There are two new polls tonight – a new ComRes telephone poll for the Independent has topline figures of CON 37%(+3), LAB 37%(nc), LDEM 12%(-3), Others 14%(nc). Changes are from the last ComRes poll conducted by telephone a month ago, rather than their parallel online polls for the Independent on Sunday. It’s the first time this year that ComRes have produced a poll without a Labour lead.

Meanwhile YouGov’s daily poll in the Sun has topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%. YouGov had also been showing a narrowing Labour lead earlier in May, but it seems to have disappeared over the last few polls.

(I do not have regular internet access this week, so updates will be few and far between, and I will not be monitoring comments)


396 Responses to “New ComRes and YouGov polls”

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  1. Health service and international comparisions. Pure mazochism. You cannot compare health service spending/GDP data without dismantling what counts “health service spending” and what not.

    You cannot compare what counts private (most importantly in Germany) and public without completely deconstructing the institutional underpinnings. Just for making it clear BUPA and the German insurance based health service operate under completely different principles (if for nothing else, the type of opportunism that we have seen about elderly care would be completely illegal in Germany). You could get the difference even in the Black Forest Clinic soap.

  2. @ Henry

    “Can you (or anyone else) back your statements on the NHS costs and quality versus other EU countries with fact. ”

    Excellent point. There is no such data, except if one consider the confessions of patients about the service they get is something reliable.

    As I pointed out a few weeks ago, there are different interpretations of what counts live “birth” in the EU (not to mention the world. I can add that there are different interpretations of what counts “cured” of any illness.

    What is reasonable comparison is the in-country one. And in this case the improvement of health service in terms of responsiveness, recovery and waiting time was massive in the UK since 2001. If it was worth the money, it is a different question, but I doubt if there is any, non-ideological, basis for this.

    Everybody knows that the NHS needs reform. Only that the government uses this point for dismantling the NHS, Labour uses this point as a stick on the back of the Tories (but not a very strong one – yet). The problem with any reform is a very simple question: is the function of the health service to cure the population or to distribute resources for particular types of treatments for selected section of the population based on the political perception of spending taxpayers’ money.

  3. @Rob Sheffield
    “Once again speaks the voice of perpetual opposition.”

    To reiterate my point from earlier – I’m not saying that centre voters should be completely ignored. I’m just saying that the centre vote is not the be all and end all of who you have to please.

    So ignoring centrist voters is bad. But ignoring all other groups while chasing only centrist voters is worse.
    If centrist voters make up 25% of voters and the left/right continuum is equally split (as polling suggests), then the left make up about 37.5% of voters.
    Not a bad group to back.

    And considering that the Tories have a virtual market dominance over the centre-right to far-right vote and that the best Labour can hope for with centrist voters is a small lead over the Tories and LDs (i.e centrist voters are a much more saturated market) – perhaps Labour being a centre-left party that can lean left on certain policies might not be such a bad idea.

    New Labour (or who is left of the Blairites) seems to be ‘We lost in the 80s by being quite far left, we need to be completely centrist to win!’.

    So, in the specific example of Land Value Tax vs Council Tax – backing Council Tax is a policy which will *only* please middle and upper class voters, i.e those with plenty of wealth because it is in practical terms, a regressive tax.
    So keeping council tax is chasing only centrist/right/middle class voters.
    A LVT or local progressive income tax would benefit those at the bottom over those in the middle and those in the middle over those at the top.
    So backing that would win over working class, some middle class and left/centre-left/some centrist voters.

    Again – I’m not arguing that Labour completely ignore the centrist voter and swing to become deep-red comrades, just that ignoring your core (i.e the vote market where you can dominate) can be equally as damaging.

    I showed in a post earlier (with relevant polling data) to show how Labour would dominate by unifying the left while being neck and neck with the Tories over centre voters (the polling at the time was about 38% of centre voters for Labour when Labour polled at 43% of total VI IIRC).
    And if the Tories were to unite the right, being neck and neck with Labour over centrist voters and Labour facing a split left (the frustrated ‘ignored left’ going elsewhere), Labour would face perpetual centre-chasing opposition.

    I hope that hasn’t been a miscommunication here – I’m not saying that Labour should only chase hard-left voters,. I’m just saying that uniting the left (preferably under a centre-left manifesto) should be the priority and chasing the saturated centrist 25% should come second to that.

    And to your ‘Tory agent provocateur’ joke – this isn’t the first time I’ve been accused of being a Tory and it probably won’t be the last. ;)

    (I should point out in case there is any misunderstanding – I’m not a Tory, I’m politically unaffiliated but leaning toward Labour – I’ve been accused of being a Tory over my libertarian views on the state).

  4. @ Alec

    “Don’t think anyone picked up my earlier post regarding the manufacturing data, but I’ve had a chance to look harder at it and it looks very serious indeed. ”

    I did – but one has to earn his living – unfortunately.

    You are right, but I think that it is about time to move on from austerity versus gradual reduction of deficit – the problem is much deeper.

    1) It seems that the recession was not deep enough to destroy sufficient amount of capital to restore a decent rate of return – oh, the efficient private sector – S&P 500 in the last 10 years destroyed 4.5 trillion dollar shareholder equity: no government can compete with that. Extremely efficient.

    2) The sales/asset value of the S&P 500 has not changed for about 10 years really – there is an inherent blockage to growth. It was left to the government to overcome it. But not much left to them: inflationary policy has been exhausted, the middle classes got their credit cards in the 50s (in the US), the working classes in the 1980s, the houses in which people lived were transformed to equity to borrow in the 1990s. Really what is left is mortgaging the people themselves or better: their children to create the demand that would generate sufficent rate of return to the shareholders (because if you could remove the latter one or you could write off a certain percentage of the asset value, you could have massive investment and growth).

  5. @henry – I found this earlier today – h ttp://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5813a5.htm

    Original source was the OECD I think.

    @Everyone discussing health issues.

    We’re in the phase of not reading people’s comments I fear. At no point have I said that I oppose private involvement in UK healthcare and I haven’t tried to pretend state provision is the only way for the future.

    All I did was highlight what I see as the inescapable fact that private provision does not gurrantee improvement, based on the two big news stories from last night.

    I’m run my own (non health) private consultancy so I’m quite happy with the concept of reasonable profit and I have much sympathy for @the greeneys view of how the public sector manages contractors.

    There are certainly cases where the private sector is not good at providing a public service, while there are also clear potential weaknesses within the state sector. Perhaps @Roger Mexico was nearer the mark?

    The NHS has done rather well in recent years, as the patient surveys attest to. It is facing a huge budget squeeze so more improvement will be necessary, but a blanket move to private provision won’t necessarily solve the issues.

    BTW – Rob Peston’s blog on the health debate raises some very pertinent questions. Well observed.

  6. @ Alec

    “Rob Peston’s blog on the health debate raises some very pertinent questions”

    ..to which Andrew Lansley seems to have few pertinent answers, IMHO.

  7. @Tingedfringe-

    Ah that old chestnut- a ‘left libertarian’ .

    A rather oxymoronic stance: rather like those people who say they believe in “anarchy *and* peace” when the dictionary definition of the ‘A’ word is ‘lawlessness, chaos, disorder’ ;-)

    If our starting point is capitalist social and economic relations then greater freedom simply premiums the life chances, affluence and pleasure of the prosperous and powerful leaving the majority to lives of ‘quiet desperation’ that are ‘nasty brutish and short’. In our 21st century scenario, freedom and equality are- at least until capitalist relations are significantly altered- largely mutually exclusive.

    Greater equality- in a capitalist economy- means *reducing* the freedom of individuals, interest groups, entities and classes. Think regulations or laws that constrain and restrict the behaviour of individuals and organisations; or taxes that take away portions of a person income or a companies’ profits; or expropriation/ compulsory purchase of an individual of a firms land or assets. Even the Cameroonians accept all these tenets! But ‘libertarians’ do not…

    Those who favour liberty over equality in the society and economy that we live in will always be on the right side of a Baron de Gauville ‘French Revolutionary’ political spectrum. That is because equality is a far more radical idea than liberty- which is an insipidly conservative notion when proposed within a capitalist context.

    I’d personally choose egalitarianism over libertarianism every day of the week in the world that we actually live in. Because I believe that equality comes before the personal freedom of an increasingly global elite. Because I recognise that we cannot achieve greater equality in the society and economy that we live in without the state- and without that state fettering the freedom of wealthy individuals and companies. Because I appreciate that- in a 21st century capitalist society and economy- to be a libertarian is to be a Conservative thinker not a democratic socialist or a social democrat thinker.

  8. @ TingedFringe

    Im sorry but how can any libertarian support the overly state-heavy socially conservative labour party? It neither matchs libetarianism on social or economic policy, wheras both the liberals and the Tories contain wings more sympathetic to libetarianism

  9. @Lazlo/ Alec

    great economic commentary again.

    Very insightful if scary.

  10. @ Alec

    “as the patient surveys attest to”

    I often feel that the regulators/authorities/deparments confuse cure with care…

  11. So…Lansley’s travails, poor manufacturing data (plenty of goods, no buyers), gloomy growth forecasts, and yet…

    Comres: Lab 37, Con 37
    YG: Lab 41, Con 39.

    Looks as if DC’s LD lightning rod is still in good working order.

  12. Rob Sheffield –
    Ah – perhaps we’re getting muddled over what we mean by libertarian.
    I’ll try to explain briefly what I mean by my being left-libertarian –
    All laws should exist to protect the ‘weak’ from the ‘strong’ – from laws against murder, property laws, etc – that is the basis of ‘justice’. I do not believe in laws that go further than this.
    Does that mean I don’t believe in regulation? No.
    Proper regulation is needed to protect the weak (consumers, workers, etc) from the strong (capitalists, employers, etc) but should go no further than that.
    So for example, IMHO, we require a rethink of property law, especially concerning real estate – property law, as it stands, helps the strong and hurts the weak.

    I believe that the government should focus much more on redistribution (property is a limited monopoly granted by the state) than running services (which, IMHO, should be run by mutual/co-operative organisations).
    Justice demands some redistribution of the wealth (well, justice demands full redistribution, but practicalities lie between that) since all profit is derived from the exploitation of those who labour (since all wealth is derived from labour)) so taxes should be levied against the rich (especially those who do not labour for their wealth) and redistributed back to those who do labour.

    So rather than provide services directly, the state should subsidise individuals to choose organisations from the market – I’d prefer mutual organisations, but for profit shouldn’t be turned down – and those market organisations should be properly regulated to protect the weak from the strong.

    But that doesn’t mean my ideology stands in the way of practicality – and this answers Joe’s question – I’d rather support an egalitarian-focused government that’s heavy on state provision than allow the so-called free market (which itself relies on certain legal monopolies – of person, property, etc) run amok.

    To sum up –
    Liberty is best defined as the power to act according to free choice.
    If you lack power (as the right ideologies would want) or choice (as certain left-wing ideologies want), then you are not free.
    So government acts as an arbiter of justice – to protect the weak from the strong and maximise personal liberty.
    Sometimes you have to take away one person’s liberty to defend another’s.
    etc, etc

  13. @ Tingedfringe

    “Liberty is best defined as the power to act according to free choice.”

    Your philosophical explanation – for which I have sympathies (it doesn’t matter, I know, but I wanted to state it) fails on the notion of “free choice” – it assumes that choice is an unconstrained activity that rationally (or irrationally) chooses among alternatives on the basis of the attributes of these alternatives. It is a pure ideological fantasy. Your free choice is as much objectively determined as anything else: thus your liberty has gone (or rather never was).

    I’m sorry that I went into this, because it is really philosophical, but I’m really sensitive to this: you can justify anything with this single sentence.

  14. Since we seem to be operating in a fact free zone tonight, here’s the data on average expenditure on health per person (as opposed to “health service” expenditure) in 2006 based on international purchasing power parity expressed in US dollars.
    UK 2784
    Sweden 3119
    Germany 3328
    Netherlands 3383
    France 3554
    US 6714

    It may not be a measure of effectiveness of health outcomes, but it does put Osborne’s “unaffordability” claim into context. Get ready for the spending gap to grow.

    Apart from the countries mentioned on this thread, I’ve included the US as just about every bit of data points to it having the worst comparative health outcomes of the six, and Sweden as it is generally regarded as having amongst the best international health outcomes. The Swedish system runs much as our own, with a similarly limited degree of reliance on the private sector as providers. Points of difference are that the main providers are more accountable (elected local authorities operated within a statutory national framework) and that the service operates in an integrated way by comparison to our own increasingly fragmented service (see Roger M’s earlier post).

  15. @Laszlo

    Ah. And the debate on limited freedom of choice begins. Perhaps this will even extend to free will…

  16. @Phil

    I would assume that healthcare is simply more expensive in the US. But your point stands.

    And whenever government talks of affordability, they conveniently forget that that if they need more money, they can always ask.

  17. @ RAF

    I will avoid it :-) – you are right of course with your remark.

  18. @Joe

    “the overly state-heavy socially conservative labour party”

    There must be two Labour Parties in operation – Joe’s is obviously not the one which abolished the death penalty, outlawed racial, gender and religous discrimination, gave gay citizens sexual and partnership rights, allowed higher immigration, supported women’s right to choose, and helped create the remarkable multi-ethnic and uniquely tolerant society we have in Britain (I recall that even Cameroon acknowledged this when he took office!)

    Labour is tough on crime. No apology for that.

    Come on, be fair. The Tories may talk of libertarian ideas over their G & Ts. But name me a piece of legislation they have put in place to give liberty to any disadvantaged group since the abolition of slavery?

  19. Oldnat

    Phil says: “Netherlands – as countries whose national expenditure on health vastly exceeds that of the UK.”

    Don’t put him right on the”England = UK” thing.

    Shhh!

    Roger

    You have got it, and not just the NHS. Google: John Seddon Vanguard.

    A significant loss to Scottish government was the retiral at the last election of Jm Mather, my MSP who was evangelical about John Seddon’s method.

  20. Welsh Borderer

    “But name me a piece of legislation they have put in place to give liberty to any disadvantaged group since the abolition of slavery?”

    Not that I’m any great fan of the Tories, but you should have had a look at Disraeli’s legislation before picking that starting point.

    The Married Women’s Property Act (1882) for example was a significant step forward for the women of England, Wales, Ireland, and ….. nowhere else. :-)

  21. @Raf, Lazslo, Rob Sheffield & Tingedfringe

    If we are going to be philosophical about this let’s be honest – we have to defend the notion of free will. We have no choice.

  22. John B Dick

    It wasn’t till after I retired that I found out about John Seddon. Looking back, I reckon my best management work was when I was doing something like the Vanguard approach.

    I’ll draw a veil over my worst management work. :-)

  23. OldNat

    Roger has it spot on about corporatisation. There are huge savings to be had by rolling it back, but expecting to cutting staff while still expecting the same useless work to be done is not the answer.

    It has to be done the other way and get rid of targets and performance related pay first. Then people can manage the organisation rather than the targets.

  24. Con 36%, Lab 42%, LD 9%; App -23. (YouGov June 2nd.)

  25. John B Dick

    There’s still a long way to go, but ending Labour’s micro-management of LAs through ring fencing budgets was a good start. (Shame for me – I used to make quite a good living out of the need for LAs to massage the target data. :-) )

    Did you see the Audit Commission report on CHPS? Fairly depressing reading, I thought.

  26. Billy Bob

    So perhaps a 0.1% shift in Tory support since yesterday? :-)

  27. @Old Nat – I think we need a sample analysis from Phil to explain of why the Labour lead goes from +5 to +2 to +6 on three successive days of YouGov polling.

  28. Oldnat

    Is the bottle half full or half empty?

    If there is a long way to go, one man’s waste and inefficiency is another’s opportunity to meet increasing demands with the same money.

    Of course “efficiency savings” need to be real and not a target driven exercise in data manipulation for performance related bonus.

    Has everybody forgotten the Russian’s five year plans.

    Fraud destroyed the communist system, not the realisation of the superior merits of capitsalism.

    Some think the bank collapse was fraud too, but at least that was mostly legal.

  29. @ Welsh Borderer

    “There must be two Labour Parties in operation – Joe’s is obviously not the one which abolished the death penalty, outlawed racial, gender and religous discrimination, gave gay citizens sexual and partnership rights, allowed higher immigration, supported women’s right to choose, and helped create the remarkable multi-ethnic and uniquely tolerant society we have in Britain (I recall that even Cameroon acknowledged this when he took office!)

    Labour is tough on crime. No apology for that.”

    Lol. Labour has never struck me as socially conservative on the whole. Also, didn’t Labour (under Blair and Brown) enact laws that protect people with disabilities?

  30. http://today.yougov.co.uk/sites/today.yougov.co.uk/files/yg-archives-pol-sun-results-020611.pdf

    Sample size info.

    Labour ahead in the ABC1 group, with a very large sample size in that category.

  31. @ Old Nat

    “The Married Women’s Property Act (1882) for example was a significant step forward for the women of England, Wales, Ireland, and ….. nowhere else.”

    It helped over here as it was copied into our bodies of law. So it may have only directly helped the women of England, Wales, and Ireland. But it indirectly helped other women.

    I’m trying to think of the last truly progressive or liberal legislation in the U.S. that was signed into law by a Republican president and passed by a Republican Congress. I think it was the enactment of the Small Business Administration in 1953 when Eisenhower was in office. :)

  32. @Billy Bob
    “I think we need a sample analysis from Phil to explain of why the Labour lead goes from +5 to +2 to +6 on three successive days of YouGov polling.”

    Do it yourself!

    But one answer is that it’s all down to the oldies. Within the sub-samples there’s been a noticable fluctuation in the Con lead amongst the 60+ age group that is in marked contrast to the stability of Lab lead within the 40-59 age group. Something quite strange is happening within the sampling. Any ideas, anyone?

    Saturday night +6% Lab (within which age 40-59 13% Lab lead, age 60+ 2% Con lead)
    Tuesday night +5% Lab (40-59 11%Lab lead, 60+ 12% Con lead)
    Wed night +2% Lab (40-59 11% Lab lead, 60+ 20% Con lead)
    Thurs night +6% Lab (40-59 10% Lab lead, 60+ 2% Con lead)

  33. @ Billy Bob

    On an unrelated note, I think that UK Sexiest MP website (which I noticed has created a small stir) is kinda flawed in its methodology and way of calculating things.

  34. @Laszlo – “I think that it is about time to move on from austerity versus gradual reduction of deficit… ”

    Enjoyed reading this post… but get the same feeling as from an existentialism professor many years ago – namely that I am not deeply enough into the subject to get the full benefit!

    @R Huckle, thanks…
    @Phil – Yes, I was being lazy… some people just ‘read’ statistics/faces/pictures etc. However, I am getting some pointers to see into data, so thanks.

    @Socalliberal – “… kinda flawed”

    A wee bit. Just as well we are not presented with the same choices in real life!

  35. SoCalLiberal

    Is Isle of Man even a country? Also, who would really dislike Roger Mexico’s posts? I love his posts. Then again, I can be a contrarian* on these things.

    Well thanks for the compliments. :) OldNat was of course teasing you, “that country whose very name offends some on here” is naturally Scotland. Some of the more paranoid sectors of the Press have managed to convince themselves and some of their more impressionable readers that the Scots are simultaneously taking all England’s money and wasting it, taking all England’s jobs and breaking away and wanting nothing to do with England. All it usually means is that some Telegraph journalist thinks someone with Scottish accent appeared on ‘Question Time’ when it should have been them. Though to be fair some English people have been making the same complaints since 1603.

    But yes, the Isle of Man is indeed a ‘country’ whatever that means. We have our own system of government, laws, judiciary, etc, some of them (allegedly) go back a thousand years to viking times. While it has never had complete independence in that period (even under the vikings the Island was nominally under the Norwegian Crown), it never completely lost its separateness and became part of one of the surrounding kingdoms.

    As usual the Wikipedia article is the best place to start and it has lots of links to other more specialised information

  36. @ Billy Bob

    I have never understood the existentialists, or rather their behaviour – if experience is unique and understood only by living through it, then why do they attempt to write about (the same for the advocates of private language, and many others), apart from sharing that and make money out of it.

    But as to business – the profits cannot keep up with the increase in asset value (thus the return on investment falls), and if the return is the dominant motivation for investment, the asset value has to be destroyed time to time. But this does not please the investors (difficult lot), so we recessions that do it. But recessions are not good to governments, so they invent various methods to avoid the unavoidable (cf. boom and bust). They don’t avoid it, just make it less efficient. So, the last recession was not big enough to destroy enough asset value against the will of the investors and hence now the return on investment is not big enough to please the investors.

  37. @ Alec

    “If we are going to be philosophical about this let’s be honest – we have to defend the notion of free will. We have no choice.”

    Nice one :-). And oddly true: when you have no choice, you are the freest, because you have the unconstrained choice of choosing :-) (you eliminated the alternatives, thus it is your freedom to act – now that’s enough of the dialectics of alternatives and inevitabilities).

  38. Roger

    “Though to be fair some English people have been making the same complaints since 1603.”

    Not least the 18thC MP who toured England campaigning against “immigrants” getting the best jobs.

    Literate and numerate Scots with a Calvinist fear of hellfire made a significant contribution to the English industrial revolution.

    In any business with more than a handful of employees you need a literate, numerate, honest cashier/bookkeeper to survive. Nothing other than that will do.

  39. @Laszlo – “… asset value has to be destroyed time to time.”

    Thanks for taking the time to expand on your post.

    Looking just at the recent prediction about property values increasing by 16% to 2015… however, for example, London house prices have continued to rise, while other parts of the country continue to show falls… with many forced to opt for interest only mortgages (in the hope that interest rates do not rise, and amid fears of negative equity).

  40. “We have to believe in free will. We have no choice.”
    (Isaac Bashevis Singer)

    He did not come up with “Great Depression” or “tight slacks” though, to the best of my knowlege.

  41. On the healthcare expenditure issue- I imagine these are complicated by projected ageing.

    On the liberty issue- the talking at cross-purposes here is painful. Joe talks about “overly state-heavy socially conservative” with state expansion and social conservativism in the same sentence, while Welsh Borderer talks about “[giving] liberty to any disadvantaged group”.

    Is liberty a matter of individuals acting without state intervention or state intervention in favour of certain individuals? “Freedom from” or “freedom to”? Is a law forbidding certain speech (blasphemy laws or anti-hate speech laws) liberal or conservative?

    Rather than try to answer these false disjunctions, I’ll simply point out that presupposing an answer that the other person in the conversation clearly doesn’t hold is a recipe for an unpleasant fight rather than a reasonable argument.

    “name me a piece of legislation they have put in place to give liberty to any disadvantaged group since the abolition of slavery?”

    It’s a mistake to think of distributing power to disadvantaged groups purely in terms of legislation. I don’t think the following Tory policies were in the form of legislation: ending the borstal system, providing equal rights of guardianship to women, maintenance payment reform and the Equal Opportunities Commission, most of which were introduced in a single government.

    The following were: legislation on discrimination against women in the workplace, the Employment Rights Act, Contracts of Employment Act (the “first modern employment protection statute” according to Wikipedia), the Factory and Workshops Act, the illegalisation of female circumcision, the end of the closed shop and the Disability Discrimination Law. These are since about 1960…

    One shouldn’t confuse a party’s image with history.

  42. Actually, the specific Factory and Workshops Act of which I’m thinking is from the 1890s. Still after the abolition of slavery, so it counts.

  43. @ Billy Bob

    “A wee bit. Just as well we are not presented with the same choices in real life!”

    Yeah. I find it interesting though that some British news outlets were reporting on it as if it were determinative of which MPs were viewed as the sexiest. But I’ll tell you the two problems with it. First, the scores are not drawn by actual popular votes of who’s sexiest but instead are by random matchups. And presumably, the votes count as the same. So someone ugly who faces up against someone else ugly and wins receives a vote of equal value to a really goodlooking MP who beats out another goodlooking MP. Second thing is, some of the photos are not quite representative (and there seems to be a bias towards the Tories by this webdesigner). Some MPs have older pics when they looked better (were younger, had more hair, etc). Some MPs who are good looking have really unflattering pics representing them. Thus what voters are skewed in their choices if they’re not familiar with the MPs (and the site claims it was developed to help familiarize Brits with their MPs).

    Anyway….

  44. @ Roger Mexico

    “Well thanks for the compliments. OldNat was of course teasing you, “that country whose very name offends some on here” is naturally Scotland. Some of the more paranoid sectors of the Press have managed to convince themselves and some of their more impressionable readers that the Scots are simultaneously taking all England’s money and wasting it, taking all England’s jobs and breaking away and wanting nothing to do with England. All it usually means is that some Telegraph journalist thinks someone with Scottish accent appeared on ‘Question Time’ when it should have been them. Though to be fair some English people have been making the same complaints since 1603.”

    You’re welcome. I’m not a big fan of the Telegraph. They’re interesting because they seem to be a Tory leaning news source yet they’re really old school Tory because they seem to really dislike the U.S. Anytime I’m on their website, I’m bound to find an article about how the United States is coming to an end tommorow (that joyously speculates that the ungrateful colonies might be returned to their rightful place under the crown in the aftermath).

    Their attitude on Scottish independence is equally interesting. Basically Scottish independence is bad but that’s because Scots are taking everything from the union and the ingrates need to be punished and can’t be expected to run themselves? I think that attitude is pretty contradictory. It’s also unneccesarily divisive. You’re basically attacking your fellow citizens for made up greivances and alienating them when there’s no reason to do so.

    Reminds me of Jimmy Hahn’s campaign against San Fernando Valley independence in 2002. He spent his campaign railing against the Valley as a decaying place with declining neighborhoods that dragged on LA’s tax base who’s only business was the adult entertainment industry that would fail as a city and could not run itself. It was factually inaccurate, divisive, completely unnecessary, and in fact counter productive. I was similarly opposed to Valley independence. But all Hahn’s attacks did was alienate and anger Valley voters and push a majority of them to vote for this otherwise half-baked idea.

    What I think both attitudes have in common is the “vote against them to spite them” element.

    “But yes, the Isle of Man is indeed a ‘country’ whatever that means. We have our own system of government, laws, judiciary, etc, some of them (allegedly) go back a thousand years to viking times. While it has never had complete independence in that period (even under the vikings the Island was nominally under the Norwegian Crown), it never completely lost its separateness and became part of one of the surrounding kingdoms.”

    I take it you’re from the Isle of Man. I just wikipediaed it. It sounds like a fascinating place. It seems like one of those romantic places that’d be the setting of some novel where some American protagonist (probably a writer intellectual type from New York City or San Francisco or Boston) runs off to in order to take a sabbatical from the grind of life and write their grand novel.

    I find it interesting that you’ve had the same leader since 1981. Btw, was the Isle of Man counted as part of the “Coalition of the Willing” for Dubya’s 2003 Iraq adventure?

  45. @Lazslo
    I don’t want to continue this argument any further – let’s agree to disagree – but if we assume that we live in a determinist universe then legal justice (as opposed to philosophical justice) cannot be enacted because judging someone for their crimes requires that they have free will.
    Anyhoo, let’s just leave it at that – we’ll otherwise end up in a back and forth determinism vs free will perpetual posting machine.

    Also, since I’ve just thought of it and should have posted it in my defence of left-libertarianism – the term ‘libertarian’ was coined by an anarcho-communist to describe another communist (in the form of mutualism).
    The man described was Proudhon.

    I don’t really see what the difficulty is really – I believe in redistribution, I just don’t believe the state should run public services and I believe in the reconfiguration of the economy to a ‘co-operative’ free(-ish) market.

    And on to the actual polling data – since we’ve wasted enough time with me trying to defend my position –

    Last 5 days –
    Con – Range 36-39
    Average – 37.2
    Range +-1.8
    So the 39 was a bit of an outlier – but we’ve had VI of about 37.5 +-1.5 for a while now for the Tories.

    Lab – Range 41-43
    Average – 42.2
    Range +-1.2

    I imagine a lot of it has to do with roundings – if Tory VI is actually 37.5 and goes down 1.1% it gets rounded to 36 and if goes up 1.1% then it gets rounded up to 39.
    And 1.1% would be well within the sort of limits of statistical error.

    Libs – Range 8-9
    Average – 8.8
    Range +-0.2

    So we could conclude that the actual figures would be around –
    Con – 37
    Lab – 42
    Lib – 9
    And that would be perfectly consistent with the polls we’ve seen from yougov recently.

  46. @ Bill Patrick

    “Is liberty a matter of individuals acting without state intervention or state intervention in favour of certain individuals? “Freedom from” or “freedom to”? Is a law forbidding certain speech (blasphemy laws or anti-hate speech laws) liberal or conservative?”

    These are alse false disjunctions as you point out but I do want to point out that laws restricting freedom of speech are conservative. And attempts to restrict speech are by and large led by conservatives and supported by conservatives. I’m sure that speech restrictions in Europe and Canada are championed by the left but when it’s done so, they’re adhering to the ideology of the right.

    Also, liberty of all individuals sometimes requires state intervention in order to maintain that liberty.

    “It’s a mistake to think of distributing power to disadvantaged groups purely in terms of legislation.”

    The true mistake is to think of civil rights legislation as protecting only the disadvantaged. It protects all individuals including those who are not disadvantaged. In fact, the U.S. has legal gender equality today because of a male litigant who was discriminated against because of his gender. As Ruth Bader Ginsburg used to remind people, “it’s not women’s equality, it’s gender equality.” Similarly, it’s not black equality, it’s racial equality. It’s not gay equality, it’s sexual orientation equality. And statutes that establish this provide rights and equality to all individuals. Not just the disadvantaged.

    Now there are some statutes that do assist only the truly disadvantaged. These laws include the Americans with Disabilities Act, Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. It’s interesting that these laws are fairly unique to the United States (although I think the most recent UK Equalities Act offers some protection to those with physical disabilities). What the government does here is simply ensure that disabled individuals are as free and equal to those who don’t. Here the state intervention is neccessary to protect liberty of those who might otherwise see it denied.

    These laws enjoy fairly wide support and no longer fall along ideological divides. When they are criticized or opposed though, those critics are almost exclusively conservatives. They often point to Europe as the utopian model where there are no testing and classroom accomodations, no handicapped placards, and no handicap access facilities. Kinda amusing.

  47. SoCalLiberal

    When we get to reality though (never mind law) we have to accept that ‘freedoms’ are both granted by society and limited. Limited either by opportunity, economics or infringement of other people’s freedoms. Even in the US the courts accept that freedom of speech is not unlimited.

    Until we live in The Culture (post scarcity economics) that’s always going to be the case, and most people are quite rightly prepared to accept that.

    One of the good things about EU human rights legislation compared with the US consitution is this fundamental balance between different factors: rights to privacy vs rights to free speech etc…

    (caveat I’m only a science grad, so fully prepared for the big guns from arts to come down on me)

  48. @ The Sheep

    “When we get to reality though (never mind law) we have to accept that ‘freedoms’ are both granted by society and limited. Limited either by opportunity, economics or infringement of other people’s freedoms. Even in the US the courts accept that freedom of speech is not unlimited.

    Until we live in The Culture (post scarcity economics) that’s always going to be the case, and most people are quite rightly prepared to accept that.

    One of the good things about EU human rights legislation compared with the US consitution is this fundamental balance between different factors: rights to privacy vs rights to free speech etc…

    (caveat I’m only a science grad, so fully prepared for the big guns from arts to come down on me)”

    Freedoms are not granted by society, they are inherent fundamental rights that one is born with. There’s a major difference. Society can’t take away a right simply because they don’t like it. Now, when I speak of these rights, I speak of constitutional rights which are basically those that only restrain and restrict the government (with some narrow exceptions). There is such a thing known as the state action doctrine where private individuals cannot be subject to constitutional limitations.

    Now, there are other rights out there (things like welfare and food banks and Section 8) that are basically rights given by society. I think it was put best when a Peruvian professor in college who explained that American liberals were different from other liberals in the world as “American liberals seem to understand that if you’re homeless, starving, uneducated, unemployed, and without treatment for disease, you’re not really free.” That I think sums up the ADA and IDEA. It’s not enough to simply say that people with disabilities may not be discriminated against but that businesses must make themselves handicapped accessible. So in terms of legislation that helps add to freedom, those are rights granted by society. But even in those cases, the government can’t take them away without going through proper due process.

    Restrictions on speech in the U.S. are far, far less than others assume them to be. They exist but only in the most narrow and rare of circumstances. Except with obscenity, which makes me somewhat sad (don’t get me started, don’t EVEN get me started). But even that has kinda been limited in that nothing really gets classified as obscene anymore.

    There is not a single civil rights act in the U.S. (at the federal, state, or local level) that contains a speech restriction in it. Hate Crime laws are different because they prohibit crime where there is a hateful motivation. Speech may be an element of the crime but the speech itself can never be a crime. Now prohibited conduct may take the form of speech but that’s conduct, not speech. And again, there’s a major difference.

  49. @ The Sheep

    I should add, that freedom is kind of a broad term which can be defined in different ways by different people. So I should say that one has certain liberty interests that are rights. These rights are not granted by society, they are rights that are inherent. Because equality and liberty are synomous, the right to be free of discrimination is also a liberty interest or a right that is not granted by society but is a right that one is born with.

    An example of a right that is granted by society (and presumably can be taken away albeit with some limitations) is the freedom to contract.

  50. Lord Tory at 1.04pm yesterday
    “The question is, can we even trust the state to regulate effectively ?”

    Er, who else would regulate effectively then? Unless you have in mind relying wholly on the the altruistic tendency of capital and profit driven organisations?

    As regards your nom de plumes…a gentleman by the name of Roland Haines (aka ‘Sapper’) graced these threads for a while with his wit and eloquence. He then disappeared recently (in the last week or two) after being admonished by the Almighty Wizard. … And then ‘LordTory’ makes an amost immediate appearance.

    Why would you use a different non de plume on here from those which you used on other sites (eg Guardian)?

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