“But the sheer size of the survey […] makes it of interest…”

One of the most common errors in interpreting polls and surveys is the presumption that because something has a really huge sample size it is more meaningful. Or indeed, meaningful at all. Size isn’t what makes a poll meaningful, it is how representative the sample is. Picture it this way, if you’d done an EU referendum poll of only over 60s you’d have got a result that was overwhelmingly LEAVE… even if you polled millions of them. If you did a poll and only included people under 30 you’d have got a result that was overwhelmingly REMAIN… even if you polled millions of them. What matters is that the sample accurately reflects the wider population you want them to represent, that you have the correct proportions of both young and old (and male & female, rich & poor, etc, etc). Size alone does not guarantee that.

The classic real world example of this is the 1936 Presidential Election in the USA. I’ve referred to this many times but I thought it worth reciting the story in full, if only so people can direct others to it in future.

Back in 1936 the most respected barometers of public opinion was the survey conducted by the Literary Digest, a weekly news magazine with a hefty circulation. At each Presidential election the Digest carried out a survey by mail, sending surveys to its million-plus subscriber base and to a huge list of other people, gathered from phone directories, membership organisations, subscriber lists and so on. There was no attempt at weighting or sampling, just a pure numbers grab, with literally millions of replies. This method had correctly called the winner for the 1920, 1924, 1928 and 1932 Presidential elections.

In 1936 the Digest sent out more than ten million ballots. The sample size for their final results was 2,376,523. This was, obviously, huge. One can imagine how the today’s papers would write up a poll of that size and, indeed, the Digest wrote up their results with not a little hubris. If anything, they wrote it up with huge, steaming, shovel loads of hubris. They bought all the hubris in the shop, spread it across the newsroom floor and rolled about in it cackling. Quotes included:

  • “We make no claim to infallibility. We did not coin the phrase “uncanny accuracy” which has been so freely applied to our Polls”
  • “Any sane person can not escape the implication of such a gigantic sampling of popular opinion as is embraced in THE LITERARY DIGEST straw vote.”
  • “The Poll represents the most extensive straw ballot in the field—the most experienced in view of its twenty-five years of perfecting—the most unbiased in view of its prestige—a Poll that has always previously been correct.”

digestpoll

You can presumably guess what is going to happen here. The final vote shares in the 1936 Literary Digest poll were 57% for Alf Landon (Republican) and 43% for Roosevelt (Democrat). This worked out as 151 electoral votes for Roosevelt and 380 for Landon. The actual result was 62% Roosevelt, 38% for Landon. Roosevelt received 523 in the electoral college, Landon received 8, one of the largest landslide victories in US history. Wrong does not nearly begin to describe how badly off the Literary Digest was.

At the same time George Gallup was promoting his new business, carrying out what would become proper opinion polls and using them for a syndicated newspaper column called “America Speaks”. His methods were quite far removed from modern methods – he used a mixed mode method, mail-out survey for richer respondents and face-to-face for poorer, harder to reach respondents. The sample size was also still huge by modern standards, about 40,000*. The important different from the Literary Digest poll however was that Gallup attempted to get a representative sample – the mail out surveys and sampling points for face-to-face interviews had quotas on geography and on urban and rural areas, interviewers had quotas for age, gender and socio-economic status.

pic2097election

Gallup set out to challenge and defeat the Literary Digest – a battle between a monstrously huge sample and Gallup’s smaller but more representative sample. Gallup won. His final poll predicted Roosevelt 55.7%, Landon 44.3%.* Again, by modern standards it wasn’t that accurate (the poll by his rival Elmo Roper, who was setting quotas based on the census rather than his turnout estimates was actually better, predicting Roosevelt on 61%… but he wasn’t as media savvy). Nevertheless, Gallup got the story right, the Literary Digest hideously wrong. George Gallup’s reputation was made and the Gallup organisation became the best known polling company in the US. The Literary Digest’s reputation was shattered and the magazine folded a couple of years later. The story has remained a cautionary tale of why a representative poll with a relatively small sample is more use than a large poll that makes no effort to be representative, even if it is absolutely massive.

The question of why the Digest poll was so wrong is interesting itself. Its huge error is normally explained through where the sample came from – they drew it from things like magazine subscribers, automobile association members and telephone listings. In depression era America many millions of voters didn’t have telephones and couldn’t afford cars or magazine subscriptions, creating an inbuilt bias towards wealthier Republican voters. In fact it appears to be slightly more complicated than that – Republican voters were also far more likely to return their slips than Democrat voters were. All of these factors – a skewed sampling frame, differential response rate and no attempt to combat these – combined to make the Literary Digest’s sample incredibly biased, despite its massive and impressive size.

Ultimately, it’s not the size that matters in determining if a poll is any good. It’s whether it’s representative or not. Of course, a large representative poll is better than a small representative poll (though it is a case of diminishing returns) but the representativeness is a prerequisite for it being of any use at all.

So next time you see some open-access poll shouting about having tens of thousands of responses and are tempted to think “Well, it may not be that representative, but it’s got a squillion billion replies so it must mean something, mustn’t it?” Don’t. If you want something that you can use to draw conclusions about the wider population, it really is whether it reflects that population that counts. Size alone won’t cut it.

=

* You see different sample sizes quoted for Gallup’s 1936 poll – I’ve seen people cite 50,000 as his sample size or just 3,000. The final America Speaks column before the 1936 election doesn’t include the number of responses he got (though does mention he sent out about 300,000 mailout surveys to try and get it). However, the week after (8th Nov 1936) the Boston Globe had an interview with the organisation going through the details of how they did it that says they aimed at 40,000 responses.
** If you are wondering why the headline in that thumbnail says 54% when I’ve said Gallup called the final share as 55.7%, it’s because the polls were sometimes quoted as share of the vote for all candidates, sometimes for share of the vote for just the main two parties. I’ve quoted both polls as “share of the main party vote” to keep things consistent.


475 Responses to “Size alone is not enough – the tale of the Literary Digest”

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  1. @Sam

    That is what he is saying now.

    The point is, that is not what his website said, or what he said originally.

  2. SAFFER

    Panelbase are a perfectly good on-line polling organisation. The large swings are presumably not from a previous poll but the 2012 council elections, where they were:

    SNP 32.33%
    SLab 31.39%
    SCon 13.27%
    Ind 11.78%
    SLD 6.62%
    SGP 2.31%

    No other party or description got above UKIP’s 0.28%

  3. I pressed the Submit button before I added that the Scottish Council percentages I quote are for first preferences in a multi-member STV election.

  4. @ Bigfatron

    Ron
    You know better than me what he said originally and on his website. I doubt if he has changed his claim about being at Hillsborough and now he says he has his father’s word in support of that claim. there is clearly a difference about knowing someone and being close friends with one. I do not know if his word is doubted about knowing anyone who lost his/her life at Hillsborough. You will probably let me know what I am missing.

  5. Re: Scottish VIs

    Too early to know what is going to happen in the Local Government Elections.

    However, when it comes to ‘Saving Scottish Labour’, Kezia is once again pushing for a federalisation of the UK. It seems that this is SLAB’s only ‘big idea’ at the moment – and I’m not sure how it fits with the needs of a local election campaign. That said, if no-one in London is listening to what (IMO) seems at least an explorable idea, then has Labour as a whole anything to say to anyone north of the Border?

  6. @saffer

    I agree with @ac’s comments. One key issue will be turnout. The Panelbase poll suggested that over 80% of those polled said they were likely to vote which is clearly not going to happen so as I understand it the VI figures have been calculated by excluding don’t knows. The other issue will be how use the STV system.

  7. Sam

    On Nuttall.

    He was 13, so he is wrong on that. He claimed that it was a close friend (a victim) which he restricted only now. According to the Liverpool Echo he was omnipresent as he was inside and outside at the same time in Hillsborough. Either of these could be an alt fact (or both). He hasn’t said a word of it before becoming politically convenient.

    He also claimed that he had a PhD (retracted) and that he was a professional footballer for Tranmere Rovers (retracted). He also said that the NHS should be privatised (retracted).

    There was also something about food, but I can’t remember. He submitted the wrong address for the election candidate registration.

    So there.

  8. Lazio Yes Nuttall as a leader of a political party not just a candidate does not come across with all those examples as very honest.Will it effect the by election and his leadership ? Who can tell nowadays.

  9. re Nutall and all that, but bringing it back to the potential impact in Stoke (which I think was the intent of @Alec’s original post on the subject).

    I watched “Last week tonight” on sky atlantic last night; whilst it is satire, it proposed an interesting theory on the impact of fake news on election results (in an obvious but different context)

    My words, not his, but the argument was roughly thus: There are those who only receive their news from unreliable news sources, and are therefore susceptible to fake news. So, to use a rather old UK example, there were those in the 80s whose only news source was a certain newspaper and therefore genuinely believed that a popular comedian of the time had dined on a diet of domestic rodents. If, then, a politician had stood up and said “this is outrageous; if I’m voted in to power, the first thing I will do is have this celebrity arrested for cruelty to animals”, then this group would have reacted favourably and potentially voted accordingly (“now here’s a politician that talks my language and is going to deal with the issues that are forefront in my mind”).

    Unless the same news source, at a later date, puts equal weight to a retraction of the accuracy of the original report – which is unlikely – then such individuals would turn out to vote in the genuine belief that the report was true and that the politicians was going to do something about it.

    So it is with Nutall. The fact that he has retracted previous statements will, for this group, have no impact on VI; the antithesis to “the damage has been done” applies (I can’t think of the appropriate cliché)

  10. Had to remove the last word as was moderated but BFR’s handle inspired me.

    Nutall the film could be played by Paul Giamatti the original BIG FAT ……

  11. @Chris Riley
    “polling could both be completely accurate at the time taken and perfectly wrong in predicting the future election that they’re polling.”
    The prediction of the future election result can be checked.
    Lacking some independent completely accurate means of answering the pollsters’ question, the accuracy of the poll answers cannot.
    The only recourse seems to me to be multiple polls, some with different methods of adjustment, but at least one set by the same pollster, with the same methodology, but several completely different sets of people sampled, all aiming to be representative. It would then be possible to average the latter set (equivalent to a single large sample, but also revealing how the individual samples departed from the average)
    Comparing the results from the polls with different methodologies would point to how those affected the results. To do the job properly, those polls ought also to be done with multiple samples.
    If polling companies were really concerned about the accuracy of their results, they would bite the bullet of the cost of such an exercise.
    But even if they did, the result would still not guarantee to predict the future election result, because of intervening “events, dear, boy, events” so I can see why they don’t do it.
    Predicting the outcome of a UK general election, and predicting the votes cast in it for each party are of course not the same thing. So long as the latter is within the poll margin of error, the prediction is ‘correct’. That makes close run elections a bit of a nightmare, because people expect the “right” answer, even if the polls say for example C 12,100,000 +/- 300,000; L 11,900.000+/- 300,000 (regarded as a win for C) while the actual election figures might be C11,950,000 and
    L 12,050,000 within the polling MoE, and the seats, well, you tell me.

  12. A question for AW, I think.
    Given the difficulty of predicting turnout, do pollsters take account of voting history as revealed in the marked register?
    Parties ( certainly the one for which I am active) spend good money and inordinate amounts of activists’ time recording voting history (though whether we then do anything very useful with it is a moot point).
    In my experience on the doorstep, it’s pretty rare to encounter somebody who admits to not voting but if we have official records which demonstrate that they haven’t bothered to vote in the last 6 elections one might think that’s a pretty strong predictor of whether they’re likely to bother next time.

  13. NEIL A
    I take your point, but we still give weight to a ‘poll of polls’ do we not? Is this faith istrength in numbers also misguided?

  14. Guymonde – nope, it would be brilliant if we did (and I think US pollsters do) but in this country it’s almost impossible to do. Political parties and elected representatives are entitled to an electronic copy of the marked register so are able to freely use that data for electoral purposes (or if a council don’t record it electronically, are allowed a photocopy of it). Opinion polling companies have no such right, so we can’t use it.

    The general public can inspect a physical copy of the marked register, but aren’t allowed to take a copy or get an electronic copy. When we were examining what went wrong with the 2015 polls we did gather some of that data, but only for selected places and at great time and cost (we hired people – and spent our own time – going into electoral services departments in local council offices with a list of YouGov panellists in our pre-election polling in that council area and marking off using pen and paper whether they actually voted). That gave us some solid data to help work out how well turnout modelling was working, but to do that as a matter of routine for a panel of hundreds of thousands of people with a regular turnover of tens of thousands of people, spread across the whole country…. alas not.

  15. DEZ

    @”.Will it effect the by election ”

    Against any half competent Labour candidate ?-Yes.

    Against Gareth Snell?-as you say-who can tell.

    If Nuttall beats Snell that will really be something !

  16. As it was discussed a week or so ago, Trinity Mirror has affiliated newspapers in Stoke, so the whole thing about the UKIP leader may feed through.

    Now the confusion (mine) it may have a short term effect or may not, but has a long term effect. I can write a nice narrative for both…

    ——

    Back to the sampling – there is an element of Bayesian statistics applied in the post-2015 polls (essentially an ex-ante probability to vote, corrected by an ex-post checking if the person actually voted). It is further complicated by the overrepresentation of Labour and young voters in 2015, which then fed to the ex-ante probability (highly questionable methodologically, but follows the logic). Now mixing Bayesian with frequentists …

    So, while I have all kinds of problems with the methodology, I think the current VI figures in the right ballpark. The trouble is if the methodology is devised for the particular situation learnt from 2015, what are the boundaries (I.e. What would bring it down – this is my major problem with the original report on the failure. If I claim something, I know what boundaries it is valid for.)

  17. Harking back to the last thread and the ‘debate’ between BFR and Carfrew (et al) about liberalism (et al).
    I’m not going to get into definitions of liberalism etc as that will just cause heartache.
    One of the comments, however, concerned the effect of globalisation and a statement that it had worked badly for poorer people.
    I recently rewatched Hans Gosling’s splendid lecture ‘Don’t Panic!’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FACK2knC08E&feature=youtu.be#t=2939.903364 which points to the dramatic improvements in standard of life for people across Asia, South AMerica and, to a lesser extent, Africa. This has accompanied the globalisation expansion – whether there is a causal link is for greater minds than mine to quarrel over.
    It leads me to the conclusion that the undoubted squeeze on the less advantaged in developed countries is to do with how the spoils of globalisation are distributed rather than an inevitable consequence. In other words, we have decided, politically, that this shall be the outcome.
    We can decide another outcome, whilst still embracing globalisation, should we so choose.
    Barring catastrophes, this is what will happen in the end. It’s just a matter of time IMO

  18. @Guymonde
    You are right about the positive side of globalisation for developing countries – however we have also ‘decided’ through globalisation that the already extremely wealthy shall do exceptionally well out of it.

    The nationalist approach might decry the relative impacts on the western poor as against the developing world poor; the more left of centre might focus on the relative under-performance of developed poor relative compared to developed rich, especially the ultra rich.

    There was a stat which I might remember wrongly, but I think it was that over 80% of the additional value created in the USA in the last twenty years had been retained by just the top 100,000 individuals. It goes a long way to explaining why so many Americans are so pissed off…

  19. Colin

    Your points about Nuttall and the by election are correct.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised if he resigned before the 23rd. He is not Farage,

  20. @guymonde

    2I’m not going to get into definitions of liberalism etc as that will just cause heartache.”

    ———–

    lol, no one drowned!! Dunno what’s wrong with a bit of heartache anyway, you might expect that when stuff peeps have invested in gets challenged. Doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to have cherished assumptions checked out.

    And it was as much about the practice of liberalism as definitions. We did quite well to cover summat big like an entire ideology in a day. And I learned quite a bit of useful stuff and having done a bit more thinking and exploring can now see why we were at cross purposes somewhat. It was one of those things where neither of us was particularly wrong, per se…

    But yeah, to deal with your other point, exporting jobs might benefit those receiving the jobs, but ideally new jobs would be created here to replace them. Then it would be win-win…

  21. Laszlo – If he was Farage he would un-resign shortly after.

  22. @Guymonde – I’m very much in agreement. As @BFR suggests, the stats really don’t l!e. Globalisation has lifted millions out of poverty in many poorer regions, but in western economies (and probably elsewhere too) the delivery model we opted for has allowed income and wealth disparities to grow hugely.

    One part of the solution, in my view, which is a view which would be very difficult to make electorally attractive but makes complete economic sense, is to return to a much more collective means of wage bargaining.

    The loss of various mechanisms to represent workers in pay negotiations, including unions, wage councils etc, have been a principle cause of the driving down of the proportion of GDP secured by labour.

    If anything, the middle classes have suffered as much from this as more manual sectors, as once the bottom rungs of the ladder are set lower, everything above them has to fall in step.

  23. “I’m not going to get into definitions of liberalism etc as that will just cause heartache.”

    ————-

    if things continue as they have been, this is set to get worse with the overpopulated elite thing…

  24. Sorry for being lazy, but does anyone have the latest polling (if any) for Stoke Central and Copeland?

    By-elections are odd beasts. How on earth has Ukip managed to turn their best chance of a major parliamentary breakthrough in a Labour seat into a referendum on Paul Nuttall and Arron Banks’s views and/or experience of the Hillsborough tragedy? Simply bizarre.

    Copeland by comparison is looking far more sedate.

  25. oops, sorry peeps, copy paste error, meant to be quoting Alec, but somehow it didn’t copy…

    try again…

    @Alec

    “If anything, the middle classes have suffered as much from this as more manual sectors, as once the bottom rungs of the ladder are set lower, everything above them has to fall in step.”

    ————-

    if things continue as they have been, this is set to get worse with the overpopulated elite thing…

  26. Carfrew
    “but ideally new jobs would be created here to replace them”
    Yes, or some other construct that makes the availability of jobs less crucial, such as universal basic income combined with decent housing that people can afford from their UBI or their basic job.

  27. @BFR


    There was a stat which I might remember wrongly, but I think it was that over 80% of the additional value created in the USA in the last twenty years had been retained by just the top 100,000 individuals. It goes a long way to explaining why so many Americans are so pissed off…”

    And yet they chose as the one to address this broken system one of its chief beneficiaries…Who promptly stuffed his cabinet fully of several others!

  28. @guymonde

    and maybe some storage…

  29. @David Colby

    I think the benefit of “polls of polls” is more in evening out fluctuations and in compensating for varied methodology.

    If Opinium are showing the Tories on average 3 points higher than Yougov are, both companies tripling their sample size is unlikely to iron that out.

    @Alec

    Surely the main effect of more successful wage bargaining by workers in the developed world would be an even greater incentive for conglomerates to move those jobs to poorer countries? Hence the “value” (so the populists see it) of Trumpalist bully tactics against those companies (move those jobs to Mexico and we’ll slap extra taxes on you etc).

  30. @guymonde

    well I say we need more jobs to replace, but of course if they get exported too…

  31. @BFR

    The stat to which you refer may be one I recollect which showed that the median American male earns today the same amount, in real terms, that he earned in the mid 1970s.

  32. @neil A

    “Surely the main effect of more successful wage bargaining by workers in the developed world would be an even greater incentive for conglomerates to move those jobs to poorer countries?”

    ———–

    so we need to create jobs not easily exported. Like your job fer instance…

  33. @Neil A – there are obviously a lot of competing influences on companies, but it’s important to look beyond unions as purely wage negotiators. This is where I think unions themselves sometimes lose their way, but the understanding of industrial democracy by bosses and politicians is weak.

    Better H&S, better efficiency and better quality are all things that can be made easier if there are better links between management and it’s workforce, with union engagement one avenue for providing an independent channel that can help companies.

    If it was as simple as wage rates, then we wouldn’t have any jobs conducted in the UK that couldn’t be done for lower wages elsewhere, so there are clearly other influences at work. Having unions, like as happens in German industry, can actually mean your business maximises those other advantages, as well as ensures workers get a fairer share.

  34. @guymonde

    I’m quite positive about the basic income thing myself, but possibly need a lot of peeps in work to afford it…

  35. “If it was as simple as wage rates, then we wouldn’t have any jobs conducted in the UK that couldn’t be done for lower wages elsewhere, so there are clearly other influences at work.”

    ————

    krugman won a Nobel for showing this to be the case. Things like transport costs, and the fact peeps like choice, means that you can’t just have all the car production in just a few of the lowest wage countries. This is why Germany can still be very competitive. Peeps like their range of brands and stuff…

  36. Saffer

    “Do any of our Scots friends here have a view on the state of play, or on PanelbaseWings accuracy?”

    You don’t need to be a Scot to know that Panelbase is a reputable polling company.

    Of course, like all companies it is paid by clients to as the questions that they want asked, so it’s worth looking at the actual questions asked, to see if the questions are neutral, or (as in the recent Panelbase/SLab poll – probably the same one) testing political lines.

    Asking the question that Wings put “Which party do you intend to give your first preference vote to in the 2017 Scottish council elections” seems very neutral.

    Perhaps of more interest would be a question on 2nd preference votes. If that was asked, we’ll need to wait and see.

    On this question, Wings’ bullet points are –

    •there are no significant differences between genders
    •older age groups swing away from the SNP to the Tories
    •but the SNP are still the most popular party even among the elderly
    people born in Scotland, or anywhere outside the UK, love the SNP
    Scottish residents born elsewhere in the EU really hate the Tories
    but Scottish residents born in England are overwhelmingly Tory
    almost 80% of 2014 Yes voters will vote SNP
    55% of Remain voters and 35% of Leave voters will vote SNP
    the Tories are now more than twice as popular among 2014 No voters as Labour
    46% of Holyrood 2016 Labour voters now intend to vote for someone else

    As Wings comments – “Make of all of that, what you will”.

    http://wingsoverscotland.com/kicking-down-the-doors/#more-91651

  37. @Alec

    I don’t disagree, but the point was about using union power to drive up wages, as a solution to the problem of the 1% grasping all the wealth. For me the long term solution is more about international cooperation on tax regimes, to ensure that a fair share of that wealth is shorn from the fleeces of the corporations and chanelled back to the rest.

    The effect of globalisation on exporting moveable jobs from expensive economies to cheap ones is, taken as a whole (and from a global, not national, perspective), a positive one although there are clearly negative effects for those whose jobs are moved out from under them.

    I’d rather see a world where British jobs are not exported to India or Poland because Indians and Poles enjoy wages and standards of living comparable to Britons rather than one where such exports are prohibited by barriers erected by populists. I do accept that this is to some extent an unobtainable fantasy objective at least in anything other than the very long term. It’s one of the reasons I don’t like mass migration. I don’t think it’s healthy to just accept that some countries are sh*t, and other countries are great, and that obviously millions of people want to move from the sh*t ones to the great ones.

    @Carfrew

    The world would be better if my job didn’t have to exist of course, but actually a combination of technology and a very smart Indian graduate could probably do most of my job for half the price.

    I suspect it won’t be long till some police functions, like research and analysis, are outsourced globally. We have a serious shortage of decent staff, partly as a result of budget cuts but partly as a result of paying so little money for a job that requires quite serious brainpower.

    On citizen income, I am more and more attracted to the idea. I think it should be examined as part of a package of measures to completely reform the relationship between people, work, leisure and money, but I think we’ve been over this before? My great hope is that one of the countries that repeatedly toys with the idea will actually give it a shot, so we can see what actually happens. To date, the idea doesn’t seem to have much public support, whichever side of the poltical divide it’s pitched from. Electorates are still very much wedded to the idea that a person’s value and moral standing is derived from them earning their own money and paying their own way.

  38. Instead of Nuttall, his press secretary, Lynda Roughley, is ready resign, as it was all her fault. One wonders where she had the information from. Now, it is one thing to present alternative facts, it is another to organise a scapegoat – in terms of polling of course. I still think he will resign.

    If Labour cannot capitalise on these things … mind I heard that the campaign is not particularly strong on the doorsteps.

    RAF – I don’t think there has been any reliable or verified polling in the two constituencies.

  39. @oldnat

    “55% of Remain voters and 35% of Leave voters will vote SNP”

    “As Wings comments – “Make of all of that, what you will”.”

    55% of 1,661,191 = 913,655
    35% of 1,018,322 = 356,413

    Total – 1,270,068 potential votes, but the turnout is likely to be way down on indyref or brexit. 2012’s local election was 39.6%.

    At 2012 turnout, it suggests approx. 748,000 SNP votes (up 245K from 2012). We’ll have to wait and see.

    If the pro-EU parties of Scotland mobilise the 62% remain voters, it might make for a more interesting election (for the ongoing Brexit debate). I expect turnout to be 45% or higher. The couple of local elections in November were 30%-ish, with far less coverage and the wrong time of the year.

    A 50% or higher turnout would be very encouraging for Scotland’s electoral record, considering 2012’s turnout.

  40. Alec,
    ” but in western economies (and probably elsewhere too) the delivery model we opted for has allowed income and wealth disparities to grow hugely.”

    Surly this isnt a question of delivery model. The model is factory owner makes disproportionate profits compared to workers. Has a long historic record. However, the factories are being relocated into the non western nations, so there the workers are gaining and there is upwards pressure on wages. In the west they are losing their jobs and there is downwards wage pressure. It isnt that the non-west are opting for a different model, just that they are the recipients rather than losers under it.

    RAF,
    “And yet they chose as the one to address this broken system one of its chief beneficiaries…Who promptly stuffed his cabinet fully of several others!”
    Nobless oblige.

  41. @Carfrew

    “This is why Germany can still be very competitive. Peeps like their range of brands and stuff…”

    Well, yes, but to be in that position you need to have a large industrial base. You need to actually be able to produce things on a vast scale.

    When historians look back on the 1980s with fresh eyes they will lament the speed with with we destroyed our old industries without giving a thought to the fact that somewhere down the line an over-reliance on the services sector would come back to haunt us. We should have modernised our industries over time and re-trained our skilled manual workforce; and run this in tandem with greater use of services.

    Instead we have put the cart before the horse, with the wish being the father of the thought (I have more metaphors…!) by seeking a new social and economic future without having made any proper preparations for it. We simply don’t have the tools as things stand to take control of our own globalisation destiny. At least not in the romantic way some believe is possible.

  42. Carfrew,
    “I’m quite positive about the basic income thing myself, but possibly need a lot of peeps in work to afford it…”

    The model would be taxation of companies or their Uk owners who operate factories abroad. If the concept of globaliation is that work moves elsewhere, well thats just fine so long as we all still get paid. If we don’t still get paid, then the globalisation model isnt going to work.

  43. RAF,
    ” We simply don’t have the tools as things stand to take control of our own globalisation destiny. At least not in the romantic way some believe is possible.”

    I really do try to be open minded about Brexit, but it keeps coming back to credible observations such as this. It is axiomatic in any walk of life that someone in the group of winners who chooses to throw it all in the air and seek a new arrangement has more to lose than to gain.

  44. @Danny

    “I really do try to be open minded about Brexit”

    *chortle* you wag, you…

  45. It would be really nice if any of the polling companies had a (even unpublished) polling on Stoke, as it seems it will be the first alt fact election (Nuttall just said that the police figures are manufactured to degrade UKIP – now, this is so familiar from last year).

  46. I think it went into moderation because of a word. If not, apologies Anthony for the extra work. By taking out the expression, it became a bit weaker though.

    It would be really nice if any of the polling companies had a (even unpublished) polling on Stoke, as it seems it will be the first alt fact election (Nuttall just said that the police figures are made against UKIP – now, this is so familiar from last year).

    It is actually quite important for polling, I was watching the man, I haven’t seen anything like this from a party leader. It would be nice to know if it works, or it is neither her nor there.

  47. Neil A,
    “*chortle* you wag, you”
    Nope, its true. Regrettably no Leavers have come up with any credible explanation how they might make it work. Lots of waffle. There are several reports of the kind of people who voted which way, and I go for the argument that the people who have greatest experience of data analysis predominantly came down for remain. Head deciders went Remain, heart deciders went leave. And I undertand their sentiment, but I dont want to end up picking vegetables in the rain.

  48. Polling companies ask very leading questions on behalf of their clients I have pointed out various instances recently.

    Case in point BMG’s indyref question

    Within 1-2 years while negotiating 27%
    When finished negotiating in about 1-2 years 23%
    Not within the next 5 years 50%

    Spun as only 27% wanting another indyref

    Panelbase has some questions asked for Labour and splashed across the Scottish press…

    On free tuition

    The choice was paying once working – arguably students do via taxes – OR..

    ‘All’ students should receive free tuition – And of course not all students currently get free tuition i.e. English Or out with the EU do not nor do students on part time courses etc. This would be expanding free tuition.

    Free personal care had a similarly slanted question which didn’t even mention personal care but asked about an ‘older person who needs help looking after themselves ‘

    The questions are simply to generate headlines which our Scottish MSM dutifully trot out but surely polling companies should have a professional duty not to go along with this.

  49. I have just listened to the Stoke Central hustings and tbh Paul Nuttall was not impressive … and that was before he agreed that he would be prepared to water board a 10y terrorist for information!

    The 25y old Tory candidate and Gareth Snell for Labour were far and away the stronger candidates.

    I would not be surprised by the Conservatives doing a great deal better than expected in Stoke. I remember how their campaigns in the 2015GE 40/40 strategy were very hidden but it is impossible to know what sort of local data base they might possess to facilitate their micro-targetting.

    Re: Copeland. It seems that the Japanese are withdrawing from building the new nuclear plant and that the Conservatives are a bit iffy about picking up the pieces. I would think that might be significant in the by -election… but perhaps Theresa May will make a bold announcement on her visit tomorrow.

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