1) Labour’s lead continued to fall

For the main horse race – who is in the position to win the next general election – the key point is always the lead in the polls, and throughout 2014 Labour’s lead over the Conservatives continued to fade away. In 2013 it fell from around ten points to around six points. This year the trend continued, with Labour’s lead fading from six points to just under two points. Given the complexities of the Lib Dem collapse, the rise of UKIP, a large number of new incumbents and the separate race in Scotland it is dangerous to rely upon on uniform national swing, but include all those factors and I think we are now into hung Parliament territory.

2014roundup1

Labour’s lead has almost wholly been down to falling Labour support rather than increasing Tory support. The Conservative share of the vote started the year at around 32% and ended the year in roughly the same place, Labour supported started the year at around about 38% and finished the year at around 34%. While there is always some churn between different political parties and there will be some people who have moved from Labour to Conservative, it’s certainly not the main factor – rather what we’re seeing is an anti-government vote that had previously been going to the Labour party by default is now finding many homes and showing itself in rise of the Green party, the SNP and UKIP. The public’s lack of confidence in Ed Miliband and Labour isn’t manifesting itself in them running back to the Conservative party for safety… it’s manifesting itself in them going off to find more attractive oppositions to vote for.

This has in many ways been the pattern of the 2010-2015 Parliament. The Conservative party’s vote fell to around 32% early in the Parliament and has stayed there, seemingly immune to events, announcements, people or policies. Labour inherited a substantial lead early on thanks to the Liberal Democrat collapse and have watched it be nibbled away by rivals.

2) The Greens finally woke up

So to those rivals. The rise of UKIP has been covered by everyone, the most remarkable story of the Parliament. The increase in support for the Greens is a newer development. Earlier on this Parliament I was frankly surprised that the Greens were not doing better. They had elected their first MP, the government were implementing unpopular austerity policies and Labour were constrained in their opposition to cuts by a desire to establish their own economic credibility. Elsewhere in Europe radical left-wing parties were benefiting from an anti-austerity vote, yet here it wasn’t happening. The Greens were marooned on around 2%.

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This year it finally did, and looking at the charts it appears to be the European elections – with the coverage and campaigning that it implies – that sparked the Greens into life. The European elections pushed them up to 4% or so, and since them other polls have shown them building on that, in many cases getting their highest levels of support since their first breakthrough back in the late 80s. What impact that will have at the election beyond providing a home for some people who might otherwise have voted Labour or Liberal Democrat is a different question – in 2010 the Greens managed to breakthrough and win a seat despite having a derisory national share of the vote. There has been an Ashcroft poll in one of their most viable targets (Norwich South), but it showed Labour well ahead, so it is possible that the increase in Green support may not translate into any extra seats.

UKIP meanwhile have managed to keep the bandwagon rolling onwards through 2014. There was an expectation that their support would peak after the European elections and then go into decline, but things were thrown off course by the defections and by-elections of Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless which kept the party at the forefront of politics through the autumn and allowed them to finish the year with higher support than in January. I would still expect their support to be squeezed as we get closer to the election, as the race focuses more upon the binary choice between a Conservative and Labour led government but events, such as further defections now a by-election is no longer unavoidable, could easily push that off course.

3) Economic confidence began to stall

We started 2014 with people being increasingly positive about the state of the economy, but still pessimistic about their own finances, and pondered whether the improving economy would filter through to people feeling more positive about their own finances. What actually happened in 2014 was that perceptions of the improvement in the economy peaked over the summer and have now started to falter – the economic statistics, GDP growth and unemployment, may have remained strong, but public perceptions have started to go back down again. In August YouGov found 50% of people thought the economy was showing signs of recovery or on it’s way to recovery, by December that had fallen to 40%.

2014roundup3

The impact of this is difficult to call as the economy is something of a two edged sword. Improving perceptions of the economy have gone hand in hand with a growing Conservative lead on the economy and that has remained steady… so far. If falling perceptions of the economy eat into the Conservatives lead on economic competence it will damage them. On the other hand, as the economy has improved it has fallen down the list of issues people consider important and become a less salient issue; if people worry more about the economy and it dominates their thinking more it may help the Conservatives…

4) Concern over immigration overtook the economy

Between 2007 and 2013 polls were consistent in showing that the public thought the economy was the number one problem facing the country. This year we saw it overtaken by immigration, and in the most recent few MORI polls it has been fighting with health for second place.

2014roundup4

These top three issues are each strongly associated with a party – the public invariably trust Labour more on the issue of the NHS, over the course of last couple of years the Conservatives have built up a solid lead on managing the economy and UKIP generally lead the other parties on the issue of immigration. It is in the clear electoral interests of the Conservatives to have an election dominated by the economy, for Labour to have an election dominated by the NHS, for UKIP to have an election dominated by the issue of immigration. Over the last year things the issue agenda has clearly been moving in UKIP’s favour.

5) We found out where the Lib Dems were doing well and badly

In previous round ups like this I’ve always ended up saying how Lib Dem national support is in a dire state, but their MPs may or may not survive due to their personal votes and tactical voting. Through 2014 though we have got a lot more data on where the Lib Dems are doing well and badly and where they may be able to withstand the tide against them. At the last election the Liberal Democrats won 57 seats. Thirty-three of these are English and Welsh seats with the Conservatives in second place, and twenty-six of those we have Ashcroft polls for. Twelve are English and Welsh seats with Labour in second place, and we have Ashcroft polls for eleven of those (all but Bristol West). A further eleven are in Scotland, where the impact of surging SNP support remains to be seen and where we will hopefully have some Ashcroft polling later this year. Finally there is the unique Lib Dem vs Plaid seat of Ceredigion.

The average swing in the LD-v-Con seats is a modest 2.2 points from LD to Con, enough for the Conservatives to take seven seats. However, because the majorities and the swings aren’t evenly distributed there were actually ten seats where Ashcroft found the Conservatives ahead and three more (St Ives, North Cornwall and Torbay) where it’s too close to call). The line on the chart below is the swing needed for each Lib Dem seat to fall, the bars the swings recorded in the Ashcroft polling (when Ashcroft has done more than one poll in the same seat I’ve averaged them)

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In the LD-v-Lab seats it is a different story, the average swing is a towering 12 points from LD to Lab, enough to win all the seats at a trot. Again, there is some variation from seat to seat, but this is only enough to save two of these seats – the once unassailable Old Southwark and Bermondsey, and Birmingham Yardley where John Hemming seems to be bucking the trend.

2014roundup5b

While national polls are never going to tell us too much about Lib Dem seat numbers, based on the Ashcroft polling The Lib Dems look set to loose around twenty seats in England and Wales, plus however many in Scotland (and given their dire performance in Scottish polls and the 2011 Holyrood elections that’s unlikely to be pretty). I think a fair assessment is that the Lib Dems start 2015 looking set to loose about half their seats at the election.

6) The SNP lost the war, but are winning the peace

Which brings us to Scotland. The aftermath of the referendum has been stark in terms of Westminster voting intention, with all polls since mid-October showing substantial SNP leads, ranging between 16 and 29 points. Thanks to the electoral system, if anything even nearly approaching this happens at the general election it will have a huge effect on seat numbers.

2014roundup6

For the last thirty years the electoral system in Scotland has worked heavily in Labour’s favour – they have enjoyed around 40% of the vote in Scotland, the rest being split between the SNP, Lib Dems and Conservatives, who have all struggled to get more than a quarter of the vote. That has translated into a consistent block of forty-plus seats for Labour. If that flips round in other direction, with a large lead for the SNP, we can expect the electoral system to deliver a similar boon for the SNP. There are still many unknowns about the Scottish vote – the post-referendum SNP is a new development, we don’t know if it will last, nor do we really know how the vote will be distributed and how the SNP surge in support is distributed. The Ashcroft Scottish polling will at least tell us more on that front, at present we can only say that things looks very good for the SNP in Scotland, and very worrying for Labour.


279 Responses to “Six opinion poll findings from 2014”

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  1. COLIN
    “I feel a bit upset that having voted Labour in 1997, I am now described by some in that party as one of a group of ” wrong people voting Labour” .

    It’s traditionally more the wrong people standing as candidates who arouse the wrath of the red-blooded in the party. It’s a broad church, Colin. Welcome back, old boy, you know you want to.

  2. @AS
    I am a bit late reading this ( New year takes a bit of getting over in our house) but I am a little concerned to read that the Lib Dems have loose seats. This must be very uncomfortable for them. I can see that if their seats are loose then they are more likely to lose them. I suppose this is the consequence of not being very good with the nuts and bolts of government despite lots of theoretical expertise in everything.

  3. WOLF

    That’s the EU or the German army?

  4. Should be @AW. Spellchecker was too quick for me.

  5. Peter Cairns – “A new Greek currency would have made Greek goods cheaper but all imports would have shot up in value including most basic commodities.
    The idea that Greece could have rebuilt on an export lead recovery misses the fact that Greece has few export Industries”

    Greece has two main industries, both of which would benefit from having a cheap currency – tourism and shipping.

    A cheap drachma would have people flocking to holiday there rather than in Spain and Turkey, and they’d be able to earn their way out of their problems.

    As for the debt – negotiating a moratorium so they can get their economy going again makes sense.

    It’s what the Allies (including Greece) did for Germany after WW2. Basically placed a moratorium on the debt and said “pay when you’ve recovered”. Of course Germany still hasn’t paid, but that’s another story.

    I’m sure Greece WOULD pay when the moratorium was up, just to prove they are not Germany – they are very proud. Especially if they could get their economy growing fast again.

    The swiftest way out of a debt trap is growth. If you look at Britain in the 18th and 19th centuries, we had debt of over 100% of GDP for a lot of it, and simply grew our way out of it.

  6. This is a dangerous time of year for me when the holiday is more or less over yet I still await the return to work. I can get up to all sorts of mischief to relieve the ennui and, while all other forms of normal life are suspended, I even descend to delving into polling archives for distraction and amusement. In my youth and pomp, if someone had said that’s what I’d be doing on a Friday morning in early January, I’d have probably asked them, should they be there and to witness me doing so, to reach for the nearest firearm and end the agony for me!

    Anyway, back to the delving. I thought I’d go back to the midpoint of this Parliament, circa November 2012, and see what the polls were telling us then. The March omni-shambles budget was still fairly raw in the memory, the economic recovery hadn’t really begun, Labour were riding high in the early 40s in most polls (not all though) and UKIP were starting to get into double figures. Accordingly, this was a point in the electoral and political cycle when mid term blues should have been at their most intense and the fortunes of the main governing party at their nadir. So, what do we see? The Labour lead was at its height, regularly in double figures, but the Tory VI was exactly as it is now; about 32%.

    This illustrates, starkly, the inertia of the Tory VI. Some two years or more after the mid term of this Parliament, and with only four months to polling day, they are performing exactly as they were when the mid-term blues were most virulent.

    Does that look like a governing party on its way to re-election in 120 days time?

  7. @Colin

    “I wait with no expectation though, as it seems that even Tsipras himself is anxious to scotch any impression that he will order default.”

    I agree it doesn’t look like the Greeks are ready for it yet – close but not quite.

  8. Candy,

    On tourism;

    You still need to get there and flights will be no cheaper. Accomodation might be but food and drink that wasn’t locally produced wouldn’t be. Just how low with the new Drachma need to drop to compete with cheaper Turkey or Romania next door.

    The lower the Drachma goes to bring the tourists in the more it costs for oil, gas and coal. It’s hard to see how the money the tourists bring in won’t just go back out the door to keep the lights on.

    As to shipping that is flags on convenience that work because you get away without paying Tax, so more of that won’t necessarily boost the economy.

    You might get ships that register in Panama to avoid tax registering in Greece to avoid tax instead but it doesn’t solve the problem.

    Peter.

  9. oldnat
    “We need EPEV (English polls for English voters)!”

    Umm, I agree with the idea of polls solely for England but would not agree with these being just for English voters.

    I’d settle for England polls for England voters.

  10. SUE

    Obviously I have misinterpreted your various posts on the subject , which I paraphrase as follows:-

    Governments with monetary sovereignty are not constrained in spending by the notion of deficit funding / borrowing ; because they can print money to spend .

    You have explicitly stated that state spending does not depend on “tax revenues”.

    Please tell me where I have misconstrued your views.

  11. The problem is not so much the wrong people voting Labour as that the only the ‘wrong people’ are still in the Labour Party.
    So a Labour Party full of Bairites is going to be pretty right-wing. Murphy’s election in Scotland (the country that voted for Michael Foot) is evidence of this.

    And we have Balls talking about the Labour Party being in the centre. No, the ‘Labour Party’ are a party of the Left if that is no longer the case they are no longer the ‘Labour Party’.

    So this leaves a huge gap on the Left for SNP. Plaid and Greens. GE15 could see quite a re-alignment in politics – in particular if SNP/Plaid/Greens can form an alliance.

  12. JOHN

    Well that may be your view-but Neal Lawson wasn’t refering to candidates-he was talking about voters!!

    He further refined his strange class obsession with the “wrong voters” , with this interesting observation :
    ” I campaigned up gravel drives past BMWs in 1997-in hindsight the wrong people were voting Labour”.

    What can one say about this extraordinary statement. That “gravel drives” should represent a demographic demarcation for this Class Warrior is really trumped by his Car Ownership Demographic. Had he said “Rolls Royces” I might perhaps have understood his distinction.

    But BMWs !- You can’t move for BMWs on many an urban terraced house front lawn turned gravel patch .

    I just don’t get these people & their strange ideas about class.

    Thanks for the welcome-I have always enjoyed our jousts -conducted in friendly terms without rancour.
    Haven’t been around because a) we had family over the holiday & b) I have little contribution to make on how the GE will pan out.

  13. Sorry for my typos – I mean that only Blairites a left in the Labour Party – ‘the wrong people’ – in a joking way of course.

  14. MR JONES

    Absolutely-Extend & Pretend will be the solution.

  15. @Couper2802

    Be careful with labelling things too literally. The Labour Party has always contained people ranging from self declared socialists to salmon-pink quasi-Tories, and so it should as a social democratic party of the centre left that purports to be serious about winning elections. The Greens, Plaid Cymru and the SNP are essentially single issue political parties whose appeal is forever limited to those who have a particular beef about an issue and I suspect there is a wide range of political opinion contained therein when it comes the broad brush of a range of issues. They certainly sit on the left side of the spectrum in terms of British politics, but all three parties probably contain a whole host of oddballs who would wildly disagree about a number of topics outside the single issue that unites them.

    To get them to work together and/or agree on anything would be like herding cats, I suspect.

  16. @Couper

    “GE15 could see quite a re-alignment in politics – in particular if SNP/Plaid/Greens can form an alliance.”

    The alliance colouring is a little insipid though.

    http://www.statgeek.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/venn.png

    Yes, I’m at a loose end today…

  17. COLIN
    BMWs are known colloquially as “black man’s wheels”. I wonder how Mr Lawson would classify them – actually I shudder to think.
    Have a good 2015.
    j

  18. And you John.

  19. @John P

    “BMWs are known colloquially as “black man’s wheels””

    An old friend from my cricketing days who, following a spell in the army, became a senior detective in the West Midlands Crime Squad, got into a bit of trouble for using that acronym in a speech he made when leaving his former job for another. One of his colleagues recorded his speech and released the relevant excerpt to the press, I believe. He got demoted.

    Don’t know about his policing abilities, but he was the slowest bowler in relation to the length of his run-up that I ever kept wicket to!

    :-)

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1039009/Top-cop-demoted-saying-BMWs-black-mans-wheels.html

  20. @Crossbat11

    The SNP seem to have managed to run a government for 7 years pretty well. So yes there will be odd balls in all political parties but my point is that most of the left wing oddballs and others have already left the Labour Party. So a very Blairite Labour party is going to be pretty right wing and disconnected from the working class (blue collar) and poor. Hence the opportunity on the Left.

  21. A few pages back someone brought up Bristol West as a Green gain – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would be very very very surprised indeed if this happened. THis idea seems to have come from a Green press release and a puff piece in the newspaper-that-must-not-be-named. I think they have the potential to damage Labour and Stephen Williams will probably win.
    Incidentally I am yet to receive any election material from the Greens (despite living in prime green territory) whereas I’ve now had 3 leaflets from Thangham D.

  22. Mike N

    Was your New Year resolution to replace adjectives with proper nouns?

  23. @Couper

    “most of the left wing oddballs and others have already left the Labour Party”

    You clearly inhabit a different planet to me. And I thought Scotland was not only on the same planet, but even the same island.

  24. Colin,

    I think your 1:48 puts forward some facts that anyone [1] could agree with. However, the thing that people usually disagree on is the consequences of that freedom.

    On that subject, I was interested to see the right-on views of the first-time voters c/o Opinium spoilt by the 59-18 split on reducing the deficit by cutting spending vs increasing taxes. “None of the above” was the correct answer, but identified by only 23%. Very disappointing.

    [1] that knows anything about it. Obviously I’m not talking about opinion polls here.

  25. @ Colin

    But BMWs !- You can’t move for BMWs on many an urban terraced house front lawn turned gravel patch .

    But that wasn’t the case in 1997. Back then, IIRC, BMWs and Mercs were high end, luxury cars.

  26. HAL

    I don’t agree with it-I think it is nonsense.

    AMBER
    Thanks-yes-I was thinking about the time gap & what changes had ocured in car ownership; indeed in wealth in general over the intervening 18 years.

  27. @Candy

    “…I’m sure Greece WOULD pay when the moratorium was up…”

    I’m not.

  28. @GuyMonde

    I was responding to Crossbat ‘Oddballs’ was his term not mine. But the fact remains that in Scotland there are very few left wingers in the Labour Party most have left for the Greens, SNP or SSP parties or are campaigning in Radical Independence.

  29. Channel 4 are asking if anyone recognises the road in the Tory poster – and if it is in the UK?

    Usually someone on here can provide the answer to even the most esoteric question!

    http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/politics/article4311980.ece

  30. @Couper2802

    I guess it depends on your definition of “left”, which keeps changing over time .

    For example for an anti-Trident person, Attlee must seem like Genghis Khan! After all the man toppled a pacifist Labour leader in 1935 (the only time this has happened in Labour history), was consistently more aggressive than the Conservative govt he was facing concerning rearmament, and led his party to vote against the Munich agreement (Churchill abstained).

    When he became Prime Minister, he gave us our independent nuclear weapon, thought up NATO along with Ernest Bevin and persuaded the Americans to join despite their misgivings. Then sent troops to fight in Korea and then again to Greece when it looked like the Communists might take over. And insisted on putting up prescription charges to pay for the Greek adventure because he was devoted to running a budget surplus at the same time!

    Is this “left-wing” or “right-wing”? Or just a prime minister being practical concerning the threats he was facing?

    Incidently I think Blair was consciously trying to copy Attlee. Witness the way he opposed the Major govt’s policy of non-intervention in Bosnia in conscious imitation of Attlee opposing Chamberlain’s non-intervention in the ’30’s. I think he thought Iraq was his equivalent of Korea and Greece. Even the language in his speeches over Iraq was borrowed (it was Attlee who coined the word “appeasement” in a speech in 1937 criticizing Chamberlain’s govt).

    In trying to copy Attlee’s foreign policy was Blair being “left-wing” or “right-wing”? I guess that depends on which “wing” you’ve placed Attlee!

  31. The quote from Blair really sums up Labour’s problem in Scotland:

    When Tony Blair foresaw, earlier in the week, an election “in which a traditional Left-wing party competes with a traditional Right-wing party, with the traditional result”,

    In Scotland the traditional result is the Left-wing party wins.
    I don’t think that was what Blair meant though.

  32. @Candy
    ‘For example for an anti-Trident person, Attlee must seem like Genghis Khan! After all the man toppled a pacifist Labour leader in 1935 (the only time this has happened in Labour history), was consistently more aggressive than the Conservative govt he was facing concerning rearmament, and led his party to vote against the Munich agreement (Churchill abstained’

    Attlee only became Labour leader – initially on a temporary basis up to the 1935 election – after George Lansbury had resigned. Labour did not actually argue for greater rearmament than Chamberlain proposed but was much more inclined to rely on a policy of Collective Action via the League of Nations.

  33. @Candy
    Some causes became associated with the Left because left wingers campaigned for them: CND, Anti-Apartheid, Pro-Palestine, Anti-Iraq War but these are causes as opposed to policies.

    Left wing policies are redistributive. They redistribute wealth, opportunity, ownership and most importantly power.

    Examples are:
    Wealth (mansion tax, 50p Tax rate)
    Opportunity (abolish tuition fees, anti-discrimination policies)
    Ownership (Land reform, Nationalisation)
    Power (Abolish House of Lords, Devolution, PR)

    And to quote Marx “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need” So left wing policies support the welfare state and the NHS.

    Simply analysis of left/right policy if it concentrates wealth, opportunity, ownership or power it is a right wing policy, if it redistributes it is a left wing policy.

    So Privatisation which concentrated ownership to the shareholders rather than the whole country is right-wing.

  34. @ Old Nat

    Channel 4 are asking if anyone recognises the road in the Tory poster – and if it is in the UK?

    It’s CG (computer generated). There aren’t any real roads with great big Union Jacks painted on them. You’d have thought Channel 4 would’ve realised that. ;-)

  35. Oldnat
    I wanted to retain the ‘EPEV’ acronym otherwise I’d have gone for

    Polls conducted in England of the voting intentions of those entitled to vote in England

    but this seemed somewhat pedantic and inelegant.

    I could have added ‘s after the second ‘England’.

    :-)

  36. “Channel 4 are asking if anyone recognises the road in the Tory poster – and if it is in the UK?”

    Well it’s too sunny for Scotland and actually reminds me of central France!

    Peter.

  37. @Couper2802

    I don’t think the Labour party have ever been Marxist (thats the communists you are thinking of).

    Looking back at all the Labour govts, they’ve all had petty bourgeoisie aims – the 1922 manifesto talks about equal rights for fathers as well as rights for women for example. The rights for trade unions simply flows from the liberal “right to associate” – i.e. to form clubs, political parties, and trade and professional associations (these rights don’t exist in dictatorships, absolute monarchies or communist countries, only in liberal democracies). In other words, they weren’t about overturning the established rights, but extending those rights to all citizens.

    I think you are trying to project communist ideas onto the Labour party and understandably finding them wanting because that’s never been what they are about.

    Look at what the parties have actually done.

    The Tories have given us progressive taxation including Income Tax (Robert Peel), abolition of slavery, the BBC and the EU.

    Labour have given us the three N’s – Nato, Nuclear deterrent and NHS.

    If you look at all these things through a communist lens, the Tories look a bit lefty and the Labour people a bit “right”, don’t they?

    Similarly, for some reason people seem to think that budget surpluses are “right-wing” – but in post war Britain, they’ve only occurred three times – under Attlee, under Thatcher (1987/88) and under Blair (2001/2). So on that simplistic basis are the Labour people more right wing than Tories?

    I could go on and on. Left and right are fake distinctions. I think there is Marxism and there is Pragmatism – and most of the mainstream parties are pragmatists because that’s what the voters are too.

  38. @ Colin

    You wrote rather more straw men in your original remarks. However, what is missing from:

    ‘Governments with monetary sovereignty are not constrained in spending by the notion of deficit funding / borrowing ; because they can print money to spend .’?
    ————————————————————————-

    Government spending is constrained by the need to match their investment in the real economy with the potential of their nation to produce ‘stuff’. To not do so would be inflationary. However, in the case of Greece with 25% unemployment (60% for 18-24y old), there is a phenomenal amount of wasted capacity (and human lives!) and the gov’t could act as investor of last resort to create full employment very quickly.

    Look after employment and the economy will look after itself (Keynes)… i.e. the deficit will narrow automatically as tax receipts increase and employment benefits decline.

  39. Looking at that decline in the Labour lead graph (no 1 above) I’ve been trying to decide whether it could be best modelled by a straight line or negative exponential curve.

    Every time I look at it, I change my mind.

  40. SUE

    Thank you.

    I’m glad that I didn’t misunderstand your basic thesis.

    As you will know , I disagree with it-as I do with your prescriptions for Greece.

  41. @Candy

    The Labour party until the 90s main aim was

    ‘To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.’

    This was on every membership card.

    “common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” is the definition of Socialism.

    The Labour Party sang ‘The Red Flag’ at the end of every conference and most Labour members and MPs considered themselves to be socialists.

    When Blair removed clause 4 Labour ceased to be a socialist party but no party has filled the void.

    The SNP never say they are socialist but that they are Social Democrats. So SNP were to the right of the pre-Blair Labour party but are now to the left of the current Labour party.

    Scotland voted for the socialist Labour Party pre-Blair but has gradually moved towards the SNP for Councils and for Holyrood since the 90s. So I will not be surprised if the SNP take many Labour seats in May.

  42. @Syzygy So that I can understand your basic thesis better, suppose the Greek government prints money to pay all the young unemployed to look after the elderly or act as untrained classroom assistants or pick up litter and throw it away. Is that “stuff” as in ” constrained by the need to match their investment in the real economy with the potential of their nation to produce ‘stuff’.”
    Of course, all the young Greeks could do this anyway, without being paid or with no change in any benefits they may be receiving now. If that happened, would it make any difference to the Greek economy?

  43. Couper2802 – ““common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange” is the definition of Socialism.”

    But who is this “common”? I think Oliver Cromwell also claimed to represent a “commonwealth” – but was he left-wing according to your description or right wing? (Given his Taliban-like ideas about the role of women and his genocide of the Irish, 500,000 dead, I think he was a bit of a fascist).

    Here’s another example: John Lewis is a pretty conservative organisation – for decades they recruited management from the ranks of the ex armed forces, and targeted a pretty middle class customer (still do). At the same time they are a staff co-op. Does this mean they are Marxist (workers owning the business) or are they another example of the liberal Freedom to Associate – i.e. the freedom to associate by forming a company of business and the freedom to set up the ownership any way they like. Or is the Marxist idea that the workers shouldn’t own it at all but the government should instead and should be able to use the profits to waste on any project they want?

    “Scotland voted for the socialist Labour Party pre-Blair but has gradually moved towards the SNP for Councils and for Holyrood since the 90s. So I will not be surprised if the SNP take many Labour seats in May.”

    I think you are re-writing Scottish history! Scotland was solidly Tory for decades, and then moved to vote in New Labour by large margins. It remains to be seen what happens in the May election, I think there might be a small Tory revival and as for the SNP – a clear majority of Scots don’t like them!

  44. @Couper

    “The Labour Party sang ‘The Red Flag’ at the end of every conference and most Labour members and MPs considered themselves to be socialists.”

    All of that still holds – except maybe some MPs considering themselves socialist!

  45. Is this where the Tories got their inspiration for their poster then?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DagQili02Qk

  46. Colin,

    The monetary base in the US (currency plus deposits at the federal reserve) is three-and-a-half times the size it was in 2008. The figures for narrow money in the UK are similar (but I can’t find them easily). Are you saying

    a) this didn’t happen

    b) it did, but this isn’t money printing

    c) it is money printing, but you don’t like it

    ?

  47. @Candy

    Between 1900-1960 there were 16 General Elections the Conservatives won 6 of them so solidly Conservative is not how Scotland could be described in those 60 years.

    Since 1960 (55 years) every General Election in Scotland has been won decisively by Labour in Scotland.

    Scotland is a solidly social democratic/socialist country and has been for over 50 years – if anything can be called the settled will of the Scottish people it is social democracy.

  48. @Candy

    No one really dislikes the SNP except for Labour activists. That is why Holyrood is ‘trusted to make the best decisions for me and my family’ by 55% against 17% for Westminster. And Nicola Sturgeon is trusted by 59% of Scots to do what is best for Scotland.

  49. HAL

    The Monetary Base in US-as in UK -increased dramatically following Quantitive Easing in both countries.

    In both cases the excercise was one of increasing market liquidity to boost economic growth & keep interest rates low.-not to finance government spending.

    Assets Purchased by the Central Bank in UK were not bought direct from The State-but purchased in the market after issue by the Treasury. These assets ( Gilts in the case of BoE) are IOUs -with redemption dates. As Maturities arise , the Treasury has to repay all holders -£29.1 bn has been returned to BoE to date-thus removing the liquidity increase achieved when BoE purchased them.

    ie that part of the Monetary Base increase resulting from Central Bank Gilt Purchases is automatically time limited.

    It is not Money Printing-which would involve the Central Bank purchasing Gilts direct from the State-and never having them redeemed. -or if you like printing pound notes to pay for government spending.

    I can’t speak for USA QE-but I believe that the Fed is similarly prohibited from buying government debt directly from the government to finance government spending.

  50. Syzygy

    “However, in the case of Greece with 25% unemployment (60% for 18-24y old), there is a phenomenal amount of wasted capacity (and human lives!) and the gov’t could act as investor of last resort to create full employment very quickly.”

    Just exactly where;

    Does the money come from,
    why doesn’t everybody do it as a miracle cure to unemployment
    and where has it been done before and worked!

    Peter.

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