Looking back at 2011

In terms of polling 2011 has been almost static. In the last Parliament we were rather spoilt in terms of volatility, seeing the Conservatives move ahead after the election of David Cameron, then the Brown boost putting Labour briefly ahead until the election-that-never-was burst the bubble, then a second Labour recovery after the bank bailout. Even in 2010 there was significant movement as Lib Dem support fractured and support for the government’s cuts programme ebbed away. In contrast the story of 2011 has been one of stagnation.

graph

In terms of voting intention, in YouGov’s daily tracker Labour have maintained a steadyish five point lead throughout most of the year. There have been a few ups and downs, with the Labour lead temporarily widening to six, seven points or more in the Spring and after Hackgate in July, but most of the time voting intentions have rumbled onwards regardless of day-to-day politics.

The biggest exception was the impact of David Cameron’s veto at the European summit, which put the Conservatives briefly back ahead of Labour. As daily polling paused for Christmas the polls were still showing Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck – it remains to be seen whether this does have any lasting effect. The veto itself will, in all likelihood, fade from memory as things like the economy and public services resume their normal place at the top of the political agenda, but if the veto permanently impacts how people see David Cameron and his leadership there is a possibility of a longer term impact.

Economic optimism has remained resolutely dire throughout the entire year. Confidence in the government’s economic policy and support for the cuts rapidly fell in 2010, but since then have largely flatlined.

graph

The proportion of people thinking that the cuts are too deep or too fast has actually fallen slightly (“too deep” has gone from around 50% in February to around 42-43% now; “too fast” has gone from around 58% to around 48%), but the balance of opinion that the cuts are bad for the economy remains largely unchanged. More positively for the government people continue to think the cuts are necessary, and despite the passage of time there is little further change in the proportion of people who blame the Labour party for the cuts.

graph

Where there has been more movement this year is in perceptions of the leaders themselves. David Cameron’s ratings remain the most positive of the three main party leaders but have been on a downwards trend, interupted by peaks after the local elections and the European veto. The latter saw significant increases in the proportion of people who thought Cameron was a strong leader who is good in a crisis and sticks to what he believes in, but it remains to be seen if it endures.

graph

Ed Miliband’s figures have also been on a downwards trend, even while his party has been ahead in the polls. His decline was dramatically reversed by his response to Hackgate, but this faded away again leaving him languishing in the the minus thirties. Nick Clegg has the worst ratings of all, though they appear to have bottomed out after the defeat in the AV referendum. He suffered a sharp downturn after the European veto, but this was largely the result of Conservative supports, a minority of whom normally give Clegg good ratings, becoming far more negative about him.

Those are the figures, I’ll try to have a bit of broader rumination of the political situation at the end of 2011 over the next few days.


324 Responses to “Looking back at 2011”

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  1. @ Old Nat

    I must admit, I do not see the Games through the prism of divvying up with the devolved nations.

    I think the whole thing has become a huge commercial jamboree which no longer has a purpose. Athletes, footballers, tennis players etc. are no longer the representatives of their nations; they are a ‘global group’ (would elite be too strong a word?) which is separate from the rest of society. I probably won’t watch any of it.
    8-)

  2. Amber

    I agree with you about the Olympics (and to a lesser extent) the Commonwealth Games being largely commercial (as well as being nationalistic willy waving).

    Given that lots of public money will be wasted, it seems reasonable that the cash should be more widely distributed than just in London.

    (I’d like to see a similar distribution in Scotland in 2014 – though I doubt that it will happen here either).

  3. Amber

    @”Personally speaking, I think it is money which could’ve been better spent. I was not cheering when we won the bid. ”

    I felt the same-still do.

    But in 2005 everyone was still living in cloud cuckoo land.

    In January 2007, the 7000 people involved in the USA mortgage backed securities industry gathered for an upbeat Conference in Las Vegas.

    The less than 20 of them who had been shorting Mortgage Bonds & CDOs via the Credit Default Swap market knew , to the month ,when the pack of cards would collapse-June 2007; two years after three-quarters of a trillion dollars of mortgages were resetting from a teaser rate holiday to higher floating rates.
    It did & within months Morgan Stanley declared $9bn of mortgage backed security losses.

    Not cheering-when everyone else is cheering, is a lonely place to be -unless you’re making money from it :-)

  4. OldNat

    The Manx “rather gentle and sympathetic” – that’s fighting talk! :D I’d forgotten that the thread didn’t really degenerate until a few pages in. As tends to happen.

    But I suppose we area less partisan society, simply because we are smaller and there are no big Parties. There’s lots of the narcissism of small differences of course, but they often tend to cut across each other.

    As far as SLab membership goes, we did have accurate constituency figures at the time of the UK leadership election (I’ve still got them somewhere) some of the Scottish ones (particularly in the NE) were on the small side.

    As far Olympic funding disputes go – they’re projecting the logo on the side of Edinburgh Castle aren’t they? What other benefits do you want?

  5. Whether having the Olympics in London “benefits you” very much depends on how you perceive yourself vis a vis the United Kingdom as a whole.

    OldNat doesn’t care if the Olympics is good for the United Kingdom, because he doesn’t consider himself to be a member of it.

    For those of us that do, having the Olympics in our country is a source of huge pride, whatever city it may be held in.

    English counties distant from London will get very little economic benefit from it, much as Scotland and Wales probably won’t. But that isn’t really the point of the Olympics, unless it’s the Atlanta Olympics….

  6. AMBER

    @”I think the whole thing has become a huge commercial jamboree which no longer has a purpose.”

    Yes it has.

    I don’t object to the “elitism” aspect-I think that’s what superb athletes are & should be. And for that reason they are “separate” -people striving to be the best in the world are in a select group.

    All of that is good for me -& I will watch for the sporting prowess.

    But the playing field is so manifestly uneven between wealthy countries & poorer countries.
    The expenditure demanded of host countries by IOC seems grotesquely out of proportion, and one has the feeling that IOC is no better than FIFA.

    I would be happy to scrap the whole idea & stick with the World Championships for the various sports.

  7. Roger Mexico

    SLab membership 2010 – 13,135
    SCon voting in leadership election c 8500 : Voting members 5676

    You are all very nice people, because you don’t eat enough shellfish to raise your wrath levels. See how good the Scots fishermen are to you! :-)

  8. Amendment

    SCon ballot papers issued in leadership election c 8500 : Voting members 5676

  9. So anyhoo…just finished watching last night’s Charlie Brooker on iPlayer and am off down rellies to debate her b*****d ex-spouse, how they have all grown, who has which kid for New Year this year, what’s on Sky Plus, please don’t make me watch Daniel Craig walking out of the sea again, yes I know he’s buff but he can afford a personal trainer now shut up, oh pass the wine for God’s sake…

    Families. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them…even after hiring assassins… :-)

    Happy New Year to you all. Regards, Martyn

  10. @ Colin

    “That’s one of the differences between your country & ours.

    In this country the lefties do “hold it against them”-because it offends against the ideal of “equality” .

    That’s why, in your country, the accumulation of family wealth seems to be a desirable thing ; and your economy has greater dynamism.

    ……mind you-having just read Michael Lewis’ “The Big Short”, that dynamism can produce very ugly activities indeed -as the TARP Programme, and the global Banking crisis of 2007/8 demonstrated.”

    The accumulation of family wealth is a good thing….within reason. When too much wealth accumulates in too few hands, that can be a major problem. The strength of society isn’t measured by how many billionaires there are.

    So when it comes to income inequality, it can be a problem when there is too great of a gap and the middle class gets squeezed. There’s no exact formula (I think J.P. Morgan once said that no exectuive should be paid more than 40-1 greater than his or her employees) for how much is too much or where to draw the line, you just kind of have to spot it.

    I also think it’s a problem when certain individuals are able to accumulate massive amounts of wealth simply by destroying the jobs of others, usually those beneath them who are outsourced or downsized. That’s a path to wealth that creates negative harm for everyone else involved.

  11. The curious thing about the West Lothian question was why should the member for West Lothian ever complain about it? It didn’t disadvantage his constituents one bit.

  12. @ Amber Star

    “I think the whole thing has become a huge commercial jamboree which no longer has a purpose. Athletes, footballers, tennis players etc. are no longer the representatives of their nations; they are a ‘global group’ (would elite be too strong a word?) which is separate from the rest of society. I probably won’t watch any of it.”

    What’s wrong with the commercialization of the Olympics? You can blame my people for this. We were the first ones to show you could actually make money (and a lot of it) off the Olympics and since that happenned, EVERYONE wants the Olympics.

    I rarely watch the Olympics but that’s mainly because few of the sports in it really interest me.

    The commercialization can be a good thing if the money made off it can be pumped back into the local economy and used to support social programs and things that we all like.

  13. @ Old Nat

    “Given that lots of public money will be wasted, it seems reasonable that the cash should be more widely distributed than just in London.”

    The indirect economic benefits will probably occur in London. But the overall treasury benefit will probably be evenly distributed and will probably be worth the investment.

  14. @ Martyn

    Happy New Year to you as well. I’m doing my usual New Year’s tradition which is nothing really. I watch a movie or two, then indulge in some fine foods (cheese and fois gras) for a late night snack, and watch the Ball Drop in Times Square.

    Frankly, it’s different being back east where there is less danger of this but back home out west, staying in on New Year’s Eve is done for safety reasons. For some reason, there are always morons who like to mark the occassion of the New Year by firing guns off in the air. They seem completely unaware that when this happens, bullets will come down and will randomly harm others. This along with people doing other crazy things kinda make one want to stay in. Fortunately, this problem has declined a lot. But for me psychologically, I always like to stay in on New Year’s Eve or if I go out to go out fairly early.

    Daniel Craig is hot. But don’t let the fact that you don’t look like him sour your New Year’s. Celebrate the parts of your body that look good and that you love instead. Beauty is not everything either. As Judge Judy has frequently said “beauty fades, dumb is forever.”

  15. @ Martyn

    Then all you have to do is look at s*it like this and it makes you want to stay inside and away from the crazies.

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/12/la-fires-likely-set-by-more-than-one-arsonist-police-believe.html

  16. @ Colin

    “I felt the same-still do.”

    I’m glad you and Amber agree on something (must be the New Year’s Spirit).

    Funny that I disagree with both of you. :)

    If you can successfully run a high level event like the Olympics, you not only provide a level of great civic and national pride and create direct economic benefits for those who host but you can bring in a great deal of additional revenue for the government. Since your system of tax collection is unified, that means that everyone in the union will benefit from this.

  17. @ John Murphy

    “And to you and all my fellow contributors may I take this opportunity of wishing you all a very Happy New Year….and I pray it may fulfil all our political desires…which should at least present the deity with a challenge…”

    Right back at yeah.

  18. My family’s never made much of New Year, though I went to a party once or twice when younger. We’ve always considered it some kind of weird Scottish festival with next to no relevance to anything.
    Possibly years of watching the White Heather Club with Andy sodding Stewart singing ‘A Scottish Soldier’ have soured me somewhat. :-)

  19. @ SoCaL

    Yep, nothing should be done by governments or nations because it’s intrisically good & people need or enjoy it.

    Everything should be done with a view to commercial interests making as much money from it as possible. That’s the yardstick by which we should measure everything. :-(

  20. PETEB

    :-) :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

  21. One assumes there’ll be a windfall tax on the London hotels that have upped their rates by 100% or more for the Olympuc period. Or will we accept the usual line of small businessmen telling us that their success was entirely down to the sweat of their own brows?

  22. chouenlai @ old nat

    “Why should we search around for some politician that is acceptable to the 8% north of the border ? We had, within the last Labour administration, a plethora of Scots and the majority of 50 million English do not remember them with much affection, particularly their final leader.”

    ..and none of them were any good from the point of view of preserving the union. Except AD and GB they are not remembered at all North of the border, affectionately or otherwise and we will try to forget them too.

    I’m not surprised you make the 8% point because it is of the nature of the problem itself.

    What would have helped preserve the union would have been a government that spoke as if it knew that Scotland existed and was aware of our different geography, topography and population sparsity even if they can’t manage culture religion and history.

    In his answer to Amber, Oldnat givesan example of the kind of issue which engenders contempt and gives offence.

    It’s not the money. It’s the crass ignorance.The metropolitan insularity. The neglect or worse (CFP) of issues unique to Scotland.

    Mainly the ignorance and the confidence that policies designed for the South East will work in Lewis or Argyll

  23. A Happy, Healthy & Peaceful New Year to one & all.

    Thank you Anthony for this place, your articles & your enduring patience.

    :-)

  24. SoCalLiberal

    “Since your system of tax collection is unified, that means that everyone in the union will benefit from this.”

    The Barnett formula and its “consequentials” is a fairly esoteric area – but assuming that monies going into the Treasury are appropriately distributed is another matter altogether!

  25. Pete B

    When I were a lad …

    Christmas wasn’t really celebrated much in Scotland. Hogmanay was the main winter solstice festival.

    The spread of TV and the consequent spread of American variants (nothing wrong with them) of various festivals has led to a bit of monoculture.

    Of course, in our climate, it makes sense to start drinking on St Andrew’s Day, and keep on doing so until Burns Night. That way we can manage to see little of December and January. :-)

  26. Oldnat

    Will there be Barnet Consequentials for the extra costs of reorganisation of the NHS in England? If so, what can we do non-recurring with the money.

  27. John B Dick

    If the agreement hammered out with the UK actually works (and I wouldn’t hold my breath for that) then there certainly should be.

    In a sensibly constructed Union, of course, either

    All the nations (including England) would raise their own taxation, and pay an appropriate contribution for common services plus an agreed financial transfer scheme to help the poorer ones. In such a scheme, I wouldn’t mind helping out the others. or

    All the nations (including England) would get a Block Grant from the trans-national UK to run their domestic affairs. That would provide a check on English profligacy.

  28. @ Amber Star

    “Yep, nothing should be done by governments or nations because it’s intrisically good & people need or enjoy it.

    Everything should be done with a view to commercial interests making as much money from it as possible. That’s the yardstick by which we should measure everything. :(”

    No, no. What I mean is, when the government has an opportunity to make some easy money in a way that won’t damage or harm others, it should go for it.

    So yes, the government should be in the business of providing things that people need and enjoy. The government ultimately has to find a way to pay its bills but the goal of government is not to make money. Government institutions don’t exist for profit (something that a number of Republicans forget as they try and shut down the postal service). I think you and I would probably agree on this.

    What I point out though is that there are certain instances where the government can turn a profit and when that’s the case, it’s not a bad thing. The profits that are turned can then be used to fund additional profits for the public good that might otherwise be unfunded.

    So the great profit that the government ultimately takes in from things like the Royal Wedding and the Olympics shouldn’t be looked down on.

  29. @ Old Nat

    “The Barnett formula and its “consequentials” is a fairly esoteric area – but assuming that monies going into the Treasury are appropriately distributed is another matter altogether!”

    Don’t Conservatives complain that Scotland gets too much money in terms of overall distribution?

    It is esoteric. But I was thinking along the lines of sales taxes and hotel occupancy taxes. The Olympics is going to allow you to take in a whole lot of money from those two sources of taxation or really just the VAT. But instead of being collected by local authorities for local authorities, they’re collected by your national government. So Scotland likely receives a benefit from the money it spends on this even if there isn’t an indirect economic benefit like that which will be received in London.

  30. @John B Dick – ” …policies designed for the South East”

    Why the South East? Think tanks/lobbying organisations design policy with gobal priorities in mind.

  31. Happy new year to everyone, I’m off out to get sloshed and watch some fireworks!

    I have just revisited the thread from this time last year, full of dire predictions of electoral disaster for the libdems which all came true. But this year unlike last I will not be advising anyone to “go stick your head in a bucket” which I’m sure will disappoint oldnat :smile:

  32. Did somebody mention there might be a YG poll tonight because the Sunday Times is expecting to have one tomorrow?
    8-)

  33. RiN

    Guid New Year.

    I have a small bucket that would accommodate all the Scots LDs!

  34. @Oldnat

    One of the main conclusions from the euro debacle is that the highest level of taxing and spending (a “sovereign nation”) must issue its own currrency else disasterous consequences of debt instability follow. That’s a lesson you really have to think about hard before changing any constitutional arrangements.

  35. AMBERSTAR
    Yes…I see Labour are unhappy about prominent stories about polls only when the Tories are in the lead…They have also complained to the BBC about partial coverage…Finally the Milliband sloth seems to stir a little
    Happy new year everybody

  36. According to the Guardian, Labour has made a “very serious complaint” concerning BBC impartiality.

    There is also frustration that newspapers, in particular the “pro-coalition Rupert Murdoch-owned stable, run prominent stories about their own opinion polls only when the Tories enjoy a surge.”

  37. BILLY BOB
    I don`t know whether Tory supporters will feel this is deserved or whether they think the BBC is left wing as many right wingers seem to be believe

  38. HAL

    I do love such suggestions.

    I’ve been a supporter of hugely enhanced Scottish autonomy for the last 50 years. The advantages/disadvantages of having one’s own currency, or sharing another one (in or out of a fiscal union) have varied across these years.

    It’s a wee bit patronising for those, who have only been thinking about the implications of Scottish independence for a few months or years, to imagine that we are so thick not to have thought about these issues.

  39. Happy New Year all.

    Congrats and best wishes to Anthony who continues to run such a fab site.

    Éoin
    :)

  40. @SMukesh

    The complaint is about the ratio of invitations/airtime for Labour figures.

    Labour is claiming it has been represented less than half as often as the coalition.

    The complaint is not about editorial bias. Though the worry for Labour has always been that broadcasters tend to to have their daily agenda set for them by the print media.

  41. BILLY BOB
    I would argue that`s just one type of bias against Labour…IMO,they certainly seem to give a pro-coalition and pro-Cameron slant to news…Anyway,AW may not look kindly to me raising this

  42. @Oldnat – “I’ve been a supporter of hugely enhanced Scottish autonomy for the last 50 years.”

    Ah! So that’s what we can do with those 40,000 spare breast implants? That would be a pretty huge enhancement.

    Happy New Year to everyone.

  43. I’m considering whether I should take a stroll up to Prince’s Street & join the party or just open the window & watch the fireworks whilst listening to the bands from the comfort of my own front room. How lucky am I?!

    :-) Happy New Year, Everybody :-)

  44. oldnat @ HAL

    “It’s a wee bit patronising for those, who have only been thinking about the implications of Scottish independence for a few months or years, to imagine that we are so thick not to have thought about these issues.”

    This is normal, and part of why we are where we are. The pro-Union argument has yet to be made because the metropolitan media and politcs set havn’t been thinking about it at all.

    They are asking for more detail so that than cast doubt and look for problems not solutions on the currency, Nato, EU, the Monarchy, Oil, passports, borders, embassies.

    People in Scotland know most of the answers. SNP policy on all of these and the process of resolution of many has been common knowledge for years.

    The one that makes me laugh is the monarchy. When I used to interview people for employment what I wanted to know was: have you done this sort of work before?

    So if you see any problems with the Monarchy, ask the Queen of Canada what the routine is.

    It’s the latecomers to the debate that will look foolish.

    .

  45. John B Dick
    Yes, after all the monarchy was united long before the parliaments were.
    Unless of course you go for the Stuart claimant, who’s a Hapsburg I believe.

  46. Yes, the SNP position on currency is clear.
    It is clearly in Scotland’s long term interests to join the Euro but if the Scottish people reject that, Scotland will stick with Sterling.

    Peter

  47. Happy new year to everyone.

    May it be an interesting one – perhaps less polldrums?

  48. It’s making fun of Ed Milliband… but in a nice way?

    At Home with the Milibands, Episode 1:

    h
    ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OY7qHjlwPRs

  49. Happy New Year as it arrives in a wet Bournemouth.

    May your God go with you.

  50. @ Coucillor Peter Cairns

    Yes, the SNP position on currency is clear.
    It is clearly in Scotland’s long term interests to join the Euro but if the Scottish people reject that, Scotland will stick with Sterling.
    —————————–
    Really? Because I’m sure I read in the Scotsman that 500,000 brochures are already being distributed by the SNP which say Scotland will continue to use the GBP; nowhere does it mention a referendum or similar regarding changing to the euro.

    Perhaps the Scotsman has not covered the full contents of the brochure; or perhaps the SNP’s brochure has failed to cover all the SNP plans for an independent Scotland….
    8-)

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