Jon Mellon and Chris Prosser from the British Election Study team have written a new post and paper on the emerging evidence from the BES data on what went wrong with the polls. Last month they wrote a piece, which I covered here, on some of the potential causes of error they could use the BES data to look at. Now the BES post-election data is out they’ve done so, and come back with some findings.

Firstly, late swing – the BES data finds virtually no net change at all between how people said they would vote pre-election and how they reported having voted after the election. The BES team conclude from this that late swing is unlikely. We’ve now got published re-contact data from the British Election Study, ICM, Opinium, Populus and Survation, only Survation found any obvious evidence of late swing in their re-contact survey.

Secondly, Shy Tories. This is essentially the most difficult potential cause to evidence – if people lie before the election, and lie after the election and we can’t check their actual ballot papers, how do you detect it? You need to look for circumstantial evidence. The BES team have compared levels of Tory support in their polling in different types of area, on the assumption that if people feeling embarrassed to admit voting Tory really was a problem it would be less of an issue in heavily Tory areas than in areas where no one else voted Tory. They did not find this pattern. They also have some experimental data about question order and priming, one suggested solution to the polling error. The first three waves of the BES, conducted back in 2014, randomised where it asked the voting intention question – at the start, or later in the survey. Asking it later in the survey only made a minimal, non-significant change to the Tory vote (while it doesn’t say so in the article, the full paper also makes clear it doesn’t change the Labour vote either!)

Thirdly the BES team looked a bit at sampling, specifically around age, looking at an issue Opinium have already commented on at the BPC inquiry meeting. All pollsters weight by age using various age bands such as 18-24, 25-40, etc, etc. But are people evenly distributed within those bands? Within the top age group, for example, the BES found that people over the age of 80 were underrepresented and people in their early 60s were overrepresented. Whether that makes any different to the results they can’t yet say, as it may be countered by other things like political weighting.

Finally, and most importantly, they wrote about turnout and suggested that people may have been overestimating their likelihood to vote, and that the people who were actually less likely to vote were increasingly skewed towards Labour. Currently this pretty circumstantial evidence – we don’t know if people lied about voting in the general election, but there’s evidence to suggest they might have. For example, a small proportion of people said they had already voted by post before most of the ballot papers had even been sent out, in areas where there were not any local elections this May there was still a chunk of people who reported having voted in their local elections. At the moment, these people who look as if they might be lying disproportionately break to Labour, so would explain some of the error. In their article Jon and Chris instead try modelling people’s likelihood to vote based on their demographics and characteristics of their seat, and that increases the Tory lead by 1.8%. They conclude that turnout, people saying they’ll vote when they won’t, is a major factor behind the error, thought they conclude that it’s one pollsters can probably address quite easily through a better turnout model.

Two caveats though, before you think things are solved. One – at the moment we’re going on indirect evidence of people overstating their likelihood to vote. In the fullness of time the BES are going to do a validation exercise of their data (that is, checking respondents names against the marked electoral register) so they will be able to conclusively prove whether or not there are a significant proportion of people who told pollsters they voted, but lied about it. Secondly, Jon and Chris estimate that getting turnout wrong probably explains about a quarter of the difference between the final polls and the election result, which would still leave us another three-quarters to explain…

Meanwhile there have been two new Scottish polls in the last week – both show the SNP still on course for another landslide at the Holyrood elections next year.

Survation for the Scottish Daily Mail have Holyrood voting intentions of
Constituency: CON 14%, LAB 20%, LDEM 7%, SNP 56%, Others 4%
Regional: CON 12%, LAB 19%, LDEM 8%, SNP 45%, GRN 11%, UKIP 5%
(Tabs here)

TNS have Holyrood voting intentions of:
Constituency: CON 14%, LAB 20%, LDEM 5%, SNP 60%, Others 2%
Regional: CON 13%, LAB 21%, LDEM 5%, SNP 51%, GRN 7%
(Tabs here)


301 Responses to “More BES findings on What Went Wrong”

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  1. “Actually moving a part of Scotland to another jurisdiction is rather more difficult.”

    ———

    You mean like Berwick?!!

  2. Milibands labour overtook the tories in the polls in january 2011 .

  3. Carfrew

    That took a lot of time and a lot of lives. Still, I’m sure that the Duke of Buccleugh and his like would be happy to repeat that process in order to protect what their ancestors tried to ensure would pass untramelled to “Anderson Strathern Nominees Ltd., a company with a total paid-up share value of £4, whose shareholders are four Edinburgh lawyers, whose total assets amount to £4 and which has not traded since its incorporation in May 1992.”

    http://www.andywightman.com/archives/942

  4. Wow!

    40+ Labour MPs voted with the Opposition on the Welfare Bill!

  5. ON – probably more regret that Irony that the Centre-Left in E&W have been enable to come up with anything more than Tory-Lite including some social democracy by stealth.

    The Key GE for me was 1992, the last time Labour had a vaguely left wing manifesto and the gave their verdict (like 2015 the most left wing manifesto since then).

    The only solution Labour has found has been to be Tory-Lite and that has it’s limits.

    NB) I am not disparaging the 97-10 period in totality as there were many positives but few were sustainable when we no longer had good economic growth.

  6. My typing is shocking sorry!!

    ON – probably more regret than Irony that the Centre-Left in E&W have been unable to come up with anything more than Tory-Lite including some social democracy by stealth.
    The Key GE for me was 1992, the last time Labour had a vaguely left wing manifesto and the Electorate gave their verdict (like 2015 the most left wing manifesto since then).
    The only solution Labour has found has been to be Tory-Lite and that has its’ limits.

    NB) I am not disparaging the 97-10 period in totality as there were many positives but few were sustainable when we no longer had good economic growth

  7. Jim Jam

    I guessed you weren’t happy about it.

  8. “Leadership crisis without actually having a Leader!”

    Greg Hands

    “Party more divided now than at any time since the early Eighties,”

    Jason Cowley.

    ” Rough idea of how hard it’d be for new leader to lead PLP not-from-left?”

    Gaby Hinsliff

  9. Can’t say I recognise the characterisation of Gordon Brown as ” Tory-Lite” JIM JAM

    If that -and the 13 years of power it gave to the Labour Party are really a source of regret for you, then I suggest that what you really want is a party of protest .

    How many times does it have to be said-as you have just done-that a Left Wing offering has no appeal to the UK electorate.

  10. Colin

    Earlier we had TOH claiming to speak on behalf of all those living in England.

    Now we have you expressing an opinion on behalf of the entire UK electorate.

    There seems to be something of a developing pattern.

  11. OLDNAT

    Allan Christie
    “I suspect that the problem for the “Scottish Conservative Party” is that they are part of the Conservative Party!”
    _______

    It is a drawback for them I have to admit. Sort of toxic liability. ;-)

  12. COLIN

    Your party won a majority of 12 on a percentage of only 36.9%. Don’t get too carried away with the anomaly that is FPTP that tends to hide how unpopular parties really are with the electorate.

  13. The phrase Tory-Lite along with Neoliberal and austerity are badly grating with me. The left half of the political spectrum in this country has many things to contribute but it needs to find some less wonkily unappealing ways to say them.

    Of course there’s a certain Labour member and journalist currently in need of a job…

  14. Mr N

    “Of course there’s a certain Labour member and journalist currently in need of a job…”

    There are lots of ex-Labour MPs and their staffs in Scotland currently in need of a job. Next May, it looks like some Lab MSPs & their staff will join them.

    I doubt that tonight’s vote will have helped their chances of keeping their posts.

    I can understand that those terms must grate with you, when applied to your party, but when your leadership makes them such appropriate descriptors of the position of so many of your MPs, you can hardly be surprised.

  15. That’s right Colin, ignore the cross-party support for a whole raft of nationalisations, wouldn’t want those inconvenient facts to get in the way now, would we?

  16. @oldnat

    I dunno, you guys nearly voted to move Scotland out of the UK, and you didn’t exactly say it would be some insurmountable obstacle or anything. In fact it was sold as being pretty straightforward, what with keeping the BoE and oil prices inevitably staying high etc.

  17. Dunno that you can really claim that a left wing offering has no appeal to the UK electorate.

    It’s just that the left tend to split their vote, so it is hard for an individual party more of the left to get a majority.

    Also, it is not like Labour lost because their voters flooded to the Tories.

    Instead, many Labour votes switched to SNP, Greens and to UKIP over immigration.

  18. OLDNAT

    The phrase referred to ” the UK electorate” in the Parliamentary sense-as a majority.

    ALLAN CHRISTIE

    I’m only too aware of it. I was responding to the time honoured ( & time answered) proposition that if the Labour Party was more “Left Wing” it would be as appealing to the UK electorate as to certain of its members,

    For some in the Labour Party, the Blair/Brown victories really seem to amount to a political failure.

  19. Good morning all from a windy grey Giffnock.

    I’m looking forward to the morning commute into work. Going to take the bus in this morning and its the first time I’ve used a bus in years. Normally I drive up to the station and get the train in but the austerity is hitting the wallet. ;-)

    COLIN..

    Thanks for getting up early to reply to my comment.

    Labour has an identity crises at the moment. Does it lurch to the left or towards the right? The party and it’s many leadership contenders can’t make up their minds although that said one of the candidates would take the party into Stalin territory.
    ….
    ” For some in the Labour Party, the Blair/Brown victories really seem to amount to a political failure”
    ____

    I wouldn’t say political failure but legacy failure? It tends to linger!!

  20. MR NAMELESS

    “Of course there’s a certain Labour member and journalist currently in need of a job”
    _______

    I don’t who the person is but here is the link to Job Center Plus.

    https://www.gov.uk/contact-jobcentre-plus

  21. Last night was the culmination of a fortnight of hugely inept leadership of Labour’s unelected leader. We saw a rebellion by Labour MPs determined to preserve measures brought in by the first Blair administration being portrayed as a “lurch to the left”, reporting on Osborne’s changes being dominated by the political fallout rather than the substance of the impact on those doing their best to make ends meet. And Harman’s courting of Osborne only gives cover to his outrageous claim to be claiming the centre ground while enacting punitive measures against the working poor and disabled.

    About the only hope for Labour in all this is that there are only two months of this ineptitude left before a new leader reclaims the mantle of HM Opposition from the SNP. Unless the new leader is Kendall, who backed Harman to the hilt, in which case last night was a taste of things to come.

  22. “by”, not “of”

  23. The right of the party were waiting to lose to claim victory and conquer the party. The Labour party need to provide its core message – something – the right can’t just expect their dying support.

    I do wonder why some Labour party members are not Tories. The party should have known what the party could unite behind and that would have been against the bill.

    The big problem they have now is none of their current leadership contenders show any real ability to reach across the party and keep it united. Something Miliband achieved.

  24. CRAIG

    You seem to have forgotten who won the UK General Election with a clear but small majority.

  25. ALLAN

    I don’t get the impression that they think its a “legacy failure”, whatever that means.

    They see to have waited during 13 years of silence when in power, to moan that it wasn’t really the Labour Party.

    Presumably they have all had maxillofacial surgery to correct the trauma to their lips.

  26. FRASER

    @”The right of the party were waiting to lose to claim victory and conquer the party.”

    ……….and repeat those shameful victories of ’97 , ’01 & ’05 presumably?

  27. Colin – let me try again when less tired.

    Tory-Lite may be an exaggeration for the Blair/Brown years but it was the case that the LP leadership accepted the ‘consensus’ about the way the UK Economy should be run; and imo they would not have got elected without it.

    Many of the Social Democratic measures introduced by Labour were through stealth with Tax Credits being a classic example.

    The necessary early measures to address the urgent issues early in the period in Government were never replaced with long term, more sustainable changes.
    The trouble with redistribution by stealth is that it is unaffordable when the Economy is weak and can easily be reversed as the Cons are now.

    It can’t be right that people earning over £50K received tax credits under Labour.

    What I want is a bold leader who will say tax credits helped us deal with some of the most egregious inequalities we inherited but that we should have looked to scale back during the second period in Government and forge measures to deal with the causes of inequality.

    We think the Tories proposals are imbalanced and adversely affect many of the most vulnerable in our society.
    We can, though. no longer defend an out of date mechanism and will be aiming to develop a new model fit for purpose in 2020 and beyond.

    FWIW, therefore, I think abstaining on the main proposal whilst tabling ameliorating amendments is credible. Voting against achieves nothing other than self-satisfaction for those doing do – well intentioned though they are.

  28. Interesting article on Labour nominations from Luke Akehurst.Luke represents a rather secretive group Labour First (controlled by John Spellar mp) .Both Akehurst and spellar are supporting cooper as they are both very anti pr and anti devolution(her position and that of ed balls)

    http://labourlist.org/2015/07/are-there-any-patterns-in-the-clp-nominations-so-far/

    There may be a time lag as I seem to have upset anthony !!!!

  29. JIM JAM

    Thank you.

    I always respected & enjoyed your thoughtful posts.

    This one is typical & , as so often, leaves me searching for things to disagree with.

    Perhaps that in itself tells us both that there is middle way which could have wide appeal.

    So I just make two observations :-

    If a political idea or philosophy is limited in effect & application by the state of the economy, then it must itself be unsustainable-flawed even.

    Whilst accepting that some “inequalities” should be corrected by State intervention, including “redistribution” , I believe that you need to define those entities with great care & precision because on either side lie the extremes of Laissez Faire , and Imposed Uniformity.

    It is in this area-defining what those words mean , and where the balance between sensible & unwise State intervention lies-that I think most sensible & credible political dialogue should take place.

    I think the Conservative Party, particularly Osborne, shows signs of understanding this . The Labour Party , on the other hand seems more comfortable with clearer & more traditional divisions .

  30. @JimJam,

    I think that’s the heart of Labour’s current problem. They need a new platform – a new face with new policies and a new approach. Not offering “more of the same”, but also not offering to mimic the Tories.

    Good politics is not “that’s wrong” but “this is what’s right”.

    None of this can get underway until there is a new leader, although it would be nice if some green shoots were showing through in the debate between the candidates. In a way either Kendall or Corbyn would be “fresher” than Cooper and Burnham, as both would have a licence to move into new territory (although at different ends of Labour’s geography). I don’t really buy that “left wing” is a vote loser per se. I can see how Colin extrapolates that view from recent history, but the evidence base, as always is very thin (we don’t have that many general elections). I think the UK could easily vote for a relatively left wing premier, if they were perceived as competent and charismatic and the world economic environment was favourable. I think Corbyn’s problem would be in his iconoclasm rather than his socialism. The public can live with state ownership and high taxes. What they can’t accept is the perception of weakness in relation to things like Irish terrorism or a lack of patriotic fervour.

  31. Spot on Colin with your:-

    ”It is in this area-defining what those words mean , and where the balance between sensible & unwise State intervention lies-that I think most sensible & credible political dialogue should take place”.

    Neil A – I agree about the candidates and for me Corbyn is unelectable but I have been very disappointed by Liz Kendall which is why I will be voting for a safe pair of hands (Cooper) rather than risk what could be a debacle with LK.

  32. @Phil Haines – as a fellow leftist, I have some sympathy with your post, but I do think you have not recognised the true nature of the problem. My feeling is that @Jim Jam’s assessment is closer to the truth.

    On a strictly factual point, tax credits were not a measure originating in the Blair years – they were invented and introduced by Nigel Lawson. Brown and Blair extended and revamped them, and subsequently they increased further in scope and scale. @Jim Jam is correct – there really is a huge question over why Labour, and then the coalition, permitted tax credits to go to families on £50,000 plus incomes.

    Defending tax credits does not, in itself, make the left morally superior. It merely means they are willing to support a system that entrenches huge income disparity and requires state involvement to stop people starving or being made homeless. In my eyes, that is a humiliation for the left, not a success.

    If New Labour extended the scale and scope of tax credits, it was because they were far too accepting of the false market consensus that permitted the growth of the working poor. They were, famoulsy, intensely relaxed about the super rich, and perhaps this is the legacy that Labour needs to be addressing, more than the ballooning costs of the sticking plaster that is tax credits.

    There are elements of Osborne’s proposals that are eminently reasonable. I can’t for the life of me understand why there is any discussion about restricting child tax credits to two children only in two years time. Personally I would do this in 37 weeks, but allowing people a little extra time to plan their families is reasonably humane. Some people have suggested that those having family planning accidents or being from religions that don’t support contraception are being discriminated against. Well – that’s tough. You make choices, and accidents have consequences, hard though that might sound.

    Other elements of the proposals are objectionable, but their is also a material difference to the situation now and in 1997. The tax credit bill is far higher, and we have less money. In terms of the long term rebalancing of earnings and equality, they have failed. It’s time for Labour to move on and identify a more effective way to represent the less well off – and preferably one that doesn’t entrench low wages and burden taxpayers too heavily.

    The sad fact is that Osborne is correct in his broad approach – that the burden needs to shifted away from the state and more towards employers. Quite staggering really, from a Tory. A consensus could emerge on this overall principle, with the argument moving onto how the business world is regulated and persuaded to reform, and this is where Labour’s real challenge lies.

    My personal view is that Harman has recognised where the country is, and correctly identified what Labour could do right now, without prejudice to their final stance on the immediate and wider issues.

    If the left are insistent on simply defending an outdated, ineffective and expensive way of what is effectively maintaining poverty, then Labour are lost, but if they recapture the imagination that led to great Labour victories of the past, and real and lasting social change in this country, then we all have a chance.

    At present, I feel less than excited.

  33. “It is in this area-defining what those words mean , and where the balance between sensible & unwise State intervention lies-that I think most sensible & credible political dialogue should take place.”

    ————-

    Well, we might talk about where State intervention should lie, and in practice it makes sense that the State intervenes when the private sector isn’t doing a very good job. Private sector not building enough houses, state builds some more. Or maybe the State will bail out the banks when they screw up.

    Trouble is, most people may not be spending their days discussing the ideal mix and mechanisms of public vs private. The dialogue instead might be more about the vans and stuff, as indicated by the salience of immigration in the issue trackers, scoring even ahead of the economy.

  34. I think Corbyn would be a vote loser (in any case I would not vote for him as leader), but who in 1983 would have proposed something like Gay Marriage? It would be seen as beyond “loony left”.

    You have to shape public opinion as the left did successfully on personal freedoms and rights. Then you move things in your favour.

    The weakness in Osborne’s approach is that it all makes sense if you are detached from reality (either in Westminster or in a middle class housing bubble fantasy land), It is when reality comes crashing in that Labour will get their chance. If they flunk it or continue their current shambles then another party will take advantage.

  35. We didn’t used to have problem with tax credits. Because most had a decent job.

    The discussion thus should take into careful consideration how to create decent-paying jobs. Leaving it just to the private sector has issues, not least because there is an incentive for them to reduce wages and employment.

    Practice at the moment seems to be to force peeps off welfare into any old job, regardless of its wages, security, or hours worked. Until practice is about ensuring decent jobs, problems will continue.

  36. “You have to shape public opinion as the left did successfully on personal freedoms and rights. Then you move things in your favour.”

    ————

    But it helps if you don’t have much media opposition to these things. Labour’s problem in part is when there is media opposition to some things they might want to do economically, for example…

  37. As long as housing is very expensive in the areas where there are jobs, then people will need state handouts or live in shanty towns.

    Instead we just hear waffle about making housing more “affordable” which is just ways of putting people deeper into debt rather than making housing cheaper. I am not surprised that people blame it on immigrants when the non-UKIP parties come up with complete nonsense of a different sort. At least UKIP’s nonsense is easy to understand,

  38. The right have a unifying issue: they have assets they want to preserve. Thus Tories can get the votes of around a quarter of the eligible populace.

    The left aren’t so unified. Some have national identify issues as their dominant causes hence voting SNP or UKip. Some out the environment first, hence Greens.

    The right also have an identity issue, hence some vote Ukip, but not enough to outweigh Labour’s losses.

  39. The housing thing just goes to show how delusional some people are. They love high house prices but hate paying out housing benefit. I really don’t know how politicians are supposed to respond to that sort of idiotic double-think. Osborne is just setting himself up for a fall by pandering to it.

  40. Good to see a well-informed, good natured and constructive discussion of Labour’s dilemma.

    In many ways we seem to be at a tipping point in the country’s political direction. We don’t know if, say 6 years from now, the UK will still include Scotland or have moved in a federal direction. We may be in or out of the EU. The Tory reforms may have become the new normal, accepted by the opposition rather than to be reversed. And we don’t know if Labour in E&W is heading towards the same fate as LiS.

    If there was ever a credible left-of-centre alternative to Labour in E&W, I suspect Labour would be in bigger – even terminal – decline. The success of the SNP shows just how much potential support there is for a dynamic, well led, united, sensible party of the left that appears comparatively free of cronyism and power-broking.

    Whether Labour can become that party is the moot point. Maybe not, looking at the current thrashing around. In which case it could be time for a new SDP, or even a resurgence of the LDs.

  41. I am not sure how many contributers listened to the debate and the uncontrovertable evidence that this budget will hit the poor and in partcular the working poor extremely hard.

    Labour should have voted against they are alienanting their already alienated core vote.

    What Labour needs is David Miliband as leader (none of the current contenders are nearly charasmatic enough) and Jeremy Corbyn’s policies.

    Scotland voted for a party that has almost identical policies as Corbyn but better leaders and a better strategic team. So if Scots really are just the same as the rest of the UK those policies would have appeal in England too.

    Remember Scotland is the 3rd most prosperous part of the UK after London and the South East. So it is not related to wealth but to values.

  42. “…or even a resurgence of the LDs.”

    ————-

    God, is it that time already?? Aren’t there supposed to be lots more plagues and floods and sightings of horsemen etc. first?

  43. “Remember Scotland is the 3rd most prosperous part of the UK after London and the South East.”

    ————

    If I have learned one thing on this board, it is this. Peeps have made sure this notion is firmly located in long term memory, along with the interesting take on oil prices some Scots seem to have, and that this is Salmond’s favourite site as opposed to WoS!!

  44. Somejohn,

    I think Labour were very lucky that the Tories didn’t win a majority in 2010 and the Lib Dems went into a coalition with them. The Lib Dems pre-2010 would have presented Labour in E&W with similar problems to the SNP in Scotland. Indeed, were it not for the Red Dems, the Labour vote in E&W would have declined in 2015- they were the one bright spot for Labour in the whole election.

  45. Alec

    You are over-thinking this. The idea of moving from state-support towards shifting costs to employers was Ed Miliband’s policy prior to the 2015 election (pre-distribution).

    What the government are doing is making poor families poorer. Simple as.

    The two child tax credit limit is completely arbitrary. It should be obvious that with this and the limit on higher tax payer child benefit is part of a wider plan to remove government support for families.

    The problem is that it is authoritarian and it punishes blameless children as well as parents. Plenty of people could simply not afford to have children at all without government intervention. Supporting children is a simple case of government intervention to make the economy work for the wants of people rather than the other way round.

  46. Phil Haines – “Last night was the culmination of a fortnight of hugely inept leadership of Labour’s unelected leader.”

    Come now, she won her deputy leader role fair and square, and with Miliband throwing in the towel, she’s leader fair and square, the same as Johnson after Kennedy or Ford after Nixon.

    Labour didn’t have the numbers to defeat this bill. So she could have opted for futily opposing or leaving options open for the new leader by abstaining. She cleverly chose the latter.

    All of govt is a series of experiments and no-one knows how things will work out till policy has been tried for a few years. If this thing fails, the Lab can oppose a few years down the line, saying, we had an open mind, but look at the data now. If it succeeds, they will likely adopt the policy.

    Finally, with the loss of the Scottish contingent, it was a dead cert that Lab would move rightwards to try to capture England. The UK is going to have a series of centre or centre-right govt whether Lab or Conservatives are in power (the electorate in England will choose the ones who are not left, so Colin is right there – they’ll go instead for the ones closest to the centre).

    There’ll probably be grumbling from Scotland, but they’ll just have to lump it. This is what happens when you opt out of pan-UK politics. They could of course have another go for independence – it would be a great deal of fun for the rest of us watching the pious Mhairi Black imposing austerity of the sort that would make poor Osborne blanch, due to the collapsed oil price etc!

  47. @Candy

    Well, I mentioned the collapsed oil price a few months back, and the Indy peeps had a quite brilliant response. They simply asked “wot about the banks then? Did they cost more?”

    Which is a bit like saying you don’t have to worry about contracting pleurisy, because ebola’s possibly worse.

    Not to mention the UK with its Central Bank bailed out the odd Scottish Bank anyway. Woulda been interesting to see how easy they might have coped if independent without the BoE backing.

    But it was around Xmas time so I decided not to inquire further, and disappeared to go and do summat else. Can’t remember what, but prolly involved coffee…

  48. @Carfrew

    The banks that were bailed were mostly Scottish! Imagine if we’d taken a German attitude and charged every Scot a surcharge for being so “lazy and stupid” as to share a nationality and location with Fred Goodwin!

    Regarding another referendum – I think a lot of businesses stayed put last time because they were sure there’d be a No vote and that it would be a one-off. If they have a vote every three years, it would be like playing Russian roulette. Best to relocate before a bullet goes off!

    It always makes me chuckle when the SNP opposes “austerity”. If they were genuinely against it, they wouldn’t be advocating independence.

  49. @Hawthorn – “….is part of a wider plan to remove government support for families.”

    And so it should be. Not in the way that Osborne is managing it, I should say, but I can’t conceive of the mentality of any political party that doesn’t have a plan to remove welfare support completely, or at least as far as is humanly possible.

    This is one area where I felt Blair scored an absolute bullseye. Despite the visible discomfort of many in the hall, he stood at conference and boldly said that measuring the success of a Labour government by the size of the welfare budget was wrong. Great governments have small welfare budgets, and eliminating the need for welfare should be the target.

    I agree with everyone. Many of these cuts are targeted at the working poor. Osborne assumes markets will adjust and wages increase to fill the gap. They won’t in the short term, but his thinking in it’s broadest sense is sound.

    There are parts of this package which are awful, and parts that are acceptable. None of it is pleasant, but our circumstances demand some trimming of the sails. Underneath it all, a new system is needed, and while I have little faith in the Tories to get this right, at present, Labour aren’t even thinking about it.

    Corbyn is busy calling his troops to arms and marching them to their Maginot Line.

    Like the real Maginot Line, it is misplaced strategically, and swallowing such vast resources that other vital components of Labour’s defence are being starved.

    Rapid defeat beckons.

  50. @Candy

    Well, others have mentioned business relocating before, but apparently this is just “scare tactics” so couldn’t possibly happen, like the collapsing oil price.

    They have this amazing answer to all that too of course: borrow lots of money!!

    Whereupon someone like Lefty points out potential difficulties in borrowing money at favourable rates when you don’t control your own currency and the price of your main asset is through the floor and business is relocating.

    But pointing out such realities tends to be considered not just scare-mongering but even anti-scots, so he doesn’t get much of a reply.

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