We’re clearly heading towards the Christmas polling break – we’ve still got the usual Populus poll this morning and YouGov poll tonight, but the weekly Lord Ashcroft poll has shut up shop for the year.

All the regular polls tend to stop over Christmas – ostensibly because it’s difficult to get a reliable sample over holiday periods when people have better things to do than answer polls, but I expect there’s a touch of us pollsters needing to have a holiday sometimes too. Last year Populus’s last poll was on the 22nd, so we should have a couple more from them and YouGov normally stop just before Christmas so there are few more from that front too. We also still have the monthly ICM and Ipsos MORI polls to come. ComRes’s monthly telephone poll has been right at the end of each month lately, so we might see that brought forward, or saved until after Christmas. Scratch that last bit – it’s being brought forward to before Christmas, out later tonight.

Anyway, our one poll so far this Monday is Populus’s, with topline figures of CON 34%, LAB 36%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 12%, GRN 5%. Tabs are here.

UPDATE: The daily YouGov/Sun poll today has toplines of CON 32%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 14%, GRN 8%. YouGov have had the Greens sneaking ahead of the Lib Dems quite a few times lately, but until today it’s only been by a single point.

Meanwhile the monthly ComRes/Indy telephone poll has topline figures of CON 29%(+1), LAB 32%(+1), LDEM 12%(+3), UKIP 16%(-2), GRN 5%(-2). A much better score for the Lib Dems there, the highest that ComRes have shown for over a year.

274 Responses to “Latest Populus poll and a word about the Christmas break”

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  1. @Roger M – I wonder if it’s got a bit more complex than you suggest. Somehow, Labour have got (or been helpfully placed into) a position where people are hearing they will tackle the deficit, where they are voting to back government plans, but doing this more fairly. They also hear Labour will ‘borrow to invest’, while the Tories will drive spending cuts further and further towards the 1930’s because they want a surplus.

    Somehow, the last few days seem to have made Labour look like responsible moderates, while the Tories are looking and sounding like a pack of savage dogs slavering over a scrap of meat. I don’t think people understand the notion of more years of pain when the deficit is dealt with. Labour have been helped enormously by the Lib Dems describing Tory plans are madness. That’s manna from heaven for Labour.

    And of course, I’m not suggesting that my characterization above is remotely accurate or properly representative of the various parties policies – it just seems that effective messages from the Tory side have become a bit muddled of late, and this has allowed Labour to build a slightly better image on this issue, regardless of actual policies.

  2. “Two 6’s for the LDs….”

    If that was on a triple salchow with half pike and twist they would have been scoring well.

  3. “Two 6’s for the LDs….”

    “If that was on a triple salchow with half pike and twist they would have been scoring well.”

    Seems pretty good to me Alec.

  4. Alec/RM

    I’ve mused before on whether Osborne has over-reached himself on the Austerity Without End theme. It’s obviously a powerful political strategy to try to paint Lab as being soft on the debt, and I don’t for one minute think that he either expects or is able to make the spending cuts he flagged up in the AS. But his problem is that the electorate might not realise that he is bluffing. They might think that he actually MIGHT drive us to a Govt Spending/GDP=35% society.

    Poll after poll after poll (and the last 70 years of history) shows that the British people don’t want that kind of society.

  5. I have the impression that the ‘back to the 1930s’ narrative has a touch of bite. There has been quite a lot of discussion about it in mainstream media, and whilst commentators are always quick to say ‘it won’t mean shoeless children’ etc the very fact that it’s still around as an issue being discussed may be focusing the voters’ minds.

  6. It is disingenuous for politicians who must [I hope!] be aware of the difference between the debt and the deficit to speak of them in ways which confuse them.
    To be plain and honest they should refer to
    reducing the debt
    allowing the debt to increase, but not so quickly
    continuing to borrow and so increasing the debt

    ANY government expenditure above government income requires borrowing, increases the debt and makes us vulnerable to increases in interest charges.
    Some government expenditure may lead to growth, which leads to higher tax returns and so increases government income, but clearly if such expenditure is to generate growth, it must precede that growth and in the meantime increase the debt..

  7. I think it’s probably safe now to conclude that Labour have steadied the ship somewhat. Since November 27th, we’ve had 26 polls with only two of them showing Tory leads (both 1%), the last which was 10 polls ago. Labour aren’t exactly forging ahead, but there was evidence for most of November that it had got more or less neck-and-neck between the two main parties. Now, as the UKPR average shows, Labour appear to have opened up a 2% lead again in December.

    Considering how poorly Labour are still doing in Scotland, this a little surprising, suggesting that Labour must be faring a little better than usual in England. There may be many reasons for this, but I think the disproportionate damage UKIP is doing to the Tories in their old heartlands in Southern and Central England lies at the heart of it all. Continuing to poll in the 14-16% range, UKIP are holing the Tories below the waterline and I remain non-plussed at this continuing myth that UKIP are somehow damaging the Tories and Labour equally.

    I just can’t see it myself and unless that UKIP vote comes down to something like 6% in May 2015, and even then that would be about three times better than they did in 2010, I don’t know how on earth the Tories can win, not unless they start eating voraciously into the existing Labour vote.

    And, as we all know, there is not the remotest sign of them doing so. 35% wins it for Miliband is still my bet.

  8. To be completely clear, “Some government expenditure *above current income* may lead to growth …

  9. Tis the season of goodwill to all.

    Look what I’ve just stumbled upon.


    Something there for everybody.

    And a quite fascinating summary of how Britain has changed beyond recognition on som issues in the past 30 years, and hardly changed at all on others.

  10. @ Dave

    The UK government doesn’t have an income. It creates pounds sterling. Taxation is useful for lots of things but it is not income.

    As for borrowing to invest… 1) all businesses borrow and invest in order to grow and 2) the UK government does not need to borrow because it is the issuer of pounds sterling. It can just spend/invest provided it does not spend more than the potential of the UK to produce ‘stuff’ because that would be inflationary.

    All the time the UK has its own currency, it can never go bust and will not default on its debt. As a corollary, the UK is not, and never was, at ‘the mercy of the bond markets’.

  11. A must-read. Truer words were never written: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-30483873

  12. @CB11

    For what it’s worth, you’re not the only one who thinks the Labour position has stabilised: Electionforecast.co.uk have just changed their “shipping forecast” for Labour to “rising slightly”, something that hasn’t happened for a while (it has been “fading” for months).

    Personally I feel that Labour need to be “rising sharply” to avoid being sledgehammered at the election by vast Tory spending and unregistered voters – 3 months of “rising slightly” won’t be enough to give a clear margin on the day.

  13. In part 2 of that Guardian in depth of the Scotland referendum – it seems THAT Yougov poll was backed up by internal polling.

    “Those Ipsos Mori surveys, which included conventional opinion polling, focus groups, and qualitative attitudinal research into how voters behaved, had tracked the rising support for yes since chancellor George Osborne’s currency zone veto in early 2014. They also echoed the sudden sharp rise in yes support in the closing weeks of the campaign, and confirmed what YouGov and TNS BMRB had discovered: that the referendum vote was too close to call. ”

    And also proof that project fear was actually the reason why support for independence was rising. After paying all that money for those focus groups, they should have asked for their money back!

  14. Personally I feel that Labour need to be “rising sharply” to avoid being sledgehammered at the election by vast Tory spending and unregistered voters – 3 months of “rising slightly” won’t be enough to give a clear margin on the day.

    The evil all powerful tory bogeyman still frightens the left even though the evidence of 22 years suggests that the tories are weak electorally and weak in campaigns…amazing! anyone under the age of 30 reading this stuff would think labour were in comfortably. but memories of ’92, the tory press, their deep pockets still haunt the imagination of the left. hilarious!

  15. SZYGY
    ” the UK government does not need to borrow because it is the issuer of pounds sterling. It can just spend/invest provided it does not spend more than the potential of the UK to produce ‘stuff’ because that would be inflationary.”

    I think you are misstating the proposition, which is whether the government should be borrowing “from Peter” the public purse, or from soverereign funds of other countries, to pay Paul, expansion in the economy, or specifically the creation of infrastructure for that purpose, and thus to create the wealth which would repay the borrowing.

    Miserable Old Git
    Sachs only tells half the story, and not the part in which the EU played a role (in which I was a senior adviser during 1989 to 1995) relating to the Soviet social security system. Based on soviets at the municipal/entreprise level, it paid for and ran health, housing, public transport, old peoples and child care, recreation, heating.
    In that area, the policy was being driven, effectively in the absence of but in deference to US supposed policy, which was the conversion of both the economy of the CIS and social security and welfare systems to a neo-liberal model, by the World Bank and its consultants. A central policy document declared that “the strategy” is to remove all responsibility from municipal soviet structures, and to base them on centralised taxation and social security financed system. This would drive the economies of the CIS into the market system, and provide sound financial and fiscal structures to respond to market opportunity with the West rather than be baled out, as Sachs would have had the US and the World Bank and western govervnments do.
    The EU was powerless to express a voice, TACIS being based on a penny package project approach of appalling ineptness and naivity.
    The UK Government under Thatcher emasculated UK economists and others who had a different view through any involvement of UK instruments (for example consultancy or the use of overseas aid technical assistan or Export Credit in the agricultural sector on which the UK agricultural industry, trying to engage with the post-Gorbachev farming perestroika through the Anglo-Soviet Agricultural Working Group, chaired by ICI and ready to invest massively in seed, chemicals and plant in grain production.
    The Joint Assistance Unit, set up by some genius in Whitehall, instead restricted UK expertise to small-scale interventions which would show a modest profit for the companies concerned, so any major overseas aid type funding to transfer R&D was ruled out. UK consultancies with agricultural development expertise could not get funding, so had to work through the EU or through the World Bank.
    Consequences of this toxic combination of US, World Bank and Thatcherite neo-liberalism and EU ineptitude was the removal of Gorbachev and his replacement by a man in their own image, a decade of hunger and the transfer of wealth locked in the societ system at enteprise and municipal levels, to oligarch billionaires – and one of the most horrific statistics in the history of East-West relations, the decline of Russian male life expectancy from 65 to 58 in less than a decade.

  16. # societ – soviet

  17. The health research, “Making a bad situation worse” , was produced for the Scottish government and Parliament. It predicts, as a result of the benefit changes of 2012, adverse health effects. These include increased cardiovascular and respiratory illness; increases in obesity-related illness; worse mental health and general well-being; increases in avoidable winter mortality; increased substance misuse and associated alcohol and drug-related harm and other impacts including health inequalities.

    The report makes it clear that there is uncertainty about the range of health impacts, their magnitude and timing. It notes that it has been suggested that it was about 10 years before large rises in alcohol-related harm resulted from the deindustrialisation and economic recession of the early 1980s. Welfare reform comes at a cost of some degradation of human capital.

    Health inequalities impose social costs. The problem with poor health is the health of the poor. Thirty two % of heart attacks are attributable to psycho-social effects. which include domestic violence and physical and sexual abuse.

    An American study, Adverse Childhood Events, looked at the effect of the early childhood experience of adverse effects such as abuse,witnessing domestic violence, and serious household
    dysfunction and a number of health and social outcomes. The researchers counted the number of adversities in children’s lives
    and saw what happened to children who experienced four
    or more adversities in their lives. They found that the children were seven and a half times more likely to become alcoholic than children who had no experience of these adversities. Alcoholism may be, to a large extent, driven by these experiences in early life.

    In terms of violence, boys who experience physical abuse during early life are eight times more likely as teenagers to beat up their
    girlfriends and three and a half times more likely to carry

    Girls who have 7 adverse effects are twice as likely to become pregnant.

    The more adverse experiences you suffer in childhood the more likely you are to have a heart attack.

    Susan Everson studied Finnish men. She scored them on degrees of “hopelessness” or pessimism. The more pessimistic you were, the more likely to die of heart attack or cancer than men who were more optimistic. Ms Everson also measured the thickening of the carotid arteries of the men in her study. The most hopeless men had carotid arteries that thickened more quickly than the arteries of the more optimistic.

    The social conditions people experience can, it seems cause DNA damage leading to increased propensity to suffer cancer. Those lower down the social scale smoking 20 fags a day were more likely to suffer cancer than those higher up who also smoked 20 fags a day.

    Adverse events in childhood affect brain growth pattern. Speech defects are commonly associated with some kind of neglect. Children who live chaotic lives switch to survival mode. A New Zealand study looked at the development of children from 3 to 30. The children studied included a sub-set of children living chaotic lives. These children were found to be more likely to to be
    unemployed, have criminal convictions, experience teenage pregnancy, more likely to be substance abusers and have high cortisol levels. Many were in a pre-diabetic state. Give them another ten years and they will be having heart attacks and strokes.

    The research says that the fundamental drivers of health inequalities are inequalities of power, wealth and income. In Scotland the policies needed to address health inequalities have been spelled out by researchers. In England, the Marmot report of 2010 treads the same path.

    It is obvious that there are, to put it mildly, political considerations in the re-distribution of power, income and wealth. There are considerable economic and social disadvantages in failing to address health inequalities. Never mind the moral need to do something to address the human misery on a grand scale that results from health inequalities.

    If “Making a bad situation worse” is right what any UK government, Labour or Conservative will achieve with spending cuts is health impacts that have a social and economic cost across the UK but which may not come to light until later. Too much to expect Peston to be aware of this – or is it?

    What puzzles me somewhat is that so little is heard of this important subject. I did some research into it in order to try to inform myself in advance of the Independence Referendum in Scotland. This subject, the failure of any UK government of the past 50 years or so to have a sustainable economic model i.e free of modest boom followed by large bust, and the mismanagement of the oil/gas industry were factors in my vote.


  18. “Consequences of this toxic combination of US, World Bank and Thatcherite neo-liberalism and EU ineptitude was the removal of Gorbachev and his replacement by a man in their own image, a decade of hunger and the transfer of wealth locked in the societ system at enteprise and municipal levels, to oligarch billionaires”

    Spot on.

  19. @Postageincluded – “Personally I feel that Labour need to be “rising sharply” to avoid being sledgehammered at the election by vast Tory spending and unregistered voters…”

    I don’t know about unregistered voters (here we are automatically being transferred onto the new roll) but I tend more towards @James Peel’s line on the campaigning power on the Tories.

    My view is that you can spend and say what you like, but the effects are more marginal unless you have credibility and what you are saying has a resonance with the public.

    You ought to recall the pre election period in 2010. As soon as politics came back in the New Year, Cameron announced his much anticipated ‘blizzard of new policies’, with much spending activity to back it up. This was the point when we saw Tory support start to slip.

    A more pertinent question I think is what the impact of the oil crash could be. It’s already feeding through to inflation, which isn’t necessarily a great thing for business if it drives fragile prices down further, but there’s no doubt costs are falling and consumers will be making savings.

    I think it’s touch and go that there is enough time left to create an election boomlet, but there is a chance – but if this happens, will Tories get the credit?

    Equally, will Labour in Scotland be able to capitalise on any SNP discomfort from being so roundly exposed on their oil myths.

    Anaylsts are now saying oil at $30 and petrol below £1 a litre – absolutely staggering. If I was in power, I would now be upping fuel taxes to raise revenue and slow the price falls, ready to drop them again at the point when we see prices surge. Pay the deficit off now, and stabilise inflation later. They won’t do this, because they are stupid, so we’ll need to see how this affects politics.

  20. Alec

    “If Lab has managed to shore up their vote a ouch, the question would be why?”

    My guess would be the drop in the “is the economy improving” polling which I assume will continue to dip towards the election

    (because GDP on its own is a false measure of whether the economy is improving).


    Your reply to Alec/RM. Whilst I agree with most of that post I actually think Osborne does have the “bottle” to cut spending to reach a target of 35%, but I don’t think Cameron or some others in the current Tory party have. As it happens it does not really matter, eventually it will be forced on the UK as it will in much of the rest of Europe IMO.


    ” I would now be upping fuel taxes to raise revenue and slow the price falls, ready to drop them again at the point when we see prices surge.”

    I totally agree with that, a missed opportunity.

  22. @Alec

    “I don’t know about unregistered voters (here we are automatically being transferred onto the new roll)…….”

    If you had moved home since the winter 2013/14 household registration, or if no-one in your home had completed the registration form then, you would join the many millions to whom that won’t apply at their current address.

    And since the ERO would have no means of knowing who you are at your new address, given the scrapping of standard household registration form this winter you won’t have been sent a form addressed to you individually, inviting you to register.

  23. SAM
    Excellent post.
    I was tempted to respond “and that’s only the Soviet Union”. but your essay is too good and the subject matter too salient, to the linkage of health with other social provisions and consequences of their absence, to Scottish and other countries, to treat lightly.
    If your evidence were addressed to post-Soviet CIS and to Russia, one of the outcomes would be seen to be the support of a majority of the population for Putin to remain in power, precisely to achieve stabllity in the distribution of wealth, including to health, social services and education, which he promises, even at the cost of reductions in total wealth, and even at the cost of some loss of civil liberties.

  24. @Lefty L

    Again, I’m grateful to you for sharing that British Attitudes Survey material; a mine of information and data that would have probably have escaped me otherwise. You’re right to imply that there’s something for everybody contained therein, with myths on both the right and left of politics being exploded by just about every graph! I’ve only skimmed it, and will no doubt dive back in regularly for further trawls, but one or two little nuggets struck me. Record numbers of people now who don’t identify with any particular political party and only 12% who thinks the banks are well managed. It was 90% in 1983!! The BBC fares much better, and although the number who think it’s well run has dropped by 10% over the last 30 years, 62% still keep the faith! In this post Saville and Stuart Hall era, I find that astounding. Reassuring too.

    I must resist the temptation to cherry pick, and there’s plenty of sobering stuff for those of us who come at these things from a left wing perspective, but from my initial skimming, we still look a vaguely social democratic sort of country.

  25. Mike N

    “But there is also the fact that the Cons have banged on incessantly about immigration thereby creating space for the rise of UKIP.”

    I think you’d be hard pushed finding a single person on the Ukip side of the fence thinking that. The Cameroons got a lot of free votes in 2010 on the *assumption* that they’d do something about it even though they didn’t say much at all and then they didn’t do anything so those votes went elsewhere. They only started talking about it more after those votes went to Ukip.

  26. Sue

    @”The UK government doesn’t have an income. It creates pounds sterling.”

    It doesn’t create pounds.

    The Central Bank issues currency-not the “Government.”

    @”UK government does not need to borrow because it is the issuer of pounds sterling.”

    Incorrect. Even when the BoE decided to engage in expansionary
    monetary policy, as they have in recent years, the government debt it bought was already in issue-with a maturity date & an obligation on the Treasury to repay-which it is doing.
    The BoE has said that it will not issue new currency to finance government debt. It cannot do so because its objectives include this one :-
    “Maintaining confidence in the currency is a key role of the Bank of England and one which is essential to the proper functioning of the economy.”

    There have, of course, been examples of the system you desire-all of them disasters resulting in a collapse in “confidence in the currency”.

    One of the earliest involved a Scottish gambler & charlatan .No not Alex Salmond-one John Law. I refer you to his scheme for paying off the national debt of France which resulted in the collapse of the new French currency , mass bankruptcies & food price inflation of 60%.
    Then you might look at Zimbabwe . Constrained by sanctions on his regime, after his disastrous “land reforms” Mugabe’s pursuit of the Second Congo War left his government short of money. It was printed by the government to fund the war-including direct payment of military salaries.As more and more currency was issued, inflation reached 11 million % in 2008 & the currency became worthless.
    I’m sure you are aware of the Weimar experience- refusal to borrow in order to fund war reparations- currency issue on an ever escalating scale -you will know the outcome as well as I.

    John Maynard Keynes observed “The inflationism of the currency systems of Europe has proceeded to extraordinary lengths. The various belligerent Governments, unable, or too timid or too short-sighted to secure from loans or taxes the resources they required, have printed notes for the balance.”

    I have no doubt that your desire to construct a system in which money is an unlimited resource in the hands of a government , is motivated by objectives of equality for all citizens.

    But the story of attempts to abandon the idea of tax revenue from citizens & debt obligation on the government, to pay for State spending is one of disasters, peppered with charlatans , wars & dictators.

    @” all businesses borrow and invest in order to grow”

    They do so in order to try to grow. But there is no guarantee that they will because their customers decide whether that investment is producing stuff they wish to buy at the offered price.
    If they get it wrong, then they borrow to stay afloat-until they have to retrench to pay the debt-or go bust.

    Because a civil servant is doing the spending rather than an industrialist, , it is no more ( & some might say it is a good deal less) certain that the borrowing will have paid for itself. Only today, my paper features a report from the European Court of Auditors on the wasted & under utilised state spending of £200 million on regional airports.

    Free money, provided by someone else requires no constraints & little judgement to spend.

    It may not always be much different with borrowed money -but when the borrower has to repay , at least he is accountable.

  27. MrJones

    “The Cameroons got a lot of free votes in 2010 on the *assumption* that they’d do something about it even though they didn’t say much at all”

    Actually the Con manifesto devoted a whole page to plans for cutting immigration, about the same as the section on welfare reform, starting with:
    “So we will take steps to take net migration back to the levels of the 1990s – tens of thousands a year, not hundreds of thousands”

  28. @SYZYGY
    “The UK government doesn’t have an income. It creates pounds sterling. Taxation is useful for lots of things but it is not income.”
    Really? Why then are we taxed to pay for various activities, projects and the salaries of government employees?

    “As for borrowing to invest… all businesses borrow and invest in order to grow”
    Agreed, but my point was that growth follows the investment after an interval, while the debt is immediate. If the growth is slow or non-existent the debt and interest must still be paid.”

    ” the UK government does not need to borrow because it is the issuer of pounds sterling.” Why then does the government continue to borrow, and why do we have a debt of £1.5 trillion, isn’t it?”
    ” It can just spend/invest provided it does not spend more than the potential of the UK to produce ‘stuff’ because that would be inflationary.” You cannot ward off inflation by the “potential” to produce stuff. You must actually make it and sell it, preferably outside the UK.

    Are you seriously telling me that if everyone in the UK sits and does nothing, while the government doubles the amount of sterling in circulation, that the prices of all goods (particularly imported goods) and services would remain constant? You need to study some real sciences and learn about conservation laws.
    You don’t get something for nothing, which is what printing money pretends happens. There is no free lunch.

  29. @rosieanddaisie

    I thought I’d posted about kidneys last night. Might have fluffed the send button, or it was modded (in which case, sorry – and I promise not to send it a third time :)).

    I had half a kidney removed 18 months ago via open surgery (cancer). It was genuinely not too bad, though left a spectacular scar. I was out of HDU in 12 hours, working on laptop within 3 days, out of hospital in 4 and pretty much back to normal in 3 weeks.

    I was on morphine for a couple of days, but then heavy duty painkiller pills only, which I had dropped again around day 4 (didn’t fancy cold turkey on top of everything else).

    You may be able to have laprascopic (keyhole) surgery, in which case the recovery time is supposedly shorter, but it’s more painful immediately after the operation.

    Anyway, you’re doing a great thing – good on you.

  30. I think the abject Labour supporters on the site are a great bunch of guys – no, really. But this A.M I foolishly caught up with the comments before I looked up the results of last nights You Gov and the other UK National or whatever its called. Reading the comments, my heart was racing, my sweat was cold and my breath was coming quickly, what the hell are the polls saying I thought? Lab 38, Con 29, UKIP 18 ect.
    I raced to find last nights poll results; Labour have a 1 (one) point lead in both. Such joy, such levity, such spirit of glad morning. For a 1 (one) point lead. Perhaps it is Anthony’s recalculation? Labour on a 12 seat rather than 10 seat majority. As himself explained to a new poster the other day, 5 months out, it is hardly a forecasted result of the next GE.

  31. R&D,

    That’s a decent thing for you to do. My ex-girlfriend’s brother suffered kidney failure in his teens (about eight years ago) and although she offered hers she was too young to donate. However, since he received his donated kidney he has been in basically good health, except for an inability to drink heavily or eat bananas.

    Best wishes for you and your brother.

  32. John Pilgrim

    Thank you for your kind words.

    Your mention of hunger affecting the Russian population reminded me of another piece of research relevant to that event and to the presence of food banks in the UK. In 1944-45 there was the “Dutch Hunger” when the west of the Netherlands suffered from an extreme shortage of food. The limited food intake of pregnant mothers during that time seems to have affected babies in the womb. It is said that the effects of this can be observed some 60 years later. It is not a change to the genetic material but a different setting for the genetic code which indicates whether the code is off or on. It could be that the metabolism of the children of the Hunger Winter has been set at a more economic level, driven by epigenetic changes. These children suffer more frequently from obesity and cardio-vascular disease.

    After World War 2 the Allies were able to alter the culture of West Germany. The social scientist, Hofstede, claims that the cultures of countries are enduring. It takes a major catastrophe, such as war to bring about cultural change. The industrial relations present in Germany today were shaped after WW2 by the Allies. Trade unions have much more participation in Germany (and France) than in the UK. As a result workers faced with deindustrialisation have more social protection in those countries than in the UK.

    The culture of the UK is, according to Hofstede, ad hoc. That may be true. There is little evidence of planning in important areas. For example, in deindustrialisation, in the management of the oil/gas industry and in the running of the Independence referendum where there was no planning in the event that there was a Yes vote.

    Might that explain why there is little or no discussion of health inequalities in the UK? I don’t think so. It might just be because the poor are without power.

  33. I find it astonishing that anyone should consider Labour to be a ‘fair’ party. They voted against a fairer distribution of seats which currently gives them a 3 point advantage. They intend to maintain the situation where Scottish representatives continue to influence votes on English-only matters (although imagine if the SNP were to win most of the seats in Scotland and hold the balance of power at Westminster as a consequence of Labour’s ‘fair’ policy). They propose the ludicrous Mansion tax which not even they can explain properly but is typical of their lets tax the rich philosophy without realising that it is the rich and successful who have the means to invest and the knowledge to make that work. They now say that they will reduce the deficit ‘fairly’ but have no plans to explain what that means. When they are forced to be more explicit their support will fall away because they do not deserve to be in power.

  34. Good numbers on unemployment , & the pay/inflation relationship is on the right side.

    This at least gives GO a rebuttal to the” pay lower than inflation” line.

    Politically it has come desperately late though.

    I think Cons will concentrate on the opportunities & risks of the future & Labour will essentially stick to the hardships of the past.


    I responded to you on the Peston article yesterday-but it was zapped for reasons which elude me.

    Thanks anyway.

    Should things become very bad in the Russian Federation regarding abject poverty and serious food shortage, it will be interesting to see if the Russian people can survive and rise again. Showing the same alacrity as the WW2 generation. Virtually every generation of Russians have had this facility over the centuries. I am quite certain whatever the British had in terms of stoic robustness, has long gone. I would be surprised if the modern German could begin to handle what history threw at their forefathers.

  37. CB

    That graph on the number of people who identify with no party. Look when the rise started. At exactly the same time that Blair became the Labour leader.

    Causation and correlation and all that, but it’s a very striking co-incidence.

    It’s the figures on tax and spend that justify my claim that the UK doesn’t want to be a Govt Spending/GDP=35% country. That’s the context of the gamble that Osborne is taking. And it’s a big opportunity for Labour if they had the guts to take it.

  38. PAUL GUY

    Some of the many many reasons why many people could never vote for that party.

  39. @Colin

    I agree that the economic figures are looking very much on the up, but as no matter what happens, some people moan, I feel honour bound to report that in my dreary old game a lot of people are getting very worried, as a consequence, about the twin spectres of skills shortage and wage inflation and that some otherwise quiescent parties are getting loud about how this is going to expose some serious holes in what passes for the national skills and HE strategy.

    Recovery brings its own pressures and it looks like we were just as prepared for it as we were for recession. Many sectors have got a bit too comfortable with years of holding wages down and of being able to recruit able people relatively cheaply. I know many employers are experiencing a bit of a shock on discovering that positions they would have advertised with an excellent response 18 months ago can’t be filled under those terms any more.

    Great posts both, cheers. As an aside, Sam your post did remind me just how useful Finnish conscription is for health and social science research! It’ll be a shame if they scrap it IMO.

    UNICORN 21.51
    I got that from the party’s wiki page, not the constituency one – they’ve sourced it to a BBC article.


    Thanks-I agree.

    A serious skills gap in some areas has been evident for some time & as economic growth picks up it can only get worse. Reforms to Education & Apprenticeships take time to produce the cohorts required.

    Your point about retention of labour with suppressed pay rises has been debated often. On balance, the consensus seems to be that the alternative would have been worse.
    ( we know there are those who believe government can magic rising employment & rising pay out of thin air)

    Re the retention of labour thing-it seems to me that bthis must be a factor in the poor productivity we have experienced . I wonder whether-as private sector capital investment picks up , as it is now doing, we will see productivity increase at the expense of headcount.
    The other side of the coin as it were .

  42. @Paul Guy

    We’re all capable of posting something along the lines of “this is why I don’t like X party”.

    Read the house rules and you might realise why people aren’t bothering to respond to take issue with you.

  43. Phil Haines


  44. Labour don’t need a 1 point lead to win the election, they only need to be less than 4 points behind the Tories.

    Thanks, indeed, to efficient vote distribution.

    But let’s place Labours slightly strengthening polling position, and set it against the received wisdom of what many commentators say should have happened by now – swing back to the governing party.

    The Autumn Statement saw the Tory press lavishing praise on Osborne and Tory policies, and relentlessly attacking Ed M, as usual.

    The result? Tory polling stagnation and slight improvement for Labour. I suspect the reason many on the left are rejoicing at the polls is that, no matter what they do, and no matter how sychophantic the Tory press become, Ed M is still heading for Downing Street.

  45. If these tiny improvements for labour continue much into the new year cameron will suddenly become a convert to the debates.

    Key issue is still whether the murphy effect starts to work in scotland and whether farage has any more rabbits to pull out of his hat in the new year.

  46. PH

    I pressed the button [I think I have had 0% success rate with that so either it’s me or it doesn’t actually ring anywhere.]


    Thanks for that. Basically I would rather be sans kidney than sans frere so a bit of an easy decision in principle.

    Made easier by the knowledge that they will only do it if the risks are acceptable.

  47. MrJones
    “[Cons] only started talking about it more after those votes went to Ukip”

    That’s not my recollection. I recall Chris Grayling rolling out comments and measures on immigration from 2010. But maybe my memory fades…

  48. @Colin

    I think retaining labour with suppressed pay rises was the best option, but some businesses have got so used to suppressing pay that they have forgotten that it’s not the norm. Churn has increased this year and many have been wrong-footed.

    The education/apprenticeship issue is an interesting one. The evidence is extremely clear that a lot of apprenticeships are effectively being missold, but unfortunately there are a great many vested interests (largely, it must be said, not party political although there’s a little of that too) who are happy for that fiction to continue. There are certain parts of the economy where a serious apprenticeship drive to properly train inexperienced young people to do certain jobs is absolutely vital, but unfortunately a lot of honesty is missing from the debate.

    The reason a lot of these roles are not being filled is because pay and progression opportunities are not always very good and so although we need people with skills to do them, they can’t have *too many* or they won’t settle for them. It’s a tricky conundrum.

    I might equally say, with his personal ratings, Miliband is heading for oblivion.
    But, what is the point of either comment?

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