There are three voting intention polls tonight. Their topline figures are as follows

YouGov/Sun – CON 37%, LAB 42%, LDEM 9%
ICM/Guardian – CON 37%, LAB 36%, LDEM 16%
Populus/Times – CON 34%, LAB 39%, LDEM 11%

ICM shows Labour down since before the phone hacking scandal broke, putting the Conservatives ahead for the first time in months. Populus show the Conservatives sharply down. What’s the real situation?

First off, it’s worth remembering that all polls are subject to a margin of error of plus or minus 3 points – so if Populus happen to have got a sample that’s a bit light on loyal Tories, if ICM have a sample that’s a bit light on loyal Labour voters, there’s your difference. The methodologies used by ICM and Populus are very similar, so sample error is the most obviously explanation for the difference.

ICM continue to show much higher support for the Liberal Democrats than any other company – ComRes, Populus & MORI all tend to have them at about 11%, with YouGov a point or two lower – the reasons for the size of the difference are unclear, but this difference probably also explains why ICM has twice shown a Tory lead this year: their 2010 Lib Dem voters seem to be less likely to have switched to Labour than those in other polls.

So, has “hackgate” impacted on voting intention or not? Well, the biggest advantage of YouGov’s daily polling is that we don’t need to worry about random sample error to the same extent – if there is a rogue poll, it should become clear the following day. The news that Milly Dowler’s phone had been hacked, which effectively brought the phone hacking scandal to a peak, broke on the 4th July. In the month leading up to that YouGov had pretty consistently shown a Labour lead of 5-7 points, with the Conservatives on 36-37% and Labour on 41-43%. In the fortnight since then YouGov has shown Labour leads of 8+ points on five occassions, and the Conservatives down on 35% on five occassions. While one cannot rule out co-incidence, this obviously suggests a small but genuine knock to the Conservative party’s support from hackgate. However, the last three YouGov polls have been back within the normal “pre-hackgate” range, suggesting it may have been a short-term effect that is already fading. We shall see.

The big increase in Lib Dem support in the ICM poll is probably illusionary – they fell by 3 points in the last ICM poll so I suspect the increase this month is mostly just a reversion to the mean. Populus’s Lib Dem score a month ago was also conspicuously low. However it’s possible that there has been some benefit for the Lib Dems, while their score in YouGov’s daily poll today is typical, they hit 11% in a YouGov poll on Sunday for the first time in weeks. I’ll reserve judgement on that one.

The other impact of “hackgate” is on perceptions of the leaders. Now, there are two ways of measuring whether an event has changed how people perceive a party or leader. You can ask people if their opinion has gone up or down, which is what Populus did in their survey. This found 39% of people thought worse of Cameron as a result of hackgate, but also found people were more likely to think worse than better of Ed Miliband. However, questions like this tend to give misleading results – people who never liked a politician to start with say it’s made their view worse and vice-versa.

The better way, if you are lucky enough to be in the position to do it, is to have asked people what they think before the event happened, ask them again afterwards, and see what the difference is. ICM, YouGov and ComRes have all been in a position to do this, and have found the same pattern – David Cameron’s ratings are down, but only marginally, Ed Miliband’s ratings are significantly up.

While YouGov found people thought Cameron had handled the phone hacking affair badly, it hasn’t had much affect upon his approval ratings. YouGov have Cameron’s approval rating at minus 12, compared to minus 10 before hackgate. ICM have his approval rating at minus 5, unchanged from last month. ComRes have 33% thinking he is a good PM, down from 37% a month ago. In contrast, there clearly has been a positive effect on how people view Ed Miliband. His approval rating from YouGov has risen from minus 34 to minus 21, his rating from ICM has risen from minus 21 to minus 16, with ComRes 27% think Miliband is turning out to be a good leader, up from 18%. Whether these positive ratings remain once the political agenda moves on is, of course, something else that remains to be seen.

So in conclusion – from the polling so far hackgate appears to have had only a small negative effect on the Conservatives in the polls, and one which may already be fading. While people think Cameron has handled it badly, it has had only a minor effect on his broader approval ratings. Ed Miliband meanwhile has seen a significant boost in how the public see him, though it remains to be seen if it lasts.

The other poll tonight is from ComRes for ITV news. The most interesting question in there was whether people agreed or disagreed that James Murdoch should resign – 65% think he should, 9% disagree.


317 Responses to “The polling effect of “Hackgate””

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  1. Harold MacMillan had very bad luck or bad judgement in the people around him.

    I’m sure that Rupert Murdoch and DC are thinking the same.

    In Harold McMillan’s day there wern’t as many staffers who could turnout to be a liability. It was just the MP’s who were drunks, philandrers, incompetents, nutters and (then) closet homosexuals but not (as far as I remember) the financially corrupt by the standards of the day.

    Rupert Murdoch doesn’t seem to have grasped the notion that nepotism isn’t a good recruitment method.

  2. I often wonder what would have happened if John Smith had survived? Wouls he have done a deal with Murdoch?

    I like to think not.

    The Iraq war could have been avoided and one or two other lesser evils.

    Society could have been different.

  3. Crossbat, Alec, Nick Poole

    What does your ideal society comprise?

  4. Workers on boards. Companies thinking long term. Governments planning long term. Diversity of available stores. No abomination of the idea that disabled, unemployed or old are spongers.

    Responsibility from those in charge, instead of self-serving greed.

  5. Sergio

    Genuine question: what’s your ideal society?

  6. Nick – generally I agree. However I am not sure what “responsibility” entails – can you elaborate?

    By the way I think the physical assault on Rupert Murdoch today – and I have no love for the guy – was appalling. We live in a democracy and he was facing members of parliament – he did not deserve that.

  7. @ Colin

    The Murdochs didn’t come over particularly badly or particularly well; it was a patchy performance from both but Wendi impressed everybody, even Tom Watson. :-)

    That said, it was ridiculous that the pie thrower got so far & the police were so slow. I can now call them the plod without feeling it’s unjustified. ;-)

    Okay, the fun is over. 3 areas where the Murdochs were wrong-footed:
    1. Paying all Mulcaire’s legal fees… if his actions were so abhorrent, why foot his bills for him?
    2. Refusing to unseal the court files from the Taylor & Clifford cases; &
    3. Refusing to allow Harbottle & Lewis to respond to criticism of them or to reveal which NI executives had the opportunity to read the e-mail cache.

    The Murdoch’s presentation may have been good; their actions at the time, consistent with the size & complexity of their business but – IMO – their pretence to a new transparency now, is just that: Pretence.
    8-)

  8. David Cameron’s chief of staff has some explaining to do. Right there, in an e-mail, Llewelyn says: Don’t bother David & I about something we’d rather not know about.

    Baffling, if they didn’t believe Andy Coulson was involved & he had their complete trust… or is there something I’m not properly understanding?
    8-)

  9. @Sergio

    “What does your ideal society comprise?”

    Agree with all that Nick Poole said but would add:-

    “Restoration of more equitable balance between employer and employee, outlawing of agency employment, more progressive taxation regime, properly funded public services, extension of public ownership so that utilities and public transport aren’t at the mercy of the capriciousness of private capital, laws to ensure the plurality of media ownership, stronger trade unions (related to first point), marginalisation of private education and private health provision, job creation programmes aimed at school leavers, proportional representation………

    And that’s just for starters and it would all be done in the first 100 days of a Labour Government!!!

    Then the 5 year plan (or the Great Leap Forward) would kick in!!

  10. Damian:

    low tax
    libertarian
    unbureaucratic
    racially tolerant
    environmentally friendly
    free market
    emphasis on small business, invention and clean technology
    more grammar schools
    focus on practical skills for young people
    incentives to study science & engineering

  11. Amber

    Your conclusions are much the same as mine.

    However, the rapidity of Wendi’s response did create a dichotomy in my mind at the time.

    Was this a wife totally concentrated on protecting her husband against every threat?

    Was this a wife prepared for what occurred, and playing the part to perfection?

    I have no evidence for the latter fleeting thought – but I don’t have any evidence for the former fleeting thought either.

    Either way – I want Mrs Nat doing the same for me if I find myself in a similar scenario!! :-)

  12. Crossbat

    I agree with you about proportional representation, The rest, in general, we’ll have to agree to disagree on.

  13. All I really want from society is that the good are protected from the bad, that the worthy prosper more than the unworthy, that everyone gets a chance, and that any and every restriction placed upon the freedom of the citizen is justified and judged by the most utterly stringent of public interest criteria.

    But mainly, and this is the impossible dream, that everyone does their bit. That they work hard, don’t shirk, are unselfish, considerate to others and try hard to do whatever they do to the best of their ability. I am basically a Wesleyan – Earn as much as you can, save as much as you can, give as much as you can.

    So, whatever politics is most likely to bring that about.

    Of course that’s where the partisanity comes in….

  14. Sergio

    I’ve always taken an interest into how education has been used in English society as a social control mechanism. It certainly applied to your lamentably delayed 1870 Act to provide public education in England, as did your 1944 Act.

    I note that your “ideal society” would have “more grammar schools”.

    While this isn’t the forum for a debate on appropriate public educational structures in England, I’d appreciate any links you have to to the beneficial effects of selective schooling on the whole population range.

  15. @Sergio

    Your list is interesting and I agree with you on four items -racially tolerant,environmentally friendly, focus on practical skills for young people and incentives to study science & engineering.

    The rest, as you say, we’ll just have to agree to disagree on; amicably and respectfully as always. It’s good to be able to exchange our differing views and argue their respective merits. It’s the stuff of democracy at the end of the day.

  16. I think these hearings, whatever their shortcomings were, were a kind of manifestations of democracy… Yes, they were clumsy, not very penetrating, etc. yet they asked questions, they gave lots of time (which, in my view, is one of the most important things), and they had their moment (I don’t count the custard in this).

    If the media had cared about democracy, it would have given a different angle to its reporting (OK, I watched only BBC), it could have had a deeper effect (even by only simply breaking the rhythm of news).

    Without this, of course, it was a very different experience, I suppose, to the majority of people – boring, waste of time, parochial, etc.

  17. Crossbat

    “I dearly wish people like you could return to Labour one day.”

    So what, apart from a rose-tinted view of the past, have you got to suggest to the party to restore their fortunes?

    If you suggest a move to the left the NewLabour entryists will scream that you will be unelectable for a generation, and they will be egged on by the far right who want the perceived centre to move in their direction.

    Nothing would be more provocative than the CND line, and they will tell you that it will make you unelectable right up till five minutes after the Conservatives decide to cancel Trident.

    The only solution a leadership cult has is to follow a new leader, but you also need to find a distinctive niche on the political compass too, unless the other party of government has a leader who is even less impressive, and that would not be for long.

    Since the LibDems have left politics to spend more time with the super rich, you could check out some of the second hand policies they no longer need.

    You could try the SNP’s USP – competence – it’s so refreshing. You need to stop taking advice from 30 year old PR “experts” and keep a few oldies around to remind you of the mistakes of the past.

    You could just absorb the Greens by moving onto their patch. History may be with them.

    The first party to be formed represented the then dominant landowner; then the non-landed entrepreneur thought that they deserved political power because they created the nations wealth so the Liberals dominated for a time. Education and extension of the suffrage brought Labour to a position when there was speculation that the numerical dominance of the working class meant that they would be permanently in power.

    Environmental issues are creeping up the agenda.

    Exploitation by food producers and landlords, lack of attention to manufacturing, or working conditions for the employed are not the battlefields they once were.

    Eat up your Greens.

  18. Crossbat – agreed, only by discussing things will we ever find a way forward.

    OldNat – I think that it helps society if people from all walks of life get the opportunity to fulfil their potential. If you don’t then the people with money call the shots.

    For instance (i know, it’s only one example) every prime minister from 1964 to 1997 was a product of grammar schools. Since then politics – in both Lab and Con – has been dominated by people from wealthy upbringings.

    I fully intend my own kids to go to grammar school because I want them to do well,

    If you’re able to provide evidence as to how the wholesale eradication of grammar schools in the 1960s and 70s helped anyone in particular, I’d be similarly grateful.

  19. OldNat

    “Was this a wife totally concentrated on protecting her husband against every threat?”

    I don’t know about threats but (see my earlier post) she thinks everything Rupert says is worth listening to, but when James is speaking she’d rather be somewhere else.

    Who can blame her for that?

    Maybe she holds him responsible for the damage to her husband’s reputation, wealth, influence and possibly risks to his health. If so, you might ponder on the probability that she is well informed and who might be the likely source of her information.

    Perhaps shareholders and directors of certain companies with which James Murdoch is involved are coming round to the same opinion.

  20. @Sergio

    “I fully intend my own kids to go to grammar school because I want them to do well,”

    ‘Fraid you’ve got that backwards. If they go to grammar school it will be because they are *already* doing well.

    And it’s not really up to you. Assuming you live in a grammar school area, the chances of both of 2 children going to grammar school is approx 1 in 9. I would suggest that you would do well to start worrying about whether or not the ‘community schools’ in your area are any good.

  21. @ John B Dick

    Completely agree, especially about the Labour Right utterly convinced most Labour principles are unelectable: see Rob Sheffield and his unwavering belief that Labour can move no further left than “the centre” (the centre being where Thatcher and Blair left us).

    Labour are a lost hope; whilst I have a lot sympathy with Crossbat’s position – and aims – he must understand that the Blairites – who are fundamentally opposed to most of his wishes – have done away with inner-party democracy so they don’t have to worry about Labour members demanding a left-of-centre answer to today’s issues. It’s not a vehicle for anything anymore; you can choose to support it – like lefties do for the Democrats in America (and be perennially disappointed to find you get nothing but watered-down Republicanism) – or not, but it won’t matter – the last thing that Leftists need is to delude themselves that Labour is salvageable and can be influenced, if only we all hopped on board.

  22. Sergio

    Thanks for the link – though I’m not persuaded by documentation that isn’t evidence based (I used to teach kids that they needed to take decisions on the basis of evidence) :-)

    I suspect that you are far too sensible to praise grammar schools on the basis that they have higher attainment after selecting only those pupils who have been identified as likely to attain higher.

    What is the effect on the whole pupil cohort?

    Have a look at this

    http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1468-4446.2010.01346.x/full

  23. Craig

    “Labour are a lost hope”

    That’s not what the polling evidence suggests – at least in Scotland.

    What you appear to be suggesting is that they are “a lost hope” as a left-wing party. I can’t see any evidence that that is inevitable, although embracing some right wing populist positions might suggest that as a possibility.

    In reality, the positions of the various parties in Scotland are fairly volatile – dependent on the election issues which voters deem most important.

  24. As an electoral force they have no problems – my Democrats comparison should’ve made that clear – they’ve no problems about getting elected (the fear of the Republicans/Tories ensures that), but are basically caretakers for their right-wing counterparts’ policies when in power (who’ll then get re-elected eventually – when the Labour/Democrat vote gives up and stays at home – further expanding their policies).

  25. Oldnat @ Craig

    “Labour are a lost hope”

    Craig is looking at prospects. You are looking at where we are now.

    I’m with Craig because I am increasingly interested in the world my grandchildren will live in when I am no longer around.

    Scottish Labour are a failed brand. They are led by people ignorant of, and remote from, their situation who relate to a different political environment and culture.

    Their opposition for opposition’s sake amounts to self-parody at times. The promising talent is attracted to Westminster, not necessarily in a Scottish seat.

    I’ve offered the iceberg analogy before. The anticons who recently moved to Labour are rootless, and could easily be persuaded by another five years of non-doctrinaire competent government to support the SNP especially if they do not like what they see from Westminster Labour.

    Other Anti-Cons who have supported Labour because they happen to live in Glasgow, will be wondering if that is the right choice any more.

    Old Labour tribalists are dying off almost as fast as the old fashioned Tories.

    The socialists may be back next time and PR gives a chancefor Old Labour to vote for something they belive in.

    The party contains many quiescent socialists who have accepted the myths that NewLabour have created based on the mathematical model of the two identical ice cream vans selling the same product at either end of the beach.

    If either van moves nearer the centre, it maximises the chances of sales. Therefore if NewLabour becomes indistinguishable from the Tories, it has an equal chance of success.

    In reality, however close together or far apart the two FPTP parties of government are, the centre is between them because enough people are ready to believe whatever foolish thing that the team they support promotes as flavour of the week: – PFI for example.

    The other myth is that Mrs Thatcher and Ronald Regan wiped out the Communist empire bcause of the innate superiority of American style capitalism. Therefore anything that can be described as “Socialist” = “A Bad Thing”.

    You speak of teaching kids to look for evidence led decisions. The evidence is that the Westminster parties are incompetently led; focused on image rather than the boring details of making their policies work in practical application without unwelcome consequenses; have too many MP’s who havn’t ever had a proper job, and have no interest in or knowledge of life outside the metropolitain politcs -media – entertainment – journalism clique.

    With that level of ignorance and lack of experience, how can you run a competent government? You don’t have to have a private education to lead a blinkered existence. You just have to mix with people like yourself.

    The final stage in the melting of an iceberg is sudden and catastrophic collapse.

    The only hope for Scottish Labour is to Bavarianise – or wait for independence, when they will be free from outside control.

    The SNP is doing well just now. What nationalists need to remenber is that up against opponents like that, it isn’t too difficult to look superior. One day they might need to try harder.

  26. @ Sergio

    Since then politics – in both Lab and Con – has been dominated by people from wealthy upbringings.
    ———————————————–
    Gordon Brown’s family was not wealthy; he did not attend a private school; perhaps that is why he lacked the smooth, charismatic, people skills that are now so much in demand…

    Andy Burnham’s family was not wealthy; he did not attend a private school; he has a bit more charm & better people skills – probably the Irish in him… ;-)

    Ed Miliband’s family was not wealthy; he did not attend a private school etc.etc.

    I could keep this up all night but I’ve probably bored everybody already. :-)

  27. The only hope for Scottish Labour is to Bavarianise – or wait for independence, when they will be free from outside control.
    ———————————————————
    On the contrary, one nation social democracy which includes all citizens of the Uk is what Labour should aspire to, IMO. I am hopeful that this will be the outcome of the ongoing review.
    8-)

  28. Mirriam Websters Dictionary defines “feckless” as “weak” or “ineffective.” It also gives a secondary definition of “worthless” and “irresponsible.”

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/feckless?show=0&t=1311138308

    I clearly intended the first definition (and most commonly used) to describe Ed Milliband. Any party leader who is disliked by the general public and who had a majority of his own MPs and his own rank and file party members vote against him for the position he’s in, I would consider to be weak. Whether he’s ineffective is more debatable but he seems that way.

  29. @ Amber Star

    “Gordon Brown’s family was not wealthy; he did not attend a private school; perhaps that is why he lacked the smooth, charismatic, people skills that are now so much in demand…

    Andy Burnham’s family was not wealthy; he did not attend a private school; he has a bit more charm & better people skills – probably the Irish in him…

    Ed Miliband’s family was not wealthy; he did not attend a private school etc.etc.

    I could keep this up all night but I’ve probably bored everybody already. ”

    Not me! I love this stuff. Don’t forget Jim Murphy, my personal favorite, who grew up in a housing project.

    You know I have to say that this obsession over the economic backgrounds of candidates is a little silly. This is where Labour and the Republican Party have something in common beyond your colors. The obsession over the amount of money a politician comes from or makes. To me, it’s a plus when a candidate has a Ragged Dick background and their life story tugs at the heartstrings. But it’s not a negative if a candidate doesn’t. Not everyone can be wealthy but neither can everyone be poor either. And not everyone can have a rags to riches story. That’s just a part of life and politics.

    The Guardian did a peice on the individual wealth of all the Tory cabinet members, pointing out how wealthy they all are. Yet, I think Nancy Pelosi has a larger networth than all of them. It’s not something I think disqualifies her or limits her capability. Similarly, it strikes me that two of the wealthiest Congressional Districts in my state are represented by a former welfare mom and a guy who grew up above his dad’s grocery store in the ghetto. Somehow their wealthy constituents didn’t have a problem voting for them.

    As for Gordon Brown, I think he lacks the social skills due to undiagnosed and untreated ADHD. At least that’s the inference I drew from reading Mandelson’s book.

  30. @ Nick Poole

    “Workers on boards. Companies thinking long term. Governments planning long term. Diversity of available stores. No abomination of the idea that disabled, unemployed or old are spongers.”

    The key difference is that private enterprise is out to make a profit. Government is not. Thus, both require different models of governance and differently suited people. That’s why I never buy into the whole “I’m a successful businessman, therefore, I know how to run government” shtick.

    This actually came up for me last year when my building had a condo board meeting to discuss some building and budgeting items and this new buyer, an obnoxious young Italian woman (I figure a Berlusconi voter) delayed what was at most an hour meeting into a three hour affair. She seemed completely unaware of the entire purpose of a condo board, it’s basically a self-governing body. Instead she was under the mistaken assumption that this was somehow a profit making enterprise and seemed to challenge the board officers to find ways to cut costs that would harm the building overall even though the building’s budget was fine and our monthly fees were only going up a very small amount (it would have been different if we were facing financial problems). The board ensures that among other things, the common areas remain clean and maintained (and in compliance with local codes), that the elevator is in good working order, that trash gets picked up, that the front yard of the building gets properly gardened. That maintains not only property value of the condo units but ensures a high quality of life.

    The condo board is a form of self-government. It’s still government though. It’s not a business. It’s not there to make a profit. I think people forget this distinction too often. People also forget that when the private sector is utilized by the government, it’s not for the benefit and personal enrichment of the private sector at the expense of the public, it’s to carry out government goals and aims.

  31. @Sergio – “Nick – generally I agree. However I am not sure what “responsibility” entails – can you elaborate?”

    My general rule of thumb is that if you accept a pay packet of – lets say – £200,000 pa, then it’s you’re place to accept responsibility for things that go wrong within your organisation, whether or not you are directly linked to those events. I always thought that this was the point of massive salaries, but over the years the wealthy seem to have increased the remuneration but reduced the responsibility.

    Your list of objectives for society is interesting but does contain contradictions. The free market doesn’t provide good environmental controls for example. But it’s an interesting list non the less.

  32. @ Crossbat11

    “And that’s just for starters and it would all be done in the first 100 days of a Labour Government!!!

    Then the 5 year plan (or the Great Leap Forward) would kick in!!”

    Wow, you’re a man with a plan.

    “Restoration of more equitable balance between employer and employee, outlawing of agency employment, more progressive taxation regime, properly funded public services, extension of public ownership so that utilities and public transport aren’t at the mercy of the capriciousness of private capital, laws to ensure the plurality of media ownership, stronger trade unions (related to first point), marginalisation of private education and private health provision, job creation programmes aimed at school leavers, proportional representation………”

    I actually wouldn’t like a lot of what you propose. I am curious as to what agency employment is and why you’d like to prohibit it? I agree with you on job creation programs for high school dropouts and on plurality of media ownership.

    What I’d like to see enacted (ideally):

    1. Direct Lending by the Small Business Administration including special low interest rates for start-ups.
    2. Stronger Enforcement of the IDEA statute
    3. Capital Gains Tax Cuts for investments in manufacturing, media production, technology, and medical research jobs on home soil.
    4. National High Speed Rail System
    5. Federal funding of new rapid transit systems in major cities that do not have them and federal funding for the expansion and rennovation of existing rapid transit systems.
    6. Scholarship programs where qualified students would have their graduate or professional school paid for completely by the government in exchange for three years of government service in that field.
    7. Free job retraining programs (funded through community colleges and technical colleges) for adults who’s jobs are eliminated by technology.
    8. Enactment of the Respect for Marriage Act and Repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act
    9. Extension of Title VII and the 1968 Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation as a protected class.
    10. Creation of a National independent/bipartisan Congressional Redistricting Panel.
    11. Creation of a special government investment bank that would pay out dividends to investors and invest in job creating businesses.
    12. Voting Representation in both the House and the Senate for the District of Columbia.

  33. SoCaliLiberal

    I hope your condo board didn’t manage to rack up a debt exceeding the joint incomes of everyone living there and had to rely on another condo board for a bailout ;)

  34. @ Sergio

    “low tax
    libertarian
    unbureaucratic
    racially tolerant
    environmentally friendly
    free market
    emphasis on small business, invention and clean technology
    more grammar schools
    focus on practical skills for young people
    incentives to study science & engineering”

    I agree with these in theory and I might add a few more myself (although I should say that I don’t believe society should be racially tolerant, I believe society should be racially egalitarian). But the only way to acheive these goals (in order to protect the marketplace, in order to promote technology research, in order to incentivize businesses to be environmentally friendly) is through government (with appropriate taxes to fund all that state action).

    @ Alec

    “Your list of objectives for society is interesting but does contain contradictions. The free market doesn’t provide good environmental controls for example. But it’s an interesting list non the less.”

    I think people have to understand that businesses exist to make money. And that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a fact of life. Thus, if you want to get businesses to contribute positively to society, you have to incentivise and guide them to do so. You have to give encouragement for doing so. The whole libertarian fantasy of the benevolent omnipotent business reminds me that most libertarians have never held real jobs before. Because, for the most part, businesses aren’t operating to benefit society, they operate to benefit their owners.

    Also, I might add that environmentalism is good for business. The number of good paying green jobs that can be created through growth of consulting and research sectors is enormous.

  35. Just breezed through comments since yesterday so I apologise if I’ve missed a comment simialr to what I’m posting now.

    While I can understand the concern and protective intentions of RM’s wife, was her smacking of the assailant’s head (twice) an assault and also contempt of parliament? Should she be charged? It was not self-defence, was it?

  36. Wow, reading some of the ‘ideal society’ demands of those on the left makes me realise how far left I am. ;)

    And I guess that I was probably wrong about the LibDems easing up to 10 and Labour down to 42.
    My inverse predictive powers bodes well for the GDP figures. ;)
    Looks like we’re stuck with 35-37, 42-44, 8-10 for VIs for now.

    I think Cameron will avoid the grilling of MPs today (i.e make a statement and leave) – which will hurt him in the short-term but he could come out of this with the Obama-style presence that he’s ‘above the partisan sillyness’.
    He’s at his best when he plays the statesman and worst when he plays the partisan.

  37. “low tax”

    You see, to me that is a nonsense.

    If everybody earns very little money, there won’t be much tax collected. If most people are paid well, then more tax will be collected.

    I would prefer tax to be fair, to be pragmatic (i.e. if making taxation too complex or too high t the top end results in more collection costs and lower receipts, don’t do it).

    The Germans pay more tax and get better pensions and services…but then the German economy is based on manufacture and exports.

    “Low” means what, anyway? It’s a non specific bit of ideology. If you want low tax what on earth have we got an army in Afghanistan and planes in Libya?

    “free market” I understand that trade is the cornerstone of capitalism (and possibly of civilisation) but the reason we have regulation (and labour laws) is that an unfettered market leads to monopolies, market cornering and frankly slavery and no competition.

    Somewhere between every man for himself and complete state control lies where we are, and theoretically the right wants to pull us towards the no regulation end and the left towards “complete control.” Our democracy moves us back and forth along the raggedy fluctuating line and I hope that way it stops the poor individual becoming either the slave of big business or the slave of the state.

    So when you say you want low taxes and free market I assume you mean lower than current nd less regulation than now.

    Even though it was lack of regulation of the banks that did us in last time….and looks like it is just about to do to us again.

  38. Having said that Cameron is in no danger today except possibly losing a Chief Of Staff and getting a pummelling in HoC, if he makes a statement and leaves without hanging around then the clock starts ticking and he is frankly doomed.

    His own back benchers expect him to give and take some stick today and if he dodges it his days are severely nnumbered.

  39. ‘What you appear to be suggesting is that they are “a lost hope” as a left-wing party. I can’t see any evidence that that is inevitable, although embracing some right wing populist positions might suggest that as a possibility.’

    Indeed but the SNPs authoritarian sectarian legislation is nearly as bad as SLAB’s knife crime policy.

  40. @Mike N,

    Mrs Murdoch’s punch/slap of the assailant was close enough in time to his assault on her husband that almost any investigating officer and/or CPS reviewing lawyer would consider it to be lawful. Under S3(i) of the Criminal Law Act 1967 it is a defence that you used force to prevent an attack on another person. Mrs Murdoch could legitimately argue that she believed that the assailant was going to continue to assault her husband and that her actions constituted an attempt to prevent that happening.

    I reality she was probably acting out of anger and/or pure reflex, but the standards of proof being what they are, any attempt to treat it as a criminal assault would be utterly futile.

  41. @ A Cairns

    Having seen Alec Salmond’s comments on Kosovo recently I suspect he has a sneaking admiration for small country tyrants .

  42. Leaked Ipsos MORI results show Cameron down to Net Approval of -15, Miliband up to -7. (Clegg down to -25)

    http://yfrog.com/khde7pp

  43. Social Liberal – whilst it will become increasingly evident that green issues are “useful” for business to adopt, it is a pretty inconvenient fact that the wider environment just won’t adapt itself to the time scales of business.

    Checks and balances in the usual “free market” sense work to their own internal logic: an entire eco-system can be eradicated forever before they kick in (see Madagascar as a classic example). Thus this simplistic notion of the business led “free market” really is incompatible with an environmentally sensible approach – without an interceding agency to regulate it.

    I’d also query the very notion of a free market that does not begin from a tabla rasa. A stacked free market is – in its purest terms – contradictory.

    It really is time to move out of the 18th – 19th century and find a language and a politics to fit our own.

  44. I thought the attempted custard pie in the face on Murdoch really ruined what was actually a pretty important point in the current scandal. The Murdochs had not appeared before in such a hearing and their evidence was revealing that they were not in control of the company in terms of corporate goverance. Before the hearing there was a perception that Murdoch ran the company with a iron fist. This is obviously not the case and I am sure the major investors in News Corp will have noted this.

    In regard to the evidence supplied by Ms Brooks, I was not convinced. I have heard so many people in TV/radio interviews say that she was a pretty ruthless operator, who wanted headline stories and scoops, giving out instructions which were interpreted as being that any methods of investigative journalism were acceptable, just get the story. Whether there is any evidence of her being aware of anything illegal will no doubt be found out by the Police and judicial enquiries. What is for sure is that many people in the NOTW were aware of phone hacking, payments to Police and other practices, from which I come to the conclusion that you would have to be deaf and blind, not to have some idea that illegal methods were being used.

    In regard to the Politics of all of this, there is no doubt Cameron is under pressure, due to decisions he made with the staff he employed. Brown or Blair would have been caught up in this due to the connections, had they still been in office. As I said in an earlier post Camerons position could depend on what happens to Coulson.

  45. I’ve read the explanation of why ICM is recording 16% for LDs and YG only half that is only 25% convincing (i.e. 2%).

    I believe this is a huge conundrum for the LDs as both polling organisations are respected. Just taking the half way point as ‘oh well it’s probably 12% then’, still means that my party is effectively removed from the scene at the next GE, as in the days of Grimond.

    If the ICM results are correct though, it means that the situation is not that different than the previous position, prior to the 2010 GE run-up..

    Acceptance of the YG result could lead to totally unnecessary blood letting and policy reversal.

  46. Howard

    can’t you use the actual May local election results as a guide?

  47. Amber

    Thanks

    I agree with your three points.

    I find 3 utterly inexplicable.

    Amused how the Head of THe Evil Empire has suddenly morphed into a helpless & bemused Old Man :-)

    Good to see Tom Watson’s disgraceful behaviour in the Brookes hearing highlighted in the Times editorial.

    Ask question
    Slump in seat fiddling with phone
    Bugger off .

    Incredible-and what did his chairman say ? What an embarrasing shambles that committee was.

    Regarding your feelings of “pretence” at the Murdochs’ transparency-I think you have to remember the constraints of the police investigation. I am sure they know who the guilty parties are -as does Brooks-but they can’t say untill the Met have finished. REmember, Brooks asked to come back when the Met are finished.

    I heard a comment by an American on R4 this morning which struck me-to the effect that this only happened in one British Newspaper out of a global stable of over 200 titles-and the buyers of that paper “lapped it up”.

    There is understandable outrage at the Dowler voice mail interception-but it’s a short step from there to the opportunistic feeding frenzy & rank hypocrisy which swirls around this whole affair.

    The sooner the Met charge the guilty & we can all put the thing in some sort of context , the better.

    Then the Murdochs can get on & run the fantastically sucessful business employing 52,000 which RM built, -and his shareholders can decide whether he & his son are doing a good job or not-thus relieving the armchair experts who have just seen them on the telly ,from their anguish about the governance of News Corporation.

  48. NEILA

    “All I really want from society is that the good are protected from the bad, that the worthy prosper more than the unworthy, that everyone gets a chance, and that any and every restriction placed upon the freedom of the citizen is justified and judged by the most utterly stringent of public interest criteria.

    But mainly, and this is the impossible dream, that everyone does their bit. That they work hard, don’t shirk, are unselfish, considerate to others and try hard to do whatever they do to the best of their ability.”

    I agree.

  49. Neil A

    That makes sense. Thanks.

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