So far two polls from the Sunday papers have appeared. First there is an Opinium poll in the Observer. In this case it was conducted from Wednesday to Friday, so was started before the government lost the Syria vote and obviously doesn’t have any questions related to the defeat. They found 24% supported British military intervention in Syria, 60% were opposed. The Observer article doesn’t mention any voting intention figures (though it does quote some crossbreaks by party support).

Secondly there is a Survation poll for the Mail on Sunday, which was conducted wholly on Friday, so after the defeat in the Commons. Voting intention there stands at CON 29%(+1), LAB 37%(+1), LDEM 11%(nc), UKIP 17%(-1) so no obvious impact on VI (changes are since the beginning of August).

Survation found 19% supported British military action against Syria, 65% were opposed. Asked how well or badly Cameron and Miliband had handled the crisis 29% thought Cameron had handled it well, 36% badly. For Miliband the figures were 27% well to 27% badly. Ed Miliband was seen as more in touch with public opinion on Syria (37% thought Miliband had been in touch compared to only 22% who thought the same about David Cameron), but asked more generally who’d they would trust to handle international crises, 40% said Cameron, 23% Miliband (37% said don’t know, presumably including people who wouldn’t trust either of them!)

Also in tomorrow’s papers will be the YouGov poll for the Sunday Times, which was also conducted after the defeat – I’ll update on that tomorrow.


97 Responses to “New Opinium and Survation polls”

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  1. I’m confused.

    When the UK just blindly follows what the US says, and have no say whatsoever somehow we are a global power punching above our weight.

    But when we force them to reconsider their actions, and have a direct effect on their foreign policy, causing Obama to consult Congress first rather than invade, suddenly we are losing influence and status on the world stage???

  2. Shifty? This seems to be the new ‘word of the week’ for Ed.

  3. A couple of points:

    Firstly, it seems No 10’s strategy in days to come is to launch a ‘blistering attack’ on Miliband. If this is so, then maybe they need to read what the polls say about peoples’ views on whether we should launch military strikes. If they think such attacks will resonate with the public then I think it’s quite tone deaf and gives the impression that No 10 is under pressure and lashing out.

    Secondly, I suspect the only major polling change that will come about is that Miliband’s ratings will improve among Labour supporters because he’ll have been seen to be providing a more effective opposition. That in itself is good news because it would quieten down some of the whispering and give him a chance to establish some momentum at the conference.

    I’m optimistic that the only way Miliband’s ratings can go is up from now on. A large part of the reason his ratings are low is because of Labour supporters not thinking he’s providing a good enough opposition, and this perception can bleed over into floating voters, non-voters and others, as the intuitive perception will be that if he can’t oppose the government properly, how will he be an effective PM? But like I said, I think this perception will now begin to fade away as Labour begin to unveil more of their agenda.

  4. @Amber

    I’ve noticed that too. I think it reveals a hint of desperacy, which in itself should be encouraging for Labour.

  5. @ Amber

    A gentle reminder about what you said yesterday – dont respond to trashy comments.

    A US democrat congressman has just been on BBC news & he seemed to be indicating that Obama will find it hard to gain approval for military strike against Assad.

  6. @ Chordata

    Yes, it was a bit ‘trashy’. I found it mildly amusing & wanted to comment because the same thing has been posted here already & on several other sites; it’s like a chain letter or similar which is suddenly being ‘pushed’ around.

  7. NEIL A
    Mainly from the last thread: “You do make the strangest links” and
    ” I think I’m going to bow out until we have something else to talk about.”
    Quite so. Referring to my strange link of the Syrian vote with the CAP.
    My interest then and now is not in the hypothetical notions of who was right on a military strike, but rather on the real fact that our defense armoury and budget will be reduced, and can continue to be reduced by not spending on military responses to crises in the ME or elsewhere. Revised spending to back up foreign policy can be addressed to the better distribution of wealth and of the influence of a sound and mature western political structure, within the EC for starters. Europe has the strongest interests in the ME of any power block but has rendered itself toothless and supine through a maladministration and corruption to which UK foreign policy should be addressed.
    I shall be interested to see how the G20 pans out.

  8. STATGEEK
    “I am not sure I would’ve lasted the 7 hours.”
    By mistake, we did Macbeth for two years running in the run-up to the Schools Cert; only enlivened by the nice conceit of our English teacher. The taper carried by Lady M was actually misspelled(common in Shakespeare, he said) and was a tapir, the Macbeth family pet, named Spot. When it peed on the carpet she would shove it out the door, crying: “Out, damned Spot.”

  9. STATGEEK
    “Seven Samurai” doesn’t count: cracking yarn, so no endurance cigar.
    But Kurosawa the Shakespeare of the Japanese cinema, nonetheless!

  10. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ed-miliband/10278338/Syrian-crisis-Ed-Miliband-faces-growing-criticism-from-Labour-ranks.html

    This article here is another example of some of the rather desperate attempts to attack Ed, and another example of the Westminster Beltway being completely out of touch.

    People are already aware of the atrocities being committed in Syria and oppose military strikes anyway. If the chatterati think just shouting louder will change public opinion they’ve another thing coming.

  11. Good early Sunday Morning to all.
    Seasons of mists and mellow fruitfulness and ten point YG lead, which may well be short lived, but not a bad message for Ed M and his friends, as the school year starts.

  12. Hi Chris, folks

    There’s what looks like a drop in Dave’s rating and a rise in Miliband’s rating too, so this is very suggestive of a Syria vote boost for Labour.

    I try not to get excited about little blips like this but it’s so tempting in this case… politics just took another funny turn.

  13. Latest YouGov / The Sunday Times results 31 August – Con 31%, Lab 41%, LD 9%, UKIP 13%

    Blimey…a real poll changing event? Or MOE around Lab 38 Con 33?

    Only the Shadow knows…

  14. @Nick

    When a poll change comes after a significant event, my immediate gut feeling is it’s meaningful rather than just MOE.

    Of course it could just be a coincidence that we got a Labour-friendly sample and I’m jizzing my kecks too soon. We’ll need more polls to find out for sure.

  15. ST YG Poll lead of 10% for Labour is just MOE stuff. In the South of England and Midlands/Wales, this poll actually shows them neck and neck. It appears to be the polling elsewhere in the country which is so Labour, that is giving the 10% lead.

    http://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/e3mn8j0hh5/YouGov_SundayTimes_VI_Syria_130831.pdf

    Think the polls next week will return to the norm of recent, with Labour having a lead of 4-6%.

  16. Am I the only one genuinely baffled by what is going on inside Tory HQ? they have launched a number of attacks since the vote:
    1. Milliband is weak. Presumably as demonstrated by his strength in saying no
    2. Labour are out of touch with the public, despite the polls showing mass opposition to intervention
    3. This will leave us isolated internationally, despite Obama now saying he also needs authorisation and quoting his closest ally.

    They used to be a politically savvy organisation doing very smart but small things to nudge the narrative their way. Recently we have seen the “summer of screaming” where they have had every spokesman and friendly commentator hysterically shrieking about Millibands weakness, and now what appears to be flailing in response to Cameron failing to carry his backbenchers.

    I’m not sure if the ST/YouGov poll is an outlier or not. But it does reinforce what to me appears to be the Tories getting increasingly puzzled and desperate. Apparently their spun version of reality and the real version of reality are becoming increasingly disconnected. Can’t be their fault because they are Right, therefore let’s blame reality. Its Gordon Brown all over again.

  17. We need to see another 4 or 5 polls to know if it is MOE stuff or not. The timing, coincident with recent Events, suggests it might be a small, but real, shift, but coincidences are often misleading. However, even at the exteme of MOE it suggests that the Lab VI has not dropped further, as recent polls seemed to suggest..

  18. It’s technically within MOE, but it does look like a real shift. Further polling may tell us (or may just represent an unwinding over time of that shift, of course). Nothing particularly dramatic.

  19. The latest YouGov looks a bit like an outlier but we will have to see things go next week, Labour lead much higher than recently and EM’s support up although he is still well behind Cameron. Some of the answers to the detailed questions are interesting.
    – Tories are seen as marginally more united than Labour, UKIP the most united party by a mile.
    – Clear win for Cameron (if in less negative terms) on strong leadership over Syria, Cameron -2, Miliband -18, Clegg -43.
    – Parliament the overall winner on Syria 58 to 27.
    Fascinating and not altogether what I expected.

  20. @Ian Bailey – “They used to be a politically savvy organisation doing very smart but small things to nudge the narrative their way. ”

    I think that’s really stretching the facts, to be honest. The operation around Cameron has been known for a very long time to be bafflingly ineffective, with occasional periods of good delivery. Big Society and pasty taxes spring to mind.

    Before AW deletes me, I hasten to add that this isn’t a comment coming from the left – it’s what Tory MPs and (the increasingly small) band of grassroots members have been saying, pretty much since they elected him to lead them.

    The link with polling of these comments is direct. It has been the leadership’s inability to portray a consistent message and an impression of competence, that prevented them persuading enough voters to back them.

    I think they’ve had a much better summer, when at last
    they seemed to be functioning well, but the complaint from Tory MPs is now that the Syrian debacle illustrates once again that they don’t really know how to communicate and organise. This is a reversion to mean, more than anything else.

  21. @ Ian Bailey

    I think it is the case that the Tories don’t understand Ed Miliband. They have not been able to pin down how he is likely to behave in any circumstance that crops up.

    This will always be the case with the academic sort. They will wait to assess the evidence available before making a decision. If the evidence is not available they may sit on the fence, just by saying that they have not seen a persuasive case made for a particular action to be taken. Sometimes this can be infuritating because they don’t make decisions very quickly or make speeches which don’t actually state where they stand.

    Whether the electorate will like an academic type person as their PM, I don’t know. Do they want a strong leader with a clear position on the key issues, who will make a quick decision, whether it is right or wrong ? Or do they want an academic type leader, who is process driven and will only make a decision with all the information, even if this means they don’t come across as strong or clear ?

  22. @ Ian,

    I’m as puzzled as you are. The current strategy seems to be to scream at the top of their lungs “It’s all Ed Miliband’s fault we’re not fighting this war that you really, really didn’t want to fight!”

    Perhaps this will work- certainly the rightwing commentariat seem to be perfectly happy to run this as a “Miliband is treacherous and vacillating” story rather than a “the Prime Minister is unable convince Parliament to back his foreign policy” story- but surely even to Number 10 it must seem like a long shot? I know they have to spin Cameron’s defeat somehow, but emphasising Miliband’s crucial role in getting the public what they wanted strikes me as an odd approach.

    Also, if your rhetorical position is that you were a statesman trying to pursue the national interest and the other fellow is a partisan jerk, simultaneously telling your aides to brief the press that he is a “f***ing c***” and a “copper-bottomed s***” seems like a good way to undermine that position.

    It also seems like an odd choice for a Prime Minister who has relied on the support of the Opposition for three crucial votes, and failing to obtain it lost two of them. If I were in his position I think I would be trying to build bridges across the floor, not dousing them in napalm. But hey, it’s a conventional weapon so it’s all good.

  23. @AW
    I really have no idea why my reply to Drunken S disappeared into moderation.

  24. Although to be fair, the “summer of screaming” has seen a solid decrease in Labour’s poll lead and Miliband’s personal ratings, so I’m not sure we should write it off as ineffective at this point.

    @ R Huckle,

    What the public want is a leader who instantly and decisively takes the correct position. Decisively taking a position they don’t like is grounds for crucifixion (see Thatcher, poll tax, Blair, Iraq War).

    Though going by this poll, it does seem like they prefer Cameron’s clear, unpopular stance to Miliband’s hedging.

  25. @Alec

    Judging by the latest YouGov poll and Obamas recent comments and action the “Syrian debacle” as you put it looks to be panning out rather well for Cameron. It will be interesting to see how YouGov goes next week as people reflect on the fact that Obama has decided to consult congress

  26. That was, I admit, unexpected. Even if it is just an outlier, that isn’t how the press will report it and Mr. Miliband could do with some more positive coverage. What he now has to think about doing is following up this PR victory with a barnstorming speech at conference and he might start to solidify some of that boost.

    I think we’re past midterm now and into the home stretch – policies will start being unveiled, the rhetoric is going to get more heated and we’ll start to see things get very exciting indeed.

    Just goes to show Mr. Wilson was right – a week is a long time in politics.

  27. Oh, and just for Oldnat,

    “Ed Miliband says Labour will scrap Bedroom Tax”: The Mirror – http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/bedroom-tax-ed-miliband-says-2242367#.UiLqTUOBuN8.twitter

  28. My first thoughts on the two post Syrian polls is yes I expected a slight jump up in Labour support but nothing to serious for the Tories unless of course it continues, the other is the Midlands where I think the next election will be decided is still pretty neck and neck.

    Finally what does EM have to do to improve his standing amongst the voters, who’d have thought he would still be so far behind DC after the events of last week. I still find that odd if he can’t shift public opinion over Syria what can he do about the public’s perception of him.

  29. Interesting poll.

    The caveat about just one poll is still important.

    I have had an idea about the the relationship between Conservative VI and UKIP, next to Labour VI and Lib Dem.

    My crude hypothesis is that broadly unhappiness with Conservatives mainly boosts UKIP and unhappiness with Labour leaks VI to the Lib Dems.

    I am not sure, but I will look at the data and see if it backs it up.

    This thinking explains to me why perhaps the size of Lab lead is not comparable to the past, as the vote is perhaps splintering more ways. Therefore, my feeling is that saying Labour’s lead needs to x at this point to win in 2015, because it was x before 1997 could be based on a false premise.

  30. http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/sep/01/david-cameron-defeat-syria

    This probably gives the best and fairest view of the affair, in my view.

    Rawnsley does make a plausible case that Milliband shifted his ground, but also points out that this is part of managing and representing your party, and their voters. It’s what representative politics should be about.

    His notion that Cameron probably gave Obama clear support for action, without giving himself the back door exit of parliamentary approval, probably lies at the heart of No 10’s anger at the outcome. We all know from our personal lives that when we sometimes make a mistake ourselves, it’s very easy to get angry at someone else who brought our own errors into clear focus.

    The key point must be how the public sees what has happened. The idea that Ed is vacillating would only really get traction if voters dig deep into the procedural events. They won’t. They’ll only see who won, and who was defeated. In terms of judging strength and weakness, if they care at all, it’s the result of the vote that will be the key definition for most, I would suggest.

    The charge of treachery? That might be easier to make stick, but even here, it’s difficult. Ed might have changed his might or he might not – that’s back to the procedural detail again. If the public see anything from Ed in this, I think they will see a near angelic and sensible set of demands – lets do this carefully, see the evidence, wait for UN inspectors etc. Boiled down to what Ed actually said he wanted, it’s extremely hard for anyone to really criticise him. No one reads HoC motions.

    Finally, events of last night have really fallen Ed’s way. If the US, France and the Arab league had launched missiles, the TV pictures would be all about ‘the bad guys’ getting their comeuppance, while the UK sat on the sidelines. Effective, legal, useful – I doubt these would really have mattered that much. People would be looking to Ed for his view, and arguing that we should be in there, but not yet, would have been very uncomfortable. Tories, I suspect, would have had a field day.

    But now Obama has effectively taken Ed’s route. It’s a massive boost, and negates absolutely and entirely any attacks over UK’s ‘diminished standing in the world’. Indeed, far from being diminished, voters will see that the UK has shown the clearest leadership of all on this, but this time emanating from our Leader of the Opposition.

    Given all this, I suspect a counter offensive based on a personal attack on Ed for his conduct is completely misplaced, and is an electoral mistake. If I was PM, I would personally go for a mea culpa, admit that I been too hasty, got a little bit tied up in party politics, lost touch with some in my own party, promise to listen more in the future etc, and keep what I thought about my opposite number to myself.

    Going on the offensive now just rakes over all your own mistakes and and looks too much like spoiled brat syndrome, even as the world, by chance or design, falls in behind your opponents viewpoint.

  31. @Alec @Mr nameless

    It is all about how the public see things. Read the detail of todays YouGov. and my original post. The Public see Cameron as the clear winner over the Syria issue. Forget the press, most of them dislike Cameron either because he is a Tory or because he is not right wing.

  32. @spearmint The Summer of Screaming did nothing to move Labour VI. The moves in the lead all came from UKIP’s score fluctuating, and I’ve never taken those as meaning anything long term. Why not? Because UKIP were quiet over the summer and won’t be the rest of the year (note Farage’s strong No on Syria), and I don’t think most pollsters yet know how to handle the Kippers as most of their voters were with another party at the last election.

    As for Milliband, let’s tot up the accusations. He’s a union stooge. He is continuity Brownism. He’s weak. He’s scheming. He doesnt have any policies. His policies will cost every man woman and child a bazillion pounds. The issue here is not and never has been Milliband, its that BlairCameronClegg don’t know how to handle a leader who isn’t from the identikit mould they were all poured from. Which is why we get such contradictory screaming of accusations which have definitely just jumped the shark. For the Tories to insist that his forcing a uturn in government policy demonstrates his weakness demonstrates their disconnect with reality.

  33. @Spearmint

    Though going by this poll, it does seem like they prefer Cameron’s clear, unpopular stance to Miliband’s hedging.

    I agree. And personally I would have liked EM to be more decisive as well. In fact I think this is unfair on my part. As I see it, he would have been much less well briefed than Cameron and was being asked to agree to something which Cameron had formulated and which would have pretty momentous consequences, not least for the sensitivities of the Labour party. In those circumstances he would, in my opinion, have little choice but to say he needed to consult and would need to think through the consequences. Failure to do this would have been to commit votes that he cannot have been sure he could command and the country to something which he might well come to regret.

    And so it was sensible of him to temporize and probably tactically sensible of Cameron to overemphasize the amount of agreement that had been achieved. Reactions to all this on this site are perhaps predictable. Everyone on the left sees EM as strong and Cameron as weakened and everyone on the right (including even Neil A that most judicious and fair minded of commentators) sees EM as vacillating, devious and generally smelling of sulphur while Cameron if not smelling of roses is at least gracious and decisive. I imagine that reactions among the public with the possible exception of UKIP will be the same.

    Personally I think EM came to absolutely the right decision and one that will do us no harm internationally. However, I will only give him the credit for it if he goes on to develop a foreign policy along the lines that John Pilgrim has, I think, been advocating, and doing so with clarity and conviction.

  34. Here’s an odd thing: the Lab -> Tory flux in this YouGov poll is the lowest it’s been since mid-May.

    It’s not far outside the normal variance- it’s 1% and 2%s are irregular but not uncommon- so it could just be MOE. Obviously looking at cross-breaks from an individual poll is pretty irresponsible, but since we’re all going to be speculating anyway and it happened to catch my eye…

  35. I hope, as a Labour supporter, that the Tories continue to attack Ed Miliband for his opposition to the government’s military action motion last week. If he does so, he will only boost Miliband & his party, which is seen by the majority of voters to have taken the correct decision on the matter.

  36. “Asked more generally who’d they would trust to handle international crises, 40% said Cameron, 23% Miliband.”

    Once again the polling should dampen any sense that this will give Milliband a boost. Unfortunately, whatever you think of the issue, DC came across doing what he believed was right (although handling it badly and ending up being humiliated) and EM came across being opportunistic and slippery.

    Added to the the fact that according to the polls people prefer the Cons economic strategy, they think DC makes the best PM, they trust GO more than EB as chancellor, and EM has a terrible approval rating, I think we can be fairly certain Labs lead in the polls is soft and based mainly on “we’re hacked off with the Tories” and nothing more.

  37. @Spearmint

    The correlation between Con and Lab VI for sometime has been insignificant.

    What ever is going on, it isn’t Lab to Con or Con to Lab.

  38. @CMJ

    Looking at the poll versus previous ten:

    Con 31 (-1.8)
    Lab 41 (+2.9)
    Lib 9 (-0.8)
    UKIP 13 (+0.8)
    Green 2 (-0.6)

    Down parties’ total 3.2, and up parties total 3.7. Given that +/- 3% is well within MoE, it’s a ‘nothing to see here until we see another poll’ poll, so to speak.

    In fact, the RoS data alone accounts for a 1% Con loss and Lab gain, while it is almost level pegging in M&W. Con very strong in Scotland (cross break caveats etc).

  39. I think there may well have been some Syria effect here. Most of the Labour increase seems to be coming from a 2010 Lib Dem to Labour movement. Indeed the Labour share is now higher than the Lib Dem retention again, which I don’t think we’ve seen for a while.

    How long the effect will last I don’t know and most of the movement is still probably MoE. The fact that little movement appeared in the Survation poll (Opinium was mainly taken before Thursday’s events had their effect – or not) could suggest that it may not be that important. Still keeping those ex-Lib Dems happy is useful.

    Miliband’s improvement isn’t that great, even among Labour supporters (from 51-44 to 55-39) though there may be a useful change in the uncommitted. But it may have stemmed the decline of recent weeks, which will be useful for him, though he needs to keep building on that.

    The ‘strong leadership’ question is probably not as bad for Miliband as it looks. The serving PM always has an advantage in this sort of situation, purely because they are the one doing the leading and Miliband has more DKs which always make the gap look worse. I also think with all these sort of questions that the Conservative leader always has an advantage in that Tory voters seem automatically to be more loyal. So among their own supporters Cameron has a +55 rating in the ‘leadership over Syria’ results, Miliband only +22. Clegg has -4 which should worry him. It probably also helps Cameron that the coalition means he gets some ‘transfer partisan’ support from Lib Dems.

  40. @ TOH

    Appreciate what you say about leaders ratings re Syria, however the overall leaders ratings have ticked up a notch for Miliband and down a notch for Cameron.

    It could simply be that people have already decided what their views are on the two leaders and the Syria question only re-inforces their current opinion of the two leaders. Also the question on Syria of “acted strongly” is maybe not the right one to ask- perhaps acted wisely would have been better?. Cameron wanted one thing from the Syrian vote and acted to get it- Miliband was nuanced, if this happens I want this, if that happens I want that (leaving open to doubt what level of “that” would have been acceptable!) and took his time getting to that position- you wouldn’t equate that with strong.

    It would be like Cameron getting into a pub fight with Mike Tyson while Miliband ran away. Cameron might have acted strongly but not necessarily wisely :-)

  41. @ Ian,

    he Summer of Screaming did nothing to move Labour VI.

    I refer you to Exhibit A: http://i.imgur.com/ubWS8A3.png

    There’s a clear downward trajectory. (The second half of August when the worst of the screaming was happening is particularly bad for Labour.) It’s a small shift, compared to the Ukip -> Tory mediated shift in the overall lead. But it exists.

    @ Alex,

    The idea that Ed is vacillating would only really get traction if voters dig deep into the procedural events.

    Or if the papers keep repeating it? He already has a reputation for weakness and treachery so they’re planting the idea in fertile soil, but even so, it seems like a high risk strategy for Cameron.

    Then again if I were 14 points short of the lead I needed to win an overall majority, I might be inclined to gamble.

  42. When one side in an argument resorts to personal insults, even after the debate is over does show a childish arrogance, playground politics… this from those that are supposed to set examples to the rest of us.

    I am an adult and accept that responsibility I expect those that govern us to be the same, is that too much to ask, if it is…

    We should ask EM games to create a virtual reality for the MPs of Westminster so the rest of us can get on with life, we could then gain income from tourists waving at them through the bubble, after all what harm could they do if it was a game, other than abuse each other.

    We could keep that secret couldn’t we?

  43. @ shevii
    “It would be like Cameron getting into a pub fight with Mike Tyson while Miliband ran away. Cameron might have acted strongly but not necessarily wisely :-)”

    I am ashamed to say this but that last remark…
    “I get it… but only after two blows…”
    Shamed… me that is

  44. @ Charles,

    I would agree with you but if we all start sharing our personal feelings Anthony will come charging in with the pruning shears. ;)

    @ Adrian,

    I think we can be fairly certain Labs lead in the polls is soft and based mainly on “we’re hacked off with the Tories” and nothing more.

    Er, we can’t be certain of that at all. Well, we can be certain of the ABT bit because we know people are not defecting to Labour out of their love for Miliband. But we can’t know the lead is soft until it collapses. Lab’s VI has been rock solid since the coalition formed- Red Rag’s beloved bracket- and Tory VI has been trapped in its own lower bracket since Osborne’s disastrous 2012 budget.

    My own suspicion is that ABT is the most powerful force in British politics right now apart from Dan Hodge’s hatred of Ed Miliband, and that Cameron will to find it impossible to shift, but I’m not certain. Until election day comes or the polls move, none of us can be.

  45. SHEVII

    Cameron cruising on a destroyer past Malta, one hand on a Cruise missile, and wearing Mrs T dark goggles and a natty scarf, Union Jack over one shoulder and Stars and Stripes over the other..
    Ed on Westiminster Green, puttinig out a No Go sign and looking worried, and being jeered by Michael Howard and Paddy Ashdown.

    Which one, Joe Public, do you think has shown the more decisive leadership?

  46. CHARLES
    Hope you’re doing well.
    There are some areas of politics and government in which we have good data, but which get smothered in the media, or misrepresented in commentary.
    They also seem to me to need reading against the evidence of history.
    One area of hitory is the steady and disciplined march away from colonial empire. This has been mirrored by the anything but disciplined or carefully monitored control of aid of developing countries and of the entry into European alliances and markets of the former Soviet countries: the former mainly by the UN and.the latter by the EU, in both cases by self-perpetuating bureaucracies.
    I would add a third institutional dimension of international finance and banking, but others on this site are better eqauipped than me; except perhaps in one area, that of the Bretton Woods system of development financing – the World Bank family. The International Fund for Agricultural Development, which lends for small scale farming and rural development, is probably the best of the bunch, but failed sufficiently, as did UNEP and other agencies dealing with food security and environmental conservation, to link international funding in the 80’s when the signs were already clear, to conditionality over climate damaging practices. There’s a link (thanks Neil A) between armed conflict and corruption in emerging countries and what the UK – within its alliances with the EU and with the States, but also with its former dependent states in the Commonwealth – can do get at the roots of poverty, hunger and civil conflict; but not through prevarication or greed in high places, and certainly not without decisive and well informed leadership.

  47. Benjamin Disraeli said that the role of Her Majesty’s Opposition is to oppose.

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