Unless it is called off I have no doubt there will be more polling on the teachers’ strike in the next few days, but as I promised yesterday, here’s what we’ve got so far.

Firstly on the issue of public sector pensions themselves. 38% of people think public sector pensions are too generous, 25% about right and 11% not generous enough (meaning there is a broadly even split between people who think they are too high, and people who think they are about right or not high enough). There is also a broadly even split (38% support, 43% opposed) towards Lord Hutton’s proposals (YouGov, June 18th). A more specific ICM question asked only if people would support raising the retirement age for public sector workers, and not including higher contribution rates and lower payouts – on this specific point 49% supported the measure, 41% opposed (ICM, 19th June).

Secondly, people support the principle of strike action. 54% think it is legitimate for unions to take strike action to protect the pay and conditions of their members, with only 18% disagreeing (Populus, 19th June). While many people think that people like police officers and doctors should not have the right to strike, a clear majority (68%) of people believe that teachers should have the right to strike (YouGov, June 18th).

That brings us to the specific strike this week. There are a couple of questions that have asked this – ComRes asked if people agreed that “public sector workers” were right to take strike action over maintaining their pension plans. They found 48% agreed and 36% disagreed (ComRes, 19th June), a second ComRes poll today asked if people agreed that “In their dispute over pensions, public sector workers have a legitimate reason to go on strike” – 49% agreed, 35% disagreed (ComRes, 27th June) – very similar figures.

Of course, thinking that someone has a legitimate reason to do something, isn’t necessarily the same as actually supporting them in that action, so finally we have a MORI poll and two YouGov polls that asked if people actually support the strike action. MORI’s poll asked if people supported strike action by “people in a numbre of public sector jobs” over job cuts, pay levels and pension reductions – they found 48% in support, 48% against (Ipsos MORI, 19th June.) The first YouGov poll asked if people supported strike action by two teaching unions and the PCS over pension changes, job cuts and a pay freeze – 39% supported it, 42% opposed it, so a pretty even split (YouGov, 16th June). The second poll on the 24th June asked specifically about teachers taking strike action on the 30th June over changes to pblic sector pensions that “mean teachers will have to work longer and pay more towards lower pensions.” This found 38% support, but 49% opposition. (YouGov, 24th June)

So, all that aside, do people support or oppose the strike on Thursday? It’s hard to see – people do seem to think strikers have a legitimate grievance and say they are “right” to strike… but ask if they “support” them going on strike they are evenly divided or opposed. Alternatively, the difference may be because ComRes and MORI has asked about public sector workers, YouGov have asked about teachers. No doubt there will be more polling on the issue to come over the next few days.

UPDATE: Missed out a MORI question, added it to the main text!


224 Responses to “Strikes polling so far…”

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  1. Socal
    “Would you consider banning the sale of violent videogames to minors without prior parental consent to be ideological legislation?”

    No, I would consider it to be common sense. Exposure to violent videos was a major cause in the murder of James Bulger by 2 9/10 year olds. Violent video games are no different, they have the effect of de-sensitisation.

  2. Alec/Billy Bob

    I think the point here, which could be made better by the government, is that the days of 1 career for life are rapidly going. The point should be made that you are not necessarily to be expected to work in a demanding frontline job, like teaching, until you are 68. More that you cannot draw your full pension till you are 68. There are plenty of less demanding jobs in all the professions, which employees could graduate to as they get older.
    In my case, I left banking over 20 years ago & had a second career in a different industry altogether and I retired from that at 55, to run my own holiday business. At 60 I took my pension but I will not ‘pipe & slippers’ retire until I am 70.
    People need to think outside the box a little more & not see problems everywhere, caused by change. Change also presents new opportunities, to those who see the glass half full, rather than half empty.

  3. Craig – I had, thank you. Main post now updated.

  4. @Mike N

    “This ‘sympathy’ may well evaporate once the strikes begin leading to growing condemnation but there is a real risk to the gov (and the Cons in particular) of being seen as the instigator/perpetrator of the strikes and of intransigence in not reaching an early resolution.”

    I think you neatly summarise the double-edged sword aspect of strike action and how protracted disputes can often play out in unpredictable and surprising ways. The media narrative will no doubt concentrate on reckless trade unions pursuing a nakedly political agenda whilst remaining blithely insensitive to the disruption that their actions will cause. As the polling evidence that Anthony has shared with us shows, there is significant support for this particular view and it will be the Coalition’s fervent hope and expectation that this view prevails. If they’re right and it does, then they will expect to reap a political dividend. These thoughts will not be far from the minds of Tory and Lib Dem party strategists, I would imagine and, as the strikes take place, they will hope to see plenty of air play given to “outraged and inconvenienced” parents and similarly angry members of the public.

    But, of course, there is another way that these things can play out that is far less comfortable for the incumbent government. The polling evidence points to some ambivalence amongst the public towards the justification for the action. There is a degree of sympathy for the union position and I’m not entirely sure, despite the negative media attention that the strikes will no doubt attract, that the public will necessarily rally behind the Government position as they did during the 1980s miners strike. The Heath and Callaghan governments suffered grieviously for not being seen to be in control of events and were punished for presiding over serial industrial disruption, whatever the merits of the strike action and the union arguments were seen to be at the time. Cameron and Clegg could be exposed to similar charges of intransigence and incompetence and I’m not at all sure that the impending industrial action will garner them the political dividends some might expect. The public tends to punish governments who preside over chaos.

    Of course, there are dangers for Miliband and Labour too and there will be attempts to caricature both the leader and the party as playthings of the unions. Miliband will need to tread a tricky path between out and out support and condemnation and he can ill afford to indulge in either. Early signs are that he may be navigating a sensible path and will choose to rise above the fray, but he’ll need to be careful about ghosts from the past coming back to haunt both him and his party.

  5. @Colin Green

    “@phil

    “And regarding the principle of legislation to require 50% thresholds on strike ballots.

    I fail to see how a coalition of parties which between them mustered the votes of only 35% of the UK’s registered electorate could possibly claim a legitimate right to pass such legislation.”

    Though to be fair, one side of the coalition did try to introduce a 50% threshold for MPs too.”
    _______________________________________

    A 50% threshold of the registered electorate? Or even just a 50% threshold of those who originally voted whether or not they transferred their AV preferences? If that was tried I missed it.

  6. Mike N at 8:11 am
    “This ‘sympathy’ may well evaporate once the strikes begin leading to growing condemnation but there is a real risk to the gov (and the Cons in particular) of being seen as the instigator/perpetrator of the strikes and of intransigence in
    not reaching an early resolution.”

    I am sure both unions and Govt will be sponsoring private polling about who the public blame, and adjusting strategy/messages accordingly. Lets hope Anthony lets us see some public polling about the question.

    Billy Bob at 8:56 am
    “I think the policy of compelling people to work till they are 68 will be easier said than done.”

    Oh yes. Schools already have serious problems with staff off sick with stress and people leaving the profession. Trying to increase the retirement age will just make both worse.

    Alan at 9:26 am
    “Yes, I’ve wandered off topic from union strike votes into the domain of referendums but both have similar issues with low turnout and claims of illegitimacy (the claims being right or wrong, probably depending which side you sit on).”

    The NUT ballot was 92% in favour of strike action on a 40% poll. Pretty much the only public elections in Britain that exceed 40% poll are General Elections, and nobody gets 92% support in them. Now, are the claims right or wrong?

  7. Assuming that people who don’t vote are a “no” seems to me wrong on a very basic level. Choosing to abstain is NOT the same as choosing to vote “no”.

    You might as well say that abstentions should be assumed to be a “yes” to strike action, as the voter would have voted if they wanted to vote against. It is just as valid an argument.

  8. @ Nick Poole,

    My sense that people are generally supportive of strikes but less supportive of the teachers strike is nothing to do with “the universe as I would like it to be”. It is based on my own conversations with parents, teachers (including those in my own family) and (MOST IMPORTANTLY) the polling which shows that people are less supportive when asked about specific teacher disruption.

    I would actually love the “universe” to be the opposite as I think the teachers and public service workers have got a genuine greviance.

    Public service workers are faced with rising contributions (an effective pay cut), having to work longer AND to get reduced benefits. I would imagine anyone faced with a similar triple whammy (if they were in a union and could do something about it) would consider striking.

    My wife, who is a civil servant, would be happy to swallow two of the three (increased contributions and working longer) but not all three together.

  9. Apologies, Adrian. I am a bit hot under the collar about it as I am being asked to accept the same “deal”.

  10. @robert Newark – “People need to think outside the box a little more & not see problems everywhere, caused by change. Change also presents new opportunities, to those who see the glass half full, rather than half empty.”

    Very much with you on this. We very much need to look at all the issues around ageing, pensions and working/keeping active late into life. Unfortunately the government is not appearing to do this, but is largely focused on the financial cost savings in one small area (and the unions don’t seem a great deal better).

    I certainly think attention to late career paths and greater guarantees of part time and lower stress employment later on in careers would help the public sector engineer a soft landing for employees facing longer working lives and poorer pensions.

    In this regard I have to say that Danny Alexander’s silly and unhelpfully macho intervention last weekend seems all the more pointless.

  11. Fascinating story in yesterday’s Daily Retard:

    ‘Iain Gray may be asked to stay on as Scottish Labour leader beyond the autumn as party looks to groom young successor’

    http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/politics-news/2011/06/27/iain-gray-may-be-asked-to-stay-on-as-scottish-labour-leader-beyond-the-autumn-as-party-looks-to-groom-young-successor-86908-23230004/

    One hardly knows whether to laugh or cry.

  12. @Adrian B
    “Public service workers are faced with rising contributions (an effective pay cut), having to work longer AND to get reduced benefits. I would imagine anyone faced with a similar triple whammy (if they were in a union and could do something about it) would consider striking.”
    __________

    That rather understates the full package applying to all public sector employees. To get the full picture you’ld need to restate your comment as
    “Public sector employees are facing a two year pay freeze when inflation is running at above 5% per annum. In addition, they are faced with rising pension contributions (an effective pay cut), having to work longer and to get reduced benefits. The worth of their previous pension contributions has already been cut by linking benefits to CPI rather than RPI.”

    The overall impact will vary depending on age/prior pension contributions, but I suggest that it’s something equivalent to a 15% real terms reduction in total remuneration for a typical individual.

  13. Alec quite agree with your post.

    The problem always, is when accountants get involved. Optimists see the glass half full, Pessimists see it half empty & accountants see a glass that is twice as big as needed, so they order its sale & the purchase of a smaller one!

    Seriously, there is a proper debate to have here, as you say. It is on government to lead this but it is also on unions to respond sensibly. Calling a strike when negotiations are ongoing is not helpful, just as DA’s intervention wasn’t. In politics we need more pragmatists & fewer dogmatists on both sides of the divide.

  14. Robert Newark
    “In politics we need more pragmatists & fewer dogmatists on both sides of the divide.”

    Aye.

  15. Ben Foley

    I agree, equally the PCS ballot returning a yes of 61% on a turnout of 32%, a yes of under 20% of those balloted has created debate on the issue.

    The main point i was making was to highlight the paradox created by turnout thresholds in so much in certain situations an abstention can be more powerful than a “no” vote.

    Your example of the NUT ballot is a prime example, if the turnout threshold was 40% then anyone voting no, might well decide to abstain knowing that the yes vote was certain to pass and the second threshold was going to be marginal.

    That said, I seem to recall a recent poll (in one of these threads) where people responded positively to the idea of a minimum threshold with many supporting either a 50% or even a 75% minimum turnout.

    Rightly or wrongly, it seems the public have the stomach for some pretty high bars to be set.

  16. I suspect that any legislation to require a specific turn-out in an industrial action vote is going to end up challenged at the ECHR, on grounds that it’s undue government interference with the freedom to associate with a trade union, and I would lay good odds on it being overturned there.

  17. Anthony W

    Not sure why my 8.55 comment is in mod, can it not come out yet?? (and ideally posted here not in the 8.55 ‘slot’.)

  18. @ Alan

    The Conservatives got 23.4% this year, and yet they’re essentially running this country, overwhelming their “junior partner” and now with a massive majority. Not a massive amount of difference in democratic deficit to the PCS result.

    NUT was 36.8% – something no party, not Blair, not Thatcher, have managed for a very long time.

    That’s with the added handicap that governments refuse to allow workplace balloting as MikeMS said – essentially making it as difficult as possible (whilst rolling out more convenient measures for their elections) knowing it’ll effect turnout.

    Davey’s rather moving-the-goalpost complaint that other sections of society can’t strike still doesn’t answer that this government has no legitimacy preaching democratic thresholds which they’ve never met.

  19. “this year” = last year*

    Although this years local government turnout and ensuing mandate correspond to my argument even more.

  20. If abstentions – or difficulties in postal balloting – mean that a majority is impossible, that is a defacto banning of the right to strike.

    What’s needed is the same effort to increase turnout that we see in general elections, with ballot boxes in Sainsbury’s, voting online etc, but above all, in this sort of ballot, we need a return to workplace balloting, currently illegal

  21. As a teacher, I feel that the pension message has not yet been explained. We appear to have both union leaders and journalists who are incapable of adding up.
    They speak about a 3% rise which seems innocuous enough. In terms of contribution to your pension this “3% ” increase over the course of a full career, actually translates in most instances to an overall increase in contribution of some 68% ( you are paying 9% for a notional 46 years rather than 6% for a notional 40 – a monumental and savage increase in contributions) and again the sums relating to cuts in benefits are equally unexplained. You will receive on average in cash terms with the changes to career average and TPI indexation as opposed to rpi some 15% less on your pension, but you will also receive it for six fewer years, taken together this averages out at a reduction in average benefits of some 32%.

    The government at present is paying an average of around 18% of salary in pensions – this is double the original intent of 9% – in the 1960’s- so could be argued to be an unfair burden to some extent. If the present proposals are agreed howver, then the government contribution to pensions falls to below 9% – in fact as low as 6.8% assuming present life expectancy projections come to fruition. Quite simply the government is attempting not only to reduce benefits to something approaching contractual expectations of 40 years ago, but to overshoot these by a considerable margin. Hutton’s claim that this is not a “race to the bottom” is simply belied by the figures.

    Some compromise, I think, could be reached. where either contributions are increased and benefits and retirement age are protected ( I’d say the retirement age would still have to rise in those circumstabnces but remain 5 years below the pension age – so up to 61, then 62, then 63 in line with 66, to 67, to 68)or contributions remain unaltered but the changes proposed to levels of benefit and retirement age are brought in. Doing both makes the plans fundamentally unacceptable and profoundly unjust. In such circumstances with such changes (essentially an average 11% cut in government employees’ remuneration mon top of two year pay freeze – an essential 10% cut at present inflation levels- strikes are inevitable, and will be long and damaging! The reality of losing approximately 23% of the value of your salary in a two year period is a tough one for anybody earning less than a massive salary – and contrary to the nonsense of the press in this country such salaries are very rare in the public sector.

    I might add that I have been teaching for 23 years and have never taken a day’s industrial action in that time – so it is not an action to be taken lightly at all. it is indeed an action of last resort.
    At present being in Scotlasnd we are not yet taking this action, but we will – inevitably – unless these proposals are dramatically altered.

  22. Robert Newark at 11:01 am

    “Calling a strike when negotiations are ongoing is not helpful”

    That would be fine if _meaningful_ negotiations were ongoing when the strike was called. From what I have worked out from reports, the Govt were just going through the motions of negotiating until the strike ballot showed the strength of opinion among teachers. The Govt knew that the longer they could string it out, the closer they were to the date they were going to impose the increased ‘pension contributions’ (aka cuts in take-home pay). It was up to the unions to show the Govt it needed to negotiate seriously, and realistically they could only do that by striking.

    It remains to be seen wether the Govt will negotiate seriously over the summer, or will wait until a further round of strikes in the autumn. If the Govt refuse to negotiate seriously over the summer, I guess they will have seen polling that suggests they will gain, rather than lose support if there are strikes in the autumn.

  23. Latest Scottish sub-sample:

    ComRes/Independent
    Westminster voting intention – Scotland
    (+/- change from UK GE 2010)

    SNP 44% (+24)
    Lab 25% (-17)
    Con 20% (+3)
    LD 9% (-10)

    http://www.comres.co.uk/page1902564630.aspx

  24. Craig

    Comparing a general election with multiple candidates to a yes/no vote is nonsensical.

    I try to take a neutral approach highlighting a flaw in a minimum turnout threshold and it gets turned into a party political point scoring match that I have no interest in.

    Seems to be an trend on the site where reasoned debate gets pushed into defending the tories because of such a strong prevalence of overwhelming views on the other side that I disagree with.

  25. Looking at the breaks of ComRes’
    “The Government would be wrong to make changes to the pensions of public sector workers if most public sector workers oppose them”, and “In their dispute over pensions, public sector workers have a legitimate reason to go on strike”
    more Tories agree, than Labour supporters disagree.

    OTOH YouGov
    “Do you support or oppose teachers taking strike
    action on the 30th June?” has more Labour supporters saying ‘Oppose’ than Tories saying ‘Support’

    As for questions about % thresholds: don’t forget that a very large population don’t really understand percentages, never mind know what is a low % turnout and what is a high. It would be up to the unions to convince the electorate of how unjust it would be to impose thresholds on them that aren’t imposed on political parties in public elections.

  26. @Alan/Ben Foley

    On the subject of percentage turnouts and the validity of ballot outcomes, I was amused by a letter in today’s Guardian pointing to the irony of the Governments position on the recent NUT ballot. As the letter writer points out, not long ago the Government, or certainly the Tory part of it, was telling us that AV had been “comprehensively rejected” by the electorate in the recent referendum and that the people had spoken “decisively”. The turnout? 41%!!!!

    Horses for courses, arguments for particular circumstances and all that. Some might call it humbug!

  27. @Alan

    Go on then, tell me which party I was seeking to promote by my point? I specifically said no party had reached such a mandate, and yet that’s a party political point?

    Multiple choice candidates doesn’t change the fact that only a small minority chose them based on their requirements.

  28. @Stuart Dickson
    “Latest Scottish sub-sample:
    ComRes/Independent
    Westminster voting intention – Scotland
    (+/- change from UK GE 2010)
    SNP 44% (+24)
    Lab 25% (-17)
    Con 20% (+3)
    LD 9% (-10)”
    ________________________

    ComRes (unlike YouGov) allow you to look at how that same Scottish sub-sample said that they voted in the 2010 GE. Out of 61 people (Q1), excluding non-voters and refusals, the split was:
    Other 48%
    Lab 24%
    Con 13%
    LD 15%
    i.e. about 3 people (net) switching from the LDs to the Cons and that’s it.

    So don’t back the SNP for Inverclyde based on this poll alone!

    Incidentally, I was hoping that you could advise on a betting matter. Thanks mainly to the SNP in May I’ve had a letter from that Mr V Chandler refusing to accept any more bets (which is good or bad news depending on how you look at it). Do you have any knowledge
    of ways around this – e.g. if my very tolerant wife (different surname) opened an account using her card on a different e-mail but same IP address, would VC be likely to accept bets from her?

  29. @ Nick Poole (10

    Yep, totally on your side – it sucks!

  30. @ Robert Newark

    “No, I would consider it to be common sense. Exposure to violent videos was a major cause in the murder of James Bulger by 2 9/10 year olds. Violent video games are no different, they have the effect of de-sensitisation.”

    Yeah…but where’s your evidence for that? People make allegations that violent video games (and for that matter, violent tv shows and violent films) make people more violent and desensitize people to violence. But no one has actually been able to prove this or even come close. The only thing that anyone has been able to come up with are a couple of methodologically flawed studies that at best show a correlation (more violent kids are more likely to play violent video games), not causation.

  31. @ Stuart Dickson

    “One hardly knows whether to laugh or cry.”

    What else are they going to do? They lost so many MSPs that finding an experienced one to lead the caucus is difficult. And with Salmond’s majority, it’s not like there’s any rush to find a new leader for the next election.

  32. @ Socalliberal

    There was a study done among teenage boys which took a sample of boys and placed one group playing violent video games and took another random group to be involved in a calmer activity. The behaviour for an hour after the two activities was then noted.

    The behaviour amongs the group that watched the violent video games was characetersised by increased levels of aggressive behaviour and physical intimidation.

    I can dig out the link if I can find it.

    Much more importantly – WHAT HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH STRIKE POLLING?

  33. Socal

    The onus should not be on me to prove that they do, it should be on you to prove that they do not. In the same way that a drug company has to prove that a drug is safe, not joe public having to prove the reverse.

    I think the whole concept of gratuitously violent and/or pornographic films/games should be seen for the harm that they do, particularly to youngsters, and that they should be strictly controlled.

  34. Phil,

    – “So don’t back the SNP for Inverclyde based on this poll alone!”

    ;) – luckily I do have other sources of intelligence!

    Phil, did your letter look like this?

    “Dear Mr Dickson,

    We are contacting you today to advise that a business decision has been taken by our Senior Traders and I must inform you that betting Account Number ******* has now been closed and no further business may be executed on your behalf.

    The balance of this Account now stands at zero with no outstanding bets.

    As explained in our Terms and Conditions, a Traders decision is final and will not be over turned.

    We would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your past custom.

    Should you have any further questions please do not hesitate to contact me.

    Kind Regards

    T***** C**
    Contact Centre
    Victor Chandler”

    Methinks Mr Chandler does not like losing bets! Not one little bit! :D

  35. SocialLiberal,

    – “What else are they going to do? They lost so many MSPs that finding an experienced one to lead the caucus is difficult. And with Salmond’s majority, it’s not like there’s any rush to find a new leader for the next election.”

    If Jackie Baillie, Ken Mackintosh or Kezia Dugdale are the answer, then Labour are asking the wrong question.

    Jenny Marra on the other hand looks worth keeping an eye on. Not really relevant to her leadership prospects, but her dad is a wonderful musician:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Marra

    Funnily enough I used to live round the corner from their hoose. I once canvassed her door! ;)

  36. Nick Poole

    Your tribalism is still as strong as ever it seems.

    Your 7.56 post partly explains your atitude in your 6.43 one, as clearly you regard Labour completely blameless for the current situation.

    Presumably you also believe that there wasn’t actually even a global recession? Or is that the fault of “this lot” too?

  37. Sorry, meant to end that post with a smiley to show the question was somewhat tongue-in-cheek. :)

  38. I’m a bit of an old socialist dinosaur rather than a Labour tribalist. I’d like to see ol’ Ed M get behind the workers and the strike(s).

    But heh it’s not all about me.

    Is it?

  39. Re: Banning violent video games.

    SoCaliLiberal

    Fully agree, there is far too much leaping onto bandwagons about this topic and far far too little evidence.

    I’d be highly surprised if you took violent criminals and saw a correlation between their hobbies compared to the rest of the population. Even then correlation doesn’t prove causation.

    Otherwise you could look at the correlation between life expectancy of a country and the number of computers owned per capita, which would have a strong correlation.

    As for the study where kids may have acted more boisterously for one hour afterwards, how many committed a serious crime in that hour? If “we” are concerned that access to violent material neccessarily creates violent criminals then surely that is the study that should be done, not “Do kids recreate a film they just saw?”

    Conflict and violence in storytelling has been around for millennia. McBeth has a fair amount of violence in it, should we ban Shakespeare for schools? Even fairy tales often involve violence, but a parent will happily recount the tale of Hansel and Gretel burning alive the witch. Just because media has changed over the years shouldn’t make us scared silly and demand the state to control our viewing habits.

    As for “prove that everything does no harm” how does that view conflict with my view that “Living in a highly restrictive state, inhibits my freedom and general happiness and therefore does me harm”.

    By your own rules, the onus is on you to prove it doesn’t!

  40. Don’t violent games have age restrictions anyway? It seems to me it’s far easier for the impressionable to see a violent film/tv series given there’s no purchase required on their part, just a remote.

    The focus on games seems to come from a belief that pressing x’s and R1’s make people more prone to violence than watching violence acted out on TV; something I’m not all too convinced by.

  41. BT – I did moderate it for a reason! It was an invitation to partisan silliness (though thankfully Nick has taken it with good humour rather than starting an argument.)

    :)

  42. Nick P

    “I’m a bit of an old socialist dinosaur”

    Well you said it! At least you are honest enough to admit it, not that it isn’t obvious enough in most of your posts.

    I think in general you are at least bordering on communism!, but there again perhaps you are happy to be there.

    PS I have a good deal of sympathy with your views on bankers and fat cats, and greed in general. There is part of socialism that I agree with. I am just not against wealth creators on principle. And I definitely DO think Labour squandered a lot of our money over their 13 years whether or not they improved some things in the process. I also DO believe i the deficit and that long term our economy will be better getting rid of it quicker not slower. So we do have one or two differences. :)

  43. Craig

    Yes, they do have age restrictions on them to purchase in the same way as films. It’s the same group of people jumping on bandwagons. Twenty five years ago it was Dungeons and Dragons.

    What about the Cadets? Surely that is introducing children to violence?

    Combative sports? Should we stop children from taking up boxing until they are 18?

    The list goes on and on and on… should every activity a child does have to prove it doesn’t contribute towards a child becoming a violent criminal even if there is zero evidence supporting a claim?

    The burden of proof for creating legislation should be on the legislator, not the person whose rights are infringed to prove the law is unnecessary.

    If in doubt, have the state ban it, is a very dangerous philosophy.

  44. @ Robert Newark

    “The onus should not be on me to prove that they do, it should be on you to prove that they do not. In the same way that a drug company has to prove that a drug is safe, not joe public having to prove the reverse.

    I think the whole concept of gratuitously violent and/or pornographic films/games should be seen for the harm that they do, particularly to youngsters, and that they should be strictly controlled.”

    If video games, particularly violent ones, are strictly controlled, then it’s not Joe Public who does the controlling. It’s the government who does it. And drugs aren’t speech or even ideas.

  45. I think to do business between workers and employers you need to negotiate. If you make your arguments on the front page of the Mail rather than talking to union reps then workers get angry.

    It’s the immediate raising of the contributions not to pay for the pensions to pay off the deficit that I find particularly galling. I’ll be 56 in 2015 and my state pension will now not be payable till 66, so with only 14 years service so far I will probably have to work on till 66 whatever happens. But we need some independent valuation of what contribution increase is required, if any, and when. No independent valuation has been done, just the “done deal” that it is unsustainable.

    My pay is frozen and inflation is 5%. Now you want to tax me another 3% and in return reduce my pension and give it to me later. No, mate. No, no, no.

    I think the Govenement’s attempt to paint the Teachers’ Union as immoderate is doomed. they have picked a fight with the most reasonable people on earth, and those who see the arguments on TV are likely to work that out for themselves.

    We shall see.

    And as I said before…even if the polls don’t like these strikes (and so far I cannot see much evidence of that), doesn’t make the Government right. Just means their propaganda is working.

  46. On the violent games argument, we boys love war. We love to play with guns and shoot each other.

    Always have, way before the slasher games.

    It smells like moral panic again, like the reaction to dressing up little girls in “sexy” clothes.

  47. @ Adrian B

    “There was a study done among teenage boys which took a sample of boys and placed one group playing violent video games and took another random group to be involved in a calmer activity. The behaviour for an hour after the two activities was then noted.

    The behaviour amongs the group that watched the violent video games was characetersised by increased levels of aggressive behaviour and physical intimidation.”

    That’s still only a correlation, not causation. That doesn’t prove that violent video games increase violent tendencies just that kids who are more aggressive tend to prefer violent video games and kids who aren’t as aggressive don’t.

  48. @ Alan

    “Fully agree, there is far too much leaping onto bandwagons about this topic and far far too little evidence.

    I’d be highly surprised if you took violent criminals and saw a correlation between their hobbies compared to the rest of the population. Even then correlation doesn’t prove causation.

    Otherwise you could look at the correlation between life expectancy of a country and the number of computers owned per capita, which would have a strong correlation.

    As for the study where kids may have acted more boisterously for one hour afterwards, how many committed a serious crime in that hour? If “we” are concerned that access to violent material neccessarily creates violent criminals then surely that is the study that should be done, not “Do kids recreate a film they just saw?”

    Conflict and violence in storytelling has been around for millennia. McBeth has a fair amount of violence in it, should we ban Shakespeare for schools? Even fairy tales often involve violence, but a parent will happily recount the tale of Hansel and Gretel burning alive the witch. Just because media has changed over the years shouldn’t make us scared silly and demand the state to control our viewing habits.

    As for “prove that everything does no harm” how does that view conflict with my view that “Living in a highly restrictive state, inhibits my freedom and general happiness and therefore does me harm”.

    By your own rules, the onus is on you to prove it doesn’t!”

    I think we’re in agreement. If the government is going to restrict speech, the burden is on the government to prove the harms.

    Funny that you bring up Hansel and Gretel as an example of violent storytelling that’s been around for a millenial, Scalia did too yesterday(along with Grimm’s Fairy Tales).

  49. @ Stuart Dickson

    “If Jackie Baillie, Ken Mackintosh or Kezia Dugdale are the answer, then Labour are asking the wrong question.

    Jenny Marra on the other hand looks worth keeping an eye on. Not really relevant to her leadership prospects, but her dad is a wonderful musician:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Marra

    Funnily enough I used to live round the corner from their hoose. I once canvassed her door!”

    Well, I don’t know enough about any of them as to form an opinion quite honestly. As I mentioned before, I think that Ken Mackintosh may be Ed Miliband’s top pick because it would be a strategic way of preventing potential leadership challenges from Jim Murphy (it’d be problematic to have the Labour leaders for both Westminster and Holyrood coming from the same constituency).

    Celebrity parentage (or celebrity) is never a reason to vote for someone. But it’s always one of those great fun facts. Isn’t Pete Wishart a former professional musician?

  50. SoCaliLiberal

    Agree. There’s too much “It’s obvious there is a link so ban it”. When it isn’t obvious at all there is any link.

    If someone can show how that playing a violent game alters neural pathways, provides the mechanism for it and tests that mechanism in an independent manner, the paper is then peer reviewed then backed up by an independent study, then we might be nearing the proof that games create violent tendencies.

    Even then, I wouldn’t be happy about banning it.

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