Kantar have published a new voting intention poll ahead of the budget, the first I’ve seen from them since the general election. Topline figures are CON 42%, LAB 38%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 5%. Fieldwork was between last Tuesday and this Monday.

This is the first poll to show a Conservative lead since September and the largest Tory lead in any poll since the election. As ever, it’s best to look carefully at any poll that shows an unusual result before getting too excited/dismayed. The reason for the unusual result appears to be methodological, rather than from some sudden Tory recovery, and down to the way Kantar treat turnout. As regular readers will know, many polls came horribly unstuck at the 2017 election because instead of basing turnout on how likely respondents said they were to vote, they predicted respondents likelihood to vote based on factors like their age and class. These methods assumed young people would be much less likely to vote, and produced large Conservative leads that ended up being wrong. Generally speaking, these socio-economic models have been dropped.

At the election Kantar took a sort of halfway position – they based their turnout model on both respondents’ self-assessed likelihood to vote, whether they voted last time and their age, assuming that older people were more likely to vote than younger people. This actually performed far better than most other companies did; Kantar’s final poll showed a five point Conservative lead, compared to the 2.5 they actually got. As such, Kantar appear to have kept using their old turnout model that partly predicts likelihood to vote based on age. The impact of this is clear – before turnout weighting Labour would have had a one point lead, very similar to other companies’ polls. After turnout weighting the Conservatives are four points ahead (the full tabs and methodology details are here).

(Another noticable difference between Kantar’s method and other companies is that they use the leaders’ names in their voting intention question, though given there is not nearly as much of a gap between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn’s ratings as there used to be I’m not sure that would still have an impact.)

633 Responses to “Kantar- CON 42, LAB 38, LDEM 9, UKIP 5”

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  1. I think the recent tv documentary about the Last Labour campaign is relevant to turn out. While the main thrust of the programme was about the disunity within Labour what I found most interesting was the last part about momentum.
    They seem to have a very efficient machine running alongside the Labour one and appear to be able to mobilise large numbers of people to help get the vote out. cannot help thinking this was atleast partly responsible for the big turn out at the last election and will probably happen again.
    For that reason I think this poll is still under estimating turn out for Labour
    Whether it is a good thing to have almost two separate organisations running within one political party is another question

  2. @ szygy. Large cohorts of the electorate are receiving very different streams of information …. and I think that the 2017GE demonstrated the impact of that.

    @Neil J {Momentum} seem to have a very efficient machine running alongside the Labour one and appear to be able to mobilise large numbers of people to help get the vote out. cannot help thinking this was at least partly responsible for the big turn out at the last election and will probably happen again.

    Both these comments seem to me spot on and both describe a situation in which dialogue, compromise and pragmatic ways forward become increasingly difficult to achieve.

  3. @ S Thomas

    I too have noticed that Chris Riley has an affinity with sheep.

    I haven’t noticed anything sheeplike about Chris Riley. He views on the economic consequences of Br3exit for those who keep sheep are, however, well worth studying,.

  4. When pundits gather in years from now to create lists of the 100 Greatest Polls of Our Time I have my doubts that this one will feature.

    As another non twitter user, I’m surprised at what sounds like silence from Corbyn and Cable, less surprised by that from Little Nell since that’s what she always has done. Sturgeon and the DUP woman whose name escapes me for the moment seem to recognise the usefulness of what the over 40s understand as the media.

    If the big two in England and the Little Dems are being advised by spads in their twenties and thirties to eschew traditional sources of conveying their messages in favour of other platforms, assuming I wanted to be heard by the oldest half of the population also I would be questioning some of their advice, which is certainly not cutting through the Brexit noise at present.

    TW, you referred to the possibility of a post budget polling boost. Suppose this is possible as long as it doesn’t fall to bits quite as quickly as the last few have. Given their hard earned reputation for strength, stability and competence it’s difficult to imagine what could possibly go wrong this time.

    Quietly impressed by the lack of any budget leaks, although I have my suspicions that had any polling been done about it that awareness of its happening today would be lower than Kantar’s figure for the Little Dems. If, as I very much doubt, this has in reality been clever media management by the Tories i take my hat off to them.

    Perhaps, like a tree falling in the forest, they are hoping nobody notices.

  5. Paul C re: PeteB
    As a former teacher I sometimes like to explain things to people, just in case they’ve been in a state of ignorance.
    Thanks for telling me twice!

  6. NEILJ

    I broadly agree about the documentary on the Labour campaign. It was pretty obvious that the programme-makers intended it to be an obituary to Labour and found themselves with a very different story. A story which they didn’t quite know how to tell and hadn’t gathered the material for. A story which they also may not have wanted to tell. Pity because the story they were in the middle of would be fascinating if done properly. Lost opportunity.

  7. @ DALEK – AW pointed out budgets could move polls (usually negatively for the current govt). I merely pointed out that much of the negative news may be priced in (ie we are near the CON ‘floor’ on %). Everyone sees CON as the party of austerity, etc but their VI has barely budged in months. Hammond (and May) have made a mess of budgets (and manifestos) and again maybe that is priced in? How many times to you have to make the same mistakes before you learn? They seem to have plugged the leak issue a long time ago – one of the few internal problems they have solved.

    Personally I have very low expectations of Hammond but I’m hoping to be pleasantly surprised. As Colin rightly points out he has a near impossible task and with such a slim majority he has very limited options to come out with anything ‘bold’. There have been lots of rumours, as there usually are, and i gave my wish list a while back. It is also worth remembering this is a budget not a full scale manifesto so he might give a nod to other policies but this is the dull numbers bit and Hammond is as dull as they come.

    Cable won’t get the airtime of Corbyn but I’m also very surprised by the LDEM apparent silence. Politically this should be their moment to rebuild some VI but Guardian, etc seem to have abandoned mentioning them specifically as the party of Remain and just go full bore Project Fear 2.0 and ABC. IMHO they should have picked Jo Swinson and started a small rebrand – dropping the old austerity baggage, going full-on UKIP in reverse, etc. There problem would be FPTP and undermining LAB if they split the opposition but the alternative is to slowly die off as an irrelevance. Having said that I’m quite happy if UKIP continue to die off as an irrelevance, sadly I worry they still exert excessive indirect influence over CON.

  8. TonyBTG
    “Perhaps you could cheer me up TOH?”

    Happy to oblige, this should help. A report from the Guardian.

    “UK manufacturing order books at strongest level since 1988, CBI says
    Global demand for British goods and weak pound bring sharp improvement in both total and export order books
    Order books for Britain’s factories are at their strongest for almost 30 years as the weak pound and global growth bolsters demand for manufactured goods.
    In a boost to the chancellor on the eve of the budget, the CBI’s monthly health check of industry showed a sharp improvement in both total and export order books.
    The employers’ organisation said the climate for order books had not been better since August 1988 – when the boom of the late 1980s peaked. Food and drink firms and companies producing chemicals have experienced a particularly marked increase in demand.
    Export order books – which have been helped by the fall in the value of sterling since the EU referendum in June 2016 – were the strongest since June 1995. The pickup in external demand has been led by the chemicals, electronics and transport sectors.
    The CBI said strong order books had resulted in higher factory output, with firms confident that growth would continue over the coming three months.
    Firms were still facing price pressures, but the CBI said these were not as pronounced as they had been earlier in the year, when the 15% drop in sterling was pushing up the cost of imported fuel and raw materials.
    Although manufacturing accounts for only 10% of the economy, the strength of the CBI survey will boost the chances of UK growth picking up from its modest pace of expansion in the first nine months of 2017.”

    Chris Riley
    “or shall we let Howard nurse his fantasies for a little longer ;)”

    What fantasies?

    “ the Tories are in MASSIVE trouble (as everyone knows)”

    Really? They have short term issues as do Labour, but I get very tired with forecasts of the instant demise of the Conservatives or for that matter Labour. As the last election demonstrated changes in support can happen very quickly.

    Christian Schmidt

    Totally agree with your post.

    “It’s a blog on polling. That’s a pretty niche interest! So no, it is never going to be representative.”

    Thanks, that’s exactly my point.


    “What I do find amusing is the number of those on the left lining up to denigrate a poll that shows Lab behind , you rarely see those on the right attack polls that show a Lab lead.”

    Absolutely but it does add to one’s amusement.

    “So. After voting that animals aren’t sentient, and so have no rights, MPs have voted to make sure that humans don’t have fundamental rights in the UK either.

    I was delighted with that particular vote. Just shows how split opinions in the UK are. I would have considered it despicable if the amendment had been carried.

    Thanks for your very fair comments.
    “ I would have thought that you would accept that these short-term problems would affect some groups more than others and that it was incumbent on people holding your views to recognise these difficulties and see what could be done about them,”

    I do, and I expect the Government to do something about it as we leave. There will be losers and gainers short term, but in the long term I really believe it will be good for the UK and its peoples.

    Paul Croft
    “I really believe the system is close to broken.”

    I agree, and it was always going to happen because of the way the Welfare State has been allowed to grow. It was obvious to me many years ago. People want something for nothing, but are not prepared to pay, hence the current “lets bash the rich campaign” but the rich already pay a huge slice of income tax will just go elsewhere if taxed more, and so it goes on

    S Thomas
    Your comments on Eire seem bang on to me.

  9. Are Momentum like the Jehovah Witnesses? Have they already ‘converted’ all that they can and alienated all those that they can’t?

    Sorry if you can’t open FT but here’s repost of a link showing the turnout spread between voter demographics is back to where it was in the 1970s. In the last GE the older voters turnout dropped (triple punch to pensions and Brexit supposedly ‘settled’ saw a drop in turnout and some switch to LDEM in the S.East/London/E.England)

    As JW put it, the preaching has tripled but the growth rate has stalled and now below population growth:
    “The number of hours of preaching for each baptism has tripled, from around 3,000 hours in the mid 1980’s, to almost 9,000 hours since 2010… (yet)… The annual increase of around 1% is below the population growth rate”

    Just offering an alternative possibility.

  10. @charles

    I would not consider myself an expert in the attitudes of rural voters towards political issues. But the rural voice is typically badly underserved and there is a little I can contribute.

    I am of the view that the Conservatives have taken their rural vote very much for granted. I do understand that rural Tory MPs are mobilising to try to block a hard Brexit that could end UK farming as we know it (and the stakes genuinely are that high), and push for a Brexit that is gentler towards rural communities but they are hardly voluble at the moment. They fear that the hard-edged, cynical Spectator tendency of well-heeled urbanites who drive Tory policy find rural issues dull and quaint and see the countryside simply as the touristy place where they keep their agreeable weekend country cottages, rather than the reality of a difficult economy where breaking your back doing some of the country’s most important work is being rewarded by the people you voted for openly discussing how great it would be if your livelihood was ended so we could patriotically take back control by getting all our food from abroad.

    I’ve never seen a situation where a political party is openly discussing the pros of destroying the lives of their core vote and not troubling to ask if this is the right or sensible thing to do.

  11. Chris Riley,
    Interesting piece by Curtice,sensibly pointing out there is little age division over housing problems, but there is over Brexit and this coincides with the age division in con/lab voting. Arguing therefore that the governments difficulties are down to brexit, not housing.

    There has been a lot of unanimity by the two parties on the issues which have created the housing crisis, so maybe no surprise if this has not differentiated them.We might or might not see changes on that score.

    But I have been banging on for some time against others here arguing otherwise, that what matters is Brexit. 2/3 con voters are leavers. 2/3 lab voters are remainers, and it seems likely (?) that the respective 1/3s do not belong to the hard line opposite camp. Several here seem to agree that we are in an immoveable object/unstoppable force situation, and the politicians have simply been trying to keep the two out of collision to the last possible moment. But what happens when they meet is likely to be interesting.

    The pollsters were getting it wrong because of their weighting model, which failed to take account of an issue coming along which would preferentially motivate the young. (ie, I think, those below 100/2=50 !) So the conservative’s problem is also the pollsters problem.

    Has anyone done polling on why the young have been turning out?

  12. @ NeilJ and Charles

    ‘Whether it is a good thing to have almost two separate organisations running within one political party is another question’

    There were indeed two separate organisations in the recent GE but it wasn’t Momentum and the LP….. It was the LPHQ and the Progress/Labour First MPs running a separate campaign to the Leader’s office and a majority of the grassroot’s membership which included those who are also members of Momentum (all Momentum members belong to the LP).

    ‘The Labour Summer’ documentary exemplified the manner in which Progress MPs were out of touch with what was happening on the ground. For example, Ruth Cadbury was clearly worried that her 400 majority was vulnerable but she ended up with one of 12k. My astonishment is that such a swing was not obvious in her canvass returns and makes me doubt her electoral strategy and acumen.

    Inadvertently, Paul Croft seems to have answered the reason as to how the Labour MPs could have failed to understand the campaign. Hubris certainly but also a misplaced reliance on the MSM and a disdain for social media.

    Final note…. one can only suspect the focus of the documentary on 4 Progress MPs. I assume that this was intended for showing during the next attempt to oust Jeremy Corbyn. Instead, it clearly indicated the disbelief and disappointment of the Progress MPs that the LP had done so well in the GE.

  13. @ TOH / S THOMAS – I did chuckle when I saw Dublin make it to the final round in the EBA relocation and then wow, what a surprise it went to a city in the ‘core’. What a tease :-)

    Frankfurt was the early favourite but clearly German dominance is becoming an issue. Macron is the ‘new hope’ and won his prize.

    A move to harmonize taxes combined with a tax on financial transactions will be far more damaging to RoI than Brexit as their economy is largely based on being an off-shore tax haven on the edge of the EU. Merkel is ‘busy’ and Macron seems to be the new ‘first amongst equals’ so I’m listening as much to him as to Mutti these days:

    “To reduce inequalities across the EU, Mr Macron also suggested greater harmonisation of EU tax policies, notably on corporate taxes, and taxing internet giants where they make money and not where they are registered.”


    If Germany gets new elections then I expect FDP and AfD benefit further from the Macron-Junkcer plan although that is more of an issue for SPD (the LDEM’s of Germany) and could see tactical support for Merkel?

  14. News consumption is an interesting topic.

    Is Twitter the political silver bullet?

    I doubt it.

    This study is reasonably up to date.


    Interesting piece in today’s Times about German politics-Strong & Stable=papering over real difference.

    Nearly 25% of the Bundestag ( AfD & Die Linke) are excluded from possibility of coalition partnership.

    In the putative re-run do Germans :-

    a) Express difference more forcibly
    b) Run to Mother who will make it all quiet & stable again.


    Big Day for Phil today-Exciting Accountants are hard to find.

  15. Re: turnout of the young. As someone who still likes to think of himself as relatively young (i’m in my thirties as David Brent would say), i thought it was fairly obvious that the turnout of the younger age groups would go up quite a lot at the last election. I thought it quite strange that some pollsters thought it would stay the same but i guess saying how much it would go up would be difficult. For years/decades there seems to have been a feeling that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, they are all the same etc and so quite a lot of apathy. The referendum result in 2016 really shook that up, showing that big changes could be made and i don’t think it is something that the politicians/media circle really appreciated, believing that the main theme of the election would be grabbing UKIP votes and long time labour voters who didn’t like Corbyn. So, will the young vote continue at a similar level? Depends on what happens from here really, i don’t think many people at all are following the issues day to day but increased voter turnout will last for a while yet.

    Regarding the mainstream media, i think that quite a lot of people dismiss every Daily Mail headline and just assume the opposite to what the Daily Mail is claiming.

  16. Paula Thomas

    I agree with your views about the documentary. I was quite looking forward to it, but it turned out to be mostly a waste of time. Not one of the MPs they followed was a Corbyn supporter to give that side of the story and there was no real explanation of how the final result happened other than it was all down to Momentum. There was nothing at all about the way the opinion polls got closer as the election went on; it was as though the final result was a complete surprise because it still appearerd that the Tories had a 20% lead.

    It was a real wasted opportunity to look at depth into what was happening over those four or so weeks. If only they’d interviewed Dr Mibbles…….

  17. SYZYGY

    “Inadvertently, Paul Croft seems to have answered the reason as to how the Labour MPs could have failed to understand the campaign. Hubris certainly but also a misplaced reliance on the MSM and a disdain for social media.”

    Advertently [Blimey! that really is a word] I have been saying in a couple of posts that we now seem to operate in two time zones.

    Campaigns are where Labour/Momentum are incredibly clever, effective and good at reaching out.

    Everything in between seems a bit vague in terms of visibility and shifting opinion. It actually is true that Labour SHOULD be miles ahead in current polls, when one considers the problems the government faces in every direction – but maybe the fact that that is not reflected in current polling is no longer meaningful in terms of
    what subsequently happens in a general election.

  18. @ COLIN – my guess on Germany would be a/ and b/. To make the maths work that means the decimation of SPD.

    I don’t see much hope in Steinmeier convincing SPD to join with Merkel as that puts AfD in as opposition – something neither Merkel or Schulz want. I also can’t see the Greens caving in to the FDP’s demands and Jamaica coming back to life.

    The FX and betting markets seem very complacent about the outcome iMHO.

  19. TW
    My guess is that the dynamic on breaking for UKIP will have changed post-referendum, particularly since that nice Mr Farage left to spend more time with his money and that nice man over the pond, leaving them first in the capable hands of John McCririck’s little brother and since his departure whoever it was they elected as leader recently.

    They are going to find it a lot harder to attract 2017 Labour voters, since a softer Brexit or no Brexit at all has now been factored in, regardless of the private views of the leadership. Having shifted from jolly Uncle Nige’s private drinking club to a bizarre subterranean sect in the space of about 18 months, the folk they are likely to attract back are not likely to be pro-European students.

    So yes, I can see why the Tories would be more nervous about Brexit going bottoms up than Lab, and since there is at least a 48% probability of this happening, which is close enough to MoE for me.

    Having worked for many years on elections, and at the same polling station for the 2015 and 2017 elections and the referendum, what appeared to be happening at the 2017 was that the under 50s, having turned out for the referendum, had discovered a taste for human voting and turned out in numbers hitherto unseen. Wasn’t this also seen in Scotland with young voters who had been energised by IndyRef?

    By the end of the day I had a real sense of excitement at the prospect of a closer result than had been projected, and didn’t have to wait long to find that this was the case.

    I broadly agree about the documentary on the Labour campaign. It was pretty obvious that the programme-makers intended it to be an obituary to Labour and found themselves with a very different story. A story which they didn’t quite know how to tell and hadn’t gathered the material for. A story which they also may not have wanted to tell. Pity because the story they were in the middle of would be fascinating if done properly. Lost opportunity.

    It was a real wasted opportunity to look at depth into what was happening over those four or so weeks. If only they’d interviewed Dr Mibbles…….

    Agree with the above

  21. @Chris Riley – “But the rural voice is typically badly underserved and there is a little I can contribute.

    I am of the view that the Conservatives have taken their rural vote very much for granted. I do understand that rural Tory MPs are mobilising to try to block a hard Brexit that could end UK farming as we know it (and the stakes genuinely are that high), and push for a Brexit that is gentler towards rural communities but they are hardly voluble at the moment.”

    While I’m not really expert on anything much, my life experience lends me to feel I have greater knowledge than many regarding rural issues and politics.

    I don’t think there is anything wrong per se regarding what you have posted (Cons do take the ‘rura; voter’ for granted) but equally, you are making the same mistake as most politicians and commentators in how you characterise the rural vote.

    Put very simply, “rural” does not equal “farming”. This is a deeply frustrating and irritating issue for most of us rural dwellers, the majority of whom have nothing to do with farming or agriculture.

    Even in the most rural of areas, it is extremely unlikely to find farm businesses employing more people than tourism, and it is far more likely to see farming relatively low down the list of industries by employment numbers, with tourism, manufacturing, public sector, retail and micro businesses often out stripping agriculture.

    It isn’t so much that rural concerns are not addressed by politicians, but far more than majority rural concerns are almost totally ignored in favour of an industry that employs somewhere around 5% of rural workers.

    One example of this was the debate over fox hunting with hounds. Typified by the press and Conservative backers as ‘town vs country’, the simple fact that polls consistently showed a majority of rural voters against hunting with hounds was largely ignored.

    Another great example was a recent complaint I made to the BBC regarding their rural coverage, which is dominated by farming interests. I received a lengthy response, which detailed how they have recently initiated a policy of ensuring NFU and CLA representatives have regular access to programe makers to discuss ‘rural’ issues, and detailing how their Farming Today editorial team provides regular updates to news editors about current issues and developments.

    Their response completely validated my initial complaint that the urban based news organisation was so out of touch with rural Britain that they think it’s all about farming, so any question on rural matters reverts to the default setting of what’s happening in the farm sector.

    This is, ultimately, extremely damaging for rural communities. For example, I’ve seen some fascinating research that demonstrates that in Wales, sheep farming represents a net loss to the local economy. When compares to other land uses, it costs more taxpayer money, loses jobs and reduces the local economic output, but everyone thinks that helping the countryside means supporting farmers. In the case of the Welsh hills, removing most of the farms and putting the land to other uses would significantly boost the rural economy and social community.

    Brexit will have impacts here, and if we are lucky, open up new possibilities. There are going to be major adjustments, which will be painful for some, but if politicians persist in the fiction that agriculure and rural life are interchangeable, then these opportunities for positive change will be lost.

    This is the real problem politicians have with rural areas.

  22. Latest German Opinion Poll (changes from election, changes since last poll)

    CDU/CSU 29.2 (-3.7, -1.9)
    SPD 19.5 (-1, -0.1)
    AfD 13.6 (+1, +1.1)
    FDP 13.2 (+2.5, +0.3)
    Grune 11.9 (+3, +1.3)
    Die Linke 8.4 (-0.8,+0.2)

    Precious folks in Germany so you get 1dp!!
    Although the moves are small, clearly Merkel is currently down and it’s COLIN’s b/ from above with the smaller parties picking up VI. CDU/CSU below 30% is quite shocking!

    My model for German elections is very crude but based on the last poll new elections would solve nothing other than weaken Merkel further. FDP nudging into 3rd place and knocking AfD down to 3rd would open up the old CDU/CSU+SPD coalition but on much weaker terms than they had before. In the last election CDU/CSU+SPD won 399 seats and with 355 required or majority losing more than 44seats between them would be a very real possibility (in my model’s humble opinion)

    Source: civey (der spiegel). Also note German polling companies overstated the CDU/CSU numbers by around 2pts so if the same polling error exists then CDU/CSU more like 5pts down since their GE


    Reading the reports etc, there is a distinct feel that Merkel’s reign is coming to an end.

    She has no designated successor. Macron must be smiling quietly as he awaits his coronation as EU Numero Uno.

  24. Alec

    Thanks for a very good post on rural issues.

    I’d just add that, when I lived in mid-Wales, it seemed to me that a great many services – garages, pubs, and other small businesses – were subsidised indirectly by the CAP, which added to the incomes of mainly small farmers by an average of £30,000 a year. Farmers were some of the best off among locally employed people. Take away those subsidies, and the whole local economy will suffer – at least in the short term.

    It’s different in Devon, where I live now, because tourism is well developed and dwarfs farming in terms of social and economic importance. So I suspect there it’s not one size to fit all in rural affairs.

  25. Seat predictions for new German Election **

    CDU/CSU 221 (-25)
    SPD 146 (-7)
    AfD 99 (+5)
    FDP 96 (+16)
    Grune 88 (+19)
    Die Linke 59 (-8)

    ** based on a very crude model and assuming the polls are accurate. With same error in the polls as at the last GE then take around 10 more off CDU/CSU and sprinkle those seats amongst the smaller parties

    New govt options:
    Jamaica coalition 408 (-1) but with a weaker Merkel
    CDU/CSU+SPD 367 (-32), perilously close to 355 BUT AfD might slip into 4th (very close to FDP)
    Minority govt with Greens 309 (-6) long way from 355
    Minority govt with FDP 317 (-7) long way from 355

    All the smaller parties being comfortably above the 5% cut-off is a serious problem for forming coalitions. Anyone who has ever followed Italy will know the issues of ‘too many’ parties and messy, weak short-term coalitions.

  26. @ COLIN – Folks like Verhofstadt and Juncker will also be happy with a weaker Germany. With UK gone and Germany weaker the ‘brakes’ on the project are off and its full steam ahead for a Federal EU and hence IMHO the continued rise of the anti-EU parties (currently at the far left and far right extremes so unlikely to upset the 2019 European Parliament defacto Federalist majority)

    We’re leaving just in time! The list of German army scenarios always read like a sequence 4-5-6 rather than specific outcomes and I think the timeframe is shorter (2030 not 2040)

    Anyway, budget soon so back to UK focus! Appreciate your input on Germany.

  27. Trevor Warne

    “I did chuckle when I saw Dublin make it to the final round in the EBA relocation and then wow, what a surprise it went to a city in the ‘core’. What a tease :-)”

    Since the final round of voting resulted in a tie (one state spoiling its vote), and the final decision was taken by lot, you seem to be suggesting that either the Estonian hand drawing the name from the fishbowl was “fixed” (or perhaps that the fishbowl was just another version of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat and it was all magic.

    I’m intrigued to know which version of events you are proposing as the explanation.

  28. Hon understanding the rural economy this might interest people; the Ward breakdown for where I live on the Blackisle.


    You can look at any Ward in Highland and it’s worth noting that the Blackisle is right beside Inverness and has very good transport links (it isn’t even an Island). But even so only 7% work in agriculture. True it’s far higher than the UK 1.5% but still not even the largest employer here.

    Between them education and health make up nearly a quarter of jobs and I wouldn’t be surprised if across the Tory shires almost everywhere the largest employer was the State!


  29. Is not there a big scary difficulty for polling companies?

    They were caught out because behaviour changed. Corbyn and anti-Brexit enthused the young. Theresa May depressed the elderly. So past behaviour ceased to be a better guide than asking people for how likely they were to vote?

    It is unlikely to happen yet, but this new dynamic can change back.

    And how will the companies know?

  30. @Alec Clearly you are right. The countryside is not all farming. To illustrate your point my wife came from the countryside and strongly objected to the assumption by the countryside alliance that she must therefore be in favour of fox hunting.

    To elaborate your point, Middleshorough is not all about steel and petrochemicals and Sheffield is not all about steel/ and Barnstaple is certainly not all about farming,

    It does not, however, follow that things that are bad for key industries in an area are not bad for things there more generally. Tourists are not around all the year. Farmers are and so are the people needed to support them. A shock to farming will be a shock to Barnstaple

    To me it seems clear that Brexit does pose a threat to farming as it currently is (hence the stance of the NFU). It may well be the case that sheep farming in Wales should be laid to rest but I doubt that is a view that farmers share. And to judge from the posters in fields a lot of farmers were gung ho for Brexit. Psychologically at least it will be interesting to see how they react to the reality.

  31. Charles

    Yes, I agree

    “On average, English farms made a £39,000 profit last year from their farming business.

    Only £2,100 of this came from agriculture”


    In mid-Wales – and probably mid-Devon,- farmers don’t employ a lot of workers directly, but they are some of the best off employed people, earning a lot better than most public employees (who nonetheless have – or had – enviable job security). Lots of self-employed and small businesses are dependant on their relative wealth. if the CAP payments aren’t replaced, these areas will become even more like retirement homes.

  32. @Peter Cairns – thankyou for the figures. When I last looked at this in detail, Scotland in general had a higher proportion of rural employment in agriculture (largely I suspect due to lower population densities in many areas) but the figure of 7% was one of the higher percentages. My own area, which is extremely rural but with a relatively underdeveloped tourism sector, was on 4% farm based and 11% tourism based.

    @Charles and @Patrickbrian – I think it is correct to point out that even if only 4 or 5% of a local economy is farming based, removing that will be painful. Few economies can withstand a loss of this magnitude without significant impacts.

    “It does not, however, follow that things that are bad for key industries in an area are not bad for things there more generally.” Again, I would agree with this as a statement of logic, but there are many examples where we can say too much emphasis on farming is detrimental to other sectors. Firstly, and most obviously, is the diversion of limited state support into failing and inefficient farm businesses. Spent more wisely, that money could generate far more value for the economy.

    There are also significant areas where farming actively damages other sectors, most obviously for example in conservation based tourism. We also spend a small fortune through water bills in cleaning up ground and river water pollution from farms, nd there is good evidence that farming practices have exacerbated flood damage which can have huge costs to other sectors. While what you say is true in a logical sense, on certain specifics, it is also true to say that support for farming really does have detrimental impacts on other sectors, over and above the relative economic inefficiency of the subsidy.


    If you tax the rich they just move is a meme which is not true when looking at the data. Indeed this has been debunked so many times in recently that I thought that it was pretty dead amongst the learned on economics.

    The rich are fairly resilient to tax rises for example it is definitely cheaper to run a company in florida and Texas both have no State income tax but the biggest engines of growth are still but you see just as many millionaires moving from low state taxes to high state taxes as the other way round and secondly millionaires tend not to move indeed it is seen that the lower the income the more chance of moving. The WSJ cover the Uk in particular and makes for interesting reading the main reasons for moving are quality of life decisions rather than tax (Both are old articles and I don’t subscribe to WSJ any more )



  34. @ OLDNAT – Whilst hardly the Olympics, Eurovision Song Contest or the meat raffle we used to have at the Working Men’s club back in the day to believe that some back room negotiating hadn’t gone on to ‘influence’ the result is well, I’m in a good mood so you decide.

    Let’s reflect though 27 votes is an odd number yet somehow both votes got to a tie!?!

    Slovakia abstain in final round of the EMA (the trick LAB learned from CON has perhaps gone viral?)
    Then once the lesser nations had decided to block Frankfurt (naughty!), someone spoils a paper in final round of the EBA – how careless of them not to at least get the credit for abstaining or would have it been two obvious twice in succession :-)

    Still 2nd place, I dunno do you get a little certificate for good effort or a Silver ribbon for that? With tax harmonisation and possible tax on financial transactions coming up from Herr Macron I wonder how many banks are reviewing their Dublin choice?

    Schadenfreude might be below sarcasm but as I said, I did have a good chuckle.

  35. I owe Hammond an apology. He was actually quite funny! Good to see the Treasury haven’t turned him fully native. Eeyore no more! Cautious optimist possibly too conservative as well.

    i expect it is a hugely partisan view but IMHO it was above expectations on housing, bit below perhaps on NHS (will have to wait for pay review), lots of good minor bits for investment, etc and all delivered within harsh GDP downgrades from OBR. He’s used up all of his fiscal headroom (war chest) which IMHO was the right thing to do but that must have been very hard for him to give up.

    Is the extra 3bn for Brexit min.deal planning? Was that the compromise that Boris and Gove won in order to approve a higher divorce bill offer??


    @”With UK gone and Germany weaker the ‘brakes’ on the project are off and its full steam ahead for a Federal EU and hence IMHO the continued rise of the anti-EU parties (currently at the far left and far right extremes ”

    That is my analysis too.

    …though I don’t discount Merkel finding a way to hang on.

  37. Rebels from y’days vote:

    Kenneth Clarke (Con) x3
    Frank Field (Lab) x1
    Kate Hoey (Lab) x2
    Kelvin Hopkins (Lab) x2
    Graham Stringer (Lab) x2

    The riskiest amendment was pulled but so far CON-Remain rebel Clarke is consistent, Soubs is mostly talk but has rebelled on occasion. Lack of a real crunch vote yet to see about the other possible names.

    On LAB-Leave side the 4 above feature often, in the next set Ronnie Campbell, John Mann and Dennis Skinner have prior ‘form’ (LAB-Leave have been up 7 on an individual vote). The Duty of Customs vote was apparently confusing so LAB as the expected rebels didn’t rebel but 18 different LAB MPs decided to vote with CON.

    @ COLIN – Merkel is 1.1 on Betfair (ie 90% probability of being Chancellor). Lack of successor and certainty of being the largest party she is very likely to hang on but in a far weaker capacity and probably far more distracted by domestic issues IMHO (not dissimilar from May!). From a UK Brexit perspective it does mean Macron is now probably #1 to convince and for anyone holding out for a good deal that is bad news, especially as Paris now have the EBA and will be making a far stronger bid to get UK bankers. Glad to see the 3bn earmarked for no deal though.

  38. Well Deficit reduction has certainly been put in the cupboard.

    OBR forced it on him with a massive rethink on Productivity & thus downgraded economic growth. There was no way he could compensate with more fiscal tightening when everyone is screaming for loosening.

    So containing the Debt risk is now PH’s key measure-falling Debt/GDP%.

    Changes from March 2017 BUdget:-
    18/19 £ 41 £ 40
    19/20 £ 21 £ 35
    20/21 £21 £ 33
    21/22 £ 17 £ 30
    22/23 n/a £ 26

    …………..and so on ad infinitum ? :-)

    Net Fiscal Loosening from this Budget:-

    Net Tax/Spend £ bn:-
    18/19 £ 6.0
    19/20 £ 9.9
    20/21 £ 3.3
    21/22 £3.0

    £22bn over the Parliament ( though £3bn of this is for Brexit preparation)

    Public Sector Net Investment spending £ bn:-

    18/19 £ 38
    19/20 £ 44
    20/21 £54
    21/22 £ 54

    which includes-National Productivity Investment Fund £ bn
    18/19 £ 3.2
    19/20 £ 5.9
    20/21 £ 7.0
    21/22 £ 6.5
    22/23 £ 7.0

    I think PH is very concerned that UKplc just isn’t ready for BrexitWorld. Remainers will no doubt point to Brexit preparation costs being as big a extra resource for NHS day to day spending.

    I also think he hopes that OBR have produced forecasts he can beat -unlike his predecessor !

    We will now await the Press & banana skins. ( glad to see he avoided one-leaving the VATable Sales level unreduced)

  39. P.S. I don’t think the EBA is a big deal but if/when EA turn inward then it will become more important as a decision between the various Euro nations. Paris is a much nicer place than Frankfurt for sure and as humans make the final decision Macron will be a happy chappy today.

  40. @Alec & Patrick Brian – So is the upshot of this that we are agreed that Brexit does pose an economic threat to rural areas. The additional point that Alex adds is that farming has ‘externalities’ (is that the right word). Anyway it can do damage and if so efforts to combat this negative Brexit effect need to take these into account.

  41. @ COLIN – “I also think he hopes that OBR have produced forecasts he can beat”

    Agreed. That is why I think he was prepared to empty the war chest (fiscal headroom cushion).

    I doubt it will have much impact on VI but taking the theme from AW’s last thread he has probably done enough to dodge the bullet of making VI worse.

  42. Does anyone other than me think that irrespective of her final aims Mays ‘red lines’ were a mistake? She wants a bespoke deal and she might have been able to have one if only she had not advertised that it would have to be one to which the EU could not possibly overtly sign up.

    Why did she do it? Presumably she thought it was good politics or good negotiating. I am doubtful about the politics bit and pretty sure she was wrong about the politics.

  43. @Charles – Yes i think is the answer, although it isn’t clear cut.

    Farming in general is going to have a pretty rough ride in the short term from Brexit I think, although this will vary in the different sectors and is going to be heavily contingent on the final deal. There are already some benefits – for example, all CAP payments are in Euro, so the devaluation means that these have increased in UK value, although obviously any imported costs have become more expensive.

    For me, the big question is going to be what happens post Brexit with the subsidies. If these are maintained, but reformed, and broadened from farming, rural areas could well see some good things happening, although farming is going to be unhappy.

    Much depends on what the UK does, although the overall impact of Brexit is going to be negative for a while at least, and rural areas won’t escape this.

  44. @Charles

    May would not have drawn those lines if she did not have to placate her incessantly-unplacatable backbenchers.


    Assuming there aren’t any banana skins to come -I think the criticism will be that he has concentrated too much on spending for Industrial UK post Brexit ; and not enough on Citizen UK’s belt tightening.

    Its was a very difficult call & he clearly decided his own priorities. I find it difficult to disagree with them in the face of those OBR growth forecasts.

    Whether voters in general agree remains to be seen. I can hear AW saying -they don’t follow budgets-so I tend to agree no VI effect from this.

    ( unless there’s a pasty in there somewhere)

  46. @Alec

    I very much take your point, but I’m referring to parts of the country where farming still *does* form the bedrock of the economic and cultural life of the area, and I live in one such area.

    I do agree it is not correct to dub them ‘rural’, although the definition of ‘rural’ can be quite opaque. For some time, Makerfield was counted as one of the UK’s most rural constituencies on the grounds that it had relatively little industrial or housing land use.

    The reason for this is that it was, at the time, quite difficult to build on mining spoil heaps with which Makerfield is abundantly supplied.

  47. Much of what has been said today on farming and the rural economy is sensible. Certainly the % of the population directly engaged in farming is low in almost all rural areas, and there is variation in the %s working in tourism.

    Buchan for example has few tourists but Peterhead is bustling not just with fishing but setting up wind turbines in the North Sea.

    I would pick up Alec on his grumbling about propping up inefficient farm businesses, and wanting the countryside to generate value for the economy. There is a lot of hard-to-estimate value in biodiversity and wildness, and in the land not causing emissions or nitrate pollution downstream. So these inefficient farms are valuable, inadvertently often.

    It`s on them we still have marshes not drained, good crops of weeds, song birds, corn buntings, lapwings, etc.

    And inland from Peterhead we still have signs that the ancestors of these crofters sailed round Cape Horn catching whales and brought back Magellan ragworts (they are big flowers) as evidence of their prowess.

  48. @Colin/TW

    Worth noting that the downwardly revised OBR growth forecasts do not include any significant impact from brexit. The OBR said: Given the uncertainty regarding how the Government will respond to the choices and tradeoffs it faces during the negotiations, we still have no meaningful basis on which to form a judgement as to their final outcome and upon which we can then condition our forecast.

    It won’t take much of a cliff-edge to see us into a brexit-induced recession.

  49. I’ve just watched the budget with a good friend and local democrat she thought Hammond was the Labour Guy ,I’m afraid Yanks don’t get the British form of conservatism .
    What she did enjoy was the shear theatrics of British politics and the loud level of background noise in the house. She was also surprised by the level of detail but did wonder apart from the headline policies if your average voter understood or even cared much about the minutia of tax raising or lowering.
    I did explain that budgets from any party are basically a smoke and mirror job much like the federal budget over here I think she got that she did say it was like our mayors budget apparently our local Sheriffs office has got 4 new police vehicles with there 6 other cars that’s 10 cars 5 police officers.
    Still back to the budget I thought Hammond did enough with the hand he had, it was low key but he handled it well I should think it was enough to retain his position and allow the government to focus on brexit which for them is more important than any budget at the moment.

  50. Turk, many Brits don’t understand this particular flavour of conservatism we have here now, including many conservatives I suspect.

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