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. @Danny

    Another advantage the public schools have which I neglected to mention, is that having small class sizes along with allowing more homework allows MUCH tighter setting.

    For example, if you have sixty pupils, a state school might split them into two classes of thirty. But a public school might have FIVE classes of twelve. The public school thus has five sets rather than two, and thus you can have people much closer in ability in each class.

    This makes the teaching much easier, when you don’t have to accommodate a wide ability range. Another way in which private schools can render the teaching less important.

    You are so far off base Danny, you don’t have any facts about what goes on in these educational establishments, you are just supposing repeatedly in error.

    Another way you are in error is supposing you “don’t need to know degree level to only teach to A level”. If you were aiming to get your pupils into Oxbridge then you needed to get them quite a bit beyond A level!! Especially if doing seventh term Oxbridge exams.

    And it isn’t just about the A level content. The Oxbridge interview will be throwing at you difficult, unforeseable and trick questions you couldn’t revise for, testing how well you think. You need bright teachers to teach you more advanced ways of approaching problems, since lesser teachers can’t do it themselves.

  2. (i left out that the public school, in being selective, can start off with a restricted ability range to begin with, making teaching easier, and THEN they have the tighter setting on top, making the teaching easier still).

  3. “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”.
    @oldnat September 20th, 2017 at 11:42 pm

    IKEA’s toilet brush holder inconspicuously named after ‘Brexit’ leader Nigel Farage

  4. @ DANNY – Marxism or social anarchism are wonderful in theory. Pure capitalism (facism, benevolent dictator, etc) has some theoretical merit as well.

    Both fail in practise due to human greed – the degree to which varies depending on social/cultural norms but can not be ignored.

    IMHO the “compromise” is to have a capitalist economic model (small state, low taxes, encourage human endeavour) combined with a modestly socialist govt (ensuring strong safety net, reeling in the excesses of capitalism with strong regulatory and legal system).
    Some countries like Norway have a socio-cultural homogeneity that enables them to be more “socialist” as the indigeneous respect the system. Scotland might be able to pull that off as well – until they are independent it is tough to know. Sadly, I don’t think England has the ability to be too socialist – I expect at some point in the next 10years we will find out whether or not that is the case.

    @ “If we currently are generating enough wealth to have this lifestyle, then there is no reason why this should not continue.”

    two problems:
    1/ people want an ever increasing lifestyle, which requires an ever increasing income stream
    2/ without an ever increasing income stream you rely on debt (or equity withdrawal on wealth bubbles – which one day will pop)

    There are alternate way to generate enough wealth – colonialism, imperialism, etc. but let’s leave that to the history books!

    Increasing productivity would help, for some reason UK and Europe has a cronic problem with productivity – I have my suspicions why :)

  5. Howard

    ” 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.”

    I assume she doesn’t object to a bit of pointing at stuff.

  6. @Trevor

    If you want capitalism to work optimally, you need significant state intervention. This is partly to ensure investment in those areas of high value but too risky, or too long term, or too big for the private sector to invest in. E.g. space, Internet, GPS etc… and also to assist nascent technologies in the private sector (e.g. how the U.S. Govt. created an early market for computer chips during the space race).

    Or indeed to invest in those valuable things private sector won’t invest in because not much profit in it. E.g. Investing in cures rather than just treating symptoms.

    Secondly, given that capital quite likes to employ fewer and/or to drive down wages, it helps if government seeks to create new employment. This is how we had rising living standards for a couple of decades after the war until the oil crisis of the seventies, despite having had our economy ravaged by war.

  7. @ CARFREW – I agree completely.

    Outside EU we can be moderately more state interventionalist, ensure money is spent on domestic infrastructure (most E.Europe nations are below foreign aid threshold for state aid). My issue is a return to awkward squad trade unions but I concede the oil shock in 1970s was also an issue for UK at around the same time.

    IMHO we should photocopy all EU workers rights, etc and make a strong commitment to generally adopt all EU workers rights. I have issues with the EU but (with exception of a few specific details on ECHR) see no need for us to reinvent our own wheel when we leave – just photocopy 99% of current and future EU legislation.

    Although a minimum wage is not great economic theory, I generally support it and would go further with regional approach (ideally achieved via break-up to federal UK). Tube drivers are on about 35quid/hr but unhappy. Not sure what London min.wage should be – suspect it is above 7.20 though.

    P.S. Stumbled across a great little tool on google to see min.wages in different countries:

  8. Poll info. In the recent Opinium poll (V1 Q6 on below link) they asked:

    (Agree/disagree) “Immigration from the EU has undercut wages for low skilled British workers”

    Crossbreak (Total, CON, LAB)

    Agree (+) 51, 67, 44
    Disagree (-) 19, 10, 28
    Sum 32, 57, 16

    Interesting that even amongst LAB voters the basic concept of supply and demand is understood :)

    Link to Opinium poll:

    If anyone has a link to the LAB contemporary motion on U-turn over free movement could they post link. Huffpost write-up doesn’t go into the exact wording :)

    Free movement of labour is raw capitalism (Blair approved!). See link earlier for a neat little tool to compare UK to other EU nations for min.wage levels.

  9. @trevorwarne

    “I respect the young Scots that want Independence but am dismayed that young English have pretty much already given up on UK’s chances.’

    Just because young people ( in both Scotland and England and possibly in the rest of the UK) see their future within the EU can hardly be described as “given up on UK’s chances” can it? They have a different view of what is best for the UK and them. We really need to get away from this unpatriotic, divided loyalties theme which is just nonsense.

  10. Paul Croft

    She actually likes picking and processing best.


  11. SAM

    @” An Ipsos Mori poll found that over 50% of Leavers wanted to leave the EU because of immigration.”


    Its a hackneyed elision you imply-concern about “immigration” =dislike of “immigrants”=Racism.

    I think it simplistic, wrong-and very dangerous. Which won’t stop EU’s more fanatical supporters from constantly making it.

  12. @ Carfew

    The brexiness is rather off-putting when unleavened by Thorium and space elevators. I was worried about you so I have kept checking in … but given the spate of attacks post-GE, I’ve been giving the site a bit of a wide berth. Glad to know that you hadn’t been run over or snatched by aliens.

  13. Well that was an interesting interview on Today this morning.!

    Stephanie Flanders-Cat Hobbs, founder and director of We Own It,

    If Hobbs has described Labour’s official policy on compensation to nationalised Water Company shareholders -I hope my Pension Funds are selling this Sector asap.

  14. TW, Regarding people understanding supply and demand and wages.

    The link between wages and EU immigration was recently shown to be exaggerated for political purposes perhaps, with several studies showing no link suppressed by TM’s Gov.

    It is a wrong headed notion.

    Carfrew, I missed you too.

  15. Carfew even.

  16. COLIN @ BZ

    Representative Democracy makes you a bit nervous then BZ

    Well, it would be a good start if we had it.

    However, a publicly approved written constitution would provide safeguards for everyone, whether they can be bothered or are allowed to vote or not.

  17. @ MARKW – I read a few of those “studies” and the general theme has now been channelled into something naively sellable to the electorate – protection of domestic workers. It’s when they take Qatar as an example you start to laugh. May hasn’t “suppressed” free speech or free press – the studies have such a weak economic argument that they have broadly been ignored (IMHO)

    We’ll almost certainly have to photocopy 99% of EU regulations (for goods, workers, etc) in order to get a good on-going trade deal so this “hyper-exploitation” is a legal enforcement question not an economic reality question.

    The way to tackle “hyper-exploitation” is to have a strong legal system backed up with large fines (possibly even prison sentences in extreme cases).

    Minimum wages in Romania (see link above) are 10% of UK. Some “friction” exists and cost of living needs to be considered (as some studies do) but the equilibrium wage level drops if you add in millions of workers on a much lower wage (which the studies then quickly skip over and come up with a hyper-exploitation conclusion)

    It’s a lot like some of the nonsense that the official Leave campaign came out with :)

    Anyway the fun will be in LAB selling this as “clarification” of their Brexit policy – especially to ex-UKIP strongholds in the Midlands/North!

    When voters start to see the Extreme Brexit they were told CON were supposedly pushing was nothing more than a negotiating strategy we’ll see what happens to VIs – I hope the CON recovery doesn’t turn too quickly though!

    @ CARFREW – the Remain message was (and still is) a view that the UK is too weak to survive outside the EU and our destiny is to be a little kid in the bully’s gang – paying for the privilege! From an economic perspective Scots brave view on Independence is hence admirable – even now when UK (and hence Scotland) is leaving the EU, the Bravehearts (60% of Male 16-34y olds in last panelbase poll) still want to leave UK!! If we apply Remain ageism then its just a matter of time before enough old people die to allow Scotland to become independent.
    (Opinium poll has Remain at 59% for 18-34y olds).

    If you have a different interpretation of the polling data then please let me know.

  18. Apologies, a little harsh on Remain in the above. Lord Ashcroft phrased it thus back in Jun’16:
    “For remain voters, the single most important reason for their decision was that “the risks of voting to leave the EU looked too great when it came to things like the economy, jobs and prices” (43%)”


  19. BZ

    You really don’t trust the UK Electorate to get the “right” answer do you ?

  20. Trevor, crikey.

    I didn’t say TM has suppressed free speech or the free press! You even made me use a !

    IIRC it has been reported the the gov asked for and ignored the results of several reports that offered far more nuanced conclusions than those that were held by the gov.

  21. Good Numbers for Hammond:-


    If borrowing for Sept/Mar is the same as last year-I make that a £13b undershoot on Forecast Deficit for 2017/18.

    Helpful to Hammond as he juggles Public Finances & Public Service demands.

  22. If May has to ask permission from the cabinet before making a speech but Johnston can write what he wants in the newspapers who is actually PM?

  23. Occasional Notes on Cycling, No. 467

    9,000 pedestrians and cyclists are killed & seriously injured by vehicles per annum in the UK. The number killed and injured by cyclists was 80. The laws on cycling are now to be urgently reviewed – in response to a recent tragic case which received more notice than 400 vehicle-caused pedestrian deaths; the review of general laws on road safety has been stalled for some time.

    Legislation is not problem-centred but a craven response to the anti-cycling press. Why is the press hostile to cyclists? A clue: the more “capitalist” the publication the more virulent its anti-cycling stance. Having said that, The Guardian often adopts an anti-cycling tone. Why is this important? Anti-cycling propaganda encourages hostility towards cyclists on the part of drivers & increases the risk of death & injury. If you froth at the mouth about cycling, see ttps://cyclingfallacies.com/en/, which disposes of anti-cyclist myths.
    Ps. The situation in the USA is far worse. 5,500 cyclists and pedestrians are killed a year & the leniency shown towards motorists who kill is extraordinary.

  24. @Princess R. “If May has to ask permission from the cabinet before making a speech but Johnston can write what he wants in the newspapers who is actually PM?”


    Not read his speech but it includes the followiing:
    “I look at so many young people with the 12 stars lipsticked to their faces, and I am troubled with the thought that people are beginning to have genuinely split allegiances.”

    This is a variation on the [absurd] Tebbit test. These people don’t get identity: & they think they are going to win back the youth vote.

  25. DANNY
    ” Is there any evidence rich kids have higher intelligence?”

    Probably not, but there is substantial evidence of rich kids receiving an education designed to benefti themt in a social and economic system which rewards access to wealth, and of an educational system which seeks achievement in the system as a measure of academic excellence and mistakes it at intelligence.

  26. Although every time I put up poll results everyone just ignores me & witters on about almost anything apart from what UK Polling Report is supposed to discuss, here’s the latest poll from Ipsos MORI :

    Westminster voting intention:
    LAB: 44% (+2)
    CON: 40% (-1)
    LDEM: 9% (-)
    UKIP: 2% (-1)
    GRN: 1% (-1)
    via @IpsosMORI, 15 – 18 Sep
    Changes from July.

  27. Thanks for that, Barnaby Marder- as you say, this is a site for the dispassionate discussion of opinion polls.

    It seems to me that some posters are like fireworks. Once lit, they can dazzle with their pyrotechnics and then burn out, never to be seen again.

    As a regular lurker, some time contributor, I take comfort from that.

  28. Barney

    Ta very much for the poll.

    What are your views on brexit by the way?


    OK I’ll bite: The longer both major poarties stay above 40%. The harder I see it for the tories to govern to the right. I feel that by the time that brexit is done and we are in to the next election the arguments will be on Corbyn’s turf. Austerity, Wages and Investment

    We already have BoJo talking about using historic low rates of interest to build up our infrastructure. The rela problem is that places that are growing a areas that labour is dominant (metropolitan towns) the reality is that these places will continue to grow where as the old industrial areas will contnue to whither.

    Now the real problem the Tories have is how to erase the years of austerity on everyones mind

  30. @ MARKW – Sorry, might have overdone my reply. There has been, and continues to be, so much rubbish written about Brexit (from both sides) that sensible debate gets missed out. BoJo’s lasted opus signified the rubbish from hard core Leave continues!

    Free movement is but one of the many aspects of the Brexit “package”.

    What I find odd is that (IMHO) free movement is a capitalist ideal yet we have CON trying to limit it and LAB trying to keep it (possibly even expand it in some reports).

    Crazy times.

  31. Sorry – meant Barnaby…..

    If one can take anything from a 3% change then maybe it’s down to the Boris stuff that is going on.

    Must say that it seems very odd to me to have the FS writing long articles and then the PM giving a speech in Italy, when what they are writing and talking about is what we were supposed to be negotiating about already.

  32. passtherock

    If Corbyn ever makes it to pm [or someone on his side of the debate] then my fear is that we will have, by then, lost the enormous opportunities to borrow and invest at historically low interest rates because they will, by then, actually be history.

  33. COLIN @ BZ

    You really don’t trust the UK Electorate to get the “right” answer do you ?

    As you don’t state the question on which a referendum would be based, it’s impossible to to have any certainty. If the question was “Should the UK have representative democracy?”, which is what you raised then my answer would be negative because the format of said democracy had not been defined.

  34. @ SAM/COLIN – Brexit divorce bill (from y’day). I finished reading Sam’s excellent link to the very detailed bill breakdown (available here for those that missed it):

    As they say themselves
    “..this financial settlement is the least important economic issue in the Brexit negotiations..”

    However, since it will be headline fodder for the masses it’s public significance is high. As I said before, a formula based approach with instalment tied to a roadmap and milestones is hopefully what May offers but peeps will certainly try and hack the formula into Xbn.

    Small tweak on my numbers from y’day, also taking in mind the new info on 2y transition and bespoke deal

    “Enhanced” fag packet maths (May’s offer, eventual price):
    2018 10bn (still in)
    2019 10bn (still in)
    2020 8bn – 10bn (half-way to EFTA – in EU in all but name)
    2021 4bn – 8bn (half-way to EFTA – EFTA)
    2022 0bn – 4bn (out- EFTA)
    2023 fully out, bullet payment or some ongoing annuity to cover the “unfunded” items, 8bn – 18bn (realising some of the asset side is especially difficult which means these net numbers might be higher from a “cashflow” perspective)

    May’s offer tomorrow = 40bn (2y transition)
    Eventual cost = 60bn (3y transition)

    Not much change, just putting an “acceptable” range around the 50bn and some expectation on the transition timeline. The 3y gets very close to next official GE time.

    I wish we had a larger govt majority to talk the number lower but I think we have to face the realities of the slim working majority in HoC and avoid overly low-balling our first serious number.

    I have very low expectations for tomorrow, not just in what May will say but in the reaction to whatever she does say.


    Thanks for the MORI VI. No sign of the tables yet, but a further tweet also shows:

    Public Satisfaction / Dissatisfaction with…

    T. May: 37 / 54
    J. Corbyn: 43 / 46
    V. Cable: 30 / 31

  36. @ PRTP
    @”the real problem the Tories have is how to erase the years of austerity on everyones mind”

    I agree but how much is “priced in” to VI already? CON’s electoral fortunes are (IMHO) inextricably linked to the success or otherwise of Brexit negotiations (and if they survive long enough), Brexit outcome.

    I’m highly suspicious that a lot of Remain are hiding in LAB VI (43% of hard core Remain are in LAB – wrote about that y’day) and not sure they are all on-board with the momentum take-over of the LAB party.

    For now, I’m happy to see CON below LAB but within reach. CON are never far from civil war whilst Brexit is ongoing and the poor polling should instil some discipline (although doesn’t seem to work on BoJo!)

    We saw LAB VI close almost 20pts on CON from 21Apr YouGov poll (48, 25) to actual election results less than 7weeks later.

    Is there anyone still in CON VI that is concerned about the austerity tag? Where are LAB going to get the final push that gives them the 6%+ lead over CON they need for a majority (which you need to up to 12% if you assume they lose some Scottish seats to SNP and want a bit of majority cushion)? RACHEL believes it will come from a new leader – possibly. Any other suggestions?

    Of course even if CON deliver a reasonable Brexit the electorate might treat them the way they treated Churchill!

  37. @ COLIN – thank you for the public finances numbers – agree v.good news. As PTRP has pointed out the window to lose the austerity label might have past but I’m hoping Hammond has got the message at last. I’m generally one of those few people that would like us to balance the budget sooner rather than later but now is not the time – the alternative govt would see the budget deficit explode and that is a real danger of happening.

    Might get some leaks/trial balloons soon but we’ll see for sure on 22Nov! Not too hopeful, but fingers crossed!

  38. Good afternoon all from a warm and grey Central London.


    Westminster voting intention:
    LAB: 44% (+2)
    CON: 40% (-1)
    LDEM: 9% (-)
    UKIP: 2% (-1)
    GRN: 1% (-1)
    via @IpsosMORI, 15 – 18 Sep
    Changes from July.

    Good poll for ol Corby, however the poll has come a little too early for the inevitable Vince bounce as clearly this poll was conducted before his leaders and get ready for government speech.

    I’m expecting future polling to show the Lib/Dems on circa 45%. This would take them into absolute majority territory….Anything less than (I’ll be kind to them) 40% will clearly be a disaster for poor old Vince and his path to government.


    I think the remain vote actually stays with Labour since I believe it was always there. I keep reminding people if Camerons delivered the same proportion of conservative voters to remain as Corbyn is supposed to have delivered to remain we would not be talking about leaving.

    So I believe that tory enthusiasm is directly related to how well brexit goes but I actually think these numbers that we are seeing regarding the polls is what we will get once brexit is is done an dusted. Only a few seats changed hands due brexit in my view for example I believe Walsall East (?) tuning Tory but if you talk to London Tories as an example they were met on the doorstep with people whom had voted tory in the past talking about their daily lives and that pretty much means austerity, personal debt. Obviously having a ‘good’ brexit is important but I think that we are over thinking the polls.

  40. TrevorW
    You really should get a job as a Tory spin doctor.
    A 4point Labour lead and we are informed they will need 12.
    It’s “passed” btw not “past”.

  41. So, May is flying back from the UN, where she spoke to a largely empty hall, to Florence – where she will also be speaking to few people!


    Some of her Cabinet will be flying out to Florence, to hear it again, but no one from the EU will [1].

    Certainly cheaper, and just as effective, if she had delivered both speeches in the Orangery Gallery, Holland Park – at least the DUP might have appreciated that gesture.

    [1] To be fair, the EU negotiators will probably already have read it too, unless the Bundesnachrichtendienst is falling down on the job.

  42. Paul Croft – my views on Brexit are broadly in line with the policies being put forward by Starmer & Corbyn, except I am in favour of free movement.
    It’s obviously nonsense to say Labour “should be 12% ahead” after only 3 months of this parliament. This wouldn’t be the case until much closer to midterm. In any case, the results of the last general election were so different from what could have been extrapolated from the polling situation during most of the parliament (such as it was) that the old rules about how far ahead an opposition allegedly should be at whatever time have surely gone out of the window.
    Speaking in a partisan way, however, if Tories want to feel complacent that all will come right, I’m not going to stop them.

  43. @ RJW/PTRP – open up Electoral Calculus and pop in:

    CON 35
    LAB 47 (12% lead over CON!)
    LIB 7

    tick Scotland and pop in:
    CON 22
    LAB 26
    LIB 6
    SNP 45

    IMHO this is as good as it gets for LAB in a horror show Brexit and Hammond sticking with austerity

    press “predict election” and you get LAB 331 seats which is coincidentally what CON got in 2015 – slim majority, but at least avoids need to do a deal with SNP


    I wrote up how LAB could win an election a few days ago to give some balance to my posts. I don’t believe in caps or floors on %s but at 35% (assuming no UKIP return) your seriously pushing the limits (IMHO of course).

    I very much doubt Corbyn wants to take over while Brexit negotiations are ongoing so not bothered about VI for now – as negotiations start to settle the transition and future arrangements VI will become more interesting as that (IMHO) is when LAB should make their move.

    I think Corbyn would prefer a clean majority to a SNP deal and whoever is seen to force a snap GE will not be thanked by the electorate (especially if it is linked to a neverendum) – IMHO of course!!

    Interested to see your numbers and analysis of a better way for LAB to take power.

  44. @Trevor

    Yep, I consider the minimum wage to be summat of a sticking plaster. Preferable to create decent jobs, which in creating competition for employees naturally pulls up wages and conditions. It also creates more demand assisting business.

    Policy of full employment was part of how we recovered after the war from a much worse position: war ravaged, bombed out economy, debt at TRIPLE GDP, having lost our Empire markets at Bretton Woods which we couldn’t sell into anyway because our industry had been repurposed for the war effort. Yet we took out our long-term loans (the closest thing to magic money back then since we didn’t have proper control of our currency), built the welfare state, rebuilt the economy and had decades of growth and prosperity, where you could bring a family up on a single wage, no need for minimum wages or much expenditure on welfare, until… the oil crisis hit.

  45. Barnier’s speech to the Foreign and European Committees of the Italian Parliament today



    I think the reality is we are now ignoring debt. Just think of it we have had stagnant wages and our personal debt figures are now back at GFE2008 levels. Either that means debt is irrelevant and the markets realise it is not going to be unwound or that we are steaming headlong into a crash and thus nothing really matters.

    How we unwind thedebt is important. the arguments on brexit are in many ways irrelevant to the problems of the UK and indeed our political class have used the EU as a scapegoat for our inaction.

    My view of the whole deb t conumdrum is a debt reset (debt forgiveness) and yes that is a moral hazard sort of thing but the alternatives have been and gone. if we limit debt generation we screw everything up badly and for a long time, Just look at Greece. it borrowed much more than it could ever pay back and essentially to be able to borrow more it had to destroy it economy. the solution would have been not to let it borrow the money in the first place because now every solution is a disaster. The UK is in a similar position but it just does not know it. We are actually treating the economy as descrete components rather than holistically.

    We are a consumption based economy so we need to consume to to create growth, we don’t make enough stuff that people want to buy so we import more than we export, we don’t do value add so our jobs growth is low skilled and low value add, our education system is supply side strong with no industrial pull so it cannot pay for itself so we leave it to individuals to gamble usng debt to generate enough skills to be able to command enough wages to pay of the debt. Employers therefore need not invest, investors need not worry about risk and reward because the governmetn helps them secure their assets with QE and we financila engineer such that we feel a winning formula is that we can get the chinese to pay the french to build us a power staion for which we will pay hugely over the odds for the electricity generated. Simply put screwed with a positive feedback loop that says we will forever have more debt it means that growth is almost meaningless since we have had positive growth for 5 years and yet people are poorer and re in more debt.

    if someone wakes up from the dream state we are in it all goes tits up dot com as we said during the great dot com crash.

  47. So, with Labour being completely ignored by practically every branch of the media for several weeks and the tories having an wide open goal to get their message across, is this MOE or actual movement?

    I see this polling was done before Bozza rode in on his trusty steed to save us from a soggy brexit, and a few days after the dust had time to settle on Moggzilla’s recent additions to the sum of human opinion.

    That our venerable scribes seem to have failed to find anything of much interest in Vince and his merry persons’ jolly by the seaside possibly explains why our next PM hasn’t quite begun to show his anticipated movement in this poll at least.

    I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if Labour’s conference isn’t overshadowed by reporting of tories holding polite discussions among themselves over the true meaning of the Gracious Florence Speech, (I predict the GFS itself is unlikely to get much more than a few minutes on WATO and PM), and this may or may not prove advantageous to either or both of the two major parties.

    I can’t remember now who mentioned this morning’s bit on the radio about water company shareholders losing their entire worldly wealth yea down to their late mothers’ paisley shawls while a small violin played mournfully in the background. It struck me as a fairly tepid attempt at distraction from other news, but doesn’t seem to have caught the imagination of anyone very much yet. It was more entertaining that Martin Amis explaining why everybody is a pompous antediluvian simpleton except him, but only just, and mainly because the interviewing seemed slightly on the other side of ept.

    Ok Trevor, back to you for the latest brexit roundup!

  48. @Trevor

    Regarding the unions, while there were clearly issues, political agents have considerably over-egged their villainy. In the oil crisis, the price of oil quadrupled, and thus inflation shot up. Consequently, workers saw their wage packets ravaged by inflation, and not unnaturally strikes were going to happen under these extreme circumstances.

    Into this mix, came Labour Party policy. The oil crisis not only caused inflation but recession, I.e. Stagflation, very difficult to deal with, because normal measures to control inflation e.g. upping interest rates, also hampers recovery from recession.

    Consequently Labour pursued wage restraint, which bore down on inflation while assisting business via reducing costs. It was harder for workers and unions though, and were some strikes but a price worth paying as it meant unemployment was kept to a manageable level and was part of a successful strategy that saw inflation slashed and a return to growth. Callaghan decided not to call an election at this point…

    Then the second oil price hike hit, seeing inflation shoot back up again and the unions seeing members’ wage packets ravaged further broke ranks and we had the Winter of Discontent. But it was a very difficult position to be in. Under more normal circumstances the unions were part of a situation under which we had nearly three decades of mostly growth.

    (Fundamentally, it was a failure of economic policy in the post war period, of not being Keynesian enough. We were supposed to have commodity buffers to guard against things like oil price hikes, and to lessen our dependence on oil anyway, which we did subsequently. There were originally commodity buffers but Nixon chanpioned getting rid of them when he took power and the liberals of that era began tightening their grip…)

  49. @ OLDNAT – thanks for the link to Barnier’s comments. Not a lot of hope in there for Remainers and very little move on his side for any Leavers hoping for a cheap deal. I’ll admit to struggling to find even one silver lining, but I just about managed :)

    “I am convinced that a rapid agreement on the conditions of the UK’s orderly withdrawal, and a transition period, is possible.
    For that to happen, we would like the United Kingdom to put on the table, as soon as next week, proposals to overcome the barriers.”

    Once the political will is there, “rapid agreement” is possible. Think I’ll run a flat position into May’s speech though. GBP struggling to break higher and think tomorrow’s speech is a coin flip. Cash in the bank for now.

  50. TrevorW
    The various calculating engines you place your faith in don’t take into account the wrinkles of our FPTP system. Now, is that YouGov calculating engine that proved quite accurate at the June election still functioning? Doubtless it will be in action again when the next election is called. (You must recall that you drew attention, ironically, to some possible wagers based on the YouGov behemoth, some of which I followed up, to a happy financial advantage).
    In the meantime I won’t be digging down selectively into supposed %s needed for a Labour victory.
    It’s “you’re ” by the way not “your”.

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