David Cameron hasn’t actually given his long-delayed Europe speech, but today’s YouGov/Sunday Times poll shows the widespread media coverage and the debate around the speech is already having an effect upon public opinion.

At the start of the month YouGov was showing people would vote to leave the EU in a referendum by 46% to 31% who would vote to stay in – figures that were pretty typical of YouGov’s polling on EU referendums for the last year. Last week those figures had shifted to 42% get out to 36% stay in. This week they have moved even further and now 40% of people say they would vote to stay in compared to 34% who say they would vote to leave.

What appears to have happened is that normally people use an EU referendum question to express general disatisfaction with the EU, with the European Court of Human Rights (I know its different from the EU – most people don’t!), Eastern European immigration, bureaucracy, bans on straight bananas & bent cumcumbers and all the general media perception of the EU. In the last fortnight some will obviously have thought a little more about it as a referendum becomes a more likely possibility, as people like Richard Branson, the US Embassy, Ed Miliband, Vince Cable and David Cameron have all spoken of the importance of Britain being in Europe… and it has changed views.

That is not to say that Euroscepticism per se has faded away, it’s just support for leaving completely that has fallen. The poll still shows 58% of people support having a referendum on EU membership (though, usual caveat, they say that about everything), 59% of people say Cameron is right to try and bring some powers back from Europe and 58% of people say that this is the right time to raise the issue of Britain’s relationship with the EU.

The shift in views is also reflected in voting intentions. Topline Westminster voting intention today is CON 33%, LAB 42%, LDEM 11%, UKIP 7% – the seven point figure for UKIP is the lowest YouGov have shown for several months. More striking is voting intention in European elections, a week ago YouGov had UKIP support in a European election at 17%, figures now are CON 30%, LAB 38%, LDEM 13%, UKIP 12%. I would still expect UKIP to do much better than that in an actual European election (looking back at the 2009 polling they put on a lot of support in the run to the election itself), but it suggests the expected Cameron referendum promise is winning back some UKIP support.

It is also improving perceptions of Cameron himself. 40% think he is doing well as Prime Minister, 54% badly. These are his most positive (or least negative!) approval ratings since last March. Asked who they trust more on the issue of Europe Labour lead the Conservatives by 23% to 20%, with UKIP on 15%. People largely answered the question along party lines, but it does underline the fact that Europe is not necessarily an issue where the Conservatives have a natural lead, like say, immigration or crime. In contrast David Cameron has a solid lead on the party leader people would trust the most to negotiate in Europe – Cameron 26%, Miliband 18%, Farage 11%, Clegg 5%.

125 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 33, LAB 42, LD 11, UKIP 7”

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  1. Wonder what the Greens have done to get down to 2% in the Euro polls? They won 8% in 2009.

  2. “I agree with you that Miliband is unnecessarily exposing himself as a Europhile at this juncture.Seems more keen to avoid problems once he is PM.But to maintain a Europragmatic position would be quite useful to keep the right wing split.”

    This sort of thinking is exactly why UKIP and others are gaining traction. The main parties no longer seem to actually believe in anything other than power. They don’t have any vision beyond taking positions that they think will appeal to the electorate in the short term. If they have any real beliefs, the ‘pragmatic’ thing to do is to hide them.

  3. Good Evening All.

    The argument that the UK would be like Norway if we left the EU, and having to comply with EU law in order to have access to their free market: may be too subtle for voters on the centre right.

  4. @Amber Star

    “Which of the following parties would you seriously consider voting for at the next general election? Please tick all that apply:

    LAB 39
    CON 32
    UKIP 22
    LIBD 16
    GRN 10”

    The interesting thing about that question is the fact that Lab and Con are polling higher than that in the same survey.

  5. @SoCalLiberal

    A follow-up to my post on the previous thread (end of page 7) about the Boundary Commissions. It occurred to me that if the US was to set up something similar, rather than having four Commissions (England, Scotland, Wales and NI) you would presumably need one for each state… is there any chance something like that be coordinated at the Federal level?

    Which made me look at EU elections, where each member state is free to choose its own system, subject to three restrictions – the primary one is that the system must be proportional representation. I can’t see all (or any) US states accepting that, but there is also (an admittedly vague) provision about how electoral areas may be subdivided:


  6. @PETE B

    I thought the idea was to win votes,not to provide excuses for voters not to vote Labour.


    “Wonder what the Greens have done to get down to 2% in the Euro polls?”

    Not been on the front page!


  8. CL1945

    @”The argument that the UK would be like Norway if we left the EU, and having to comply with EU law in order to have access to their free market: may be too subtle for voters on the centre right.”

    Fortunately the poor centre right voters , for whom these subtleties would be such a challenge , will not need to grapple with them.

    DC has already described Norway’s membership as “government by fax”.

    I think this indicated a lack of enthusiasm for the model.

    But the subtlety may have escaped me.

    EM is fortunate indeed to know that for centre left voters, there are no confusing subtleties in the message-don’t ask awkward questions in case the EU and/or the UK electorate say “Out”.

  9. @ Colin Green”
    “Which of the following parties would you seriously consider voting for at the next general election? Please tick all that apply:
    LAB 39
    CON 32
    UKIP 22
    LIBD 16
    GRN 10?
    The interesting thing about that question is the fact that Lab and Con are polling higher than that in the same survey.”

    Is it that interesting? Surely its FPTP innit?

    Under FPTP most voters will be either anti-Con OR anti-Lab OR anti-both in their voting intent. And since in 98% of all constituencies either a Con or Lab candidate is in with a chance of winning (i.e. is either in 1st or 2nd place) voters direct their vote according to this reality and their desire to see the best outcome according to their viewpoint.

    In other words many voters may consider voting for LD, Grn, UKIP et al but when you get them into a ballot box the need to be another anti-Con or anti-Lab contributor has a greater impact.

    IMO this is one of the reasons why Cleggmania amounted to nothing for the LDs in the 2010 GE. In too many seats a LD will be perceived as a wasted one. Contrastingly its why I think in 2015 the LD will not be poleaxed by a big drop in their Vote % because in the places where such a vote is “useful” (because of aforementioned anti-Con, anti-Lab viewpoints) it will still turn out for them.

  10. COLIN.
    Good Evening to you sir.

    So it seems that the PM has ruled out leaving the EU. As you say, Norway is governed by Fax.

    In 2015 after winning the GE, and I think he will, even if he has to ally with Simon and Vince, again, DC will be recommending a Yes Vote.

    This seems a little reminiscent of Harold Wilson in 1974-75.

  11. Anthony,

    I have to say I am not that keen on the civil service question, mostly because it doesn’t fit with my experience of working with Council officers.

    I think you could have got a more nuanced answer if you had added another question;

    Sometimes experienced Civil Servants advise that a proposed Government policy will not work or won’t achieve the right objective. In such cases should they.

    A) Actively try to thwart or undermine the policy in the public interest.
    B) Note their objections but carry it out anyway even if it won’t work.
    C) Be able to raise their concerns with Parliament in the public interest.
    D) Carry out the policy and publicly declare that it is the right thing to do.


  12. Peter,

    The Civil Service Code requires civil servants to follow option B.
    Option C arises when they are called upon to give evidence to Parliament (typically to select committees). If Select committees ask the right questions, they will soon find out whether Civil servants have advised against a poilicy. (ie that is a job for MPs in Parliament, not for Civil servants to initiate.)
    Only Press Officers are required to do Option D. Most other civil servants are supposed to keep their opinions to themselves (or their personal acquaintances).
    Option A is a disciplinary matter.


  13. Peter,

    While the above applies to the Civil service (ie Central Government), a similar approach should apply for local government officers, where instead of Select Committees, it is Scrutiny committees who should be probing the soundness of Council policies.

    Scrutiny committees can also identify flaws in central government policies. While they have little power to change such policy, constructive feedback, whether on the prinicple or the practical implications, can be routed back to government by political channels – whether via the LGA or Party hierarchy.

    In short, if Ministers / Council leaders introduce bad / ineffective policies, it is up to those responsible for holding them to account politically to address shose short-comings, not those whose primary responsibility is to deliver the service they are employed to deliver.

    Put another way, if Ministers implement bad legislation through Parliament, that is the fault of Parliament just as much as Ministers.

  14. CL1845

    Yes I Agree-he has said he will campaign for Yes.

    It is indeed reminiscent of 1975.

    Have just been refreshing my knowledge on that.

    The No campaign was hopeless-a bunch of Marxists. That will be different this time !

  15. Paul HJ,

    I bet Dictators love that system.

    I wouldn’t like option A) either, but I am not that happy with “I was only following orders” either.

    Having the civil service working for government and it being parliaments job to find out if the government has got public servants to lie to the public isn’t ideal.

    One of the things I like about Holyrood is the PR system and stronger committees, but I’d like to go further and have the civil service more under the control of Parliment than the government.


  16. Perhaps following on about public servants duty to implement government policy, not entirely unrelated is the principle of freedom to do the opposite for the national good.

    In Austria exit polls in a referendum today on the proposed doing away with national service is likely to be lost by the abolitionists I don’t know the ins and outs of what moves Austrians on this issue, but when I lived on the mainland I came across a very surprising opinion in more than one country. It was that national service is a safeguard against military coup by the ‘colonels’ . Thus, those in favour of it were likely to be left wing pacifists (really!) whereas here in UK, I would bet on it that it is right wingers who would be the greatest enthusiasts for its reintroduction.

    Funny old world, on the EU in or out, I recall that the 70s debate was led on the ‘out’ side’ by hard left wingers and hard right wingers (Benn and Powell for instance)..

  17. @Amber

    LAB 39,
    CON 32,
    UKIP 22,
    LIBD 16,
    GRN 10

    That’s 119%…:-)

    @Pete B

    “…As we buy a lot more from the EU than we sell to them, there is no way they would erect significant trade barriers…”

    Trade barriers (tariffs et al) are irrational by their very nature, since they hurt both sides. Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop them being frequently erected by populist politicians. Famously, Germany’s biggest trading partner in 1939 was France.[1]


    [1]: Weirdly, I got that from a Tom Clancy novel. I am *so* unfussy..:-)

  18. @ Martyn

    That’s 119%… :-)
    Yes, YouGov let people pick all the Parties which they’d consider voting for.

  19. Martyn,

    England has always been Scotland’s biggest trading partner, even when we were knocking lumps out of each other.


  20. I’m fascinated by this shift in public opinion on the EU. It seems to show that the influence of the newspapers is a really rather surface based and can be altered by debate. It reminds me of when all the right leaning papers came out strong on the ‘sign the petition for the death penalty’ which said petition was then quickly overtaken by the anti the death penalty group.

  21. AMBER
    I think that:
    1. Germany saying their financial services industry would get a huge boost at the expense of London;
    2. US/EU trade deal;
    3. Comments from business leaders who are household names;
    4. Impact of seceding from the Social Chapter becoming known; &
    5. Labour’s plan to negotiate regarding UK Industrial Policy v EU competition rules,
    will all be part of a debate which Ed M & Labour would enjoy having!
    Would you not add to this agenda the linkage, which I think is evident in Obama’s message, between economic union and foreign policy; i.e. instead of DC’s proposed trade war with China and India (haha!) the forging of an economic pact between US and EU, which would include reform of the global development aid and trade program into a broader policy platform of international action, to include the protection resources and the environment, to counter China’s buying up the whole planet?

  22. Colin

    “The No campaign was hopeless-a bunch of Marxists. That will be different this time !”

    Yes so much different, lol, you missed your call as a comedian

  23. @The Lorax – “Wonder what the Greens have done to get down to 2% in the Euro polls? They won 8% in 2009.”

    Have you looked outside? It’s cold and white. You never see much Green until the spring.

    @CL1945 & @Colin – regarding Dave and the yes vote, I’m puzzled by the politics of this. Clearly, he needs a referendum, as he’s been promising one for so long.

    But he’s also promising to renegotiate powers, and ultimately, his only leverage on this is to threaten to leave the EU. Clearly, this isn’t his personal preference, so in effect he’s triangulating, by telling the EU that he really likes them but needs something to keep his voters happy.

    The EU simply doesn’t want to reopen treaties, and if they see a yes result, that’s pretty much the end of Cameron’s strategy.

    I’m less confident than CL1945 that DC will remain as PM post 2015 (he might, but according to the Sunday Times, 55 Tory MPs are willing to sign ‘no confidence’ letters to topple him) but if he does, this referendum promise, like his last one, will come back to haunt him.

    He’s better at tactics than strategy, and in the end, it’s strategy that wins it for you.

  24. @John Pilgrim

    I agree with your analysis. IMO there is a great deal of sense in the US/EU plan; I think that David Cameron’s exhorting us to work harder to win a race (to the bottom?) with China makes no sense. Economic prosperity now comes from co-operation not competition.

  25. Camerons strategy is to give the people what they want, a referendum on the EU that will close down the issue till after the election.


  26. Colin Green

    “Which of the following parties would you seriously consider voting for at the next general election? Please tick all that apply:

    LAB 39
    CON 32
    UKIP 22
    LIBD 16
    GRN 10?

    The interesting thing about that question is the fact that Lab and Con are polling higher than that in the same survey.

    It looks odd, but I think there’s actually two different things going on here. One is our old friend the non-voters. If you include those in the VI percentages list you get:

    Lab 32
    Con 25
    UKIP 5
    L/D 8
    Green 2
    NonV 24

    So the Party VIs are now all less than their potential. These are the figures you should actually be comparing the ‘considerers’ to.

    But there’s something else that is interesting. If you look at the details, less than 100% of current VI voters for Con, Lab and LibDem say that they are considering voting for them. (94%, 95%, 91% respectively). Oddly enough we saw exactly the same in the Lord Ashcroft poll about potential UKIP voters. In that case the figures were even more similar for the three Parties – but then that was a poll with a much greater sample size.

    I think what we are seeing here is a misunderstanding. A minority of about 6-7% of all those being asked those being asked are taking the above question to mean:

    Which of the following parties would you seriously consider voting for at the next general election in addition to the party you have already chosen (if any)? Please tick all that apply:

    Of course that isn’t what the pollsters want at all, but you can see how some people may think that. The fact it is so even across the Parties and two pollsters rather suggests that is something systematic like this.

    What YouGov and the others need to do is replaced the (imagined) words in bold above with something like (including your current voting intention if appropriate).

  27. Interesting thought Roger.

    Perhaps “which party[ies] woud you NOT consider voting for?” would be better.

    I could easily imagine voting green even though I WILL vote Labour so that my answer is irrelevant. On the other hand finding out who the is the winner of the ” most despised” party could be informative.

    David Owen wrote the same thing as me today I see: why do we have to wait two years to begin any discussion with the EU about any potential changes? Well, actually we know the answer: Tory party expediency.

  28. German David McAllister becomes a Scot
    Scots Tory even loses in Germany.


  29. The EU bit I like is the use of “Proper”.
    It’s the same with immigration.

    People who don’t like the current situation don’t call for a discussion or a debate, they call for a “proper” debate.

    What they mean is that we have been debating this for years but they haven’t got the answer they want yet so there has been something wrong with the debate.

    It’s a bit like demanding different facts because they don’t like the facts we have!


  30. grhinports @ Colin Green

    “…..I think in 2015 the LD will not be poleaxed by a big drop in their Vote % because in the places where such a vote is “useful” (because of aforementioned anti-Con, anti-Lab viewpoints) it will still turn out for them.”

    I agree except in Scotland where there are probably no more Liberals than there are Cons, and the SNP are the anti-Con, anti-Lab party.

    There aren’t all that many Nationalsists either. Most of their voters are unenthused by their uniquely distinguishing policy.

    A lot of Labour votes in the West are anti-Con too.Voting SNP in these constituencies often could letthe Tory in. If the SNP can persuade Labour voting anti-Cons in safe Labour seat that they are the better buy for the anti-Con voter, then they can’t lose.

    If the SNP can put up someone like Nicola Sturgeon then the anti-Cons know what to do. If it is less clear, they have four parties to vote for. Otherwise a Labour incumbent with a solid majority is a safe choice.

    At all costs they must avoid a wasted vote for the third placed candidate .

  31. I think Anthony has slightly broken one of his own rules in discussing the EU polling – the one that says that people’s attitudes aren’t affected by speeches and all the other things that get the political classes so excited. Actually I suspect the rule still holds, but were seeing something else: that voters are against the EU – unless they actually think about it.[1] This doesn’t need to be triggered by reminders from the Great and the Good, though that helps. We’ve seen similar changes in opinion in the past when a referendum looked like it was becoming more of a reality.

    Actually the real changes in opinion were in last Sunday’s polls compared to what they were both the week before and (more so) the previous July. So it’s a more gradual shift as the topic has stayed higher up the political agenda – this week’s figures just confirm it. Even the inevitable support for (any) referendum has dropped by 9 points since July.

    The one big change since last week(ish) has been the 5 point fall in UKIP support for the Euros[2]. This sort of ties in with the slight drop we have been seeing in their normal VI – especially in the over-60s – but I suspect the sample may be a bit pro-Tory as well (the 44-31 lead in the over-60s looks a tad high).

    It’s possible that we’re seeing a similar if milder set of movements that we saw with the ‘veto’ about a year ago. Mostly this is probably ex-Tories who were flirting with UKIP or not voting returning home and a few EU sceptics coming in from elsewhere. It’s less dramatic because it’s weaker this time but also because it’s not bringing the Tories up to parity – the current Labour lead is bigger and more solid than then.

    [1] Which is more or less what Anthony implies, but not exactly.

    [2] Anthony (a) are we going to have this every week for the next seventeen months? and (b) I take it you are still using the two-stage list?


    “We’ve seen similar changes in opinion in the past when a referendum looked like it was becoming more of a reality.”

    I wholly agree – and not just in the past!

    Change is always inherently threatening, so the tendency is to support the status quo.

    When change to the status quo seems inevitable, folk have to decide which change seems preferable.

  33. Much of the time the “debate” is slanted against the EU because those in favour have little reason to campaign.

    “Hey everyone, we really really need to be in the EU!!! Let us tell you why. .. Oh wait, we already ARE in the EU. .. OK, false alarm, as you were. .”

    It’s only when there’s a threat that they tend to come forth and you can then measure the effects of folk hearing the case for as well as against.

    Of course the goalposts have shifted a bit now that people are talking of the destabilising effects of even considering renegotiation. Which is not a great place for the eurosceptics to be in…

  34. @ Amber Star

    “That is very cool. Did you say anything or were you tongue tied, like I’d have been?”

    Well, if you can believe it, I don’t actually remember the conversation that well. I think I introduced myself and told her what a great admirer I was and how I couldn’t wait till she was the Speaker. It was hard to meet her, everyone gets so pushy and will cut right in front of you for a handshake and photo.

    I was more tongue tied actually when I met (newly elected representative) Eric Swalwell (D-CA). Kinda made an ass out of myself. You never look impressive when you’re nervous and starstruck.

    @ Billy Bob

    I spotted Jared Huffman (D-CA) last night though I didn’t go meet him.

  35. A year ago, we were being told that every euro nation except Germany was on the brink of economic chaos & this would cause social collapse. Also we were being told that this euro instability was dragging down the economy of the entire world including the UK!

    IMO, People are less angry with the EU because the situation with the euro appears to have stabilized & consequently the reporting in the UK media has become a bit more balanced.

  36. @ Amber Star

    Actually, what I really wanted to say to Swalwell was “You are MY Geraldine Ferraro.” But I didn’t because I realized that the reference would be absolutely lost on him and that he’d be confused and/or slightly offended.

    @ Billy Bob

    “A follow-up to my post on the previous thread (end of page 7) about the Boundary Commissions. It occurred to me that if the US was to set up something similar, rather than having four Commissions (England, Scotland, Wales and NI) you would presumably need one for each state… is there any chance something like that be coordinated at the Federal level?”

    Thank you for your response. My apologies for not responding to it. It’s much appreciated.

    I think that we’d have a single federal commission and they would draw for each state. Of course, some states wouldn’t require it as they’d only have one member. We have the equivalent of an independent commission to draw lines in a andful of states with California now being the prominent one though it’s been done for years in Iowa and Washington and I think Arizona (which is a strange case). But that was enacted in California (over the wishes of politicians and the Democratic Party) at the ballot box. There is no national way to enact an independent commission that way. Florida voters actually approved non-partisan redistricting BUT they left the map up to the legislature to draw the lines and didn’t create a commission. Well, it had its benefits (Alan Grayson is back, Allen West is gone) but the Florida Republicans still drew the map and did their best to draw a safe Republican map. Though the days of 3/4s Republican control of the legislature, 2/3rds of Congressional seats being Republican, and electing certifiable lunatics and war criminals may be over.

    Congress has the power to draw its own districts (though it’s never done it) even though states would be left to draw their own legislative maps.

    Ironic thing about CA independent redistricting is that it benefit the Dems who did NOT want it. I voted against it. Not because I don’t actually want it but because I don’t believe in unilateral disarmament. I actually think we need more seats in Congress and that will have to come with any independent redistricting I think.

  37. Colin

    “The No campaign was hopeless-a bunch of Marxists. That will be different this time !”

    The No Campaign I supported as a 25 year old was an alliance taking in people from across the political spectrum – Tony Benn, Peter Shore (one of my heroes and hardly a left winger in LP terms), the marvellous and essentially moderate John Biffen and Enoch Powell. On the extremes both CP and NF were in the No camp, but so were a substantial minority of centrists.

    We generally won the intellectual argument but lost the vote, after being massively outspent by the CBI, bankers, the press and the mainstream Conservative and Labour Parties.

    It was a very enjoyable campaign. We were right. The majority didn’t want to believe us when we said the Common market would turn into a European super-state overriding Parliament. Unfortunately we lost – big time.

    I think a second referendum is rather potty. If there was a vote it should be open only to those who weren’t old enough to vote in 1975 and I think the polls show that this would be a shoe-in for staying in. As an over 60 myself I would like to ask anyone who voted for the EU in 1975 but who now wishes to vote against two questions :. 1. Why do you think you are entitled to a replay – we told you what the consequences of a Yes vote would be and you voted for it ! 2. Why do you think that your vote should outweigh younger people who will have to live with the consequences of an economically disastrous withdrawal long after you and I are pushing up daisies ?

  38. @welshborderer

    Why should that rule apply to referenda but not elections? And why wouldn’t their previous vote count in this referendum? After all, according to you one shouldn’t be allowed to change your mind.

    Of course to follow that logic through, we’d all be driving our first car, living with our first boyfriend/girlfriend, and would still think that digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

  39. @Petercairns – “Camerons strategy is to give the people what they want, a referendum on the EU that will close down the issue till after the election.”

    No it isn’t. Cameron’s strategy is to reclaim some powers from Brussels. His tactic is an in/out vote. This tactic will destroy his strategy. That’s why I think he will be in trouble over this, but probably not until after 2015.

  40. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/rogerbootle/9814360/GDP-for-Q4-Be-prepared-to-get-that-sinking-feeling-on-Friday.html

    It’s that time of the month again – ministers get stressed and twitchy, and economic journalists get feverishly excited.

    No idea what the GDP figures will show on Friday, but a positive number would be quite a surprise for most, it seems.

    In this article Bootle lays out what he sees are the options. He suggests that QE doesn’t look likely, but does say – “A variant of this option [QE] is to switch emphasis away from buying gilts and towards private- sector assets that may have more bearing on expenditure. That could have some appeal.”

    This is what I have been thinking all along (without, it must be said, any clear idea of the theoretical or practical outcomes of such a policy) but there does seem to be some recognition that QE was good for the banks and those who make a living of commodity and asset trading, while failing to affect the real economy.

    Bootle also mentions the risk of a devaluation. This has started already, with reports of sterling losing it’s safe haven status and seeing some sharp falls already this year. While potentially good for exports, with Europe in the doldrums, a weaker pound may well not do too much to improve sales to our largest market.

    At the same time, the falling pound will bump up prices, particularly in dollar traded oil. This comes when Income Data Services released their prediction that white collar worker will see incomes fall around 1% against the currently predicted inflation for 2013. I would imagine that if professionals are still feeling squeezed, those lower down the pay scale certainly will be, and we know benefits are to grow by only 1%, so any upward pressure on inflation will possibly lead to the return to downward spiraling consumer confidence.

    Weak demand has been the underlying issue in the economy, which is a factor that I think has been missed by policy makers who have been more obsessed by theories of money and credit issues. If circumstances conspire to give us another year of a widening gap between earnings and prices, I suspect the political position will, in all practical senses, become terminal for the government.

  41. Roger – definitely not, no, I still think European election polling this early is a bit silly. And yes, two stage prompting

  42. Petercairns.

    When during Labours years of mass immigration policy was there any “proper debate” maybe you could inform us when mass immigration was debated at any length in parliament during 1997-2010. Labour didn’t want to tell the public of the full extent of there open door policy and the Tories didn’t want to be tainted with attacking immigrant’s.
    It was years before the true number of immigrant’s was known and even now nobody seems to have a clue how many illegal immigrants there are in this country.
    Maybe it was a bit of a clue about the lack of debate when even EM admit’s Labour’s open door policy was a mistake and they shouldn’t have closed down debate on the matter.

  43. I’ve been thinking about the (supposed) twin pillars of UK fiscal policy at the moment.

    QE…printing money to buy gilts to pump liquidity into the banks; and

    Cutting public spending to reduce the “structural deficit”

    Think about that.

    We are printing money supposedly to allow the banks to decide where money should be lent in our economy. There is nothing to stop those banks lending the money abroad, buying commodities, gambling on derivatives, paying off bad debt or hording it like greedy dragons. But the idea is apparently to get demand into the UK economy (and not bail out insolvent banks). It doesn’t work, possibly for all the reasons stated above, but mostly because confidence has been shattered and the economy has stagnated.

    At the same time we are sacking public servants and shrinking public spending of all types. Much more of this is due in 2013 and 2014. This is sucking demand out of the economy and chilling the veins of would-be consumers with fear. Anybody with any spare money and sense is consolidating debt not spending or investing.

    But cutting spending isn’t working either, because without growth any cut leads to more spending somewhere else, sooner or later.

    So what if there had been no cuts, no proposed cuts and spending had been maintained at 2009-2010 levels, and the QE had been just printed noney and spending maintained.

    Can I postulate that growth would have continued? We would have been in no more debt because we printed not borrowed. The Markets would have squealed but borrowing is neither here nor there under that regime.

    With continued growth and confidence, then we could start to talk about trimming and no more printing. In fact if we had printed to manage the structural deficit and NOT printed to buy gilts from the BoE, would we have printed less?

    To answer that you need to know what the structural deficit is…how much and how it is worked out. It doesn’t take much investigation to find out that there is no agreement on this. Nobody ahs much of clue how much of borrowing is cyclical, how much “structural” (if it really exists) and what percentage of GDP constitutes healthy borrowing and what is “bad”.

    Worse than that, policy seems to be more of a feeling that borrowing is bad and spending needs cutting. Both of those feelings are demonstrably wrong, although it might be true that borrowing too much and spending too much (related concepts) may not be advisable. But the “too much” is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

    It might well be that you can’t boost private sector output by cutting public sector spending. I think it has the opposite effect, personally. But you might be able to boost private sector output by pumping money into it, and you might be able to do it by pumping money into the public sector too. Both of those things are worth trying they can’t do much harm.

    After all, if we are printing billions anyway, why not use it to boost the economy?

  44. @Colin


    I don’t know whether this was a straightforward typo or a bit of satire, but it tickled me nonetheless. Chris L’s posts do have a little of the time warp about them, although to pre-date him by 100 years might be a little harsh! Maybe we should adapt that old joke about putting your clock back 200 years as you’re about to land at Belfast Airport and advise readers to enter the mid 19th century when they’re about to read one of Chris’s posts! Step inside an era when only Tories ever won elections, soup kitchens stalked the land, there was a widely respected Catholic church, nearly everybody attended church on Sundays and, glory be, Newton Heath FC weren’t even a twinkle in great, great grandfather Glaser’s eye!

    To more serious matters, I think there is some rather more interesting micro-data in this latest YouGov poll than is normally the case, although I’m fairly dismissive of polls about Euro elections some 16 months before they’re due to take place. I suppose you could say the same about VI polls 29 months before a General Election, but Euro elections tend to take place in hermetically sealed three-week bubbles and I wouldn’t attach too much importance to which party people say they would vote for now when they won’t cast a vote until May 2014. It all adds to the gaiety of the nation, I suppose, but amounts to very little.

    The micro-data in the poll, as I said, is interesting and suggests that the Eurosceptic sentiment is a complex and ambiguous one and won’t necessarily play out to conventional party political tunes. I think there will be far bigger fish to fry anyway by May 2015 and it might well be an issue relegated a long way down the voters list of priorities by then. I actually think, even if his low key version of a sabre rattle gives him some short term polling benefits, that the problems are all Cameron’s on this issue in the long run. He has a seriously divided party on this issue with a hard core of MPs and voters who will not be mollified by anything other than withdrawal from the EU. A referendum promise or no referendum promise, it will matter not a jot if his party is seen to be at war again over an issue that many voters are quite happy to let parliamentarians resolve. Voters and divided parties and all that.

  45. Turk,

    Dear me you need to get out more.

    Immigration has all but featured in a newspaper once a week all my life. The public and parties talk all about it all the time.

    Every set of immigration statistics makes the front page and is raised in Parliament, as are population projection and crime.

    For decades immigration has been near the top of the political agenda and public concerns, like crime and the NHS.

    What we have had is a proper debate. that is what a proper debate looks like in a democracy, including thousands of people like you contributing by saying we need a proper debate.

    You come across as exactly what I was talking about, people you claim the debate was flawed because they didn’t get what they wanted from it.


  46. By “proper debate”, I’ve always supposed that those who think there hasn’t been one start from the assumption that immigration and foreigners are “bad” and this should be accepted before any discussions start and that people moving around the globe for economic reasons (i.e. cos there is no work or food where they live) or to escape war, persecution or hardship can be prevented from doing so by putting them in detention camps and then shipping them “back where they came from”.

    You can’t stop people crossing borders no matter how draconian you get. People have always moved around the globe. Borders are a fairly new artificial invention…and we are all immigrants if we trace our families back far enough.

  47. Turk,
    I’m sure that I recall the 2005 General Election campaign featuring the tories attacking immigration “Are you thinking what I’m thinking?”. After all, the campaign was designed by the famous Lynton Crosby – who I see has been brought back again.

    They were widely ridiculed at the time for that, and lost the election.



    Sadly I have to agree with The Sheep’s response to your final paragraph, and to note the tension between the platform you stood on in 1975, and your current view that exit would be a disaster.

    I say sadly because I enjoyed your post very much, in particular the rule you propose for Referenda voting franchise.
    It is rare to read a contribution which engenders head shaking, nodding, and smiling, all at the same time.

    RE . 1975 you are right to correct me on the spread of political opinion in the No camp.

    Like you , I was around at the time, but unlike you had no political involvement in the campaign. I must confess that most of my knowledge about the campaign derives from histories of the period.

    It is hard to find a record of the renegotiation achievements which Wilson reported as ” substantially achieved objectives” to his Cabinet in March 1975. But the Foreign Office diplomat quoted as saying the renegotiation never produced any financial results” may have come closer to the truth of a gigantic pr exercise to keep the Labour left quiet.

    Given that on the day Britain entered the EEC , a Times poll found only 38% of people were pleased at the prospect, it is surprising that the No campaign fared so badly.

    As you say, you were outgunned financially, but I don’t think that was the whole story of failure.

    As late as January 1975, a clear No vote was forecast , yet the Yes majority surged from 8% to 34% in three months.

    Benn’s warnings about loss of sovereignty , & european federalism-the very grounds on which you rightly observe, the No campaign has been proved correct failed to gain traction.

    With terrible economic concerns & wage inflation at a record 30%, the economic argument was paramount.
    And Benn succeeded in screwing the No camps chances on that score with his disastrous forecast of ” industrial disaster” and “mass unemployment”. These were roundly attacked by his own PM, and cabinet colleagues like Healey & Jenkins.

    Benn was branded “Minister of Fear” , and the trust which people had in Wilson & Heath ( a shared 42%) came to the fore.

    Shore-as you say , a decent & well liked man-talked of the “long and famous story of the British nation” coming to an end-but no one was listening.

    Most people were worried about prices , jobs & the economy-only one in ten ranked Europe as important.

    All fascinating to recall-even more so trying to tease out
    precedents & lessons which might apply next time around.

  49. CB11

    A slip of the finger-but amusing as you say.

    I wouldn’t deride Chris’s opinions as much as you -he is a committed Blairite .
    But I don’t share his confident asertion that Cons will win the next GE..


    Well said. I agree.

  50. @ Nick P

    “But the “too much” is entirely in the eye of the beholder.”
    Excellent point.

    While the BoE had some estimates on the effects of QE on the GDP, these are purely speculative (essentially a derivative of Fisher’s equation). While it is true that QE increased the liquidity, but at the same time created a situation in which banks are liquid in both cash and securities, hence they have become unresponsive to most monetary policy measures.

    In addition, nobody really can forecast where the additional money ends up and also what it would be worth (in many ways, QE is a version of the incomes policy of the 1960-1970s) and has the same fallacy: defining monetary/income processes without reference to productivity and competitiveness.

    Most of the key issues about QE have been discussed a number of times in the last 300 hundred years (currency reform at the time of Locke, the debate between the banking and currency school in the 1800s, Law’s “experiment” in France in the 18th century, etc) and the current one does not add anything to these debates. The current debates are still tied in by the fetish that interest rates are determined by the supply of and demand for money (instead of the business cycle) and that interest rates determine profits, hence the business cycle.

    Since in the last 20 years (at least) the central driving force of British business has been cash flow (rather than rate of return), thus QE can contribute to growth only if it increases bank lending to business at a rate lower than the rate of return. However, twice in those 20 years eventually businesses, to maintain cash flow, were ready to borrow at a rate higher than the rate of return, hoping that the new money would make wonders. So, with QE we have a good chance to repeat the same mistake.

    Fiscal expansion is cheaper and more effective than QE, but it requires structurally defined spending (not merely throwing more money to the economy), for which the UK government has no inclination (and actually even if it had, it would not have the necessary institutions to implement it – especially after the rapid elimination of Mandelson’s attempts towards the end of the Labour government). Investment in infrastructure sounds good and probably necessary, but if it is a large scale one, it would have major inflationary effects and “could” save firms (just as QE does) that should go bust.

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