The Sun politics team have tweeted tonight’s YouGov voting intention. Topline figures are CON 38%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9% – so Labour’s lead down to 3 points. Changes may well just be sample error like the 2 point poll we saw earlier this week, but certainly there doesn’t appear to be any boost for Labour from their party conference.


288 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 38%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%”

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  1. Swebb,

    I wish I knew half as much as you think you do about the future.

  2. I was interested to see that the (presumably mostly-Labour voting) Liverpudlian audience wasn’t overly impressed by EM’s speech. So this poll may not be an outlier.

    As I said though, the point of opposition conferences at this stage in the electoral cycle is not to boost the party’s VI figures.

  3. R HUCKLE

    “So we have already seen some populist pre conference announcements. 80 MPH on motorways and £250 million to pay for reintroduced weeking bin collections.”

    It’s always interesting to see how the concatenated English/UK Government’s news releases are presented/interpreted.

    The 80mph consultation applies only to England & Wales.

    The additional funding for councils to collect bins weekly applies only to England (hopefully there will be Barnett consequentials for the other nations).

  4. Bill Patrick

    “The future”?

    If those neutrinos did go through a worm hole, you could see a Klingon PM that is/has been/will be in the state of Greater Man. (Roger as his Alasdair Campbell)?

  5. Oldnat,

    I wouldn’t rule out that possibility even if the neutrinos didn’t. I think it’s just a matter of time before we all realise that “Manx” is the coolest national adjective and send emissaries to Douglas to beg them to take us over.

  6. And the party of bankers & boy racers wonders why they don’t appeal to women!

  7. Notable absence of Tory posters, diplomatic silence or down at the pub celebrating?

    As HW said, although he was not the originator, a week is a long time in politics. A week ago I felt pretty low after the mighty clegg failed to raise the LDs in the polls (except for one happy day), while doing all I could to lift RinN wavering spirits.

    I feel certain that apart from a Tory boost from Dave and SamCam’s appearance at the Tory Conference, there may be a boost for LDs as well, as DC praises NC, Vince etc.

    I feel LD double figures coming on, I know I felt this before the LD conference, in what turned out to be a false dawn; however this could be the real thing.

    The Champagne is on ice, once more.

  8. It may not mean anything, and may be a sample error, but can somebody explain why the Labour supporters on here have to be so tribal about it?

    I dont see this from the Tories and Lib Dems on here, just tribal Labour voters.

    My opinion (for whats its worth) is that YouGov are overstating the Labour lead and understating the Lib Dems, and when it comes to actual election time, people will not see Ed Miliband are PM material.

    For the Tories, its actually kind of good news that Labour are ahead in the polls, because the longer they are head, the less chance Labour will get rid of Miliband.

    Tories biggest weapon is Ed Miliband, Labour will not win an election with him as leader.

    In my opinion, of course.

  9. Billybob

    LDs could publically say they support the changes, and as part of that agreement make an impossible demand upon their partners, or threaten to break the coalition on other grounds…

    Or they could do what is best for the country and back the changes as they have backed the austerity measures, and be deservedly rewarded in the 2015 GE.

  10. RinN

    The fact is that the world economy is in a real mess and unemployment is likely to surpass 4 million but at this point it does not matter which party is in power the result would be the same.

    While I agree with your first paragraph, I believe you are being unduly pessimistic about unemployment, remember we are the half full not the half empty party.

  11. I haven’t seen the Mirror yet this week (or indeed ever) but I’m told even they were lukewarm about Ed, and the media in general seem to be stuck to the “is Ed up to it” story. (Incidentally, I agree with those who have suggested that the BBC have lurched right again in recent times. Clearly the AC hex has worn off).
    Back to the point though. Having seen Yvette Cooper twice this week portray the qualities of a leader/PM, how many Labour supporters would rather she was leader than Ed ? I ask genuinely……..she is a very impressive politician, and would scare the pants off the Coalition front bench (even if her taste in men seems to be an Achilles heel…..)

  12. Bluejock

    Back to the point though. Having seen Yvette Cooper twice this week portray the qualities of a leader/PM, how many Labour supporters would rather she was leader than Ed ?

    I am sure Labour would love to have a female leader, if a real quality one could be found. Is Yvette the answer?

  13. Bluejock,

    I think having a husband & wife team as Shadow PM and Shadow Chancellor crosses over the line from Labour’s recent “keeping it in the family” approach to “Communist Romania” or “Socialism in One Family”.

  14. @ Crossbat11

    “I remember the days when a Labour Conference was guaranteed to lose the party support, such was the internecine war and blood-letting that was bound to occur as composite motions, union block votes and leadership-bashing ruled the day. Exciting for journalists and politicos, but usually politically disastrous. Party strategists dreaded them and they breathed great sighs of relief when they were over, hopefully with as little damage as possible. They would have been delighted, not dismayed, if TV cameras broke down, if only to spare the party any further dirty washing in public!”

    You never want your conventions to decrease political support for your party. I think my party learned that in 1968 and 1972. Fight Club is not a good way of deciding your platform at a convention. :)

    @ Roger Mexico

    “All results are now in. Four losses (three of them ministers). Liberal Vannin now has 3 MHKs out of 24 – a recent high for Party politics.”

    I didn’t even realize you guys were having an election. Haven’t you guys had the same leader since the early 1980’s?

  15. @ Bill Patrick

    Did Ed go off again on his tangent about how he and his party shouldn’t follow the political spectrum but instead how he and his party will instead move the political spectrum to them?

    Is it just because I’m a Yank that I find that comment and line of reasoning to be not only stupid but totally arrogant?

  16. SoCalLiberal,

    I think that most problematic for Ed is that he praised Thatcher. There’s a reason why David Cameron doesn’t go on about the virtues of Tony Benn and why Obama doesn’t talk about Reagan’s glories. It’s just not sensible politics: it’s using tired stuff to appeal to the middle ground, which is still hot excrement to the core.

  17. Roger Mexico

    From what I’ve seen Liberal Vannin seem to be a right wing party who want to cut public expenditure because the previous Government wasted money.

    Is that the correct perception?

  18. Soccalliberal

    That is pretty much the jist of the message I got. I define myself to be in the centre for me doesn’t work at all and get the feeling he’s scared of being portrayed (probably with more than a little accuracy) as a bit of a lefty.

    Ed, tell us your policies then the public will decide if you are in the centre or not.

    Maybe it’s me but every time I tried watching the conference it wasn’t 10 seconds without a visceral attack on the government which I felt were completely unfounded (The one, out of several patronising speeches that really bugged me was some MP telling me I can’t possibly be compassionate because I voted Tory at the last election and Tories can’t ever be compassionate) and I ended up switching off. Any opportunity to convince me the Labour might be worth listening to was lost and I’d consider myself less likely to go out of my way to take an interest in Labour speeches in future.

    For me it felt Labour was completely out of touch with me and maybe I should stop altogether considering them as an alternative if I feel that the conservatives have done a bad job of things (or have a leader I cannot identify with) by 2015.

  19. Alan

    ” I define myself to be in the centre”

    I’m sure that someone will have polling evidence on this, but my understanding was that most people consider themselves to “be in the centre” regardless of the dimension being scaled.

    You might think of yourself as being in the centre, although completing a Social/Political attitude survey might demonstrate that (compared to the rest of the population) you might be anywhere between a totalitarian right wing position to a Liberal, leftwing polarity.

  20. @ Alan

    “That is pretty much the jist of the message I got. I define myself to be in the centre for me doesn’t work at all and get the feeling he’s scared of being portrayed (probably with more than a little accuracy) as a bit of a lefty.

    Ed, tell us your policies then the public will decide if you are in the centre or not.”

    That’s what pluralism is for and what lobbying groups are for. Politicians follow the voters not vice versa. And really, that’s the way it should be.

  21. @ Bill Patrick

    “I think that most problematic for Ed is that he praised Thatcher. There’s a reason why David Cameron doesn’t go on about the virtues of Tony Benn and why Obama doesn’t talk about Reagan’s glories. It’s just not sensible politics: it’s using tired stuff to appeal to the middle ground, which is still hot excrement to the core.”

    You know, Obama actually has a lot in common with Ronald Reagan (except Reagan never lost a race and Obama did once…we’ll see about 2012) and in fact of all the presidents he’s like, he’s probably most like Reagan.

    I think people want to hear more than just praise for leaders of the opposition. That’s very nice and all but it doesn’t really convey much.

    In terms of Thatcher railroading through unpopular programs and policies, I think it’s questionable how unpopular they really were. A lot of people seemed to benefit from them and support them. Those who didn’t really hated her and her policies and vociferously protested it but the loudness of one’s voice doesn’t mean one is in the majority. After all, it was Richard Nixon who once opined that the louder a political group yells, the smaller a group they likely are.

  22. SoCalLiberal

    “Politicians follow the voters not vice versa. And really, that’s the way it should be.”

    There’s a poem by Liverpudlian poet Roger McGough which caricatures that position

    I wanna be the leader
    I wanna be the leader
    Can I be the leader?
    Can I? I can?
    Promise? Promise?
    Yippee I’m the leader
    I’m the leader

    OK what shall we do?

    I fundamentally disagree with what you suggest, Political parties should hold out a vision to the voters. If the voters don’t agree – fine, but at least there is an honest presentation.

    Parties following the people is just amoral unprincipled politics where toe sole objective is for one set of unprincipled politicians to sneak some advantage over another set of unprincipled politicians.

    If both do identical things to what their focus groups decided was the popular view – then why waste time having elections?

    In my context, should the SNP in the 1960s have said “Oh, the Scots seem not to want autonomy – we’ll just disappear then?”

  23. @ Henry

    “I am sure Labour would love to have a female leader, if a real quality one could be found. Is Yvette the answer?”

    I’d just like to take this moment to say that I like Harriet Harman. She’s extremely witty and gives off a Hillary Clinton vibe. I don’t think she’s the answer though.

    Yvette Cooper might be.

  24. @ Old Nat

    “I fundamentally disagree with what you suggest, Political parties should hold out a vision to the voters. If the voters don’t agree – fine, but at least there is an honest presentation.”

    I don’t think our disagreement is so great. I agree with you that political parties should hold out visions to voters and should stand up for a core set of values. I don’t believe in pandering either. And I appreciate politicians who are willing to take the principled stand even if it’s unpopular.

    But what I argue is that the political party is a vehicle for electing political candidates who will ultimately serve the public. That’s who they’re ultimately accountable to. I don’t believe that parties drive the voters to make their decisions or are there to tell voters what to think and believe. Nor do I think it’s their role either. Rather, their policies ultimately need to be driven by what the voters want.

    You raise a good point about your own party and their drive for independence in the face of initial unpopularity. Political parties that seek to change the constitutional status quo are a little different because those parties exist for the purpose of acheiving certain goals. The Scots Nats and the DC Statehooders don’t exist solely to elect candidates to office but ultimately to push a longstanding goal. But even those parties have to adjust their policies and their stances according to what the public wants and where the public stands. That’s why, as you pointed out, the gradualists camp of the Scots Nats won out.

  25. @ Old Nat

    “Parties following the people is just amoral unprincipled politics where toe sole objective is for one set of unprincipled politicians to sneak some advantage over another set of unprincipled politicians.

    If both do identical things to what their focus groups decided was the popular view – then why waste time having elections?”

    I don’t want to argue with you because I’m too busy arguing with Kossacks over DADT and whether the 9th Circuit was right in dismissing an appeal as moot. I’m kinda tired of it (we all basically agree).

    Here’s the thing, it’s not that you go out and campaign on what you believe to be popular. That is unprincipled and I’m fully with you on my dislike of it. What I mean is that politicians aren’t going to pander. They will stay true to their values and their party’s core set of values. They are cognizant though of what the public’s mood is and what the public wants.

  26. SoCalliberal

    I’m not convinced that parties advocating constitutional change are a unique case.

    In my young day :-) there were genuinely ideological differences between Tory, Labour and Liberal (note – not LD) and the tiny SNP.

    That there are no real differences between Con/Lab/LD any more is due to decisions they have taken in order to more closely match their policies to what the focus groups were telling them (but frequently unaware of the push polling questions often asked in these fora).

    Why should anyone care about marginal policy differences between parties who are basically promulgating identical messages?

  27. @ Old Nat

    “I’m not convinced that parties advocating constitutional change are a unique case.”

    I’m not either because as we’ve seen, the Scots Nats have adjusted to make their party more electable and focus on issues far beyond independence. Your party still stands for independence but there are numerous other issues, both big and small, that you guys focus on.

    The same is true of the D.C. Statehooders. You look at Julius Hobson and Hilda Mason and their careers and what they spent the bulk of time campaigning for and which causes they championed. There was a lot more than just statehood.

    Or look at Harvey Milk. Milk is one of the best examples of a modern day politician who’s been given near sainthood status. The State of California now has an official holiday for Harvey Milk Day. Yes, he had his core values that he stood for and championed and never waivered from. But then you look at some of the other issues he got behind and championed like requiring dog owners in San Francisco to clean up their dog crap. That’s something all San Franciscans cared about and were bothered with.

    “In my young day there were genuinely ideological differences between Tory, Labour and Liberal (note – not LD) and the tiny SNP.

    That there are no real differences between Con/Lab/LD any more is due to decisions they have taken in order to more closely match their policies to what the focus groups were telling them (but frequently unaware of the push polling questions often asked in these fora).”

    You might be right about that. I think there are key differences between their parties, it’s their leaders and leadership who seem the most similar. The obvious exception would be the SNP. Your party’s leaders are clearly different and don’t look like the ones of the three main parties and I don’t just mean in ideology either. People have told me (and sometimes still tell me) there’s no difference between my political parties when clearly there is. As soon as people start laying out that tired line, I may smile politely but in my mind I’m saying “you don’t know shit about my country’s politics do you.”

    “Why should anyone care about marginal policy differences between parties who are basically promulgating identical messages?”

    Because those marginal policy differences can often have a major impact on individual lives.

  28. OldNat
    In my young day there were genuinely ideological differences between Tory, Labour and Liberal (note – not LD) and the tiny SNP

    I think there are huge idealogical differences between Labour and Tories. The Lib Dems have a split political personality.

    Tories believe in small govt and Labour large. The process of increasing or decreasing the public sector maybe slow but it is there.

    While the rich are out of bounds as far as taxation is concerned with both parties, Labour believe in redistribution of wealth and the Tories are against.

    Labour do not like inherited wealth. Tories see nothing wrong in inherited wealth, and in fact believe it should be encouraged (again with both parties the rich are untouched).

    Both Parties use means testing, but Tories would minimise it, while labour would maximise it.

    Tories believe in public schools and grammar schools, and labour would prefer non grammar state only.

    Tories believe that parents should be married. Labour do not beleive this is necessary.

    Both parties are opposed to benefit fraud and tax evasion, they disagree on which is the most serious.

    The LDs are split between the LIberal and the social democrat; the liberals are supicious of Labour as they fear an authoritiarian big brother state, associated with centrist policies, mass databases holding personal details, id cards and cctv. The SDs broadly accept the socialist idealogy, but perhapsm a gentler version, Shirley Williams version rather than that of Harriet Harman.

  29. SOCALLIBERAL

    I’d just like to take this moment to say that I like Harriet Harman. She’s extremely witty and gives off a Hillary Clinton vibe. I don’t think she’s the answer though.

    I do not like HH but I do like HC and felt uncomfortable with some of the criticism she received when going for the presidency nomination; some very sexist remarks.

    I think there is a big political difference between the two.

  30. @ Old Nat

    I’ve done some more thinking about this.

    Elected officials are representatives of the people who they are ultimately responsible and accountable to. Now that doesn’t mean that elected officials should always do whatever the public demands (look no further than civil rights votes for the opposite of that). Generally speaking though, the politicians are supposed to take orders from the people not vice versa.

  31. @ Henry

    “I do not like HH but I do like HC and felt uncomfortable with some of the criticism she received when going for the presidency nomination; some very sexist remarks.

    I think there is a big political difference between the two.”

    I love HC (HRC as we call her)! Absolutely love her. I’ve met her twice and was just overwhelmed with how much I actually liked her. I voted for her, I volunteered for her, I gave money to her campaign, I wound up working for her campaign, and then spent even more money attempting (unsuccessfully) to become a delegate for her. It was all very sad and “bitter.” Lol. But I have no regrets for it and make no apologies for it.

    The sexist remarks made towards her were despicable. And some of the sexist attitudes taken against her by some in the media who claim to be liberal really disturbed me. However, I do not believe for a minute that she lost because of sexism. Nor do I believe that the Obama campaign ever ran a sexist campaign against her (similarly, her campaign did not run a racist campaign against Obama). The fact that some followers of both candidates may have made some stupid and bigoted remarks (whether racist or sexist) was not a reflection of either of the campaigns.

    In any case, she’s made an amazing Secretary of State and she’s sealed her place in the history books. There are probably big differences between HH and HRC and you’d probably be able to identify them better than me.

  32. ROB SHEFFIELD, ICEMAN, R in N and HENRY.

    Yes, the economic cycle has reached the bottom, I think, and there will not, I think, be a collapse of the whole Euro-edifiice.
    In any case, the Conservatives won the 1935 and 1992 Elections in recessions, and they would do again- most people do well in recessions anyway- since 85% of people are at work.

    HENRY: weather is fantastic, and tennis is good.

    The worst Labour Conference in my view since it was dominated in 1981 by Tony Benn, (he became this name in the summer of 1970 after reading his dad’s diaries, and started in the words of Harold: immaturing with age- unlike red wine)

    Ed Miliband used to do the photo copying for the ‘Man from Planet Duck’ (rhyming with)- Ed Balls. Now he grins at the cheers against the greatest leader that Labour has ever had, greatest on the criteria of winning elections that is.

  33. @ Henry

    Without quoting you verbatim, I kinda like your explanations of the Lib Dems and their difference between Labour. What’s fascinating is that I have a hard time telling the difference between the profile of a Lib Dem and Labour voter (the more middle class and well to do suburbanite ones). But when it comes to actual electeds, I can’t tell much of a difference between David Cameron and Nick Clegg.

    There seems to be this young set of more libertarian, wealthy, urbane Tories (led by Cameron) and this set of more libertarian Orange Bookers (led by Clegg). I think the political slogan for both could be something like “We like sex, not taxes.”

    It seems to me that the American liberal is fine with big government but believes in watching it like a hawk. That’s as best I can do for coming up with any kinda coherent explanation as to why we don’t seem to have the same left wing divide that everyone else seems to have and have this strange hybrid philosophy that no one else seems to have (or maybe when 50.7% of the country can elect someone like George Dubya Bush, you don’t have the luxury of dividing yourselves).

    On the issue of marriage that you bring up (where you say Tories favor marriage and Labour doesn’t), what’s the Lib Dem position?

    I mean, I would say it’s a generally good thing for parents of children to be married and that two-parent families are preferable to one-parent families but no one has the right to tell two people how they must live or tell single people that they cannot have children or discriminate against people for their familial status. Especially not the government.

  34. Bill,

    “I think having a husband & wife team as Shadow PM and Shadow Chancellor crosses over the line from Labour’s recent “keeping it in the family” approach to “Communist Romania” or “Socialism in One Family”.”

    I hadn’t envisioned a senior role for “Mr Cooper” in Yvette’s shadow cabinet!
    You touch on a key question though – will the Labour party in net terms end up worse off if YC always takes a lesser role in order to avoid potential issues of conflict with the advancement of her husband’s career?

  35. “Tories believe in small govt and Labour large.”
    I’m going to call nonsense here – the whole ‘small state’ vs ‘large state’ in British politics doesn’t exist.
    The Tories are very large state, when it comes to crime and social issues.
    Labour are large state, when it comes to issues of welfare and social democracy*.

    When people talk about ‘small state’ or ‘big state’ they only *ever* refer to the state’s role in welfare or other social justice issues.
    So having a large NHS is ‘big state’ but ‘water cannons against protesters’ (which the Tories haven’t backed – but it’s an example) isn’t.
    Generous welfare payments are large state, but banning the broadcasts of political groups you have issues with (Sinn Fein, for example) isn’t.
    A large military isn’t considered big state, etc

    The only ‘small state’ parties are classical liberals and libertarians – except that we don’t have those as major parties in the UK.

    * Although less so during the Blair years, as they moved closer to the Tories on economics but also bigger state on crime.

  36. Tinged Fringe

    I’m going to call nonsense here – the whole ‘small state’ vs ‘large state’ in British politics doesn’t exist.

    The Tories will reduce in time the size of the public sector, just as Labour does the opposite.

    It is pretty clear from the posts both the labour and Tory stances are bqacked by their own followers.

  37. SOCALLIBERAL

    On the issue of marriage that you bring up (where you say Tories favor marriage and Labour doesn’t), what’s the Lib Dem position?

    The Lib Dem position is as you have said it. I am not saying either Tory or Labour is right,; but I am saying that the Tories would if they could and probably will press on this, that financial incentives are given for marriage.

  38. To give some better examples –
    42 day detention is big state. (Labour)
    Removing ‘sexy’ imagery (where did that policy go?) pre-watershed. (Tories)
    Scrapping Page 3. (LibDems)
    All big state.

    Legalising gay marriage. (Labour)
    Scrapping red-tape for business. (Tories)
    All small state.

    People generally don’t want big/small state, they want ‘good state’ and not ‘bad state’
    It just so happens that the Tories represent those with power (business owners, press barons, middle-class workers, ‘traditionalists’, nationals, etc) and the Labour party represents.. err.. exactly the same (exl ‘traditionalists’), but they once did represent those without power* – workers, minorities, etc
    So the right push for regulation (and against regulation) that benefits those in power, the left the opposite direction.

    Both sides are needed for a healthy democracy as they balance each other out.

    *The LibDems represented (during the Blair era) a lot of those disadvantaged groups better than Labour – hence the shift of Left-wing voters from Labour to LibDems 97-05.

  39. SOCALLIBERAL

    I love HC (HRC as we call her)! Absolutely love her. I’ve met her twice and was just overwhelmed with how much I actually liked her. I voted for her, I volunteered for her, I gave money to her campaign, I wound up working for her campaign, and then spent even more money attempting (unsuccessfully) to become a delegate for her. It was all very sad and “bitter.” Lol. But I have no regrets for it and make no apologies for it.

    Thanks it must have been an exciting time. I am pleased that you believe that racism and sexism occurred away from the two offical groups.

    It would be a pity if HRC is never President, do you think there is any chance in the future

  40. “The Tories will reduce in time the size of the public sector, just as Labour does the opposite.”
    And ‘financial rewards’ for marriage, big state or small state?
    How about the Iraq war (backed by the Tories), big state or small state?
    Opposition to gay marriage? Abortion? Tough on crime? etc

    If Tories were ‘small state’ they would be libertarians, not conservatives.

  41. And as a final note – this ‘big state’/’small state’ myth is exactly the same in the US.
    Democrats are more libertarian on social issues, but ‘big state’ on welfare.
    Republicans are the opposite.
    Both are big-state, just in different ways. But ‘Big state’ only ever refers to the ways that *democrats* are big state. Funny that.

  42. Tinged Fringe
    So the right push for regulation (and against regulation) that benefits those in power, the left the opposite direction.

    I understand and you provide some interesting examples. I am not in these posts attempting to suggest that one is good and one is bad;

    The LD Sun one is really interesting and challenging. I also think the emphasis will change as hard copy is replaced by Internet. I believe the Internet should be regulated to protect kids, but this is very difficult and no effective and fair method has been developed as yet.

    I still believe that we will see the reduction of people employed by the state sector in this Govt and if the Tories are re-elected in 2015 a much faster reduction. The people will turn at some point, when we do Labour will reverse the process.

    The Tories point to wasteful use of resources and non-jobs, and Labour talk of back door privatisation.

  43. Tinged Fringe
    If Tories were ‘small state’ they would be libertarians, not conservatives

    Maybe they are libertarians in some ways. But I think we should wait a few years and see whether the private/public mix has altered or not.

  44. Re-80mph limit.

    It’s true that most of Europe has more relaxed speed limits. It’s also true that mist if them have vastly higher road fatality rates than we do.

    In any case, isn’t the argument that “Europe has it so we should have it” anathema to a blood blooded Tory. What next? The Working Time Directive? The Euro?

  45. LeftyLampton

    In any case, isn’t the argument that “Europe has it so we should have it” anathema to a blood blooded Tory

    The other side of the coin is the expectation that all europhiles will be demanding the abolition to be closer with the EU.

  46. @TingedFringe

    “Both are big-state, just in different ways. But ‘Big state’ only ever refers to the ways that *democrats* are big state. Funny that.”

    I broadly agree with your analysis and all this right wing piffle about “rolling back the frontiers of the state” and “the bloated state” or the “nanny state” are merely soundbites and slogans. Of course. a lot of right wing politicians have discovered, probably via focus groups, that these deliberately derogatory descriptions have some sort of traction, implying as they do a wasteful, authoritarian, intrusive, illiberal and enemy-of-the-people version of the state. Of course, if it was expressed in rather more favourable terms such as the publicly funded provision of health, education, welfare, policing, military services and transport, then it has less Orwellian connotations and, per se, proves far less politically useful.

    You’re quite right that past Conservative governments have had equally big and expensive state sectors, but rather different ones to those run by Labour. Who can forget Thatcher’s mobilisation of those agencies of the state that she required to crush the miners strike and how her hiding of millions of unemployed on the invalidity benefit registers “bloated” the welfare and social security budgets for over a decade? A very large state, but employed for diametrically opposed political purposes to a Labour state.

    Empty sloganeering is easy in opposition, and can prove useful in Government too if smoke and mirrors are required to disguise real motives, but I’m amused by how Tory ministers, once so hostile to an “overweening” state, are hedging their bets a little now that they have their hands on the actual levers of state power! Mr Pickles is one such rather hilarious example of this dichotomy between word and deed, and I put that as euphemistically as I can. Expect many more such examples as the Coalition Government gets its feet evermore firmly under the table.

    Only Engels was ever truly serious about wanting the state to wither away. We’re a long way away from a dictatorship of the proletariat, aren’t we, despite young Ed’s valiant attempts in Liverpool this week!!

  47. @Richard in Norway – “I have just come across this report which suggests that the best way to cure our debt problem is a one off wealth tax of 25%.”

    Been saying it for years. It’s blindingly obvious as a solution, but the craziest thing about it all is, for those who shout ‘Marxist’ at the merest suggestion of wealth taxes, it really is the best way for the wealthy to protect their wealth in the current cirumstances. Having a crashing economy and debt fuelled depression won’t protect these people, economically or socially.

    A one off payment to relieve the debt burden would mean they can go back to the business of accumulating wealth very quickly, if that’s what floats their boat.

    Another interesting perspective on Ed’s ‘bad business’ notion. Adair Turner (no hyperventilating Marxist he) gave a little reported speech yesterday. It was quite extraordinary, being the head of the FSA, as he said that the markets cannot be trusted to provide the correct level of credit, in either boom or bust, nor can they be trusted to get it to the right parts of the economy.

    Major figures in the world of business and finance aare increasingly backing Ed’s approach to this whole problem and are rejecting Cameron’s ideas that the state simply needs to get out of the way.

    However, as @Lurker suggests, the message may be good, but the messenger is being overlooked.

  48. Crossbat11

    I broadly agree with your analysis and all this right wing piffle about “rolling back the frontiers of the state” and “the bloated state” or the “nanny state” are merely soundbites and slogans.

    While I do not agree that Tories talk any more or less pifle than Labour, or the LDs, I do agree that the Coalition has indicated it will reduce the size of the state sector, and has been on a number of occasions criticised for just that or for creeping privatisation.

    So it will be interesting to see whether I have been deceived by their oratory or whether they do intend to reduce the state sector either absolutely or in comparison to the private sector. We will be able to judge in a few years time.

  49. ‘@Richard in Norway – “I have just come across this report which suggests that the best way to cure our debt problem is a one off wealth tax of 25%.”
    Been saying it for years. It’s blindingly obvious as a solution’

    Piffle. All our wealth is in our houses (overall, you get the diea). None of us can stump up 25% of the value of our houses so that means we all have to sell our houses and buy smaller ones. There goes the economy…

  50. Henry

    Well done, you really set the cat among the pigeons with your small state big state assertions, it should provide a good debate today. Did the dems really have press censorship as a policy I am referring of course to page 3, what was the reasoning, public decency or demeaning to women. Strange that a policy which would appeal naturally to the other two parties for different reasons should be taken up by us when it goes against the spirit of liberalism. Even stranger when the other two parties wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole despite their instincts because of the unpopularity it would cause. I would have thought it was better to reclassify page 3 papers as comics

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