The full tables for YouGov’s weekly voting intention poll are now up here. Topline voting intention stands at CON 36%, LAB 40%, LDEM 9%, Others 15%. The rest of the poll covered the economy, the pension strikes, Northern Rock, smoking in cars and attitudes to Margaret Thatcher.

The regular economic trackers show their normal dire figures. People remain evenly split on whether the government’s economic strategy is correct, or whether they should concentrate more on growth and less on cutting the deficit. However, people do tend to accept the claim that Britain would risk similar problems to Greece or Italy were we not to reduce the deficit – 27% think Britain’s economic situation is better than Greece/Italy and we could afford to borrow more, 47% think Britain needs to reduce the deficit or risk going a similar way to Greece/Italy. Asked about how different groups of people have fared during the recession, young people are seen to have been hit the hardest. 65% of people think young people have suffered more than most, 48% think retired people have, 39% public sector workers, 24% women.

There is very little support for reducing the minimum wage for younger people to encourage employment, with only 17% of people saying they would support this and 73% opposed. A majority (56%) also oppose the idea of reducing employment rights to make it easier to hire and fire people. On the subject of foreign workers, 51% think employers should give priority to British workers over foreign workers, even if they are better qualified. 69% think the government should do more to give British workers priority in applying for jobs.

Turning to Northern Rock, people support the sale to Virgin Money by 48% to 23% – not a surprising result in itself. Slightly less predictable was that people trended to think it was a good deal: 50% agreed that the government was always going to make a loss and £747m is a good deal, 34% think the government is losing too much money on the deal and should have held on for a better deal.

Turning to the public sector pension strikes, 49% of people now think it is right for public sector workers to contribute more to their pensions, 35% think it is wrong. 52% of people now oppose public sector workers going on strike over their pensions (up from 49% in September), 35% support it (down from 38%). Asked about the threshold for strike ballots 58% of people think that trade unions should require the support of 50% of eligible members to call a strike, as opposed to 50% of those taking part in a ballot – virtually unchanged from when YouGov asked a similar question in June.

On smoking there is majority support for blank packaging (56%), banning the display of cigarettes (58%) and for banning people smoking in cars with passengers (59%). Only 34% of people, however, would support banning people smoking in all private cars regardless of whether they have passengers. YouGov also broke these questions down by whether respondents themselves smoked, around a third of regular smokers supported the restrictions on packing, display and smoking with passengers in the car.

Finally there were some questions on Margaret Thatcher. She came top when people were asked who was the greatest post-war Prime Minister, picked by 27% of people (more than Churchill, though this may very well be people correctly discounting Churchill’s premiership, though clearly the fact that Churchill comes up second suggests many people didn’t!). Blair was chosen by 9%, Wilson by 6%.

Overall, 50% of people think that Thatcher was a great (20%) or good (30%) Prime Minister, 33% a poor (8%) or terrible (25%) Prime Minister. Only 8% of people thought she was an “average” Prime Minister, people either admire or loathe her. Compare this to when YouGov asked the same question about Tony Blair at the end of September, 6% thought he was great, 33% good, 14% poor, 21% terrible, 24% average – this is a far more even distribution, opinions on Thatcher remain extremely divided.


196 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 36, LAB 40, LD 9”

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  1. Amber

    According to the article :-

    “In the pipeline are new rules designed to make it easier for head teachers to remove hopeless members of staff by simplifying the complicated “performance management” arrangements for teachers”

    and

    “The good news is that already a third of secondary schools are academies , meaning they can set their own terms and conditions outside the union agreements”

    Having no detailed knowledge I took these at face value-please correct me if the article is in error.

    I hope it isn’t because I firmly believe that improved educational outcomes is absolutely vital for this country -& I am persuaded that uncorrected poor teachers are a significant problem in UK .

    I quite like this quote from the late Steve Jobs who described as “off the charts crazy” the unionised system in American Schools whereby head teachers could not sack bad teachers.

  2. @ TopHat

    Jon Cruddas has turned the biographical political speech into an art-form. His recent Clement Attlee memorial lecture is no exception.
    —————————–
    You may have seen/ read this speech already; if not, you might find it interesting/ enjoyable.
    8-)

  3. @ Top Hat

    “I’m always disappointed by how poorly Attlee [perorms] He’s without question the best post-War Prime Minister.”

    He’s definitely underrated. He left a massive impact on British society and yet he’s kinda forgotten.

    I think though, it’s kindof a historical truth about politics. Typically the workhorses who get the things done that change our lives and impact people’s lives for an extraordinarily long time after they leave politics and even die are often forgotten about or ignored while the showhorses are remembered. I think it’s okay though. If you entered politics to change the world, do you care more about what you actually accomplished or what people think of you 50-100 years after you died?

  4. Socal
    If you’re dead, neither :-)

  5. Amber

    Equality legislation, FOI, HRA, Devolution, Employment rights, support for/ expansion of H&S, support for Europe…

    …….were all these right-wing policies too?

    Devolution I’ve already dealt with.

    The HRA was more about legal procedures than rights and was I think first suggested by Conservatives. It had wide support across the political spectrum. The fact it has since become a bug-bear among those who have no idea how it operates is irrelevant.

    On equality, employment rights and health and safety, I suspect that those working in the field would say that the record was mixed. In addition there was often laxness in genuine enforcement, coupled with a box-ticking attitude to compliance which meant that making the right noises was valued over doing the right things. As so often this meant extra work for small business while larger companies were unaffected, often for political reasons.

    Support for Europe is hardly an uncontested left-wing issue and in any case the sort of EU that Labour supported during those years was very much of a piece with the closed, undemocratic ‘business-friendly’ model of the rest of their policies.

    Blair is on record as saying that Freedom of Information was the biggest mistake of his period in office (most of us could probably think of alternatives).

    The trouble with the record of Labour in office last time, is that the more you look at it the less there is to see. Compare with what Atlee got done in half the time.

  6. COLIN.
    Yes, there is a problem of poor teaching and expectations in state schools. o we took our 4 children out of state schools, they have one chance.

    There is a problem getting people to teach at all in many subjects. £29.00 an hour for an experienced teacher does not seem to recruit or retain the best staff in some places.
    So in many schools semi skilled staff are employed at less than £10.00 an hour as ‘cover supervisors’ instead of fully qualified staff.

    Then there is the issue that since 1988 teachers are paid on the basis they work 1265 hours per year over 39 weeks.

    So the state school pupils are not able to play sport on saturdays for example. They do not do latin or greek, or in many areas, the triple science option, or a modern foreign language.

    When they are violent to staff or fellow students they are hard to exclude from school. The Units run by LEA’s were closed, due to costs, in the 1980’s.

    If pupils are rebuked they can contact parents immediately, who can, and do, come to school immediately to confront a teacher who has challenged bad behaviour.

    The school corridors are often anarchic and scary.

    SO: The average new teacher lasts 4 years. 40% of PGCE students do not go into teaching. They have been trained at great costs.

    Many children of the elites therefore go private, or they go to schools which select on grounds of church participation, even though their own Party is PLEDGED to abolish such ‘Faith Schools’.

    London has about 50% of the pupils in private or church-aided schools.

    I hope Mr Gove does indeed succeed, Blair flunked it.

    (By the way most grammar school closures took place in 1970-1974 when Margaret Thatcher was Education Secretary)

  7. @ Colin

    “In the pipeline…”; where it will almost certainly remain.
    &
    “…meaning they can set their own terms and conditions outside the union agreements..”

    Emphasis on the word “can”; how many have done so & what difference it makes is a different kettle of fish.

    And they can’t stop teachers joining a union or discriminate when they are recruiting, so they will operate in exactly the same way as other schools when it comes to ‘getting rid of staff’.
    8-)

  8. @ Roger

    As so often this meant extra work for small business while larger companies were unaffected, often for political reasons.
    ——————————————————
    That’s simply not true & I’m willing to bet that you have no evidence with which to support this statement.
    8-)

  9. @ Roger Mexico

    …the sort of EU that Labour supported during those years was very much of a piece with the closed, undemocratic ‘business-friendly’ model of the rest of their policies.
    ——————————————-
    Oh, did I imagine the Social Chapter, which the Tories deferred & Labour were in favour of?
    8-)

  10. @ Roger

    Blair is on record as saying that Freedom of Information was the biggest mistake of his period in office (most of us could probably think of alternatives).
    —————————————–
    Indeed; but we are talking about his record whilst he was PM, not his musings afterwards.
    8-)

  11. @ Chris Lane & Colin

    SO: The average new teacher lasts 4 years. 40% of PGCE students do not go into teaching. They have been trained at great costs.
    —————————————-
    Retaining good staff is a bigger issue than getting rid of poor staff, it would seem.

    Some parents/ pupils, rather than Unions, appear to be the issue.
    8-)

  12. Isn’t it strange that the more we try to improve our state schools the worse they get! We been having this conversation for 30 years, methinks that there is something wrong with the conversation, Chrislane seems to have at least one clue about what the right conversation is.

  13. For anyone interested in the political waters here is Spain, PP (Cons) have gained an overall majority with 187 seats, PSOE have help on with only 110 seats. Clearly a crushing victory for the right, however, surprisingly resilient result for PSOE, seeing as they’re getting blamed for the Global financial crisis for some reason or another.

  14. Colin
    This point has of course special relevance in Scotland
    Amber
    Yes. IG came alive giving his real opinion on this. I do wonder if support for J Lamont as leader will be affected by the “doing” she would receive. The day she announced her candidacy the Press and Jounal comments were calling her Mrs Rab C Nesbit. Whoever the leader is they will get what IG got times 2

  15. Roger Mexico
    “most of the levelling had been done by Edwina Currie under John Major”
    Is there a esoteric code hidden in all your cryptic comments?

  16. @SoCal;

    I feel the same way about Lyndon Johnson.

  17. @ Barney

    We’re supporting ‘What’s his name’ :-) He seems to be very resilient & nobody will be able to accuse him of being London’s choice, given the ‘name’ thing.
    8-)

  18. Re: Thatcher’s popularity.

    So people in a floundering ex-Imperial powerhouse comfort themselves by harking back to their great days under a megalomaniac, dictatorial, belligerent ex leader who turned the lives of millions of their citizens into a living hell.

    Nowt unique about that:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7802485.stm

  19. CHRISLANE1945

    @”I hope Mr Gove does indeed succeed”

    So do I -desperately -imo it is the very key to the future.

  20. Colin: Before I retire to watch MOTD 2 and a Chelski defeat.

    yes our future is in the balance.

    I would become incompetent under pressure from thuggish behaviour on a sustained basis day after day.

    But there is no cheap option. It is not an accident that the English Ruling Classes’ children are taught at a cost of 25K a year. A state school sec head has 5k per annum to spend per capita per year.

    Mrs Thatcher said that the Good Samaritan succeeded as he had money. The same applies to children’s schools

  21. Chris

    Thanks

    You are clearly a committed & thoughtful teacher.

    ROB SHEFFIELD

    The answer to your question re Spain’s GE seems to be , quite a chunk deserted the Socialists for minor parties.

    REsults last time :-44% / 40%

    this time 29% / 43%

  22. I’m not sure what exactly we can do to improve the education system(s) in the UK. Gove’s experiments can’t hurt (although I’m sure many will argue they will) but I don’t think they are going to cure the malaise, or that they’re even really intended to.

    We are battling against very powerful cultures, both in our education establishment, and amongst our young people. Just wanting to sit down and jolly well learn some knowledge is not likely to get a look in.

  23. @Amberstar – I said – “One of the problems in the public sector is that it is easier for poorly performing people to hang on to positions of responsibility”

    You said – “Unthinking comment, IMO.
    Please think about this: The public sector employs & promotes people who the private sector won’t employ or promote because they have personal issues e.g. can only work part-time because of disability, have variable health due to physical/ mental conditions &/or have home responsibilities (e.g. they are parents, foster parents or have responsibility for an elderly/ disabled person).”

    I don’t actually see any connection between the two points. In fact, i think you are patronising people with disabilities and health issues by assuming they can’t perform well at work.

    I agree that employment conditions in the public sector are much more conducive to employing those with a variety of issues, and that that is a good thing.

    What I just can’t accept is a blanket assumption that a person with disabilities can’t be as lazy and ineffective as someone with two fully functioning legs. Call it equality if you like.

    People should be employed with allowances for their abilities if they experience a variety of difficulties. If they repeatedly fail or refuse to perform according to their abilities, I don’t believe they should retain their post.

  24. Our grandchildren 9, 5, go to a state school in a middle class district in Glasgow. From what we and the parents see, we are impressed with the quality of the facilities other than some of the buildings.

    I was myself at one of the leading independent schools where there was much bullying, homophobia and bad behaviour. The teachers were bullied and threatened with reprisals from governor parents if they proposed to discipline the sons.

    The only boy who passed the history exam was the one excluded from the class.

    I was beaten up by one of the two who went on to murder people.

  25. Tonight it’s one of the most bitter electoral nights I have had in my life (and I’ve had many). I refer of course to the catastrophic result of Spanish Socialists, the worst in their post-1975 history. Of course I have witnessed many victories of the center-right in France, Greece and Italy, but there the center-right parties are not heirs to dictatorial regimes. De Gaulle, Karamanlis, De Gasperi etc. were great figures who, like W. Churchill, fought for democracy and freedom, so even if I disagree with their economic and most of all social and civil liberties policies, I respect them nevertheless as democratic opponents. Such is not the case of PP that triumphed tonight in Spain, its founder M. Fraga was a close collaborator of Franco, and since in my school years in France I had many classmates and friends who were sons of Spanish refugees, I am very sensitive to this. Of course I know that the financial and EZ crisis is largely responsible for this, the Socialists were short-sighted, I admit, but the Populars are also (or even more) responsible for the real estate bubble that is the main reason for Spain to plunge into the crisis. Anyway, the decision of the citizens must always be respected, this is the democratic rule for which many of us have fought for, I hope that Spain recovers from its present state, especially as far as unemployment is concerned, yet it is difficult for me to contain my bitterness and sorrow for this result, even if it was very accurately predicted by all VI polls of the last months.

  26. Virgilio
    Hats off to truly moving comment

  27. Top Hat
    100% agreement on both Clem and LBJ

  28. ROGER MEXICO…………..From previous thread, thanks for being so generous in your judgement of my inadequacies, however, since I am, “exactly wrong” about Maggie, I must respond by widening my argument. Maggie was aware of the drift, at the lower end of our society, into an entitlement and dependency culture, as she wanted to free individuals to realise their potential, she needed to apply some, ‘tough love’. It didn’t work of course, in fact it had the opposite effect in stimulating the, ‘entitlement and dependency’ industry into action against her, painting her as uncaring and cruel, in fact she was neither.
    Issues arising……too many to mention. :-)

  29. @Roger Mexico said – “As so often this meant extra work for small business while larger companies were unaffected, often for political reasons.”

    @Amberstar said – “That’s simply not true & I’m willing to bet that you have no evidence with which to support this statement.”

    Got to go with @Amberstar on this one. Much is made of these issues in business and in large part I find the fault lies with business managers misunderstanding legislation and overdoing their response.

    The worst cases of over interpreting H&S requirements I’ve seen have all been in large companies and the public sector, and I’m constantly bemused by managers who haven’t got the wit to go online and check the legislation to see what they need to do.

    As a small business owner I have been surprised at just how straightforward the various financial, legal, H&S and employment laws are to administer. Decent record keeping (an essential part of running a good business) and a straightforward interpretation of the regulations are all that you need.

  30. @Virgilio – feel for you, but try to take in the broad sweep of history. What goes around comes around, and from what I gather, the victors have promised radical austerity but without cuts to anything anyone cares about. I’ve heard that line somewhere before, and I guess it won’t be long until the bearers of such promises start to feel the wrath of a mislead electorate.

  31. VIRGILIO…………..I sympathise with your plight, however, I can honestly advise you to deal as quickly as possible with the bitterness, you can and must, it is entirely corrosive. Good luck.

  32. @Neil A – “… sit down and jolly well learn some knowledge”

    And there was me thinking school was about passing notes, giggling, and trying not to get caught.

    Schooling is important, but it can’t be the all purpose panacea, or scapegoat, for the imperfectibility of human nature (a problematic concept).

    On a less facetious note, recent studies are questioning recieved wisdom that the brain goes into decline after the early 20s, as little grey cells start dying off. Functional ability can go on improving well into later life (though contemporary culture may not always encourage that).

    I wouldn’t complain about the quality of education handed down to me, though any particular skills I may have picked up came as much from my own motivation, or from interests/people outside school.

  33. @Neil A

    “I’m not sure what exactly we can do to improve the education system(s) in the UK”

    How’s this for starters:

    Pay teachers a lot more (say, 3 times as much, so it’s paid similarly to doctors, dentists, lawyers). Make teaching a career that is aspired to rather than one that is regarded as second or third best. Return teaching to its former status as a profession, rather than it being seen as a technical role for the delivery of fixed ‘lesson plans’ and ‘learning objectives’.

    Remove the charitable status of private schools unless they can demonstrate activity compatible (and no activity incompatible) with such a status.

    Eliminate all influence of religious bodies within schools.

  34. @Barney Crocket, Ken, Allen
    Thank you all for your comments, of course the fight goes on, in democracy nothing is definitive nor permanent and this is the beauty of it. If the theory of electoral cycles is correct, then we are now at the same point as March 1996, when the Spanish right won for the first time, and then, between April 1996 and September 1998 center-left was victorious in all Big-4, exactly as the VI polls indicate today. But nothing is given freely nor automatically, we all must fight for it, and the most decisive battle, as things stand now, is the French PE of 2012. Recent polls show a recovery of Sarkozy, but not enough to give him victory. In the runoff against Hollande, he gets between 40 and 43% (36 to 40 last month), but this was expected, I never believed that an incumbent president supported of one of the major French parties could make such a low score, my prediction is that he will get between 44 and 46%, a more “reasonable outcome”, but lose nevertheless…

  35. Thesheep

    But he could have chosen to ignore those constitutional issues. And you didn’t mention Northern Ireland. Although others played their parts their is no doubt that the process could have failed at many points without direct intervention at the highest level.

    Blair couldn’t have ignored all the constitutional issues – Scottish devolution in particular was so much a given that it would have wrecked the Labour Party to do otherwise.

    Northern Ireland is another issue. I didn’t mention it because the process started under Major. However the whole thing embodied a strange paradox.

    The real impetus came from the paramilitaries in Northern Ireland. They simply became weary of killing and being killed to maintain a political stalemate, but pride and social position made it difficult to admit that they had wasted decades of their lives (all of a lot of other peoples’).

    Meanwhile the politicians in the ‘respectable’ political Parties were actually quite content with the situation. They got lots of attention and money without actually having to take any responsibility or do anything except get elected. And because politics in NI is seen as a zero-sum game so any gain for the other side must be a loss for your own, that was the safe thing to do.

    So it needed outside intervention to get things to happen and to give the paramilitaries a way out of the (literal) deadlock they were in. Only the UK government could do this, but they made the mistake of trying too hard to get the NI political parties to agree. This led to endless delays and obstructions such as ‘decommissioning’ (an idiotic idea – how can you prove a negative?).

    I’m pretty sure it was Mo Mowlam who speeded it all up. She realised it was perfectly possible to stand up to the Unionists. What could they threaten to do, leave the UK? She knew that most people in Britain would be delighted to see them go. Of course the Unionists hated her for it (the Nationalist side were admiring but a bit scared). Whether her brain tumour disinhibited her a bit, I don’t know (she was never that inhibited to start with) but it certainly had an effect and got things rolling.

    Blair of course made the mistake of allowing the Unionists to appeal over her head (his vanity led him to think that only he could come in to solve things) and then the bigger mistake of replacing her with Mandelson. To be fair he may have been under pressure from the security services who were terrified at losing the main reason for their empire and possible revelation of their antics. Mandelson then did what he does best – claiming credit and convincing journalists how wonderful he is. It didn’t help matters, but the peace process was now unstoppable, partly because a lot of people in NI realised that it isn’t a zero-sum game, peace does benefit most people.

    So all you can really say is that Blair didn’t actually manage the wreck the peace process, but probably made it drag on for longer than it should have.

  36. Robin
    “Pay teachers a lot more (say, 3 times as much, …”

    Where will the money come from? Teachers are very well paid by most standards already.

    “…Return teaching to its former status as a profession, ..”

    This won’t happen while teachers are so heavily unionised. professions such as lawyers, doctors etc may have their own professional associations, but these are very different to Trades Unions.

    What is really needed is a return to discipline, including the reintroduction of Approved Schools for the most recalcitrant pupils.

  37. @ Robin

    I think most teachers would turn cart-wheels for:
    1. Smaller class sizes;
    2. Keeping the pensions ‘rights’ which they have; &
    3. An inflationary increase in salary.

    I put smaller class sizes first because the majority of teachers care about education & are better than we deserve. Despite everything, most continue to put education first & self-interest second.
    8-)

  38. @ Alec

    What I just can’t accept is a blanket assumption that a person with disabilities can’t be as lazy and ineffective as someone with two fully functioning legs. Call it equality if you like.
    —————————————–
    I’m going to have to disagree with you there. It is so very difficult for people with handicaps (& I don’t just mean health/ disability issues) to find employment that, aside from the handicap, they are generally over-qualified, hard working & as effective as they can possibly be within the limits imposed by their handicap.

    So, they are usually very good at their job but have intermittent periods of unavoidable absence etc. During that time, a temp must fill in. Can a similar calibre of employee be obtained on a temporary basis? Not usually, no. Therefore, the outcomes in the department fluctuate.

    The getting a temp up-to-speed/ picking up again/ forced to take leave & time-off/ temp coming in again… it is not efficient & it is not the most effective way to work. But to be a society which includes people with handicaps, it is worth the inefficiency, is it not?
    8-)

  39. I’m going to throw a crazy idea out there

    There is always a lot of talk about smaller classes and there is this homework club thing, what about dividing the classes in two, one half has lessons in the morning while the other half does homework under supervision(you could put all the half classes together here) in the afternoon they swap. Of course this would only work if twice as much teaching was done in a class half the size, but I have a feeling it wouldn’t be far off. It should a least be worth a pilot scheme. Of course I’m not a teacher, I’m only someone who has been through school and noticed that half the time is used trying to control the class. I’m sure the professionals will shoot my idea down.

  40. crossbat11

    I think thou doth protest too much.

    I think I’m protesting the about the right amount actually :) I didn’t call Blair’s (in)actions anything, just describe them and I suppose you could call him “a classic centrist politician” but that doesn’t make him that different from Thatcher, especially in first years of her premiership before she started believing her own propaganda (which was the point I was making to Ken).

    Thatcher may have been “a politician of the right and not the centre”, but the centre has been moved since her day and in part due to her. If you look at the beliefs that Wikipedia ascribes, Blair certainly would agree with her on ‘free markets’, ‘tax cuts’, ‘nationalism’, ‘privatisation’ and ‘a dash of populism’.

    He’d no doubt replace ‘Victorian values’ (of the Samuel Smiles self-help variety) with those irritating ‘hard-working’ families’ but the meaning is more or less the same. Wikipedia’s entirely correct in pointing out what ‘Victorian values’ meant by the way – Thatcher really didn’t care about people’s sex lives, though she was happy enough for the more rabid members of her Party to launch an attack if she thought there were votes in it.

    That only leaves ‘financial discipline [and] firm control over public expenditure’. Neither of us would agree these are inherently the characteristics of any part of the political spectrum.

    It’s true that Mrs Thatcher “didn’t think General Pinochet was such a bad chap either!”. But who was Prime Minister when, against the ruling of the House of Lords, he was not extradited to face war crimes? Lets just say that, when it comes to unpleasant foreign dictators, they’ve both got form.

    AS I said above, definitions of where the centre is have changed since the Eighties and it could well be if Thatcher were PM now she would be doing things she wouldn’t have dared back then. But if you look at Blair’s actions when they were directly comparable with hers on say taxes and nationalisations he did objectively “inhabit a political world to the right of Thatcher”. It may feel “preposterous”, but its difficult to show otherwise.

    Of course Blair’s real ‘betrayal’ wasn’t in what he did but what he didn’t do. But I’ve gone on for ling enough as it is.

  41. Of course that should really be “taxes and privatisations” not “taxes and nationalisations” .

    Also “long” not “ling”.

    Proof I’m finished for the night. ;) Though I can’t resist pointing out:

    Pete B

    “…Return teaching to its former status as a profession, ..”

    This won’t happen while teachers are so heavily unionised. professions such as lawyers, doctors etc may have their own professional associations, but these are very different to Trades Unions.

    No it’s because teachers aren’t heavily unionised enough. Doctors and lawyers still have closed shops – teachers never have had.

  42. Roger Mexico

    I realise that the discussion on education here has nothing to do with our two countries, but it is worth noting that Scotland has had the GTC since 1968. You can’t teach in Scotland (in private or public school) without being a member.

    That it has published lists of competencies that teachers are required to have to remain on the register made it significantly easier for employers to sack teachers who did not demonstrate those competencies.

    Even before that, I was involved in the dismissal of teachers from the service. I never found the Unions to be a problem. They wanted (quite rightly) to know that every effort had been made to bring the teacher up to an acceptable level of performance, and that employment law had been observed. Given that, their attention turned to doing their best to negotiate th best terms for their member to leave teaching.

  43. @ Richard in Norway

    “We call it snus, and its very popular here. But its not chewing gum its a type of chewing tobacco.”

    That’s right, snus. Do you think it’s something that is effective in curbing smoking and curbing the bad effects of smoking (such as second hand smoke and the actual inhaling of cigarette smoke that seems to be the killer for lungs)?

    “They were indeed but to be honest I couldn’t watch the whole thing, it was way too much religion for my liking.”

    Oh good. I’m glad. I always want to make sure that my explanations on these things are good. And yeah, there is too much religion. Don’t they realize they’re actually belittling their own religious beliefs and values by carrying on in the way that they do?

  44. @ Old Nat

    “Even before that, I was involved in the dismissal of teachers from the service. I never found the Unions to be a problem. They wanted (quite rightly) to know that every effort had been made to bring the teacher up to an acceptable level of performance, and that employment law had been observed. Given that, their attention turned to doing their best to negotiate th best terms for their member to leave teaching.”

    I have noticed that in the U.S., there has been an increasing demonization of public school teachers unions and attempts to go after them by those who often describe themselves as “reformers.” What bothers me as a Liberal is that many of these so-called reformers are Liberals. Yet their only ideas about reforming public education is to attack public school teachers and go after unions.

    What really bothers me too is that most of these people don’t have kids in public schools but instead have them in private schools. Yet they feel that they know better about public schools than those who work in, teach in, and attend public schools and can substitute their own judgment for theirs. And a lot of the local politicians who engage in these teacher union attacks are Democrats. The best example of this would be former DC mayor Adrian Fenty and his crusading school superintendent Michelle Rhee.

    The whole thing offends me. So I appreciate your perspective on this.

  45. @ Neil A

    I’m not sure what exactly we can do to improve the education system(s) in the UK.
    ——————————
    The solution to most of the issues is: Smaller class sizes.

    But that would cost money for teachers & changes to buildings/ more buildings.

    The endless debate that goes on around education is basically: How can we get the same outcomes as we’d get with smaller class sizes without spending money to achieve smaller class sizes?

    The answer: We can’t.

    Which is why all the chattering amounts to nothing. And Gove’s initiatives will also come to naught because, for most schools, there’s still only 5k per pupil per year.
    8-)

  46. @ Top Hat

    “I feel the same way about Lyndon Johnson.”

    He’s a complicated figure for sure. Ask an ex-hippie like my dad and he’ll tell you that LBJ was a terrible president because of the Vietnam War. His escalation and handling of Vietnam was horrendous. Also, during his presidency you saw massive social unrest (highlighted by the Long Hot Summers Riots). A lot of Great Society was also an abject failure. On a personal level he was a truly awful and genuinely nasty individual who engaged in corrupt and borderline criminal practices throughout his political career. His first election was likely won by electoral fraud (and there is some suspicion that he used the same methods to elect JFK in Texas in the 1960 presidential election).

    Yet when you look back on his presidency, there is a lot he accomplished that permanently changed the U.S. for the better. The 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act were some of the most important peices of legislation ever passed by Congress and it took someone like LBJ to get them done. The Hate Crimes Act of 1968 would have been one of the most important too had it not been for some language being drafted poorly, leading it to be ineffective in many prosecutions (problems in the act’s language were not fixed until 2009 when the Matthew Shephard Act was signed into law).

    @ Virgilio

    “Anyway, the decision of the citizens must always be respected, this is the democratic rule for which many of us have fought for, I hope that Spain recovers from its present state, especially as far as unemployment is concerned, yet it is difficult for me to contain my bitterness and sorrow for this result”

    I’m sorry for the election losses tonight. I know how much you associate with and have a sense of fraternity with other Socialist parties in Europe. But I think your words here sum up an important point. The decision of the voters, even if it’s wrong, has to be respected. Be glad that a lot of your friends who you grew up with will not be punished as a result of this election and they will continue to be free to voice their political views.

    I don’t know too much about Spanish politics. But when you have 20% unemployment, economic stagnation, and proposed austerity being forced upon you by other nations, the incumbent government is going to become very unpopular. In this case, it was the Socialists.

  47. @ Alec

    “What goes around comes around, and from what I gather, the victors have promised radical austerity but without cuts to anything anyone cares about. I’ve heard that line somewhere before, and I guess it won’t be long until the bearers of such promises start to feel the wrath of a mislead electorate.”

    I’ve heard that line a lot too.

    I’m curious about something. How much military manufacturing goes on in Great Britain and how powerful are the defense contractors? I’ve been thinking a lot about the military defense industrial complex and how to build an alliance between them and the Occupy Movement in order to lobby for more intelligent fiscal policies. Given the amount of military cuts that the Coalition are making, I wonder how powerful that lobby is in the UK (if it even exists).

  48. “The solution to most of the issues is: Smaller class sizes.”

    I’m not sure how strong the evidence is for this claim. After all, all other things being equal a reduction in class sizes means a dilluting in the quality of teachers since more teachers have to be hired/retained and there is little evidence that such a policy is wise.

    A cynic might even say that it is the effect of class size policy on retention that makes reducing class sizes have such popularity in certain quarters.

  49. Bill

    Well private schools have smaller class sizes so I suppose they have figured out that it improves standards. But also studies have been done which prove that smaller classes give better results.

  50. @ Neil A

    “On the whole though I am uncomfortable with that sort of approach to law enforcement. Banning things to “send a message” seems to me a misuse of the law, which should be there to prohibit only that which absolutely must not be allowed.”

    I agree. Frankly, banning things outright rarely gets rid of them in society and the ban tends to make them far more profitable for criminals. See, e.g., Prohibition.

    As for banning smoking in cars, I don’t really see a point. Although, I believe that it is still either a misdemeanor or an infraction to smoke in certain neighborhoods in LA while driving and has been since the early 1960’s. But the reason for this is not actually related to health. It was done in response to the Bel Air Fire of 1961 (one of the largest and most destructive urban fires in history) and the fear that fires were being started when drivers would casually toss finished but still-lit cigarettes out of windows in areas that were naturally fire prone.

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