Saturday’s Times had the latest YouGov voting intention results, which were CON 40%(nc), LAB 42%(+1), LDEM 8%(nc).

It also had results from a poll asking about the media allegations about Jeremy Corbyn having met a Czech spy in the 1980s, which clearly illustrated why such things make very little difference.

To start with, most people pay very little attention to the day-to-day soap opera of politics. 40% of people said they had been completely unaware of the story until taking the survey, a further 31% said they had noticed it, but hadn’t really paid it any attention. That leaves less than a third who had actually taken it in. Obviously things that no one notices have no real impact, especially since those people who do watch political news stories will disproportionately be those who are interested in politics and have firm political allegiances.

Asked if they thought the allegations were true, the results were as you’d expect. A large majority of Labour voters thought that Jeremy Corbyn probably had a perfectly innocent meeting with someone he thought was a diplomat, and that he probably didn’t give any information to any Czech agents. The only people who believed it were Conservatives. This is typical of such allegations: people view them through the prism of their existing political allegiences. If it’s an allegation against a party you support, you are likely to view it with scepticism and give the politician concerned the benefit of the doubt, if it’s an allegation against a party you dislike then it will confirm all the negative things you thought already.

Finally, YouGov asked if the spy allegations and the way Jeremy Corbyn had responded to them had changed people’s opinions of Jeremy Corbyn at all. Only 8% of people said it had made them think more negatively about him (and they were mostly Tories to begin with). 6% said it made them think better of Corbyn (and they were mostly Labour voters to begin with). A hearty 64% said it made no difference at all.

Full results for the voting intention are here, and the Corbyn results are here.

1,679 Responses to “Why the Corbyn spy allegations made no difference to public opinion”

1 31 32 33 34
  1. @TW

    Thanks for your response to my request for brexiters to suggest ways to reduce what they claim is the democratic deficit in the EU.

    So at least I know now that whether or not the EU President is directly elected isn’t a matter of democratic accountability as far as brexiters are concerned (or s it just you?)

    That’s one to cross off the list of alleged democratic deficits, then.

  2. Princess R:

    Sadly human nature means that at all levels of society a small percent of folk turn out badly. But at the higher levels there used to be much less attention and publicity for the wrongdoings than nowadays, thanks to our media responding to present social attitudes.

    I have been shocked this last fortnight when researching for an article at what a bad person they had at Eton College in Victorian times. He cost them a lot of money, had moved on after just short tenures in previous positions, and was a rogue where he got to after Eton. But these events and moving-ons (=dismissals) are not written up.

  3. @Somerjohn – “Can you come up with examples of EU policies forced on us against our determined opposition?”

    Well I guess apart from CAP and fisheries policy, for me the states aid issues are one good example.

    The states aid de minimis rules are extremely tightly interpreted. An organisation can accept EU200,000 of states aid in a rolling three year period. This isn’t very much. Think of a village hall receiving a national lottery grant (oddly enough, lottery money is classified as states aid) to refurbish and extend a small community centre – it”s quite conceivable that a one off grant can approach this limit, barring the recipients from any other support for three years.

    This de minimis limit is therefore very low, but the interpretation of what constitutes states aid is also frankly quite ridiculous. To qualify as states aid, the beneficiary needs to provide goods or services into a market, and for those goods or services to be tradeable between member states.

    In our example above, a village hall that hires out the hall for a local badminton club once a week is providing a tradeable service which is deemed to be in competition across member states national boundaries. This is on the basis of the fact that a (say) German company could come to the village and build a rival badminton court and try to enter the hire market. Even a lunch club offering 50p hot meals for OAP’s is deemed as providing a tradeable service.

    The rules do not preclude the village hall from breaching the de minimis rules and accepting more than EU200,000 in a three year period, if they feel confident that they could argue that they aren’t involved in a tradeable activity. However, EU rules prevent the commission from offering any comfort guidance, so the village hall cannot check in advance whether they may be in breach of the rules. Beneficiaries who fall foul of the rules are forced to repay states aid at any point in the future.

    This example is, or course, utterly ridiculous, but it is the unavoidable consequence of the Commission’s extremely rigorous interpretation of states aid backed up by numerous ECJ rulings which take a similarly highly aggressive line. It hits numerous small local groups and charities and is stifling for the third sector. It is a very real impact created by the rigid interpretation of states aid rules.

    Now we come to the democratic control element. There is widespread agreement that the application of states aid rules is unbalanced. However, it is a commission competence. There was a review in (I think) 2016, when the Council unanimously agreed to ask the Commission to substantially increase the de minimis level and review the application of the states aid rule. The commission declined to do anything, even failing to uprate the de minimis threshold with inflation.

    In my mind, this demonstrates a fundamental flaw within the EU. It is precisely the same as the Civil Service flatly refusing to enact a change in policy when instructed to do so by elected ministers. Personally, I think it’s absolutely outrageous that the EU system permits the commission to defy the will of the council on anything, but that’s what happened here.

    I’m happy that this kind of thing can be dealt with by reform over time, but to me it demonstrates that the commission can tend towards a mindset that they know best, rather than seeing themselves as servants of the people. They often talk about ‘European citizens’ when it suits them, but don’t seem quite to accept that they should be there doing the bidding of those same citizens when it doesn’t.

    I hope that’s a comprehensively explained example for you. A small issue perhaps, but indicative of the malaise that is causing great problems throughout the EU.

  4. @Alec

    I’ll take your example on trust and I agree it sounds ridiculous.

    But I have a couple of questions:

    1. What did HMG do to try to change this state of affairs (ie, is this an example of determined opposition or – as I suspect – can’t be bothered?)

    2. According to its website: “The Big Lottery Fund distributes over £600m a year to communities across the UK, raised by players of the National Lottery.” Some discrepancy here,

    I’m not saying this is a euromyth. But I hae me doots!

    (Apologies to Oldnat if I’ve mangled the Lalland Scots, as I almost certainly have. Or if I’ve misidentified music hall Scots as Lalland. And so on)

  5. Turk,,
    “So your still be fighting for the right to rejoin the EU if after time being outside makes little or no difference to the majority of U.K. citizens best of luck with that one.”

    I doubt I’d be marching, but yes. It is an interesting question how many people think the same? The pro EU demographic, generally the young, creeping up the age range. Will they continue to want membership?

    ” The Law Officers and other Government Departments are working closely together to identify those pieces of legislation which are essential to ensure that the Island’s relationship with the EU operates properly”

    That would appear to mean they plan to stay in the EU?

  6. Danny

    “That would appear to mean they plan to stay in the EU?”

    Unlike Gibraltar, the Crown Dependencies aren’t in the EU at the moment!

    They do, however, have some forms of association with it.

    “Jersey has a special relationship with the European Union (EU). In simple terms, the Island is treated as part of the European Union for the purposes of free trade in goods, but otherwise is not a part of the EU. The formal relationship is set out in Protocol 3 of the UK’s 1972 Accession Treaty and confirmed in what is now Article 355 (5) (c) of the EU Treaties.

    Both Jersey and Guernsey voluntarily use EU legislation or the international standards on which they are based. ”

  7. @ SomerJohn

    ‘t would be interesting to see proposals for an increased level of democracy in the EU from those who complain of a democratic deficit.’

    You appear to be proposing a system not so far removed from that of the US … at a time when many Americans feel profoundly dissatisfied and disillusioned with their electoral system…. furthermore, for a population of 600m, double that of the US.

    I propose the abandonment of the Euro and the re-instatement of national governments who colloborate closely together. When it comes to democracy, small is beautiful.

  8. Sport/recreational facilities are covered under a general block exemption even if they exceed the de minimis limit are they not?

  9. Somerjohn

    Scots has no standard orthography (as others created in the 18th/19th centuries).

    So you can spell it any way you like, as long as it is comprehensible.

  10. Syzygy

    “the re-instatement of national governments who collaborate closely together.”

    Sounds good to me!

  11. As Hungary was used as an example…

    Colin is right – it is up to the Hungarian voters to deal with the elimination of democracy (with some pinches of salt though, see later) – in my view the Commission hasn’t intervened enough (only three things really – the migrant quota (but that was eventually the ECJ, rather than the Commission), the theft of EU transfers, institution-specific legislation (Central-European University, civil society organisations and some laws brought in to promote some client private companies). There could have been many more – but Orbán has many allies (both political and business ones – the Mittelstand love the Hungarian and Polish political systems).

    Now to the voters …

    Fidesz gained two thirds of the seats in Parliament in 2010 on the basis of huge discontent because of the recession and the incompetence of the socialist government.

    This enabled them to rewrite the constitution, clear out the judge’s power, bring public prosecution under direct government control, nationalise (steal really) the private pension funds, bring the control on media under government control (it actually started in 1993, and was completed only in 2015 – the vast majority of the people can only watch state tv, listen to state radio, and the local papers are owned by Orbán’s best friend). Furthermore, outside Budapest and the large towns unemployment benefit has been abolished. People have to do public work (working on the land or workshop of the local Fidesz boss – the correct voting is expected).

    It also enabled them to change the election system (it’s like the Italian now), and redrew the constituency boundaries (each townee constituency got a bit of rural area…)

    Already in 2010, but especially in 2014 (when Fidesz with less than 50% of the votes had almost absolute majority), Fidesz creates fake parties to take votes from the opposition (this year it will be a new record). Last year they ‘re-wrote the pre-election coalition rules, making it almost impossible for the opposition to unite behind one candidate (they are now agreeing on constituencies where they don’t have a chance, and they will “compete” there).

    The voter apathy is massive (about half of the voters didn’t want to vote in the autumn – or they didn’t want to tell the pollsters). It may change though.

    In addition, dual citizenship holders in Romania, Ukraine and so on can vote, and can vote by postal vote. In contrast Hungarians with Hungarian address (about 15% of the electorate) can only vote in person if they are abroad (for the first time in the UK they can also vote in Manchester and Edinburgh. But the 1,500 in Malta will have to go to Tunesia if they want to vote).

    Now the EU didn’t intervene in any of this “democracy with Hungarian flavour”).

  12. @ SJ – ?? :-) :-)

    Why would anyone in UK fuss over how the Commandant for deck chair rearranging and enforcement is elected when back home we democratically decided we wanted off the Titanic?

    As an EUphiliac I assume your waiting to give your opinion until after it has been given to you!

    Personally as a believer in democracy at the lowest level I only speak for myself, n=1. For broader views we have polls, referendums and elections.

    I’m sure many Scots feel the same about May as Californians feel about Trump and Brits feel about Juncker. I’d like much more extensive devolution up to and including full independence – I’d love to see some polling on UK opinion regarding devolution, no idea if I’m a small minority or not and no idea how much it has changed since IndyRef1 onwards.

  13. @Alec

    Right. I’m now a bit acquainted with State Aid rules, thanks to:…data/…/BIS-15-417-state-aid-the-basics-guide.pdf

    The BIS has this to say about the state aid rules:

    State aid can occur whenever state resources are used to provide assistance that gives organisations an advantage over others. It can distort competition, which is harmful to consumers and companies in the EU. Where there is a genuine market failure, State aid might be necessary and justified. In general, aid that really changes the behaviour of the organisation that receives it, which is the best way to address the failure and limit distortions, and where the benefits outweigh any negative effects on competition, is approvable.
    The UK and EU support strong State aid rules to ensure aid is well targeted to address market failures and avoid negative effects on competition. With strong rules, those who receive advantages from the state won’t become overly reliant on aid and will remain incentivised to innovate or make efficiencies. New market entrants are encouraged and weak companies are less likely to stay in the market. Ultimately, it’s a better deal for consumers.

    So it doesn’t sound as if this is something the UK has opposed.

    As for de minimis:

    A useful approved EU mechanism for State aid is the de minimis regulation, based on the Commission’s view that small amounts of aid are unlikely to distort competition.
    The De Minimis Regulation allows small amounts of aid – less than €200,000 over 3 rolling years – to be given to an undertaking for a wide range of purposes.

    So, a “useful approved EU mechanism” according to HMG.

    And then, as James suggests, there are a number of exemptions, which come under The General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER).

    So, all in all, maybe not the shock-horror example of the EU riding roughshod over HMG that your post suggested.

    After all, if it were the case, you can be pretty sure the Daily Mail would be all over it like a rash.

  14. Trevor Warne: [OLDNAT] posted a link a while back that suggested a 55%+ referendum threshold for Unionists to be able to knock the issue out for a generation and I think that will become the issue. The 50%+1 referendum in Scotland didn’t put that issue out for a generation. Accepting the Brexit referendum is clearly still an issue for many so what kind of referendum for NI? If 55% is a threshold then so is 45%.

    I’ve heard people suggest reverse Velvet revolutions (reverse of Czechoslovakia), Hong Kong or Crown dependency route (e.g. Isle of Man) approaches. None of those had referendums – not saying that is good or bad, just an observation!

    How to peacefully and democratically achieve the outcome is a challenge. NI is economically highly dependent on UK so the economics can’t be ignored either (ie as a self-governing entity their budget deficit would be enormous).

    My concern would be that if a referendum came and we had a 51.8/48.2 or 55.3/44.7 split (either way) that would not put the matter to rest for a generation – something we should learn from the current IndyRef2 and Brexit situation!

    The GFA says ‘majority’ for a border poll, which is interpreted as 50%+1 by the nationalists at least. Just imagine the suggestion of putting 55% into the GFA – it would have scuppered any prospect of agreeing. To make such a requirement explicit at a later stage would be [rightly] viewed by nationalists as moving the goal posts.

    There is a difference between an NI border poll and the UK brexit referendum, which is that in a border poll, there is no NI identity, but a substantial part of the electorate are voting according to their nationalist or unionist identity, whereas for brexit people were voting presumed according to opinion from a notionally shared British identity. A lack of a supermajority is probably more defensible for an NI border poll.

    If I read your concern correctly, that 51.8/48.2 [in favour of the union] would not put the matter to rest for a generation, then I agree. It would only put the matter to rest for 7 years according to legislation, after which a poll could [not would] be held again. In practice, I think the matter would be far from laid to rest. I think that any poll which fails to bring about UI would be a quite negative development, because the potential date of the next poll would dominate NI politics from that point for both unionists and nationalists and normality would not be resumed. Even at 55.3/44.7, I think this would still be the case.

    If the percentages were reversed, 55.3/44.7 for UI would probably be the end of the matter, but 51.8/48.2 could lead to the unpredictable. Another problem would be if RoI did not give approval to UI in a concurrent poll [As I read the GFA, there is an implicit requirement for a concurrent poll in RoI, although the requirement for the poll is not explicit].

    Overall, I think that once a poll is called, the worst outcome is for it to fail to produce UI. This is the root of my major concern, which is a premature poll as a result of brexit, either directly or indirectly.

    Suppose we have a scenario whereby an ERG candidate becomes PM and decides to go for hard brexit. Suppose too that they decide that the NI border issue is to be settled by a border poll – effectively a choice between a sea border and a UI or a hard land border and NI remaining in the UK. Now to ensure the ‘right’ result for their DUP mates, of NI remaining in the UK with a hard land border, they might want to specify a 60% majority for UI as the threshold. How might this work out?

    The first thing would be that nationalists could [rightly] claim that this does not comply with the GFA, to which the response could be that the SoS might try to implement the border poll by an Order in Council, not relying on the 1998 legislation, but would probably find that there was no route to do it without primary legislation. So then there would be primary legislation and nationalists would call ‘foul’ at the 60% supermajority. And then the situation is set up for a debacle like the 1973 Border Poll.,_1973 refers.

    However, even if this scenario does not arise, I reckon that by so obviously supporting brexit, the DUP have alienated enough people that SF can stay out of Stormont of the back of DUP intransigence for however long NI will last, with the consequence that pressure may rise within NI to just have a border poll and be done with the UI question. A border poll at such a time would be premature both temporally and in terms of the maturity of the political process. I believe that a UI prospectus produced by an open process both sides of the border taking perhaps 5 years is essential to a good unification. Stormont being closed for the forseeable tends to preclude such a process, because if it is not running with a nationalist majority, then there is no NI authority for any process to produce an all-island UI prospectus.

  15. @ Oldnat

    “the re-instatement of national governments who collaborate closely together.”

    Sounds fine to me too :)

  16. Democracy in Hungary – to make the fake party clear:

    For example, a new party appeared a couple of months go. It targets the pensioners and full of former socialist party members. Fair enough. However, their leaflets (attached to a free newspaper) are printed by a Chinese garment trading company that doesn’t do printing. Who prints them and how it is financed ….

    Anyway, 40 parties submitted request to set up a PR list this year, so Hungarian voters will have to find their party on an A1 sheet.

  17. Lot of people worrying about Voter ID qualifications being used to disenfranchise people, disproportionately Labour voters. There’s a guardian article, which links to a letter signed by 50 academics, charities and civil society groups, calling on the government to rethink. Says that despite only 44 known cases.of electoral fraud, 7.5% of the electorate does not have ready access to photo ID – most commonly due to blindness and other disabilities.

    Since this would seemingly affect Labour voters disproportionately compared to Tories, I’ve heard a few people worrying about the Tories going down the US Republicans route of suppressing voter turnout to stay in power.

    Along with the boundary review, which would also provide a slight advantage to the Tories, this strategy could lead to a situation in a general election where Labour wins the popular vote by one or two percent but the Tories remain the largest party by seats – indeed theoretically could even be able to pick up seats. Is any serious research taking being done to study these impacts and where could I find them?

  18. @Jamesb – “Sport/recreational facilities are covered under a general block exemption even if they exceed the de minimis limit are they not?”

    I think there are some exclusions for sports facilities, the case I listed isn’t for a sports facility (eg where sports accounts for all/most of the use).

    @Somerjohn – HMG campaigned along with all the other heads of state to get the states aid rules relaxed. On this issue, HMG has actually been quite proactive.

    On the lottery, yes, it’s weird. I don’t know why it’s classified like this.

    An example of the pernicious effect of all this on the community sector can be found in the area of small scale renewables, again like a community centre putting PV panels on the roof.

    Pre Feed in Tariffs, your village hall could get a grant (lottery or wherever) to cover the cost of renewables. However, under the FiTs scheme, the approval process required by the EU led to an agreement with HMG that signing up for FiTs meant that benficiaries couldn’t also recieve government grants under the states aid scheme approval. Lottery money was included in this, so if the village hall got a lottery grant, it can’t receive FiTs.

    This made it very hard for community groups to install renewables, as most community groups don’t have spare capital for such things, even if the returns were good. As a result, many community venues missed out on the renewables revolution.

    Believe me – I’m not an anti European, but this stuff isn’t myth making. Here, they’ve got something badly wrong. The upsetting thing is that the outcomes are so petty and silly, yet so easy to solve, but the massive and highly inert structure of the EU prevents the solution. @Szygy says, smaller would be better in this case.

  19. TO

    “the SoS might try to implement the border poll by an Order in Council, not relying on the 1998 legislation, but would probably find that there was no route to do it without primary legislation.”

    My understanding (not always correct!) is that under direct rule, the UK Government governs NI via Orders in Council – which are primary legislation for the Six Counties.

    Maybe the international aspects of the GFA would make a difference?

  20. Maybe that should be “Orders of Council”.

    I’ve never understood the difference between them.

  21. @ TO – thank you for the detailed reply. The question was more about the inherent political risks in holding a 50%+1 poll and getting a ‘close’ outcome (as we’ve seen in IndyRef and Brexit). I’m not suggesting we rip up the aspects of the GFA that relate to how and when to call refs (although bringing other aspects of the GFA up to date might make sense)

    Sadly, LucidTalks haven’t polled on this issue for some time so we don’t know the appetite for a NI referendum or the likely outcome of one. Maybe its on day3 of their drip feeding of results but I doubt it, maybe next month?

  22. @Somerjohn – I’m afraid quoting HMG official guidance on polcy isn’t quite the same thing as demonstrating whether or not they’ve asked for changes to make the scheme better.

    Really – sometimes it is worth accepting that others have perhaps greater experience of certain areas and accepting that not everything in the EU is perfect. I would also stress – I have highlighted how states aids rules are very disruptive at the very small end. They are a sensible aid to competition, but the interpretations and lack of forward guidance make life very difficult for certain types of beneficiary.

    On another regulation issue, just to show my balance, here’s an example of where EU regulations can be helpful.

    A while ago I was asked to advise a group on building a multi use youth facility from recylced materials, with the group wanting to use tyres and rammed earth as a DIY build. We hit problems with the local authority and then the Environment Agency, who placed a series of obstacles in our way because we wanted to use ‘waste materials’. The claim was we needed to become registered as a waste carrier, and that had all manner of insurance implications, paperwork and for the type of group just made the project unworkable.

    However, I picked through EU waste regulations, and couldn’t find anything to stop us purchasing tyres on a commercial contract and then using them for building purposes, so long as we met building regs etc. If the tyres were sold to the group, with proper contract documents, then they aren’t a waste product. For example, you buy a can of baked beans. You are not deemed to be handling waste – until you eat the beans and throw away the can.

    In the end we ordered several hundred tyres with a specification that they were to have less than 1mm tread etc (whatever the road legal threshold was) which effectively meant we were ordering used tyres. We paid £1 total for them and that was that. The EA accepted this, largely because they couldn’t find a way through EU regulations to enforce their view that would stack up legally. It was all done very amicably, although they did ask me not to broadcast what was eventually agreed, so don’t tell anyone about this. _

    In this case, EU regs worked well, and helped me combat a less amenable HMG agency.

    From Britain Elects
    Westminster voting intention:
    CON: 43% (+1)
    LAB: 42% (-1)
    LDEM: 7% (-)
    GRN: 3% (+1)
    UKIP: 2% (-1)

    since this is a polling site, I thought I’d comment on the latest figures.

    Not much going on there…

    It will be interesting to see how Henry Bolton and his delightful girlfriend’s new Ona Nation party fare in their quest to split the UKIP vote.

    (I am seriously wondering why polling companies even report that level of support, would they do it for any other party? At what point does the time come to put them out of their self-inflicted misery and lump them permanently in with “others”?)

  24. oldnat: TO “the SoS might try to implement the border poll by an Order in Council, not relying on the 1998 legislation, but would probably find that there was no route to do it without primary legislation.”

    My understanding (not always correct!) is that under direct rule, the UK Government governs NI via Orders in Council – which are primary legislation for the Six Counties.

    Maybe the international aspects of the GFA would make a difference?

    I really am not certain on this, but I would think that, while the SoS could call a border poll under Direct Rule primary legislation, there would be no explicit power [unless the Direct Rule legislation had it included by some act of foresight]. And with no explicit power, the nationalists would cry ‘foul – what about the GFA?’. So to avoid any claim of bad faith under the GFA, if the SoS wanted a border poll outwith the GFA, they would have to do primary legislation for the specific poll required.

  25. oldnat: Maybe that should be “Orders of Council”.

    I’ve never understood the difference between them.

    I never knew there was a difference till you raised it. This explains that Orders in Council are made by the Privy Council including the Queen, whereas Orders of Council are made by the PC without the Queen. This explains the involvement of the Queen in Orders in Council, which is quite trivial.



    @”Coordination not centralisation.”

    Yes-and co-operation.

    I was reading something Somerjohn said to Alec :-

    @” But I see it as just one more level in the chain that goes individual-neighbourhood-parish-district-city-region-nation-continent. ”

    Its a nice idea-and you can add “the world ” to it. But every layer takes decision making -and accountability-further from the people.

    I mean -why did Italy note vote for a government of Europhile SocDems?. Why has Germany started voting in serious numbers for the far right ? These are rhetorical questions to anyone who troubles to read the analysis & polling. But they seem to be something with Juncker & co just want to wish away.

    Now that Merkel has a mandate she has put further reform of EU’s fiscal management as a priority.

    Lets wait & see whether Macron can persuade her to follow his prescription.

  27. TO

    Thanks for the in/of explanation.

    I’m not sure their has ever been any specific “Direct Rule legislation”. The use of Orders in Council as a constitutionally correct method of legislating for NI appears to be based on ancient monarchical power and the UK’s imperial tradition.

    Wiki says “Direct Rule did not mean that the people of Northern Ireland had no democratic say in how they were governed; like other parts of the United Kingdom, they elected (and still elect) members of parliament to the Parliament of the United Kingdom, to which the Northern Ireland Office is responsible.”

    So the DUP could express their views in the Chamber by screaming “No Surrender” at the SoS for NI. The joys of UK constitutional propriety!

  28. Leavers’ Love-In
    @ SomerJohn
    Skimming the posts, the sudden sonorous agreement between right & left leavers did seem a bit weird. They have linked arms on the barricades, defying the EU autocrats, etc. The talk is all of the democratic deficit.

    Meanwhile. in local news we learn that the London autocracy — the most centralized government in western Europe? – is in effect imposing yet another a pay cut on 5 million public sector workers & launching, re housing, yet another attack on local democarcy &accountability: which even the Tory local leaders think is absurd & wrong-headed. None of this is worth a mention — fighting the EU despots on the beaches is more important.
    All this is possible because the knuckle-dragging DUP prop up the government; this bizarre group, which seems to have lost interest in any democratic government in their own region, includes elected members who think, inter alia, that only homosexual men can contract aids & that there should be a GCSE in Creationism.

    There is an endless debate about the reform of the Eu & none about our own nation state. Oh well . .

  29. SYZYGY

    @”I propose the abandonment of the Euro and the re-instatement of national governments who colloborate closely together. When it comes to democracy, small is beautiful.”

    :-) :-) :-)

    Merkel & Macron are intent on devising the next phase of reform -but I don’t think it is going to be in that direction !!

    Macron has decreed the central institution is the Eurozone.

    So the task is Fiscal union to match their Monetary Union.

    Enter the usual tensions :-

    Fiscal Sovereignty & Monetary UNion.
    A Central Bank with no Central Treasury
    Failure to “converge” member economies leading to large debt imbalances -with no fiscal transfers or Debt Union.

  30. Robbie Alive

    “our own nation state”

    If the UK were such a state, perhaps such problems would not exist.

    Particularly in the context you were using the term, combining the two disconnected words was misleading?

  31. Well-I have just witnessed something extraordinary.

    Verhofstadt in front of Downing Street NOT talking about Cherries, NOT saying “we don’t know what you want” , NOT saying what we cannot have.

    He said- There is no present “architecture” for this sort of arrangement.

    I count that as a major step forward with this particular man.

    To me it just means they don’t have off the shelf boxes to fit what TM has described.

    I always feared this stage-but at least it is now a matter of -how can we make this work. -which-for Mr V is a step forward.

  32. To be fair @ Robbie Alive I said in my first post that it was UK govt policies that were much more significant than the outcome of the EU negotiations. I have no doubt that all sorts of ills will be wrongly ascribed to leaving the EU but I have always firmly believed that our govt could make a go of the economy if they adopted the necessary policies.

    However, in the case of the current govt, they do not seem to be adopting those sort of policies.

  33. “OLDNAT

    Scots has no standard orthography (as others created in the 18th/19th centuries).

    So you can spell it any way you like, as long as it is comprehensible.”

    I thought the whole idea was that it wasn’t – as that way it equates much better to listening to real-life conversation.


    “when back home we democratically decided we wanted off the Titanic?”


    There is no democracy involved when you deny me a vote.

    Oh, I can just about cope with what the likes of you have done to me. I will get by somehow.

    But that people like you strip my children of rights and freedoms they were born with, deny all of us votes because it’s a non-binding referendum, and then call it democracy.

    I will never forgive and I will never forget.


    You have the power, do what you want, I can’t stop you.

    But don’t call it “democracy”.

    It becomes democracy when you let people like me and my family vote. And once you do that you lose.

  36. Alec: Really – sometimes it is worth accepting that others have perhaps greater experience of certain areas and accepting that not everything in the EU is perfect.

    Really – I don’t think that everything in the EU is perfect and I do accept that in all areas there are people who have greater experience than me.

    But: you were answering my request for examples of EU regulations that had been imposed over the determined opposition of HMG.

    What you haven’t produced is any evidence of that determined opposition. Not just from the government, but from our hallowed, sovereign parliamentarians. Were there questions in the house, holding ministers to account for their failure to get our way? Were there any ministerial statements saying, “sorry, we tried our best but those [email protected] outvoted us?”

    Were our legion of assiduous (ha!) UKIP MEPs screaming blue murder. Were the DM and DT exposing Brussels steamrollering?

    If any of those things happened, they seem to have escaped Google’s attention.

    Or could it be that everybody was content to let it go through, accepting that the principle was fine and a bit of extra form filling by village hall committees wasn’t the end of the world?

    And, after all, if this is the most egregious example of blunderbuss Brussels in action that you can find, doesn’t that tell us something significant?

    “My view is that the EU needs to concentrate on improving its own citizens’ lot before worrying about the rest of the world,”

    I may be mistaking the criticism levelled at Poland,and Hungary is specifically to do with their resistance in accepting migrants or specific nationalities or cultures as migrants. My argument if for an EU migration policy (as I believe Juncke’s policy position on migration is intended to do) which is precisely aimed at improving and safeguarding the lot of the citizens of its member states, by recognising the pressue of intercontinental migration, its cause and its potential benefits.

  38. MARAAN: I will never forgive and I will never forget.

    Me neither

  39. RA

    I wonder does your critique of U.K. politics include Labours forced takeover of transport,power,water and of course Mr Corbyns threat to the press of “change is coming” should they win next time.
    Or maybe the increases in taxation as the above are paid for by the lease able to pay after Labour finally realise the rich can’t/won’t pay for everything.
    As you mention the DUP propping up the Tory government it’s likely the SNP will be propping a Labour government as they do at present in opposition , I suspect the SNP demands will be slightly more than the DUP’s pieces of silver should Labour get into power.
    It seems to me that the individuals freedom and the democratic process has more to fear from a Corbyn lead Labour Party especially with the likes of McDonnell,Watson,Abbot and Thornberry in the cabinet,and of course Labours shock troops led by the rather sinister Lansman and to keep the workers in line the lovable McCluskey.
    If that lot get there hands on the reins of power Mrs May and her bunch of children may actually not seem such a bad deal .
    All a matter of perspective of course.

  40. Colin (quoting Syzygy): When it comes to democracy, small is beautiful.”

    Really? So you’d like to see your District Council deciding on overseas aid policy? Your parish council deciding whether we should leave NATO? Your county council deciding which side of the road people should drive on in Ruralshire?

    It seems so blindingly obvious that different policy areas need to be decided at different levels.

    And that includes continental level: do you think countries around us should decide how much pollution they pour into the seas and atmosphere we share? Do you think some countries should allow their hunters to blast every migrating songbird out of the air, while we assiduously protect them and wonder why none are arriving?

    There are plenty of cases where joint action is far more effective than everybody doing their own thing. Small can be beautiful, but it can also be bloomin’ hopeless.

    Anyway, I have a very early plane to catch from an airport 2.5 hours’ drive away, so I’m off for an early night. Some, I’m sure, will be relieved to hear that!

  41. Senedd passes proceeding with Welsh Continuity Bill : 44 votes to 10.

  42. @Somerjohn – you are falling back on the definition of ‘determined opposition’, however you want to define that.

    I’ve given you an example of a case where every single one of the elected heads of state of the 28 mmber states have expressly asked the commission to take measures they are all agreed on to alleviate a common problem, where the commission refused to act.

    Frankly, I don’t care whether or not this qualifies as ‘determined opposition’, nor am I bothered whether or not this opposition came from the UK only. I have pointed out one areas where the commission is uncontrolled by democratic institutions, and for the matter in debate, I feel that is sufficient.

  43. Incidentally, John Redwood works for my stockbroker as a “strategic adviser”.

    His email to me with investment advice was strangely at odds with what he says in the HoC.

    Two words: “disaster capitalism”.

    Nothing wrong with that as a tactic of course, he didn’t make the rules of the game. But pushing the hard Brexit case in the HoC when you have personally bet very heavily on it regardless of the cost to the country…

  44. @Maraan

    John Redwood – the saviour of Welsh Devolution with his unique rendition of “Hen wlad fy nhadau”.

  45. @Sam

    Thanks for the link to Sir Harry’s lecture. A fascinating trip through the world of cortisol levels and physical health.

    I am not sure that the points being made are necessarily applicable to the debate we were having. And even within the analysis there are some interesting questions (for example, why does Glasgow have such different outcomes for the health of the lower classes than Liverpool or Manchester?, or what is it about socialism that caused a massive jump in health outcomes for Eastern Europeans when the wall came down?)

    There’s no doubt that negative outcomes can be “passed down” from one generation to the next, and the effects of inconsistent and unstable life experience in children on cortisol levels (whilst an extraordinary discovery, scientifically) matches my own observations.

    But the message isn’t as simple as “poverty = bad health outcomes”. It seems to be more “stability and consistency = good health outcomes”.

    There’s no doubt that poverty can cause instability, but it doesn’t always. Working in a minimum wage job, trapped in a boring but non-confrontational marriage, and renting the same small home for 40 years would, on Sir Harry’s analysis, be a relatively healthy way to bring up a child.

  46. Turk

    “It seems to me that the individuals freedom and the democratic process has more to fear from a Corbyn lead Labour Party especially with the likes of McDonnell,Watson,Abbot and Thornberry in the cabinet,and of course Labours shock troops led by the rather sinister Lansman and to keep the workers in line the lovable McCluskey.
    If that lot get there hands on the reins of power Mrs May and her bunch of children may actually not seem such a bad deal .”

    Might I suggest you give your monotonous, prejudiced, right-wing view-from-afar a rest for, say, at least a couple of years? Maybe just from this site?

  47. Jones in Bangor

    I remember that Redwood incident – certainly unique!

    and while we’re on language –


    OK banter, but my grandson proudly produced the book (Oi Goat) that he’d been given at school for World Book Day.

    It rhymes animals and clothes : cat – hat : goat – coat etc. When it came to llama – armour, he and his 3 year old sister chorused “that doesn’t rhyme!” and, of course to many English speakers it doesn’t.

    But to the author (who obviously doesn’t know her “r” from her “a”) assumed that because it rhymed in her local patois, it must rhyme everywhere.

    It’s actually quite hard to explain to young kids that some people talk differently, and it’s just different – not wrong.

  48. And more on language from “Soft Border Patrol in NI – “How to tell the difference between a Northern Irish cow and a cow from the Republic of Ireland?”

  49. DANNY

    This blog post suggests there is a May strategy to produce a soft or softer Brexit.

  50. SAM

    Ta for your post to me.

1 31 32 33 34