK Consumer Confidence Index (-20 currently) and the CIPS purchasing managers indexes- their latest on the service sector two weeks ago expressed concern after the index showed the sector shrank for the first time in 20 months in December 2010.

  11. @ Neil A

    “The problem with revolutions in democracies is that they involve the subjection of the will of the people by the will of the people who nominate themselves to speak for “the people”.”

    Correction:

    The problem with representational democracies is that they involve the subjection of the will of the people by the will of the people who nominate themselves to speak for “the people” ;)

  12. Martyn

    I like opening a can of worms; I may even go fishing with them; you’ll never catch me trying to sort them out. ;) To be fair they’ll usually do that themselves.

    (Also why do I find it hysterically funny that Iris Robinson currently holds the Chiltern Hundreds?)

    Neil A

    Behaving badly has never got anyone expelled from the HoC before.

    I did realise the point about digging up sensitive material (even if I didn’t express it very well). Normally the ‘powers that be’ get all frit about it, scared that it will expose their deepest secrets – invariably systematic incompetence. They then blether on about ‘state secrets’ and retreat to their bunkers to count their pensions.

    I do see how protection of informants is important, indeed a moral imperative, but on the whole judges seem pretty sensitive to that and I think case law tends to support them (except when the informant turns out to be imaginary). In truth though, by the time most things have got to Court, that sort of thing should be sorted out. Even undercover officers should have had time to sell their memoirs. Speaking of which isn’t £250,000 pa a gross underestimate to maintain an undercover officer? Someone’s not reallocating overheads properly.

    [Strangely I always end up discussing finance with policemen. With accountants the subject’s always crime]

    For once I don’t think secrecy worries apply in the Mulcaire case because the defense actually knows what all the secrets are. And the first thing that any lawyer learns is that you only ask questions to which you know the answer. If there was anything really explosive, it would have been used to avoid the trial of Mulcaire and Goodman and the whole thing would have been reduced to a few cryptic muttering in Private Eye and the Royals being slightly miffed.

    It is arguable that the Met may have been scared by the sheer potential size of the case and whether they had the resources. But the solution to that would be to explicitly use sample cases and inform the multitudinous celebrities of their Civil (Court) rights.

    Presumably it would also be rather dangerous to any lawyers involved if the information that had been released to them in confidence then appeared in the newspapers (who know it anyway – but if they admit that they’ve lost the case).

    Woodman

    Since when has being peripheral meant you are unimportant?

    Fifteen years later people still remember the final years of John Major as ‘mired in sleaze’, despite it consisting of a fairly average* amount of adultery and Neil Hamilton waving a biscuit. The danger is that a miasma** of scandal attaches itself to the government and then anything that occurs takes on a sordid guilt by association. Actual guilt has nothing to do with it.

    (It’s alright remembering the early 80’s – but who’s going to be the Smiths)

    What makes you think that Q4 won’t be revised downwards? (Already seen rumours of zero).

    * for politicians
    ** I’ve always wanted to use this word in a comment (though probably not as much as Virgilio has wanted to use ‘Bonapartist deviation’).

  13. @ Billy Bob

    “It is claimed that if the postal votes (delayed in Christmas post) had been counted, he would be LD leader now. Also close runner-up to Ming Campbell in 2006.”

    Were these absentee ballots that did not arrive at voters’ homes in time for them to vote? Or were they cast by voters before the deadline but not delivered on time? Or were they just not counted at all for some other technical reason?

    @ The Green Benches

    “Fianna got 41% at 2007 elections.. its a decline of 32.5%.. I doubt the accuracy of the poll, and expect Fianna Fáil to poll in the very high teens or low twenties.”

    I’d imagine so. That’s quite a drop.

  14. It looks like Labour are ever pulling away from the rest

  15. Independent today:

    David Cameron’s hopes of limiting the political damage from the telephone hacking affair suffered a setback yesterday as ministers were urged to order an independent inquiry into the actions of the Metropolitan Police.

    Despite the resignation of Andy Coulson as the Downing Street director of communications, the spotlight was thrown back on to the links between Mr Cameron and Rupert Murdoch’s empire.

    The Independent has learnt that James Murdoch, son of Rupert and chairman of News Corporation in Europe and Asia, attended a private dinner with Mr Cameron just days after the Prime Minister stripped Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Business Secretary, of responsibility for the crucial decision on whether News Corp should be allowed to buy the 61 per cent of BSkyB it does not already own.

    Mr Cameron and his wife Samantha were present at the dinner held at the home of Rebekah Brooks, chief executive of News International, in Churchill, Oxfordshire.

    Cameron aides had previously argued that Ms Brooks was a constituent of the Prime Minister, who represents Witney in Oxfordshire. The disclosure that James Murdoch was present provoked calls last night for the Cabinet Secretary to intervene, amid claims that it raised questions about Mr Cameron’s judgement.

    I have a feeling this will start to penetrate the public’s consciousness.

  16. Woodsman,
    Q2 figures were revised down by 0.1%.
    Q3 figures were revised down by 0.1%.

    There is no rhyme or reason toit. Figures are as likely to get revised either way…

    Remember Q4 2009 ended up being revised upwards..

    There initial announcements are with approx 70% of the data…

    Also, they have been overestimating construction growth for some time…

  17. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/8277318/Double-dip-talk-returns-as-UK-economic-growth-slows.html

    Almost 148,000 companies are in difficulties before the the full impact of spending cuts and tax rises has even been felt, according to a report from Begbies Traynor, the insolvency specialist.

    Begbies, which monitors the warning signs of company distress, found the first year-on-year increase in companies experiencing ‘significant’ or ‘critical’ financial problems since the beginning of 2009.

    The report comes ahead of official data out tomorrow which is expected to confirm that the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by as little as 0.2pc in the final three months of last year, down from 0.7pc and 1.1pc in the previous quarters. The release of the data will mark the first anniversary of Britain being officially diagnosed as out of recession.

  18. On the definition of the recession.

    Indeed, many countries define recession as two consecutive negative GDP quarterly growth (OECD recommendation), but by no means it is universally accepted and applied.

    The US, for example, defines the beginning of a recession when the seasonally adjusted non-farm payroll headcount drops.

    The Keynesians of the 1930s and 1940s defined the recession as a part of the economic cycle that has four stages: 1) period in which the economic growth drops; 2) when the economic decline stops and hovers at that level; 3) from the period when the economy starts to grow, up to the level of the pre-recession (these three parts would make up the recession); 4) from this point to the next recession.

    Because of the similarities between today and the 1970s’ economic cycle, I would stick to the last definition.

  19. Roger Mexico

    Loved your post! Cheered up a miserable January morning. Ta.

  20. @ Barney Crockett

    “However Lazlo at least will have spotted a virtual quote from Rosa Luxemburg in your last post”

    I guess you meant Luxemburg’s comment in the 6th chapter in “The Russian Revolution”. Although she talks about the same thing, Neil’s comment is not even a paraphrasing as it will be clear from the contexts. Anyway, Rosa Luxemburg there was criticising Trotsky (and the early practice of the Bolsheviks after the revolution of 1917).

    “Without general elections, without unrestricted freedom of press and assembly, without a free struggle of opinion, life dies out in every public institution, becomes a mere semblance of life, in which only the bureaucracy remains as the active element. Public life gradually falls asleep, a few dozen party leaders of inexhaustible energy and boundless experience direct and rule. Among them, in reality only a dozen outstanding heads do the leading and an elite of the working class is invited from time to time to meetings where they are to applaud the speeches of the leaders, and to approve proposed resolutions unanimously – at bottom, then, a clique affair – a dictatorship, to be sure, not the dictatorship of the proletariat but only the dictatorship of a handful of politicians, that is a dictatorship in the bourgeois sense, in the sense of the rule of the Jacobins.”

  21. Hello all.

    Just to make it clear that I, Woodsman, have no connection to the poster called Woodman.

    Various people were replying to posts of his last night using my name.

    Confusing I know. Perhaps time for me to change my name? Or colour code myself (wouldn’t ever be blue!)….. though don’t really approve of us all going round bearing placards.

    Woodman – are you new, if so welcome, or have our paths just not crossed before?

  22. On the issue of ‘recession’…

    One can easily get the imprssion that the UK is still in recession if we paid heed to the media. Even now many months after technically leaving recession I hear people on TV etc saying the UK is in recession.

  23. My latest post reworked…

    NickP
    re your comments on Cameron…

    I had thought that it was just poor judgement on DC’s part to engage Coulson but information that DC might have compromised the UK government position regarding BSkyB and NI takes this to a whole new level.

    I begin to think this could prove very damaging to DC.

  24. Yes

    There is lots of mud to be flung and plenty flinging it. Including a Lib Dem Minister.

    Polls will be interesting.

  25. Woodsman,

    Guilty as charged but in my defence I am dyslexic at the best of times

  26. @Socalliberal – “… cast by voters before the deadline but not delivered on time”

    Clegg winning by 20,988 votes to 20,477

    An unofficial check of late papers (1,300 postal ballots) showed Huhne had enough votes to hand him victory.
    Huhne said “Nick Clegg won fair and square on the rules counting the ballot papers that arrived in by the deadline.”

    In 2006 he came second with 21,628 votes to Sir Menzies Campbell’s 29,697.

  27. Billy Bob,

    Third time lucky for Hune?

  28. Martyn,

    Sitting in two elected posts in the UK are legal?

    In NI we have politicians who in the past have been councillors, MLAs, and MPs all at the one time…

    Contesting to Westminster Constituency Seats at the same time, during the same General Election? Try Charles Stewart Parnell, In 1885 he contested three Westminster seats, and won them all…

  29. @Roger Mexico – John Major as ‘mired in sleaze’

    Too far!

    [The “I don’t remember… ” defence at the Scott Inquiry (Arms for Iraq/Matrix Churchill), ” … perhaps I was in the toilet whenever it was being discussed.”]

    @Woodsman – The idea that you could change your name, colour and tone all in one go was too much.

  30. Eoin – it is legal to be a councillor and an MP (or MEP or whatever) and indeed to be a county and a district councillor.

    It is no longer legal to be an MEP and a member of Parliament (this came into force in 2004, thought the UK had an exemption for sitting MEPs until 2009 to give thme time to arrange some way for peers to put their House of Lords membership into abeyance while they were MEPs).

    There is no law against people being members of the Scottish Parliament and UK Parliament, nor the Welsh Assembly and the UK Parliament. There are currently 2 MSPs who are MPs, and 1 AM who is a member of the Commons. Obviously nearly all the Northern Ireland MPs are also members of the NI Assembly.

    Standing in multiple constituencies used to be very common indeed (especially when elections took place over a long period of time, it meant senior politicians could have back up seats!). However while it fell out of use for mainstream candidates, it only ceased to be legal at the last election and until then it was occassionally used by fringe candidates. In 2005 one of UKIP’s MEPs stood in 8 constituencies simultaneously, the Monster Raving Loony party’s Alan Hope once stood against all three main party leaders at the same election, and Rainbow George Weiss once stood in all four Belfast seats at the same election.

  31. Anthony,

    I see that YouGov are running monthly trackers on the republican potential candidates for 2012. May I ask if the tables will be downloadable in Pdf format as is the norm with your UK equivalent?

    Many thanks,

  32. Eoin – haven’t a clue. The Palo Alto office do their own thing.

  33. Anthony

    Obviously nearly all the Northern Ireland MPs are also members of the NI Assembly.

    Not now they’re not. In May, 17 of the 18 NI MPs also held seats in the Assembly (Hermon was the exception), but since then Long, Durkin, Adams (in December) and 6 of the 8 DUP members have resigned from the Assembly. Because replacement is by nomination not election, it’s obviously a good idea to let your chosen successor bed in if you’re not standing for the Assembly in May.

    As usual all politicians think that the dual mandate is a bad idea except for themselves. I’m not sure whether all the remaining MP/MLAs are standing again for the Assembly in May, some may decide to stay as MPs only then.

    By the way, do you know what the legal situation is with Adam’s ‘resignation’ as MP?

  34. @Anthony, @TheGreenBenches

    Thanks for that: I know the EP has been agitating for an end to dual mandates in the EP for some time, but I didn’t know if the UK Parliament had outlawed them, so thank you for telling me. Does this restriction just apply to the UK Parliament and the European Parliament? Specifically, is it legal in the UK to be a member of the UK House of Commons and the Ireland Dail?

    @Woodman

    You said “…Does anyone know the answer, are more revisions uppwards our downwards, I have tried some searches but can’t find the answer?…”

    There have been slightly more up than down, and the magnitude of the revisions are getting smaller over time (although that may be because we were in a period of stability – revisions are less during stable periods). Some pretty graphs and further reading are below:

    * h ttp://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8478419.stm
    * h ttp://www.statistics.gov.uk/articles/nojournal/QualityofEarlyGDP.pdf
    * h ttp://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/gdprev1109.pdf
    * h ttp://www.statistics.gov.uk/downloads/theme_economy/ABMI.xls
    * h ttp://www.statistics.gov.uk/statbase/Product.asp?vlnk=406

    @all

    The graphs for weeks 33-36 (to 12 January 2011) are now up. You can see them on Flickr and the links are below. Points to take away are:

    * Red now pulling away from Blue, although there’s still an overlap.
    * Grey (totalled) now pulling away from Yellow, although there’s still an overlap.
    * Red becomes the first party to significantly change its electoral cycle position since the election (the thick red line has pulled free from the bottom thin red line)

    * Term_yellow: h ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157625645211058/
    * Term_red: h ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157625645207632/
    * Term_blue: h ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157625617047896/
    * Term_gray: h ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157625491334241/
    * Term_all: h ttp://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/sets/72157625491341803/

    The next set for weeks 37-40, (to February 9 2011) will be released by Sunday February 20 2011.

    Regards, Martyn

  35. Martyn,

    I follow your graphs avidly… In fact, I swear by ’em..

    Are LDs 2010- still looking distinctly like Ashdown’s reign? ie 1997 onwards? I think they are.. and it led me to put a sizeable wager on them getting within 1% of 18% at the next GE.

  36. @Thegreenbenches

    Conditions on the accumulation of mandates (cumul des mandats) in France:

    1. The President of the Republic cannot hold any other office during his tenure.

    2. Parliamentary mandates are incompatible with each other:
    Member of the National Assembly
    Member of the Senate of France
    Member of the European Parliament
    A member from one of the above assemblies can not combine its mandate with more than one of the following mandates :
    Member, vice-president or president of a General Council
    Member, vice-president or president of a Regional Council
    Member, deputy-mayor, or mayor of a commune of more than 3,500 inhabitants
    Exceptions: He/she can hold a third office in a town of less than 3,500 inhabitants.
    He/she may also hold a third office as a councillor, vice-president or president of a Urban community, a Agglomeration community or a Communauté de communes, as these terms are elected by indirect universal suffrage.
    For example, a member of the National Assembly has the right to be general/regional councillor or President of a regional/general council. He cannot hold a third office unless he is the mayor, deputy mayor or municipal councillor of a city of less than 3,500 inhabitants.
    Currently, 87% of members of the National Assembly and 74% of senators have one or several local warrants.
    3. The accumulation of local mandates
    They can’t have more two local mandates.
    The following mandates are incompatible each other:
    Mayor
    President of the General Council
    President of the Regional Council
    For example, an elected official cannot be mayor and President of the Regional Council. However, all other local mandates are cumulative. A mayor can also be a general councillor and a president of a Regional Council can also be deputy-mayor of a city.
    Exceptions are the same as those for parliamentarians (Cities of less than 3 500 inhabitants and the intercommunalities)
    4. The accumulation of mandates and governmental functions
    A member of the French government cannot be a member of any assembly. However, he may retain any local mandate he/she holds. A cabinet minister can exercise a maximum of 2 local mandates in addition to the government function.
    For example, the Prime Minister, a Minister or Secretary of State can be mayor, President of a general, regional or intercommunal council or sit in one of these assemblies.
    Currently, over two-thirds of the members of the French government are engaged in one or two more local mandates.

  37. Virgilio,

    Thanks a lot for this… clearly a disgrace.. choking off poitical talent…

    Reminds me of a very funny movie with Michael Keaton “Multiplicity”

  38. @Thegreenbenches
    How true! On the other hand, in my native Greece things are more straightforward (and more restrictive): MEPs cannot hold any other office whatsoever, either elected or governmental. If a MEP is elected in any other office or is offered a government post, he/she automatically resigns form the EP and the next person on his/her party’s European election list becomes MEP. MPs can be ministers (in fact, a majority of minsters are also MPs), but they can’t be mayors nor Presidents of Region. Nevertheless, they can be simple members of municipal of regional councils. If a MP is elected Mayor or President of Region, he/she automatically resigns from Parliament. All local mandates are mutually exclusive.
    The President of the Republic cannot hold any mandate, European, national or local.

  39. Virg,

    While you’re on.. could you do us up a list of the best English language political sites to follow from Greece/France/Spain/Germany/Austria?

  40. Greece: ekathimerini.com
    athensnews.gr
    Germany: thelocal.de
    France: connexionfrance.com
    Austria: austrianews.co.uk
    Spain: thereader.es

  41. Virg,

    Go raibh maith agat! [Thank you]

  42. Virg,

    I note that the Greek gov i sdu eot spend £6bn on a jobs fisca stimulus in March. Did austerity fail?

  43. The outgoing head of the CBI today strongly criticised the government’s lack of strategy for economic growth and warned that ministers would fail to reduce Britain’s budget deficit without measures to boost demand.

    Sir Richard Lambert used his last big speech as director general of the employers’ organisation to accuse the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition of taking policy initiatives for political reasons “apparently careless of the damage that they might do to business and to job creation”.
    —————————————————————–
    Is Sir Richard an Ed B fan? It reads like he is….
    8-)

  44. @?hegreenbenches
    It is too soon to tell, Greece is, IMO, caught in a vicious circle, austerity measures were partly necessary because of the carelessness of previous governments and partly imposed by the IMF as a condition for the loan to avoid bankruptcy, but at the same time they must be accompanied by counter-measures to avoid the death of enterprises, tourism etc., so I think the results of this alchemy will be visible (for the best or for the worst) in the 2 years to come.

  45. thegreenbenches

    For an alternative look at what happens in Spain, keep an eye on the Catalan News Agency

    http://www.catalannewsagency.com/politics

    (The reader managed to report on the Supreme Court prioritising Castilian over Catalan, without any reference to the Catalan response).

  46. The GDP figures are interesting. If the predictions for tomorrow’s figures are correct (and they aren’t always) it looks like we’ve had total growth in 2010 of around 2.1%. Historically speaking, for the immediate upturn from a heavy recession this is really poor.

    If growth continues to falter into 2011, even if it stays positive, it’s going to be well below the OBR estimates upon which all the predicted private sector employment growth is based.

    What I’m trying to figure out is what would be the effect of a Chinese burn. China has lost control of their economy after vast inflation to keep the global economy going. There is going to be a crash of some sort, either hard or soft. We don’t export much to China (less than Sweden) so the immediate direct trade effects aren’t huge.

    On the plus side this would reduce oil and commodity prices and pegg back inflation, but if there is a big Chinese crash I assume this will precipitate increased credit issues as China has been the chief source of global credit that has stabilised western economies.

    The anaemic growth rate noted above is largely due to the credit based nature of the initial contraction, so difficulties in China would resurrect the financial instabilities as they have effectively been covering western debts – debts that haven’t been worked out of the system yet.

    Risking a domestic contraction by a rapid fiscal consolidation while relying on an eastern boom for the jobs stimulus to carry us through may well appear to have been a mightly folly when we look back at all of this.

    Incidently – Political Betting have an article suggesting that a source quoted by Tom Watson MP (who some weeks ago predicted Coulson’s departure almost to the day, based on the same source) is saying that Cameron is preparing for a 2011 GE.

    Apparently this is based on an assumption by Cameron that the Lib Dems will provide increasingly flaky support (especially if the AV vote fails) and he wants to go to the electorate at his terms and not Cleggs and when the Labour party have no money.

    Discuss.

  47. @Oldnat
    The most interesting site, from the perspective of Catalan independentist movement, is vilaweb.cat, especially the editorials by Vincent Partal, unmasking with subtle irony and solid arguments the centralist Spanish propaganda.

  48. OldN,

    Maith tu!

  49. Virgilio

    Thanks for that. I was trying to keep non-partisan by sourcing the “official” news agency.

  50. @ Alec

    Whatever the GDP figure will be tomorrow, will have a major psychological impact, although does not have much economic influence. I still think that the 2nd and probably the 3rd quarter is overstated – this could show the 4th quarter even weaker. Manufacturing is doing ok and retailing too (I’m not really concerned about the December figures – the large chains on which English retailing is based on is much more long-term driven). Apart from these, the very important figure of machinery investment will not be available for some time, that would actually help us knowing which way the economy is going (oddly, there is no reliable data on capacity utilisation either, so I don’t really trust the OBR and similar forecast) and I think the GDP figures will still reflect the relative shrinking of the financial sector for some time.

    I agree – China is a real question. There even going down to about 6% growth (I cannot see that this year)would be equivalent to a fairly deep recession. It would have some influence on the financial flows as you said, but even more so on foreign trade, Chinese manufacturing and on politics.

    I really don’t see how (or why) the Conservatives would go to the country in May. I don’t buy the funding of the elections by Labour – money would be less important (the question to the electors is too clear, it does not need hammering) or the dealing with the LibDems. If there was any reason for such a move: 1) Cameron loosing his MPs support and hence no other chance; 2) Cameron is in some deep controversy. Both would probably mean that the government could go for a GE as there is no obvious person to take over from Cameron.

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