The full tabs for this week’s YouGov poll for the Sunday Times are now online here, covering a wide range of topics including Jimmy Carr’s tax, GCSEs, global warming and Julian Assange.

On the regular trackers David Cameron’s net approval is minus 18 (from minus 25 last week), Ed Miliband’s minus 27 (from minus 25), Nick Clegg’s minus 53 (from minus 55). There were also shifts towards the government in some of the other regular trackers – the proportion thinking the government is bad for people like them has dropped from 62% to 55%, the proporton thinking they are handling the economy well is up 5 points to 34%. This tallies with the voting intention figures, which are marginally less bad for the government than they have been for the last month or two… but still show them trailing badly.

Turning first to tax avoidance, 60% of people think it is unreasonable for people to use artificial schemes to avoid tax, compared to 36% who think it is reasonable enough and the government should pass stricter laws if they want to stop it. 67% also agreed with a statement that tax avoidance was as bad as benefit fraud…nevertheless, asked directly whether Cameron was right to criticise Jimmy Carr only 38% said yes and 50% said no. Part of this will be as suggested in the question – distate at the Prime Minister commenting on an individual, but it will also be a reflection of partisan viewpoints – Labour voters are most critical of tax avoidance, but are also least likely to view David Cameron or his actions in a positive way.

Moving onto GCSEs, people think they have got easier in recent years by 60% to 22% and by 50% to 32% would support a return to an O-level style system, with less academic pupils taking some equivalent of the old CSE. There is also very strong support for the idea of moving to one single exam board, supported by 75% with 12% opposed. People are less suportive, however, of abolishing the national curriculum. Only 20% think this would lead to a rise in standards, compared to 38% who think it would make things worse.

Turning to the topic of climate change, 70% of people think that the Rio conference will make little difference, with only 9% expecting it to lead to a better environment. YouGov also asked about broader attitudes towards climate change, a repeat question from 2010, and found a slightly larger proportion of people believing in man-made global warming. 43% of people thought the world was becoming warmer due to man (up from 39%), 22% thought the world was becoming warmer but not because of man (down from 27%), 15% thought the world was not getting warmer (down from 18%). 20% of people said they didn’t know, up from 16%. While the trend here is towards belief in manmade global warming, it is still lower than the same question was showing in 2008, when 55% of British people thought the world was getting warmer due to man’s activity.

Finally the survey asked about Julian Assange. 60% of people wanted to see Assange extradited (44% to Sweden and 16% to the US, though I believe the US haven’t actually asked for him to be extradited), 16% think he should not be extradited. However, a majority of people (60%) also think that diplomatic norms should be respected and Julian Assange should be allowed to take sanctuary in the Ecuador embassy. 24% think the police should breach diplomatic rules (and, indeed the law, though this was not made clear in the question) and arrest him regardless.


158 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times round up”

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  1. @ Chris Lane

    Watch your language please in school:
    It’s = wrong, lol
    —————————–
    I think that’s a copy of Old Nat’s comment.

    Should I have corrected it or put sic after it, given we are discussing education?
    8-)

  2. CHRISLANE1945

    Yep. Mea culpa as to “it’s”.

    Amber

    Why do you think there would have been a Scottish Corporation of Accountants if your preferred choice of standard UK qualifications had been in place?

  3. Anthony

    Will you be opening a thread on the YG Scottish poll 21-23 June? I presume that the tables will be published later today?

    I’ve seen a report saying ,only 17% of Labour supporters believe we are better as part of the UK when there is a Tory government.

    When asked “how much trust, if any, do you have in the UK Government in Westminster to take the right decisions for Scotland”, only 28% who replied “a great deal” or “a fair amount” compared to 69% who replied “do not trust much” or “not at all.”

    When asked if they agree that “It is better for Scotland to be part of the United Kingdom when there is a Conservative Government in Westminster” – only 20% agreed, with 50% disagreeing.

  4. Nick P

    ‘Guardian headline
    Young to lose Housing Benefit
    He bluddy deserves it after that penalty.’

    Prize for the most amusing comment of the week. I have to say I could not understand how ineffective Young could be continuously picked ahead of the Ox.

    In my view this is bad news for the Coalition … Still there is still the Olympics.

  5. @ Old Nat

    Why do you think there would have been a Scottish Corporation of Accountants if your preferred choice of standard UK qualifications had been in place?
    ————————
    Why do you think that there wouldn’t have been? The London Association of Accountants was formed shortly after the Scottish Corporation was founded. These two associations formed an alliance & were the driving force behind the international association which we have today.
    8-)

  6. Top of the Morning All, and a lovely sunny day it is, and I have a day off.

    OLD NAT: The biggest spelling mistake on here, made by most people is the inability to spell Attlee properly.

    On the football, political implications possibly: The SKY deal enables English Clubs to but the very best players.

    Therefore, there a few top English players in the top five clubs in the Premiership.

    Maybe Ed Miliband took take up that issue.

  7. Is the division over exams, benefits, etc an early start to the political split of the coalition in preparation for 2015?

    It’s been widely reported that the LibDems would start to differentiate themselves from the Tories in 2013-2014, to give themselves a year or two to try to win back voters.
    So could Cameron be beating them to the punch? It would be the logical thing to do – knowing your opponent’s strategy means you can outwit them relatively easily.

    The Sun is reporting that Cameron will back completely cutting unemployment benefits after two years, with full benefits potentially being removed earlier than that. Something the LibDems wouldn’t back.
    But the reports from various papers are that these are Cameron’s plans for the Conservative manifesto and not a suggestion of coalition policy – so it would seem to be a differentiation strategy.

    These proposals could also be quite a good boost to Tory VI, as the public tend to support harsh benefit cuts when polled (although generally only cuts to the benefits of other people and not their own).

  8. http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/02/27/charity-ends-home/
    Peter Kellner article on Welfare Reform – a little old but I can’t imagine attitudes have changed much since Feb.

    Most important part, IMHO –
    “We asked people how many welfare claimants are ‘scroungers’ in the sense that they ‘lie about their circumstances in order to obtain higher welfare benefits (for example by pretending to be unemployed or ill or disabled) or deliberately refuse to take work where suitable jobs are available’. Just 28% think the problem is confined to ‘a small minority’ or ‘few, if any’ claimants. Two-thirds of the public say that ‘scroungers’ are a ‘substantial minority” or ‘around half’ or a majority.”

    So it doesn’t really matter what the reality of the situation is – a substantial majority believe that most benefit claimants are scroungers. It’s no surprise then, that benefit cuts are popular.

  9. I didn’t watch the game of course but I was sorry to hear that England lost today (and to Italy of all countries). Saw it on the nightly news. Irritating. There’s this little Italian coffee bar on little Santa Monica (one of those places that you really don’t like towards but everyone else around you seems to love for some inexplicable reason) and they had a big Eurocup poster up on Friday with all the results written in. I’m sure they were excited.

  10. What I’m struggling with is why it’s wrong to pay income support to for three or more children, but OK if it’s child benefits for large families? I’m wondering why we need to tackle the entitlement culture among under 25’s who are out of work, while needing to write manifesto commitments that guarantee universal top up benefits costing £4b for wealthy pensioners.

    Shurely shome mishtake?

  11. @tingedfringe – ” …it would seem to be a differentiation strategy.”

    This is Cameron’s attempt to present himself to the Tory faithful as a driving force in the formation of the next manifesto – with the emphasis on polpulist rightwing issues.

    What that says about the future for his modernising centrist stance is another question. The speech in Kent seems eerily reminiscent of 1992 and Peter Liley’s version of the “Lord High Executioner’s little list song”:

    h
    ttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FOx8q3eGq3g

  12. @ Tinged Fringe

    “So it doesn’t really matter what the reality of the situation is – a substantial majority believe that most benefit claimants are scroungers. It’s no surprise then, that benefit cuts are popular.”

    You know, I don’t mean to be a Marie Antoinette (or more accurately, a Cher Horowitz) here but am I the only one who questions the idea that people on government assistance are trying to cheat the system? I mean, granted government benefits in Europe are more generous than in the United States (though I can’t imagine that it’s that dramatic). We don’t use the term “scroungers” but the concept is definitely there. It’s why Republicans claim to oppose unemployment insurance extensions (those are for people who were actually employed prior to the Great Recession). But who actually would want to live off of welfare or Section 8 or rely on foodstamps to eat? I mean, welfare payments hardly cover anything. I know people who spend more in one day on shopping or spa days or house decorations than individuals receive in one whole month on welfare. Section 8 is not going to cover any type of decent housing. Not even close. So the idea that somehow people are trying to cheat everyone else in order to live for free off the government seems kinda ridiculous. The concept has never made sense to me.

  13. @SoCal,

    I think benefits in the UK are more generous (and more open-ended) than in the US. And in continental Europe they are more generous still.

    Our fundamental problem is the poverty trap. You are literally better off being out of work (or even better, on long term sick benefits) than having a low-waged job. That is particularly true if you have a non-working partner (ie if man and woman are both unemployed, their standard of living is much higher than if one of them is employed on low wages).

    The left would argue that the solution to this is to push up the minimum wage and (a la Miliband’s latest speech) protect the low-paid from competition from immigrant workers.

    The right would argue that the solution is to restrict benefit entitlements to ensure that the working are better off than the non-working.

    There is some common ground over the approach of redesigning the welfare system, as Iain Duncan Smith is trying to do, so that the the “cliff edge” is removed and people can taper gently from welfare into paid employment, knowing that for each additional pound they earn they will always be slightly better off. Historically, for reasons I don’t really understand, this has proved near-impossible to achieve.

  14. @alec

    Rich old pensioners are reliable Tory voters, it’s as simple as that.

  15. Alec

    You make some valid points about how governments tend to look at various benefits.

    The problem in regard to under 25 year old benefits, particularly related to them raising a family of more benefit recipients, is that they perhaps are more a problem for the future. If children see their parents raise them using state benefits, there is the chance that the children may repeat this. It is a problem now on the state purse, but will be much worse in 40/50 years time, as UK PLC will be struggling to pay for all the various commitments e.g pensions.

    In regard to current pensioners, I think the government see these as follows. They have paid into the system, so are receiving what they are entitled to. They are supporting their children with childcare and also possibly financially. They are nearer to death, so will not be a drain on the state purse for much longer; plus they will have to sell their homes to pay for any care home costs. When they die, if their estate is over a certain amount, there will be tax revenues. Also when they die their children will benefit from inheritances, so money from fixed assets will be released into the economy. And pensioners are so grateful, that they tend to vote much more than younger generations.

    In conclusion, pensioners are seen as much more of an asset to UK PLC, than workless child raising younger people.

  16. Anecdotally, as a policeman whose contact is disproportionately with people who claim benefits, I can report that actual physical hardship is quite rare. Many of the people I deal with have cars, most have quite a host of pet animals. almost all smoke and drink, many take drugs. Most of the younger ones can be found carousing in Union Street of a weekend. And of course, a great many are clinically obese.

    They often live in squalor, but it is generally the kind of squalor that 90 pence worth of cleaning fluid and a kitchen towel could sort out (and there is usually a 42″ HD TV in the room next to the door faeces on the floor).

    I accept that my caseload is in no way a representative sample, but it does slightly skew my perception of the issue.

  17. Prior to Tennis for Veterans;

    One of the things that amazes me is that young people are regarded as independent when it comes to sexual health, from the age of 14-16, and they can go and fight in the armed forces, while at the same time, they are regarded as’ children’ of their parents when it comes to Housing Benefits and to University Education.

    Therefore we parents in our 50’s and 60’s are being held financially responsible for our ‘children’. But they are not children any more.

    TINGED FRINGE.
    I agree with you that popular perceptions of ‘scroungers; are widespread.

  18. @ Neil A

    “As always with these things, I prefer to leave the matter for the relevant criminal courts.

    If the Swedes feel they have enough evidence to prosecute Assange, let them do so.

    Your position must involve either one of two assumptions;

    a) The allegations against Assange must be false and his accusers are lying as part of some secret plot so devious it can’t be uncovered by his defence team.

    b) Assange is such a fantastic examplar of free speech and open government that it simply doesn’t matter whether he is a sex offender. His personal conduct must take a back seat to his importance to liberal democracy.

    I prefer not to make either of these assumptions.”

    I am no fan of Julian Assange and no fan of Bradley Manning either, who gave him the information illegally. Now some people suffest I should feel sympathy for Manning and oppose his solitary confinement or that I should be on his side simply because he’s LGBT. I don’t think so. He broke a law and endangered our position.

    Now Assange may be protected in the U.S. by Bartnicki v. Vopper (2001). As far as the sexual assault charges, that concerns Sweden and they can do with it whatever they’d like and however their legal system works. If the sexual assault charges were taking place in the U.S. (which they’re not), I’d say he’s innocent until proven guilty and the espionage case is irrelevant to that (it should be blocked from evidence if prosecutors attempt to introduce it). And yeah, I agree with your sentiment.

    Also, I don’t know what revealing the personal gossip among State Department workers does to further the cause of democracy. Or why the public needs to know. There are some situations (very rare situations) where transparency really isn’t the best policy.

    Btw, re extradition, neither Assange nor Manning could receive the death penalty for what they’ve done. So if what you say is true and there were charges in the U.S. against Assange, I don’t think the UK government would bar his extradition.

  19. @ Anmary

    “I don’t know where to begin with that one. I’m not sure if you are saying that’s how it works normally, or if this is just a bizarre rule they have in Sweden? Surely you can’t withdraw consent after it’s all over? How easy would it be to trap a man then? As far as I am aware, Assange doesn’t deny intercourse, he denies rape. So the comment about semen being present is rather odd, also because the accusations date years back so little evidence of that sort would remain.”

    I don’t know what Sweden’s rule is but in California, one can withdraw their consent at any time during the act. (If I may offer an unsolicited opinnion….I think it’s a little unfair to a partner who’s in the middle of reaching their peak but it’s what the law is). “No” means “no.” And “stop” means “stop.” So no, you can’t withdraw your consent after the act is over (well maybe you can in Sweden), but you can withdraw consent while still performing.

  20. @ The Sheep

    “There is no evidence that the US will go to the effort of extraditing him. In fact he would probably be safer if he went to Sweden – as has been seen from the NatWest 3, McKinnon et al it is far easier to be extradited from the UK than from almost anywhere else in Europe (including Sweden).”

    I honestly don’t know what we would extradite him for because I honestly don’t know what charges can be leveled against him. He got ahold of illegally obtained information and then released it merilee to the public but he didn’t illegally obtain the information himself.

    @ Anmary

    “We’ve already discovered the US Government has little regard for international law or the legal process.”

    Yes and no. I think that we’ve just adopted a policy of general hypocrisy. We expect to extend our law overseas when it benefits us but we choose to ignore our own laws when it doesn’t.

    “The American government involves itself in torture, and Guantanamo is still open, as well as having secret military tribunals, with no public access to those deemed a threat to national security.”

    Well we were torturing under Dubya’s administration. I’m hardpressed to think of administrations that allowed and pushed for torture before hand. All torture has been banned including more recent acts of torture that were attempted to be labeled as not “torture.” Those detained at Guantanamo and those detained as “enemy combatants” now have a right to independent judicial review of their confinement after Boumediene v. Bush. The government has been forced to release a number of detainees.

  21. Neil A
    “There is some common ground over the approach of redesigning the welfare system, as Iain Duncan Smith is trying to do, so that the the “cliff edge” is removed and people can taper gently from welfare into paid employment, knowing that for each additional pound they earn they will always be slightly better off. Historically, for reasons I don’t really understand, this has proved near-impossible to achieve.”

    Looking back through the mists of time to my O Level History studies, I recall this being flagged up as an age-old problem. An underlying principle of the various Poor Laws was that any relief for the poor must not make it more attractive to be out of work than in work. That was why the Workhouses had such bestial conditions. Fine as a theoretical principle, but a cursory look at the works of Dickens shows what happened in practice. Because in practice, circumstances (both individual and macro-economic) meant that there would always be large numbers of people who fell through the gaps and were unable to find work, regardless of how horrific the alternatives.

    200 years ago, the Speenhamland System was trying to do exactly what you call for – to give poor relief on a sliding scale according to income, during a time of economic fracture and appealing mass privation. It was condemned as skewing the natural workings of the Market and encouraging employers to pay below-subsistence wages. It was vilified by Mathusians who said it encouraged the meanest sections of society to survived and breed. Plus ca change as they used to say in the era of the Napoleonic Wars, eh?

    The approach of Labour over the last decade and a half was clearly an attempt to square this circle. Minimum wages and a sliding scale of tax credits are, together, a credible and logical system to navigate a path between the state subsidising employers and the state cutting the unfortunate loose. It will never be perfect and there will always be those who abuse the system. The aim can therefore never be to produce more than a least-bad system. There is (or should be a permanent hand on the tiller to adjust the direction.

  22. @ Neil A


    I think benefits in the UK are more generous (and more open-ended) than in the US. And in continental Europe they are more generous still.

    Our fundamental problem is the poverty trap. You are literally better off being out of work (or even better, on long term sick benefits) than having a low-waged job. That is particularly true if you have a non-working partner (ie if man and woman are both unemployed, their standard of living is much higher than if one of them is employed on low wages).

    The left would argue that the solution to this is to push up the minimum wage and (a la Miliband’s latest speech) protect the low-paid from competition from immigrant workers.

    The right would argue that the solution is to restrict benefit entitlements to ensure that the working are better off than the non-working.

    There is some common ground over the approach of redesigning the welfare system, as Iain Duncan Smith is trying to do, so that the the “cliff edge” is removed and people can taper gently from welfare into paid employment, knowing that for each additional pound they earn they will always be slightly better off. Historically, for reasons I don’t really understand, this has proved near-impossible to achieve.”

    Thank you for this insight. It is a problem when it pays more to not work. With your generous welfare state though and your large government, I would think it would be possible to create programs that help reward people who are already working but could use a hand.

    Like if it were up to me, I’d create Section 9 housing. It’d be a rental assistance program, basically a supplement from Uncle Sam for all those between the ages of 18 and 35 who are employed in a full time job or equivalent. The idea is, rent is skyrocketing along with most costs of living. Young people want to be able to move out of their parents home and be rewarded for working. They also want to save up some money so they can buy their first homes.

    This is probably never going to happen because it’s expansion of “big government” and increasing reliance on welfare. I could see Brits or Europeans embracing a program like this (maybe in better fiscal times). For all I know, you already have it.

    Pushing up the minimum wage is good…..to an extent. You really don’t want to have too many people actually earning the minimum wage because those who do are at the bottom end of the spectrum. Societies don’t thrive and economies don’t thrive and democracies have a difficult time existing when you don’t have a large and prosperous middle class. Minimum wage doesn’t pay a middle class salary. It can’t. It’s to offer some measure of protection to the lowest tier of workers (low education, low skills, menial jobs, non-union jobs).

  23. SoCal.

    Why “Italy of all countries”? Is there some reason why we should be particularly affronted by Italy giving England a footballing lesson?

  24. @ Neil A

    “Anecdotally, as a policeman whose contact is disproportionately with people who claim benefits, I can report that actual physical hardship is quite rare. Many of the people I deal with have cars, most have quite a host of pet animals. almost all smoke and drink, many take drugs. Most of the younger ones can be found carousing in Union Street of a weekend. And of course, a great many are clinically obese.

    They often live in squalor, but it is generally the kind of squalor that 90 pence worth of cleaning fluid and a kitchen towel could sort out (and there is usually a 42? HD TV in the room next to the door faeces on the floor).

    I accept that my caseload is in no way a representative sample, but it does slightly skew my perception of the issue.”

    Maybe they have untreated (or perhaps untreatable) mental conditions like ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, mental retardation, etc.

    Your description doesn’t sound too unsimilar from a description of certain types I know of.

  25. @ Lefty Lampton

    “Why “Italy of all countries”? Is there some reason why we should be particularly affronted by Italy giving England a footballing lesson?”

    No. Italy has an excellent soccer team (didn’t they win the Eurocup last time? They won the World Cup in 06′ I think). I just prefer England to Italy in terms of tourist destinations (and others feel the opposite). I don’t actually have anything against the Italians though.

  26. Thr Tory view would seem to be no one should be allowed to start a family until they can prove (to a potential father-in-law?) that they have a sound income and can provide a home… if the parents can help with mortgage deposit or trust-fund arrangements so much the better.

    The perpetual rise in homelessness under Thatcher, particularly among teenagers – because of cuts in HB entitlement – should give pause for thought. For large swathes of the young adult population staying at home with the parents is not an option… there is no Granny-flat over the garage or converted attic. Past sixteen they are too old to share with younger siblings and have to find their own way in life as best they can.

  27. What is already becoming apparent from Cameron’s venture into welfare and benefits policy is that it is increasingly obvious that this was crafted by the adviser and pollster Andrew Sparrrow.

    Where Cameron could have won widespread support would have been with calls for a root and branch review of benefits and where the money goes, but there is a clear decision to protect their own base and target other parts of the problem. The problem is that you either accept universal benefits or you don’t – you can’t attack universal benefits like child benefits for one group while ensuring they are protected for another. Not unless you want to become the Nasty Party.

    This is a very political move and not based on fairness or logic, and while it will probably have some polling benefits among certain sections, longer term it carries great risks. The real danger I see for the Tories is that for short term political benefit, Cameron is willing to create the impression that after 2015 a Tory government would really get on with the business of cutting stuff.

    If we can recall the run up to 2010, he was very keen to play down the need for cuts – savings could be made without affecting services etc, efficiency savings and such like. By coming out with the red meat now to satisfy Tory cravings, he will be entering the next election with the clear message that unpleasant cuts lie ahead – much more graphically that in 2010.

    This is going to be a tough message to sell to the voters, especially when you consider that he wasn’t able to sell the 2010 message very well in the first place.

  28. One interesting statistic in this – only 13% want a top rate of income tax of over 50%. A cumulative 42% want a top tax rate of 50% or higher. The highest tax rate that has a cumulative majority of support Is 45% (53% want a tax rate of 45%+). So there would be majority support for tax cuts on the rich – even when the top rate is cut to 50% – as there is also national insurance to consider’

  29. Sorry, that should be “even when the top rate is cut to 45%”

  30. Impressed this morning with the little snippet of Alistair Darling I heard on R4 regarding the independence debate.

    In the space of a couple of mild mannered lines, he completely dismantled the current SNP policy on a post independence Scottish currency, with an unanswerable logic and a simple use of the current Eurozone crisis to identify the logical inconsistencies of the apparent SNP position.

    I posted on the last thread a link to a fascinating report in 1977 by a Scottish economist commissioned by the then EEC into the role of federal spending in an integrated economic zone. They concluded that to have a stable currency, federal spending of around 10% of total GDP would be needed as a starter, rising to 20 – 25% as integration gathered pace.

    Without this, any currency would not be stable. Darling got the implications of this absolutely spot on this morning, saying that an independent Scotland, either with the £ or €, would need to be clearly moving to full fiscal and political union, raising the whole question of why bother?

  31. It would be interesting to see from someone like the IFS who gets this £2bn in housing benefit and where it goes;

    Is it £20k each to 100,000 people or £500 to 4 million.

    Is it mostly to Council house tenants and back to the state or to private landlords.

    Do those in private accomodation tend to get more because of high rents.
    Is it mostly to single young people or families.

    Do they take into account parental income, if daddy won’t pay the rent does the state?

    If they can’t afford rent after any cut do Councils need to put them in B&B and at what cost?

    What will it do tithe private rented market and the property sector?

    I think we need a more detailed breakdown of the problem and to think through the consequences first before we start talking about changing it.

    Peter.

  32. With regard to Assange, I seem to remember that the cases were certainly not what would be considered rape in the UK. I don’t think the charges are technically rape in Swedish law even – and to be fair the YouGov poll only mentions “sexual assault charges”. I’m sure Anthony won’t want us all chewing over the details but, while they weren’t cases of withdrawing consent after sex, the accusations were nearer to being bad in bed (or at least badly-mannered) than anything else. There was certainly talk in Sweden of the prosecution being politically motivated – though more to do with prosecutors trying to make a name for themselves with a high profile case than due to direct US pressure.

    I believe he is being extradited under the controversial European Arrest Warrant and there was a technical issue about whether the Swedish prosecutor was a valid authority to issue one, rather than it having been before the courts there. Of course many of those cheering on his extradition would have been quick to denounce evil EU interference if it had been one of their own involved.

    But even if Assange had the most attractive personality in the world, he was still going to be treated with at least disdain by a lot of the media. Apart from undermining the establishment, Wikileaks simply made the professional journalists look like spoon-fed amateurs, which was never going to be popular. Coverage of the case has reflected this.

  33. SoCalLiberal

    I am no fan of Julian Assange and no fan of Bradley Manning either, who gave him the information illegally. Now some people suffest I should feel sympathy for Manning and oppose his solitary confinement or that I should be on his side simply because he’s LGBT. I don’t think so. He broke a law and endangered our position.

    According to Bradley Manning’s lawyer, reported here in the Guardian:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/24/bradley-manning-lawyers-accuse-prosecutors

    the prosecution are trying to withhold evidence, that suggest otherwise:

    Reports by the Associated Press, Reuters and other news outlets have suggested that official inquiries into the impact of WikiLeaks concluded that the leaks caused some “pockets” of short-term damage around the world, but that generally its impact had been embarrassing rather than harmful

  34. @PERTERCAIRNS

    Between £13,000 and £20,000 per house, per year, depending on number of bedrooms.

    Average of apporx £17,000 comes to approx 120,000 households.

    I would love to be on housing benefit in that regard.

  35. Neil A
    I think wires were crossed last night. To explain, Mrs H told me that Assange’s defence for not being sent to Sweden was that he would, regardless of the outcome of the trial there, be promptly delivered to USA. The theory is (stress theory) that the trial is known to be jumped up, but gets him away from the UK. As I wrote originally, I have not a clue about this, but I can’t see why the UK could not already have sent him to the USA had the USA requested it.

    Of course conspiracy theories can live much longer in a situation where we know just how corrupt the USA is in respect of ‘rendition’ and other issues.

  36. Got to say, from the little I’ve gleaned this morning, I rather like the look of the pro union campaign being launched today. It appears as if they are seeking to promote a positive message, while niggling away at what they claim to be inconsistencies and risks in the SNP position, without going headlong into ‘independence would be disaster’ territory.

    It appears to be a more subtle pressing of buttons and stroking of concerns, and as a result I wouldn’t be surprised if it is highly effective.

  37. @Statgeek

    “Between £13,000 and £20,000 per house”

    Evidence? There are an awful lot of 1 or 2 bed flats with rents that don’t even begin to approach that sort of amount. Even in the home counties, 3-bed houses go for a lot less than £1k pm.

    I’ve always believed that the solution to the cliff edge is to remove it altogether. There should be a universal personal benefit (including for children, perhaps at different rates according to age), which is just about sufficient to live on. There might be some additional allowances (e.g. mobility allowances for the disabled, winter heating for the elderly).

    After that, every penny of income (after legitmate allowances) being taxable, initially at a low rate (to encourage work) and then at increasing rates as we have now.

    There are all sorts of advantages. The policing role of Job Centres would be completely removed, leaving them to concentrate on the task of getting people into proper jobs. Employers would be forced to pay proper rates of pay, since there would be no army of unemployed being compelled (under threat of loss of benefits) to take low skill low wage jobs.

    There would no doubt be problems of implementation, and it might be difficult to restrict the “citizen’s income” to be compatible with EU freedom of movement, but to my mind this is the direction we should be going. The benefits system is so complex because it tries to give people enough to live on while at the same time using a big stick to get them back into badly paid work. The savings alone in providing a universal benefit would be vast.

  38. @SoCalLiberal

    You said “…Section 8 is not going to cover any type of decent housing…”

    Define “decent housing”. If you mean “structurally sound, keeps the rain and wind out, is warm in winter and cool in summer, does not have damp” then yes, it is enough. If you mean “living in a nice area” then no it doesn’t.

    You said “…But who actually would want to live off of welfare or Section 8 or rely on foodstamps to eat? I mean, welfare payments hardly cover anything. I know people who spend more in one day on shopping or spa days or house decorations than individuals receive in one whole month on welfare…”

    You don’t actually know any poor people, do you?…:-) The problem is never the money coming in, it’s the disparity between the money coming in and that going out. It’s actually not difficult to live off very little: strip it down to what you need and that’s actually not a lot. The major problem with poverty is inability to defend yourself: it’s not just the local hard b******s, it’s the fact that you can’t get anything done properly, and you will be scr****d by nearly everybody. This makes little things like a plumber that repairs a boiler so that it stays fixed, a handyman that repairs a washing machine, a builder that stops the damp coming back, and other decencies or competences, very precious.

    You said “…Maybe they have untreated (or perhaps untreatable) mental conditions like ADHD, Depression, Anxiety, mental retardation, etc…”

    I understand that welfare reform is too often a way of legitimising attacks on the poor, and that many people do have problems that are better tackled via the health system. But neverthless many people are mendacious, lazy, self-justifying and/or selfish, not because they are TERRIBLE WELFARE SCROUNGERS, but simply because they are human. Such people may cope by familial dependence into adulthood but others do so by augmenting their familial income with money from the benefits system.

    Regards, Martyn

  39. I’ve just seen Alistair Darling outline the positives of the Union better than any before him. I’ve always had a lot of time for Darling, and while I’m undecided on independence, and I don’t get a vote either, because of Mr Salmond’s rather selective electorate for this issue, Mr Darling is the perfect advocate for the Union and may well be able to convince myself and others back home to get off the fence and back the Union.

  40. I notice has Anthony disclaimed all involvement in this Sunday’s YouGov. I can see why if you look at this sequence of questions on tax avoidance:

    Do you agree or disagree with the following
    statements?
    The best way to reduce tax avoidance is to cut the top rates of tax, so the rich have less
    incentive to avoid tax
    (p 7/8)

    […]

    Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs are doing all they can to crack down on tax avoiders – the people who advise the rich will always find ways to get round the rules (p 9/10)

    […]

    The current top rate of income tax is 50%. Taking account of the problems of tax avoidance by the rich, do you think the top rate should be (p 11/12)

    There is a subtle nudge (unintended?) in that sequence towards getting people to support a lower rate of tax for the rich.

    Of course in reality lowering tax rates does nothing at all to get the rich to pay more tax. Most of the tax dodging schemes[1] are to avoid paying any tax on the income at all. No matter how low you set tax rates they won’t be zero. All you will do is reduce the tax they pay on the income they can’t avoid paying tax on.

    These simple facts very rarely get pointed out in the media however. Nothing to do, I’m sure, with most of the Press being owned by tax exiles and the widespread use of payment via companies to lessen income tax by those in the broadcast media.

    [1] As I keep on pointing out the difference between ‘evasion’ and ‘avoidance’ is both artificial and blurred. Also neither automatically describes schemes such as ISAs which are government-designed to encourage certain behaviour. Though of course such schemes may then be used to practice tax dodging

  41. There is an interesting philosophical anomaly opening up in the discussion on welfare reforms. Cameron is increasingly defining his targets by age – pensioners vs under 25 year olds. Arguing that this is political is pointless – this is politics, and it is political. However, there will be ramifications.

    Essentially Cameron appears to have identified three distinct groups – working age, the disabled and pensioners, and has made it clear that despite pensioners causing the greatest cost to the taxpayer, they will be rewarded while the other groups are squeezed.

    The philosophical point is that he is setting up a complete disparity in the approach to benefits, with a pick and mix approach to universality, defined by the age group of the recipient.

    The plan for a single £140 pw week pension appears to be the precise opposite of what he wants for working age people – namely a link between effort and reward. Indeed, under Osborne’s pension proposals, they appear to want to scrap S2P, a central element of the reward for work. This represents a massive cut for future pensioners who spend a career working, while rewarding the workshy and lazy with a guaranteed pension for nothing.

    This approach appears to be very much at odds with his view of the under 25’s and working age welfare claimants, which is echoed by Duncan Smith who firmly believes reforming universal benefits for the elderly should be part of the mix.

    I suspect this denotes a lack of courage by Cameron and a over politicised approach to complex issues. By merely parroting the worn out line about ‘pensioners having worked hard all their lives’ Cameron is making precisely the same mistake as those on the left claiming the unemployed need benefits as a right.

    Who is to say a pensioner has worked hard? A proportion of pensioners will have lived feckless and idle lives, yet get the same benefits as their hard working neighbours – a situation as patently unfair as the examples Cameron is using today of working age welfare discrepancies.

    What does this tell us? Nothing new really – politicians want to win elections, and Cameron is certainly a politician.

  42. STATGEEK,

    “Between £13,000 and £20,000 per house, per year, depending on number of bedrooms. Average of apporx £17,000 comes to approx 120,000 households.”

    From a housing benefit budget of £22bn covering 4.3m applicants.

    That works out at an average of just over £5k a year each or £100 a week.

    So at up to £17k, more than three times the average is actually only claimed by 120,000 or less than 3% of those receiving benefit.

    Even without knowing how many of those receiving £17k are below 25, it looks like a classic wedge issue to me;

    Quote a high figure for a minority to justify cutting it for all.

    Peter.

  43. I find that Assange’s apologists are so very often morally indistinguishable from Ched Evans groupies. There’s a widespread tendency to pass on falsehoods and half truths as fact, despite the facts being in the public domain:

    h ttp://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2010/dec/17/julian-assange-sweden
    h ttp://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2011/2849.html
    h ttp://sianandcrookedrib.blogspot.co.uk/2012/06/unpicking-assange-myths-and-how.html

    It has nothing to do with withdrawn consent or “bad sex” or whatever, it has to with the fact that he allegedly started having sex with one woman whilst she was asleep (aka rape) and was violent towards another during a sexual encounter and, she alleges, deliberately interfered with a condom so that it would break, despite knowing that that was a condition of consent, and subjected her to other unwanted sexual contact.

    Meanwhile, the women have been named on various social networking and websites and have been harassed and vilified. All of this creates a hostile atmosphere for women reporting rape against well known men. In fact, I’d go so far to say, if you report rape against a well known and admired man then you’re pretty much guaranteed to be dragged through the mud, and there’s increasingly nothing the authorities can do to protect you.

    @Socal.

    “(If I may offer an unsolicited opinnion….I think it’s a little unfair to a partner who’s in the middle of reaching their peak but it’s what the law is). “

    In the strictly formal sense, perhaps, but such unfairness is entirely in the abstract unless you hold the belief that women are often capricious and can’t wait to prosecute men who don’t stop the very instant they say, when the reality is that reporting sexual assault is an embarrassing and often gruelling process, and the any practical unfairness tends to be in the opposite direction. Which is not to say that every rape allegation is honest or well founded, but women in general don’t take unsatisfactory or regrettable sexual encounters to the police for no other reason.

  44. Grant Shapps has just tweeted this;

    “More than 150k people who have been claiming Income Support for over a year have 3 or more children & 57k who have 4 or more children.”

    This raises more questions than answers. Presumably, if you work hard, pay your taxes, have a family, and then get made redundant and can’t find work for over a year, Tories think you should hand back a child or two?

  45. MARTYN.
    Good Afternoon.
    I believe that children have a right to have a house with electricity, heating, hot water, a bathroom and a living room, at least one bedroom per two children.
    These children have a right to have a local area where crime is controlled, and where there is good, cheap public transport, a library and excellent teachers.
    Their schools should be violence-free.
    In sunny Bournemouth many children need our local Food Banks.

  46. Sean

    One interesting statistic in this – only 13% want a top rate of income tax of over 50%. A cumulative 42% want a top tax rate of 50% or higher. The highest tax rate that has a cumulative majority of support Is 45% (53% want a tax rate of 45%+). So there would be majority support for tax cuts on the rich – even when the top rate is cut to 50% – as there is also national insurance to consider’

    Um no. You’re including the 17% who answered “Don’t know” in those for a lower rate[1]. Despite YouGov’s nudging (see above) 43% said the rate should be 50% or above, 40% said 45% or below.

    Also you’ve misread the question. It says “The current top rate of income tax is 50%” It will be reduced to 45% next year not 50% and was not higher than 50% in the first place (not since the days of that evil communist Mrs Thatcher).

    As far as national insurance goes, the effect on these high marginal rates is pretty minimal. You only pay 2% NI on any earnings over £817 per week (about £42,500 a year). So the current tax and NI rate for earnings over £150,000 will only be 52% compared to 32% that someone earning say £15,000 a year will be paying[2].

    Apologies if you know this already, but I know from previous comment by others that an awful lot of people are unaware of it.

    [1] Easily done. Anthony did something similar last week.

    [2] Remember that the top rate is the marginal rate. you don’t pay that on all your earnings, just the bit over £150,000 – actually more once allowances are taken into account.

  47. I am confused of the 60% of people who think that GCSE’s have got easier, what percentage have actually taken one and what percentage just believe it because it is what they have read in the press?

  48. @Jdwmfc – http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/may/01/gcse-alevels-easier-says-ofqual

    might answer some of your questions?

    This is in line with much of the research that I’ve seen. It also fits with what many universities are saying. Many degree courses have had to introduce starter courses as A level students aren’t good enough to go straight into year one material.

    I think that the scale of grade inflation is what gives it away. Teaching methods and teachers themselves may have got better, but the huge inflation in grades over an extended period of time suggests other forces are at work.

  49. @Martyn

    “strip it down to what you need and that’s actually not a lot”

    So long as you have good eyesight, and never need a dentist.

    Oh, and you’re never the victim of any crime, and live without possessions that you wish to insure.

    Or you have to travel further than you are capable of by foot for any reason.

    Or if you have to support someone.

    And you own your own home, or rent from someone who does not treat you as a captive source of income.

    And that nothing ever goes wrong with your home.

    And if your mental health is strong enough to get by without any entertainment or social activities.

    And you never became addicted to Tobacco because companies actually lied about how addictive it was and now you have an expensive ‘habit’.

    And you don’t drink alcohol at all, see above re Tobacco.

    And you have the equipment and capability of cooking all your meals from ingredients.

    And a place to buy those ingredients without a location based mark-up.

    And you accept that increase of standard of living only applies to those well off, and that everyone else should be pegged at a point in the 1940s…

  50. @AnMary

    “I’ve just seen Alistair Darling outline the positives of the Union better than any before him. I’ve always had a lot of time for Darling, and while I’m undecided on independence, and I don’t get a vote either, because of Mr Salmond’s rather selective electorate for this issue, Mr Darling is the perfect advocate for the Union and may well be able to convince myself and others back home to get off the fence and back the Union.”

    I agree with you and I think that his leadership of the campaign to retain the Union will raise his national profile as a politician too. He’s a widely respected political figure anyway from his time as Chancellor when he was a steady and calm hand on the tiller during tumultuous times. Has there ever been a period in our peacetime history when a UK Chancellor has had to deal with such perilous and colossal economic issues? History will, quite rightly in my view, be kind to the critical contribution he played in preventing a recession turning into a depression. He left office with a growing economy too, it has to be remembered.

    Of course, from a purely party political view, I would think his leading role in the union campaign will greatly help Labour north of the border too. His calm, understated and modest approach to politics may well proves to be the perfect foil to Salmond’s histrionics and I wonder if the SNP leader’s star might be slightly on the wane now. Current polling on support for independence, the Murdoch link and the recent May election results in Scotland, suggest to me that the high watermark of Scottish nationalism might well prove to have been in May 2011. Incumbency and the growing legacy of office doesn’t always sit easily with single issue political parties.

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