The monthly ICM poll for the Guardian shows a solid lead for the NO campaign in the AV referendum. Excluding don’t knows and won’t says, and weighted by likelihood to vote, the topline figures are YES 42%(-7), NO 58%(+7). Changes are from February.

Without turnout weighting and repercentaging the figures are YES 33%, NO 44%, Don’t know 23%.

This is the biggest lead we’ve so far seen for the no campaign in a question asking the bare referendum question, but is very much in line with the “No-wards” trend we’ve seen from other pollsters. The only company still showing YES ahead in recent polling is Angus Reid.

Note that unlike other recent AV polling ICM did include Northern Ireland respondents in their sample (that said, Northern Ireland voters are a very small proportion of the total UK electorate, so it would only make a difference in a very tight race. To give you an idea of scale, in ICM’s sample of 1033 people only 30 were from Northern Ireland)

Meanwhile ICM’s voting intention figures stand at CON 35%(-2), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 15%(-1), others 13%. Changes are from last month (which, you may recall, was conducted during the government’s very brief “budget bounce” and showed a tiny Conservative lead.


132 Responses to “ICM give NO campaign a solid lead”

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  1. @ Nick H/Crossbat11

    “This is my first delve into UKPR for quite a few days as the conjunction of the cricket and football seasons, plus a bit of local election leafletting, have led me down other more time-consuming yet hugely enjoyable paths. Accordingly, apologies for being out of the loop on the topical discussion and, quite possibly, not up to speed with the current state of polling play.”

    I always appreciate your commentary. It’s good to take breaks from blogging. Just to make sure you don’t get distracted from other pressing matters (I mean you guys won’t see me at all on here in June or July). I like to blog because it’s sorta like a stress release for me. It’s a better stress relief than the NBA Playoffs because every time your team loses, that diminishes the stress relief. As for cricket, I know little about it except that it’s kinda like the English version of baseball. I am a fan of Steven Davies (a reason for me to start following cricket) so I’ll root for Surrey but I honestly don’t know enough about cricket to say I’m a Surrey fan.

    “I was a huge admirer of Brown’s Chancellorship and respected some of the personal qualities he displayed during the time he battled, forlornly, to master a job, the Premiership, for which he was tragically and manifestly unsuited. But there the mythology must end.

    It is one of the many great untruths of the New Labour years that Brown was some sort of closet socialist and wounded defender of the faith, forever frustrated in his egalitarian and socialist mission by the dastardly New Labourites. The socialist stag at bay, indeed. Phooey and poppycock. He virtually invented triangulation himself and was entirely and perpetually relaxed, like his original mentor Mandelson, with people getting extremely and filthily rich. Typically, his long fall out with Mandelson was nothing to do with real political issues of substance at all, instead it was because Mandelson had transferred his favours to Blair in the Labour leadership race. Personal vanity was at the forefront, yet again.”

    I must ask what’s wrong with letting people get filthy or super rich? I’ve never had a problem with this provided that public policy is not directed towards protecting and supporting their interests (usually at the expense of everyone else). I’m a supporter of progressive taxation, not because we need to punish the wealthy but because the wealthy made their money and keep their money as a result of the government creating the conditions under which it’s possible. Therefore it’s only fair (and fiscally sound and economically fair) that the wealthiest pay the most as they did the best. But I’m digressing.

    I think Gordon Brown is an economic genius even if a lousy politician. I think he has (well this is the impression I got from reading Mandelson’s book) undiagnosed academic disabilities and severe insecurities and management deficiencies as a result. As Chancellor he was fine when that was the only thing he had to focus on (and his success as Chancellor helped make Tony Blair a success as Prime Minister). But when he became PM himself, what he had to manage became far to great for him to handle and he unfortunately floundered. And I think his political skills were overrated. He was seen for a long time as a far better leader for Labour than Tony Blair until he actually became Prime Minister himself. He was never a good campaigner or good messenger or really a good speaker (except at his Citizens UK speech where he was awesome). The fact that he managed to get Labour to #2 in seats and share of the popular vote in 2010 was an accomplishment.

    With that said, he did an excellent job during the financial crisis. I am especially appreciative of his G20 leadership where instead of sitting around and fiddling (as other leaders wanted to do), he sprung into action. I am extremely grateful to him for that becaue I can’t imagine what it would have been like to have had a global economic collapse. I think he’d make an excellent head of the IMF (I don’t understand why David Cameron is so petty. He makes himself look small and pathetic).

  2. @ Billy Bob and Robin

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/apr/19/gordon-brown-not-most-appropriate-imf-cameron

    I hope that Cameron will change his mind. Brown would be great at the position and it would add to the UK’s prestige and world leadership. Cameron should learn a lesson from his political idol, Arnold Gropenfuhrer. You can trash your political opponent as much as you’d like during the election campaign. But after the campaign is over and you’ve won, you can still turn to your predecessor and former opponent for advice, assistance, and support.

    Now some people in the U.S. media seem to think that Obama and Cameron are a lot alike and really like each other (this just offers further evidence that most of the U.S. news media are a bunch of overpaid, self-important, morons……I think they noticed that both Cameron and Obama are fond of wearing sharp blue ties and said “aha! They dress alike! Therefore they think alike and are alike!”). But if Cameron is in any way an Obamaniac, he could learn a lesson from Obama as well. You can nominate your past opponents to important positions, you can use the services of your past opponents and predecessors to further a shared agenda, and you can nominate people who are from opposite parties to important positions.

  3. @ Barbazenzero

    ‘Unsurprisingly, our unionist auntie has put the whole 1m 55s GB bit here.’

    Many thanks indeed for this link.

    So DC carefully explained the logical reasons why, for Gordon Brown’s proven and recorded economic views, DC felt that it would be inappropiate for GB to head the IMP. DC also did not say that UK would use it’s veto to block a GB nomination. DC also made it clear that he had not had the opportunity to consider the matter fully. DC also made it clear that he felt a change to the ‘usual’ country’s nomination could be more appropiate. IMO his reply was measured, logical and did not sound ‘spiteful’, vindictive etc.

    So some of the previous posters’ talk of DC’s “spite” etc were indeed based more on their own pre-conceived views of anything certain politicians say, rather than what the politician actually said.

    Also yet another example of the media trying to ‘create’ a story, rather than trying ‘report’ it.

    @Socaliberal

    ‘I think Gordon Brown is an economic genius even if a lousy politician. ‘

    ‘I think he’d make an excellent head of the IMF (I don’t understand why David Cameron is so petty.’

    Have you actually listened to DCs comments. If not then I suggest you do, before branding them ‘petty’.

    As for your opinion on GB’s economic abilities, there are many who would strongly disagree, one of them is certainly myself. But then I have to live with his policies such as his economic belief in living in debt, such as to get out of debt you just have to borrow more, and oh so more fallacies. Luckily you don’t.

  4. As for the referendum, I’m not surprised by the poll shift. I predicted it with the weak yes numbers, which I continue to maintain are the most important numbers in any kind of ballot initiative.

    I spoke to a friend of mine today who is British and lives in the UK. He’s a hardcore Labour activist and he’s voting yes to AV but unenthusiastically. He told me that he wants electoral reform and that this would be a step “just not a particularly great one sadly.” I think that explains why the referendum has stalled and why the percentage against has climbed. If you want people to change a system, you have to give them an enthusiastic reason to vote for a major change (I would imagine this is especially true in change averse UK).

    Also, the yes ads are terrible. The no ads are not very good either but I actually think the ad where all the students are in the classroom being explained the system is effective. My friend also told me that those who were voting against AV (presumably his fellow Labour voters) were doing so just to punish Nick Clegg. That kinda explains the Clegg look alike in one of the No ads (which is really off base).

  5. I can’t accept the argument that Brown lost Labour the election. The most massive recession since the 1930’s lost Labour the election.

    In fact Brown saved the country – albeit from his own miscalculations – at a cost of raising the deficit. Had we attempted a balanced budget then growth in 2009 would have been at or around -10% ( instead of the awful -4.2 we had). The vast majority of the deficit came from collapsing revenues and increased benefits rather than grandiose spending ( though there was a fair bit of that)

    In fact, I think Cameron lost the Tories their election majority – he failed to appeal beyond their base – 37% was a dismal figure in the circumstances. My gut feeling is that the more earthy and real David Davies would have carried some more weight around the country beyond the heartlands and squeezed out a small majority.

    As for Labour, f not Brown , then who? – John Reid; David Milliband; Blunkett; Prescott; Blair – all would have done worse than Brown.

    He actually saved enough of the core vote to prevent aTory majority and fate thenrvene for Labour in the form of the gaffe-prone, mmature and judgementally flawed figure of Nick Clegg.

    Had the tories won a majority then the battle of anti Tory forces would be at around 50-50 by now figures like 36 Tory; 28 Lab, 28Lib would be where we are now and Cameron would be looking very pretty.

    Funny game politics.

  6. @Socaliberal

    ‘You can nominate your past opponents to important positions, you can use the services of your past opponents and predecessors to further a shared agenda, and you can nominate people who are from opposite parties to important positions.’

    Firstly – Why on earth would you support the nomination of a person you considered had ‘messed’ it up.

    Secondly – There is the old saying ‘Keep you friends close, but keep you enemies closer’. Many a cabinet has contained ministers to ensure they towed the ‘cabinet line’. Hillary within Obama’s government was far less of a threat to Obama than Hillary free to raom the land, if not the world stage.

  7. Phil

    It would seem so. All those postal votes filled in by Brummies winging their way to Cardiff. :-)

  8. FRANKG
    Also yet another example of the media trying to ‘create’ a story, rather than trying ‘report’ it.

    You’re welcome re the interview, and having listened to Cameron myself I thought his responses perfectly sensible, though he sounded to be struggling to remain diplomatic. But then, not being a fan of Cameron, disliking his predecessor even more makes it difficult to be objective.

    Re the BBC, creating the news rather than reporting it is hardly unusual for BBC Scotland.

  9. @Iceman

    ‘In fact, I think Cameron lost the Tories their election majority’ and David Davis as Con leader would have ‘squeezed out a small majority’.

    I seem to recall that to get a majority would have required one of the biggest swing ever in modern times. Many of the people I have spoken to, whom I think are actually Tory supporters, were quite relieved that a coalition was the end result. The thought of a small Tory majority trying to force through the sort of draconian policies, that the Tories evidently believe are necessary, leads me to think that their majority would not have lasted. Long term economic problems often need long term solutions, not some quick cover-up with sticking plaster. Coalition buys the Tories and LibDems time to see their policies come towards fruition.

    I am a strong believer that we elect governments to govern, not to have to spend their whole time considering their future in the short and medium term, and certainly not to worry if polls show their policies add or subtract to the party’s %s with every decision. Governments not polls should run the country. Clearly on a ‘polling site’, this view may not be too popular!

  10. @ Frank G

    “Have you actually listened to DCs comments. If not then I suggest you do, before branding them ‘petty’.

    As for your opinion on GB’s economic abilities, there are many who would strongly disagree, one of them is certainly myself. But then I have to live with his policies such as his economic belief in living in debt, such as to get out of debt you just have to borrow more, and oh so more fallacies. Luckily you don’t.”

    I couldn’t imagine living with a 20% sales tax on everything. I was just doing some trip planning and I was shocked by the tax rate. But I think everyone is responsible for that.

    I read Cameron’s comments so perhaps they’re being selectively quoted. But from the quotes, they seem petty.

    I don’t think Brown would have had to run deficits had Blair politely declined Dubya’s invitation to go invade Iraq. I think the deficits he ran prior to the 08′ financial crisis were largely productive. Britain’s economy continued to grow and have low unemployment when many other neighboring economies did not.

    In terms of running up debt and high deficits, I do not like them but sometimes they are neccessary. Very neccessary. All the teabaggers scream about the Wall Street Bailout (most of the money from which has been paid back) because it increased the deficit. I’d like to know how we would have saved our financial system (and with it, tens of millions of jobs, the life savings of millions, and the networth of millions). Teabaggers scream about the deficit yet I would like to know how they would have acheived the economic growth we’ve had since June of 2009 and even the limited job improvement without it. Without money (which in times like this requires deficit spending) invested in infrastructure, how do businesses function?

    In terms of running higher deficits to get out of a deficit, I am reminded of the old phrase that sometimes you have to spend money to make money. Spending one’s way out of debt has worked in past circumstances. It doesn’t always work (sometimes it’s counterproductive) but it’s not something that should be dismissed out of hand.

    Gordon Brown doesn’t have all the answers and he’s had some ideas I don’t agree with (like his idea for a stock transaction tax). But I value a lot of his thinking on economics and I credit him for his response in 08′.

  11. FRANKG

    “Have you actually listened to DCs comments. If not then I suggest you do, before branding them ‘petty’.”

    I agree-but they didn’t really make the real point did they?

    I mean all politicians end their careers “washed up”. The only distinction between them is whether they lie gasping on the sands of the Skeleton Coast, or coining it on the Gold Coast .

    DC might have hinted that we don’t want yet another failed lefwing politican at the head of IMF.Even if GB would represent an improvement on one who, having resigned over a corruption charge in his previous ministerial career, now wishes to be the President of France ( though some may feel that DSK has the ideal credentials for the latter post :-) )

    No-I think DC might simply have observed how interesting it would be to hear a future head of the IMF urge “Investment not Cuts” on his customers in Greece, Portugal & Ireland :-)

  12. Brown was a good chancellor whilst he continued to follow the Tories finance strategy, (remember prudence?) which he broadly did until 2001. (I will ignore the raid on pension funds). After the 2001 election he went wild, selling gold at rock bottom, PFI’ing everything & borrowing to the hilt for the balance. Lo & behold he was just an old tax and spend socialist after all.

    And when his Golden Rule couldn’t be kept, he just reset the beginning of the economic cycle to fit. Brilliant Chancellor, don’t make me laugh.

    And all the time our GDP was built on a 10 year long housing bubble, with people spending money they hadn’t earned.

    There are plenty of examples of Cameron appointing ex Labour cabinet ministers as heads of commissions. Frank Field for one. So that side of him is not in doubt.

    Give brown the IMF job? That’s akin to putting the arsonist in charge of the fire station on the basis that he knows how to start a fire.

    The French finance minister has a much higher claim on the job (& she’s better looking).

  13. SoCal

    “I couldn’t imagine living with a 20% sales tax on everything”

    It isn’t on everything.

    And it isn’t a single rate of 20% :-

    h ttp://www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/forms-rates/rates/goods-services.htm

  14. @ Iceman

    “Had we attempted a balanced budget then growth in 2009 would have been at or around -10% ( instead of the awful -4.2 we had). The vast majority of the deficit came from collapsing revenues and increased benefits rather than grandiose spending ( though there was a fair bit of that)”

    But how would you have gotten economic growth in 2009 without running deficits caused by government spending to push that growth?

    @ Frank G

    “Firstly – Why on earth would you support the nomination of a person you considered had ‘messed’ it up.

    Secondly – There is the old saying ‘Keep you friends close, but keep you enemies closer’. Many a cabinet has contained ministers to ensure they towed the ‘cabinet line’. Hillary within Obama’s government was far less of a threat to Obama than Hillary free to raom the land, if not the world stage.”

    Does Cameron really believe that Brown messed things up? If so, I’d be extremely concerned. Because that’s just hyperpartisanship, a bad thing to have in a leader.

    Our cabinet secretaries are different from yours in that ours are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate and do not serve in either legislative body. Your cabinet secretaries come from directly from sitting members of Parliament (or sometimes a Lord is included). So the political dynamics are different. But I don’t refer to Hillary Clinton. Obama still consults with Dubya. Obama has used the services of both Dubya and his dad for important presidential missions. He’s used Clinton (and those two do not like each other). He’s appointed Republicans to his cabinet (something Cameron couldn’t do with Labour) when they best fit a position. The point is, someone who is your political opponent should not be someone who becomes your absolute enemy.

  15. SoCal

    “Britain’s economy continued to grow and have low unemployment when many other neighboring economies did not. ”

    And we now know what the key source of that “growth” turned out to be:-

    Consumption fuelled by credit , now written off as bad debts by the providers of that credit , on such a stratospheric, mind blowing scale, that the much of it had to be funded , or guatanteed by the State.

  16. @ Old Nat

    On Midlands – Thanks for the info, I didn’t know that. Once a grissled old Scot Nat pulled me up on referring to the Midlands (“Would that be between the Highlands and the Lowlands or just the Midlands of England!). Cheery lot you Scot Nats!

    @ Phil,

    But if you simply reallocate DK to the same figures as those who’ve given a preference (i.e. along the same lines as original VI figures) you’ll always get the same score so is pretty pointless.

    I do agree ICM is a bit arbitrary but they are only reallocating 50% back to the original party they voted for. I presume there must be some historical precedent for this (e.g. “DKs have been shown over N number of years to return to the party they supported at the previous election 50% of the time). For example I was surprised to discover in US elections, the DK will tend to break 2:1 to the challenger not the incumbent and so the polling reflects that close to GE days.

  17. phil,
    well as an obviously to be despised ex brummie,who lives in Wales, all I can say is my family,who of course do what
    they are told,will be voting yes for everything.

  18. @Adrian B
    You’re right, it is historical precedent based on their “spiral of silence” theory. If you accept the general case for an adjustment, the question which nonetheless can’t be be answered by precedent is whether that adjustment can still work to the same degree when a party is polling at only half its vote share of the previous election. Since they started making this adjustment, we haven’t seen a situation where a party’s vote share has collapsed to that extent.

  19. Anthony,

    YouGov AV has been released by the Sun…

  20. As there are so many more prescient than me…without the benefit of hindsight….I’d like to know when the next great crisis will be and what will be its cause….

    or are all our oracles here from Delphi?

    Or has the coalition abolished the excesses of markets as the fall of the Berlin Wall famously abolished history…

    Surely the measure of political stature is how politicians respond to events…particularly those beyond their immediate control….

    History doesn’t bear out the more outlandish claims for individuals being sole change agents…it’s never that simple…but if we only analyse things in the remit of such erroneous simplicities once thing is certain…we’ll repeat the mistakes of others…needlessly and often….

    Gordon Brown may be many things bad and good but if we’re talking about qualifications for managing a large insitution like the IMF or World Bank he’s perfectly qualified…and probably better qualified the current incumbant…whose record is BTW of dizzying inconsistency of finanacial and economic policy…since the entry to and exit from the ERM…

    But perhaps that’s another inconveneint truth…

  21. @SoCalLiberal (and Robin) – “Brown would be great at the position and it would add to the UK’s prestige and world leadership.”

    A virulent anti-Brown campaign has started up, with one blogger suggesting that Brown will not get the job because he and Obama never really hit it off (presumably by implication Dave and Barak have, though there is some evidence to the contrary on that).

    “This is the most vindictive thing I have ever heard from a prime minister in 50 years,” [David Blacheflower] told the BBC. “It looks to me to be extremely small-minded. It would, in my view, diminish Britain’s power in the world.”

    Ed Milliband has said Brown’s leadership during the 2007/8 global crisis was outstanding, and that he is eminently qualified for the job; on Cameron’s remarks:

    “It’s slightly jumping the gun, since there isn’t a vacancy at the IMF. To rule someone out before the vacancy has arisen seems to be going some, even for him.”

  22. @ Alec

    Sorry but its not an argument to say something you disagree with is nonsensical. The example I gave of an extremist voter being allowed to prevent the election of a FPTP winner stands. A minority may be comfortable with that. Most people – ie from Lady Warsi to mainstream Labour on the spectrum – are not. Hence YES will lose big in May. They deserve to. AV would be a tragedy for the country which basically founded Parliamentary democracy.

  23. Of course some of us have been predicting that Brown would end up at the IMF for quite some time [polishes finger nails on t-shirt]. However the real reason that Cameron would be stupid to veto his nomination is not that it would look petty and vindictive domestically (though it would), it’s the damage it would do him internationally.

    As SoCalLib points out, Brown has an excellent reputation outside the UK for the decisive actions he took in the financial crisis. Refusing to nominate Brown will not just look spiteful to other world leaders, it will make them think he is unreliable and has no sense of proportion. At the negotiating table it all right to evoke fear or friendliness. Mild contempt is not a winning hand.

    He actually made things worse in that interview. While he was sensible enough not to put forward an alternative Brit who fitted his idea of what was politically correct, he suggested that the next IMF head come from, say, Asia. Now the reason that the Managing Director of the IMF has always been a European since World War II (though never from the UK) is to do with the delicate balance of international diplomacy. In the same way the World Bank President is always an American. To merrily suggest, off the top of your head, that everything be rearranged, will indicate to the rest of the world that he doesn’t think things through (to be polite about it).

    After all Cameron didn’t have to say anything – he said he hadn’t given it much thought, he could have left it at that. It’s not as if it’s the UK’s ‘turn’ or anything, it’s not his decision.

    But the way he reacted is also revealing about the government’s strategy. Their entire reason for existing is to deal with the ‘deficit’ and this is due entirely to reckless spending by the previous administration. If this belief is not maintained, practically every government policy loses its justification. So any deviation from this narrative (such as the suggestion that the previous PM might be economically competent) has to be squashed.

  24. @ Billy Bob

    I have actually taken the time to go to Barbazenzero’s kindly provision of a link to the speech in his previous post. I have bothered to listened both to the question as it was repeatedly put to DC and to hear the whole of DC’s reply.

    From your post it is clear that you have not and that you are basing your comments solely on the prejudiced comments of others. Go to the link, listen and make up your own mind. Or is it a case of ‘ don’t bother me with facts, I am too busy with my prejudices’. Clearly some of the people you quote have not listened to the interview, which is to my mind to THEIR detriment and lack of integrity. Anything to make a party political point, even if they know its not correct.

    I can hear ( not read what others have said) but actually hear DC’s reply. It contained nothing that was ‘spiteful’, ‘petty’, ‘vindictive’ or ‘arrogant’. I may not like DC, but even he deserves a fair assessment in this case. DC did not rule GB out. DC did suggest it was time for somone not of the European or USA blocs to have a turn at being the next Head of the IMF. DC repeatedly stated that he had not had time to considered any possible future Head of the IMF.

    @Roger Mexico

    Unfortunately many of the UK do not share your cosy viewpoint of GB’s economic prowess. When GB abandoned his avowed early pledges to ‘financial prudence’, broke his own economic rules of the early years and adjusted statistics to fit his economics dreams, he ceased to be the ‘economic genius’ he could have been. His viewpoint of spending your way out of the economic crisis is (IMO) wrong. It would seem that even the USA now realise that cuts (and very large ones at that) are now necessary if the USA are not to have their credit rating downgraded yet again.

    As for it not being DC’s decision, come the time of there actually a vacancy, surely it will very much be DC’s decision on whom to support.

    Many people who do not share your cosy view of GB, would indeed be ‘mildly contemptive’ to say the very least, if GB was considered as suitable and supportable.

    I thought DC was very ‘constrained’ not only in his initial reply, but in his continuing replies to the persistent restatement of the matter by the interviewer. The interviewer had obviously come with a fixed script to try and get some quotable headliner on this matter. As you said, DC did well to avoid the ‘trap’.

    As to DC’s opinion on possible nomination of a Non European and a Non USA, and what is so terrible about it going to one not of the ‘Western club’. Which areas have the most financial problems at the moment, the USA, UK and Europe. Maybe time to look at a country with a booming economy – China?

  25. @ Welshborderer – Sorry but its not an argument to say something you disagree with is nonsensical. The example I gave of an extremist voter being allowed to prevent the election of a FPTP winner stands.

    Your example was an abstruse one. And anyway it could equally well apply to a FPTP contest. The vote of just one person for one candidate – extremist or otherwise – could always be the one that makes a difference between victory and defeat for another candidate.

  26. Adrian B

    The area between Northern and Southern Scotland is called the Central Belt.

    Don’t get me started on the meaning of the “North East” (where I come from, and Barney will be defeated – again :-) ) and the area around Newcastle, which in UK terms should be the Midlands! :-)

  27. Barbazenzero,

    > English [and, sadly, Welsh] sovereignty may reside in parliament, but Scottish sovereignty remains with it’s people.

    Ah well, I’ve been thinking about that a few years ago. But as the sovereignty of the Scottish people can realistically only be expressed through elections to parliament or referendums surely the only difference is that referendums results are binding Scotland and not just advisory. But when the Scottish parliament voted for union, it surely agreed that in UK wide-election and referendums the overall UK will counts. Hence, if the UK votes is no while Scotland votes yes, the sovereign will of the Scottish people (through their earlier agreement to be part of the union) is upheld.

    More interesting in my view would be any infringement of the outcome of a Scottish-only referendum by Westminster – specifically if the Westminster parliament would have the right to abolish the Scottish parliament without consent of either the Scottish parliament or a referendum. While I think Westminster politicians by and large believe they can, I am not so sure, as through the referendum the sovereign transfered legislative power in devolved areas. This by the way could be tested as soon as Westminster legislates in a devolved area without getting a legislative consent motion in the Scottish parliament first. I think it is quite doubtful whether such a law would stand up in a Scottish court. But so far they always have asked and been given legislative consent motions.

  28. Frank G

    It’s not my ‘cosy viewpoint’ of Brown that matters (for what it’s worth I’m far from a complete fan), it’s what the rest of the world and its leaders think. And that verdict is in his favour. For Cameron to block his appointment will appear petty to them and Cameron’s and Britain’s influence will be affected.

    Deciding the next head of the IMF is not in Cameron’s gift, his voice will be just one among many. (Theoretically he only has 4.31% of the votes). What he can do is effectively block one of his countrymen (or women), though I can’t see what would stop, even then, Brown’s name from being put forward by another country. The decision of who is chosen is taken collectively.

    Unfortunately I don’t think he avoided the ‘trap’ in the interview. He really should have just said that he wouldn’t discuss it (make a joke about not doing international negotiating on the Today Show – “even with you, John”). Now he looks petty to a lot of people and if he changes his mind (and there might be a lot of international pressure to do so) he will look indecisive to those who disagreed with him and weak to those who did.

    The IMF job has always gone to a European – though not on a Buggin’s Turn basis (France has held it four times, the UK never). These conventions are all delicately worked out and to alter one thing affects everything else. By suggesting that the job go elsewhere (apparently off the top of his head) Cameron just gave the impression that he didn’t know how things worked.

  29. @ Colin

    “I mean all politicians end their careers “washed up”. The only distinction between them is whether they lie gasping on the sands of the Skeleton Coast, or coining it on the Gold Coast.”

    Not all. Many go on to do bigger and better things. Jimmy Carter was a mediocre president at best but he has done an enormous amount of good for the world post presidency (Carter is btw one to drive up one’s pessimism because I don’t think the White House has ever had a more moral, decent, honest, good hearted occupant than Carter and probably never will and he was, to put it mildly, not very good).

    @ Roger Mexico

    “Refusing to nominate Brown will not just look spiteful to other world leaders, it will make them think he is unreliable and has no sense of proportion. At the negotiating table it all right to evoke fear or friendliness. Mild contempt is not a winning hand.

    He actually made things worse in that interview.”

    I agree. I mean he could have said “Gordon Brown has excellent qualifications for the job but there are obviously many talented and qualified candidates we’ll be looking at. I haven’t thought much about it yet as Strauss-Kahn is still on the job.” And he could have left it at that.

    Brown is now in that elder statesman role. He’s no longer leading the opposition, he’s no longer on the front bench, most of his activities are devoted to global initiatives. I think it is vindictive.

    @ Billy Bob

    “A virulent anti-Brown campaign has started up, with one blogger suggesting that Brown will not get the job because he and Obama never really hit it off (presumably by implication Dave and Barak have, though there is some evidence to the contrary on that).”

    Where do they get this idea from? I saw the body language between them and they don’t look like they like each other (especially Obama who does not hide his opinion of others very well through body language). They have very different ideologies and different backgrounds.

    @ John Murphy

    “Gordon Brown may be many things bad and good but if we’re talking about qualifications for managing a large insitution like the IMF or World Bank he’s perfectly qualified…and probably better qualified the current incumbant…whose record is BTW of dizzying inconsistency of finanacial and economic policy…since the entry to and exit from the ERM…”

    It seems to me that no individuals are perfect and faultless. This is true even of the very best political leaders we have. Whatever one thinks of him or his party, I think it’s undeniable that he did an excellent job as Chancellor and that his most effective moments as PM were his responses to the economic crisis.

    Now, no U.S. president would ever be qualified to run the IMF. I also don’t think a U.S. president would want to after having been the president. But Gordon Brown is in a different situation.

  30. CHRISTIAN SCHMIDT

    Hence, if the UK votes is no while Scotland votes yes, the sovereign will of the Scottish people (through their earlier agreement to be part of the union) is upheld.
    That is undoubtedly how Westminster would try to sell it. Whether it would survive a challenge in the European courts is another matter. I suspect it might.

    This by the way could be tested as soon as Westminster legislates in a devolved area without getting a legislative consent motion in the Scottish parliament first. I think it is quite doubtful whether such a law would stand up in a Scottish court.
    That could come to the boil soon and I think the Scottish courts would reject it and the European courts would back them up.

    IMO, we’re only just beginning to comprehend the enormity of the can of worms the Blair government created with asymmetric devolution in general and with Scottish devolution in particular. It was created to thwart the SNP and to provide a fastness to which Labour could retire after Westminster defeats, to re-group and emerge stronger, but to say that it isn’t quite working out like that would be an understatement.

    Cameron sailed very close to the wind today in the Radio 4 interview, re the succession of the crown, another potential breach of the treaty and the Union with England Act 1707. He blamed delay on the need to negotiate with other commonwealth countries, but I suspect that will be his answer for however long he’s in office.

    But we need to see what the electorate decide in the general election before we can predict how immediate such issues may become.

  31. @Frank G – “From your post it is clear that you have not…”

    Another oxymoron for you: “a clear misunderstanding”

    Go back through the thread and see my post at 8.30am.

    The perjorative terms you use are indeed quotes of other people’s take on Cameron’s comments, as I think I made clear.

  32. @Barbazenzero,

    “English [and, sadly, Welsh] sovereignty may reside in parliament, but Scottish sovereignty remains with it’s people.”

    I think you’ll find “Westminster is sovereign” is referring to Westminster being the sovereign legislature for the UK over the EU, not ‘sovereign over the British people’.

    Seriously, you nationalists do have the most warped view of life.

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