On Friday the BPC/MRS inquiry into the polls at the 2015 started rolling. The inquiry team had their first formal meeting in the morning and in the afternoon there was a public meeting, addressed by representatives of most of the main polling companies. It wasn’t a meeting intended to produce answers yet – it was all still very much work in progress, and the inquiry itself isn’t due to report until next March (Patrick Sturgis explained what some see as a very long time scale with reference to the need to wait for some useful data sources like the BES face to face data and the data that has been validated against marked electoral registers, neither of which will be available until later in the year). There will however be another public meeting sometimes before Christmas when the inquiry team will present some of their initial findings. Friday’s meeting was for the pollsters to present their initial thoughts.

Seven pollsters spoke at the meeting: ICM, Opinium, ComRes, Survation, Ipsos MORI, YouGov and Populus. There was considerable variation between how much they said – some companies offered some early changes they were making, some only went through possibilities they were looking at rather than offering any conclusions. As you’d expect there was a fair amount of crossover. Further down I’ve summarised what each individual company said, but there were several things that came up time and again:

  • Most companies thought there was little evidence of late swing being a cause. Most of the companies had done re-contact surveys, reinterviewing people surveyed before the election and comparing their answers before and afterwards to see if they actually did change their minds after the final polls, and most found little change that cancelled itself out, or produced negligible movement to the Tories. Only one of the companies who spoke thought it was a major factor.
  • Most of the pollsters seemed to be looking at turnout as being a major factor in the error, but this covered more than one root cause. One was people saying they will vote but not doing so, and this not being adequately dealt with by the existing 0-10 models of weighting and filtering by likelihood to vote. If that is the problem the solution may lie in more complicated turnout modelling, or using alternative questions to try and identify those who really will vote.
  • However several pollsters also talked about turnout problems coming not from respondents inaccurately reporting if they vote, but from pollsters simply interviewing the sort of people who are more likely to vote, and this impacting some groups more than others. If that’s the cause, then it is more of problem of improving samples, or doing something to address getting too many engaged people in samples.
  • One size doesn’t necessarily fit all, the problems affecting phone pollsters may end up being different to online pollsters, and that the solutions that work for one company may not work for another.
  • Everyone was very wary of the danger of just artificially fitting the data to the last election result, rather than properly identifying and solving the cause(s) of the error.
  • No one claimed they had solved the issue, everyone spoke very much about it being a work in progress. In many cases I think the factors they presented were not necessarily the ones they will finally end up identifying… but those where they had some evidence to show so far. Even those like ComRes who have already made some initial conclusions and changes in one area were very clear that their investigations were continuing, they were still open minded about possible reasons and conclusions and there were likely more changes to come.

Martin Boon of ICM suggested that ICM’s final poll showing a one point Labour lead was probably a bit of an outlier and in that limited sense was hence a bit of bad luck – ICM’s other polls during the campaign had shown small Conservative leads. He suggested this could possibly have been connected to doing the fieldwork for the final poll during the week, ICM’s fieldwork normally straddles the weekend and the political make up of C1/C2s in his final sample was significantly different from their usual polls (they broke for Labour, when ICM’s other campaign polls had them breaking for the Tories) (Martin has already published some of the same details here.) However, bad luck aside he was clear about there being a much deeper problem in that the fundamental error that had affected polls for decades – a tendency to overestimate Labour – has re-emerged.

ICM did a telephone recall poll of 3000 people who they had interviewed during the campaign. They found no significant evidence of a late swing, with 90% of people reporting they voted how they said they would. The recall survey also found that don’t knows split in favour of the Conservatives and that Conservative voters were more likely to actually vote… ICM’s existing reallocation of don’t knows and 0-10 weighting by likelihood to vote dealt well with this, but ICM’s weighting down of people who didn’t vote in 2010 was not, in the event, a good predictor (it didn’t help at all, though it didn’t hurt either).

Martin’s conclusion was that “shy Tories” and “lazy Labour” were NOT enough to explain the error, and there was probably some deeper problem with sampling that probably faced the whole industry. Typically ICM has to ring 20,000 phone numbers in order to get 1,000 responses – a response rate of 5% (though that will presumably include numbers that don’t exist, etc) and he worried again about whether our tools could get a representative sample.

Adam Drummond of Opinium also provided data from their recontact survey on the day of the election. They too found no evidence of any significant late swing, with 91% of people voting how they said they would. Opinium identified a couple of specific issues with their methodology that went wrong. One was their age weighting was too crude – they used to weight age using three big groups, with the oldest being 55+. They found that within that group there were too many people who were in their 50s and 60s and not enough in their 70s and beyond, and that the much older group were more Tory. Opinium will be correcting that by using more detailed age weights, with over 75s weighted separately. They also identified failings in their political weightings that weighted the Greens too high, and will be correcting that now they have the 2015 results to calibrate it by.

These were side issues though, Opinium thought the main issue was one of turnout, or more specifically, interviewing people who are too likely to vote. If they weighted the different age and social class groups to the turnout proportions suggested in MORI’s post-election election it would have produced figures of CON 37%, LAB 32%…. but of course, you can’t weight to post-election turnout data before an election, and comparing MORI’s data at past elections the level of turnout in different groups changes from election to election.

Looking forwards Opinium are going to correct their age and political weightings as described, and are considering whether or not to weight different age/social groups differently for turnout, or perhaps trying priming questions before the main voting intention. They are also considering how they reach more unengaged people – they already have a group in their political weighting for people who don’t identify with any of the main parties… but that isn’t necessarily the same thing.

Tom Mludzinski and Andy White of ComRes offered an initial conclusions were that there was a problem with turnout. Between the 2010 and 2015 elections actual turnout rose by 1%, but the proportion of people who said they were 10/10 certain to vote rose by 8%.

Rather than looking at self-reported levels of turnout in post-election surveys ComRes did regressions on actual levels of turnouts in constituencies by their demographic profiles, finding the usual patterns of higher turnout in seats with more middle class people and older people, lower turnout in seats with more C2DE voters and younger voters. As an initial measure they have introduced a new turnout model that weights people’s turnout based largely upon their demographics.

ComRes have already discussed this in more detail than I have space for on their own website, including many of the details and graphs they used in Friday’s presentation.

Damian Lyons Lowe of Survation discussed their late telephone poll on May 6th that had produced results close to the election, either through timing or through the different approach to telephone sampling they used. Survation suggested a large chunk of the error was probably down to late swing – their recontact survey had found around 85% of people saying they voted the way they had said they would, but those who did change their minds produced a movement to the Tories that would account for some of the error (it would have moved the figures to a 3 point Conservative lead).

Damian estimated late swing made up 40% of the difference between the final polls and the result, with another 25% made up from errors in weighting. The leftover error he speculated could be caused by “tactical Tories” – people who didn’t actually support the Conservatives, but voted for them out of fear about a hung Parliament and SNP influence and wouldn’t admit this to pollsters either before or after the election, pointing to the proportion of people who refused to say how they voted in their re-contact survey.

Tantalisingly, Damian also revealed that they were going to be able to release some of the private constituency polling they did during the campaign for academic analysis.

Gideon Skinner of Ipsos MORI‘s thinking was still largely along the lines of Ben Page’s presentation in May that was (perhaps a little crudely!) summarised as lazy Labour. MORI’s thinking is that their problem was not understating Tory support, but overstating Labour support. Like ComRes, they noted how the past relationship between stated likelihood to vote and actual turnout had got worse since the last election. At previous elections they noted how actual turnout had been about 10 points lower than the proportion of people who said they would definitely vote; at this election the gap had been 16 points.

Looking at the difference between people’s stated likelihood to vote in 2010 and their answers this time round the big change was amongst Labour voters. Other parties’ voters had stayed much the same, but the proportion of Labour voters saying they were certain to vote had risen from 74% to 86%. Gideon said how this had been noticed at the time (and that MORI had written about it as an interesting finding!), but it had seemed perfectly plausible that now the Labour party were in opposition their supporters would become more enthusiastic about voting to kick out a Conservative government than they had been at the end of a third-term Labour government. Perhaps in hindsight it was a sign of a deeper problem.

MORI are currently experimenting with including how regularly people have voted in the past as an additional variable in their turnout model, as we discussed in their midweek poll.

Joe Twyman of YouGov didn’t present any conclusions yet, just went through the data they are using and the things they were looking at. YouGov did the fieldwork for two academic election surveys (the British Election Study and the SCMS) as well as their daily polling, and all three used different question ordering (daily polling asked voting intention first, SCMS after a couple of questions, the BES after a bank of questions on important issues, which party is more trusted and party leaders) so will allow testing of the effect of “priming questions”. YouGov are looking at the potential of errors like “shy Tories”, geographical spread of respondents (are there the correct proportion of respondents in Labour and Conservative seats, safe and marginal seats), are respondents to surveys too engaged, is there panel effect and dealing with turnout (including used the validated data from the British Election Study respondents).

Andrew Cooper and Rick Nye of Populus also found no evidence of significant late swing. Populus did their final poll as two distinct halves and found no difference between the fieldwork done on the Tuesday and the fieldwork done on the Wednesday. Their recontact survey a fortnight after the election still found support at Con 33%, Lab 33%

On the issue of turnout Populus had experimented with more complicated turnout models during the campaign itself – using some of the methods that other companies are now suggesting. Populus had weighted different demographic groups differently by turnout using the Ipsos MORI 2010 data as a guide, and they also had tried using how often over 25s said they had voted in the past as a variable in modelling turnout. None of it had stopped them getting it wrong, though they are going to try and build upon it further.

Instead Populus have been looking for shortcomings in the sampling itself, looking at other measures that have not generally been used in sampling or weighting but may be politically relevant. Their interim approach so far is to include more complex turnout modelling and to add in disability, public/private sector employment and level of education into the measures they weight by to try and get more representative samples. Using those factors would have given them figures of CON 35%, LAB 31% at the last election… better, but still not quite there.


170 Responses to “The Polling Inquiry public meeting”

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  1. 07052015

    “so perhaps the Barclays see a business opportunity.”

    Or maybe they see things as they really are.

    I must say i was delighted to see the publication of “Change or Go” which seems to be a serious, fact based report on Britain’s membership of the EU. From what i have read of this report so far it seems totally realistic and very reassuring for those of us who want to leave the EU as soon as practicable.

  2. @GRAHAM
    In constructing a forecasting model based on a dataset of all UK election results dating back to February 1974 and related polling, there is evidence that a better prediction of an upcoming election is provided, statistically speaking, by combining polls with election performance by the major parties at the previous election. In other words, there is a tendency detected in the data for the major parties to drift back to their performance at the last election relative to the raw polling. This tendency persists right up to the final polls. A shorthand for this is ‘late swing to incumbents.’

  3. Very interesting to see Cameron making a speech today which seems to be targeting tax credits. He appears to be going into this from the perspective of the oddity of taxing people on low earnings, only to give it back in tax credits.

    It’s quite a strong message, and of course it is cover for the £12B of welfare cuts needed, but I’ve often posted my concerns about the tax credit system, that introduces both complexity and cost to the tax system, while also incentivising low wages from private employers.

    Labour seem once again to be discussing the colour of the fluff in their own navel (it’s grey – always is, and it shouldn’t take six months to work that one out) while their opponents move the world on around them.

    I have suspected for some years now that the tax credit system has had it’s day, but I would have preferred a left of centre government to be the ones to dismantle the system.

    There is a tie in with immigration and the EU. It’s hard to argue that tax credits suppress wages and that removing them helps drive up low end earnings if we are in a position of large, free flowing immigration. Unless minimum wage levels and working conditions are improved and enforced, immigration will help prevent a market adjustment to earnings.

    Then there is the balance proposed for the tax credit cuts. It looks like Cameron is arguing for less taxation at the bottom end, in exchange for reduced tax credits. This sounds fine, but the tax cuts apply to everyone, and unless this is balanced by increased taxes higher up the scale, we’re going to see the cuts concentrated on the low end, and the benefits spread more evenly, skewing the reforms against the poorest.

    I suspect there is a long way to go on this, but politically, the Tory discovery of the merits of raising the income tax threshold and their new found analysis of the complexities of the tax credit system suggest to me that they are developing a new tax and welfare system that has significantly popular elements, and that is leaving Labour standing.

  4. @Alec

    A very astute post. I raised something similar some time ago.

    I quite agree that the big question is: where are Labour?

    Raising tax thresholds should have been a central component of their entire election strategy. Instead they let the Tories make the weather, having pinched the idea from the LibDems.

    I despair of Labour’s inability to spot obvious opportunity to demonstrate the financial credibility and pro-business stance that they must develop in order to be electable.

    Coupling lower welfare with higher tax thresholds is a classic Tory manoeuvre. You are right to point out that it may lead to a skewing towards the better off. But it would be wrong and unfair to take too sceptical a view of this: I suspect that many Tories are anxious to help the ‘hard-working’ lower paid.

    In fact, very few people in this country, including the upper middle classes, would, I reckon, be keen to increase the gap between rich and poor. The trick of modern government is to achieve wealth redistribution, without adversely affecting economic performance, which is quite hard to do.

    That surely should be a primary Labour objective. Instead all I hear is moaning and talk of micro-management and intervention.

    Liz K probably understands all this, but she is not going to win. In passing, I hope everyone followed my recommendation to back Yvette C at 3/1. I see she is now 15/8. If so, it is customary to send a small percentage of any winnings my way…

  5. Alec

    Totally agree with your last paragraph. I am very encouraged by the latest Tory thinking on tax and welfare and as I said a couple of days ago I look forward to the July budget with great interest. I also agree with your thoughts on Labour. They really do seem lost in there own internal problems while the Tories march on.

  6. TOH
    Alec

    I forgot to say that the greatest merit of raising the threshold is simplification.

    When will government understand the importance of this issue, especially to those in small business like myself.

    Why are we gicing winter fuel allowances and free TV licences to pensioners?: just give them a small increase in the basic pension.

    Why are road users paying a tax to get into Cornwall and Wales?: slowing traffic down and costing a fortune to collect.

    And in the case of the M6 toll road, ensuring that a road is half empty, when the road it was designed to relieve is as busy as ever.

    Don’t get me started

  7. “Coupling lower welfare with higher tax thresholds is a classic Tory manoeuvre. You are right to point out that it may lead to a skewing towards the better off. But it would be wrong and unfair to take too sceptical a view of this: I suspect that many Tories are anxious to help the ‘hard-working’ lower paid.”

    ———-

    Neither Labour nor Tory manoeuvres on this are exactly optimal on this. If you just make more money available for those lower-paid, this allows the providers of essentials – wherever they have a stranglehold on supply – to simply up what they charge to soak up the extra cash again and leave people little better off.

    And whether energy or housing, they tend to try and hoover up supply!! Similarly, cutting tax thresholds allows employers to cut wages more, unless there’s more competition for labour or you force minimum wages etc.

    Hence there’s a need to either control prices/wages or else force rather more competition or supply…

  8. MILLIE

    As a pensioner who gets both those allowances, I totally agree with you. For pensioners like me they are a nonsense.

  9. Graham

    “Arbeit Macht Frei ”

    That rather silly post has no place here.

  10. Carfrew

    I did say it was hard to do!

    The minimum wage is the obvious mechanism available to deal with these issues.

    It is remarkable how the minimum wage has been so widely accepted. It has the great merit of simplicity, of course, and this may explain its popularity as a policy tool.

    I think it was UKIP at the last election who proposed that no-one on minimum wage should pay tax. I am not wise enough to know the implications of that position, but I do know it was a very appealing and, again, simple message.

  11. Graham

    I fully understand the point you were making in using those words and my comment stands.

  12. @Millie

    “I did say it was hard to do!

    The minimum wage is the obvious mechanism available to deal with these issues.”

    ———

    Well, the better solution is more better-paying jobs to naturally pull wages up.

    Even then, without action to stop the price of essentials (which people cannot avoid buying) going up in response, wage rises don’t do as much as hoped.

  13. Millie

    “I think it was UKIP at the last election who proposed that no-one on minimum wage should pay tax. ”

    I seem to recall that is actually something Cameron wants to achieve in this parliament.

  14. TOH

    I’m sure you are right

  15. @ Alec

    Reading your summary, I’m sure that there must have be two Cameron speech today. One that you wrote about, and one that was broadcast.

    But even if there were two speeches, it still it is good to see evidence for my long time assertion that the Greens don’t form a leftwing party.

  16. @Millie – “Raising tax thresholds should have been a central component of their [Labour’s] entire election strategy.”

    My understanding was that Labour believes this to be a poor way to achieve ‘progressive value’ if I can coin a phrase, from government spending.

    [Technically that isn’t accurate, as not taxing people isn’t actually spending, but in net budget terms I hope we can treat it as equivalent].

    In this, Labour are correct – everyone gets the benefit of increased tax thresholds. This was the argument they used when they abolished their own 10% rate. However, by adopting a selective approach via entitlement to tax credits, they ended up creating something of a monster, if a well intentioned one.

    However (just to annoy Michael Gove) I don’t believe that raising the tax threshold in itself has anything much to do with tax simplification. For what it’s worth, during the election campaign I posted my broad agreement for UKIP income tax policy. They did want to lift all minimum wage earners out of income tax altogether, but also recognised that the 40% rate is now too low, and critically that the jump from 20%-40% is too large, so they called for additional rates at different thresholds.

    My view is that a higher starting threshold needs to be dovetailed with more evenly spaced rates, extending higher up the earnings scale.

    Where simplification comes in would really be in marrying up NI and IT. Long overdue and complex to introduce initially, but a single salary tax system with coordinated thresholds through the earnings levels would be ideal. NI remains an oddity anyway, as the rate suddenly falls for very high earners. Work out a system where everyone knows what proportion of their earnings are due as salary tax at which thresholds in a single system and you will have halved the complexity.

    If this was done, I would prefer a lower starting rate and threshold (keep the threshold where is is now, but perhaps only on a 10% rate. I don’t believe it’s healthy in a democracy to have too many people divorced from the taxation system and you don’t want to create big threshold effects. Then have more evenly spaced bands as you move up the earnings scales. I don’t see a problem with 4 or 5 bands, if both taxes are being combined.

    Underneath all of this is the issue of universality. There is a great deal to be said for maintaining universality, both in receiving benefits and raising taxes. Low administration costs, everyone is in the system, and a genuine safety net all round – ‘all in this together’. But universality isn’t just about the delivery – it’s also about how you pay for it, so the tax system needs to be sufficiently progressive.

    Labour moved away from universal provision, and into the complexities of means testing and entitlement thresholds through the tax credit system, the Tories moved away from progressive tax mechanisms, the SNP buy into more universal provision but shy away from the progressive tax raising, leaving really only the Greens, with oddly some surprising agreement from parts of the UKIP manifesto, to hold the fort.

    Changes are definitely coming in the entire edifice of tax and benefit policy, but the Tories are seeking this as a budget cutting measure more than anything else, Labour and the Lib Dems are disappearing up their own arses (or still trying to find their own arse, in the case of the Lib Dems) and the SNP just want to blame Westminster.

    I currently have little hope that the final settlement will be much good.

  17. @Laszlo – “Reading your summary, I’m sure that there must have be two Cameron speech today. One that you wrote about, and one that was broadcast.

    But even if there were two speeches, it still it is good to see evidence for my long time assertion that the Greens don’t form a leftwing party.”

    Based my comments on the pre speech briefing – haven’t heard the speech, but was focusing on the briefing regarding tax credits.

    Greens – pretty left wing. Don’t know why you’ve picked up that I’m not from my posts. The citizens income is the answer to the all the problems I described, in my view, and I doubt you’ll find much support for that in the Daily Mail.

  18. Good Afternoon All, hot here now.
    The Times is well worth a read.
    Educational chaos is documented.
    The BBC ‘liberal’ agenda is explained by a former BBC senior man.
    Both topics have Political and VI implications.

    The Tax Credit issue is also a toxic policy- for both Tory and Labour Party, IMO, potentially.

  19. “Greens – pretty left wing. Don’t know why you’ve picked up that I’m not from my posts.”

    ————–

    Ah, well, you appear to have shaved your beard off…

  20. “The citizens income is the answer to the all the problems I described, in my view, and I doubt you’ll find much support for that in the Daily Mail.”

    ———–

    Maybe if they introduced it for boomers first?…

  21. Carfrew

    I wasn’t actually disagreeing with you on “polling questions” – just chatting about other similar problems which make simplistic solutions difficult.

    Sorry about that. I know how you love an argument. :-)

  22. @Oldnat

    Yes, I know you weren’t disagreeing, that’s a needless quibble, you were telling me something it should have been obvious from my posts I already knew, and which was indeed my point. Not arguing, just trying to save us al! some time and spare us all more quibbling.

  23. @ Alec

    As it was in Runcorn, just over the bridge, and I opted for a day out (nice when you can afford it), apart from some emails and alike, I went over.

    It was a very competently delivered speech, but … It is about cuts whatever way I look at it. Having said that, the Conservative Party promised that they would do it, and also they said what they would not cut. So it’s just maths.

    It may have an effect on employment if it is implemented.

  24. Alec

    Agree with pretty much all of your post.

    I was going to cite the merging of NI and IT as an example of simplification, but thought it might be a bit bold, so used road tolls as a more obvious example.

    And I do understand that increasing the tax threshold is not necessarily progressive, although it probably is – just not as much as some people would like.

    I also entirely agree about avoiding big thresholds or ‘cliffs’ in tax. In my pub I claim some responsibility, although almost certainly without justification, for the stamp duty changes, which got rid of the massive hike at £250,000. I had highlighted this in correspondence with Dominic Raab, who I think had a big say in Osborne’s reform.

    Anybody in small business knows that it is all about doing everything to avoid hitting the 40% tax barrier: paint the outside of the shop, close early in February and March, pay every conceivable bill, etc. – all a ludicrous distortion, and bad for the Revenue.

    So more bands seems to make a lot of sense. But I would stick to as high an initial starting point as possible, simply because it makes life a lot simpler and the system therefore more efficient.

    But then I am talking from the perspective of primitive business economics – I like 20% VAT for the sole reason that I can work it out in my head…

  25. Just dropped in to welcome Anthony’s ‘reportage’ and to wish all pollsters well in what is, for those pollsters, a huge challenge..

    I have not altered my attitude towards polling one jot. The only way to discover VI, even in the complex situation of UK FPTP in a regionally diverse polling environment, is by polling. I have no admiration for those who made predictions that, by chance, happened to guess roughly the seats outcome between Lab and Con, as they had no facts to go on in order to arrive at their predictions.

    What we need to find out is why polling did not discover what was the true situation. That does not mean that polling is useless, but it does mean we need improved polling.

    I do hope, AW, you will be so good as to keep us informed, as indeed with this thread. I appreciate it very much..

  26. I knew I should have stood for the Labour Party leadership myself.

    My autobiographical book, “Pie ‘n’ Mash & Prefabs”, has just reached no 1 in Amazon Kindle’s Biographies of Political Leaders charts! :)

  27. Congratulations Norbs!!

    Anyone else here ever written ote? When’s AW gonna write summat?

    “Polldrums*: My life and times modding Alex Salmond’s favourite blog!”
    …or some such…

    * copyright Amber etc.

  28. @ Norbold

    Excellent. And excellent sales. Congratulation.

  29. Bloody ‘ell, Norbs is also at number 8 in the Philosophy Book charts…

  30. Changing the subject, the Labour leadership election is getting very interesting.

    Burnham is undoubtedly in trouble, drifting quite rapidly in the betting, and perhaps about to be replaced as favourite by Cooper.

    The Newsnight leadership debate was a bit of a watershed it seems: Burnham was poor, of that there is no doubt. But more importantly he was perhaps revealed as a lightweight, simply not in command of the various subjects and relying on pre-planned stuff about being an Everton supporter.

    Cooper is someone I have never warmed to, but she is doing well, and coming across as someone more human than we thought. She certainly does understand the big issues.

    Kendall was good and brave, but her stance is just not going to cut it with the Labour Party membership. Predictably, she is drifting in the betting.

    Corbyn is going to get a lot of votes, and I see him at least beating Kendall. I think he might even win the most first preference votes.

    Burnham really is in big trouble, and I can see his support deteriorating further. He does not look at all at ease ( all the others do ) and he is not enjoying the process. I would not be that surprised if he did a ‘Chuka’.

  31. I think there are many middle income families who rely on tax credits greatly.

    Given a cut in tax thresholds etc will not offset the loss of tax credits (there would be no savings if they did) I can see families put into hardship, and certainly cutting back on non-essential spending. That will affect economic growth and employment levels.

    Additionally, many families are also keeping afloat because low mortgage rates. When interest rates start rising, this combined with lost tax credits is a bad recipe.

    It would be good if tax payer top ups were not required, but putting the cart before the horse doesn’t look good. Taking money off families does nothing to make employers pay a decent living wage.
    It would be great

  32. Correction

    ink there are many middle income families who rely on tax credits greatly.

    Given a cut in tax thresholds etc will not offset the loss of tax credits (there would be no savings if they did) I can see families put into hardship, and certainly cutting back on non-essential spending. That will affect economic growth and employment levels.

    Additionally, many families are also keeping afloat because low mortgage rates. When interest rates start rising, this combined with lost tax credits is a bad recipe.

    It would be good if tax payer top ups were not required, but putting the cart before the horse doesn’t look good. Taking money off families does nothing to make employers pay a decent living wage.

  33. Millie the main reason coopers odds have dropped is becos punters believe she will pick up most of kendalls second preferences ,they may not be right about that.They prob believe corbyn will poll poorly and his second prefs will go to burnham .

    Kendall is the one struggling of the front three,cant really see how she can win now.

  34. 07052015

    Agree about Kendall. She has little chance as her message simply does not accord with the membership who are ‘left’ of the typical Labour voter, and even further left of the centre ground that she thinks must be won.

    I think she has already recognised that she cannot win, but is now seeking two things: firstly her identification as the leader of the centrists, and secondly, to enable her to say I told you so when Cooper or Burnham fails.

    Quite clever, in my view.

    I think Corbyn is going to surprise everyone. Is he not right up the street of many Labour activists? Plus, he is a very decent performer.

    I presume he will get few second preferences, but he will surely get at least 30% of the first preferences.

    We really ought to make our predictions now. Where’s Catoswyn?

  35. @Carfrew

    I did toy with the idea of a book – “And Then There were 0.66 Recurring”

    Or if I was aping Norbold – “Pie Charts ‘n’ Mashable Stats”

    /Bored

  36. @Statty

    Or… “Margin of Error”, surely?

    Maybe that’s been done, in which case….

    “SWING BACK!!! (The noodle-baking phenomenon that is Regression to the Mean)”

  37. @Statty

    Or if Norbs, then…

    “Prefab Polling – (How polling has progressed since the Fifties, or not as the case may be)”

    /wornout

  38. I have very mixed feelings about Cameron’s impending onslaught on Tax Credits. I agree that they have always been a very blunt instrument, and I sort of take the point that “churning” money in this way is a bit silly (paying it with one hand, taxing some of it back with the other).

    But…. Tax Credits provide a method of smoothing the income cliff from being out of work to being employed. They provide a reassurance that the state is not going to abandon you to poverty the second you drag yourself out of your bed to start your minimum wage serfdom at the Pound Shop.

    Perhaps there are better ways of doing this (the way Universal Credit is supposed to operate helps, with weekly calculations of income leading to a more flexible system of benefit payment) but if it isn’t done in some form then we risk losing our “employment miracle” to a new generation of “better off on the dole” youngsters.

    I’d like to believe that there will be a package, with a hike in the minimum wage and increases to tax thresholds (and maybe NI) to offset any loss of tax credits but unfortunately I think it’s more likely the government will seek to prevent people sliding back into unemployment simply by making further cuts to JSA and forcing them to choose between serfdom and beggary.

    If tax credits do get ravaged then I hope a large part of the cuts falls on Child Tax Credits as I long for the day when we stop paying people to have children the country doesn’t need, and focus our attention on improving the prospects of those we do.

  39. Millie,

    I like your which sums up modern politics

    ”The trick of modern government is to achieve wealth redistribution, without adversely affecting economic performance, which is quite hard to do.”

    I have never liked Tax Credits as they subsidise low paying employers but so does raising the basic tax allowance.
    Whilst raising the minimum wage is fine but notwithstanding the initial scaremongering proved wrong there must be a point where doing this without the jobs themselves being better must cause problems for competitiveness.

    The initial reasoning (or at least one of them) for Tax Credits was to ease absurd effective marginal tax rates as people entered the work place and lose benefits which of course makes sense.
    I can not see any Government dropping tax Credits for low earning families but accelerating the taper and/or reducing the final cut off point makes sense.

    Of course one of the worst anomalies introduced by the Coalition of marginal tax rates of over 65% between £50K and £60K for people with 3 kids (Just under 60% with 2) will have to be tackled by someone eventually.

    If this is not anti-aspirational, I don’t know what is?

  40. Re Labour Leadsereship.

    Yes Burnham is relatively Lightweight imo.

    Cooper clearly a better performer than Kendall who makes some members very uneasy with apparent over-acceptance of Tory positions.

    Does Cooper have too much baggage and can Kendall show enough to suggest she can grow in to the role and not alienate and already eroded base further.

    Am still undecided.

    Deputy – Creasy for me

  41. Millie cant see any active labour party member who contacts voters thinking jeremy corbyn good man tho he is could win any election let alone 2020.

    He will come last imo .

    Cooper needs to be her own woman ,so far she seems to have identical views to Ed B.And she is very conservative on anything constitutional.She would wind cameron up and appear a strong character but would face the same line of questioning on spending before the crash and give the same answers as the Eds.

    So its a no from me.

    Therefore I will gender balance on the deputy-eagle,flint,creasy or some combination.Eagle would be loyal ,flint would take the fast bowling,creasy is new campaigning type.

  42. JIM JAM

    @”can Kendall show enough to suggest she can grow in to the role and not alienate and already eroded base further.”

    Surely the objective is to appeal to as wide an electorate as possible.

    I appreciate that a leader is appointed by their own party-but without appeal beyond the “base” , there is no purpose beyond the party.

    Kendall reprimanded Burnham on that point in the BBC debate.

  43. Toynbee says yvette is the one to beat and writes off kendall.She seems convinced by her explanation and refusal to concede on the pre crash spending question.

    I will have to listen more carefully to what she says but I still think she is too old fashioned and tribal for me .Ed M was slow on taking decisions ,yvette is said to be worse. Need an intuitive to outfox the next tory leader who is likely to be a blairite rather than a real tory.

  44. Ahem, as ever, not a venue for policy debate. Stop it please

  45. @ BristolianHoward

    Just dropping in from Canada and posit below a snippit from my written submission to Patrick Sturgis, Chair, BPC/MRS Polling Enquiry:

    6. A study undertaken in British Columbia, for the 2009 election, while generally agreeing with accepted norms that older, higher educated and higher income voters are more likely to vote found some very interesting anomalies:

    http://www.elections.bc.ca/docs/stats/Who-heads-to-the-polls.pdf

    a: “The exception to the “younger people don’t vote” trend was the 18 and 19 year old cohort. Three out of every five registered voters in this age group cast a ballot. However, this may be an artefact of the voter registration process – most of these individuals may have had to consciously make an effort to register, unlike older individuals who would already be on the voters list.”

    Who Heads to the Polls? Exploring the Demographics of Voters in British Columbia, BC Statistics, March 2010, Executive Summary, piii (see graph).

    7. Clearly, now that individual voter registration has been introduced into the UK, there is a need to re-valuate weighting by age and to start tracking voting patterns for various registered age groups. This is not to be confused with the fact that various age groups might now register at different rates. Rather there is a need to re-think what rates of voting might occur for those who take action to register.

    8. As found in the graph on page iii of the report, voters can be broken down into three categories: newly eligible, inconsistent and consistent.

    9. Clearly weighting to 2010 voting patterns if only 33% of those eligible to vote are consistently voting is highly problematic.

  46. 250000 to vote in Labour leadership -increase in individual members exceeds registered supporters and affiliated members.

    http://labourlist.org/2015/06/over-a-quarter-of-a-million-could-vote-in-labour-leadership-contest/

  47. @Andy S

    How does voter registration operate in BC?

  48. @Alec

    Entirely agree with your post re IT & NI merger. A 10/20/30/40/50 structure would be simple and fair, with the top band starting at a high figure of £200k or more.

    And I don’t see why all benefits shouldn’t all count as income for tax purposes. It would be far simpler and fairer to recover some tax child benefit from high earning couples by including it in income, for example, than via the cumbersome £50k threshold, with its unfairness to families with one high wage earner rather than two moderately high earners jointly earning far more.

    Also, a situation where work is taxable and benefits not, is a major obstacle to ‘making work pay.’

  49. I see YG have a poll on Climate Change.

    https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/06/23/theres-still-time-stop-climate-change/

    Given the general public know very little about renewable energy and climate science, isn’t it like asking the public their view on particle physics?

  50. @ Carfrew,

    Even then, without action to stop the price of essentials (which people cannot avoid buying) going up in response, wage rises don’t do as much as hoped.

    Well, presumably you’d hope for some degree of price competition. Which seems to be working well enough for food but not so well when the market is run by a cartel (energy) or there’s a crisis of supply (housing).

    @ Colin,

    Surely the objective is to appeal to as wide an electorate as possible.

    I appreciate that a leader is appointed by their own party-but without appeal beyond the “base” , there is no purpose beyond the party.

    Kendall reprimanded Burnham on that point in the BBC debate.

    Technically Kendall reprimanded Burnham for saying that if he’d resign as leader in the interests of the party if it looked like he couldn’t win halfway through the Parliament. So I’m not sure she quite made the point she wants everyone to think she made.

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