There are two new voting intention polls in Sunday’s papers – ICM for the Sun on Sunday and Opinium for the Observer.

ICM in the Sun on Sunday have topline figures of CON 41%(-1), LAB 42%(+2), LDEM 7%(-1), UKIP 4%(-1). Fieldwork was Tuesday to Thursday, and changes are from the ICM/Guardian poll a few days before. Changes are within the margin of error, but unlike ICM’s last poll it’s now Labour who are marginally ahead. Every single poll ICM have published since the general election has had Labour and the Conservatives within two points of each other.

Amongst other things ICM also asked about the Tory leadership. Only 23% of respondents think Theresa May should step down now, but only 35% think she should fight the next general election. A further 26% think she should go at some later later, either after Brexit (15%) or just before the election (11%). As with other polls, the public don’t seem to have much appetite for any particular successor as Tory lead – Boris Johnson leads, but on only 11%, ahead of Ruth Davidson on 6%. No tabs yet, but the Sun report is here

Secondly there is a new Opinium poll for the Observer. They too have a small Labour lead, with topline figures of CON 39%(-1), LAB 41%(-1), LDEM 7%(+1), UKIP 6%(+1). Changes are once again insignificant – the Tory leads in YouGov and ICM straight after the Brexit deal aren’t reflected in the latest polls, and were either just co-incidence, or a brief blip on the back of good publicity. The underlying trend remains one of stability, with Labour a tad ahead of the Conservatives and no obvious movement in support.

The full tabs for the Opinium poll are here and contain a lot of background questions. The Conservative party are seen as the most divided party – 47% think they are divided, 38% united. The Labour party are seen as united by 42% and divided by 40% – so while stories of Labour infighting are no longer constantly in the media in the way they were before the general election, the party are still seen as divided by much of the public (if not as divided as the Tories!). On the Tory leadership Opinium show a similar picture to ICM – 27% think she should go now, 28% think should should fight the next election, 23% think she should go later (either post-Brexit, or pre-election).

On the EU, Opinium found a negative reaction to Theresa May’s negotiations so far (though not as negative as in YouGov’s tracker – possibly because Opinium ask about May personally rather than the government as a whole, possibly because Opinium ask about approval rather than doing well or badly). 30% approve of how May has handled the negotiations so far, 45% of people disapprove. Opinium found 37% support for a second referendum once the terms had been agreed, 49% were opposed. For the type of Brexit, 39% of respondents would rather Britain remained in the single market (even if it meant freedom of movement continued), 33% would rather Britain stopped freedom of movement (even if it meant leaving the single market).

Finally, the Independent reports a BMG poll that has Remain with a ten point lead over Leave in a referendum vote tomorrow. This has, as ever, caused some over-excitement on social media.

My normal caveat on unusual and interesting polls is to wait and see if it is reflected in other polls. In this case we don’t have to wait, the BMG poll was actually conducted over a week ago (5th-8th Dec), meaning that we have already seen the results of other polls conducted after this one, and they don’t show any large movement towards Remain. The ICM/Guardian poll released earlier this week was conducted 8th-10th December, and had results of Remain 46%, Leave 43% – a Remain lead, but a far smaller one. YouGov’s regular tracker on whether people think Britain was right or wrong to vote to leave was asked on 10th-11th Dec, and showed 44% think we are right to leave, 45% wrong to leave… again, typical of recent results.

The other caveat to consider is that the poll does not actually show any great shift in opinion directly from Leave to Remain, most of those voters are unchanged. The large Remain lead is almost wholly down to people who did not vote in the 2016 referendum. Many polls show those who did not vote in 2016 now saying they would vote remain, but the divide in this one is extreme. I am somewhat sceptical about leads that rely upon people who didn’t vote last time suddenly turning out to vote one way or another (particularly in polls that aren’t weighted by likelihood to vote!). While I am sure that there are some people who didn’t vote in 2016 who would now (those who have turned 18 and those who didn’t realise how close it would be), I suspect the sort of “non-voters” who turn up in opinion polls are rather more likely to vote than actual non-voters. The full tabs (and a measured write up from BMG) are here.

On any subject you feel strongly about it is easy to convince yourself that the polls showing what you’d like to see are somehow more accurate, and that polls showing less positive things are wrong. That would be an error. As ever, the best way of looking at a finding like this is look at all the polls, and consider the long term trend, rather than get overexcited about individual polls that put out unusual results. My opinion on whether Britain is changing its mind on Brexit is unchanged since I wrote about it here – if you look at the referendum VI questions from Survation and BMG, or the right/wrong decision question from YouGov, there does appear to be a genuine movement towards Remain since last year… but as yet it is only small, and the country remains quite finely divided between Remain and Leave.

595 Responses to “New ICM and Opinium polls”

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    Thanks for the irony at the top of the page – much appreciated.

    Have a good year

  2. Belated happy Christmas to all UKPR contributors and lurkers, my thanks to all those who have supplied erudition, surprisingly comprehensive knowledge of arcane areas of expertise (from Lowland Scots dialects, through the flora and fauna of low intensity hill-farms, to a variety of complex legal rulings!), and not-always-welcome challenges to my own preconceptions (take a bow Colin, as the most impressive deflater of my personal balloons – and no, that is not a panto-style euphemism!)

    My apologies for any offence that I have caused through the year, sincere thanks to Anthony for putting up with us all as well as providing us with so much informative commentary, and I look forward to sharing the next twelve months of this site’s collective wit and wisdom….

  3. These are nice comments from Bigfatron to our community, which I echo.

    In line with his mention of farming, and since this is a major area where the UK might benefit from leaving the EU and CAP, but maybe more likely will suffer from a far-right trade deal with the US, could I bring up animal welfare.

    In my Xmas presents was a fascinating small book, The Secret Life of Cows, which not only tells interesting things that researchers have not well documented, but also makes an impassioned plea against factory farming for cattle, hens, pigs and sheep.

    It ought to be read by Michael Gove, and with a host of endorsers from Alan Bennett to Adam Nicholson to Clare Balding, and a growing number of people strongly motivated on the issues including cattle TB (plus badger culls), antibiotic resistance, meat quality, and life quality for farmed animals, I am sure it will be brought to his attention.

    The Worcestershire farming author, Rosamund Young, tells of careful observation on their cows showing of their varied characters, care for each other, skills, tricks, etc.

    This healthy way of rearing animals is now denied in much lowland farming in the interest of profit, but is still found in many upland systems.

    I reckon there will be a major outcry if the UK goes for a trade deal with Trump that allows US practices to come freely here. And Michael Gove ought to be a major player in curbing far-right voices like Liam Fox.

  4. @Bigfatron

    ‘What oft was thought but ne’er so well expressed’

    It was particularly good that you included the lurkers.

  5. BFR

    Sorry about your balloons. I’ve lost a few here myself-and some kites too. :-)

  6. Well said BFR. Let’s hope the spirit of goodwill to all lasts for a while. Bets? I go for Jan 4th. :-)

  7. Bigfatron

    Good post – and I’ll add my own mea culpa to those with whom I have “over-robustly” debated at times.

    So Peace to all – EXCEPT

    Those civil servants who withdrew files from the public archive, and have altered, massaged, destroyed the historical evidence for past events.


    Good post – and I’ll add my own mea culpa to those with whom I have “over-robustly” debated at times.

    So Peace to all – EXCEPT

    Those civil servants who withdrew files from the public archive, and have altered, massaged, destroyed the historical evidence for past events.

    I don’t urge exemplary punishment for them – just that they be taken to a place of public entertainment, and ritually boiled in vats of printers ink, until their very bones collapse into slime and slush.

  8. Merry Christmas an d happy new year to all


    Much of the changes you talk about would lead to higher prices. Not that I am against the idea of the changes but it either means we eat less meat (and very much less processed meat) and use less pesticides and the like and get lower yields of cereals and the fruit and vegetables crops. In order to have a agricultural industry with that sort of mission goal. I would suspect we would need more of a subsidy than we currently are talking about in terms of replacing CAP either than or food prices will go up and we will be putting even more stringent limits on food imports than the EU would do.

    I am going through soem of the EU document on CAP now and there seems to eb lots of leeway for national government to structure their CAP payments. I am not sure why we have not structured them in a manner more suitable to us

    The other thing I have found strange is that it is clear that for a long time the UK has been stalling on the EU wide control of certain pesticides which have been shown to harm bees for quite some time now.

    I think what is interesting in both the husbandry case and the pesticide case is that there was nothing stopping many of the things swe wanted to do under EU law. It was us that decided not to do it and I suspect the same issues that pushed us into not doing then may actually have a greater bearing now or have I got it all wrong.

    lastly if we are to be more environmentally sound we will have to eat a lot less meat. That is not something that Gove is selling since most of the other thing are pretty miniscule in terms of environmental protection.

  9. PTRP

    @”Much of the changes you talk about would lead to higher prices”

    @”if we are to be more environmentally sound we will have to eat a lot less meat. That is not something that Gove is selling ”

    You don’t know yet what he will propose in UK’s post Brexit Agri-Environmental policy-though a clear direction of travel has been signalled.

    There are those in the Farming Industry most definitely proposing less meat consumption-and who don’t agree with you that this means higher prices.:-

    ““Food and farming policies fit for the future will require more than tinkering with subsidies or favourable trade deals. We need to step off the treadmill of industrially produced livestock that comes at such a cost to animal welfare, our health and the environment To do this we need a shift to healthier and sustainable eating patterns; with more plant-based foods, less meat and dairy products – particularly from intensive, industrial systems, and towards farming systems that produce ‘better ‘ meat and dairy to higher animal welfare and environmental standards. This need not cost consumers more.”

    Sue Dibb, Eating Better’s Executive Director. -who proposed “better UK meat and dairy production post-Brexit” . ( click on Full Report in the link below) -in a detailed proposal , one on many such which Michael Gove has on his desk.

  10. Just to say that I am happy to see Eating Better`s report, and feel sure this is the right way to go.

    But as PtrP has commented, we could have moved in that direction within the CAP. Hitherto the UK has broadly been less favourable for these reforms than the main EU countries, and it has needed much pressure from campaigners like 38 Degrees to secure wide bans on the bee-harming pesticides.

    I don`t consider there have been appreciable differences between Conservative and Labour governments on these issues. But sadly there has been less awareness on environmental issues in rUK outwith Southern England.

    Up in NE Scotland most long-standing residents class any plant that you can`t buy in a garden centre as a weed. And I doubt if any farmer here would think a cow would prefer to eat mouse-ear chickweed, cf. Rosamund Young.

  11. Davwel

    If the cows are too lazy to earn their grass benefits, then they will be sanctioned and have to eat whatever they can get from the mouse-ear chickweed bank.

    That’ll teach them not to be so picky in future.

  12. DAVWEL

    @” it has needed much pressure from campaigners like 38 Degrees to secure wide bans on the bee-harming pesticides.”


    …or perhaps it has taken a UK Environment Secretary who is not simply a mouthpiece for every bit of NFU winging , moaning & special pleading on environmental matters :-


  13. @BFR and all

    Very nicely put. I keep coming here because I learn so much about an eclectic range of subjects and because the tone is generally courteous.
    My thanks to many of the regular posters and especially to AW who keeps us all in business.
    Happy New Year all, when it comes.

  14. Colin,
    If you want to cut meat and dairy consumption there are limited ways to do it. You can persuade people not to want it, but that isn’t going to work.

    You can put taxes on it, so as to put up prices.this will eventually reduce demand after it becomes a lot more expensive.

    You could impose quotas for imports, go back to farmers quotas to stop them producing meat. Again this would push up prices.

    You could introduce rationing.

    Which of these would be a vote winner?

  15. Surely sugar is a more pressing problem than meat and dairy?

  16. @NickP

    The big issue with meat and dairy is the large environmental cost.

    This includes the massive amounts of methane produced, and the large amount of feed and water required to sustain the animals to produce the meat and dairy. Growing crops on the same land to feed people directly would feed more people, with less environmental impact.

    The welfare issue can be important. My family and I are vegan, and this is based on ethics and welfare reasons principally, but the environmental improvement is a nice bonus.

    Sugar consumption is mainly a health issue, solvable by improvements to what goes into processed food and getting people to actually cook there own food. Not insurmountable, but I think on the processed food (and drink) problem requires strongly government actions beyond labelling and codes of practice.

  17. @COLIN

    the only way that you can have the a higher level of husbandry and better environmental conditions is more subsidies/regulation, higher prices or less consumption by change in behaviour or a combination of at least 2 of the three and in my view all three.

    You are asking for a lifestyle change of the kind that has been stubbornly not happening especially in the poorer members of society because production costs of highly processed foods.

    In my view and I think this is acknowledged by many of the reports I have read on the issue is that they accept that for less consumption the cost has to go up in some form be it via subsidies or actual price. The reason for higher consumption is essentially cost, chicken for example has become cheaper, milk the same. You see it across the world indeed in sub saharan africa as the cost of food goes down the amount of obesity goes up.

    What was interesting was that health outcomes improved with rationing during the war and the period after.

    I am not saying that these aims are not good nor I am I interested in the debate about whether we could do it due to brexit or not since I believe that many of these thing have not happened because of lack of political will and more importantly the ability of the groups with respect to lobbying.

    As I highlighted one minister has decided as a matter of course to believe what scientists have been telling the EU since 2013 regarding the issue of bees and pesticides again the issue has not been about brexit it has been about our government and the fact that they have fought the issue continuously both in the CoM and the EU parliament. Indeed the conservative MEP for my area wanted to continue the limits on the pesticides ban only recently so I think there is a long way to go.

    I suppose I am jaded by the mood music I am hearing as per much of the current government’s approach. It appears to talk a good game but to not really deliver much. As I said regarding the budget and indeed regarding many issues of the day we now think it is a plus when they just don’t screw up and make thing worse.

    Currently gove has not screwed up reversing a policy that so many scientific reports would make plain the need for the reversal and that the UK have been holding up the rest of the EU in terms of implementation is not great.

    It reminds me of Thatchers refusal to believe in acid rain calling for report after report to be commissioned rather than doing something about it. Sometime we have to accept these people are politicians and are not doing this for our good. but are doing this for our votes.


    The issue of sugar has taken a huge amount of effort just to get the idea of a sugar tax in play and in part our binge drinking and minimal alcohol pricing is another thing that has been a difficult issue to bring to fruition. There are several issues with processed foods that the government have conceded with the food lobby and I suspect it would a battle when we start doing trade deals with big agricultural exporters since they tend to be more ‘efficient’ food producers.

    issues of husbandry and farming have the biggest effect on green houses gasses more than what end users can do reducing water and their own personal green house gasses apparently. hence the idea of reducing the stock of animals in the food chain is one part of the approach to reduction of greenhouse gases.

  18. You are asking for a lifestyle change of the kind that has been stubbornly not happening especially in the poorer members of society because production costs of highly processed foods.

    There is a real dilemma here. You can cook a healthy, tasty and highly nutritious meal from beans, lentils, rice and vegetables (spiced or flavoured with spices) for a very small amount of money. For people on limited incomes, a good swap of some meals to non meat alternatives, only needing a modicum of cooking skills, would be really beneficial.

    However, when people are culturally used a lump of meat on the plate, it’s easy to end up with burgers, sausages and the other cheaper meat products.

    Cultural change is the hardest to make!

  19. DANNY

    Yep-like so many other things which humans have decided are absolutely neccessary for their convenience & way of life-it will be difficult to wean them off it.

  20. CMJ

    @” Growing crops on the same land to feed people directly would feed more people, with less environmental impact.”

    Maybe-maybe not. Man’s impact has complex effects-its not simple.

    Constant arable cropping-particularly on an industrial scale can destroy bio-diversity too-starting with The Soil:-

    Here’s a brilliant example of what happens when you stop doing it ( you will need to buy today’s Times or register on line to read the article) :-

  21. PTRP

    @”the only way that ……………….”

    Well lets wait & see. It is encouraging that the industry & environmental groups seem to be converging on a similar model post Brexit. That they both think CAP needs improving on is also a good start.

    @”It appears to talk a good game but to not really deliver much.”

    Gove hasn’t produced his post Brexit policy proposal yet. So there is nothing for you to make a judgement on. Have a little patience.

  22. @Colin

    Thanks for those.

    Sadly I can’t get behind the paywall to view the Times article.

    Farming crops, like raising animals, still requires a shift from intense methods reliant on pesticides etc, to more naturally diverse methods. These methods need to naturally revive and condition the soil, rather than draw out all the nutrients and then need chemicals to substitute the depleted nutrients.

    Like so much else, we need to work in balance with the planet and nature, and not suck it dry.

  23. CMJ

    @”Like so much else, we need to work in balance with the planet and nature, and not suck it dry.”

    If you substitute “UK” for “planet” I think we might have a chance.

    But if you insist on “planet” scale, then imo, there isn’t a chance in hell.

  24. Test – pigs

  25. @Colin – got a post about methane emissions from cattle in auto mod for some reason. I was talking about research showing more natural (grass fed) diets produce much less belching and therefore reduced green house gas emissions.

    The point about needing mixed farming to maintain healthy soli rotations is apt, however. With the land, as with diets, a little bit of everything seems to be appropriate general advice.

  26. @CMJ – I have read some research that suggests an overall negative global impact from organic farming, if we underwent a wholesale switch. The reasoning was that the loss of productivity would mean larger areas of land would be needed for food production, having an overall greater detrimental impact tyhrough the loss of unmanaged wildspaces.

    The bottom line is that we need fewer people on the planet, and those people that are here need to limit their consumption of food and other products to sensible levels.

    I’m afraid I despise Boxing Day sales. That so many people can get so excited about buying so much rubbish, and that our system dictates that some people going shopping is the most important news story of the day, really depresses me.

  27. Brexit and Fishing

    it does not fall to every generation but brexit allpws us to completely reset the architecture of our fishing industry for the next 50 years. Gove has the opportunity to create a maritime enviroment that not only preserves but improves the fish quantiies and diversity free from the confines of the CFP. He should be bold .

    1.He will need a new organization. May be Britfish based at an eastern seaboard location such as Hull. Devolved subsiduaries such as Scof, Cyfish, Efish and Nif (puns intended)
    2.Such should be supported by a University of fishing which would combine with a technical university; an enterprise zone; a trawler construction facility and a UK based trawler scrappage scheme.
    3. We should direct part of our overseas aid programme to being task rather than geographically specific offering fishery protection for nations unable to afford their own. This would involve providing fishery protection and possible satelite construction opportunities. There would be spin offs for ourselves from this such a shipbuilding etc

    What should the objects of Britfish be ?

    1. The creation of the worlds leading fishery and marine protection enviroment;

    2.The development of the British fishing industry to be the leading fishing nation in the world;

    3.Where the Developing British fishing industry cannot meet demand or where it is commercially expedient to do so to licence non -uk bodies to commercially bid for quotas or mariitme blocks consistent with uK imposed rules as to methods and quotas based on the best science.The funds raised would support Britfish and the devolved orgs.

    The only question is whether we are bold and brave enough to do it?

  28. Vaguely related (I don’t particularly like psychology research constructed around masculinity-femininity dichotomes) on cultural influences on environment related attitudes:


    At least in the developed world it would be relatively easy to substantially reduce the amount of food produced and the cost of it by implementing a kind of just-in-time system triggered by the consumers’ purchase (obviously there would be bigger inventories in the system), so a pull system rather than a push one.

  29. @Alec @Colin

    The bottom line is that we need fewer people on the planet, and those people that are here need to limit their consumption of food and other products to sensible levels.

    If you substitute “UK” for “planet” I think we might have a chance.
    But if you insist on “planet” scale, then imo, there isn’t a chance in hell.

    I mentally settled many years ago on the point that it’s too late already. We have passed the point of no return.

    However, given that in the grand scale if things we are nothing more than insignificant carbon-based lifeforms on an arm of an insignificant part of an insignificant galaxy, then I’m fine with that.

    Hey ho, tomorrow we plough on!

  30. @Laszlo

    That research is what I expected really.

    The worst sort person (IMO), who denies climate change, don’t care how much their egotistically-based actions affects others and doesn’t care how the meat they stuff their cake hole is produced are folk like Jeremy Clarkson, and others who think themselves ‘alpha males’.

  31. ‘S Thomas – “The only question is whether we are bold and brave enough to do it?”

    I rather like your ideas. I feel reasonably safe however, when I say that I see no chance for them.

    While I appreciate that Brexit is an opportunity to reset lots of policy areas, there has been no impediment whatsoever to doing any of the things you mentioned under the EU. We didn’t do them, because UK fishermen don’t want them.

    Incidentally, while we don’t actually have a university of fishing, we do have lots of very very good marine ecology educational facilities. the Scottish Association for Marine Science facility at Oban is a European leader in marine research, but the main problem up to now has been the governments around the UK failing to take heed of the science.

    For example, there is some very good evidence (including from a Royal Commission) that suggests if the UK government created fish free zones for around 30% of UK inshore territorial waters, the lost fishing opportunities would be more than made up by hugely increased catches in the remaining 70% of sea areas due to the recovery within the no fish zones. This has been opposed by the fishing industry, to the extent that they persuaded the Welsh government to allow scallop dredging (probably the most damaging of fishing practices) even within a small conservation zone.

    A wholesale reinvention of the UK’s fisheries policy would first require the government to instruct the fishing industry in some home truths, and take a deeply political decision to tell them that their ideas are fundamentally wrong. It’s the same with farming, but in both cases, the drive for Brexit came from these sectors that saw self interest in the outcome. Ultimately, over the longer term these sectors could genuinely find themselves in a better place, but the immediate policy requirements are counter to what they are calling for.

  32. S Thomas

    @”The only question is whether we are bold and brave enough to do it?”

    Gove has more personal family connection with fishing, than with farming.

    He is clearly soaking up an awful lot of stuff from many sources at present. It is a good thing the this “agenda” for change on both CAP & CFP is common currency across so many disciplines.

    So , that he is making all the “right” noises at present is no surprise to me ( though a shock to many on the political Left who had pigeon holed him in the way they do.)

    His record-for me-is that of a Crusader. He has been brave & fearless in the past when he believes he is on the track to the correct solution.

    The question then, is will he distill all this stuff into a sensible solution.

    That he will run with it I have little doubt about.

  33. @COLIN

    Goves record in education is mixed. Indeed as my children are going through his educational reforms. I have to say much of things that he has pushed has been controversial and had not even carried any of the people needed to implement them. it actually felt rather more corporate take over than actual education as we have subsituted local control of schooling with essential as much control over schooling as I have with my local super market. There was in fact nnoe of the thing I thought that a person of his supposedly crusading approach in terms of reform would do such as streaming academic and practical education at say 14 what we ended up was an attempt at grammar school for all where it was just not appropriate. There was even more directed approach to teaching with rules for teacher to such an extent that I have had serious argument with one teacher whom first told me that the childeren had to write joined up handwriting because that is what it said they were supposed to do and therefore she had to force children to writing in that manner even if it was eligible. My personal view having followed my children through primary education has been that teacher have been frustrated and demotivated by the approach and lots of NQT are just leaving because on top of poor pay they really are not allowed to teach. There is now view of learning styles in the curriculum and I have a lot of sympathy for heads trying to keep it all together.

    I am hoping that you are correct in that there can be a reasoned consensus as to what we do with fish and agriculture but if we are using Education a pointer to success I am not sold.

    I also believe it will be interesting how everything becomes reconciled. for example the fish processing industry is a net importer of fish icelandic cod being a big import as an example and most fishermen want to bigger catches in local waters since in the past these same boats used to fish of the icelandic waters (hence the Cod wars of a bygone age. We never fished in local waters because we did (and still do not eat the fish) so it will be interesting what happens. There will be a complex issue of access and conservation to be negotiated.

    As I said when he first talked about education he sounded like a moderniser he turned into a corporatist and ideologue. I think that is why in the end he was relieved of the education portfolio.

  34. PTRP

    Goves Education reforms will stand or fall on outcomes in students’ educational achievements-not whether you consider them “corporatist”

    Were Educational in England outcomes before Gove ,better or worse than after Gove?

    That is the only question worth asking.

  35. @CMJ

    “I mentally settled many years ago on the point that it’s too late already. We have passed the point of no return.”

    No doubt you have seen this fantastic lecture from the late Hans Rosling:

    It puts a much more hopeful slant on at least some elements of where we’re heading. Perhaps you or others will challenge it?

  36. @COLIN

    The argument about educational outcomes is one which was made complicated by Gove and his team. The arguments about grade inflation for one and that the fact that ever increasing numbers of children getting 5 A-C was again a big part of the issue. In the Uk there was a steady improvement in terms of outcomes. My belief is that teachers will find a way to make improvement no matter what. Indeed for exampel you can tell with infants only schools that most children are well above the level of the all through primaries at KS1 since that is where they are judged and the all through primaries are not. what happens is that the trajectory falls back to the mean at KS2. That said each year there will be marginal gains.

    What our problem is in many cases is not the the most givfted but the bottom 20% of cohorts. It is clear that the UK falls at the bottom of literacy in the EU for 16-19 year olds and amongst the lowest in that age group for computer literacy and maths. This is due to our education system concentrating on the 5 GCSE of A-C drag resources away form people whom are going to fail. It is better to put effort into a marginal C/D borderline child than it is to put any effort in a E or a clear B. so you could imagine the approach whereby you have a set of children that a languishing at the bottom and and destine to fail.

    So your point about outcomes really depends on what you are measuring and Gove approach was measuring the wrong thing and forcing stupid behaviours (well actually they are quite rational behaviours but not the outcome that all will desire) What it means is that we have a huge cohort of undereducated and that is what brings down the scores when we compare to the EU.

    the approach of a system that is more corporatist enables this because of the way the schools are judge and the lack of funds basically to be successful a school has to dump the bottom 25% in some way or other. This is a direct result of Gove’s reforms.

    As I said I find the view that he was crusader for good not in keeping with the results and of all the ministers of the coalition and the Tory party Huny/Lansley and Gove and Fox have to be considered the worst of all of them. the NHS reforms were just a terrible disaster and education pretty much sunk the moral of teacher to what can only have been described as an all time low.

    When he was moved from Education most parents in North Somerset (Liam Fox constituency) breathed a sigh of relief since many parent were struggling to get basic thing like getting their child into the school in their town not a particular school just any, let alone the issue of educating them.

  37. @COLIN

    should give you a primer but there are several more I will try and dig up.

  38. @Guymonde

    Thank you for the link, I shall watch it later!


    Thanks -will watch later.

  40. PTRP

    @”So your point about outcomes really depends on what you are measuring ”

    In view of long standing complaints from employers organisations like the CBI about the basic skills of job seekers, I would suggest Literacy & Numeracy would be a good place to look.

    And things were pretty bad on those criteria ( in 2012) :-

    The problem for me is not what to measure & judge by, but which rankings to concentrate on & how long to give reforms before looking for effects which can be derived from them.

    Is this indicative for example ?:-

    @”Hunt/Lansley and Gove and Fox have to be considered the worst of all of them.”

    Not by me.

    Not too keen on Lansley.
    Fox-dunno yet-have to wait for his performance on Trade to be analysed.

    Hunt , imo, is like Gove. Both focused on outcomes ( patients/pupils) not inputs or producer interest. . Both focused on quality. Both determined to reform in the face of “producer” resistance.

  41. @Guymonde

    I’ve just watched the film, and I found it fascinating and full of things which really surprised me and popped a few preconceptions too.

    It does strike me that the key to a sustainable planet will come down to the willingness of the most wealthy nations (like the UK) to transform their economies and continue to support poorer nations. They don’t need just hard cash, they technical know-how. It shows that short of compulsory euthanasia, the population growth to 11 bn is unavoidable. Luckily we have about 80 years of seeing this demographic brick wall in front of the world, and we have time to adjust accordingly.

    Sadly, with people like Trump in the US I fear this won’t happen in time. Rich nations cannot pull up their drawbridges and hope it goes away. The sometimes negative attitude to foreign aid being something to cut back is something regrettable too.

    Thanks for the link, it was one of best things I have watched in a long time.



    It was fairly easy to find criticism of Rosling’s video. His use of logarithmic scale is one area.

    One critic writes :-

    ” it supports Rosling’s basic master narrative, that over time all countries are on essentially the same trajectory, progressing from poor and sick to healthy and rich. “It’s fully possible that everyone can make it to the healthy wealthy corner.”
    But viewed instead on a linear scale, the state of the world — particularly income inequality — looks much more bleak.
    The linear scale tells quite a different story. Much of the world, particularly Africa (blue) has made hardly any progress in terms of income in 200 years, while a small cluster of extremely rich countries have jutted far to the right. We see that although health has improved worldwide over the last 200 years, health care improvements have been disproportionately withheld from the poorest countries; roughly the same level of income per person can yield a broad range of outcomes, with life expectancy numbers ranging from 50-70 years old. In the animated version, we see that people overall are getting healthier, but income inequality has actually been getting worse, with relatively few rich countries breaking away from the pack of stagnant economies to reach significantly higher levels of income. The message of this version is no longer that the entire world is destined to eventually achieve wealth and health, but that growing income inequality is a growing barrier to universal public health.
    The logarithmic scale is thus a key element of Rosling’s animated rhetoric. With “progress” represented by movement, the logarithmic scale gives an illusion of everything moving at relatively even pace the right, a trajectory that erases income inequality. Animating on a linear scale, however, shows a lack of movement to the right for most countries, suggesting that the poorest economies are stuck. If the logarithmic animation offers a comforting message of universal progress and development, the linear indicates a clear lack of progress, raising the important question of why such relative poverty not only continues to exist, but is falling further and further behind.
    My point here is not to counter Rosling’s master narrative with my own, but rather to explicate how in the context of animated visualization, data has been distorted in order to yield the kind of visual movement necessarysupport his optimistic story.”

    Other thoughts which occurred to me were :-

    * What about the effects of climate change?

    * What about the effects on all other species of 10 to 11 billion healthy humans all financially able to consume at “our” current per capita level.

    I’m not at all sure about it frankly. It seems a bit complacent & truculent to me.

  43. @Colin

    Ok but that criticism seems pretty tendentious to me. The logarithmic scales are only used for income, not for population, babies per woman, nor longevity.

    I think Rosling’s fundamental points are that a lot of progress has been made in the area of population control (and this is not common knowledge) and- perhaps as a result – a lot of people have moved from abject $1 a day poverty into still poor but more sustainable $10 per day.

    He doesn’t cover climate change – he’s a statistician looking backward at known outcomes – nor is he postulating that the whole 11Bn will reach ‘our’ per capita income.

    He’s not suggesting everything is rosy, but maybe encouraging a view that there is still much to play for so – Don’t Panic!

  44. Alec, I rather agree that complaints about the amount of methane produced by farmed cattle misses the point that those cattle are a by – product of the sheer number of people. I also recall the best way to halt population growth has always been boosting living standards of the poor.

    S Thomas,
    Sorry but what is your point about fishing?There is nothing stopping the government creating a fishing research establishment while an EU member. Nothing except the cost. If we leave the existing fish conservation arrangements we will only have to create new ones. There cannot be a bigger industry because there will not be any more fish.

    PTRP, the educational scoring system also implies no effort to raise the standard of those already getting high grades. We fail to develop exceptional students but let them coast. I was stunned when I first understood that the target for schools was to be average. That means all schools already above average therefore have an official target to cut costs by reducing standards. The more they do that, the more schools in the lower half of the distribution can achieve their goal by doing nothing because that average falls.

    I have seen this precisely in local schools, cutting standards to meet official targets.


    @”t there is still much to play for so – Don’t Panic!”

    It is an entirely Anthropocentric viewpoint . No hint that our “advancement” disadvantages the species with whom we share this planet.

    But then H Sapiens is a selfish species -look at the result of our “convenience” destroying like in the oceans right now.

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