“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”

1 5 6 7 8 9 10
  1. @Sorrel

    well if you run out of money currently don’t necessarily have too many options in practice, hence food banks.

    If people have problems with money you can to some extent treat that in other ways. Reducing bill and accommodation costs, you can provide more credit unions and stuff for loans if people have temporary issues, if addiction is the problem you treat the addiction and so on.

    Sure, you may need extra provision for a minority of difficult cases but you will be able to target resources on them and still retain all the advantages of the CI, the lack of means testing bureaucracy, the incentive to work because don’t lose benefits, etc.

  2. Good morning all from a mild rural Hampshire. At 11.55am today I will officially become 1 year older but more importantly, I’m off work until Monday. Happy days R us.

    SORREL
    @CARFREW
    “One of the difficulties with the idea of a UBI is what happens to those who don’t manage their budget well for whatever reason. Would there be another layer of welfare to help them?”
    __________

    That’s a good question, however, there may be a way round it. At my work, I was sent a large PDF document from the DWP explaining the new Universal Credit benefit that is being rolled out across the UK. Basically, it’s morphing most existing benefits into one single monthly payment and will be linked to HMRC RTI systems meaning the benefit will fluctuate up and down depending on how much claimants are earning.

    Surely existing HMRC software could be used to trigger off a response payment to supplement an additional top-up payment for someone if their sole income over a certain period has just been the UBI and give them a grace period of around 3 months before the top up comes to an end.

    That way it would still be an incentive to find work but also not push anyone into poverty like what we are seeing now.

    Another safety net that could be looked at regarding UBI is something similar to what the Scottish gov have set up to mitigate the bedroom tax in the way of a social fund. I’m not sure what the criteria are to have access to it and I’m assuming it’s a limited fund but maybe in the World of UBI a national social fund could be set up to mitigate any hardship.

  3. Re Universal Basic Income

    We seem to forget that there is already a form of citizens income for working people in the form of the Tax free allowance on income.
    We now have very powerful computing available: which would make it possible not to have tax bands but instead to have a tax curve increasing as income increases (to a maximum set by the Govt. of the day) at a particular gradient. If such a system was combined with UBI one could imagine that it is possible that it would be both attractive and practical and popular. The UBI would be the safety net (people on benefits do not have a top up to those if they cannot budget) and there would be an incentive to work ( thus pleasing those who consider that there are deserving and underserving poor) it would be likely to increase demand and thereafter employment and taxation would be entirely progressive rather than regressive. Finally we would be preparing for the day of the machine takeover (Skynet anyone?)

  4. “One of the difficulties with the idea of a UBI is what happens to those who don’t manage their budget well for whatever reason. Would there be another layer of welfare to help them?”

    Why is this only an issue for UBI? The same principle applies to any form of benefit.

    I suspect that what you were perhaps thinking of is more along the lines of what happens when/if the UBI is insufficient to live on. This, I think, is the more relevant question, as it seems unlikely that the UBI would be set at such a level that no other income is required to have a reasonable life.

    Indeed, in many ways, that’s the point of it. It provides both an incentive to pick up whatever work is going and also a safety net to tide people through low earning periods, in a manner that is very cheap to administer.

    The question of people with health or age issues, who cannot or should not be expected to work, is the more relevant issue. Presumably they would be able to have pensions, sickness benefits etc on top of the UBI.

  5. Also, I might add….. If we ever do set up a UBI (which I would be 100% in favour) then surely the cost savings made by closing down they incredibly large bloated paper shuffling government welfare departments would easily offset the creation of a UBI.

    Even with this new Universal Credit morphing benefit, the amount of admin to administer it must be huge!! I know colleagues in our Glasgow head office payroll department are taking a week’s long course so they can administer it from our end should any of our colleagues be on the benefit, which is unlikely but never the less it’s in the payroll remit.

    If a UBI meant a cut to the paper pushing bloat then let’s roll the damn thing out.

  6. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/15/huge-drugs-catapult-found-mexico-border-us/

    Not only will the wall have to be beautiful, but it’s going to have to be very high.

  7. Sea Change: “Namely our imports and exports would rebalance away from the EU if there was a so-called punishment divorce killing a massive 50% of our EU exports.”

    Yes, but the mechanism through which this would take place would be a truly massive devaluation, which is why I wrote:

    ” the massive loss of exports to the EU that you posit as a worst case scenario would lead to such a massive trade deficit that something close to economic collapse would ensue. Others here with knowledge of economics might like to speculate on the impact of a £150bn trade deficit. A really huge depreciation in the £, for starters (£1=50 cents? Something like that). 1970s style inflation as a consequence. Unemployment doubled, perhaps. IMF bailout with Greek-style conditions.”

    And what is this “so-called punishment divorce”? Ah yes, the ‘clean Brexit’ with reversion to WTO trade terms that so many Brexiteers advocate.

  8. SYZYGY

    @”Totally agree with you ”

    What a lovely thing to read first thing in the morning :-)
    Common Ground is always nice to be on-and I remember ours with affection.

    Leadsom is being pressed on all sides to publish the 25 year Environmental Plan. I hope she takes note of submission by people who understand the requirements -like this :-

    http://www.wildlifetrusts.org/Brexit

    I’m not clear to me how this Plan will dovetail with the UK successor to CAP Farming policies though & the 70% of land area statistic demands that it is integral. That takes us into the whole future of UK Farming in a post Brexit/Free Trade world.

    Its a huge task to do it in a co-ordinated way-and get the right solutions.

    I wish I believed that DEFRA wouldn’t be subserviant to the Farming Lobby-but I don’t.

    I wish I believed that Party Politics wouldn’t be a factor-but I don’t.

    I wish I believed that Leadsom is the person for the job-but I don’t.

    ….apart from that, I’m enthusiastic for the opportunities presented to us !

  9. WB

    I’m with you in regards to your post. I like the idea of a tax curve.

    ” Finally we would be preparing for the day of the machine takeover (Skynet anyone?)”
    ____

    It can’t come sooner enough…fed up having to poach my own eggs.

  10. Did I really write “underserving poor” was that a Freudian slip? If so what Psyche does it reveal?

    I think I need to concentrate on my work.

  11. @Colin – I also agree with you regarding the CAP successor. This is one area where we really do have an opportunity, but as you say, my confidence in Leadsom’s approach and abilities, and the ability of DEFA to stand up to farmers, doesn’t inspire confidence.

    However, I don’t take this as a reason to stay in the EU. If, once we leave, our government makes mistakes, then that is our responsibility.

  12. In a way “underserving” is a more accurate and less pejorative way of expressing the meaning of the idea than “undeserving”.

    It rather captures the idea that some people aren’t doing enough to help themselves, but that this doesn’t mean that they aren’t still vulnerable human beings who need help from others.

    Nice accidental neologism, WB!

  13. @Colin

    I can agree with most of your last post, and I’m happy to acknowledge that your position on this is less gung-ho Brexit-or-bust than I’d interpreted it as.

    But your post does raise the interesting question: if your worst fears are realised, and Brexit leads to the abandonment of the EU-inspired conservation regime and its replacement by a globalist, free-trade, agribusiness-and-to-hell-with-the-environment approach, what will your view be?

    (a) Oh well, Brexit was still the right thing to do. You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs. Or:

    (b) I wouldn’t have supported Brexit if I knew this was going to happen.

  14. @Alec

    I think you may be starting to answer your own question of yesterday. It’s not so much about what exactly might be done differently, but that the opporunity to do things differently might exist.

    What choices are made in relation to that opportunity is politics as usual.

  15. @ALLAN CHRISTIE

    “It can’t come sooner enough…fed up having to poach my own eggs”

    ———

    Lol, you don’t have to wait for the Singularity, Allan!!

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Singularity_Is_Near

    You can always go to a café or summat…

  16. ALEC

    @”. If, once we leave, our government makes mistakes, then that is our responsibility.”

    The absolutely fundamental central essence of BREXIT.

    What it is all about.

    And not many people realise it. The “responsibility” will come as a huge shock-to voters, to politicians & to civil servants imo.

  17. @ seachange

    re where are we going to get money to pay for UBI?

    This is O/T. That said, health inequalities and poverty are inextricably linked. For the Marmot Report of 2010, “Fair Society, Healthy Lives”, Frontier Economics attempted an estimation of the financial costs (only) of health inequalities in England. the calculation assumed the ideal – all people enjoyed the same level of health as the top decile by income. They then looked at lost output, reduced tax take and higher welfare payments arising out of health inequalities. It was calculated that health inequalities cost £31 billion in lost production and between £28 and £32 billion in higher benefit payments and lost taxes. Here is the link:

    http://www.cawt.com/Site/11/Documents/Publications/Population%20Health/Economics%20of%20Health%20Improvement/Estimating%20the%20

  18. @Neil A

    “It rather captures the idea that some people aren’t doing enough to help themselves, but that this doesn’t mean that they aren’t still vulnerable human beings who need help from others.”

    ———-

    Many peeps aren’t that good at it, especially as the world gets more complex, but in a modern democracy much is taken care of. From refuse to health care.

    But for some in the South East, a lot more is taken care of. If you earn more and can leverage your now-expensive property, you can use it to cure many ills. Parents are bankrolling their kids in this way more and more, from house deposits to paying their uni bills.

    And there are more jobs, paying better in an economy boosted with all that QE and infrastructure providing even more insurance.. This is important because it is when several problems occur at the same time that people tend to struggle to cope. Sequential problems are much easier, and then people think they’re golden. They’re not, they’re lucky…

    This is before getting to the way the modern world makes it harder for some to fit in and use their talents. The bipolar person who happens to be really creative might get protected and harnessed in those old communities of 300, but lost or exploited in a city with estranged people or unsuited to various modern forms of employment. Or the hyoer-alert anxious person who made for a great sentry, but sentries are not so common these days…

  19. “It rather captures the idea that some people aren’t doing enough to help themselves”

    ———

    Then again, Allan doesn’t want to poach his own eggs. He won’t even go to a café…

  20. SOMERJOHN

    Neither of those I think.

    It would be-well at least I can vote for a UK AgriEnvironmental Policy which I like-when one appears.

    By the way the EU inspired conservation regime has not been an unmitigated success:-

    https://www.theparliamentmagazine.eu/articles/feature/eu-running-risk-another-year-biodiversity-and-ecosystem-failure

  21. Colin: “The “responsibility” will come as a huge shock-to voters, to politicians & to civil servants imo.”

    Another interesting post with which I can agree. And which again raises a question:

    Which do you prefer: the right policy coming from Brussels or the wrong policy from Whitehall?

    More broadly, I suspect there is a large part of any population that tends to look for someone to blame for any real or perceived problems or injustices. I further suspect that this is the part of a population less able or inclined to think about things analytically and objectively. Survey-based sociological analysis of this has probably been done (you couldn’t really call it polling, so apologies to anyone suffering a allergic reaction to the word sociology).

    But the political point is that once the EU is removed as the plausible scapegoat, then another will have to be found. And that will surely be Westminster, no longer protected by the Brussels lightning rod. I think that has long term implications for our political system, especially if played out against the backdrop of failure and decline.

  22. SOMERJOHN

    @”Which do you prefer: the right policy coming from Brussels or the wrong policy from Whitehall?”

    I prefer the “right” policy coming from Westminster via the will of the UK Electorate.

    @”And that will surely be Westminster, no longer protected by the Brussels lightning rod. I think that has long term implications for our political system, especially if played out against the backdrop of failure and decline.”

    Of course-as I already said in response to Alec’s remarks-this is the whole point of the excercise.:-

    Responsibility for our own destiny & Accountability for failures.

    I see it as a fundamentally good thing that we will be required to think about the laws we want. But I can agree absolutely with you about the political consequences .

  23. SOMERJOHN
    Which do you prefer: the right policy coming from Brussels or the wrong policy from Whitehall?

    A really good question and you could put it the other way round too. As a remainer, I think I’m a pragmatist – I prefer a good policy wherever it copes from. The EU is a mixed bag, but so is Westminster; the tension between them seems on the whole beneficial to my particular interests. Many leavers give the impression of having a visceral hatred of EU institutions, that I don’t quite understand. I look forward to the answers.

  24. @Colin
    Well, this is getting interesting.

    I’ve read your link which includes this:

    “Nevertheless, on a more positive note, it is important to acknowledge that thanks to current EU biodiversity policies, the protection of certain species and habitats has seen some progress, and consequently pressures on biodiversity have been somewhat reduced. Freshwater ecosystems are reaping the benefits of an improvement in water quality.

    There is less pressure from agriculture, thanks to a reduction in nitrogen losses from fertilisers and a boost in organic farming. Europe’s forest area is slightly increasing, and timber harvests from European forests are generally sustainable. Natura 2000 covered some 18 per cent of EU land area in 2013, offering habitats and species a certain degree of protection.

    The EU’s ‘nature directives’ have become a backbone of European biodiversity protection policies and, despite a long and complex process for their implementation, they contribute substantially to the conservation of natural habitats and species.”

    Despite this, it is not, as you say, an unmitigated success, which the author puts down to slow and patchy implementation by national governments. Which is why there has to be some mechanism to goad governments into action, such as the fines on the UK for failing to meet agreed pollution limits.

    Whether the UK will perform better or worse once freed from this conservation framework remains to be seen, but it appears the risk of weaker protection is one you are prepared to take because ” at least I can vote for a UK AgriEnvironmental Policy which I like-when one appears.”

    We’ll have to hope there’s a LD/Green pact for you to vote for at the next GE!

  25. @Neil A – “I think you may be starting to answer your own question of yesterday. It’s not so much about what exactly might be done differently, but that the opporunity to do things differently might exist.”

    [This also applies to @Colin’s point about responsibility]

    No, not at all, and you have entirely missed the point about what I was saying.

    I’ve simply agreed that in one policy area – agriculture – there are some rules that are very hard for us to break away from EU decisions, so if we don’t like these, then improving things can be hard within the EU.

    Even here, however, the nonsense spouted about ‘Brussels interference’ is often highly misleading.

    So, for example, few people here seem to support the massive subsidy payments given to the wealthiest landowners, with 16 landowners in the Sunday Times 100 Rich list trousering £13.4m of subsidy.

    But how many people know that under EU CAP rules, member states are permitted to impose a cap on individual payments, and then use the money saved for rural development programmes? Not many, I’ll bet.

    Nine EU countries do this, as well as the devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Strangely, Tory controlled England doesn’t. The UK government has recently fought very hard to prevent a mandatory cap for CAP payments, leaving the 2014 CAP reforms with the optional cap only.

    The point I was really making yesterday, which you seemed to have missed completely, is what is illustrated above. Westminster and the British electorate have vast areas of responsibility already under our EU membership terms. There is huge scope for us to use this responsibility already, as other member states do, yet we choose not to. Leaving the EU will not make the blindest bit of difference to this, with only very small areas of policy where we can really do things differently that we can’t do differently now. Indeed, many of these areas will be in cross border issues of trade and product regulation, fisheries, etc, where will either have to continue to abide by the full EU regulations or negotiate to do so.

    The one good thing about Brexit, which I also wrote about as being a good thing about Scottish independence, is not that we can start to ‘rule ourselves’, but that we have to stop blaming others for our own mistakes. We can start to realise that we could have ruled ourselves ever since we joined the EU, but chose not to.

    It isn’t good enough for people arguing in favour of Brexit to come out and say that we can do things differently, unless you can tell us what things you want to see done differently.

    That no one has even attempted to answer my question, with the exception of @Colin on the rather limited area of agriculture, demonstrates the paucity of intellectual thinking behind Brexit.

  26. PATRICKBRIAN

    ” Many leavers give the impression of having a visceral hatred of EU institutions, that I don’t quite understand. I look forward to the answers.”

    I really don’t know where you get that from. It’s very simple, we want to have more control of our own destiny and we want a better economic future. Many like me also want to get out, before the EU comes tumbling down,

    Hope that helps your understanding.

  27. @Somerjohn – I think we are moving closer together with @Colin at least.

    Long term, I suspect that the Brexit leaders will face some political problems as their crutch is removed. As you say, we can’t keep blaming the EU for all our ills, but the worry for me is who takes their place? ‘Anything but take responsibility yourself’ is the motto, so who gets targeted in the right wing cross hairs next will be interesting.

  28. Alec

    “The one good thing about Brexit, which I also wrote about as being a good thing about Scottish independence, is not that we can start to ‘rule ourselves’, but that we have to stop blaming others for our own mistakes.

    That’s one of the many good things about Brexit. Nice to agree on at least one thing.

  29. @ Colin

    ‘Common Ground is always nice to be on-and I remember ours with affection.’

    No time to read all the thread but wanted to say… ‘Totally agree’ … again :)

    Tax Justice Network have some interesting things to say about the opportunities offered by brexit for re-negotiating the UK’s 100 existing bi-lateral FTAs to provide the emphasis on mitigating climate change and environmental protection, as well as any future trade deals.

  30. SOMERJOHN

    @”Whether the UK will perform better or worse once freed from this conservation framework remains to be seen, but it appears the risk of weaker protection is one you are prepared to take ”

    It does-but I see the risk you allude as substantially mitigated by the almighty noise that UK Conservation bodies will make if norms which they work to every day, and which constitute best practice-whether promulgated by EU Directives or otherwise-are discarded by a UK Government.

  31. @TOH – “It’s very simple, we want to have more control of our own destiny…..”

    OK – which bits of your destiny do you want control over that you can’t control now?

    I’m into day 2 of the question, and yet still no one seems capable of answering. I find that a bit strange.

  32. SYZYGY

    It might interest to know that I basically agree with that post of yours and Colins comments to it.

    The one exception is that you mentioned global warming and as you probably know I am sceptical about man’s effect on temperatures having seen no convincing scientific evidence, at least to my mind.

  33. “Ken… While I recognise that you are doing a lot of trolling tonight, it’s probably worth remembering that effective trolling is subtle, not brash, and uses terminology correctly.

    Hope this helps.”
    @oldnat February 15th, 2017 at 11:11 pm

    Made me laugh. :-)

  34. Alec

    All the bits that are currently covered by EU law and where we are prevented from doing anything we may want to do, all areas where we have to respect judgments from the ECJ and hopefully at some stage in the future to be outside the ECHR repalcing it with a UK Bill of Rights & Responsibilities. That covers I think.

  35. Somerjohn,

    I would prefer the “right” policy coming from Westminster.
    (This leaves aside the important question as to what is “right”. I suspect we may differ in many areas.)

    The difference between a “wrong” policy made at EU level vs “Westminster” is that it will be much easier for us to change the Westminster policy. That is even before one takes account of the fact that most policies are not universally right, and different contexts may require different policies.

    That last point was what subsidiarity was supposed to address, but it is no surprise that the Commission interpreted it as meaning that they could accrete power to the centre unless local policies were needed rather than the other way round.

  36. ALEC

    @”Anything but take responsibility yourself’ is the motto, so who gets targeted in the right wing cross hairs next will be interesting.”

    This is an interesting-and whollly unjustified concatenation of your caricature of a Brexit supporter-and a particular Party Political stance.

    Why on earth can’t you accept that Yes & No votes in the Referendum were cast across political divides?

    Talk of “crosshairs” is ridiculous. What will follow is Political debate in this country about the totality of Laws & Regulations we wish to have-or not to have. Parties will come forward with Manifestos & the Electorate will vote on them.

    Failure will-as always-be rewarded with ejection from Government-but this time it will all be OUR responsibility.

    Why do you need to have this Supra National entity across the Channel , keeping a paternalistic eye on us , ready at the drop of a Brussels Lunch Menu to intervene with some “sensible” rules if we should fail to measure up to its All Knowing Wisdom?

    I mean-how do you actually rate its own efforts at self organisation?

  37. Colin

    Your post to Alec explains exactly how I feel as well.

    I see the EU is threatening us about our air polution levels. Bit of a cheek, but typical looking at the following:-

    h ttp://www.wired.co.uk/article/this-map-reveals-the-most-toxic-countries-in-the-world

  38. PAUL-HJ

    Wish I’d said that !

  39. SYZYGY

    Thanks-will have a butcher’s.

  40. @Somejohn “And what is this “so-called punishment divorce”? Ah yes, the ‘clean Brexit’ with reversion to WTO trade terms that so many Brexiteers advocate.”

    I don’t advocate that. I have also said we should aim for a trade deal that is as free as possible without non-tariff barriers as we can. Imposing tariffs would be detrimental to both Europe and the UK. Yes it would help our balance of payments potentially but the overall drop in GDP from lost economic activity in the short to medium term would not be worth it. However the country must be prepared for tariffs if there is no deal.

  41. @TOH – in that case, what you are saying is that you don’t really see that much difference. I think I understand now.

    Apart from willfully wishing to display your ignorance of science in the realm of global warming (and yes, you really are being ignorant on this – there has been confirmed evidence of a CO2 based greenhouse effect since 1827 and man made CO2 based global warming was first proposed as a climate change mechanism in 1896, with overwhelming evidence to support this gathered over the next century of independent science research) you also seem to place yourself firmly in the category of mythological dreamers about the EU.

    Again, I think it’s a shame, but the basis of ‘believing’ something rather than being able to cite evidence just about sums it all up.

    @Colin – “Talk of “crosshairs” is ridiculous.”

    I don’t think so. You yourself alluded to the shock that awaits the UK politicians and public when we realise that our mess is and was always our own fault.

    We have come to this point largely because of a forty year inability to understand how our own society works, with Brussels being the most obvious scapegoat. People aren’t going to suddenly turn round and understand that the EU didn’t cause all our problems and that they’ve been duped.

    So yes, I do worry what comes next.

    You yourself fall into the trap when you write – “Why do you need to have this Supra National entity across the Channel , keeping a paternalistic eye on us , ready at the drop of a Brussels Lunch Menu to intervene with some “sensible” rules if we should fail to measure up to its All Knowing Wisdom?”

    We help to form the EU, we help to direct it, and we help it to write rules, for our benefit. Of course it’s not perfect – I could find a myriad ways to critique it – but it’s imperfections come in part from us, and on balance it’s done a pretty good job in many areas.

  42. Paulh-j: “I would prefer the “right” policy coming from Westminster.”

    I think this is a cop-out (as in Colin’s similar answer) because it dodges the essence of the question which is: is a policy emanating from Westminster always to be preferred to one emanating from Brussels, regardless of content?

    I think Colin’s answer, and presumably yours,is “yes, because it’s under our control and subject to the will of the people.”

    Well, Alec’s example of the English choice to continue massive farm payments to the largest landowners,when the EU allows governments to cap (ha!) these if they want to, is an excellent example of that principle in practice. Is it really the ‘will of the people’ that these bloated payments should continue.

    And was it ‘the will of the people’ that, as Alec puts it: “The UK government has recently fought very hard to prevent a mandatory cap for CAP payments, leaving the 2014 CAP reforms with the optional cap only.”?

    Incidentally, that last point also illustrates that the UK is by no means powerless in the face of the Brussels steamroller. When something that really matters to ‘the people’, like the rights of rich landowners to continue receiving vast subsidies, is at stake, our government suddenly becomes very powerful.

  43. TOH

    Thanks

    Interesting map.

    Re the EU Commission complaint the G reports :-

    “Four other EU states – Germany, Italy, France and Spain – were served with final warnings on Wednesday. In all, air pollution limits are being flouted in 23 out of the EU’s 28 countries and 130 of its cities.”

    So it is a sad story-and in fairness to the Brussels Suits on this one-NO2 pollution is deadly.

    The thing is-which route is most likely to get National Governments to act on this?:-

    * A Brussels Directive & slap on the wrist , both administered by people who are unknown to most UK voters.

    or

    * A Strong Campaign inside UK, by the affected citizens of UK cities, taken up by a Political Party looking for votes?

  44. COLIN

    The latter of course.

  45. ALEC

    @”You yourself alluded to the shock that awaits the UK politicians and public when we realise that our mess is and was always our own fault.”

    I did-but I didn’t politicise it with the epithet “right wing”.

    Re your last para to me-that is the least convincing support for EU membership I have read. IMO the organisation is not just “far from perfect”-it is standing on a flawed fiscal & monetary system & systemically incapable of effective decision making.

  46. @Carfrew @Sam

    You both make interesting points on the potential benefits and sources of income to make UBI work. I’ll think on them.

    I do agree with Allan that whatever happens there has to be a strong incentive to work as well, rather than let people choose to just be a burden on everyone else.

  47. OH, if the EU comes tumbling down what makes you think we won’t tumble with it? After all we do a lot of trade with the EU and I assume that after negotiations we’ll carry on doing that trade?

  48. Colin particularly the use of accrete from Paul is impressive – I am going to use now but not on here or at least for a few months.

    I do think that being able to blame the EU when the UK Government has chosen a particular way of implementing a directive has been convenient for UK politicians.

    I am aware of it in my field of work when Tory then Labour, then Coalition and now Tory Governments have made a boll**ks of meeting EU requirements.

    We will in future be able to challenge without having to demonstrate that the UK could do things differently if it chose to.

    Nothing to stop us examining good practice within the EU and adopting if we wish of course and that is nothing to be bothered about.

  49. ALEC

    “@TOH – in that case, what you are saying is that you don’t really see that much difference. I think I understand now.”

    That’s not what I am saying at all, can’t you read?

    “Apart from willfully wishing to display your ignorance of science in the realm of global warming”

    I have a perfectly good Science degree thank you, and am happy to be currently aligned with the other scientists who are sceptical about manmade global warming, and there are some quite reputable people with much better science degrees than my own.
    Try reading h ttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming

    I appreciate we are in a small majority but you are just being blind again to other people’s opinions. To be a proper Scientist, you have to be open to listening to others views, your clearly not.
    Incidentally I think willfully is actually spelt wilfully. Must be a first for me. :-)

1 5 6 7 8 9 10