Tonight’s YouGov poll for the Sun has topline figures of CON 31%, LAB 43%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 9%. The twelve point lead is becoming fairly typical of the sort of figure we’re seeing from YouGov, but it’s worth noting that the 31% is the lowest that YouGov have shown for the Conservatives since the general election.

There is also a Survation poll on the London mayoral election in tomorrow’s Telegraph. It has first preference figures of JOHNSON 42%, LIVINGSTONE 31%, PADDICK 10%, WEBB 5%, JONES 4%, CORTIGLIA 4%, BENITA 3%. With second preferences re-allocated, the final round works out at JOHNSON 54%, LIVINGSTONE 46% – the same as ComRes showed this morning.


215 Responses to “YouGov/Sun – CON 31, LAB 43, LD 9, UKIP 9”

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  1. “Only then will we probably be trusted on the economy again and have any hope of winning the next election.”

    So you’re going to be trusted on the economy again not through any action, but through repeating the same tired old lines over and over again, that even most people in your party don’t support any longer?

    Your argument is flawed Big D, as you seem to confuse spending more with earning more, to use you’re house example, sure you can borrow money to help pay off your mortgage, but then you have another large pile of debt that needs to be paid off, and both in reality and your scenario, AT A MUCH HIGHER INTEREST RATE.

    If we were to start spending, the bond markets would destroy us, our interest rates will start to grow towards that 7% figure which is seen as the point of no return.

    That’s why I’m sort of hoping Hollande does win, it will give us the perfect case study. A country, geographically near us, with a similar GDP and population size (they are bigger in both, but not by much,) implementing these crazy policies of a 75% higher rate of tax and crazy spending etc. France would be in the gutter before long, especially as it’s even easier for capital and workers to leave France and move around the EU, than it is the UK. Some of those rich frenchies and french businessmen especially if from north of france may even turn up on British shores.

  2. Sorry Max you are wrong. You seem to make a few basic economic mistakes.

    1) Levels of debt are not the only factor determining the interest rates Government’s can borrow at. Germany has a similar Government debt level and can borrow at a lower interest rate than us because it is growing. The market will lend to people if they think they will get thier money back. That is the most important thing. If you aren’t growing you’re not earning money to pay off yoru debts.

    2) The economy is so weak that there isn’t but competition for where the private sector put their money. The Australian Government has to borrow at 4% over ten years but has only 20% of GDP Government debt levels, much lower than us. But no-one would say they are twice as likely to go bankrupt than us because they are paying twice the interest rate. No they are paying a higher rate because people have more attractive options for their Aussie dollars than lending them to the Govenrment because the private sector is doing well and is growing.

    3) The multiplier effect means that for Government’s borrowing more money does increase income. It is like borrowing to fund your higher education. It is sound becuase it increases your income in the future.

    This is all sound economic theory!

  3. SSSimon

    Their “most successful period in government in its entire history (1997-2010)” was precipitated by a long stretch of Tory rule and Labour’s move to the centre, exactly because its vote had become hopefully split to a) allow that, and b) convince them they couldn’t win on the left anymore.

    You say Britain has always been Tory/neoliberal but that just doesn’t stand up to facts – Labour pre-split was demonstrably competitive with the Tories, their total vote no. were always similar. Besides, the idea that the One Nationers of old were anywhere near as divisive (post-war settlement?) and ideologically neoliberal as today’s crop is nonsense. Doubt they’d even make it in to today’s Tory party (socialists!).

  4. @SSSimon

    “The fact is that Britain is (and always has been) a Tory (or economic Liberal) nation moreso than a Labour one.”

    Not true. Since 1964, each of Con/Lab has only once polled more than 44% of the vote (Wilson1966, Heath 1970). The electorate has been fairly evenly split left-right for half a century, and it was the split of the left-wing vote that kept the Tories in power in 1992 and probably 1987, and let them in in 2010.

  5. Also Max I never said “borrow money to pay off your mortgage” I said how much you can borrow is linked to how much you earn. If you earn more you can safely borrow more. If your income shrinks, debts that you could safely have managed before your drop in income become unsustainable and you go broke. As we have lower debt levels than nearly all other G7 countries (as stated befoere) this I believe gives us room for maneovre to borrow £10 billion a year for a couple of years to get our economy back on its feet and growing again, thereby reducing debts in the long-run. £10bn is only 1/130 of our economy so definitely affordable.

  6. @Craig

    If Labour had to move to the centre in order to win, then clearly people were not interested in a left-wing manifesto. The fact remains that they won despite the LDs winning more seats than ever.

    And since LDs are usually second to the Tories, not Labour, the two parties have rarely tended to compete anyway.

    Plus, a left-wing variant of Labour will never win the LD seats in the south and south-west that make it harder for the Tories to gain an overall majority.

  7. @ Robin

    You state that Britain is evenly split left-right. But I don’t see how you conclude that. Only very briefly post-war did Labour secure almost half the electoral spectrum. The Conservatives have consistently tended to win on higher vote shares, and have governed for significantly longer than Labour over the last century.

    You appear to be taking the situation immediately post-1945 (unusually good for Labour) as the default by which all others are compared. And in doing so, you also seem to imply that most Liberal/LD voters are merely Labour/’left wing’ outcasts, when actually the LDs tend to soak up support from the discontented all across the spectrum and certainly can’t credibly be described as being ‘left’ wing in the way Labour was/is (even post SDP).

  8. No Big D, if we start borrowing more money, and deviate from our carefully constructed plan, it will scare the markets, you don’t assure people you will pay your debts by racking up more debts.

    Ok Big D, why don’t you test your theories. Rack up a bunch of debt, max out your credit card, and tell your bank manager he needs to lend you more so you can earn more to pay off what you owe. Go on try it, I dare you.

    If there was a surplus of cash lying around I’d be agreeing with you, invest it (saving some for a rainy day of course), but at the moment, there is no money, in fact it’s worse than that, we have less than nothing, because we’re in debt and borrowing money. How do we cut that debt, by spending less it comes in 3 phases

    Phase 1, bring down your levels of borrowing so the books balance, so each year you take in the same amount that you spend. No more borrowing.

    Phase 2, bring down your spending further so you start to have some cash to pay off the debt and debt interest til it’s gone, or almost gone ie very low levels.

    Phase 3, continue to be fiscally prudent so you have surpluses of cash which you can use to invest and grow.

    obviously you don’t have to completely eradicate the debt, a little bit of debt such as Germany’s level isn’t going to hurt too much. Even German socialists understand the need to keep your nation’s finances stable. Spend and invest by all means, but don’t put your country in danger of debt collapse.

    If Hollande wins in France it’s going to be really exciting.

    2 countries, in Western Europe, roughly similar GDP, and roughly similar population size, both with similarish debt levels, and both until recently triple A credit holders. One country following a very Conservative policy albeit not focusing on the growth enough and not spreading the pain fairly, the other country following a very Socialist policy. Then see who comes out better in 3 years time, ready for a general election.

    And don’t forget, it’s even easier for capital and businesses to leave France than UK. If your in the UK, it’s harder to move your business across the channel and learn a new language than it is to just simply move it a few KM into another territory.

    For example, a businessman in Strasbourg, Nice and Lyon won’t have a very long commute if they are coming from Dusseldorf, Monaco, or Belgium. Whereas a businessman in Dover may still have a bit of a commute if he wanted to work in say Calais. Saying that if Hollande gets in, expect any business or capital in Calais to head Dover’s way.

    France is near countries in every direction apart from the west, expect to see people fleeing in all directions when reality sinks in.

  9. strange if boris and his supporters are so confident of winning that they’re spending so much money on anti ken advertising .

  10. The argument from Max about borroeing more to pay off your mortgage is flawed.

    The truth is, with no income you cannot service your monthly mortgage payments (unless you have savings, which will quickly vanish).

    To pay off your mortgage you need to put aside a portion of your monthly income to pay the interest plus some capital. But what you need is INCOME…more money coming in than outgoings.

    Yeah you can reduce outgoings, but if you sell the car, don’t buy clothes, cancel the insurance, don’t go to uni, stop buying books and other research/learning material, then you quickly find your earning power reducing. And people aren’t paying more wages anyway, or hiring.

    You need to INCREASE your earnings, and keep your outgoings under control.

    In other words…you need growth in the economy, the higher the better. Then you can pay your mortgage and even overpay if you want to. When your outgoings are more than your incominig is NOT the time to reduce your mortgage cos your kids will starve.

  11. BIGD

    @” The multiplier effect means that for Government’s borrowing more money does increase income. ”

    Not always-it depends :-

    http://www.nber.org/digest/mar11/w16479.html

  12. You cleary haven’t heard of the paradox of thrift!

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

    You can’t run a national economy like a household budget, that is the way to ruin as your lot are finding out. I’m currenty studying for an MBA and the common view in discussions in my first year economics module is that clealry Geroge Osborne does not understand basic economics! You can use the AS/AD model to clearly show that Osbornes policies are sucking demand out of the economy and making this situation worse. We have the worst recovery compared to every G7 country except Italy! Not a great place to be in! We are over 4% below output peak before the recession. The US and Germany are already above the peak output level before the recession. Your party’s policies are clearly not working. When you’re in a hole stop digging!!!!

  13. I doubt Max, Colin, Big D and others are going ton change their minds as a result of something posted in here; let’s face is economists disagree.

    In polling terms virtually everyone expected a fall in conservative VI as a reuslt of their policies although by when and by how much by was always

  14. @ Colin

    You are of course right. However I’d like to see them do a study again and include the recent US stimulus because the economic evidence suggests it worked given their output levels now and the strength of their recovery compared to ours! It also depends on what you spend it on. Tax cuts are not as effective as infrastructure spending becuase some consumers will save a proportion of it, particulary if they are scared that things will get worse! Infrastrucure spending puts money in the economy now and if done properly increase the potential output of the economy.

  15. Sometimes post fly off before finshing by accidental key press!!

    I doubt Max, Colin, Big D and others are going to change their minds as a result of something posted in here; let’s face is economists disagree.

    In polling terms virtually everyone expected a fall in conservative VI as a result of their policies although by when and by how much by was always viewed differently.

    The key question for me is clearly one of Economic credibility, most voters don’t understand Macro-Economic theory (why should they) so it is simple messages and their own experiences which will inform their vote choices.

    Rightly or wrongly short term tactical errors has weakened the Governments credibility on long term Economic policy as well but Labour has yet not been able to capitalise.

    Whether this is the fault of the 2 Eds or just a consequence of the inevitable difficulty of being heard after the last GE is a source of debate within party circles.

  16. @ Jim Jam

    Actually the vast majority of economists agree on the vast majority of points. The two points there are disagreement over is the impact of the multiplier effect and whether the markets would kill you if you borrowed a bit more now! This sums it up quite nicely.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9694000/9694710.stm

  17. BIGD

    See http://elsa.berkeley.edu/~cromer/Written%20Version%20of%20Effects%20of%20Fiscal%20Policy.pdf

    It includes an analysis of the effects of the recent US stimulus.

    The bottom line is that fiscal policy works in the obvious way: spending increases GDP and cuts decrease it. The key thing is to take account of what else is going on at the same time.

  18. Thanks Hal. I shall read that. Though I do recommend reading the BBC article above as well. I found it very informative. It helps to strip out political bagage when talking about this.

  19. @ Colin, Max, Big D and all the other armchair economists!

    There is simply no comparison with household debt and sovereign debt. It is a flawed analogy and always has been, but it has been useful for informing/scaring/explaining to the voters about a policy.

    If govts get their decisions right (irrespective of colour) then the whole nation, and every household & business, increases their ability to spend and invest, and the govt gets a bonus back in terms of tax revenue. That is obviously not the case with a household.

    Will Hutton (who remember is one of the most widely respected economists and was loved by Labour and now the Conservatives) said you can run a nearly 100% debt situation (as was the case in the war) fairly healthily, if it is considered plausible that debt can be repaid (e.g. to America, even if it took over 50 years to pay it off). Another difference with a household – Ihaven’t been able to secure many 50 year mortgages recently.

    Even a downgrading by credit agencies means zip, if the markets are happy to lend to you. It’s not made a huge difference to America, and as they are coming out of recession their rating will bounce back. This is where the comparisons with Greece, Portugal and Spain were always flawed, but very handy for scaring people into buying the “there is no alternative” package.

    @ Max, most financial organisations always said it would be important to ease off on austerity if the economies went back into recession. This, by definition, means more spending than was planned. The markets are taking fright now because of the fear of recession meaning debt will get worse.

  20. Essentially Big D, thgat link was posted on this site at the time. I know where I stand but that is irrelevant it is credibility with the wider public that will be crucial come the GE.
    FWIW – I think, unfairly imo, that Labour lost too much credbility over the economy and it will be hard to recover it sufficiently by 2015. At the same time whilst the cons credibility will be weaker at the next GE they will get the benefit of the doubt off sufficient voters and still be the largest party, probably no OM though.

    Then during the next parliament either it will all come good and GO etc will be lauded for being brave now etc or we will lag behind growth rates for comparable Economies and Labour will romp home in 2020.

  21. @ Hal,

    Thanks for that article – I can now add the term “omitted variable bias” into my economic lexicon! Can’t wait to use it :-)!

  22. As @Jim Jam says, I doubt we’ll see everyone agree on here, but the perception of the debate is what matters to polling.

    While various posters have said that the GDP numbers won’t in themselves affect VI as they just tell us what voters have already experienced, they certainly have helped frame the debate.

    Coming soon after Osborne’s rather disastrous budget, when his reputation was already being severely questioned even by his own side, the GDP figures have been a godsend for Labour in terms of economic credibility. For Tory strategists, the site of Ed Balls across the media telling the nation that he “told Osborne two years ago…” etc must have been really galling. I’ve said many times before, that seeing your opponents strategy fail is the easiest way to build your own credibility back up, and this is what we are currently seeing for Labour.

    I’ve also said before that it’s a little pointless arguing the simplistic line between spending vs austerity. It worth remembering that none of the examples of successful austerity programmes have ever taken place without a substantial devaluation and/or in the context of a booming national or regional economy. There is no viable example of out and out austerity working against the backdrop of a more general global downturn, as the fabled rebalancing of the economy has to be a balance between sharply reduced domestic demand and big uplift in exports.

    The problem is wider than just the UK, with Europe leading the senseless charge into depression. The real trick is get the right focus for spending.

    I’ve said many times on here that we should be looking at radical measures like time limited suspension of pension tax relief – painful, but with no immediate impact on consumer demand, and a saving of £30b or so on the current account without spooking bond markets either through increased borrowing or demand shrinkage. This could then be directed towards a massive two year investment subsidy aimed to unlock the £700b of cash sitting idle in company bank accounts. This is the kind of thinking that is needed to invest our way out of the impending slump, but Osborne, like Max, sticks to his childish notions of the national economy as a credit card, faith in the markets and fails to recognise that the only precedent for our current global situation is the 1930’s, not the 1980’s.

  23. @ Alex,

    The idea of subsidised investment is real innovative thinking, and is a pretty non-partisan approach. I’m surprised GO hasn’t announced more like this, or even a grand growth strategy, even if it didn’t announce much new, just to give the impression of doing something.

    Maybe he has and I’ve just missed it, but their message of cuts, cuts, cuts added with the occasional “Labour bankrupted the country” (always a good way to get investors to think that your country is a good place to invest/buy your debt – not), seems to have drowned out anything else.

    Their “bringing forward planned capital expenditure” idea is a stimulus of sorts I guess.

  24. @ Alex

    I agree with most of what you’ve said. The worst thing That Bloody Woman (the term Tory doorknockers wrote down in 1989/90 becuase that was what they heard on the door step when people were asked if they were voting Tory, “not for That Bloody Woman”!) did was to tell people that running a national economy was like running a household budget. Dopey Dave and Boy Geroge have carried on the lie but they are fast becoming unstuck! It is a shame that blinkered Tory supporters like Max can’t see it. I’ve provided economic analysis, facts fromt the IMF and economic theory in stark contrast to him!

  25. @ Alex

    The problem with subsidised investment is that it can end up with all the risk being on the public sector and all the benefits on the private sector. It could work as long as if it goes right the public sector gets to share the profits!

  26. @ Big D,

    Whilst I agree with everything you say I think that perhaps “That Bloody Women”, “Dopey Dave” and “Boy George” may be drifting into the realms of partisan-ship and moderation.

    It’s early in the day, and we don’t want to descend into partisanship before AW goes to bed :-).

  27. MAX you are correct in your posts about the economy, I am to looking forward to how the french do.

    This Labour lead is about as firm as ice cream in a microwave.

    The press are bashing the goverment as much as they can at the moment and that is hurting the VI not the actual poor news about the economy.

    Take Question Time for example, every week its setup to bash the goverment and predict the end of the world.

    And what does Labour say on how to get us out of this slump ?

    To far to fast

    Thats it ? they wont come up with what exactly they would do to boost growth because they dont know how to.

  28. SOCALLIBERAL
    “3. I have a feeling that these London mayoral races could become very Americanized in their voting patterns.”

    The celebrity element to these mayoralties has been inherent from the outset. The bigger the city the bigger the issue of Name Recognition. Our first two mayors have been maverick party politicians with a sort of independent Media personality.

    For good or ill this was how New Labour envisaged the devolution so as not to repeat the GLC PR debacle as they (probably wrongly) saw it.

    To be honest since the 1972 reforms of Local Government we’ve made an ever bigger pig’s ear out of a silk purse.

    Livingstone was a better mayor than he is now credited for but it has to be said running a candidate who first ran London in 1981 says something about Labour in London which speaks more to a past than to the future. To be honest I don’t he thought about that handicap when he persuaded himself to stand.

    But if Boris is the future…like those cycle lanes it’s a future that’s going nowhere fast….

    Meanwhile I expect turnout will effect the result. If Inner boroughs turn out and outer boroughs are less inclined then Livingstone is in with a shout but there can be question that Boris seems a shoe in as does Hollande in France

  29. Max
    “Phase 1, bring down your levels of borrowing so the books balance, so each year you take in the same amount that you spend. No more borrowing.”

    See, I’m confused here. I keep hearing this mantra. And I assume it must be based on some firm empirical evidence. But I’ve searched and searched and I’ve found no example of any country which has “brought down its levels of borrowing AND balanced the books” in the absence of economic growth. On the contrary, I can easily find examples (Japan 1990- being the textbook one) of countries that have attempted aggressively to “bring down the deficit and balance the books” in the absence of growth, only to find that they do precisely the opposite.

    So, I’m left with no conclusion to draw other than the trying to “bring down levels of debt AND balancing the books” in the absence of growth is, in fact, an act of ideologically-driven faith. A triumph of faith over common sense and historical precedent.

    It is clear, in both a common sense way and an empirically evident way, that a balanced approach to cutting the deficit AND promoting growth is required. We heard nothing. NOTHING WHATSOEVER in the first 12 months of this administration about how they would achieve that balance. All the eggs were chucked into the spending reduction basket and it was simply taken as read that growth would be the natural consequence. The current economic situation is, in large part, the direct consequence of that one-dimensional approach.

  30. You wont find any disagreement here MAX.

    Im actually going to take a break from posting on here and politics in general, Nothing to do with this site as i think its great or how poorly the goverment are doing in the polls.

    Im just sick of the press and the BBC, They just want to tear things down, to create drama if you like.

    If Labour were in charge it would be the same no doubt, If i turn on the news or read a paper it actually makes me angry at the negativity displayed.

    It will always be that way

    Just wish it wasnt.

  31. “strange if boris and his supporters are so confident of winning that they’re spending so much money on anti ken advertising .”

    We have to make sure we win by an even larger margin than last time otherwise Labour think it counts as a victory for them, ie their excuse in 1992.

  32. @ Max,

    I too like Alistair Darling – he was widely respected by both sides for being honest about the state of the global economy (being “the worst in 60 years”) and in actual fact the global financial crisis has meant it is the worst outlook for 100 years.

    You will no doubt also appreciate that he made it clear that:

    1/ Likening our national situation with the Greek sovereign crisis was ridiculous.

    2/ attempting to wipe out the deficit in one parliament was lunacy when the economy was going to need much more support for longer in the midst of a protracted downturn because of the global financial heart-attack mentioned above.

    3/ halving the deficit in four years was more sensible, and back-loading the pain rather than front-loading it.

    In agreement with you he did say you had to be honest about the size of the deficit (its there because we had to save the world financial system, it’s huge and must be brought down, but needs to be done so in a controlled and planned fashion, here’s how we’ll do it).

    Unfortunately Brown blocked the last two of these.

  33. Max, please enlightenen me what was this 1992 thing you are talking about.
    I guess it must be based on something you have read or been told.

    Personally as a party member, it felt like a big defeat to me and the one that hurts most in over 30 years.

    I did not expect a Labour win but did think there would be a hung parliament and the total votes cast for Majors Cons was a surprise for most people inside Labour (and inside trhe conservatives as well).

  34. @Max
    “We have to make sure we win by an even larger margin than last time otherwise Labour think it counts as a victory for them, ie their excuse in 1992.”
    ———————-
    Very profound stuff. How old were you in 1992 ???

  35. @Robin

    As someone perhaps less partisan as you are, I’ll be happy to see them take a battering at the next election but would be sorry to see them wiped out entirely. Competition on the left keeps Labour on its toes and that can only be a good thing. Complete two party hegemony would be bad for democracy; the real villain of the piece is the electoral system.

    @Bluebob

    “This Labour lead is about as firm as ice cream in a microwave.”

    Lol, I love how people say this when Labour seems to have got most of its lead from former Lib Dems reacting to a fundamental shift in the respective parties’ positioning; whereas people remain remarkably confident in the firmness of BoJo’s lead when it consists mainly of Labour supporters either voting for him or staying at home because of distaste at Ken Livingston, but who would be naturally opposed to his politics, thus making it a real possibility that they could have a change of heart, when it comes down to it. I know which lead looks softer.

    @Max

    “The laws of physics apply just the same on a small scale as they do on a large scale, why on earth do labour think the laws of economics don’t do the same?”

    because

    a) They don’t.

    b) Physics a real science.

  36. I apologise for my intemperate comment yesterday. Of course I can’t keep away from this invaluable site.

    Regards
    Joe

  37. “Max, please enlightenen me what was this 1992 thing you are talking about.
    I guess it must be based on something you have read or been told.”

    “Very profound stuff. How old were you in 1992 ???”

    A few weeks ago, I watched all the 1992 election coverage, and all the Labour supporters were saying they had technically won, because they managed to reduce the Conservative majority. Even though tories had got a majority, and I made the joke that if Hussain Bolt doesn’t break the world record again in 2012 would Labour try and stop him receiving his gold medal for winning the race.

    @Adrian, I did agree with a lot of Alistair Darling said, that doesn’t mean I agreed with all of it. The only thing stopping us from being like Greece is the interest rate. Halving the deficit rather than eliminating is rather arbitrary, it really only comes down to the fact, do you want the pain out of the way quick, or for it to drag on for ages but come as less as a shock. There’s no wrong or right to that, it’s personal preference. Although, the longer approach would mean that in total we’d pay more interest, the shorter term approach as you say means more pain (but for a shorter period of time.

  38. @ Joe James B

    It’s nice that you’ve had a change of heart; it’s a shame when people exile themselves from the best political site on the web.
    8-)

  39. @Hannah – “… the firmness of BoJo’s lead”

    The Tory analysis of his “victory” is that he risks being left as a political “cripple”, shorn of key aides, with less less than the third of assembly seats he needs to pass a budget. Classic gridlock.

  40. BillyBob, in order to pass a budget Boris needs 8 out of 25 London Assembly Members to not veto him. There’s no actual vote on the budget but it can be vetoed if 17 members actively oppose.

    Even if he failed to get this figure of 8 seats, unless he put something truly terrible in the budget, which is hard as there’s not much the mayor can do, I doubt the libs, or Ukip would join in the effort to block his budget.

  41. @ Max

    I have given you loads of arguments why comparing the national finances to a household is wrong. You seem to be guilty of believing in the “fallacy of composition”. Essentially assuming that something is true for the whole becuase it is true for parts of the whole.

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

    @ Adrian

    I apologies my language was not mean to offend merely to amuse. Even Andrew Neil calls Osborne “Boy Geroge” on national television! TBW was merely a comical story. Dopey Dave was probably going too far but not when compared to what Tories called Gordon Brown when he was PM!

    [They might do it on national television, but I expect higher standards than Mr Neil’s here! We show people the respect of using their proper names, whether we agree with their politics or not – AW]

  42. @Max

    “The laws of physics apply just the same on a small scale as they do on a large scale, why on earth do labour think the laws of economics don’t do the same?”

    Well actually the laws of physics don’t apply in the same way on a small and large scale. At different scales different factors become much more significant. Gravity really has no impact at subatomic levels, but at galactic levels it’s important. Stars do have quantum behaviour, but it’s pretty difficult to spot through a telescope.

    I’d also like you to state some fundamental economic “laws” that have the same degree of evidential backing as say: the three laws of thermodynamics*, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, Newton’s laws of motion…

    *Actually there are four. One of those historical oddities.

  43. @Hannah

    “the real villain of the piece is the electoral system”

    Indeed. I very nearly included a comment about how ironic it was that the failure of the LDs to tie down a proper commitment to electoral reform before going into coalition was going to massively contribute to their annihilation.

  44. @Robin, they did get an agreement to electoral reform, but the public rejected it, surely you aren’t suggesting that they should have forced the change through without even consulting the public?

  45. I feel staggered that so many have forgotten, and think the economy will actually improve over the next couple of years, we have suffered 30% of the planned cuts so far, 70% of cuts still to come, any improvement will be dampened or extinguished as the cuts actually take hold, when the cuts take place there is no cooling off period; those people suffering from the cuts will immediately cut spending.
    The reduced spending will be dramatic and will also occur at the same time as welfare spending increases, in my opinion we have not hit the bottom yet , and we will not until after the next election

    I am not an economist, but even I can see we are in a flat-line economy and I do not see any improvement on the horizon, technically a double dip recession, I have to ask as there ever been a triple dip recession?
    Because I think we are heading that way…

    all this means lower and lower polling for the government

    J

  46. @Max – “The laws of physics apply just the same on a small scale as they do on a large scale, why on earth do labour think the laws of economics don’t do the same?”

    As others have already pointed out, this is actually quite an embarrassing blunder on your part. The quest for a single unified theory of everything within physics is precisely because they can’t make the quantum world fit into an identical theoretical framework as the macroscopic world.

    It’s doubly embarrassing, as you try to use the economics/physics analogy to back up your case in arguing that we should treat quantum scale economics (households) with the macro scale (nations).

    In fact, you are spot on in that there is an analogy between physics and economics, but you’ve got it entirely the wrong way round. In both, there really is a point on the scale where the rules and outcomes change, and different theories apply. Poetically, in physics the change comes at the scale of the very small, while in economics it comes at the other end of the scale spectrum.

    I’ll try briefly to explain the key differences between household and national budgets, although I’m suspecting your ears are probably closed to this, but here goes anyway.

    Nations print money, while households cannot. This is a pretty fundamental difference, although this doesn’t mean endless creation of money is a good thing. It does however, provide nations with a significant tool that households don’t have.

    Nations will never end. For a household mortgage, banks will need to ensure that over a defined period (25 years is the norm) they can be reasonably sure they will get their capital stake back, and that the interest can be earned in the meantime. The debts must, at some stage, be completely cleared, or else the householder will die and the lender loses their investment. Countries can continue to run a national debt for centuries, as indeed we have done.

    Again, this doesn’t mean to say we should a profligate view of national debt, but we certainly shouldn’t equate it to a household budget.

    Having said all this, there are some similarities between household and national budgets that people like you strangely enough omit to mention.

    The first of these is investment. If I borrow money to buy a house, I would generally hope to earn money from not paying rent, and hope that the capital asset value might rise a little as an investment. You can borrow to get a return, which is a good thing.

    Secondly, I smile when I hear economic theorists say we need to cut debts, and cut them fast! I’ve not yet come across a mortgage holder say to me that they need to cut all their spending so they can pay off their mortgage NOW! They tend to take a longer view, and that to squeeze their other spending to eliminate their debt would lead to such a reduction in quality of life that it isn’t worth it.

    The household equivalent of the Osborne approach would be to sell the family car to avoid petrol costs and pay off the mortgage, only to find you had to give up work because you could no longer get there.

    There’s far too much simplification going on here on both sides of the debate, and an acceptance of some level of complexity that isn’t necessarily based on party political lines, and a little humility that other’s know a thing or two about the subject as well, wouldn’t go amiss.

  47. Max,
    ‘A few weeks ago, I watched all the 1992 election coverage, and all the Labour supporters were saying they had technically won, because they managed to reduce the Conservative majority. ‘

    In 1992 I think Labour people were saying that earlier on election night when the projected final result was a Hung Parliament with Tories as largest party.

  48. Max – what the talking heads say on Election nights is often very different from what a proper assessment made afterwards concludes; pls believe me Labour lost in 92 and knew it.

    I guess there is a simialr difference of opinion about how well the Conservatives did at the last GE.

    One view, they did well as they added more seats than any Conservative party at a GE for over 100 years (or whatever it is). Alternatively, with a very unpopular Labour Party and PM they should have done far better.

    I think this is at the heart of a simmering discontent amongst many Conservatives back benchers and people like yourself.

    Blair was largely tolerated by many inside the Labour Party as he delivered Government (the booers at conference forget this) Similarly, as Cameron moved socially left (if nor Economically) the mass of the party which is more right wing tolerated it as they wanted to gain power and were pursuaded that it was if not totally necessary at least helpful; some now question whether they needed to do do this.

    Welcome back JJB and I still hope you get to Roseberry Topping sometime :-)

  49. @ Max

    You obviously have stamina! I have just caught up with some of the economic twaddle put forward by the reds on this site. They are wrong and you are right as will be ultimately vindicated with an economic recovery and Conservative win in 2015. Power to your arm but personally I get bored with it all which is why i limit my posts on this site.

  50. @ALEC

    “If I borrow money to buy a house, I would generally hope to earn money from not paying rent, and hope that the capital asset value might rise a little as an investment. You can borrow to get a return, which is a good thing.”

    Yes, but you have to live somewhere, so you won’t see that return, unless you downsize to another property (something the government can’t do). As you say, governments/nations cannot die, so they cannot get the return, without selling of the family silver (gold?).

    “I’ve not yet come across a mortgage holder say to me that they need to cut all their spending so they can pay off their mortgage NOW! They tend to take a longer view, and that to squeeze their other spending to eliminate their debt would lead to such a reduction in quality of life that it isn’t worth it.”

    What if their mortgage and bills are 110% of earnings? That is, after all earnings, you are still short of paying the monthly bills and mortgage by another 10% of earnings. Can a householder operate with a ‘long-term view’ in those conditions? No.

    The phrase is bankruptcy.

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