Earlier in the week the Boundary Commissions of England, Scotland and Wales (but not Northern Ireland) published their revised recommendations for the boundary review. This is the next stage of the review that started before the last election – the rules are that the Boundary Commissions need to report every five years, so the early election hasn’t had any impact on the timeable.

The process of a Boundary review is that the Commissions start by working out some provisional recommendations which go out to public consultation. The Commissions then publish revised recommendations taking into account all the comments they’ve received, and there is a period of consultation on those. Finally the Commissions put out final recommendations. We’re now at the revised stage, and the final report will be in September 2018.

At each stage I work out some notional figures* on how the previous election would have looked if fought on the new boundaries. The initial recommendations wouldn’t have made a huge difference to the result of the 2017 election (the Conservatives would still have been just short of an overall majority), but would have made it a little easier for the Conservatives to win. The new revised boundaries are a little more positive for the Conservatives – if the votes cast at the 2017 election had been counted on these new boundaries the Conservatives would have won 307 seats (ten less than currently), Labour would have won 234 seats (twenty-eight fewer than currently), the Liberal Democrats 8 (four less than currently) and the SNP 30 (five less than currently).

More importantly the new boundaries would make it a little easier for the Tories to win, a little harder for Labour to win – albeit, not by very much. The lead in vote share that the Conservatives need to win falls by just under 2 percentage points, the lead that Labour would need to achieve rises by less than a single point.

  • On the the new boundaries the Conservatives would need a lead of 1.6 percentage points to win an overall majority, compared to 2.8 on the initial proposals and 3.4 on current boundaries
  • On the new boundaries Labour would need to be 3.9 points ahead to become the largest party, compared 3.6 on the initial proposals and 0.8 on current boundaries
  • On the new boundaries Labour would need a lead of 8.2 points to win an overall majority, compared to 7.8 points on the initial proposals and 7.4 on current boundaries

The full notional results for each seat are set out here.

As ever, they need a few caveats. The first is that this is based purely on the reallocation of votes from current constituencies to new ones by a formula. It assumes the distribution of party strength within Parliamentary constituencies is in the same sort of proportion as local elections – if that isn’t the case, it will produce slightly odd results. Areas where local elections have a lot of independents are particularly ropey, so notional figures in places like rural Wales and Cornwall should be taken with a pinch of salt. The second caveat is that these figures are based on how the votes in the 2017 election would have translated into seats if counted on the new boundaries. They cannot predict if people might have voted differently on those new boundaries – for that reason, I think notional election results do often understate Lib Dem strength. A ward in a Con-Lab marginal might have voted very differently if it had been part of a Con-Lib marginal in 2017.

Readers will probably have noted that both before and after the review the Conservative party needs a smaller lead to win than the Labour party. This may well seem counter-intuitive: why would a review that is supposed to be about making boundaries fairer apparently skew it further in the direction of a party that already has an advantage? The reason is because partisan skews in the way votes translate into seats is due to several different reasons – differential turnout, malapportionment, vote distribution and the effect of third parties. Malapportionment (seats not having the same sized electorates) does actually favour Labour at the moment – their seats do tend to have a smaller electorate than Conservative held seats, so a review aimed at equalising electorates ends up favouring the Conservatives. However other factors, largely the distribution of the vote, favour the Conservatives, producing that overall skew. To give one easily illustrated example of how this works, think of ultra-safe seats. A party still only gets one MP regardless of whether it wins with 50% of the vote or 80%, those extra votes just go to waste. Labour currently has far more of these ultra-safe seats – the Conservatives won 55 more seats than Labour in 2017, but the Conservatives won only 88 seats with 60+% of the vote, compared to 115 for Labour. Labour has 37 seats where it won with over 70% of the vote, the Conservatives don’t have any at all.

That’s not to say there are not partisan interests at play here. As all regular readers will know, the Coalition government changed the rules in 2011 to make boundary reviews stricter (requiring a strict 5% threshold) and more frequent (every five years in theory) – both changes that will generally make things more favourable to the Conservatives. In practice, of course, it hasn’t made it more frequent at all – it injected extra partisanship into the boundary review and gave Labour and the Liberal Democrats the causus belli to block it. If the coalition government had left the old boundary rules in place then we’d be seeing a review about now.

The review remains contentious and as things stand the government seems unlikely to get it through, and the next general election may very well take place on the same boundaries we’ve got now. There are probably two things that could change that.

The first is if the DUP support it. The provisional boundary recommendations for Northern Ireland were very good for Sinn Fein and very bad for the DUP, who were consequently extremely critical of them. If the revised recommendations are better then the DUP attitude might yet change. The best chance for that might well be if the Boundary Commission of Northern Ireland are persuaded by the submissions they’ve received to return to a plan that is based on splitting Belfast into four seats, rather than three seats in their initial proposals. That said, the DUP were also critical of the reduction from 18 to 17 seats, which will not change. It will still be worth keeping an eye on the revised Northern Ireland recommendations when they appear.

The other alternative would be to scrap the current review and seek a more consensual one. The newspapers earlier this year reported that the government were indeed considering going back to a 650 seat review, rather than the current 600 seat one. Given the rules are set out in law, this would require primary legislation to do so, and may be an opportunity to switch the rules to ones that can win cross-party appeal. In the last Parliament the Labour party backed a private members bill from Pat Glass that would have changed the rules that would have replaced the strict 5% quota with a 10% one made reviews every ten years rather than every five years. Labour also oppose the current review on the grounds that it is based on the 2015 electorate, before the boost in registration at the time of the EU referendum. Starting a new review based on 650 seats would likely involve starting work based on the current electorate, so there might be the possibility of a compromise on the quota and frequency of reviews and having a boundary review that both sides support. On the other hand, such a review would still almost certainly still favour the Conservatives, so Labour may find another reason to oppose. Either way, a review takes three years or so and it would take time to pass legislation changing the law from 600 seats to 650 seats, so the government would still need to move relatively quickly for it happen before the next election.

(*The method is very similar to the one used by Professors Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of Plymouth University for the notional figures the media use. The Boundary Commissions generally use local council wards as the building blocks for seats. General election votes are not counted by ward however, so to work out notional election results I work out notional general election shares for each council ward in the country. To summarise it briefly, it works by taking the local election results in the wards that make up a constituency, comparing the total for each party to that party’s general election result in that seat, working out a ratio for local election vote to general election for each party in each seat, and then using that to create notional general election vote shares for each council ward in the council. Then I put the council wards into their proposed new seats, tally them up, and it provides notional figures.)

UPDATE – Small correction to the seat numbers – the Lib Dems are on 8, the SNP on 30 (not 7 and 31 as I’d previously put)


334 Responses to “Notional figures for the revised boundary recommendations”

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  1. “But those numbers are for the mainstream Presbyterian Church, not Ian Paisley`s “Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster”. This stricter body is the base driving the DUP party, and I believe has a smaller membership.”

    Fair point, although since we have 11 DUP and no UUP MPs, it looks like most of the mainstream Presbyterians are voting for the DUP too.

  2. That’s 10 DUP MPs.

  3. Alec

    very briefly re Denmark

    I’m always a bit suspicious of homogeneity – tends to make life uncomfortable for the handful of ‘outsiders’. I think it also leads to quite high pressure to conform, which can also be very uncomfortable if you can’t (because your face just doesn’t fit for some reason) or are disclined to do so.

    I think it’s a good idea to have to take other perspectives into account.

  4. Re the ’75 and ’16 referendum voting figures by age: it seems at a cursory glance that the age group least in favour of EU membership in ’75 (the then young) were also those least in favour in ’16 (the by then old).

    Is this an anti-EU cohort that is destined to pass from the electorate, and has seized its chance while it can?

  5. ALEC

    Thanks-will try & find it.

    For me , what is at the centre of this question of Identity, is what The People think of themselves as -ie their Culture.

    I’m familiar enough with history to appreciate that the Map Drawers of recent centuries have not always drawn their lines around cohesive groups-indeed have sometimes deliberately drawn them through cohesive groups in order to weaken those. ( either that or just move the people !)

    The legacy of this Border Making has been tragic for many well defined Cultural Groups.:-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Ethnic_groups_divided_by_international_borders

    The meaning of Culture & its definition is fascinating. I think it is at the heart of perceptions of personal identity, being an amalgam of
    religion, food, place & landscape, what we wear, how we wear it, language, marriage, music, what we believe is right or wrong, how we sit at the table, how we greet visitors, how we behave with loved ones, and a thousand other things.

    In a modern context it isn’t fixed, but flexible, adapting to modern travel & contact.

    But I do believe that a core feeling of ones Culture is important to many ( perhaps most) people.

    How it gels with the Nation which the map tells them they live in , is central to the events in Catalonia & elsewhere.

    I think it perfectly possible that a Nation State has been defined in a way which happily aligns with the accepted expression of the Culture of all its citizens. This seems to me to be the ideal vehicle for the governance of those people.

    But clearly this is not universally the case-either within or without the European Union.

    So for a Union which seems to me to have the emasculation of the Nation State as a core belief ( in reaction to a history of war & strife), this issue is of an existential nature. And I don’t think they have begun to address it.

    The question of Fiscal & Monetary governance & control is central-without sovereignty over your own taxes you have no power or authority with which to express your identity ( SNP MPs are forever telling the HoC this :-) )

    Macron & Merkel come at this from different directions.

    They won’t always be in power of course, and other politicians with other ideas will appear.

  6. ALEC

    @ 10.06 am

    Thanks

    Just finished a long response on this fascinating subject-which has been moderated? ?

    Don’t get it. !

  7. “Re the ’75 and ’16 referendum voting figures by age: it seems at a cursory glance that the age group least in favour of EU membership in ’75 (the then young) were also those least in favour in ’16 (the by then old).

    Is this an anti-EU cohort that is destined to pass from the electorate, and has seized its chance while it can?”

    A personal opinion only, and probably highly coloured by my personal view that the EU is an attractive ideal that has some considerable dysfunctional reality, but I’d be looking at life experience.

    The older cohort in ’16/ younger cohort in ’75 is the cohort that has experienced the EU for most of its adult life in all its dysfunctional reality.

    The younger cohort in ’16 is the cohort attracted to the ideal.

    The older cohort in ’75 is the cohort that had experienced Europe’s real capacity for dysfunctionality at a level that makes any of the EU’s problems look like a picnic.

  8. “Academics are accusing a Tory MP and government whip of “McCarthyite” behaviour, after he wrote to all universities asking them to declare what they are teaching their students about Brexit and to provide a list of teachers’ names.

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2017/oct/24/universities-mccarthyism-mp-demands-list-brexit-chris-heaton-harris

    The Guardian’s Brexit Means … How will leaving the EU affect universities and research? Brexit Means … podcast
    Jon Henley and guests discuss the potential impact of Brexit on higher education, from lecturers to students to funding
    Listen
    Chris Heaton-Harris, Conservative MP for Daventry and a staunch Eurosceptic, wrote to vice-chancellors at the start of this month asking for the names of any professors involved in teaching European affairs “with particular reference to Brexit”. Neatly ignoring the long tradition of academic freedom that universities consider crucial to their success, his letter asks for a copy of each university’s syllabus and any online lectures on Brexit.

    Prof David Green, vice-chancellor of Worcester University, felt a chill down his spine when he read the “sinister” request: “This letter just asking for information appears so innocent but is really so, so dangerous,” he says. “Here is the first step to the thought police, the political censor and newspeak, naturally justified as ‘the will of the British people’, a phrase to be found on Mr Heaton-Harris’s website.” Green will be replying to the MP but not be providing the information requested.”

  9. @sorbus – yes, I was a little suspicious of that, but the article went into some detail about research on homogoneity within societies.

    The conclusion was that the ideal in terms of peaceful coexistence is to have small clusters of homogenous groups living side by side, with an optimal size of area in each group. This enables contact between groups but comfortable support from within for each unit.

    The overriding need, however, was a strong aministrative basis overall, so that the state manages everyone’s needs fairly and equally. The article suggested that the neol!beral ‘small state’ approach is the main reason that societies become divided, as poorer population groups are damaged more and insecurities grow. At least, societies that are already culturally divided then become agressively divided, as tensions then arise.

    Interesting stuff.

  10. @Carfrew

    That is indeed concerning.

    I could help the Vice Chancellors draft a response to that request.

    There are a minimum of two ‘f’s in it.

  11. @ALEC

    Just a thought for you:

    ‘He only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases’.

  12. Anyone have a link to a ward by ward breakdown of the proposed new seats? I want to update my own notional results but can’t find the data.

  13. Alec
    Many thanks for the reference to the new Scientist article. I have down loaded it and will read it with interest when I get the time.

    That’s you at your best, being helpful to others who post.

    Now for you at your worst

    I said to Somerjohn
    “That’s easy since I also use evidence based reasoning as I explained, but others cannot judge it because I have neither the time nor the inclination to post it.”

    And you commented
    “To be honest, I had to laugh at this from @TOH. It’s one of those childish responses that we sometimes get on here – ‘I have the evidence, but I’m not telling.’ type of thing.”

    I don’t mind you laughing, I often laugh privately at what gets posted here. The problem is that it’s not a childish response but just a statement of fact. What surprises me is that I have explained why I post as I do so many times that surely you and others understand by now. I am not interested in detailed debating; it would use up too much of my precious time. If I wanted to debate I would join a debating society.

    “I couldn’t help thinking about the recent posts on the EU open skies passenger flight issue, where @TOH, like many others (including me) had no idea about the issues until someone posted them. Not knowing the evidence on this, and many other things, didn’t stop him making up his mind.”

    Anymore than it did you by your own admission.

    I have never claimed to fully understand all the ramifications of our relationship with the EU, I would suggest none who post here can claim that, but I certainly know enough to be quite clear in my mind when I voted in the referendum. Since the referendum I have read mountains of arguments for and against but after consideration none of the new evidence has changed my mind.

    “The real point of evidence is to offer support for our beliefs and to try and convince others, which rather makes @TOH’s relationship with evidence somewhat surprising.”

    Of course it’s not surprising at all, since I am not actually interested in trying to convince others, as is clear from my stated reasons for posting here.

    Just try and accept that some of us post here for different reasons to you. Having to go over the same ground time and time again certainly bores me and must bore others.

  14. EU stance on Brexit negotiations

    “illogical, dangerous and unfair”

    No not the words of some demented brexiteer but of German MEP in euparliament in debate.
    Tusk appears to be very concerned about EU unity. And will be “defeated” if do not. Maybe the EU establishment is concerned that some of the 27 ie Germany and Sweden are drawing up their own brexit proposals and bypassing the EU.? The EU establishment may have far less cause to view a brexit deal as a good outcome than the 27 who will bear the loss.

    The game is certainly afoot.

  15. @Carfrew

    Also worth bearing in mind that Jo Johnson is threatening to punish universities that don’t support and undefined construction of ‘free speech’.

    Presumably Heaton-Harris is going to get an almighty ticking off and, I expect, will be removed from his position. Otherwise there is no doubt that the Government will be hypocrites on a grand scale.

  16. As I wrote that, Johnson and Number 10 have both disowned the odious Heaton-Harris.

    Good.

  17. @ SOMERJOHN – A certain Jeremy Corbyn certainly fits the ’75 and ’16 anti-EU cohort! The young either don’t remember or don’t care?

  18. TW, or the young are just better informed than you.

    As has been explained many times there are many reasons for younger people to be unhappy with things as they stand.

  19. @ CARFREW – I enjoy our discussions and am certainly moving my view on some issues as I read more about them. I like the idea of a single state player in a larger group for things like energy, etc since I expect we’ll continue with some court based system that ensures the international players have some recourse if the state attempts overt tax payer subsidies. The presence of a single state player within a legal system that keep the playing field level to protect taxpayers should be enough incentive to keep both the state player and the corporations in check. It does limit the economic gains that in theory exist from a natural monopoly but probably represents a sensible compromise in practise.

    I haven’t travelled on Swiss Rail for a few years but it was very expensive, same in Japan. However, the service was fantastic and that’s worth a premium price. As we’ve discussed before I think the Swiss and Japanese have a much more holistic socio-cultural approach and the social contract works better in some countries than others.

    Hammond has pointed out how near full capacity the UK is which is probably true but also quite worrying. He doesn’t want to invest because he fears it will spark wage-push inflation. I genuinely fear we are yet again completely missing the opportunity to sort out the long-term issues we face: productivity, current account (mostly trade deficit in goods), ageing population.

  20. We need wage push inflation to reduce debt to GDP levels. A decade of moderate inflation would be preferable to a housing market crash

  21. The EU have stated today that Brexit can be abandoned by the UK if they decided to do so.

    This was always my understanding. A.50 is just a request to start the withdrawal process and can be stopped before the 2 year period time period runs out.

    It is only if you pass the 2 year A.50 without getting it extended, that it becomes necessary to use the A.49 process.

    Most people seem to think it is inevitable that Brexit will happen, but repeating what i have said a number of times ( boring TOH and others no doubt), the current Government has to pass Brexit related bills including finance bills. If they fail to get parliament to pass bills, then the Government is likely to be in trouble. I think there is a real risk that Brexit might fail on the floor of the HoC, with Tory rebels joining oppositon to vote against Government.

    And can you see the UK public supporting paying the EU tens of billions as a settlement and then possibly paying an annual fee for EU single market tariff free access ? They will ask what the point of Brexit is.

  22. r Huckle

    I think that is wishful reading of what tusk actually said.

    your devotion to the EU is touching nonetheless.

  23. Reference Heaton-Harris.
    I agree people especially politicians shouldn’t try influencing what is taught in any place of learning, however in a age were nearly every aspect of “Teaching” has a political undercurrent and in Universities some student unions are trying to set the agenda of what guest speaker is suitable at least in there eyes to be heard, there seems to be more than a whiff of hypocrisy in the air.

  24. @Trevor W

    “I enjoy our discussions and am certainly moving my view on some issues as I read more about them.”

    ———–

    Well I enjoy your posts Trevor! I don’t agree with them all, but you bring some interesting angles to the table and don’t mess people about unduly, and you fly kites which has its virtues.*

    My concern regarding the unions is that you seem to be focusing on the negatives. Whereas for Captial, you tend to have to have then negatives pointed out.

    If someone said to you that we should give up with motor cars, and you ask why, and they go “I don’t think they work in our culture” and you ask for more details and they point out that cars pollute, emit greenhouse gases, use up hydrocarbons, lead to a sedentary lifestyle, cause injury, and clog up town centres, would you then advocate giving up on cars?

    Unions serve a number of useful functions, and the weakening of them allows captial to run riot and leads to declining living standards. It used to be normal to being up a family on a single wage and people didn’t need minimum wages and tax credits. Unions also form other functions, better working conditions, education as with our own WB, and although you might not know it from those books you were on about, they were an important part of the response to the oil crisis.

    Because we couldn’t use the normal interventions we’d use in a recession – cutting interest rates and pumping money into the economy as these worsen the inflation. What did work, was wage restraint as this both reduced the money in circulation and also eased the burdens on business. And despite some strikes, it worked, got the economy back to growth and got inflation down.

    Crucially the unions going along with wage restraint preserved jobs and kept the unemployment hit to manageable levels. Unfortunately then we had the second oil price spike and with wage packets taking a hammering again it was too much to ask to continue with the wage restraint and hence the Winter of Discontent.

    Unions have their issues, sure, but in contrast, you don’t tend to see many of the issues with capital. We can list loads of those, would you then say we havent the culture to tolerate capitalism? To do a proper analysis, it is necessary to take into account the pros and cons of both captial and the unions. In reality, it is as with capitalism and socialism, where you need both, and the issue is over how best to balance them. It’s the same with capital and the unions.

  25. @ Turk

    “some student unions are trying to set the agenda of what guest speaker is suitable”

    You’re probably right, but Universities have no control over student unions (and they shouldn’t). That’s not to say there aren’t Universities that may exercise poor policies on freedom of speech, but I’d hope that is at least less common.

  26. I’m pretty sure Tusk has sad this before. It’s Barnier (and the Commission) and Davis (and the UK Government) that have so far chosen to hold the “irrevocable” position. Although, unlike S Thomas, I think he sounded unusually unequivocal today.

    Since there’s enough doubt/ conflicting opinion to give cover to any politician to choose the interpretation of Article 50 that suits them best at any given time, I’d take it as a working assumption that each one is doing so.

    In which case a more interesting immediate question is not who is right (that one we can park for the CJEU which will undoubtedly need to pronounce if the point becomes functionally relevant) but why they take the positions they do.

    In particular, is there a significant disconnect between the Council and the Commission betrayed by them apparently choosing such different interpretations of what Article 50 says? Or just a deliberate “good cop bad cop” style creative use of the fact that they don’t have the same current political need to be consistent as Davis and May do?

  27. Turk

    He asked for the names and the syllabus. It’s pretty straightforward.

    He also asked all universities, not only the ones (if any) in his constituency (quite clearly breaching the rules).

    In my view it’s a by-election cause.

  28. @ R Huckle

    Withdrawal of Brexit is not straightforward.

    https://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/uktpo/2017/03/17/can-a-notification-under-article-50-teu-be-unilaterally-withdrawn/

    “Conclusion
    While there is no doubt that the other Member States of the EU could unanimously agree to allow the United Kingdom to revoke a notification of withdrawal, if the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) did not accept that the Member States implicitly possessed this power under the current wording of Article 50 TEU, this magnanimous act would amount to an amendment of Article 50 TEU and this might present practical problems for Member States whose national law requires specific constitutional obligations at a national level for amendments to EU Treaties to take effect (such as referendums etc.).”

    @ S Thomas

    I don’t agree that the game is afoot. It will be afoot if the UK can ever decide that it can agree what it wants. There have not yet been negotiations – there has been some indecision, posturing and exchanges of aspirations.

  29. @Trevor

    It is necessary in this context to point out that you have been unwittingly fed some liberal koolaid, when you described socialism in the recent past as being state intervention etc., when in fact that is something of a distortion of socialism.

    Socialism has two key tents: that the workers control the means of production, and “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need”.

    To take the second of these first, note that this doesn’t oblige an attempt to force some kind of equality or levelling down. You can have an interpretation of need where it is necessary to reward useful endeavours more than those who participate in the less useful for example.

    When it comes to the first point, not that a lot of people control their own means of production, own their own tools, decide when they work etc.

    In other words, people who work for themselves, or own their own business, are operating in a socialist mode of production. Which is quite a lot of people.

    Now, the situation where the state is the employer is sometimes called state socialism, but it’s a bit of a stretch. It’s a kind of socialism by proxy, where it’s taken that since we “own” the state, if we work for the state really we are working for themselves.

    Which you will soon see is bollox as they can sack you, take their tools back so you can’t work, and you can’t usually decide when you work, and for who, and set your own working rate etc. etc.,

    Now, in this context, the interesting thing is that you can kind of see more union activity as something that arises when there is insufficient socialism. When workers do not have enough power to control their working situation.

  30. @Catman

    “That is indeed concerning.”

    ——–

    Yes, I wondered as to people’s reinsert to it. Some might welcome it of course.

    Would rather like to see some polling on it, but then I’d like auromod to be retired, polling taxes annulled and subsidised storage.

  31. “People’s response to it”. See what I mean about automod…

  32. Sam

    So hypothetically if we tried to halt the process we could end up having referendums on our EU membership in other countries! I wonder who would vote to keep us?

  33. @Princess Rachel

    ‘A decade of moderate inflation would be preferable to a housing market crash’

    A point I made a while back, when inflation started to climb.

    The Government has belatedly concluded that an improvement in the housing situation is required politically. They think this can be done by stimulating construction, but a small improvement in housing starts isn’t going to help that much.

    What they really need is a fall in house prices, but that has potential for a personal debt crisis, which the banking system cannot tolerate. The only real way out of this is, as you say, via moderate general inflation allied to static house prices.

    That appears to be happening, and is one of the few clear benefits arising from the Brexit process.

    Unfortunately, the Government thinks that house prices are linked to construction rates, which, broadly speaking, they are not.

  34. Mille

    But the type of inflation is important, if the real value of wages are declining at the same rate as housing cost then we aren’t getting anywhere. Wage push inflation is what we need but at the moment we have the opposite

  35. @ RACHEL – I agree completely a mild amount of inflation for a prolonged period would have many benefits, notably deflating the housing bubble – I’m not a fan of Hammond! I am however quite concerned we are entering a priod of stagflation and unless we get productivity sorted then it will be difficult to have sustainable real wage growth. Carney has no ammo left but seems fairly happy to ‘look through’ the base effects of inflation.

    @ CARFREW – You must have missed my posts about the German car cartel! I’m very aware of the excesses of capitalism and the kind of crony capitalism that has been and in many cases still is be rife in places such as S.Korea, some EU states, London, etc.

    Ideally we’d have a level playing field amongst trading nations, high regulatory and working standards and an impartial court to ensure everyone plays fair. Within that framework I wouldn’t want to see anyone have the opportunity to exploit an oligopoly or monopoly position be they a state run business or a listed company. I’d like low barriers to trade but not zero – you can never fully remove the “cultural” barriers (e.g. UK consumers are very price sensitive with low nationally loyal where as many other countries will pay a premium for domestically manufactured/grown goods/produce).

    Socialism in practise relies on everyone, or at least the vast majority, signing up to “each according to their ability”. The risk is that there is little incentive to do more than the minimum and then at a national level we are performing well below our combined ability. IMHO this was why we ended up with “Wednesday cars”, etc. and lost competitiveness and hence market share to Germany, Japan, etc.

    I’m curious about your thoughts on “no deal” Brexit. Do you see a scenario where the deal is so bad and/or taking so long that we should just leave with a negotiated move to WTO under MFN and put tariffs on EU imports? I like free trade in principle but a lot of my anti-EU view is based on the belief that they do not operate a level playing field and we’ve been naive for decades – in that regard I have a Bennite lite view!

  36. “Unfortunately, the Government thinks that house prices are linked to construction rates, which, broadly speaking, they are not.”

    ——–

    Well they might not be if it’s the private sector having fun keeping prices high.

    If it’s the government building the houses, and renting and selling them much cheaper, that will help pull the price down.

  37. @Trevor

    “You must have missed my posts about the German car cartel! I’m very aware of the excesses of capitalism and the kind of crony capitalism that has been and in many cases still is be rife in places such as S.Korea, some EU states, London, etc.”

    ——-

    Well ok, but it helps not to do it in isolation, but to compare and contrast unfettered capital with things like unions. As opposed to just focusing on union negatives and leaving it there.

    I can see you are very keen to find some reason to write of unions, and now socialism. You just claim they won’t work here. But you ignore the positives. Unions played a part in ensuring you could bring a family on a single wage unlike now.

    Even if you weren’t in a union many still benefitted as unions helped pull up wages for others too,

    You are trying to do the same with socialism claiming you have to do it in its entirety for it to work. This isn’t true. Many self employed benefit from a socialist mode of production and have done even before Socialism was coined.

    It does not require everyone signing up to it. You might argue it might be better if they did, I’m boot so sure it would be, but it still contributes if not.

    Equally Capitalism doesn’t require everyone signing up to it. In fact it tends to be for the worse if everyone does.

  38. @alec

    “It’s a long article, but in a very brief summary, it postulates that the modern concept of nations is a historical aberration, dating back to the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. This agreed that the drawn up borders at that time within Europe defined sovereignty, which had previously been defined by allegiances to kings and families etc on a much more fluid basis.”

    This sounds an interesting article and I will try to track it down.

    That said and based on your summary, my immediate historian’s reaction is to be a bit doubtful.

    The Peace (not the Treaty) of Westphalia ( there were if I recall correctly at least three separate treaties ending the 80 years Spanish/Dutch War and the 30 Years War) certainly helped to establish the concept of sovereign states in central Europe but even so that was still a very fluid region for at least another two centuries as was Italy.

    I think it is also possible to argue that the concept of the “sovereign state” had been established long before especially in western Europe, especially built on the jurisdiction of law. England is a good example and the preamble to the Act in Restraint of Appeals of 1532 is a class statement of that concept. But France had trod a similar path.

    The concept of “citizen” (rather than “subject”)in a sovereign state of course has ancient antecedents but it is possible to argue as the article seems to do that the modern concept arose mainly in the French and American Revolutions although the concepts of rights attached to being within the jurisdiction of a sovereign state go back in modern history to at least the Bill and Claim of Rights in the seventeenth century. The need for bureaucracy to identify and prove citizenship is much later and it may well be the Prussian unemployment relief system led the way in that.

    Overall, I suspect the article may be trying too hard to pin down an historical turning point where state stability replace fluidity when in fact the history is much more complex. Could you tell me which historian wrote it?

  39. @ SAM

    If the EU and EU country ministers all accepted UK withdrawing A.50 and not bothering with Brexit, who is going to get CJEU involved ?

    The CJEU does not get involved unless a successful application is made to them following the correct process.

    I don’t see why there is any issue, if nobody can actually mount a successful legal challenge. The EU lawyers are not going to be very helpful.

  40. @Princess Rachel

    Yes, agreed. We can probably live with slightly lower living standards in the short term, if rising inflation simply reflects the fall in the pound, but clearly it is not desirable in the medium term.

    @Carfrew

    My point was that simply building more houses is unlikely to affect prices much at all. It never has. It is the fiscal and investment environment that causes house prices to ebb and flow.

    Many commentators think the ‘right to buy’ policy is flawed for this reason.

    Government doesn’t seem to have much understanding of the operation of the housing market. So I’m not expecting much, except a lot of hot air, to emerge from their latest housing market review. The survey that accompanies it, is painfully inadequate.

  41. Crazy housing policy idea
    1/ reduce capital gains tax rate and/or increase capital gains free allowance from sale of investment property (carrot)
    2/ only allow one property to be sheltered in inheritance tax allowance (stick).

    QE pushed more and more people into buying houses as a “pension” and has priced out locals in many areas. Some recent tax changes have deterred new 2nd home purchases and will increase HMRC’s tax receipts from buy-to-lets but should more be done to encourage “one house per household”?

    May b0tched the “dementia tax” as a Robin Hood tax on winners of the post code lottery and Miliband was punished for his “death tax” but clearly both main parties have thought about a “windfall tax” on property wealth. Capital gains from 2nd homes/buy-to-lets could be taxed in full upon death and provided the policy doesn’t start with the letter “d” maybe a good idea to help free up some existing housing stock? Lowering the capital gains tax on sale of 2nd homes/buy-to-let might sweeten it a little although it might start a vicious circle of lower prices?

    As an added bonus we’d see an increase in property transactions – boosting stamp duty revenue, profits (tax) from property market companies (estate agents, lawyers, etc) and even boosting sales in DIY shops etc? Also requires less govt borrowing/intervention in new houses. I’d prefer local authorities to have some freedom on the measures as the policy might need a little bit of local tweaking.

    A lot of “holiday” towns become ghost towns outside of the peak holiday season or on weekdays but locals can’t afford to buy there. City centres are full of buy-to-let landlords. Etc. It seems to me we might have enough housing stock already its just that the 10% own too much of it?

    Debt deflation is very nasty and an environment of -ve equity of property would want to be avoided but I think we need to be a little more creative on housing market “solutions” and consider tackling wealth and intergenerational inequality at the same time?

    What investment could we offer to substitute property investments? Increase NS&I offerings – national investment bank investing in council housing, a state REIT perhaps, etc. Instead of borrowing to fund housing recirculate the proceeds from investment home sales!

    Any views from UKPR?

    P.S. I agree “right to buy”is flawed.

    @ CARFREW – I’m sure we’ll pick up our discussion again at some point but with the budget coming up soon I’m having a go at armchair CoE

  42. @Millie

    “My point was that simply building more houses is unlikely to affect prices much at all. It never has. It is the fiscal and investment environment that causes house prices to ebb and flow.”

    ———

    Have to disagree. During the era of greater state housebuilding you could buy a house with a mortgage for twice your income. These massive house prices have arisen in the era of rather the opposite. Less housebuiolding and selling off state housing.

  43. @Trevor

    “CARFREW – I’m sure we’ll pick up our discussion again at some point but with the budget coming up soon I’m having a go at armchair CoE”

    ——–

    That’s ok, there’s no imperative!

  44. @Millie

    Though I’d admit stuff like QE has also been a factor. But rising house prices predates QE…

  45. @Millie

    “Government doesn’t seem to have much understanding of the operation of the housing market. So I’m not expecting much, except a lot of hot air, to emerge from their latest housing market review. The survey that accompanies it, is painfully inadequate.”

    ———

    Well this may have some truth to it, but it’s a bit like Trevor not being happy about government policy towards the banks. The problem is that if you let Capital off the leash too much it can increasingly force government’s hand.

  46. Carfrew

    It’s a question of whether the supply and demand of houses is more important than the supply and demand of credit(ie money loaned by banks) oversupply of houses has to be very visible to counteract the oversupply of credit.

  47. Carfrew it just so happens that the end of major house building coincided with the liberalisation of credit. Which was more responsible for the house prices rises that followed?

  48. @Turk

    So, an MP trying to thought police university academics is not that bad because you read some stories from people with agendas suggesting that students don’t respect the opinions of those people with agendas as much as the people with agendas want them to, even when those agendas involve deliberately baiting those students in the hope of generating stories that feed those agendas.

    Right. Glad we cleared that up.

  49. University Letter

    Must be a quiet news day or half term if this is making the news. The BBC had to dig pretty deep to find outrage and fortunately came up with gold and were able to find Mucho Pomposo himself to pontificate from the top of his Ivory tower.
    Oh how he must long for handing democratic countries over to communist dictatorships. Pass the port.

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