Next week

I’m off on a break for the next week, and have no idea yet whether I’ll have decent internet access, so updates for the next week may be infrequent (or absent!). In the meantime, have a good bank holiday weekend one and all.


192 Responses to “Next week”

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  1. If you look at the data behind todays Sunday Times YG poll, it reveals a swing towards Labour by females. Is this to do with the row over Ken Clarkes choice of words about rape ?

    Females: Labour 45% Tories 36%

    If Ken has harmed the Tories vote and this is considered a long problem, I can’t see him staying in the job much longer. There is also some speculation that Theresa May is in danger of being reshuffled out, as other cabinet collegues are against various Home Office plans she has put forward. So in the next month or so, we could see a significant number of ministers shuffled out. I predict Clarke, Huhne, Lansley and May will go.

    http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-st-results-27-290511.pdf

  2. “‘we need to win the south’ is actually a very sound policy, although clearly an election could be won without it.”
    But it’s not just a case of ‘we need to win the south’ with Labour at the moment (and through the New Labour era, it was the same).
    It’s a case of ‘let’s build policies to please the south and let the areas of our core vote rot’.

    It’s an arrogance that assumes that those core areas (the North, to a lesser extent the Midlands) will vote for Labour despite a swing to the right to please the south.

    The simple fact is that there is a clear North/South divide (with the Midlands being the ‘swing states’) politically and you cannot win both regions with the same policies. (Especially true in Scotland, where adopting ‘Southern’ policies has seen SNP (who favour ‘Scottish’ policies) eat away at Labour’s support).

    Now – there are a few solutions –
    A) Federalisation – my preferred option.
    B) Winning an OM in your core areas and the swing states – which leads to a yo-yoing back and forth between Labour/Left and Tory/Right – which is what happens in the US with the federal elections.
    This is the Tory’s electoral strategy.
    C) Assume that you’ll ‘automatically’ get your core regions to vote for you and direct your policies at winning the other areas.
    This is what Labour do (largely unsuccessfully – I’ll compare later).
    D) Try to be everything to everyone.
    This was (is?) the LibDem strategy – be Left in the North and Right in the South.
    Unfortunately, when you get in to power this strategy fails because half of your voters desert you.

    The North/South divide hasn’t got any better since 1997 – so for 14 years now we’ve had a clear problem without a decent proposed solution.

    B vs C-
    B has the advantage that you’ll retain a high portion of voters in your core regions during ‘bad times’.
    Unfortunately it has the problem that you won’t gain in regions you’ve neglected in ‘good times’.

    C has the advantage that you’ll do slightly better during the ‘good times’ in other regions.
    But during the ‘bad times’ your core vote regions will abandon you with as much vigour as any other region.

    The major problem with C is that if another party comes along during the ‘bad times’ in a similar sort of ideological position (SNP in Scotland) then you will not get back your ‘core’ region in the ‘good times’.

    Just trying to win ‘everywhere’ won’t deal with the big political differences between North and South (compare to the US central states vs coastal states).

  3. “so for 14 years now we’ve had a clear problem without a decent proposed solution.”
    Should have probably more accurately read ‘for over 14 years’
    North/South electoral divide really started under Thatcher – it’s just that it was clear in the times between 1997 and 2010.

  4. @Old Nat – “The article is, of course, nonsense”

    I did not quote the whole article, but rather than take issue with whether independent school heads have discretionary powers which in the state sector would be subject to scrutiny and appeal, you take issue with other matters.

    Permanently excluded in the state system comes usually at the end of a very long road. It could be argued that in some cases of self-exclusion/non-engagement wrt the educational system, that freedom could be regarded as a kind of human right and quite proper depending on cultural factors. Some teenagers can be very determined about the direction of their lives and resist even one lesson a week from tutors. More should be provided where appropriate, and I agree with the elightened Scots: no school age child should be ‘abandonned’.

  5. @neil A – can’t agree with your comments regarding putting the full costs for training teachers and health workers onto private schools/hospitals being part of a left wing notion to attack the rich because we don’t like them. That was a particularly silly comment.

    If citizens wish to pay extra for individual private services when there is a state option on offer, with no compensating cut in their tax bill, that’s their freedom of choice. However, if by the exercise that choice they daamage the rest of society, which is what happens when the high paying private sector syphons off the best people without contributing to their training, then the majority in society need to rectify the imbalance.

    It’s nothing to do with a vindictive attirtude to the rich – it’s all about fairness.

  6. R Huckle,

    Very interesting.. 56% of the votes Labour lost were women. Your point gives some encouragement that they might consider returning to Labour

  7. TingedFringe

    “The simple fact is that there is a clear North/South divide (with the Midlands being the ‘swing states’) politically and you cannot win both regions with the same policies.”

    Interesting analysis and thanks for noticing that the Midlands exists and has its own identity :) Not many people do.

    How about a strategy E? This would be to design policies to please the Midlands. This would gain swing seats without totally alienating either N or S of England (before the Nats mug me I realise that Scotland and Wales have their own priorites). Strategy E is analogous to going after the ‘centre ground’ in politics. If its sound in demographic terms, why not in geographic?

  8. @R Huckle – re women moving back to Labour, a few people have been suggesting this would be a weakness for the coaition for a long time. I don’t think it’s the rape fuss particularly, although that won’t have helped (I did raise the issue at the time and got told by a few people I was being patronising).

    I suspect it is a longer term trend based on the welfare changes. The clear implications of a substantial body of research is that the various cuts in welfare support have disproportionately hit women and families. Labour have raised this on a few ocassions but the mainstream media tend to gloss over things that affect 51% of the population for some reason. Perhaps the impacts are being felt and women are increasingly unhappy with the situation?

  9. Some interesting rumblings this morning from the Tory right on the economy. Jog=hn Redwood has a blog piece regarding bank recapitalisation and the impacts on economic growth, and Tim Montgomerie has a short Telegraph item.

    Both suggest that Osborne is ignoring the need for growth. In Redwood’s case he says the moves to increase capital ratios at the banks are premature, are taking credit out of the economy and should be left until later in the recovery. He also highlights the fact that government actions have favoured big business but have ignored the small and medium sector which is far more important to recovery.

    Meanwhile Montgomerie suggests Osborne has largely ignored economic growth and is therefore risking the GE result in 2015. His policy prognosis is typically right wing – restrict unions rights and deregulate being his main bug bears, but his focus on growth brings him dangerously close to Labour’s position, albeit with a different policy agenda.

    What seems to be emerging is a clear realisation that growth does not magically appear from spending cuts, especially after a massive credit shock. Some of us said all along that pursuing a carefully constructed long term growth plan, with spending cuts still necessary but less critical at this stage than growth, was the only realistic means to climb out of the crisis.

    Even right wing Tories are now reaslising this, even though they might disagree with the means to achieve it. As 2011 moves into 2012, I think we will realise that there is more to a growth policy than just hoping the pound stays low and cutting spending on R&D and business support and that the missed opportunity for encouraging SME’s and business investment was a golden opportunity squandered.

  10. Pete B-
    The problem with being purely centrist is that you can run in to the problem of being seen as bland/standing for nothing and you have the problem of being eaten from both sides.

    Having a centrist party would probably be quite healthy for our democracy, but if centre-left and centre-right parties remain, you’ll end up being the third party (although acting as a neutral and moderating voice for both sides).

    This is the strategy that the LibDems should have gone with, instead of trying to win over both sides and then having to pick in the end.

  11. Even though overall there has been a small fall recently, the number of women unemployed increased for the tenth month in a row to the highest figure since October 1996.

    As others have mentioned withdrawl of services impacts women as carers possibly in a more direct way… and perhaps the “calm down, dear” didn’t help either.
    .

  12. And TBPH, I’d hope that it would be another party – rather than Labour, who should swing left – who would take the centrist position.

    It’s unhealthy for a democracy to have everybody clamouring for the centre and having large swathes of the electorate ignored.
    Just as unhealthy as having two polar opposites in far-left and far-right parties and leaving the centrists ignored.

    Of course, neither of the two main parties would accept a move to multi-party politics (preferably with some form of PR) because it would mean a lack of control.
    I think the opponents of PR like to call it ‘stable government’.

  13. Pete B

    “before the Nats mug me”

    What is encouraging is that we have to do it less and less (though fun to do it every so often :-) for old times sake.)

    That Scotland does have a different political system is now well understood (on here, at least). A couple of years ago, that idea was ridiculed by many on UKPR.

    I find it very encouraging that so many Labour folk from England are now focused on what is needed in terms of direction in that country. I wish you well.

  14. oldnat

    “There’s not much (apart from economic strategy) that SNP could support a right wing party like Labour on.”

    It’s this sort of relentless cybernat Newspeak that makes me apprehensive about how things are going to go in Scotland.

  15. Oldnat
    “I find it very encouraging that so many Labour folk from England…. ”

    I hope you don’t include me in that group. I’m not a member of any political party and try to keep an open mind, though I wouldn’t consider voting Labour unless there was a local candidate who was outstanding.

  16. Alex

    I thought greens didn’t like growth

    But not to worry growth of any magnitude is impossible in the current environment. Too much debt, too much inequity, falling real wages and a shortage of natural resources in particular oil. The next leg down is coming soon

  17. Pete B

    It was a generalised comment. I just used your phrase to hang it on. No offence intended.

  18. OldNat
    None taken. I just didn’t want to be mistaken for someone who helped to destroy the world’s economy (in a non-partisan sense of course). :)

  19. On the issue of educations.., and Tony Blair…there is an article in today’s edition of The Independent titled ‘John Rentoul: Children reap fruit of Labour’s revolution’.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/john-rentoul/john-rentoul-children-reap-fruit-of-labours-revolution-2290328.html

    Worth a read I suggest.

  20. Amber star

    You sly subversive you. Am I correct in thinking that your scheme would see the collapse of support for private education amongst those who currently buy it? I do wonder what these people are actually buying and why, especially in Edinburgh.

    I tend to the old-fashioned view that the choice that most people want is to have a good local school that will enable their children to flourish. A key part in that, often ignored, is the ‘local’. There’s a real value in a network of friends in the immediate vicinity (for children and adults). It has all sorts of positive spin-offs.

  21. I see the gov have released a list of the ‘daft’ excuses put forward by fraudulent claimants of social security benefits.

    Great fun…but what an appalling waste of public resources compilng it and disseminating it. What purpose does the list serve?

    It looks like some elements in gov are getting carried away thinking that the public will lap up and accept any kind of bad press about social security scroungers.

    I imagine many people will view this the same way as I do.

  22. Mike

    No not underestimate the satisfaction of kicking those people lower down or the fear of retribution if you kick those higher up.

    It’s time to stop bashing the bankers therefore a new Target is needed

  23. RiN
    Hmmm. What does that comment say about the kind of society that encourages this villification and ridicule.

    Those faceless underpaid bankers never deserved the bad press they got.

  24. Mike N

    “press they got” = The Mint.

  25. Oldnat
    Lol

  26. Oldnat,

    Just read that you were a teacher.

    I’m sure I’m pretty safe in thinking that you didn’t teach in the fields of Maths, Politics, Economics, History or Business Studies, considering the high number of absolute howlers you regularly make on such subjects, so what did you teach?

  27. OldNat,
    You’ll be pleased with the reports coming from the New Statesman.
    According to the article, there’s a 3 way plan, from the Tories, to prevent Labour ever coming to power.

    1) Boundary changes – denying Labour the advantages they have due to extra seats in regions with disproportionate seats to voters.
    3) Deny Labour’s union funding by putting £50,000 caps on donations (can’t see how it’d pass the Lords, surely union donations are collective donations of members?)
    And since this is the one you’ll be interested in –
    2) There is talk in the Tory party of abandoning Scotland by supporting Scottish independence.
    Since the Tory party is unpopular up there and they’d win an OM in the UK without Scotland.

    Should the Tory party support Scottish independence, it’d probably go through.
    I imagine they’d run some sort of campaign about England no longer having to ‘subsidise’ Scotland – something that then pushes Scottish voters toward independence and allows the Tories to use the same talking point on the north.

    Can’t see why the Tories wouldn’t do it – it’d prevent any sort of anti-Tory majority for a long time in the UK (because it’d require a political realignment) and David Cameron would seal his place in history (something that he seems desperate to do).

  28. @Mike N – “I see the gov have released a list of the ‘daft’ excuses put forward by fraudulent claimants of social security benefits.”

    Government estimates of benefit fraud = £3.5b pa
    IMF estimate of UK tax evasion = £78b pa

    I’m perfectly happy to see benefit cheats caught, punished and paraded if that’s what it takes to stop people stealing from me as a taxpayer. But only if I also see tax thiefs caught, punished and paraded for stealing from me. The difference is that there would be many, many more of them and the amounts they stole would be vastly greater than the benefit thiefs.

  29. @tingedfringe – re the possibility of Tories supporting Scottish independence; Can’t see it myself, for two reasons.

    1) The discrediting of an age old unionist agenda (‘The Conservative and Unionist Party) for nothing more than short term naked party political advantage. Who would ever believe any policy statement that Cameron ever espoused again? He has a reputation as slippery and unprincipled already among many voters, but this would terminally damage any sense that he had any real political beliefs and values.

    2) Electoral mechanics. To establish an English Parliament (what he would in effect be doing) without subsequent change of the electoral system to prevent the risk of monopoly power would be politically highly distateful and again run counter of his claim to want to return power to the people. There would be uproar in urban and northern areas at such a transparent power grab and I could imagine England becoming near ungovernable. Just wait for an unpopular policy and watch dispossessed English voters hit the streets. Tories would do well to remember the poll tax fiasco.

    If Cameron wants to take English votes for granted then more fool him. In my view the most likely outcome would be a strong anti Tory vote with a resurgent Lib Dem party in the south and a dominant Labour party in the North, leading to an anti Tory alliance, a reformed electoral system and a scenario where the Tories would never hold majority power again.

    Cameron isn’t that bright, but I don’t think he’s that stupid.

  30. Tingedfringe

    I’m not greatly in favour of constitutional change designed purely for party advantage.

    If English Tories want an Independent England, or an independent rUK, then that is what they should be positively arguing for.

  31. @Tingedfringe

    Your points on this page have been spot on.

  32. @ Old Nat

    Yes, there are still league tables, although more and more schools have refused to participate.

  33. As I posted earlier, education is essentially social, therefore political issue, full of vested interests and ideological stances. Any plan would be “good” from the point of view of the social goal lurking behind those plans.

    If the function of the education system is to help the creation of responsible citizens, you would have a completely different schooling system (including the mechanisms in it) than in the case of an education system whose goal is to create various types of fodders for different segments of the labour market. Or for the combination of the two. Or a system whose aim is to maintain the social status quo (both the English and French system do this, although in different ways, and the spice of it is the PR exercise of describing them as tools of social mobility).

    The inefficiencies (and in many parts of the country ineffectiveness) of the English education system is a result of the intentional balancing of social and political influences – to put it very straight: there are far too many schools and far too many teachers (these and policies such as exclusions and suspensions are just tools for maintaining the “peaceful” co-existence of management and employees of the schools and the relationship between the school and its users (including parents). Children do not count in this or the needs of the society for that matter). Particularistic interests everywhere…

    Consequently, making a more effective education system is dependent on having a goal behind which a significant coalition could be assembled that could defeat the vested interests.

  34. Lazlo

    “Yes, there are still league tables, although more and more schools have refused to participate.”

    Thanks. Must be difficult for authorities to know which schools are doing “well” or “badly” by their pupils though. Perhaps English authorities are big enough not to need to have comparators outside the county (or whatever).

  35. @ Old Nat

    Not only that – whey it was compulsory, schools regularly manipulated the figures (in both ways – e.g. I know a school that deliberately downplayed one particularly good year because they knew (or they thought that they knew) that they would not be able to maintain it and hence they would have to answer certain questions after then). Management by exception I suppose.

    I think proper evaluation of schools would be useful, but it’s expensive, so they resort to checking on paperwork or by pass results/tests. Obviously, schools followed the saying: tell me how you measure me and I will tell you how I’ll behave. (one school was highly recommended by the inspectors, because the paperwork was in excellent order and they used very good forms, the fact that little was taught to the pupils was not one of the criteria). So, the question is, would sufficient resources (manpower) dedicated to the supervision of schools or not.

  36. Alec
    “I’m perfectly happy to see benefit cheats caught, punished and paraded if that’s what it takes to stop people stealing from me as a taxpayer. But only if I also see tax thiefs caught, punished and paraded for stealing from me.”

    I agree.

    But it’s so much easier to target and villify benefit cheats.

    Are those who really might benefit from employing tax evasion likely to be right-wng in their political views, too?

  37. @ LandOCake

    You sly subversive you. Am I correct in thinking that your scheme would see the collapse of support for private education amongst those who currently buy it? I do wonder what these people are actually buying and why, especially in Edinburgh.

    I tend to the old-fashioned view that the choice that most people want is to have a good local school that will enable their children to flourish. A key part in that, often ignored, is the ‘local’. There’s a real value in a network of friends in the immediate vicinity (for children and adults). It has all sorts of positive spin-offs.
    ————————————————————
    You know me too well ;-)

  38. Still on the theme of tax evasion…

    Apparently, according to the NoTW, “a government pledge to recover £3billion in tax from secret foriegn bank acounts has flopped.” GO had “said the cash was vital to Britain’s finances.”
    “But a year on, officials have recive just £140millions after only 1,351 people signed up to the amnesty rather than the 25,000 the government had hoped for.”

  39. @ Colin

    So -you are a Conservative at heart then Amber ?
    ———————————————-
    LOL :-) Occasionally conservative but never a Tory.

    ———————————————-
    Whilst I have some feelings along those lines myself, the danger there is that a faulty status quo may be perpetuated out of political inertia.

    Slow accretion of further small advantages thus builds an impregnable minority interest-which may not be in the interest of the majority.
    ———————————————–
    OMGoodness – Huge priviledges accrue to the corporate class in the private sector without regard to the interest of the majority are okay; but small, incremental improvements that Unions win for their members are a ‘minority vested interest’ that must be stripped away!

    Heaven forfend that any worker will have the security of knowing they will be doing the same job for a little more money this time next year! I mean really, we cannot have any ‘ordinary’ worker who is not a member of the precariat. They will give the other ‘ordinary’ people something achievable to aspire to.

    Unions do need to modernise themselves & reach out to groups which they do not currently represent. If their protection was almost universal, there would be less resentment towards the people who currently benefit from their protection.
    8-)

  40. Is the IMF’s £78bn figure for tax evasion only, or does it include tax avoidance?

    And Alec,

    If a civil servant, trained at government expense, were to leave to work at MENCAP, should the charity have to reimburse the costs of their previous training?

    My point about “not liking the rich” is that you are singling out industries that predominantly benefit “rich” people for a special treatment I don’t imagine you want to inflict across the board.

  41. landocakes @ oldnat

    “There’s not much (apart from economic strategy) that SNP could support a right wing party like Labour on.”

    “It’s this sort of relentless cybernat Newspeak that makes me apprehensive about how things are going to go in Scotland.”

    SLAB are right wing according to Scottish Voting Compass. As the parties in Scotland stand now, with the Socialists out of action for the forseeable future the SNP are far to the left of SLAB but only the Greens are truly left-wing.

  42. landocakes @ Amber star

    “… the choice that most people want is to have a good local school that will enable their children to flourish. A key part in that, often ignored, is the ‘local’. ”

    I quite agree, that’s the near universal point of view where I live.

    You really must google Ulva School and wach the video.

    Until you’ve done that you don’t know the half of it.

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