Full tabs from the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here, asking about the normal sort of grab-bag of subjects that the Sunday Times normally choose when the news agenda hasn’t been eaten by a single topic like the riots!

There is very little support for putting British troops on the ground in Libya, even post-Gaddafi. Only 22% would support troops being deployed to help the new regime. Neither is there much support for any intervention in Syria – only 21% of people would support a Libya-style intervention in Syria.

On taxation, YouGov asked about various tax cuts (and in one case, tax increase) that have been mooted. The most popular proposals were cutting VAT and fuel duty, both supported by 86%. A married couples tax allowance was supported by 66% of respondents. Abolishing the 50% rate was only supported by 23% of people, with 59% opposed. The Lib Dem idea of a “mansion tax” was supported by 63% of people.

On petrol prices, YouGov asked whether people thought the oil companies themselves were taking advantage of the public with high prices – 52% of people thought they were, 36% thought the fault lay with world oil prices and the government’s taxes.

The recent deal with Switzerland on taxing private bank accounts was seen as a good deal for Britain by almost two-thirds of people (65%), with 11% thinking it was a bad deal. 40% of people thought it was acceptable for British people with Swiss bank accounts to still remain anonymous, 45% thought it was not acceptable.

In the benefit questions, people are evenly split on whether cuts to benefits are too large (28%), about right (26%) or not large enough (27%). On the specific policy of capping housing benefit, 75% supported it “even if this means people are forced to move house if they live in an area where the rent is high” (broadly comparable to when YouGov asked a similarly worded question last November for Channel 4). 56% of people think that EU citizens should not be allowed to claim benefits in other countries, 30% think they should.

Finally on planning, people are evenly split over whether current planning laws are too relaxed or too restrictive – 23% think it is too easy to build, 20% too difficult, 33% that it is about right. On the principles of the government’s proposals to simplify central planning rules, give more power to councils and have a presumption in favour of development, 54% support and 21% are opposed. However, asked about the National Trust’s criticisms of the proposals, 44% back the NT and think the change will pose a risk to the countryside, compared to 25% who think the NT are exaggerating.

This is broadly what I would expect on a subject where most people will have little or no detailled knowledge – neutral options on the status quo, a broadly positive reaction to things that sound good on the surface like simplifying and devolving power, but when faced with opposing claims from the government and a charity, people are going to tend to back the charity over the politicians.


375 Responses to “More from the YouGov/Sunday Times polls”

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  1. Chouenlai

    “I await the howls of anguish from the usual suspects, for my middle class Victorian, Tory attitudes.”

    Not at all. Your earnest approval of lesbian couples having babies is certainly not Victorian.

  2. “Surely nature decides about the fertility of women.” followed by, “For round figures 16 to 45.”
    Isn’t that a bit of a contradiction?

    16 may be the legal age of consent, but nature does decide fertility – which is how you can have teenage pregnancy.
    In fact, teenage pregnancy was, historically, the norm – The mother of Henry VII was a teenage mother, for example.

    “It should not matter what age a woman is, as long as she has a partner who who cares for her and will also love her baby.”
    Completely sensible policy – as long as the child has loving parents, who’re able to support it, it shouldn’t matter the age – whether teenage or older age.

  3. Tingedfringe

    “– five year plans may work in totalitarian dictatorships,”

    They certainly didn’t work, people managed targets and the data became corrupted.

    Whether you give people extra money to meet targets, (as in NewLabour NHS) or send them to Siberia if they fail, meeting the target as measured becomes the objective.

    If the objective is ill defined in terms of X, but you also want Y and Z but don’t include them in the bonus they will get little or no attention.

  4. @John B Dick

    Er…

    Sucsessful managers will tell you that setting targets does work!

    What matters is that the targets can be met, that there is a simple metric of measure that proves the target was or was not met, that the metric can not be faked, and that the meeting of that target has a positive affect.

    For instance, getting the trains in on time is a clear target, with an obvious metric, and a direct benefit.

    And now that those derided NHS targets were abolished, it should be no surprise that waiting times are back on the increase.

  5. JayBlanc

    “Successful managers will tell you that setting targets does work!”

    Especially, if they are the kind of managers who have been judged “successful” because they met their targets!

    However, it probably depends on the type of organisation they are managing.

    I have never managed a rail company, but I would dread to travel by train, if the target was simply to “get the trains in on time”.

    For example, that target could be met by reducing the number of trains and the density of use of the lines; by reducing turnaround times, through not cleaning them and not ensuring that the toilets actually bloody work! etc etc.; by ignoring safety considerations, through exceeding speeds on unsafe sections; etc etc.

    I have (successfully, I hope) managed schools. Even those who developed the targets set for us, admitted (privately) that they contained “perverse incentives” that damaged the organisation as a whole, through adherence to a randomly selected set of targets.

  6. @ jayblanc

    “Sucsessful managers will tell you that setting targets does work!”

    …………managers in the private sector will-because they arebuilt back from a given profit ( or loss!) objective.

    The Sales Budget ( aka Target) provides the volumes & prices which produce the Revenue , which dictates the Operating Budgets for output & unit costs, which together produce the Margin/Contribution Budget , which funds the Overhead Departmental Budgets, which leave the Net Profit /Loss Budget.

    All of those Budgets/Targets are about generating a return on the assets employed in the business.

    If any of the Budget holders start to run significant variances , they will impact all other Budget holders, and adjustments will be made through the organisation to rebalance the whole :-eg

    Sales Budget shortfall-adjust Output volumes & Overhead costs.

    Gross Margin shortfall-adjust sales prices and/or reduce costs.

    Overhead Budget overspend-not allowed-get it in line by the year end :-)

    In the Public Sector ,Targets are output objectives-ways of spending a given revenue stream.

    They are not related to the imperative of generating that revenue.

    So in the Soviet Union, tractor output targetswould be unrelated to tractor quality standards or customer satisfaction / willingness to buy. The two factors being entirely unrelated .

    NHS waiting time targets are unrelated to health quality outcomes. The two are not connected so far as I am aware.

  7. I’m just watching New Tricks and it seems UCOS are under threat from Government cuts.

    These cuts really are are getting everywhere now. What will I watch if they close UCOS. :)

  8. Don’t laugh, Polling numbers have shifted because ‘the government’ did something to a fictional character on a popular TV program before.

  9. JAYBLANC.

    Hey I never thought of that perhaps it will affect the Polls.

  10. @tsitsikamma

    But under the Coalition Government’s “post-bureaucratic age” scenario, you won’t have to watch centrally-produced versions of “New Tricks”!

    Instead, you’ll be given old copies of “Likely Lads”, “Minder”, “Our Friends in the North” and “Sexy Beast” on a Creative-Commons licence and allowed to produce your own mash-up.

    If you can afford it, you’ll be allowed to improve it by substituting Pete Postlethwaite for Alun Armstrong. And if you’re a bit stretched, you can have Rodney Bewes instead of James Bolam… :-)

    (D’y’know, this started out as satire, but now I come to think of it… :-) )

    Regrds, Martyn

  11. Oh come on Martin with all them oldies you’ll get me on a nostalgia trip and crying in my G&T. :)

  12. Martyn

    At first, I was distressed that the only sport I would be allowed to see was the final of the sodding 1966 World Cup!

    Then I realised that with a wee bit of work that I could get the Russian linesman to call that “goal” correctly, and watch Germany winning! :-)

  13. @ Anthony

    Thank you for the polling on the ‘right’ age for women to start a family. 27/28 years old was the weighted average of the ‘approved’ ages.
    8-)

  14. ‘@ jayblanc
    “Sucsessful managers will tell you that setting targets does work!”’

    Rubbish. Ask schools; that’s called teach to the tests.

    In particular it also means you don’t trust professionals to do their job; govts must rule as all professionals are lazy. That’s the real damage of setting targets–the belief that people dont want to do their job well is assumed.

    That sets an attitude for the country; govts assume you will be lazy, so be lazy and only respond to the targets and paperwork.

    It’s an appalling attitude generated by the politicians of all parties.

  15. jayblanc

    Sucsessful managers will tell you that setting targets does work!
    [..]
    For instance, getting the trains in on time is a clear target, with an obvious metric, and a direct benefit.

    OldNat has already pointed out your circular reasoning of what makes a ‘successful’ manager. It’s worth saying that the target setting for the railways in Britain has produced a long list of, at best, scams to avoid them, such as deliberately timetabling journeys longer than they are.

    At worst you get things such as trains missing stops to avoid time penalties. You don’t get penalties for dropping passengers off miles from home at midnight.

    Colin

    If targets can be a problem in the public sector, they, and their equivalent carrot, bonuses, have been a disaster in private industry. What do you think caused that little problem the Credit Crunch?

    Coming soon to a bank near you, Credit Crunch II.

  16. Any ideas on whether there’s going to be YG tonight … maybe not cos of the Bank Hols?

  17. Targets is a well-intentioned idea which went horribly wrong. I believe the reasoning worked as follows: professionals should be trusted to do their jobs as long as they deliver what is expected of them. However, the term “what is expected of them” is subjective and therefore needs properly defining so professionals know what they are meant to deliver and the Government have a standard for them to work to. Hence the idea of target: measurable factors to determine that professionals are doing their job successfully. Achieve that, and there’s no reason for the government to interfere.

    Unfortunately, this notion underestimates how much this system is open to abuse. All too often, there is a way of meeting the targets without actually delivering anything fit for purpose. I believe one of the most piss-taking examples was a hospital that increased the number of “beds” by taking the wheels of trolleys and calling them beds. When public sector managers are that determined to get round the rules, it’s hard to see how they can be stopped.

    I think the only lesson was can learn is that you can’t win. Set targets and they’ll get abused. Don’t set targets and there’s no recourse against those professionals who don’t attempt to provide a good service because they don’t to. Run it directly from central government and you get civil servants running services they don’t understand. Allow private sector competition and you risk losing any service that doesn’t work as a commercial enterprise. I’d love to hear a better solution, because it seems that everything that has been tried so far hasn’t worked properly.

  18. @ Anthony

    By the way, I’d guess a lot of employers think 27/8 is also the right age to promote staff to a management position… if any polling of employers exists on that, it would be interesting to know it I’m right.
    8-)

  19. Roger Mexico

    “What do you think caused that little problem the Credit Crunch?”

    Selling mortgages to people who couldn’t repay them.

    Securitising those mortgages & selling them on to people who failed to understand the risk status of those assets.

    Thinking that real estate values only ever go up.

    Lending Long & Borrowing Short.

    Greed

  20. @Jayblanc – “For instance, getting the trains in on time is a clear target, with an obvious metric, and a direct benefit.”

    OK – but what about trams?

  21. Alec

    Wicked!

  22. @Chris NS – “Targets is a well-intentioned idea which went horribly wrong.”

    I’m not altogether sure we can make such sweeping statements as this. We can all point to examples of cases where systems were abused to meet paper chase targets, but likewise we really don’t have to go very far to see examples of other targets that really did give public sector professionals a kick up the backside and enforce improvement in services.

    I would imagine that an unbiased analysis might find that education is an area that has seen more of the negatives, with teaching largely a box ticking exercise and much of the necessary trust in teachers imagination and adaptability now gone, whereas in broad terms the NHS is a case where targets have had a significant success rate.

    All sorts of health outcomes have improved markedly in recent years, and I have no doubt that targets played a part in this improvement. They probably went too far in some regards, but running any business, public or private sector, without any targets would pretty soon leave you with an expensive mess.

  23. Targets are a blunt instrument for dealing with an age-old problem – employees not doing their job to the required standard.

    The best solution to that problem – good supervision, linked to a positive culture in the workplace and decent morale – is very difficult to achieve. Targets are the copout version.

    The only other method I can think of which might be effective (and which I personally favour, especially in public services) is dip-sampling. Management can’t scrutinise every piece of work their staff complete, but if they scrutinised one in a hundred and came down hard on the slipshod, it might discourage the tendency to let things slide. I’m not sure what the industrial relations implications would be, though.

  24. Chris Neville-Smith

    “I think the only lesson was can learn is that you can’t win. …I’d love to hear a better solution, because it seems that everything that has been tried so far hasn’t worked properly.”

    The following comment is tentative!

    The Scottish Government (I can hear Roger Rebel typing a protest already :-) ) has been using a more generalised measure of the NHS of “public satisfaction” as a “top-level measure” with more detailed analyses below that. There are still huge difficulties with lack of transparency with our NHS Boards, but we seem to be edging forward slowly.

    In school education (my own area of expertise) we have abandoned targets but through a complex system of comparative analysis, 20 “similar” schools in Scotland are identified for each school – and each subject department within each school, with which they are compared. That does allow a detailed discussion with the professionals as to the reasons why they might be performing better or worse than similar schools, and allows an interchange of ideas. Again, it isn’t at all perfect, but I’ve been involved with it for more than 10 years, and it does have real advantages.

  25. jayblanc @John B Dick

    “What matters is that the targets can be met, that there is a simple metric of measure that proves the target was or was not met, that the metric can not be faked, and that the meeting of that target has a positive affect.”

    When did you ever hear of all that happening together in the real world? To achieve that, and audit the data would introduce such complexity and cost that would outweigh the benefit.

    To take your own example:

    “For instance, getting the trains in on time is a clear target, with an obvious metric, and a direct benefit.”

    Getting the train to run on time is not what I want. I use a ferry service which mostly has a short connection with the train. Both are penalised if they leave late (though not if they are cancelled altogether).

    If the ferry arrives a few minutes late the train has gone, and I have to wait an hour till the next one.

    It’s the wrong target for customer satisfaction which would be overall journey time, but that is too complicated a target, so no commonsense is permitted.

    Perverse incentives.

    I know a primary school head whose school got high marks in assessment. The children got the same lessons for three weeks.

  26. Random sampling of productivity doesn’t work. Because people tend to think they’ll get away with it, and some other unlucky chap will have their work sampled. Or that they will somehow know when they’re being watched, and when to work to the expected standard.

    Random sampling only really works as a product QA check, not a way to check on productivity.

    “Targets” includes things such as production deadlines, time-tables (the bus driver is expected to get their train in on time!), production quotas…

    Yes poorly applied Targets exist, set to the wrong metrics, or that produce counter productive results. But that does not mean that *all* Targets are like that by their nature. Targets can be a very useful tool indeed.

    Now, if you want to argue that NHS waiting list targets were either set to the wrong metric, or were counter productive to the NHS’s goals, fine… Present some arguments along those lines.

  27. Colin

    Actually (as you’d probably agree) it was more complicated than that, but let’s just take your analysis of one of the triggers for it:

    Selling mortgages to people who couldn’t repay them.

    Because estate agents/realtors wanted to boost their commission and/or meet their targets and if it meant ignoring fraud Similarly the mortgage brokers and mortgage sellers because they knew it was encouraged to for others to be:

    Securitising those mortgages & selling them on to people who failed to understand the risk status of those assets.

    Because they too wanted to meet their targets and collect their bonuses. And those who they sold it too didn’t care either. Because as long as the ratings agencies certified the AAA rating as they were paid to, they could wrap the combination of assets in yet another package and sell it to someone else. Like a game of Pass the Parcel in reverse, but with a bomb inside.

    Thinking that real estate values only ever go up.

    Bang! But those responsible have long left, clutching their bonuses.

    Greed

    But wasn’t that supposed to be the motor of capitalism that would make everything perfect and everyone wealthy?

  28. @Roger Mexico

    It might seem a little evil… But those targets worked very well for the managers who implemented them. After all, the intent was to sell on those bad debts as soon as possible, so the downside of what they were doing didn’t matter to them. So it was a management success in use of targets as incentive. The problem was that the business plan was toxic to the rest of us.

  29. JayBlanc

    “So it was a management success in use of targets as incentive. The problem was that the business plan was toxic to the rest of us.”

    IIRC your original comment on targets was that “successful managers” would tell the likes of (ex) public service managers John B Dick and me, that they worked.

    Are you sure that you want public sector management to be “toxic to the rest of us.”

    (Remember that in that context you are “one of us”, not “one of them” !)

  30. @ Alec
    “I would imagine that an unbiased analysis might find that education is an area that has seen more of the negatives, with teaching largely a box ticking exercise and much of the necessary trust in teachers imagination and adaptability now gone, whereas in broad terms the NHS is a case where targets have had a significant success rate.

    All sorts of health outcomes have improved markedly in recent years, and I have no doubt that targets played a part in this improvement . . . running any business, public or private sector, without any targets would pretty soon leave you with an expensive mess.”

    I agree, esp. with the comparison between health & “tick-boxing” education. The Coalition knows that their cuts will lead to a poorer NHS service: of course they curtail targets, as this allows the deterioration & comparisons with Labour’s era to be disguised.

  31. jayblanc

    quite

  32. @OldNat

    I think you miss the point. The point was that the Management were using targets as a way to further the aims of their organization. Something that some people here have said can’t happen. Obviously we want targets that further the aims of the NHS, and I do think that the targets that had been set were furthering the aims of the NHS.

  33. RobbieAlive

    I agree that England is an interesting place, and their attitudes to public governance worth examining.

    Quite why you are so obsessed with it though, I can’t really understand. What about Wales, Northern ireland (within the UK) that have their own health and education systems? And why do you so persistently ignore Roger Mexico’s homeland?

  34. ROGER mEXICO

    “Actually (as you’d probably agree) it was more complicated than that,

    IT WAS -i omitted

    Failed Banking regulation & macro economic oversight.

    Short termist politicians who thought tax revenue bonanzas from Financial Services were real money-and spent them.

    A western culture of unfettered consumption based on cheap credit & illusory real estate values.

    ……………….

  35. JayBlanc

    “I think you miss the point.”

    Mmmm I don’t think so. You totally misrepresent the views of others when you say “Something that some people here have said can’t happen” in terms of management furthering their aims.

    For example, if your aim in Scottish education was to maximise the number of S5 pupils attaing 3 or 5 Higher passes, then you would be entirely happy with resources being poured into pupils who might attain 3 or 5 (while totally ignoring the needs of pupils who required 4 Highers). That wasn’t a target. They didn’t count as important.

    The point that many others than me have made, is that your private sector analogy works only in so far as it has a limited objective. – to maximise the profit of the organisation.

    That simply doesn’t work in that simplistic way in an output measured system like Education, Health or Social Work.

    If you get the targets wrong, and while Lab/LDs thought they could micro-manage the public centre from Edinburgh, they got the targets badly wrong, then the system fails.

    If you empower the professionals, while keeping them accountable (see Finnish education) then you get something that works better.

  36. @Oldnat

    Your objection seems to be to Central management micro-managing, rather than Targets themselves.

  37. Also… I wonder why you see ‘Targets’ as a Private sector originated term…

    Thinking of things in terms of “Targets” comes from public sector organizations with strong traditions of well defined objectives, mission plans, and clear communication of the organization’s terms of engagement and success conditions to the ground troops.

    You know, the military?

  38. JayBlanc

    My experience is of the inadequacy of “Central management micro-managing” via targets. That’s why I surveyed the academic literature on the effectiveness of target setting.

    It appeared to be limited to having success when targets were set for individuals to improve their performance in areas where they had control over their behaviour.

    That actually works with individual pupils who agree attainable targets to improve their performance. (I can see that in certain limited objective jobs, that could also work).

    However, i could find no evidence that justified extrapolating that out to “higher level” jobs, where setting targets for the teacher (for example) ever improved the performance of the students.

    (Incidentally, i have lots of evidence that such target setting for the teacher actually reduced the learning opportunities for the students.)

  39. JayBlanc

    “You know, the military?”

    OK Now tell us what a fabulous success they have had in Afghnistan or Iraq! :-)

  40. Neil A

    “The best solution to that problem – good supervision, linked to a positive culture in the workplace and decent morale – is very difficult to achieve. Targets are the copout version.”

    Others have said what is wrong with badly chosen and unaudited targets, but may I say that what you have listed as the ideal may not acheive targets but will result in excellence.

    You had one omission, particularly surprising from your perspective: Training.

    If you have highly trained and well motivated staff who operate as a team, are good at what they do, and they know it; if they are competently led or better; if there is job satisfaction from knowing that patients or whoever it is that benefits are not only grateful but impressed with the quality of the sevice, then it is almost impossible for morale not to be high.

    Morale is both the chicken and the egg.

    Competent management is needed at the middle level, not the top. The Generals can lose the war, but seldom can win it. It is the junior officers and sargeants who win it.

    Pride in a profession’s standards, respect and training is what that we rely on to keep judges honest, targets would not work.

    It’s not the targets themselves that are bad.

    The first Scottish Parliament, with a cabinet which included thinkers like Donald Dewar, Henry McLeish and Susan Deacon, set up some measures by which they would assess their long term success.

    One of these was to reduce the proportion of low-birthweight babies.

    It wasn’t used for anyone’s bonus, but the data was already collected, very accurately measured and objective. It also has a significance for many devolved ministries.

  41. A significant loss to the Scottish Government at the election was the retiral of my MSP, Jim Mather, the minister for windmills. I am grateful to him for much help on a variety of issues, but also for introducing me to the work of John Seddon the leading critic of target management.

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

    If Jim’s retiral means that the insights of John Seddon are lost to the Scottish Government, then it will cost us millions.

  42. @John,

    Training is important, but I also think it is terribly overegged. It is the policeman’s “excuse” for everything. I didn’t make the tea because I didn’t get any kettle training. I hit the car in front of me because I didn’t get any “driving in slow moving traffic training”. It’s the ultimate way of making other people (managers) own your own failures.

    After the Climbie enquiry was published, there was a clamour for “better training” for Child Protection officers. Numerous officers who had done a poor job on the case blamed their “lack of training”, despite the fact that some of them had been in post for several years, and in one case I had personally sat next to the officer concerned through two multi-agency training courses.

    Most tasks in most professions are fairly simple. What is lacking is usually a lack of willingness to act professionally, not a lack of ability to do so.

    As for Jay’s point about people ignoring random sampling because they assume someone else will get caught out and not them, I’d respond that this may be true for a very low sampling level, but once you increase the sample rate so that employees see “dips” taking place all around them, I believe they would take them seriously.

    It seems to me that what generally happens is that employees trundle along, doing a poor to average job, until a disaster occurs. A enquiry reveals the poor work that was done, excuses are made, “further training” is ordered, comments are made about it being an “exceptional case” and the rest of the employees carry on doing everything exactly the same way as the people who screwed up. What we need is for people to believe that they will be brought to account any time that they do shoddy work, not just once in a blue moon when that shoddy work results in calamity.

  43. @ Colin

    I hope you see this. I am not usually one to carry an ‘arguement’ to a new page but it kind of nipped when you said: “You believe what you like, dear,” regarding the BBC’s unattributed assertions that Gaddafi was employing sub-Saharan mercenaries.

    I know you have respect for Amnesty International & The Independent. Here is a quote & link which I hope you will take note of:

    The war has deepened racial hostility. The rebels claim that many of Colonel Gaddafi’s soldiers were black African mercenaries. Amnesty International says these allegations are largely unproven and, from the beginning of the conflict, many of those arrested or, in some cases, executed by the rebels were undocumented labourers caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    http ://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/libyans-dont-like-people-with-dark-skin-but-some-are-innocent-2345859.html
    8-)

  44. @ Old Nat

    “Not at all. Your earnest approval of lesbian couples having babies is certainly not Victorian.”

    Victorian homes…I love. Victorian values….not so much.

    You know I read somewhere that recently, the Irish Supreme Court held that a sperm donor to a lesbian couple’s child had a right to visitation of that child and that the lesbian couple did not comprise a family. I find that shocking, appalling, and disgraceful. But it’s a reminder of how strongly conservative Europe tends to be. Why where I live, those two mothers can both be listed as the child’s parents on the birth certificate. To deny that to qualified parents would be a denial of civil rights.

    As the law (well the enlightened body of law that governs me) so rightly recognizes, simply being able to put junk in a cup doesn’t make one a father.

  45. And another thing….

    On the topic of women and babies….I believe in what Judge Judy says. She argues that women need to be brought up to be independent, self-sufficient, able to think for themselves, and know that they can acheive whatever they set out to do.

    I feel that having babies at too young an age can hamper that. With that said, I believe that it’s up to women in their individual capacities to choose for themselves as to when they want to have kids (if they want to have kids at all) and what they want their lives to be like. Obviously, there are exceptions (I don’t think 12 and 13 year old girls should be having babies). But it’s generally not something I need to be involved in nor is it something that the government should ever be involved in (except in rare and exceptional cases).

    Where I give it a qualification is that people should not have kids who they cannot take care of. Anyone can make a baby (it’s not that hard to do). It’s a very different thing altogether to actually be a parent. I think this is why there are some who have problems with young mothers.

  46. @ Chou Enlai

    ” On the other hand, if baby is the fourth at age 17 by yet another father, who does a runner, just like the other 3, then something is wrong.”

    I once had a coworker and friend who had been a young mother (I think she first gave birth at 15) and she had three kids, all of them by different fathers. I’m not sure I would have made that decision if I was her but she was able to take care of her kids and raise them.

    @ Amber Star

    “Women are biologically designed to get pregnant super-easily when they are in their teens & very early twenties. It’s a fact. And physically, that’s the best time for them to become parents.”

    My parents have an across the street neighbor who decided to have kids for the first time at age 46. It was not an easy pregnancy and there were resulting complications. Of course, that’s when she was ready to have kids.

    @ Martyn

    “But to conflate that into “teenage mothers are bad ex-officio” is a bit silly. Some teenage women will have babies, not as part of some big liberal conspiracy or Decline of Western Civilisation, but because that’s what human females *do*.”

    Interesting perspective. I think Sarah Palin would agree with you that teenagers having babies is not part of a big liberal conspiracy.

  47. Good Morning from the Manchester United branch in sunny Bournemouth.

    @ OL NAT. you would still have ‘eased me out’ of your school’ (did you see the very moving reaction of the parents and pupils in the catholic school in Peckham, where results exceeded many middle class schools in england?)

    @Social Liberal. Maybe the children in utero also have rights too, and souls

  48. http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/africa/08/28/libya.gadhafi.nanny/index.html?iref=obnetwork

    Classy people those Gadhafis. Truly classy.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/29/frum.obama.mistakes/index.html

    So this link is actually Republican criticism of Obama. And I post it because I actually agree with much of this article (not entirely agree but I think the gist of it is right). What I find fascinating is how while it is critical of Obama (written by one of Dubya’s henchmen), it contradicts and rejects the current worldwide conservative mantra of the need for massive spending cuts as the solution to current economic woes.

  49. @ Chris Lane

    “Maybe the children in utero also have rights too, and souls”

    You do not have rights in utero.

  50. It got blocked in moderation when I tried to post earlier but here is some legitimate criticism of Obama (I’m not above criticizing those who I vote for and who belong to my party) and it comes from the right.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/08/29/frum.obama.mistakes/index.html

    What I find ironic is that this criticism essentially contradicts the current global conservative mantra of the need to cut government spending in order to help the economy.

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