The full tables for the weekly YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now online here, this week concentrating on George Osborne and the Olympics. Topline figures are, as mentioned in yesterday’s update, CON 34%, LAB 43%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 7%. On the regular leader trackers Cameron is at minus 23 (from minus 25 last week), Miliband at minus 20 (from minus 21 last week), Clegg at minus 53 (from minus 59) – slight recovery from Clegg from his worst ever figures last week, but otherwise steady.

George Osborne’s ratings remain very low – only 15% of people say he is doing a good job compared to 55% a bad job. Asked if he should stay in his role 20% of people think he should stay Chancellor, 48% think he should be replaced – very similar figures to those in the ComRes poll in the Independent on Sunday. Naturally a large chunk of this is Labour supporters, but even amongst Conservative voters only 48% think he should stay with 26% wanting him replaced. Asked who should replace him 47% of people say don’t know, indicating the relative lack of public awareness of most of the candidates. Vince Cable comes top with 22% (and is the most popular choice amongst Labour and Lib Dem voters), followed by William Hague on 16% (the most popular choice amongst Tories).

Confidence in the government on the economy has dropped since January – back then 38% said they had confidence in Cameron & the government to steer the country out of the economic crisis, that has now dropped to 33%. Over the same time period there has also been a turnaround in opinion on the deficit: back in March 38% thought the deficit should remain the priority with 34% saying the government should switch to a growth strategy. That has since gradually turned around with today’s figures showing 31% thinking the deficit should remain the priority, 43% supporting a switch to a growth strategy.

Turning to the Olympic questions, 44% of people say they are interested in the Olympics and 37% the Paralympics. 15% of people say they will be watching as much as possible of the Games, 29% that they will be watching the sports they are interested in. 20% of people say they will be doing their best to avoid watching the Games at all. 53% think they will be a success, 26% think they will not (a very slight fall since we last asked in May – back then 55% thought they would be a success, 22% did not). Asked whether, with hindsight, we were right to bid for the Games people are now evenly split – 44% say we were, 44% say we were not.

There are are also split opinions on how well the Games have been prepared for – 45% think they have been handled well, 47% badly. There is a lack of confidence that the transport system will be able to cope (only 25% have a lot/fair amount of confidence), and people are divided over whether they have confidence in the security provision – 45% say they do, 48% do not. On the specific issue of the lack of security guards, a majority (61%) of people think this is mostly the fault of G4S.


99 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 34, LAB 43, LD 11, UKIP 7”

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  1. @NickP

    I would like to think they would do it, but like you I cannot see it happening.

  2. I love this blog. Now I have that out of the way I am constantly surprised that the Conservatives are holding steady at 33% or there about. Is this because of hardcore tory voters?

  3. The key phrase in the John Longworth article which Crossbat quotes is this one :-

    “Without sustained, long-term action from government to create a stable business environment, the risk appetite among many businesspeople will remain muted.”

    In other words, businesses are very risk averse at present -and want government to remove that risk by providing a risk free client spending on “infrastructure” in UK.

    John Longworth also wants yet another source of state backed funding -as though UK hasn’t had any BoE/Government initiatives on liquidity & credit !

    Longworth’s call for “infrastructure investment here , insulated from the eurozone crisis ” is mirrored in an article by Bill Emmott in the Times today.-he calls for a settled energy & airport policy too.
    But, unlike Longworth, Emmott lists the circumstances which are producing chronic risk-aversion in business & in governments :-

    The politically unresolved” fiscal cliff ” of spending cuts, tax increases & debt cap faced by USA at the end of this year.

    Economic & political concerns about China.

    Syria/Iran

    The political outcome of the Arab Spring.

    Europe.

    In the latter case, things are moving so fast, Emmott is already out of date:-
    In Spain, Murcia, follows Valencia & Catalonia into virtual bankruptcy. The much awaited audit of the countries banking status will determine the size of bailout it requires. This bastion of devolved regional government is collapsing into a fiscal black hole from the bottom up.
    IMF has signaled ( via Der Spiegel) that it is ready to pull the plug on Greece as early as September.

    Who but an idiot would not consider such risks when thinking about business investment?

    Who can blame UK businesses for saying-take this risk away-and give us some UK government infrastructure contracts ?

    Andrew Haldenby in The Times has a less than sanguine view about that response.

    He argues that “infrastructure” is ” a particularly bad form of stimulus”-because “big projects have long lead times” . ( The multi billion £ rail investment programme announced recently doesn’t start till 2014) . The CEO of Balfour Beatty is quoted as saying decisions today may have an effect in the next economic cycle rather than this one.
    Modern infrastucture is highly skilled-intensive rather than labour intensive.

    He also warns that projects can fail to provide any real return at all. We have no further to look than Spanish Regional Government spending to find airports without planes or passengers , motorways with no traffic, swimming pools with no water etc etc-and who is now paying for those “infrastructure investments “?

    Haldenby suggests that companies should stop thinking that high growth is only “one well judged intervention away”-and that “paradoxically they might feel more ready to invest if everyone understood that slow growth was here to stay”.

    …..which brings Haldenby to DC’s recent opinion that the “global race” in which some countries , on top of their debts and with affordable pension and overall public sector will “make it”-and some won’t-and a tough fiscal climate exists until at least 2020.

    He feels that this is the reality, and DC was right to spell it out.

    Haldenby argues for much more effort to involve the private sector in government’s use of 44% of UK GDP.

    Being a director of Reform , he would say that wouldn’t he?

    And of course he doesn’t suggest how the DC message & his own policy prescription can be made sufficiently politically appealing , to win a General Election with . :-)

  4. Today DM reports that , following a whistleblower revelation, BBC has admitted that some staff categories were routinely instructed to use personal service companies , rather than the employers PAYE system-or risk not being employed .

    Here is a golden opportunity for some government minister to start putting a foot down with a heavy hand , on a topic which will generate public support.

    So they won’t.

  5. SOCAL

    Yes there is capital gain tax of 10% I think, but it is quite complicated. You can get reliefs if you reinvest the money.

    What some countries are looking at re-introducing, is a form of wealth tax. I believe that many countries had this and they have since mainly been removed.

    The problem I have with so much hidden wealth, is that it is not doing anybody any good. Well apart from the person who earns interest from the money that is deposited and the banks. If the world got together and made these tax havens illegal, we would see this money deposited elsewhere, so the relevant authorities could monitor it much more closely. With this money, we may see amounts that are linked to various criminal activities e.g. drugs, that have remained out of the sight and therefore could not be tackled. And of course the authorites could see transactions being made that avoid tax.

  6. Absolutely fascinating piece from Peter Kellner.

    I read David Smith in ST avidly. His detailed analysis of the potential misreporting of GDP , in yesterday’s paper was striking. When I read it, my first thought was that the political damage has been done-improving revisions ( if the come) will be too late.

    So reading Kellner’s view is a bit more encouraging :-)

    http://yougov.co.uk/news/2012/07/23/dark-dawn/

  7. …………and yet another set of thoughts on GDP recording -this time Andrew Sentance -former member of MPC.

    http://www.cityam.com/forum/weak-gdp-figures-won-t-mean-the-economy-about-fall-cliff

    ….whatever, the political hit from a Q2 decline in reported GDP will be unrelenting & effective from the EDs.

    It is Kellner’s thoughts which matter politically.

  8. @Colin
    If George Osborne is looking for inspiration, he ought to reflect on this particular point that Peter Kellner makes in that article:
    “In the second quarter of 2010 – when the election itself was held – GDP was actually a healthy 2.4% bigger than it had been in the spring of 2009. Far from doing nothing effective to pull Britain’s economy out of the mire, the measures taken by Brown and Alistair Darling, his Chancellor, were actually rather effective.”

    David Smith has a track record of clutching at every available straw over the past couple of years, so his words ought at the least to be treated with caution. David Blanchflower – who has crossed swords with him repeatedly over the period and has so far been on the right side of the argument – suggests this alternative explanation of the inconsistency between the employment and GDP data:
    “It does look like the puzzle over why the labour market has held up so well is explained by the fact that around 100,000 people have been hired over the last couple of months into temporary Olympics-related jobs. Once they are over, expect unemployment to rise again.”

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/comment/david-blanchflower/david-blanchflower-has-treasury-realised-at-last-its-time-to-act-7965178.html

  9. I thought Will Hutton was on top form again in yesterday’s Observer and I’d recommend his latest piece on the forthcoming US Presidential elections as absolutely essential reading for all those non-Americans, like me, who are desperately hoping, almost praying, for Obama’s re-election.

    Hutton talks about the Obama v Romney race as being really a battle for the future of capitalism and he quotes a recent speech by Obama where he refers to how, as human beings, we are all interdependent and how personal success can only be achieved via help from many others along the way. Hutton writes about Obama’s speech as follows: –

    “He (Obama) listed great teachers, government research, roads and bridges and the whole fabric of the American system as various ways in which “somebody along the line” would have contributed to your success. This was the essence of the social liberalism of the great British thinker Leonard Hobhouse, but now championed by an American president. Hobhouse passionately argued that capitalist wealth was co-created by the interaction of society, social capital and the entrepreneur. Government investment, financed properly by taxation, was the precondition for a successful capitalism.”

    For anyone interested in Leonard Hobhouse, the link below tells you more about him and his social and political theories. His work remains an inspiration to me, many years after I first discovered him: –

    http://www.liberal-international.org/editorial.asp?ia_id=684

  10. PHIL

    Thanks.

    David Blanchflower?-no thanks.

  11. PHIL

    Blanchflower doesn’t explain why -if the Olympics explains employment gains-Q2 revised GDP contained a
    construction component fall of 4.8 per cent.

  12. I came across this just now (BBC magazine)
    ‘In his prophetic book The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Keynes forecast a popular reaction in Germany, born of desperation and hysteria, which would “submerge civilisation itself”.’

    This was in 1919.

    Who is the soothsayer who has such prescient thoughts today? Keynes had attended the Versailles 1919 conference and was dismayed at the attitude of the ‘victors’ wanting only revenge and financial retribution.

    I wonder whether we are not seeing similar about Greece, Spain, Ireland, etc. The answer is, we are, I think. Schadenfreude is not a pleasant emotion and can be counter-productive.

  13. Colin,

    Blanchflower – who is an expert on the labour market, regardless of what you might think of his political views – is merely explaining why information that has been released bears out his view that the Treasury has followed the wrong plan in the last two years. Naturally, labour market specialists tend to dislike plans that are bound to increase unemployment, and perhaps you ought to bear that in mind when you criticise Blanchflower for not backing the Government.

    Anyway, not being him, but having a passing familiarity with his discipline, I can explain the recent Olympic hiring will be in the service sector and not construction, as you’d hope, by now, that the building for the Games is complete.

    The behaviour of the labour market during the recent recession was rather unusual and unexpected and wrong-footed a lot of specialists in the field (including Blanchflower), as many employers did not act as they had in previous downturns, by laying off and stopping recruitment. Instead, they hoarded labour and trying to avoid redundancies where possible. This seems to be because, in the UK, a lot were badly burned in the 90s by making redundancies and then being unable to capitalise on recovery because the staff weren’t in place when they needed them. This was reinforced in the dot.com recession (which the UK technically dodged). So, this time round, we didn’t see so many layoffs, which is why unemployment is rather lower than it was in the 90s and 80s. Or at least, it’s lower at the moment.

    As for Kellner’s optimism about the double-dip, I am afraid I do not share it, as the indicators show reasonably clearly that it happened. That said, it does appear that the dip is most likely quite shallow and I would not like to place a wager on whether Q2 will come up positive or negative. I’d expect Q3 to show recovery (unless something disastrous happens, he said, looking hard at Spain).

  14. I was about to chide Howard for lumping RoI in with Greece & Spain-the IMF & Troika being consistently congratulatory in their reviews.

    I did a Google to confirm-and found this :-

    http://www.irishcentral.com/story/roots/ireland_calling/the-state-of-play-in-irish-economy—-the-imf-tells-it-like-it-is-162851646.html

    The burden of privileged state sector payrolls is a recurring theme-no less so in Ireland it seems .

    I smiled at the third line of the article. I know they pronounce three that way-but I’ve never seen it spelt that way before :-)

  15. @Colin
    Blanchflower’s called it correctly up to now, Smith hasn’t.

    After the first figures confirming the double-dip recession, there was a similar clamour of voices saying that it would disappear with the first set of revisions which were bound to be upwards. Instead, both Q4 2011 and Q1 2012 were revised downwards and the double-dip now appears more serious than first thought. So I’m not jumping on the bandwagon of the double-dip-deniers argument just yet, even though it’s quite possible that Q2 2012 will see a return to positive but anemic/negligible growth.

  16. CHRIS RILEY

    Thanks-interesting.

    PHIL

    Let’s wait & see eh?

  17. @Phil

    Too much credence was placed in the Markit surveys of construction by some of the double-dip-deniers which, at least at the time, turned out to be too optimistic. The monthly Bank of England Agents Summaries, for example, told a different tale, and turned out to be right.

    There’s a cautionary tale in there about not relying too much on individual surveys – there ought to be some kind of website for that kind of observation.

  18. It does appear to me that those who argued that cutting public expenditure would “free up” the private sector rather than (as suggested by Keynesians and Ed Balls) suck demand out of the economy and put us into a lump, they are going to stick to that belief even as we enter the third quarter of the resultant double dip. They will argue that the evidence, the data, MUST BE WRONG because their theory is inviolate.

    It doesn’t matter what happens we can’t be in recession.

  19. @colin – “He argues that “infrastructure” is ” a particularly bad form of stimulus”-because “big projects have long lead times”

    Indeed. But the bulk of government spending cuts have come from reduced capital investment. Osborne cancelled a lot of building projects, and now people are saying that to reinstate something similar will take too long.
    ‘Too far and too fast’ springs to mind.

    @Chris Riley – over the last couple of years I’ve posted on several occasions my thoughts on the PMI surveys which have often been out of line with ONS data. I raised the question, but I don’t know the answer, but I did wonder if there was some element of more optimistic firms disproportionately completing the survey.

    The other area where people often misread the PMI data is that they take the headline numbers, which are a composite of a number of measures both forward and backward looking. I tend to look more at the future orders and new business elements, as these usually define which way the headline number will go in the future.

    FWIW, I’ve stuck my neck out now and I have said that I am expecting a negative GDP figure for Q2, and also for Q3. I am predicting that this recession could go on for a year in total at least.

    With the slump in productivity in the latest employment data, I see no contradiction between the employment and GDP stats at present.

  20. @Alec

    “With the slump in productivity in the latest employment data, I see no contradiction between the employment and GDP stats at present.”

    I’ve often touched upon the changing nature of employment in this country and the growing twilight world of short-term agency and part-time work that now exists. Millions of people now earn their living in this world, bereft of even short term security, let alone mid to long term, and making do on low earnings. The casualised workforce of trade union nightmares has arrived.

    This has economic, social and political implications. Economically, very few of the short term agency and part time workers have much in the way of employment rights and benefits and are excluded from pension schemes and mortgage loans. Their consumption patterns and levels of economic activity are suppressed and this has implications for demand and growth. Socially, these people have little emotional investment in their work, or much loyalty to their employers. They are a rootless and migrant workforce, quite often de-motivated by the nature of their employment and the insecurity that results. Politically, even if unemployment figures look better, and employment levels may actually rise, there is no feelgood factor or electoral dividend in prospect.

  21. Thanks Colin and the ‘orticle’ . :-)

    I actually think that rather than congratulating ourselves on not having to stump up for Spain and greece,or insisting we do not do so via IMF, we should be doing everything possible via supra national financial organisations, as should the Arabs and Chinese. If your customer is in shtuck but has basically the wherewithall to recover, then a timely loan or extension of credit is simply good sense.

    If UK can borrow at 2% then lending out at (say) 4% should be good business.

    I know it is not as simple as that, but the direction of policy should be plain enough and I am sure Keynes would be thinking sideways by now, only more cleverly.

  22. Alec – indeed
    The rail capital projects are hidebound by planning and unnecessary financial hoops to jump through.

    Having said that, I read that the extensions of the LGV in France are to cost about a tenth of HS2 equivalent. Whether land acquisition costs have not been taken into account, for instance, in the french case, I know not, but our lazy press has missed a comparison opportunity here it seems.

    Back on topic, I do not understand why anything so special was required for the Games regarding transport as stadiums with 50 – 80 thousand odd people is de rigeur every week of the year during the football and rugby season. They don’t seem to be worried about safety then either, so what on earth has all this fuss been for?

  23. @ Howard

    They don’t seem to be worried about safety then either [during regular sporting events], so what on earth has all this fuss been for?
    ———————–
    The regular venues have their own security & safety teams which are augumented by a police presence, which they pay for when holding normal events. G4S declined to obtain permission from LOCOG to sub-contract to the locals for these venues. It seems likely they didn’t want to pay because it is relatively expensive.

    There’s is also the need to protect the athletes; has Munich been so soon forgotten?

    Also at the major venues, hotels & in-transit will be any number of politicians, royals from all around the world, dignatories, celebrities etc. This might attract unwanted demonstrations or even attacks by assasins or terrorists.

    And have we also forgotten 7/7, despite it happening the day after the London bid was successful? The idea of Cameron & Clegg travelling by tube so as to look ‘down with people’ is ridiculous, IMO. It simply causes risk to all travelling on public transport during the games.
    8-)

  24. ALEC

    @”But the bulk of government spending cuts have come from reduced capital investment. ”

    I can’t see where you get that from:-

    Budget Red Book 2012:-

    Current Expenditure Forecasts for Departments (1)
    £ bn
    2011/12 323
    2012/13 327
    2013/14 330
    2014/15 327
    2015/16 321
    2016/17 318

    Capital Expenditure (2)

    2011/12 49
    2012/13 47
    2013/14 46
    2014/15 47
    2015/16 47
    2016/17 48

    Current Expenditure change-2011/12 to 2016/17

    Cash
    318-323 = -5

    Real (3)
    (323 X 1.106) -323 = -34

    Capital Expenditure change-2011/12 to 2016/17

    Cash
    48-49 = -1

    Real (3)
    (49 X 1.106) -49 = -5

    (1) Excludes “Annually Managed Expenditure ”

    “The biggest component of AME is welfare spending (social security and tax credit expenditure). Most other items of AME are either non-discretionary (e.g. debt interest) or are self-?nancing” -Page 87 Red Book.

    (2)
    Excludes effect of transfer of assets from Royal; Mail Pension Plan .

    (3)
    Inflated at forecast CPI used in Budget for 12/13 to 16/17-see Red Book p15.
    -ie
    2.3%/1.9%/2.0%/2.0%/2.0%

  25. HOWARD

    You clearly have no concerns about moral hazard then?

    Your approach would certainly be attractive for a sideways thinking Keynsian spendthrift administration.

  26. @ Crossbat11

    “I thought Will Hutton was on top form again in yesterday’s Observer and I’d recommend his latest piece on the forthcoming US Presidential elections as absolutely essential reading for all those non-Americans, like me, who are desperately hoping, almost praying, for Obama’s re-election.

    Hutton talks about the Obama v Romney race as being really a battle for the future of capitalism and he quotes a recent speech by Obama where he refers to how, as human beings, we are all interdependent and how personal success can only be achieved via help from many others along the way. Hutton writes about Obama’s speech as follows: –

    “He (Obama) listed great teachers, government research, roads and bridges and the whole fabric of the American system as various ways in which “somebody along the line” would have contributed to your success. This was the essence of the social liberalism of the great British thinker Leonard Hobhouse, but now championed by an American president. Hobhouse passionately argued that capitalist wealth was co-created by the interaction of society, social capital and the entrepreneur. Government investment, financed properly by taxation, was the precondition for a successful capitalism.””

    See now I don’t know if it’s that big of a fight or battle. At some level, even Romney and the most ardent economic libertarians must recognize that their ideology is mostly a bunch of fantasy.

    What Obama said about others being responsible for one’s success that Romney is now busy attacking was said inartfully and it may cost him politically. Elizabeth Warren said it far better actually last year in that video that went viral. It’s also something that Romney admits to as well.

    Rich Hannauer, a wealthy venture capitalist, has put it even better. He’s gone on major news networks to specifically argue that he is NOT a job creator (nor are any of his other fellow CEOs). Instead he argues that the general public is the greatest job creator through its spending power. He points out too that business leaders can’t be considered job creators because that’s not their stated goal. In fact, the goal is the exact opposite as businesses look to hire people only as a last resort.

    So is it a battle of the future of capitalism? I’m not really sure. It could be but as we repeatedly see, politicians change once they get into office.

    “For anyone interested in Leonard Hobhouse, the link below tells you more about him and his social and political theories. His work remains an inspiration to me, many years after I first discovered him: –

    http://www.liberal-international.org/editorial.asp?ia_id=684

    Thank you for sharing this with me. You know, I had never heard of this guy before. He’s really fascinating though and I’m grateful for the work he did.

  27. @ Crossbat11

    I’ll give you some examples that are difficult to fit into soundbytes or even speeches.

    Take wealthy real estate developers in the late 1940’s, the 1950’s, and the early 1960’s. Now, their success is owed to their smarts, their work ethic, their business savvy, and their entrepreneurialism. Not every developer made it, not everyone found success. But for those who did, they acheived something great.

    However, it would be an outright lie to pretend (as so many do, especially on the right) that the wealthy real estate developer did it all on his own and is entitled to not pay any taxes (or a lower rate than his housekeeper). Why do I say that?

    Because after World War II ended, the U.S. government, at huge expense, created all sorts of policies that enabled tens of millions of Americans to become homeowners for the first time (low interest rates, home mortgage income tax deduction, the GI Bill, etc.). The U.S. government also invested billions in infrastructure.

    Now, let’s think about it. It doesn’t matter how smart, how driven, how hard working, how focused, how money wise you are as a developer. If there are no freeways, electrical lines, water lines, and sewage lines out to your plot of land and if no one can afford to buy a home….you’re not going to make money and acheive great success. No one is going to be able to reach your homes and even if they do, they’re not going to afford them.

    There are more examples. Take the court system. Without a good court system (one that is clean and corruption free, one that can efficiently dispose of cases, one that is exceedingly competent, and one that can be impartial), you CANNOT have a good business climate. Good court systems cost a LOT of money to build and maintain and that money comes from the taxpayer.

    If we want to go back really far, let’s look at the original 13 colonies and all the wealthy shipping merchants and what happenned after the Treaty of Paris in 1783. Suddenly their profits saw a sharp decline because no longer protected by the British Navy, they were sitting ducks for all sorts of different pirates. That’s why we had to build our own navy and our own coast guard and a very strong fleet that can protect shipping merchants. Although you’d never hear this from a Republican, defense spending is one of our biggest budgetary expenses.

    So taxing the wealthy the most isn’t a matter of punishing the wealthy for their success. It’s a matter of asking the wealthiest to pay the most because they received the most benefit from the system (a system that even the wealthiest could not have funded on their own). It’s only fair that everyone be given the opportunity to make money if they wish (and that can’t happen when those who become wealthy are asked to pay zero in taxes and instead the government must cut all those services).

    So that’s the fundamental philosophy.

    Now that doesn’t give a carte blanche to the government to be wasteful with money or to justify any expenditure or to be inefficient or badly run. Also, I don’t think it’s a good idea to charge 90% tax rates (I don’t even like the 50p rate that you guys have in the UK) and I don’t think the philosophy I believe in calls for that (absent extraodinary situations).

  28. @SocalLiberal

    “See now I don’t know if it’s that big of a fight or battle. At some level, even Romney and the most ardent economic libertarians must recognize that their ideology is mostly a bunch of fantasy.”

    Hello, by the way, and I hope you’re well. My favourite football team, Aston Villa, are currently on a pre-season tour of the US and, having played in Philadelphia and Chicago already, will be completing their tour in Portland. If you get a chance to catch them, I urge you to do so. We play a brand of football that is a cross between the best that Brazil and Spain can offer, with a little North East Birmingham flair and panache thrown in for good measure. An intoxicating and beguiling experience fusion of styles!

    As for Romney and his ilk recognising that their ideology is fantasy, maybe they do, but they are so wedded to it that disavowal is not an option. Much better denial, I would think.

    There is a political writer over here, John Harris, who is excellent on this and he has a great article in today’s Guardian. He quotes from a 2004 work by the academic Colin Crouch, then chairman of the department of social and political sciences at the European University Institute in Florence. It’s eight years ago, but his words seem as true now as they did when he first wrote them. He talks about a society where the prime focus is on “the concerns of a handful of business leaders whose special interests are allowed to be translated into public policy”.

    In Crouch’s conclusion, he sets out a sobering prospectus: “On many of the major issues which currently confront us, the claims made by global firms that they will not be able to operate profitably unless freed from regulation and subordination … will continue to trump all democratic debate.” In other words, Harris comments, the writ of Buckles, Green, Diamond, Murdoch and the rest would continue to run, Westminster politics would come down to issues of detail, and the supposed centre-left would be complicit.

    I wonder if this an area into which Miliband and Cruddas will wander? I hope so because, as Harris concludes in his article, “the question of whether politics can convincingly respond is something whose importance seems difficult to overstate: it’s the biggest issue of the age, to which we should soon be demanding an answer.”

    I agree utterly.

  29. ALEC

    ooops-that should of course read :-

    Current Expenditure change-2011/12 to 2016/17

    Cash
    318-323 = -5
    Real (3)
    (323 X 1.106) -318 = -39

    Capital Expenditure change-2011/12 to 2016/17

    Cash
    48-49 = -1

    Real (3)
    (49 X 1.106) -48 = -6

  30. This is OT but I found this article fascinating. Almost everyone would say Sweden is more progressive than the United States. Yet here, a Swedish court takes an extreme right wing position that Nino Scalia (and a unanimous SCOTUS) flatly rejected 14 years ago.

    http://hypervocal.com/news/2012/swedish-man-cleared-of-rape-charges-because-his-victim-had-a-penis/

    Terrible.

  31. @colin – “I can’t see where you get that from”

    From your own stats. These show a rise in departmental spending up to present, and a significant fall in capital expenditure, which is exactly what I said.

    The projections to 2016/17 are not relevant, as we are talking about what is happening in 2012. Certain parts of the construction industry have been very hard hit by the cancellation of capital programmes, which, as you stats show, are shrinking in actual terms, even while general departmental spending is increasing.

  32. The cross breaks for Scotland are interesting (Iknow it is on a sample of only 141). It is a while since I looked at the details ofthe polls, however I was suprised to see Lab at 56% and the SNP at 23%.

    I dare say this is not going down well in Tory HQ, they must have been factoring in Labour losses in Scotland to the SNP in 2015 to help get an OM.

    However on these figure I wouls suggest that Lab will hols all of its seats in Scotland.

  33. @ R Huckle

    “Yes there is capital gain tax of 10% I think, but it is quite complicated. You can get reliefs if you reinvest the money.

    What some countries are looking at re-introducing, is a form of wealth tax. I believe that many countries had this and they have since mainly been removed.

    The problem I have with so much hidden wealth, is that it is not doing anybody any good. Well apart from the person who earns interest from the money that is deposited and the banks. If the world got together and made these tax havens illegal, we would see this money deposited elsewhere, so the relevant authorities could monitor it much more closely. With this money, we may see amounts that are linked to various criminal activities e.g. drugs, that have remained out of the sight and therefore could not be tackled. And of course the authorites could see transactions being made that avoid tax.”

    The idea behind a capital gains tax (I think ours is 15% right now though I’m no tax expert) is that the income one gains from capital gain is superior to the income one gains from a steady paying job because the income one gets from capital gain is money that comes from an entrepreneurial activity that helps grow the rest of the economy. The idea is that this type of tax is a reward to investors for risking their money and for helping spur economic activity. I accept that principle but there are clearly some flaws in the current set up.

    What happens when someone makes a capital gain with ana ctivity that hurts the economic activity of everyone else around them?

    At what point does it become a gravy train for that individual taxpayer? Mitt Romney made 20 million dollars in 2011 or 2010 (whichever year he released tax returns for) and paid 13.9% in taxes for it but he didn’t actually do any work. In fact he joked with some people on the campaign trail last year that he was “unemployed.” He’s basically receiving residual payments on interest. Now hey, it’s good work if you can get it. But how did the 20 million in income come from an entrepreneurial activity or spur economic growth?

    Now when it comes to too much money sitting around, right now U.S. businesses are apparently sitting on over 2 trillion dollars in reserves. They’re not spending it, they’re keeping it. Now who can blame them in this unstable economy with 8% unemplyoment, a volatile stock market, and steady but slow GDP growth?

    Now, I don’t mean to be a big government advocate here but what if we could tax that 2 trillion that businesses are sitting on? Or, we simply take 1 trillion, let them keep half of what they’ve currently got. Then, with that 1 trillion, why not put that into the following programs:

    1. Massive infrastructure programs for both existing infrastructure and creating new infrastructure.

    2. Direct Lending by the SBA and grant program/incubator programs for small businesses.

    There are plenty of unemployed or underemployed people with college degrees or even advanced degrees. Many are perfectly capable of starting their own businesses but they can’t without existing cash savings or credit (both of which they’re unlikely to have). And these days it’s far cheaper to start a business, sometimes just 10k or 20k will do. The money that current businesses have could go towards creating new businesses. (Most will fail but those that succeed will create jobs).

    3. A high speed rail network and the creation and expansion/improvement of interurban rapid transit rail systems. Falls along the lines of infrastructure but it’s close enough.

    4. Jobs training programs to help teach new skills to those who are unemployed and underemployed so that when businesses start hiring again, they can get the tough to get jobs.

  34. I wonder if the Scottish Conservatives might prefer a lowish SNP vote to a higher one. Low enough to erode the Labour vote so they could possibly snatch an odd few seats from Labour. Not too high so that the SNP would be in a position to grab quantities from everyone else.

    The former might help them if they are just short of an OM elsewhere, the latter might be okay, but not quite so good, maybe denying largest party status to Labour and firmly ensuring a hung parliament.

  35. ALEC

    2012/13 numbers are also estimates-the year doesn’t end for another 8 months.

    Neither of us know what the outcomes will actually be yet-and with regard to Departmental expenditure, a recent report indicates that there have been quite significant underspends to budget.

    Anyway-even if you want to restrict your view to 2012/13 vs 2011/12-in real terms Capital spending & Current spending are forecast to fall by about the same sum..

  36. Amber

    These outrages can happen any day of the week, anywhere, as the tube bombings proved. I appreciate bagging a pm on the tube would be an extra attraction for bombers, but the number of these people around is so small as to be discountable in terms of personal risk. Almost infinitely more risky is taking a long journey by car on our rural A roads, or popping down to the shops on a bicycle.

    I guarantee you that if there is an outrage at the Olympics or during them, all the resources thrown at the potential problem will be shown to have had no effect whatsoever on preventing it.

    As we discuss polling here, I will also guarantee you that people will feel safer at an airport with staff sporting machine guns than undertaking the trips I mentioned above. They are right of course, walking around a departure lounge is a safe activity, but not because of the machine guns, which to my knowledge have never been fired in anger. One day some officer will get careless and forget his safety catch and mow down scores. I find them no comfort whatsoever, nor parking tanks nearby, which ludicrously was done a few years back during a scare..

  37. But on 10% the Scotish Tories will not win a seat

  38. More and more I think that we should be taxing property instead of income (or as well as?).

    All property should be subject to such tax perhaps based on rental value. The owners would be liable, and absent or untraceable owners who don’t pay would forfeit the property.

    Yes I’d have to pay something, but if I rented I’d probably be paying indirectly as the landlord would be paying. Unlike the council tax, I don’t think this should be capped. The Queen and other major landowners would have to pay on all properties. Charities NOT exempt.

  39. @ Crossbat11

    “Hello, by the way, and I hope you’re well. My favourite football team, Aston Villa, are currently on a pre-season tour of the US and, having played in Philadelphia and Chicago already, will be completing their tour in Portland. If you get a chance to catch them, I urge you to do so. We play a brand of football that is a cross between the best that Brazil and Spain can offer, with a little North East Birmingham flair and panache thrown in for good measure. An intoxicating and beguiling experience fusion of styles!

    As for Romney and his ilk recognising that their ideology is fantasy, maybe they do, but they are so wedded to it that disavowal is not an option. Much better denial, I would think.”

    Hello to you as well. Glad to hear you’re well and that your team is doing well. I’m doing allright myself.

    As for the Romney team, I think they hate the President so much that they’ll take anything to attack him with. I think they are in denial when it comes to their ideology.

    “In Crouch’s conclusion, he sets out a sobering prospectus: “On many of the major issues which currently confront us, the claims made by global firms that they will not be able to operate profitably unless freed from regulation and subordination … will continue to trump all democratic debate.” In other words, Harris comments, the writ of Buckles, Green, Diamond, Murdoch and the rest would continue to run, Westminster politics would come down to issues of detail, and the supposed centre-left would be complicit.”

    I don’t agree. For one thing, I think that one can be both center-left (if not left wing) and pro-business. I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive.

    For another, I think voters ultimately retain control over the destiny of their country. If the voters decide they want to do something, they’ll go ahead and do it nothwithstanding the billionaires who advocate for government policies to benefit themselves. There’s only so long that the public can be fooled as well before it ultimately wakes up.

  40. @SoCalLiberal

    Thanks for your post.

    Mayor Shaw was quite a piece of work. The pictures of Harry Raymond, cigarette in hand, on a hospital gurney, chatting to reporters while doctors set about removing the one hundred bomb-fragments made me think “hard-boiled” must have been less a cliché and more a way of life in those days.

    Clifford Clinton (founder of Meals for Millions), also had his house fire-bombed to warn him off investigating corruption.

    Btw I have taken a little virtual stroll out by White Knoll Drive and back, found one possible Victorian relic on N Boylston St, another on the corner of Boston St and N Kensington Rd – and then hit pay-dirt at the East Edgeware end of Caroll Avenue.

  41. *Carroll Avenue*

  42. @ Howard

    I do not disagree with much of what you say. I sometimes lay out positions which I don’t entirely agree with myself. A great deal of the security is probably so that London, LOCOG & the government, do not look negligent if anything untoward does happen.

    And I expect it will deter riots or protests in the vicinity of the Olympic venues. Nobody wants an Olympic venue occupied by UK-Uncut protesting the $21Trn in tax havens, do they? ;-)

  43. NickP

    What you are describing is essentially ‘wealth tax’ where the wealth is in the house or unquoted shares.

    I paid wealth tax for one year in the Netherlands when it was assessed as more than two million guilders (the level at which it started).

    However, my shares were crunched the next year so i ended up with half that amount. Never got a refund though, according to their law.

    The problem is, if the valuation is based on a non-realised valuation, or you are stuck with an asset that you cannot access for the tax payment (e.g. house) then where do you get it from?

    Similarly, my shares were in a private company, not quoted on the exchange. The valuation was merely on the basis of a few private deals.

    I expect you have a wizard solution though.

  44. HOWARD

    @”where do you get it from?

    I seem to remember that the general response from wealth tax proponents on UKPR to that question-the so called “little old lady” problem-is sell up & buy a smaller house so you can pay the tax.

    I guess the answer to the shares with limited tradeability is-tough-they were your choice to invest in.
    Valuation is-as you say-clearly a problem-but not one to defeat the civil servants in the Treasury one assumes.

  45. I don’t think you tax shares, just property. It’s all registered (or could be).

    Not on sale value but rental value.

  46. or rather you can tax the profit on shares, just as you do now. But the income on property would be deemed to be the rental value.

    And no, I don’t think owner occupiers (including me) should be exempt.

  47. Colin and NickP
    The problem I instanced could (I suppose) be dealt with by rolling up the tax until the asset is sold, rather than forcing the sale. My shares were essentially unsaleable because they were essentially a partnership in a LC, not a PLC, (b.v. in NL, s.a. in F) had never been traded, so the valuation was the Taxman’s opinion. In fact the tax I paid was never recovered even when the eventual sale shewed them to be worth far less than they had been assessed at. :-(

    Still, when in Rome, etc. That is also a point. Having common laws on taxation would greatly assist movement of peoples across the EU but I well remember that supposed EU enthusiast Blair returning from a EU summit saying ‘Great, tax competition is saved’.

    As Alec, who will now surely join this discussion, will point out, such evening of personal tax rules is desirable if an economic union is to function properly and fairly.

    EU? We haven’t even hardly started on the ‘U’. France is concerned about the flight of high earning citizens to London.

  48. I found this article on confidence in what governments can and cannot influence interesting. Does anyone know of such lines of enquiry being followed in the UK polling world?

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/story/2012/07/24/pol-premiers-advancer-nanos-poll-priorities.html

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