Sunday round up

The full tabs for the YouGov/Sunday Times survey are now up here. On the regular leader trackers David Cameron’s figures have returned to somewhat more typical figures after his big increase last week – he is on minus 24 (from minus 18 last week), Ed Miliband is up on minus 25 (from minus 27), Clegg on minus 54 (from minus 53).

Attitudes to the economy have not changed much, with the public continuing to be broadly split. The trend towards people supporting a change in economic policy continues – those who would prefer the government to concentrate on growth now outnumber those supporting concentrating on the deficit by 38% to 30%. Asked if the government’s economic policies are working, only 8% think they have started to work, but a total of 36% think they will eventually work, compared to 39% who think they will never work.

George Osborne himself is viewed very negatively. Only 15% of people now think he is doing a good job as Chancellor, with 56% thinking he is doing badly. Amongst the Conservative party’s own supporters less than half think he is doing well. Asked if David Cameron should replace him, 24% think Osborne should stay as Chancellor, 45% think he should be replaced. Despite these negative findings, he does still have a slightly lead over Ed Balls on who would make the better Chancellor – 28% prefer Osborne, 22% Balls, 50% say don’t know.

On the fuel duty, there is massive support for the cancellation (80% think it was the right thing to do), but that doesn’t necessarily translate into positive perceptions of the government. 46% think it is a sign of government weakness or incompetence, as opposed to 33% who see it as a sign they are listening. These figures correlate strongly with voting intention, which is a good illustration of how the public tend to view things through the prism of their existing positive or negative perceptions of a party. So three-quarters of Tory supporters think a U-turn shows the government being willing to listen and change its mind, three quarters of Labour supporters think it shows a government that is incompetent or weak.

Moving on, YouGov asked who people thought had been the best and worst Chancellor of the last 30 years. Surprisingly Gordon Brown comes top of both. Nigel Lawson and Ken Clarke are seen as the next best Chancellors, Osborne and Lamont as the next worst.

The reason Brown dominates both is interesting methodologically – it is at least partly down to the fact that in the last 30 years there have only been two Labour Chancellors, but six Conservative ones. People tended to answer the question along partisan lines (over half of Labour supporters named a Labour chancellor as best, a Conservative Chancellor as worst, and vice-versa for Conservative supporters), but the Conservative answers were split between six different Chancellors, the Labour answers split only between Brown and Darling.

Going back to the poll, YouGov found predictably negative views of the banks. Hardly anyone thinks they have substantially improved their behaviour since the crisis began. People think they are dishonest by 49% to 28%, and incompetent by 45% to 36%. Only 34% say they trust them a lot or a fair amount with their money. On the futures of Stephen Hester and Bob Diamond, only a minority (35%) think Hester should lose his job over RBS’s software failures (47% think he should stay). In contrast an overwhelming majority are in favour of Bob Diamond resigning – 78% think he should go, compared to just 10% who think he should stay.

On other issues, 56% of people think the Queen was right to shake hands with Martin McGuinness, compared to 24% who think she was wrong to do so. YouGov asked a similar question on the day of the handshake for the Sun, which also asked whether respondents themselves would be prepared to shake hands with Martin McGuinness if they met him. 39% said they would, 39% said they wouldn’t.

There was also a new ICM poll out in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph. Their “wisdom index” (that is, respondents predictions of what shares of the vote people would get, rather than how people themselves would vote) stands at Conservatives 31%, Labour 38%, Liberal Democrats 17%.

ICM also asked some questions on potential benefit changes. Overall people tended to think the current benefit system was too generous – 56% thought so, compared to 12% who thought it should be more generous and 24% who think the current balance is about right. On specific measures, there was support for capping child benefit for people with 3 or more children (65% support, 25% opposed), and setting a time limit for how long jobseekers allowance can be paid (48% support, 36% opposed), fairly even splits on stopping housing benefit for under 25s (40% support, 40% opposition) and varying benefit rates by region (39% support, 44% oppose… with, as would expect, a strong regional skew) and opposition to means testing pensioner benefits like the winter fuel allowance (38% support, 51% opposed).

104 Responses to “Sunday round up”

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  1. @ Neil A

    That was exactly my point: That CB can’t be limited by the number of biological children a person has because that is ‘direct’ gender discrimination & impinges on the mothers right to privacy/ a private life. The Lords have already said so; read their ruminations re Purnell’s draft 2009 Welfare Act.

    Therefore it has to be the number of children per carer regardless of how many biological children a person has. But this may not answer the issue, if the amount being withdrawn is significant & impacts almost entirely on women. I need to go look up the stuff regarding ‘indirect’ discrimination which, unfortunately, I don’t have to hand.

    As I said, I doubt that there is the political will to remove CB from carers with more than 3 children. I think I already mentioned that it could lead to more families assigning children to carers in the way which you describe.

  2. @ The Sheep

    If you could show that second/third children were disproportionately male or female though…
    Evidence from China shows that considerably more female babies than males are aborted when there are financial benefits of having only one child &/or financial penalties for having more than one.

  3. Regarding indirect discrimination, the splitting of benefits related to or involving child benefit is discussed in several cases:

    Court of Appeal in Hockenjos v Secretary of State for Social
    Security [2004] EWCA Civ 1749, [2005] EuLR 385.

    Stec v United Kingdom (2006) 43 EHRR 1017.

    R (Ford) v Board of Inland Revenue [2005] EWHC 1109

  4. @Amber

    I think it would have to be both biological and uk related!

    Given the way that the recent changes were introduced there is also likely to be a case brought relating to the DPA 1998 at some point (as the reclaim is being sought through the taxation system and requires the chief earner to know information about the tax status of the chief carer at some point the Act is going to be breached).

  5. “Did the BoE inform Brown &/or Darling? I’d like to know the answer to that too – whichever way it falls!”
    The polling implications of this are interesting – Those currently voting Labour disapprove of the government almost exclusively [1] – so it’s unlikely that a crash in Labour support would be of major benefit to the government (potentially a few % increase in VI).
    Equally, it’s unlikely to go to the LibDems, as those who’re currently Labour are 2010 Lab + Lib-Now-Lab.

    So could the potential Labour collapse lead to the rise of the Greens – like with Syriza in Greece?
    IIRC Most Labour voters had Green as second preference in AV polls in the coalition period.

    [1] Latest YouGov, -91 approval. Warning: Subsamples.
    [2] With Nick Clegg on -84 approval with Labour voters. Warning: Subsamples.

  6. A more interesting question is whether the BoE deputy informed Mervyn King?

    I think whatever the answer, he may well need to consider his own position…and high time too.

  7. i’m always interested to say how many people think that discrimination laws, like the Human Rights Act, are some sort of specious, frivolous impediment to business or PC gome mad.

    Surely the Human Rights Act is the only thing stopping the Government deporting a man to a place he will be unfairly tried, possibly tortured but certainly locked up using evidence obtained under torture and all without a trial or hearing…the only evidence is that the Government and the Press tell us he a bad person. If he has committed a crime here, try him and lock him up. If he has committed a crime elsewhere then it will need to be proved in a FAIR trial.

    Thank gould for the HRA stops out Government from doing disgusting things on our behalf, even when they have popular support to do it.

  8. I read some reports in the Sunday press over the weekend that Labour’s Policy Review process is having a very serious, and seemingly favourable, look at the findings of an independent think-tank report into the rail industry. If adopted, this would mean a future Labour Government, in effect, re-nationalising large parts of the industry. The report concludes that the current fragmented system is failing taxpayers and passengers while benefiting private train operators and their shareholders, who are guaranteed taxpayer funds if profits fall below a certain level.

    The authors estimate that £1.2bn of public money has been lost each year as a direct result of privatisation and fragmentation, money that could have allowed fares to be 18% lower than at present. UK rail passengers, who already pay the highest fares in Europe, face further increases of at least 6% from next January.

    One of the most extraordinary things that the report reveals, and something of which I was blissfully unaware, was the extent of the involvement of European state-owned railway companies in the British rail industry. Increasingly our franchises are run by subsidiaries of the German, French and Dutch state railways with profits helping deliver ticket prices in those countries that are a third of ours. Apparently, among the favourites to win new franchises on the west and east coast mainlines are subsidiaries of the German national train operator Deutsche Bahn and France’s SNCF. If they win the contracts, the profits made from running services in the UK would be ploughed into the German and French networks, helping them to keep their fares lower. What a supreme irony that is.

    Now, the devil is always in the detail, and there’s many a slip ‘twixt cup and lip as they say, but if these rumours are true, and Labour’s transport spokeswoman, Maria Eagle, is giving credence to them, then this is exactly the sort of radical thinking that I was hoping would emerge from the party’s policy review process.

    The time for re-heated, third way, “please-the-city and business” vacuity has gone and I wonder if Francois Hollande’s recent election and radical policy programme in France is pointing the way for Labour. Blairite solutions were applicable, and successful, in the mid 90s but no longer. That was then, this is now.

  9. @Anmary – ” …the odious Mr Brown.”

    Sold our gold (and ruined our pensions)… when something becomes a continuous refrain I usually look for the counter argument – here are two reponses from posters (BB and Confused Hal) on another site:

    The total theoretical loss based on the 1999-2003 sale price and current prices is about £7billion. This does not take into account whatever return the investment of the sale money received (a secret, apparently…)* and needs to be considered in the context of British annual GDP – £1.514 TRILLION pounds on latest figures. The gold reserve is essentially meaningless in terms of today’s national economy, it used to be important but these days is a fairly trivial part of the national economy. The gold sale didn’t achieve anything except bad headlines but is, frankly, a sideshow.

    * …the simple fact of the matter is we don’t know what has happened to his investments due to secrecy, but I suspect that it has performed roughly in line with gold as if it had massively out performed gold Brown and Labour would have told us prior to the election to demonstrate how good their financial judgement is – on the other side if it had massively under performed gold Cameron and the tories would have told us after the election to demonstrate just how much of a clown Brown was.

  10. @Amber,

    Surely the principle of “discrimination based on the number of children someone has” is already established by the lower rate of CB for 2nd and more children? What if the proposal was to have a third tier rate for 4th and more children of £5 pw (or £2, or 50p?).

    I really don’t believe that there is any discrimination hurdle for a cut off in CB. That doesn’t necessarily make it politically feasible (although I think “poor people with lots of children” is probably a difficult lobby group to campaign for) but I don’t think there are any legal problems, or the current arrangements would already have been challenged.

    I am a great believer that people will ultimately do what you pay them to do. If there are things we, as a country, would rather citizens/families didn’t do then we have to restrain ourselves from rewarding them for it. That will sometimes mean difficult choices that look heartless, but I think the public would probably back it.

    Three children is enough for anyone. Any more than that is a “luxury”. I don’ think I’m alone in thinking that.

  11. @NickP,

    I sort of agree with you re: HRA. The only proviso I would make is that we should really rip up all of this “jurisdiction” nonsense and allow trials in the UK for any serious crime, anywhere in the world.

    We have already crossed that Rubicon, with specific areas of crime like sexual tourism and war crimes.

    As things currently stand, if someone kills and eats 100 people in Jordan, and flees to the UK, we can’t do anything about it other than wait for him to tuck in to someone “on our patch”.

  12. @TingedFringe

    “John Major, -2, -2, -2 (blink and you missed him).”

    And yet it was Major who took one of the most significant, and some might say disastrous, economic decisions in the last 30 years. During his short period as Chancellor. he took us into the Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM) in October 1990. However, with UK inflation at three times the rate of Germany’s, interest rates at 15% and Lawson’s boom about to go pop, the conditions for joining the ERM were not favourable at that time and it proved a ruinous decision, not least for the Conservatives reputation for economic competence.

    What an irony then that Major, as Chancellor, took a decision that was to destroy his subsequent Premiership some two years later. Even though Black Wednesday forced us to crash out of the ERM, thereby sowing the seeds of our ultimate recovery from recession, Major and the Tories never recovered politically.

    So, I have to say, I neither blinked nor missed Major’s short time at Number 11 and nor should anyone else, certainly not economic historians.

  13. ON:

    Thanks. The initial post was just making a point about popularity necessarily equating to quality though.


  14. @Neil A

    You said “…Three children is enough for anyone. Any more than that is a “luxury”. I don’ think I’m alone in thinking that…”

    Er, my parents were dirt-poor (sort of like the Four Yorkshireman sketch but the gravel wasn’t heated) and they had four kids. One of my sisters is still dirt-poor (she married a Bad Man) and she has five. I take your point that having more children than you can afford is stupid, but there are countervailing arguments: even with contraception availability, reproduction planning is hit-and-miss; women want kids, deal with it; and people who wait until they can afford it to have children tend to end up childless in their 40’s with cats.

    I sympathise with your point because it’s logical and true, but when it comes to children, logic and truth don’t count. People want kids and will have them regardless of resources, sense, or even sanity.

    Regards, Martyn

  15. MARTYN

    @”People want kids and will have them regardless of resources, sense, or even sanity.”

    Manifestly true.

    But the issue is, should the State / Taxpayer help to provide those “resources”, when the decision was made regardless of sense or sanity .

  16. A key point about cuts in CB is that they will impact most on the working poor. Those on well above median income are either already losing CB altogether, or the loss of part of CB will represent a fairly small proportion of disposible income. For those on benefits, loss of CB will be compensated by an increase in other benefits (if benefits are supposed to represent the minimum required to live on, then a loss of CB must be accompanied by additional benefit). So it’s those just above benefit levels that will suffer the largest reduction in disposible income.

    Yet another case of clawing back money from those who can least afford it. This idea has nothing to do with balancing the books, and everything to do with further dismantling the welfare state. The principal of universality having already been breached, this a further attempt to salami slice CB to the point where it can be totally abolished. To those who are committed to universal benefits and who would rather see their expansion, this is IMHO the best point of attack – that this threatens CB altogether.

    I’ve never understood why CB isn’t simply regarded as taxable income.

  17. If it was ever seriously contemplated that CB should be limited to n children, I imagine that the new rule would not apply to children being claimed for at the point of change.

    Those contemplating having future children in numbers beyond the revised scope of State support, would know that they needed to have the resources to support them.

  18. @Colin

    “would know that they needed to have the resources to support them.”

    And of course future eligibility for benefits in respect of new children would be dependent on the parents having previously submitted a fully costed business plan.

  19. @Colin

    Those contemplating having future children in numbers beyond the revised scope of State support, would know that they needed to have the resources to support them.
    That’s all well and good, but what about the plight of the children themselves? After all they didn’t choose to be born.

    I’m waiting for people to suggest compulsory sterilisation for the worst offenders. 8-)

  20. For those who are interested – follow the link for a superb review and analysis of the French Presidential Elections:

  21. @Valerie

    “I’m waiting for people to suggest compulsory sterilisation for the worst offenders.”

    I almost included it in my comment above, but thought that might make it seem silly :-)

  22. I never thought I’d see the day when the Conservative party were proposing policies that limit the number of children the state approves of…

    I assume that this policy will of course be well written and take into account the lack of control we still have over some of the particulars of this process. Or perhaps we will soon see the rulings that “Madam, when your first pregnancy resulted in twins, you should have have known that to risk having twins again would be an undue burden on the State!”

  23. The net result of a policy like this would of course be to reduce population growth to significantly below replacement, as single child and childless families would no longer be balanced out by larger families. And as in likelihood people would probably stop at two, rather than ‘risk’ twins. So the drop will be quite sharp.

    The net result might be that we become even more economically dependent on immigration…

  24. Good interview on World at One with eminently clear-headed Tory MP A. Leadsom, ex-banker, now on Treasury Select Committee. She made 4 points.

    1. She would be “amazed” [repeated] if Diamond didn’t know what was going on in dealing rooms.
    2. Dealers were a fraternity: meaning that Barclays’ practices would be well known &, presumably, imitated across banks.
    3. A million people worked in banks etc, & it was necessary to protect the 99% of them who were honest from being contaminated by crooked behaviour.
    4. Most interestingly: a Leveson-type enquiry not a good idea: but if the bank dealers were fixing the Libor rate then they were probably fixing other things as well: & the enquiry should be broadened to trawl for incidence of such wider fraudulent behaviour.

  25. ROBIN

    @”And of course future eligibility for benefits in respect of new children would be dependent on the parents having previously submitted a fully costed business plan.”

    As Martyn so pithily explained, in many instances , even the most rudimentary concept of family income vs the cost of children will be absent.

    The question remains-should The State contribute to the cost of supporting children, on a per capita basis-regardless of the number of children conceived ?


    @”hat’s all well and good, but what about the plight of the children themselves? After all they didn’t choose to be born.”

    Very true.

    The Taxpayer will continue, one presumes to step in where children are being willfully neglected beyond limits tolerable to the State.

    The question remains -The question remains-should The State contribute to the cost of supporting children, on a per capita basis-regardless of the number of children conceived ?

    @”I’m waiting for people to suggest compulsory sterilisation for the worst offenders”

    That would be an appalling idea.

    But if you imply that the freedom to have as many children as you wish , regardless of your ability to support them ( a freedom which I accept) , should generate an obligation on the State to compensate for inability to support every one of them-then I must disagree.

  26. @Robin,

    You said “…And of course future eligibility for benefits in respect of new children would be dependent on the parents having previously submitted a fully costed business plan…”

    I couldn’t resist it…

    Our previous product line (“FirstChild”) has performed to expectations: despite an initial high investment development FC successfully achieved milestone 1 (walking, talking and not pooping pants) and we feel confident that 1C will achieve President Of The World on schedule in the 2040-2044 window.

    We now propose to leverage the initial investment with our new product, SecondChild. We can utilise now-redundant resources in the early years and retain the novelty value now lost with 1C. 2C gives us market segmentation opportunities allowing us to appeal to the “bolshy freespirit” sector denied us by 1C’s more uptight goal-focused demeanor. 2C is due to come online 2-3 years after 1C.

    Should 2C be a success, we envisage further development at the same intervals, with a putative 3C to attack the “maternal and overlooked” market, and 4C to cover the “cute and wacky” Ally McBeal segment. “Blowing hair out of eyes” and “Cuddle doll whilst looking wistful” lessons have been scheduled to that end. At that point we assume market saturation would be reached. A proposed 5C (“sardonic outsider”) and 6C (“sickly infant”) may also be produced dependent on demand.

    This “multiple tranches using the same production line” method enables us to maximise production in our 20-year productive period and thus achieve 100% efficiency of child bearing and breeding.

    Costs of 1C thru 4C for years 0-21 are estimated at a Net Present Value of £500,000. Income for years 0-65 is similarly estimated at ~£2,000,000 at a minimum, using commonly accepted accounting conventions regarding the discounting of adult care and the costs of raising their own offspring. We submit these estimates as per the Basel III convention and declare compatibility with the Companies Acts.

    Signed, Chief Executive Officer (Dad), Chief Operating Officer (Mum), Chief Financial Officer (Mum too), Family plc, 2012-07-02

    Regards, Martyn

  27. @ Valerie etc
    The welfare system long blamed for producing “excess” children. The tradition was instituionalized by hard-nosed Thomas Malthus in 1800, who wanted to scrap the Poor Law — his era’s welfare system — which paid relief according to family size.
    Indeed, most modern critics of welfare dependency unemployment, etc, adopt what is essentially a 17th/18th century moral tone, except of course that Malthus etc condemned contraception.
    Plus ca change . . .


    @”I never thought I’d see the day when the Conservative party were proposing policies that limit the number of children the state approves of…”

    I don’t think DC mention the idea of capping the number of children eligible for CB in that MoS interview.

    Unnamed sources were said to be “also considering” it.

    But there is no suggestion of limiting the number of children the state “approves” of. CTC is payable per child & it is much more generous than CB. I haven’t heard of any suggestion that it should be capped………but of course it is means tested.

    The question remains-& it is not an unreasonable one-should a non-means tested payment be made by the State , to mothers, on a per child basid , regardless of the number of children involved?

  29. @ Colin

    I suppose the government could look at selling excess children to countries where they have problems with falling birth rates. :)

    I don’t get this whole argument. Either as a nation we do not tolerate having poverty affecting children and pay relevant benefits needed to avoid this or we decide that a certain greater level of poverty is acceptable, with children being brought up without basic needs being satisfied. If it is the later, we then have to give more to UK charities and we give less in overseas aid. There are some food banks around the country who will not have enough money to keep up with demand, when the kids are off, so don’t receive their fee school meals.


  30. @Colin

    The question you raise is a valid one: what are the duties (if any) the State has to mothers, and what are the duties (if any) mothers have to the State.

    But consider this. If the function of the State is not to produce, nurture, educate and grow to maturity children, then what is the function of the State?

    This big thing called a “State”, that makes laws and has high and low justice, that can kill people without appeal or recourse…what is it for, if not for children?

    Regards, Martyn

  31. @Martyn

    I look forward to the publication of your 2C risk register.

  32. R HUCKLE

    It is certainly a difficult topic.

    It raises very awkward questions, both about the nature of parental responsibility , and the responsibility of The State.

    But , particularly in the context of human consumption trends & their effect on the planet.

    We do not shy from significant government intervention to try & mitigate the effects of rising consumption -eg wind farm subsidies or legislation on the output of light bulbs .

    But contemplating even minor changes to welfare benefit which might influence the increase in the number of humans-or at least signal a State view on the matter , causes talk of sterilisation & trade in babies.

    They probably won’t touch it because it will be seen as “moralising”

    Has there been an OP on the idea of capping CB ?

  33. MARTYN

    @”But consider this. If the function of the State is not to produce, nurture, educate and grow to maturity children, then what is the function of the State?”

    We could both write an interesting view on the question ” what is the function of the state” , I feel sure.

    I just wish politicians would try to do so more often-instead of reacting to every bit of the current ” function of the state” as though it is sacrosanct & must never be considered again.

    The function of the State will depend on the nature of that State-and will probably change over time.

    @”This big thing called a “State”, that makes laws and has high and low justice, that can kill people without appeal or recourse…what is it for, if not for children?”

    I certainly agree that the State in any country which wishes to be thought of as civilised, has a duty of care to “children”.

    But “children” in the abstract isn’t the issue Martin.

    We were discussing whether there should be an upper limit on the number of children which the UK government should contribute to ,with per capita, non-means tested welfare payments.

    When we have all finished with the rhetorical questions, bland generalities & the quips about sterilisation & exporting surplus babies-that question remains.

    Well I think it does-you may think it shouldn’t be asked……or the answer is “no”.

  34. @NeilA @Amber Star

    All that demonstrates is what an unworkable nonsense this policy is. So in addition to unpredictable changes in financial status and multiple births, as others have pointed out, if two people with children moved in together, they could take a financial kicking.

    If they wanted a workable policy they could offer a vasectomy reward after the third+ child, but would probably consider that more oppressive, for some reason.

  35. If there was no tax avoidance taking place by people and companies, there would be plenty of money in the system to pay for the current level of benefits.

    The present government is in favour of universal benefits in general and I just can’t see them tinkering around too much. We have seen the problems when governments try to means test various benefits and tax allowances. It become an administrative nightmare and cost more than it saves.

  36. @Colin

    My point was not that the question shouldn’t be asked: of course it should, and you’re perfectly entitled to ask and answer it.

    My point was a subset of a thesis I’ve raised sporadically: we speak often of things like “growth” and “the economy”, but these are abstract nouns and the important thing is concrete nouns: specifically, people and their behavior. Any system that ignores how people behaves will develop problems. Any society that ignores the human capacity to have children even when it’s a dumb idea will develop problems.

    This point neither confirms nor denies your point. I wasn’t arguing with you. I was pointing out that people are messy.

    Regards, Martyn

  37. Odd for me to be defending a Tory but John Major warned against going into the ERM the way we did, but was overruled by Thatcher.

    As I recall she simply rang him up at home one night and said we are joining now at the current rate, and ignored his protests.


  38. @ Neil A

    The reduction for the 2nd + children, which you mention as being ‘discriminatory’ was based on the assumption that a household has already been established for the 1st child. This has already been ruled on & judged to be a reasonable assumption.

    When the 1st dependent child leaves home, I believe the CB Office pay the 1st child rate for what was previously the 2nd child, thereby holding good to the assumption of contibution to the cost of a household.

    Regarding 2nd children who become the 1st child of a carer e.g. when a couple splits & they have care of 1 child each, I think that the CB office already allows 1st child rate for both children in those circumstances.

  39. martyn

    There’s also a tendency to assume the Government governs on behalf of the majority of the people who vote for it.

    So that would exclude children, at least till they reach 18, but not their parents. Of course children are future voters so one expects that it is best not to ignote them altogether.

    Is the Government supposed to represent the majority views of the electorate? Or work for the best interests of the electorate, whatever its views?

    I think the problem with politics is that many voters perceive all politicians (along with bankers and other groups) as greedy and self serving. So they don’t tend to believe what they are offered nor do they buy into the “big ideas” they are sold, especially when they are peddled so obviously or divisively as recently.

    Should benefits be cut because it is a popular policy, because it will work (whatever that means? full employment?) or because it means that others pay less taxes or lose less of their benefits?

    Should teachers have their pay frozen and morale crushed and the best (rich or middle class?) pupils channelled away from the sink schools where the rest can yawn amd snarl and glower? Why? Is that popular? is it best for society? Will it work (what does that mean?)

    It’s my belief that nobody ever voted for Thatcher’s dismantling of the post war consensus and nobody voted for light touch regulation and outsourcing, and nobody voted for privatisation of transport or utilities, but they got them anyway. Same with a whole raft of Lab policies (many of which included the same things). Why do politicians do things which nobody wants, which don’t benefit society and don’t “work”?

    It depends how you define “work”. Blair is very rich and the rich have got much richer.

    What percentage of the electorate would vote for a cut in tax for the higher paid? Not many, but we got it anyway. But we also get welfare cuts, cos the public wants them. One populist policy and one unpopular downright selfserving policy.

    We never get to vote for anything we actually want, or would help improve anything. We get a choice of spectacularly fishy smelling evils.

  40. @ Colin

    The withdrawal of child benefit from low income people who care for 3+ children would likely be compensated for by welfare/ tax credits anyway.

    It would be working & self-employed families who are not claiming benefits who’d be hardest hit.

  41. @ Nick P

    We never get to vote for anything we actually want, or would help improve anything. We get a choice of spectacularly fishy smelling evils.
    Commuters want lower fares, that’s a given. And polling has (IMO, surprisingly) shown that the public are in favour of re-nationalising the railways. Labour are now seriously considering that policy. It will be interesting to see wehther or not this makes the manifesto & whether it is important enought to the public to affect voting.

  42. MARTYN

    @”ny system that ignores how people behaves will develop problems.”


  43. amber

    I’m all in favour of public ownership of the railways, but I’d accapt anything that worked in giving us cheap and efficient transport.

    If you want us out of cars, no good putting up the price of petrol and the price of buses, trains, trams etc. That will just put us out of jobs.

  44. @Amber

    “It will be interesting to see wehther or not this makes the manifesto & whether it is important enought to the public to affect voting.”

    It’ll be all in the presentation. It’ll need to be presented in a way that can’t simply be jumped on by the Tories as they shout about reds under the bed. For instance, as part of a series of industry-wide reviews to assess how well markets are working and to address shortcomings – water companies could be another target, along with addressing problems with competition in the energy industry. Perhaps with an equal emphasis on industries that seem to be functioning well (telecoms?) while highlighting steps to overcome their more minor shortcomings (rollout of broadband to rural areas) ?

  45. A recent agree/disagree question from Angus Reid had 71%:29% in favour of renationalising the water industry…. I have seen mention of and opinion poll as far back as 2001 which showed the public 3:1 in favour of renationalising railways.

  46. Anthony

    A methodological question. How is the ‘wisdom index’ asked? Are respondents presented with the shares at the last GE or asked to come up with shares cold?

    The LibDem vote share is high compared to VI polls. Is this being caused by a cross party increased estimate compared to the polls or by a small number of extreme LibDem supporters.

    Which leads me onto my final question – is the wisdom index a weighted mean or a mode?


  47. Stan –

    as far as I am aware both – respondents are asked unprompted, then told the actual shares and asked again. The second answer is the one used (And I believe it is the mean)

  48. @ Peter Cairns
    “Odd for me to be defending a Tory but John Major warned against going into the ERM the way we did, but was overruled by Thatcher.”

    Is this irony? Thatcher may or may not have ruled on the final details but it was surely Thatcher who (correctly) opposed Britain’s entry into the ERM.
    She was, in effect, overuled by John Major, backed by his Treasury officials, politically weakned as she was by her falling popularity & by Lawson’s resignation in 1989?

  49. Tonight I demand:

    Con 32.9
    Lab 43.2
    LD 9.1

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