While the polling inquiry continues and we all work out what went wrong the Guardian aren’t publishing their ICM/Guardian polls, but they are still being done. Martin Boon has tweeted July’s results, which have topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 34%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%.

As I wrote in my previous poll, YouGov released a second bite of budget polling on Friday, this part conducted after the initial press reaction to the budget. This wave highlights some of the public’s rather complex views on benefits and the living wage.

Public attitudes to welfare are complicated, sometimes contradictory and it is easy to cherry pick polling results to show the public support or oppose big cuts to benefits, depending on one’s views. At the simplest level people like the idea of benefit cuts because they think they go to people who don’t deserve them and who haven’t contributed to them. Exactly who they imagine these people are is more difficult to say, since if you ask about most groups who recieve benefits people oppose cuts.

So, overall 38% of people say cuts to benefits have gone too far, 23% they they are about right, 24% would go even further. Asked about the level of benefits and the number of people who can claim them 45% say benefits are too generous, 40% they they are too low (23%) or about right (17%); 57% say too many people are eligible, 30% that too few (19%) or about the right number of people are eligible (11%). Looking at those figures people seem to be pretty pro-cut.

Asked about individual groups of people who receive benefits though and the public suddenly become much more charitable. Only 4% think retired people on the state pension get too much in benefits, only 9% think disabled people do, only 12% think people in low paid work do. 19% think working people with children get too much in benefits, but 33% think they should get more. Opinion on unemployed people is the most evenly balanced, with 28% saying they get too much in benefits, 24% too little, 31% about right. The only group where people come down heavily on the side of too much money being spent on benefits is better off retired people… the group that politicians never cut benefits from because they vote.

This raises the question of why people think benefits are too high and too widely spread if they don’t think the unemployed, pensioners, parents, disabled people or the working poor get too much. I hardly think when people talk about benefit cuts they are thinking of winter fuel payments, rather I expect the support comes from the continuing belief that lots of benefits go to categories not asked about like “people who aren’t really disabled”, “people who could work but can’t”, “asylum seekers” and so on.

Attitudes were similarly complex on the government’s national living wage. We saw in Thursday’s poll that this received overwhelming support. This poll however found rather more nuanced attitude. 31% of people think that the living wage will end up increasing unemployment… yet only 7% think it is being set too high (the implication being that some proportion of people think it more important that jobs pay a decent wage than unemployment is minimised). The principle of the government’s approach is backed – 39% think it’s better for government to reduce in-work poverty by forcing business to pay higher wages (even if it increases unemployment) compared to 19% of people who think it is better for government to reduce in-work poverty by using the tax and benefit system (even if it costs a lot). However, asked about their overall perceptions of the budget people think, by 39% to 28%, that it will leave people in low paid jobs worse off. The question the poll hasn’t asked is how much that matters to people. Too what extent, if any, would people rather low paid workers got more money in wages and less in benefits even if they are less well off.


337 Responses to “Latest ICM poll and more YouGov budget polling”

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  1. Carfrew

    “Wot, even about the music???”

    I agree I slipped up there. As you know Classical both orchestral and chamber, and and opera, especially Puccini, Verdi , Gounod and Wagner are my Bag.

  2. Alec, Millie agreed, the EU has been exposed for what it is, a device to support German industry and French peasant farmers. The sooner it falls apart the better.

  3. On hunting, maybe if some on here listened to the plight of Welsh hill farmers rather than their own skewed prejudices about foxes being cuddly toys, they might learn something. These are people living on 10k pa and where the price of a lamb has fallen by a third to just £60. Why is no one concerned about lambs being ripped to shreds by foxes?

    As well as stopping the SNP from voting on English matters, we need a movement to keep townies out countryside matters!

  4. Robert

    “As well as stopping the SNP from voting on English matters, we need a movement to keep townies out countryside matters!”

    Totally agree with both comments. I think the current proposals on EVEL are much is flawed. The Scots and others should be totally excluded from voting on purely English matters where those matters have been devolved. I am lobbying my MP (who happens to be redrafting) the document to this end.

    Yes, most townies have no real ubderstanding of countryside matters. Your example is well made.

  5. @Robert Newark

    If it’s a particular problem for Welsh hill farmers, why not devolve it to Cardiff?

  6. [snip]

    But I’m not wholly gloomy about Greece. This time, it really looks as though it will have to reform all those restrictive practices, sell its grossly overmanned and inefficient state enterprises into private hands and have its own ,bonfire of red tape’. All of that is surely a necessary condition for its recovery.

    If and when those reforms are implemented is surely the time to reward Greece with the debt write-offs and capital transfers that are also a necessary condition for recovery.

    So a new leaner, fitter Greece could emerge and then be freed of the shackles of excessive debt to bound away into the sunlit uplands…

    Just because hawks in the eurozone have refused to countenance debt write-offs at this stage doesn’t mean they always will. Rightly or wrongly, there has been an entirely understandable reluctance to commit more German or Finnish taxpayers’ money until Greece was seen to finally accept the need to change its ways. Would we have been more understanding of the Greeks and happy to provide UK money in that situation? I think we all know the answer.

    I don’t believe any more lax agreement could have been politically deliverable by the eurogroup. However imperfect, I think the plan provides a possible foundation to move forward – and more hope for Greece than a Grexit would have provided. The thing now is for us in the UK to debate the next stage constructively and maybe even contribute to a development and recovery plan for Greece, not gloat from the sidelines in an orgy of national schadenfreude.

  7. What with all the Grecian stuff, Alec’s notvmentioned the latest news on spare grid capacity this winter…

  8. Meanwhile, pay rises are up, but so is unemployment…

  9. ROBERT NEWARK
    As well as stopping the SNP from voting on English matters, we need a movement to keep townies out countryside matters
    ________

    Well you could start by stopping English townie retirees buying up homes in rural Wales the Scottish Highlands and Cornwall and help local people get back onto an affordable housing market.

  10. THE OTHER HOWARD
    Alec, Millie agreed, the EU has been exposed for what it is, a device to support German industry and French peasant farmers. The sooner it falls apart the better
    ______

    It’s been a few weeks but at last I find common ground with you again and my No vote is “not for turning”

  11. “Sell its grossly overmanned and inefficient state enterprises into private hands”

    ——–

    Part of the problem with trying to privatise under woeful economic conditions, is that there aren’t many takers and if you find some you have to sell it off for a pittance or with clauses attached that give overall favourable terms to the buyers.

    Also the idea that the private sector is inevitably more efficient is for the birds.Banking? MRSA anyone?

  12. Overall = overly

  13. Allan

    Yes, I am as glad as you are that we have again found an area of common ground.

    As one of those who as “conned by Ted heath into thinking we were just joining a common market I have regretted my vote on that occasion more than anything else. In fact i think it’s the only thing i have serious regrets about in my 75 years.

  14. Somerjohn

    You are more than half right, in my view. Of course there needs to be economic reform. However, I cannot see the ‘sunlit uplands’ emerging under the weight of all that debt. Its asking too much.

    The answer was a combination of a big haircut, combined with reforms. Both sides apparently wanted one without the other.

    Its not just a matter of the sequence of events – it is really about credibility. No-one thinks the new deal will work, so it probably can’t and won’t.

    Cancel all interest and debt repayments for ten years, and the Greek economy has a chance, especially if that move is combined with the stimulus of reform. The EZ could then reasonably expect to get their money back, albeit much later than anticipated.

    Do you really think that the Greek economy is going to expand rapidly as a result of the current EZ package?

  15. ToH: you may have believed in 1973 that we were just joining a common market. To me and anyone who took the time to study the history and well-publicised agenda of the European movement, the desired trajectory towards a united Europe was crystal clear. It was just that a united, peaceful, prosperous and cooperative European, with free movement of goods, services, labour and capital seemed an impossibly utopian dream, dismissed by we pragmatic Brits as typical airy fairy continental intellectualising, so safely to be dismissed.

    By the same token, we have continually assumed that widening the EU would come at the expense of deepening, hence our fervent support for the early accession of the eastern European countries. And still the Tories support the accession of Turkey. Anyone for another 20m migrant workers?

  16. Millie: “Do you really think that the Greek economy is going to expand rapidly as a result of the current EZ package?”

    That’s the €64bn question, isn’t it?

    It’s certainly asking a lot, but the Greek economy has been stifled for so long under the weight of dysfunctional bureaucracy that I hope there is a significant capacity for bounceback. Greeks seem to be natural entrepreneurs – think Stelios or Onassis – and once their ‘animal sprits’ are given free rein, who knows what could happen.

    As to the difficulties of selling state enterprises at the bottom of the market, that is just when the Stelioses of this world might snap them up and turn them around. The key is to make sure they don’t fall into the hands of asset-stripping oligarchs.

  17. @ Robert Newark

    “As well as stopping the SNP from voting on English matters,…”

    Robert,

    Do you think that a Scottish Labour MP should not be able to vote on health inequalities, for example?

  18. Somerjohn

    I agree about privatisation – it is not just about how much money is received, it is also about how much stimulus is achieved.

    As for economic recovery arising from the EZ package, we can’t say of course, but I think it very unlikely.

    And, of course, there is now a domestic political situation which is very unhelpful.

  19. Regarding Greece – has anyone seen the stuff coming out of the IMF?!!

    Say what you like about Tsipras, but he’s succeeded in reframing the debate.

    In just six months he’s put a wedge between the IMF and the EZ, between France and Germany, and got them to talk about debt relief at last.

    And also resisted attempts to topple him and stripped the masks off the players he’s dealing with.

    We know that the ECB intimidated Ireland to accept bank debts on the public books – but that all happened behind closed doors, the public didn’t know about it, and some still don’t know. Ditto the toppling of govts – it all happened behind closed doors and the public was presented with a fait accompli.

    This time, Syriza have been publicising everything so the ugliness is on full display and the reputational damage to the EU and Germany is terrific. You know it’s bad when the Washington Post starts using phrases like “abuse of power” and “vindictiveness”.

    The cost to the EU and Germany in the form of reputation damage, is probably more than the cost of giving Greece it’s debt relief. I wonder if they fully understand that?

  20. @Somerjohn

    But part of what gets factored into bailout negotiations is unrealistic projections from privatisation sales.

    And your faith in efficiencies from privatisations is in the face of many examples to the contrary. One of the big problems is that they corner markets over time and are in a position to force prices up. Or the slash costs and we suffer, e.g. MRSA. Rail privatisation was not exactly an unqualified success either.

    Let Alec tell you all about water. ATOS? BT? Initially favourable but didn’t exactly rush to roll out broadband when making so much from dial up.

    Not that one is anti-private sector. One can admire how it does various things well at times, e.g. airlines as I mentioned earlier. Just that it’s not the panacea touted about.

    Also, with some things… The costs of privatisation can be greater than realised by some. The state used to get all the profits from telecoms, now it’s just the tax.

    “Reform!!” is bandied about like a miracle cure without as actually looking at the detail of the reality of it. All the examples where it wasn’t much cop get conveniently ignored.

    Same as with tax, where “reform” is screamed without facing the reality. Greek tax collection rates are very similar to ours, they just record it differently (I.e. more honestly).

  21. @CANDY

    “Regarding Greece – has anyone seen the stuff coming out of the IMF?!!”

    ————

    Lol, Candy, do you not read our posts?? E.g. Alec a little earlier? Often thought you can’t be reading many, ‘cos you say stuff at times we already dealt with!!

    Not that I would wholeheartedly disagree with the rest of your post…

  22. @SOMERJOHN

    “It’s certainly asking a lot, but the Greek economy has been stifled for so long under the weight of dysfunctional bureaucracy”

    ———-

    Lol, you think privatisation will fix that? Aside from all the bureaucracy you have to put in place to stop private sector taking the Mick once they have control over Essentials, as they acquire power they are in a position to lobby and pressure government for regulation to hamper rivals…

    Or pressure to avoid tax etc.

  23. Sorry Carfrew – I skipped a bit ’cause speed-reading in my lunch hour!

  24. @Candy

    Speed-reading Alec?? I don’t even speed read Oldnat and Allan!!

    Understand about the lunch thing. I prefer to lazily graze over the board over a macchiato. Or two. OK, maybe sometimes three… And a ciabatta!!!…

  25. Carfrew

    A perfectly reasonable questioning of the virtues of ‘reform’ and privatisation, but not many would contest the fact that the Greek system needs overhauling, and that pension reform and privatisation are part of that.

    The problem is that these things only work long-term, and, as you correctly point out, need to be handled wisely.

    The pressing need is for immediate liquidity and debt relief. That is really the only way to change the narrative and stabilise the government. And, thereby, for the creditors to get some of their money back.

    The IMF are completely right, in my view.

  26. @Millie

    I’m not against reform, just don’t see the evidence that it will be as transformative as claimed.

    It is bandied about as a miracle cure, to conveniently sidestep the impact of cuts on an economy.

    “Ah, but it would have been OK if they’d just done more reform!! Like tax collection!!”

    Ignoring the reality that their tax collection rates are in practice only a couple of percent down on ours. And we live in an era of global competition to reduce tax collection!!

  27. @somerjohn – “ust because hawks in the eurozone have refused to countenance debt write-offs at this stage doesn’t mean they always will. Rightly or wrongly, there has been an entirely understandable reluctance to commit more German or Finnish taxpayers’ money until Greece was seen to finally accept the need to change its ways.”

    This part of your post fails on two fundamental counts.

    The first sentence falls completely, because the Germany have told everyone that debt write offs CANNOT happen, in any circumstances. This is because, they say, Clause 125 of the Lisbon Treaty expressly prohibits this. Within this interpretation, there will be no debt write offs whatsoever. It would extraordinarily difficult for Merkel to now say that the Greeks have been good boys and girls, so we will now that thing that is illegal to help them.

    Having said that, Article 125 actually says –

    “The Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of any Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project. A Member State shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of another Member State, without prejudice to mutual financial guarantees for the joint execution of a specific project.”

    I’m no lawyer, but if we could define rescuing Greece ‘a project’, then that would seem to permit such steps. It’s also unclear to me why writing off debts is illegal, but making loans to an obviously insolvement state is not. I would have thought that any sensible interpretation of this clause would make the actual giving of loans illegal.

    However, legalty within the EU is usually defined on the basis on what deal needs to be cobbled together, and for all the reams of words in the treaties, they make the rules up as they go along.

    This can be seen by Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states –

    “Overdraft facilities or any other type of credit facility with the European Central Bank or with the central banks of the Member States (hereinafter referred to as ‘national central banks’) in favour of Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the European Central Bank or national central banks of debt instruments.”

    Now you read that, and then try to explain to me why it is legal for Greece to be bailed out.

  28. Carfrew

    Yes, I do see your point, and agree with you that ‘reform’ is bandied around in a non-specific and therefore meaningless way.

    That is why I think the EZ proposals are awry. They think that these ‘reforms’ will immediately bring rapid economic growth, and, as the IMF says, that is not realistic.

    Greece is over-borrowed, and will never repay what they owe on the terms agreed. That is the problem that the EZ are failing to address. So lending them further money so that they can repay what they owe is only exacerbating the problem.

    This rather obvious fact is clear to the IMF but not to the EZ hawks, who cling to ‘reform’ as if it is a magic bullet, which it isn’t.

    So I’m agreeing with you, as you probably appreciated.

    Candy is also right: we are now into a situation of Europe-wide political instability that will be economically damaging for everyone. The EZ hawks are wrong on both levels.

  29. Carfrew

    I don’t have great faith in privatisation per se: a lot of public provision can be done better by well-run public sector bodies motivated more by service than profit. The NHS, of course, and British Rail seems to have been pretty efficient and well run, but was weighed down by short-sighted, penny-pinching government policies. There wasn’t much wrong with the CEGB, either.

    But it’s different when those state services are chronically badly run, and operate in areas of general provision where the government nobbles the private competition, as in Greece. The Greek government doesn’t have the will, the money, the time or the expertise to turn those state monoliths around. It’s too beholden to unions and vested interests. In that situation, privatisation can be a short cut to efficiency. And close EU supervision and competition policy may avoid the dangers of monopoly capitalism.

  30. Further examples of how the EU takes a flexible view of legality comes from the news that Brussells wants to use the ESFM fund to provide bridging loans to Greece. This is despite treaty agreements that expressly prohibit the funds use in this way.

    For the UK, this is significant. We contribute to the ESFM, and yesterday Osborne assured us we would not be part of any Greek bailout, based largely of promises extracted in 2010 by Cameron from the Commission.

    Today, it’s clear that the Commission wishes to bypass all of these assurances. In itself, this is utterly outrageous, but the more substantial concern is that it demonstrates that the EZ leaders have forced a deal on Greece that they know will not work, and that they cannot even legally fund.

    Now it gets interesting. The UK is reported to be asking, quite reasonably, for any contribution from the ESFM from Britain to be underwritten by the ECB. That makes sense, as why should non EZ nations bailout problems created by the EZ?

    However, for this to be effective, you would need to breach Article 124 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states –

    “Any measure, not based on prudential considerations, establishing privileged access by Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States to financial institutions, shall be prohibited.”

    So I think in a nutshell, we can summarize the current situation along the lines of;

    “The problem cannot be solved because Germany doesn’t want to do something it thinks is illegal.

    Instead, Germany is happy to do things it expressly agreed it wouldn’t do, and that it knows to be illegal, because it suits them.”

    Personally, I think this is the issue Labour should have attacked Cameron on today, and they should make common cause with the Tory right to ensure past EU agreements are honoured.

    Sadly, the entire edifice of the EU Commission appears to be disgracefully rotten.

  31. Alec: “Now you read that, and then try to explain to me why it is legal for Greece to be bailed out.”

    To quote a respected authority on these matters:

    ” legalty within the EU is usually defined on the basis on what deal needs to be cobbled together, and for all the reams of words in the treaties, they make the rules up as they go along.”

  32. It is reassuring to read that the same group on this board who have thought for the last 8 or 9 years, that Cameron and Osborne are the buffoons of European politics, are now writing magisterial posts about, Greece, Europe, Clapham Junction and all points west. The concept that Miliband was a potential PM was another well thought out fiction.

    Any chance of some explanations?

  33. @Somerjohn

    Yes well if you demonize their public sector the way tax collection was demonized, and fail to consider all the ways privatisation can go bad, then obviously will draw the utopian conclusion that privatisation will inevitably be an improvement.

    Hell of a stretch to say it would offset impact of the cuts though. And as for supervision to avoid monopoly stuff, this is another case of looking through the telescope with only one eye.

    Because they tend to use their newly acquired power to frustrate and lobby against such supervision, putting politicians on their boards etc.

  34. “looking through the telescope with only one eye.”

    ———-

    Or the wrong eye, I meant to say…

  35. @Millie

    “Candy is also right: we are now into a situation of Europe-wide political instability that will be economically damaging for everyone. The EZ hawks are wrong on both levels.”

    ————

    At least they’re not invading one another, I suppose…

  36. @Roland – the propositions you highlight are not mutually exclusive.

    It’s also worth noting that Osborne has just given a budget that initiates at least 5 key policies that Labour campaigned on in the GE, and that the Tories fought against.

    But that’s just politics.

    Unlike you, some of us out here are able to agree when our opponents get some things right, it seems.

  37. @ROLAND HAINES

    “It is reassuring to read that the same group on this board who have thought for the last 8 or 9 years, that Cameron and Osborne are the buffoons of European politics, are now writing magisterial posts about, Greece, Europe, Clapham Junction and all points west. The concept that Miliband was a potential PM was another well thought out fiction.
    Any chance of some explanations?”

    ————

    Well I’ve never commented on Cameron and Osborne re: Europe, nor have I written anything magisterial, but you got some explaining to do about that seventies music comment…

  38. @Somerjohn

    If you want a no-brainer example of how the private sector can evade supervision,look at the banking crisis. They hid the toxic debt so well the banks were even buying it themselves. And of course, they the best regulators…

  39. And of course, they HIRE the best regulators…

  40. @Candy

    “Say what you like about Tsipras, but he’s succeeded in reframing the debate.”

    In a sort of lost the battle, won the war kind of way? I suppose, if nothing else, it means that should he decide that he wants to go for Grexit, it’ll probably receive a warmer reception amongst the Greek population than it might have done before.

    If it turns out that this is all part of an elaborate ‘take the money and run’ ploy, I’ll have to revise my opinion about his poker playing skills.

    @Roland

    “It is reassuring to read that the same group on this board who have thought for the last 8 or 9 years, that Cameron and Osborne are the buffoons of European politics,”

    Actually all my points about Cammers and the Blue Goblin still stand; that they have reduced us to a complete irrelevance on the international and European stage.

    After all the only comment we’ve had on it from our political masters is George doing a soft-shoe shuffle whilst waggling his fingers and saying ‘It’s Greece I tell yoooouuu… when our economy fails remember it was Greeeceee… wooooo…!’

  41. Here is a link to a review of a report in The Lancet dealing with some of the health effects of austerity on the Greek people. The report is dated February 2014.

    http://www.cam.ac.uk/research/news/greece-austerity-takes-a-heavy-toll-on-public-health

    “At a time of increasing health need and falling incomes, Greece’s bailout agreement stipulated shifting the cost of healthcare to patients.”

    “There has been a 120% increase in the use of mental health services at a time of funding cuts of 20% in 2010-2011 and a further 55% in 2011-2012. Suicide and the incidence of major depression have rapidly risen.”

    I would say that the worst is yet to come regarding the health of the Greek people. As always, it will be the weakest and most vulnerable who are hardest hit.

  42. @Alec,

    It is a pretty diabolical mess. With every passing day, William Hague’s assessment “Like a burning building with no exits” looks more and more like prescience and less and less like hyperbole.

  43. Robert Newark
    “As well as stopping the SNP from voting on English matters, we need a movement to keep townies out of countryside matters”

    I’d be fine with that as long as the reverse is true and country folk keep out of townie matters. Those in the shires may not know anyone effected by the bedroom tax (hell they may not have even seen a council estate) hardly a great groundswell of union activity, not much use of mass transit, street crime is hardly a pressing issue, not much immigration to rural areas either etc and thus they should maybe keep their opinion on such things to themselves, lets see the Tories pass a legislative program with only the support of their 120 or so urban MP’s (most of whom are in marginal seats)

    As you can hopefully tell I’m being sarcastic which for the love of human sanity I hope you were as well.

  44. Here is a link to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

    http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CESCR.aspx

    Article 12(1) of the ICESCR says: “The States parties to the present Covenant recognize the rights of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.”

    Time for a rider to be added: “Except if your country owes money to banks which it is unlikely to be able to pay.”

    Both Germany and the UK have ratified the Covenant but the UK government declines to translate any of the Covenant into legislation. Article 12 is regarded as aspirational which means in practice for successive governments talking the talk but not doing any walking or ignoring it completely.

  45. I seem to be pretty much a lone voice in trying to see something positive in the Greek settlement, so I’ll leave the Greek chorus to continue the chant of, “Oh woe! Doom and gloom abound! The end of the EU is nigh!”

    I’m pretty sure the EU will survive longer than any of us. And longer than the UK in its current form, probably.

  46. @neil A – Agreed, although to be perfectly fair, Hague borrowed those sentiments, if not the precise words, from Brown and Balls.

    I’m not sure if you saw it, but I actually posted a while ago that the way this is going is making me reasses my voting intention for our EU referendum.

    The EU has been blindingly successful in it’s main role of preventing war across Europe, helping to bring us the longest era of peace amongst the major European powers that human history has ever witnessed.

    Beyond that, however, it’s achievements are much less grand and it’s future seems uncertain. For me, the greatest problem is the single currency. Given the crisis, I’m really struggling to see how the EU can exist with some members in the Eurozone and some out.

    What is needed to stabilize the EZ is completely counter to the principles of the wider EU, and the strains on a two speed EU will only become greater if they resolve the EZ problems.

    We either witness the implosion of the EZ, or we accept the permanent institution of two distinct and separate bodies in and out of the EZ, with different needs and management mechanisms, or we all join the EZ, which effectively means a single state solution.

    As a result, I am now beginning to re examine my assumptions about what is in Britain’s interests, and this is leading me to reluctantly consider a No vote. This surprises me.

  47. Thank goodness for Ed Balls’ 5 economic tests; perhaps which without Blair and Mandy would have had us in the Euro?

    Re EVEL, there is clearly a democratic deficit or at least a feeling that there is one but devolution occurs in may guises as spending is devolved to Quangos, Foundation Schools, NHS trusts etc.

    Westminster has decided that National politicians in the other 3 nations of the UK are the best placed to take many decisions affecting he lives of people in those Nations.
    Hence decisions taken at Holyrood have the ipso facto endorsement of the UK Parliament.

    It is not just English MPs who have no say in matters devolved to the Scottish Parliament but Scottish MPs also.

    I reckon, another layer of Government in the UK would be highly unpopular and unwanted in England but the idea that the English (and Welsh where applicable) MPs would form an equivalent body to the Scottish Parliament without a referendum to approve seems to me totally undemocratic.

    The Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and NI Assembly have and added legitimacy over Westminster in those nations, in part, due to the Electoral System producing a more reflective legislature.

  48. Anarchists Unite – “In a sort of lost the battle, won the war kind of way?”

    King Pyrrhus is supposed to have said “If we are victorious in one more battle with them, we shall be utterly ruined”. That’s the position of Germany.

    Politicians underestimate how much a country’s reputation affects their economies and the businesses within it, because they don’t really understand that consumers buy emotionally rather than rationally.

    For example, the BBC creates a halo effect for all media businesses in Britain. People abroad simply see the word “British” and assume the output will be the same quality as the Beeb’s and a lot of business is done on the back of it.

    Or take the way Silicon Valley sells stuff simply off the back off the Californian vibe (even though a Samsung product might be the same quality as an Apple product, nobody is going to pay a premium for a Korean vibe – which means they have to charge less).

    Conversely your politicians can repel people and they won’t buy your stuff no matter how good the specs are. If I was a German CEO I’d be alarmed and on the phone to Merkel asking what she’s playing at.

  49. “As well as stopping the SNP from voting on English matters, we need a movement to keep townies out of countryside matters”

    I’d be happy with that.

    There is a strong majority out here in the sticks to maintain the foxhunting ban. In general, farmers don’t like gamekeepers and the shooting estates, and they aren’t keen on foxhunting, while everyone else dislikes both gamekeepers and farmers and is heartily sick and tired of those who align ‘countryside’ with ‘sport and agriculture’.

    We are quite a hefty majority, as it turns out.

  50. Somerjohn
    You may gain some support from an opinion poll, remember them, in Greece which says half the population support the deal and over 70% believe it must be accepted. Rather a lot of holier than thou stuff going on which sits uneasily with the seemingly universal view that the UK should not be contributing to anything.

    It is sobering to appreciate that the media response in Germany has not been to say that the debt should have been written off but that the approach has been far too soft. This is across the spectrum from Bildt to Die Zeit. In France by all accounts the popular response has not been that Germany and France are divided but that it has been as Hollande says a European victory.

    No one has come forward with any evidence of a actual negative effect on the Euro or the overall economy of the EZ. On the contrary it must be accounted as a near miracle that you can today sell French, Italian or Spanish bonds for much the same as you can a German or a British one.

    The privatisation targets may or may not be met but I think many here are mis-interpreting the possible outcomes. Quite simply if the money isn’t raised the banks collapse, if I have understood correctly?

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