I’ve got an article over on the YouGov website about the difficulty on polling on the Brexit financial settlement (or “Brexit divorce bill” as the more Eurosceptic elements of the press tend to call it). Brexit is obviously a very complicated issue – the Brexit deal will almost inevitably dominate the next year of British politics, yet the complexities of it mean it’s very hard to ask about until there’s actually a deal on the table.

The financial settlement between Britain and the EU should, on the face of it, be one of the more simple issues. On the face of it you might expect it to be fairly simple to ask people what sort of financial settlement the public would think was reasonable and what sort of settlement would have the public thinking Theresa May has struck a poor deal. In fact such questions give us a very poor guide, simply because most people are not particularly good at comprehending very large numbers.

If you ask a question about what a reasonable price is for, for example, a pair of shoes, it should work very well. Everyone knows roughly what shoes cost, and know the value of £10 or £30 or £100. The same does not apply for government spending – £50 billion is an unfathomably large amount of money… but then, so is £20 billion, or £10 billion or £5 billion. Most of us don’t really have any good yardstick for judging just how big or small these huge numbers are, nor whether they are a good or bad deal for Britain.

Nevertheless, if you ask people about a financial settlement people will still express opinions. Back in August there was an ICM/Guardian poll that found 41% of people though a £10bn settlement would be acceptable, up from just 15% in April. This seemed like a startling rise, but as both ICM and the Guardian cautioned, it could just be the way the question was worded. In April ICM first asked about the lower figure of £3bn, but in August £10bn was the lowest they offered.

This seemed like a more plausible explanation to me, but just to be sure we tested it at YouGov. We used a split sample – one half of the respondents got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £5bn, £10bn and £20bn. The other half of the sample got a grid of three questions asking about settlements of £25bn, £50bn and £75bn.

On the first bank of questions 38% thought £5bn would be acceptable, 18% thought £10bn would be acceptable, 11% thought that £20bn would be acceptable. Looking at the other half of the sample, 29% thought that £25bn was acceptable, 9% thought that £50bn was acceptable, 6% thought that £75bn would be acceptable (full tabs are here.)

Taken as a whole we get the the rather perverse finding that while support generally falls as the size of the settlement increases, £25 billion is far more acceptable to the public than £20 billion. This is nonsense of course, and the reason is simple enough – people take their cues from the question itself. In the first half of the sample, £5bn was the lowest amount asked about, £20bn the largest amount, and many respondents presumably took this as an implication that £5bn was a low settlement, £20bn a high one. For the second half of the sample £25bn was the lowest figure asked about, so many respondents presumably took the implication that this was a low settlement. Whether people said a sum was acceptable or not was less about the actual number, more about whether the question implied that it was a low or high figure.

The point is that questions about what level of “divorce bill” will be acceptable to the public don’t really tell us much. People don’t have any good way of telling what is a good or bad deal and are really just expressing their unsurprising preference for a smaller settlement. When (or if) Britain and the EU do finally agree on a sum, it won’t be so much the particular figure that determines whether the public see it as a victory or a sell-out, but whether the media and political class present it to them as a good or bad deal.

Meanwhile, lastest GB voting intention figures this week are below – both show the parties pretty much neck-and-neck, neither show any obvious movement:
YouGov/Times (12th-13th Sept) – CON 41%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 3%(-1) (tabs)
ICM/Guardian (8th-10th Sept) – CON 42%(nc), LAB 42%(nc), LDEM 7%(nc), UKIP 4%(+1) (tabs)

713 Responses to “Brexit Bills and latest voting intention”

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  1. Colin,
    “You missed those little letters-imo.”
    in most opinions?

    Please, we all have opinions and those are likely clear. We do understand that analysis always depends upon the expert opinion of the analyst. Particularly in a social science context, such as polling. If the answers were clear cut and subject to factual proof, we wouldnt be here debating them.

  2. Trevor Warne

    Bruegel has a calculation here. It produces similar ball park numbers to others I have seen iirc.


  3. SAM @ BZ & COLIN

    What kind of government will the UK have, if the rise of English nationalism continues?

    With any luck the the UK will separate into its constituent nations. Eventually it might turn into a confederation of the isles on Swiss lines, but quite possibly without England.

    COLIN is correct that I should have added IMO, as I do to this post.

  4. @Danny

    “Yes you can, but private school pupils consistently out perform state school pupils in such things as getting good university places and then good careers. While the latter is frequently due to nepotism, the good qualifications purchased for them by their parents undoubtedly help. Or maybe we arent disagreeing on that. The private schools get more out of the raw talent of their pupils.”


    On what grounds do you say they get more out of the pupils?

  5. @ DANNY – the EU didn’t exist until 1992. Did the EEC revolutionise British industry? Trade union power following so quick after war recovery made us the sick man of Europe but many factors were at play from mid-1970s to 1992 and then on to today. The collapse of communism (coincidentally? same time as EU was born) was obviously a massive boost to previous communist nations so it is unfair to show our poor performance relative to nations in E.Europe, China or Russia since 1990ish. Compare UK to US, Canada, Australia, NZ (developed nations not in the EU)? We’ve done worse but probably not a fair comparison.

    I have all the data in spreadsheets but will look for a good weblink. Euro nations have seriously underperformed since 1992 (even the big one!) – pop “europes lost decade(s)” into google and enjoy some reading! We didn’t join the Euro so we avoided the roller-coaster that Ireland has had and the financial crisis should have hit us very hard (but we recovered quickly due to flexible exchange rate).

    We’ll never know whether or not the EEC(EU) was responsible for our gain in aggregate living standards and lack of a fair comparison makes it totally subjective, all we can do now, today and in the years to come, is make the best of the future outside of the EU.


    I’m only aware of two numbers:-

    UK’s Net contribution to EU Budget 2014/2020:-
    £13bn pa .Of course EU sends £4bn pa back to UK in subsidies & grants-so the net gain to the Exchequer is £9bn pa. So if TM/DD accept this as a “Legal liability” then we have two years left:-£26bn, Quite what would happen to the UK receipts from EU for those two years is interesting to ponder !!! Maybe the Liability is 2 X £ 9bn ??

    Reste a Liquider ( Budget Committments not yet funded by a Budget or paid yet )-I believe that this black hole in EU’s accounts currently totals around £ 250bn. If UK’s average Budget proportion is applied that = £32 bn. But I don’t know if TM/DD agree that this is a Legal Liability. Hope not !

    As to unfunded Pensions/Immigrants/Ukraine/ Loan Guarantees etc etc -haven’t a clue.

  7. @ SAM – great link, thank you

    @ COLIN – thank you, at the end of the day the bill will be what the bill will be. IMHO the important issue is not the number but ensuring it is instalments based on a formula with a pre-agreed roadmap/milestones that signifies a clean break after a suitable phased implementation.

    Fag packet maths (net, rounded):
    2018 10bn
    2019 10bn
    2020 10bn (in EU in all but name)
    2021 8bn (half-way to EFTA)
    2022 4bn (EFTA)
    2023 fully out, bullet payment or some ongoing annuity to cover the “unfunded” items, guess 8bn

    Sum = 50bn

    I’m off to read SAM’s link, if I’m wildly out on above I’ll post tomorrow.

    ‘night all!

  8. Trevor warne,
    ” Euro nations have seriously underperformed since 1992″
    How so? some of the richest nations on earth. I’d rather live in a rich country which has stayed just as rich than a poor one with a stunning growth rate which is trying to become one.

    As to the EU beginning in 1992, no, I dont believe it did. I doubt the average voter would see such a distinction either. It was an evolution, not a revolution.

    “On what grounds do you say they get more out of the pupils?”
    Exam results. Universities actively mark down the grades of applicants from private schools because they know there is a premium beyond the innate ability of the applicant, due to better teaching.

  9. Barbazenzero

    I know, without being told, that you are expressing your own opinion. I take that for granted and do not see the need for nit-picking.

  10. SAm

    Thanks .

    His summary :-

    “There is a real prospect here for an English populist right movement of the sort we see in other European countries, with their mix of ethnic nationalism, nativism, Europhobia, protectionism and welfare chauvinism.”

    In my view complete nonsense.

    Stop worrying -have faith. You do not face never ending Tory Government.. It doesn’t work that way. Voters get pi**ed of with them as well as Labour .


    As to the idea of losing these EU rights, you will perhaps be aware that Parliament shows every intention of imposing strict oversight on any proposed changes to the EU Regs not presented in Primary Legislation

    So what? With no constitutional safeguards the next Westminster parliament could abolish the lot.

  12. ALAN
    “I suppose we could always vote to rejoin and thereby reclaim those rights?”
    Of course we could. Lord Kerr is right. What B is B really means is everything I say three times is true.

  13. @Danny

    “Exam results. Universities actively mark down the grades of applicants from private schools because they know there is a premium beyond the innate ability of the applicant, due to better teaching.”


    Lol, they might mark down the grades a bit, but just how much are you going to do to offset the following…

    It’s a MASSIVELY stacked deck. Music at my primary school on a council estate was a few recorders and tambourines and maracas and stuff.

    Music at the public school was a thousand-seater concert hall, over thirty practice rooms with a piano in each etc.

    And the concert hall didn’t double up as a theatre or gym. We had separate theatre and Gym. We didn’t just have a separate science block, we had a separate purpose-built BIOLOGY block.

    Most of the staff were Oxbridge. We had a modem link to the nearby University mainframe IN THE MID SEVENTIES. (I used to skip lunch to get extra time on it). Twenty pitches for sports like cricket and rugby stretching for a mile and a half. Our own squash courts, shooting range, even a glider.

    Only a dozen in each class, which means could set a lot more homework since the marking burden was reduced.

    I mean, there’s loads more. With wealthy alumni even in the Seventies they could run appeals and get a million quid for a new Arts block or whatever.

    And they owned land for miles around, owned assets built up over hundreds of years to be leveraged to provide further resources.

    And of course it’s highly selective, creaming off those who do well in the Common Entrance exam. Obviously, it’s therefore no surprise that a quarter of the intake got into Oxford or Cambridge each year.

    But obviously state schools do not normally have all these advantages and it’d be quite a challenge to provide them all, starting with Oxbridge teachers throughout the land…


  14. Colin
    Do I detect an element of ‘Time for a change’ ?
    Or possibly , let the other bunch of rascals take a turn in the coconut shy.

  15. Colin

    “In my view complete nonsense.”

    Are you arguing for some kind of exceptionalism in the English character which makes such a scenario implausible?

    Such movements have gained traction elsewhere, so what is uniquely different among English people that would preclude such there?

  16. Carfrew
    I went to a small country Grammar school in the mid 70s, the ethos was pure public school, with limited resources. We got lots of kids into good universities but very few into Oxbridge. The staff, being mostly non Oxbridge seemed biased against putting us forward. A form of self-denying ordinance I suppose.

  17. I rather like humour in political debate.

    Sarwar (at tonight’s SLab husting) – I am on Nicola Sturgeon’s lawn every day

    Sturgeon’s tweet in response – If he could mow it occasionally, it’d save Peter Murrell a job. I’ll even pay him the real living wage

  18. University exam marking

    Exams and other written assignments in undergraduate courses are marked without revealing the identity of the student. I am unsure of the research on the grading of students from public schools but research has shown that students from minority backgrounds receive lower grades than their white peers when the student’s identity is known to the person grading the paper.

  19. BZ

    @”So what? With no constitutional safeguards the next Westminster parliament could abolish the lot.”

    Representative Democracy makes you a bit nervous then BZ ?

  20. @ Carfew

    Even though I lack a royal title and only possess one allotment, I’m glad to see that you’re OK too.

  21. Colin

    Scapegoating is already present in UK politics in the form of the physical and verbal attacks on those claiming benefits. A YouGov poll showed 15% of those polled had received verbal abuse and 4% physical abuse because they were receiving benefits.That the UK government has done much to foster this attitude to the vulnerable in society ought to be worrying.


    Hate crimes have risen by 100% since the EU referendum and concerns about xenophobic behaviour towards EU nationals – Poles and Swedes – have been expressed by Polish and Swedish politicians. Numbers of EU people are leaving the UK because they say they do not feel welcome. Negotiations have barely started and the EU is being blamed for being inflexible. It is likely that , if things go badly in negotiations and/or Brexit causes unemployment, economic damage costing billions of pounds that the blame will be placed on the EU. If that happens there will be more xenophobia and hate crimes. A number of the ingredients that Professor Keating described in his summary are already alive and kicking in the UK.

  22. OLDNAT

    I didn’t “preclude” it.

    I have no basis for doing so.

    But my opinion is that UK voters would not elect a party with the platform described in the article in question :-

    “ethnic nationalism, nativism, Europhobia, protectionism and welfare chauvinism.”

    ………though I am , I confess, a little unsure about the precise nature of the political stance envisaged by the writer in some of those words.

    I hesitate to opine about what is “uniquely different among English people”-being but one of their number.

    But I just don’t think they are Revolution Fodder. Didn’t happen here in 1789-or 1917.

    Stiff Upper Lip perhaps? Pragmatically detached? Nation of Shopkeepers?

    Who knows?

    Anyway-that’s my view .

  23. SAM

    @”Hate crimes have risen by 100% since the EU referendum”

    There was a spike of +41% in July, which disappeared thereafter according to Full Fact.who reported as follows :-

    “Mike Hough from the Institute for Criminal Policy Research told us that,
    “I think the safest conclusion is that:

    There must have been a real spike in hate crimes
    Once this attracted media attention, victims were more sensitised to the phenomenon and thus more likely to report, and
    The police, similarly sensitised, became more likely to record reported incidents – and to flag them as hate crimes.”
    He said that he didn’t know of any research that could put a number on the relative importance of each effect. So, in the end, it seems to be a matter of judgement.”

    I think we have to be careful about attributing this that or the other to Brexit until more time has elapsed.

  24. @RJW

    “I went to a small country Grammar school in the mid 70s, the ethos was pure public school, with limited resources. We got lots of kids into good universities but very few into Oxbridge. The staff, being mostly non Oxbridge seemed biased against putting us forward. A form of self-denying ordinance I suppose.”


    Yes, Oxbridge teachers tend to have a good idea of what’s required, and also may simply have the aspiration. Oxford wasn’t on my radar at all initially, but if you have Oxbridge teachers they may both encourage it and give you a heads up on what’s what’s required.

    (Thanks for the greeting earlier by the way…)

  25. Colin

    Not “Revolution fodder”?

    English history is full of revolutionaries! Alfred, Hereward, Tyler, Lancastrians v Yorkists, dissolution of the monasteries, pro and anti Catholic pogroms, the Puritan revolution, overthrow of your James II, Monmouth rebellion. the campaign for the Great Reform Bill, Chartism (both Physical and Moral Force), the Match Girls strike, the General Strike, Mosley and his Fascists, the attacks on Italian and German businesses in 1939 (as well as the recent surge in hate crime in England) and the Brexiteers themselves!

    You are far too modest about your co-nationals. They are a feisty lot who rebel against lots of things – especially when they are seen as “different” to themselves.

  26. SAM

    “Dorset and Nottinghamshire saw the highest percentage increases in reports – 100% and 75% respectively ( June to September 2016) – compared to the levels seen between March and the end of June.

    South Yorkshire, Gloucestershire, Surrey and City of London Police posted falls in hate crime.

    The Metropolitan Police in London recorded the highest number of hates crimes, with 3,356 in that period, while Greater Manchester and West Yorkshire Police recorded 1,033 and 1,013 respectively.

    Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hamilton, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s lead for hate crime, said: “We know that national and global events have the potential to trigger short-terms rises in hate crime and we saw this following the EU referendum last year.
    “Police forces took a robust approach to these crimes and reporting returned to previously seen levels.”


    As I suggested-we need to be careful about blanket conclusions.

  27. @SYZYGY

    “Even though I lack a royal title and only possess one allotment, I’m glad to see that you’re OK too.”


    Hiya!! Glad you’re still around despite the Brexitness of it all. I don’t see any reason why we shouldn’t give you a royal title. I mean, I don’t think Princess Rach has an allotment. (Howard has two, maybe he could spare one)…

  28. OLD NAT

    The proposition was that a Revolutionary/Populist Government would be elected by the “english”.

    Implicit in the article & the words chosen to characterise the attitudes & policies involved is that this would be Extreme Right Wing.

    Don’t think its going to happen.

  29. Colin

    The proposition wasn’t that such a movement would necessarily be “elected”, but that it could arise.

    As with UKIP, that might well affect other parties trimming to accommodate them.

    Hopefully, it won’t happen, but your categorisation of the possibility as “nonsense” is probably unwise (and certainly would depend on a kind of English exceptionalism, which has no historical basis).

    The best response to extremist nonsense is usually to mock it. Hence, I like the image of the IKEA toilet brush and holder which they call a “Farage”.

  30. Wasn’t there a time when the leader of a permanent member of the Security Council would make their address to the UN General Assembly, in front of a packed chamber?

    Is it just the calibre of some of those historical remnants that leads delegates to stay away, or the fact that such leaders may be seen as leading few, and to nowhere anyway, and have little of importance to say, and the little that does will have no effect in any case?


  31. The statement in Michael Keating’s excellent article, cited by SAM, that
    “Both sides in the referendum debate sought to reconcile three conflicting imperatives: economic security; control of migration; and sovereignty. Yet in so far as economic security is linked to membership of the single market, it requires free movement of labour, one of the main targets of the Leave campaign…”
    may, I suggest, not sufficiently examine information as a factor in each of the imperatives he thinks are common to both sides.
    Information about migration can be clearly identfied as a factor in its control,but is highly defective in almost all public statements and policy making. This would include, for example, awareness and discussion of the causes of a decline in net migration between 2015/16 and 2016/17 from 330,000 to 240,000, reflecting, for example, the impact of policy statements on the rights of EU citizens in the UK, changes in the relative monetary and social wage of EU receptor countries and countries of origin, UK labour demand. In any attempt at control, beyond physical controls by quota systems, family rights etc, these are in reality also the levers of a feasible migration control which would marry with continued access to EU labour in a policy favouring UK econonomic need and maintaining the conditions of access to a Single Market. The barriers between the three groups described by Keating are to be seen as being, in the absence of a better basis in information, more political or worse rhetorical and polemic, feeding on populist responses derived from inadequate domestic governance and investment rather than looking to any sound basis of a migration policy.

  32. @ John Pilgrim

    In addition to that, if a worker from EU mainland has been earning Pounds Sterling and sending money back home to family connverted into Euros, then the family are getting less than they were. The collapse in the value of Pounds Sterling, means that those who could work in EU mainland countries, have returned home to work. The lack of clarity on their immigration status going forward will also be a major consideration.

    If Theresa May did ever reach her target of net migration to tens of thousands including foreign students, that would a lot less foreign worker visas being issued. Not to mention foreign spouses not being allowed to join husbands/wifes in living in the UK. There would be massive consequences of trying to stay below 100,000 net migrstion. I am not convinced that this policy will actually be implemented. Even Nigel Farage says immigration needs to be as high as is required and cannot be subject to an arbitrary target.

  33. @R HUCKLE

    Isn’t Farage’s statement a problem of conflation and confusion, he talks about control when most people understand that as reduction. The reality is that we sell immigration in a very negative sense which is often overcome by contact. As is noted in the article the problem of generalisation versus specificity is clear. I particularly not the issue we have with Albanians.


    The reality is politician sell generalisation to get policy through. We ourselves find that we invest in people we can mock as much as people we can sympathise. So where I feel people would watch benefit street, they would be less inclined to watch ‘My grandmother dying in a Nursing home with dementia’ Both happen but one is news fodder the other is hidden away.

    On a personal note coming from Plaistow in the East End of london and being the only black family on the street for quite a while I remember people think that my family was exceptional because we worked hard and we did well for ourselves. I remember when I got my degree being told by a woman how I was so different from all the other black people. when I asked her how many did she know she was stumped. Closeness to Poles as the article means that people think of them differently to Albanians the fear of other is ‘normal’ and the UK is not unique.

  34. OLDNAT

    @”The best response to extremist nonsense is usually to mock it”

    Yep-wherever it is found :-)

  35. Colin,
    “In my view complete nonsense.”
    Ah, but we get the parties which the electoral system imposes on us. In the UK interest group parties cannot survive. We just get two umbrella groups which dont represent anyone. So its a choice between tweedledum or tweedledee, and you cannot tell them apart. Thats why Corbyn is perceived by both parties as such a threat to the staus quo.

    “We didn’t just have a separate science block, we had a separate purpose-built BIOLOGY block.”

    haha, well I went to a grammar which did have a separate biology block and then a physics and chemistry block which came in two halves.They had 30 or 50 acres of grounds, though this was because of past endowment not state input. But the buildings were modern state funded. So we are agreeing things are going backwards in the state system?

    “And of course it’s highly selective,”
    Of course the local grammar was abolished (by the tories, as it happens). A while later I asked a local councillor how exam results for the whole town now compared to those when there was a grammar system. He had no answer. So either he didnt know, or the answer did not favour the new system he was defending. The subject had come up because he was also a school governor, so might have been expected to know.

    The question is whether as a whole the system performs better with selection than without. Attacking selective schools because of their input isnt enough to demonstrate failure, unless it is shown the overall result is worse. But the thing about the private sector is that very many such schools are not picking bright kids, but rich kids. Is there any evidence rich kids have higher intelligence?

    If there are some schools taking average kids and turning them into well trained professionals, I say good luck to them. Its not fair, but its better than no kids getting such an education.

  36. Sam,
    “billions of pounds ”
    No, this is another mistake in the debate. The leaving bill will be measured in billions. The sum at argument to be lost through leaving -which may or may not be lost as per the debate – should be measured in trillions.

    The leaving bill never was the issue, it is tiny compared to the sum at stake.

  37. @ PTRP

    Very good post @7.21am, which is spot on. I try to avoid the ‘R’ word, but actually if you ask questions of people, of why they have strong views on immigration, unfortunately race generalisations are pretty close to the surface.

    And it is not just about race, as humans have a habit of becoming psychologically conditioned to believe certain things based on little evidence.

    For example, i suspect that if people were told the age and gender of the airline pilot in advance of a flight, that they would have irrational anxiety, based on little evidence. If it were say a 40 year old female pilot and or 40 year old male pilot, i suspect people might say they had more anxiety being flown by a female. But in reality the female pilot may have thousands more flying hours than her male colleague and have achieved better results in tests. And in regard to age, an older pilot would cause less anxiety to passengers than a younger pilot, even though if they checked the records, the older pilot had failing eyesight and had a recent accident.

    Politicians do play on peoples strange view of the world, often based on very little factual evidence and some Politicians have been heard to say ‘who needs experts’, as if emotions are just as important as reality.

  38. “oxbridge teachers”
    This is a double edged sword. yes, it is a good thing to have teachers who are well educated, indeed widely educated even beyond their specialist subject. But it is a big mistake to assume this is the main job requirement. It is more important to have people willing and able to impart the knowledge they have to others. Theres many an oxbridge graduate who would do an awful job as a teacher, and the recent emphasis on ‘qualifications’ for teachers has formalised this fault into the system. You do not need to know degree level to teach A level.

    And while specialist teacher qualifications might seem to be a good idea, in reality many of these course are totally unhelpful in turning out people capable of teaching, rather than just having learnt some of the theoretical basis of teaching. Same fault as above.They need people skills.

  39. @DANNY

    The FT did a massive data mining of selection versus comprehensive and found two interesting issues, the best of the best did slightly better and the worst 20% did significantly worse un selection compared to comprehensives. So I could see why those in the top 10% would want selection but those in the bottom 20% is where our problems lie and hence I believe that much of our educational system is tending to pseudo selection anyway. it is why we are bottom of the league in litteracy in the EU and near the bottom of the league in numeracy for 16-24 year old and pretty low in computer literacy skills


  40. Colin

    The labelling of benefit claimants by both UK major parties as scroungers is /was a deliberate part of policies (changed under Corbyn). The press played its part in making benefit claimants, including EU immigrants, unpopular but the driving force was UK government policy. Similarly, the public perception of immigration is heavily influenced by the UK government’s policies on immigration. An Ipsos Mori poll found that over 50% of Leavers wanted to leave the EU because of immigration. One of many examples of government Ministers’ hostility to immigration is Mr Hammond’s remark that millions of “marauding” Africans migrants pose a threat to the UK’s infrastructure.

    The labelling of benefit claimants and migrants by members of the UK government as part of policy has contributed to the abuse and violence towards these groups. Far Right populism as described by Professor Keating is alive and well in the UK


  41. @danny

    “And while specialist teacher qualifications might seem to be a good idea, in reality many of these course are totally unhelpful in turning out people capable of teaching, rather than just having learnt some of the theoretical basis of teaching. Same fault as above.They need people skills.”

    indeed. as do the kids. social intelligence and critical thinking are about the most useful skills you can acquire – but the emphasis in education is overwhelming about teaching specialised subjects in a way that can be graded (which is why arts skills like drama and music are so criminally undervalued).

  42. PTRP,
    “I could see why those in the top 10% would want selection but those in the bottom 20% is where our problems lie ”

    My take isnt from the personal perspective, Its what the nation needs. I am not convinced 10% very well trained at the expense of 20% not trained at all, is a bad deal.

    I know people keep emphasising the need for a wider skills base, but I keep thinking if 1 in 10 are really good, they will carry the rest. That is how it has always worked.

    What we seem to have managed is 20% badly trained who however believe they should be well trained and are therefore unfit also for unskilled work. This goes alongside the formal government policy of encouraging unskilled employment even when this requires importing labour. So we have policy of creating such jobs, but creating a workforce who refuse them. Brilliant.

  43. @DANNY

    And I believe you have highlighted the real problem of where I think our economy is we are fighting two very real issues here

    In truth we are seeing the hollowing of the mid skilled workers we are now seeing more highly skilled workers and indeed more low skilled workers. it is something that is happening across many western economies. Mark Byth (a Euro scepetic as in the currency) argues that in globalisation the people that have suffered lack of wage growth is the unskilled and low skilled in developed nations

    The UK economy has basically tailored itself to the issue of this a CIP report talked about 20% of all our jobs requiring the educational attainment of a 10 year old, and that 30% of all graduates are under utilised



    So the real problem is that we have a problem just in keeping up with the EU in terms of education tailored to the modern world and then investment in skills and investment in the jobs.

    I would accpet that we have 20% of low skilled that have ideas above their stations as it were as a premise if our 20% were not the worst in the EU. One would would want to test the theory are these people just unskilled because we have let them down educationally and then investment wise in the types of jobs they can do. the other issue is what makes it such that the UK has this problem and the Germans do not.

    We are the worst in the EU or near the bottom in too many of these metric to just have that premise

  44. @ DANNY – congratulations on winning the birthplace lottery and being born and raised in a Western democracy! Yes, its great living in a (currently) rich country that is getting increasing in debt and faces an ageing population. Unless of course you are a young person who will at some point have to face the reality that the merry-go-round can’t last forever. No worries just blame your parents because you were unlucky with the decade you were born in!

    That was always the great irony of the Brexit demographics. I respect the young Scots that want Independence but am dismayed that young English have pretty much already given up on UK’s chances.

    You last post “I keep thinking if 1 in 10 are really good, they will carry the rest” pretty much sums up the momentum/far-left view and shows the real danger this country faces if a far-left govt come into power just as we leave EU – the 10% will just f%&k off elsewhere and the 90% will have to carry themselves.

    Money trees have very shallow roots in a global economy! and the “magic” ones have always been great at disappearing acts :)

  45. Poll of “value for money” from attending university.

    “Among 18-24-year-olds, 53% say it is not worth it, while 39% say it is.”

    bunch of other stats and links to other good articles

    The current system for post secondary education is broken. I’m a big believer in free markets but from fat cat vice-chancellors to shockingly bad value-for-money courses the system is broken. Free fees would worsen the fundamental problem (IMHO).

    “A university education is no longer the golden ticket to a inexorably rising salary, rather it’s a millstone of debt”


    Actually I have one allotment and my wife has one allotment. However she allows me to do all the heavy manual labour on both, she’s kind like that.


    Does not our problem start with the type of jobs we create. What we chose to invest in. We seem to do education tertiary education in terms of supply first and not demand. industry now seems to feel that they need not take part in any formal training and we are suffering as a result

    The issue of University education is basically the same bloody ponzi scheme that we have for housing we pile on the debt in the hope of getting a return. Some people will gain but the system creates a momentum of it own

  48. Trevor Warne,
    “Yes, its great living in a (currently) rich country that is getting increasing in debt and faces an ageing population. Unless of course you are a young person who will at some point have to face the reality that the merry-go-round can’t last forever”

    Except that it can. Thats the lesson of economics, money is just a method of keeping score. If we currently are generating enough wealth to have this lifestyle, then there is no reason why this should not continue. What we consume today, we make today. If this stops it merely means the organisational system has failed.

    Aging poulation? what about all those robots forever on the verge of making human work redundant? Which have massively increased human productivity already?

    Free markets dont work. They operate by human greed and produce wildly unfair results, because that is the aim they seek. There has to be an actor which intervenes in markets to ensure the benefit goes to all the citizens, because it will not if left to individuals. Huge national debt? merely a symptom of markets in action.

  49. @Danny

    Yours is a common refrain, but critically flawed.

    Sure, it can be problematic if you have Oxbridge academic ability but you’re not much good as a teacher. However, being a good communicator etc. is not much use either if you don’t have much academic ability. You can’t explain about Quantum Mechanics, say, if you don’t understand it very well yourself.

    (Incidentally this is a problem others have noted in Junior schools, where by the time you’re getting towards top juniors, the maths skills of the brightest will exceed the maths skills of those teachers who scraped a C at O level, say).

    And actually, the idea is doubly flawed, in that it doesn’t matter so much if you’re good at communicating if the school is very selective and creaming off the top pupils, as even if the teacher is not much cop at communicating it doesn’t matter so much as the pupils will teach themselves from the textbooks anyway.

    That’s a big part of the point of a school being selective. It renders the teaching increasingly moot. (Incidentally this was true to some extent even at Prep school. When I went to prep school, having been to a council estate school previously I was quite some way behind in maths, they just gave me the textbook and told me to catch up. I was behind in Latin too, and same story…)

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