This week’s YouGov results for the Sunday Times are now up here.

The topline voting intention figures are CON 35%, LAB 41%, LDEM 9%, UKIP 7%. The six point Labour lead is unusual, typically YouGov have been showing Labour leads of around 9-10 points for the last few months. In the absence of any big announcements or developments that could explain a big drop, I would urge caution… sure, it could be the sign of some Conservative recovery, but just as likely it is random sample error. The rest of the survey concentrates on the economy, wealth taxes, Nick Clegg, Heathrow and honours.

28% of people think the government’s economic policy is basically right (including almost three-quarters of Tory supporters), 56% think it is basically wrong. People unhappy with the current strategy though are divided over what changes they would make – 24% of them would like bigger spending cuts to fund tax cuts, 21% would like the opposite – tax increases to reduce spending cuts. 17% would like more short-term borrowing to reduce spending cuts, 4% would like more short-term borrowing to fund tax cuts. 35% say they would like something else or that they don’t know.

Turning to the question of a wealth tax, 57% of people support the principle of such a tax, with 29% opposed. The most popular cut off point for a wealth tax is £1 million (supported by 34%). 19% would support a lower threshold than this, 35% a higher one. There is a noticable regional pattern here, with people in London much more likely to oppose a wealth tax and supporting higher thresholds if there is one.

Arguments about taxes on the rich damaging the country do not have much cut through. While 66% people think that there is some risk that high taxes on the wealthy will drive them abroad, two-thirds of them still think it is the right thing to do under the present circumstances. 48% of people think that higher taxes on the rich will raise more money even taking into account this risk (31% disagree). Overall 39% of people think higher taxes on the wealthy would help an economic recovery compared to 18% who think it would damage the chances of an economic recovery (31% think it will make no real difference).

Moving onto questions about Nick Clegg, 17% of people see him as an asset to the government compared to 58% who think he is a liability. These figures are almost identical to George Osborne (16% asset, 58% liability) putting the two of them as the lowest rated of the politicians YouGov asked about. The most positively rated by some distance was William Hague – 43% of people think he is an asset, compared to 29% who think he is a liability.

30% of people say that Clegg should remain as leader, compared to 40% who think he should be replaced. However, asked whether they think the Liberal Democrats would do better at the next election if they keep Clegg or replace him only 18% think they’d do better with Clegg, compared to 53% who think they would do better if they changed. Amongst the Liberal Democrat party’s own supporters 60% think that the party should keep Nick Clegg… but only 31% think that the party would do better with Clegg at the next election. 47% of Lib Dem supporters think they would do better with someone else.

Amongst those who think the Lib Dems would do better if they changed 28% think they would do best under Vince Cable, far above all the other Lib Dem politicians in the question but less than those who said None or Don’t know (43%). A significant part of questions like this are simple name recognition – Vince is a very well known politician, while other serious contenders like Tim Farron are very little known outside the circles of we political anoraks!

Turning to the subject of Heathrow, 35% of people support Heathrow expansion, 32% oppose it and 33% don’t know. However, when asked specifically about whether David Cameron should keep his manifesto pledge on Heathrow only 19% of people think he should break it and go ahead with Heathrow expansion. 35% think he should rule it out and 32% think he should reconsider the issue at the next election.

Finally on the honours systems, people think too many awards go to figures from entertainment (69% too many), senior civil servants (61% too many), national politicians (67% too many), local politicians (48% too many), sportsmen and women (39% too many) and business leaders (37% too many). They would like to see more awards go to people from charities (71% not enough), scientists and academics (64% not enough) and people working in the public services (66% not enough).

187 Responses to “YouGov/Sunday Times – CON 35, LAB 41, LD 9, UKIP 7”

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  1. @Amber.

    I have bets for next leader for their respective parties on Hague, Cable and Fallon, all at much better odds than currently available. I suppose that means that 67% (or arguably 75%) of me agrees with you.

    But we shouldn’t dismiss Cable’s chances – he has favourable polling amongst LD members and also a favourable potential polling impact on the wider electorate, his remarks to date are a clear signal that he might fancy his chances and he hardly seems content with the direction in his leader has led him to date.

  2. @ Turk

    I think the ‘man or mouse’ comments this week have been far more damaging than the gossip about fall outs between Balls and Milliband. Not to say the Balls/Milliband might not escalate but the week we are looking at I can’t see any reason for a swing to Tories.

    @ Howard

    Not sure quite what you were saying. I accept the point about the distinction between Green belt/Green land however this doesn’t change the feeling that wherever Green land disappears on a local basis there are voting repercussions locally (or nationally) and that many Tories appear to be just as pro green land as Labour are. Certainly the DT is campaigning to keep Green land.

    If you mean that people will vote on a different issue to what they believe it to be I disagree. If you mean that local concils might get the blame for national legislation then you could be right.

  3. @Martyn

    Ejection of the LibDems in parliament would quickly be followed by, but perhaps not in this order…

    1) The forced resignation of Nick Clegg.
    2) A sounding out by Labour of those who will directly support a no confidence motion, and any potential party defectors in the LibDems.
    3) A motion of no confidence moved to a vote.

    2 has probably already been happening since the NHS vote, and probably increased after the House of Lords vote. I’m somewhat surprised there hasn’t already been a parliamentary defection.

  4. @Shev11

    Well, Old Nat understood my point. I was trying to say that as, in this case, people are confused as to what is meant (and I note that you too conflated Green Belt and “Green land” by giving the latter an initial capital letter (there is no such planning concept, capital letters or otherwise, in England anyway).

    Voters do not understand specific legal definitions (why should they, despite the fact that ”ignorance of the law is no excuse”) so political debate is dominated by such ignorance.

    I don’t think GO is as astute as people here give him credit for, but he does have a shark-like ability to concentrate on the job in hand. He knows that the voting public are interested in property acquisition and profit making and anyone who has noted all the property and antiques programmes on daytime TV (evening TV even) will have an inkling of this fact. Thus his proposal to ease the inheritance tax rules when in opposition, that sunk Brown and Darling and from which they hardly recovered.

    He has nouse for the nature of the English public.

  5. Amber

    Your assumption is delightfully naive! :-)

  6. @ Phil

    So why Labour has left the field clear for a wealth tax to be seen purely as a LD policy leaves me dumbfounded, whether or not it’s the explanation for this poll. I’m just hoping that this acts as a wake up call for Miliband and (in particular) Balls.
    Labour still carry the scars from too many battles regarding taxes which are initially seen as a tax on the wealthy being spun as a ‘tax-grab’ on ‘hard working people, who over generations, have gradually worked & saved their way to comfortable middleclass prosperity, only to have their just rewards confiscated by a spendthrift state’.

    And Labour have seen this all to often – the LibDems trying to outflank Labour on the left. Never before have we been able to say: You’re in government, Mr Clegg, let’s see you actually DO it.

    So we’ll just sit quietly on the side-lines, ignore the early approval polling & see how far the Libdems are prepared to actually go with this idea. Not very far, seems a fairly safe assumption at this point in time.

  7. Howard

    In Scotland, the purpose of a Green Belt is to

    * direct planned growth to the most appropriate locations and support regeneration,
    * protect and enhance the quality, character, landscape setting and identity of towns and cities, and
    * protect and give access to open space within and around towns and cities.
    The purpose of a Green Belt is as a strategic planning tool, not to protect natural or scenic heritage. Other designations are specifically targeted at achieving those aims.

    I presume it is similar in England? (Incidentally, I couldn’t have specified the purpose of Scottish Green Belts without looking it up!)

  8. This does seem to contradict the three 12% leads we have recently, as well as all the other polling. Then again it is not necessarily such bad news for EM: it still points to a big Labour majority win. While the Conservatives are at this level (35%) or less, and his party is 40+, no other result seems plausible.

    perhaps that 15% Labour lead is still there waiting to be found.

  9. @ Howard

    Understood. In my case (not making a political point) I don’t really differentiate and blame whoever I can whenever ANY green land (note the correction- lol) is built on.

    Currently in Wigan they have a public consultation based on the ‘need’ to build more houses and all involving either Green Belt or green land because of apparent lack of alternatives. Not only am I blaming the council but blaming national laws too as they require so many houses to be built, however it will be local councillors who are at risk from losing my vote if it goes ahead because they are the ones making the ultimate decision.

    There was a case in my old local ward in Kingston where Lib Dem councillors cut down some trees (not personally obviously!) and lost their seats next time around for the first time in about 25 years. So there are repercusions but I think you are right that it is not an obvious vote loser if it means cheaper housing/improved economy or whatever, it just means the blame may end up elsewhere from the people who devised the original changes because people will not make the correct call on who is to blame.

    Indeed the modern trend from all political parties is not so much to devolve power as to devolve blame.

  10. @Amber

    Must policies can be spun as other things than they are. Especially leftist ones, by a overwhelmingly right-wing press. It’s quite an achievement, but you’re coming off more spineless than the Liberals!

  11. Ambitious plans for a four-runway airport near Heathrow are to be submitted to the Government as a solution to the aviation crisis that has divided the coalition…Sites in Oxfordshire and Berkshire could potentially be in the frame for the airport, estimated to cost £40bn to £60bn….

    …It is unclear if Heathrow would survive should the plans be accepted, though it is thought the two could complement each other in the first years of the new airport’s operations.

    An industry source said: “What this idea does is put people’s pipedreams, like ‘Boris Island’, to one side and shifts the political debate away from Heathrow, to work on something that is based on properly grounded infrastructure requirements.”
    Exclusive for the Indie. Read it & ‘get’ that the greenbelt thing likely isn’t about housing; it may well be about plonking a 4 run-way airport of the little greenbelt which separates London & e.g. Oxfordshire.

  12. amber

    that smells like a massive vote loser in the South for the Tories.

  13. @ Craig

    It’s quite an achievement, but you’re coming off more spineless than the Liberals!
    Yes, spineless; & cynical too, in this instance at least.

    This is Clegg pulling the pin from a political grenade, throwing it towards Labour & yelling, “Catch!”; the sensible course of action, in such circumstances, is to let it sail on by.

  14. @ Nick P

    I suggested, somewhat colourfully, that the greenbelt thing could well be a massive turn-off for voters. I got moderated. ;-)

  15. Alec

    Peter Cranie doesn’t sound like a candidate for the leadership of the English Green Party that you would support! :-)

  16. @Amber.
    I don’t think it’s anything the grenade you make out. You can tell by the questions the Times were not only trying to work out its popularity, but gently remind people of their arguments of how damaging, uncompetitive and how little it’d eventually take, and gage with that said, the support it garners – and from the results, and every poll I’ve seen, the wealth taxes receive support.

  17. Been out flogging my unwilling and unprepared body round a 10k race today, so I haven’t kept up with the chit chat.

    Has anyone mentioned the Sunday Times leader today? ” This Is Not A Serious Government” as a headline above an excoriating condemnation of Clegg’s immaturity and Cameron and Osborne’s inadequacies.

    It feels like a seminal moment, when the right-of-centre media establishment finally snaps and announces that the current lot ate simply not up to the historic duty charged to them.

    I’ve been saying for 2 years that we were replaying the mid 70s. This is another brick in the edifice of that argument. A Government, riven by internal dissent, immobilised by its own inadequacies. Battered by the economic situation it inherited and made worse. And finally, inevitably seen as woefully incapable of rising to the task of dealing with the problems facing the country.

    This is getting deadly serious for the Tories. They struggled back to being seen as potentially competent under Cameron after a generation of being utterly unelectable. And that image of competence is now evaporating to the point that a wholehearted supporter like the ST is publicly eviscerating them. How do they ever get a reputation for competence back?

  18. @Amber
    “Labour still carry the scars from too many battles regarding taxes…..”(etc)

    All the more reason then for Labour to choose to define its stance on taxation on issues where it is in line with the overwhelming popular will (e.g, 50p tax rate, wealth taxes) rather than to fight battles on grounds of the coalition’s choosing.

    “the sensible course of action, in such circumstances, is to let it sail on by”
    That is precisely what I’m worried about – because Clegg and the LDs have to date made the wealth tax their policy, Labour will somehow contrive to come out against it either by default or overtly.

    The sensible move would instead be use an opposition day motion to back the principle of taxation on wealth in terms highly critical of the government’s lack of action. Moves it to the top of the political agenda, and really puts the LDs on the spot.

  19. @ Phil & Craig

    The sensible move would instead be use an opposition day motion to back the principle of taxation on wealth in terms highly critical of the government’s lack of action. Moves it to the top of the political agenda, and really puts the LDs on the spot.
    Good point. Perhaps Labour should catch ‘the grenade’ & try to throw it back before it explodes. It’s not the easy option, it could blow up in our face, but it is an opportunity to do some damage to our opponents.

  20. The green belt designation has two purposes. By the way it is an area of land, defined with boundaries in the Local Plan, so that we all know where it is.

    The first purpose is to prevent urban sprawl. The second is to prevent the coalescence of settlements.

    The designations do not prevent review and subsequent amendment, so that there is no permanent sacrosanct condition.

    Say you have a city with a large town nearby. An example would be Gloucester and Cheltenham. Each settlement has (had) a separate character and raison d’etre.

    So there is a Green Belt between the two. If one day, it was decided under review of the Local Plans, that the whole area had become somewhat homogenous and that no one gave a fig anymore for the separate identity of the two, and that above all, there was such a need for extra housing that one could not find anywhere else to put it than in the GB, then that’s curtains for the GB.

    I note ON’s research on the Scottish equivalent, which is why the above refers to England and Wales.

    You will note that such questions would be perhaps more sensibly examined at a larger geographical area than the local area, which is one of the reasons regional planning was advocated.

    I won’t expand on that subject but I do think such issues are of minimal interest to voters and am thus surprised why anyone would think they were.


    In UK politics, that the Tories and their coalition partners have a poor reputation for competence seems an unanswerable case.

    Still, the polls don’t seem to reflect any wide opinion that Labour are competent either – simply less incompetent.

    That might win Labour one election, before being rejected for their incompetence again, and a marginally less incompetent Tory government returning etc etc etc.

    Seems a rather sad prospect.

  22. Good Evening All, after a busy day.

    ALEC. Thanks.

    AMBER and Nick P. I actually still think that Labour is heading for defeat, and that the Lib Dems, sadly for the good men and women who support them, are heading for very low GE results.

  23. Howard

    That sounds pretty similar to the situation in Scotland.

  24. @Amber

    If the Green Belt around London was sacrosanct, the M25 would never have been built. That’s just for starters.

    My CPRE background teaches me that developers need that all-important ‘change of use’ approval. Imagine how much money is to be made by building houses on Heathrow to finance the plonking of a big airfield on farmland further north west.

    I expect the HS2 will have a convenient station constructed next to it.

    I think it might go down well with voters actually. We need a poll!

  25. @Howard

    “I doubt whether one person in ten knows what Green Belt means and what are the planning rules are that apply”

    As a past practitioner and an current academic in this and related fields I would go along with this.

    Furthermore anyone who has the *slightest* understanding of the town and country planning system knows it has never been the existence of the planning system itself that has held back economic growth and regeneration. Rather it is the objections that individuals and communities raise to development that slows down or impedes development taking place- along with the various drives at various periods over the last 50 years to ‘democratise’ the system.

    Moreover the issue essentially is: when you regulate the use of land to achieve a balance between a variety of often conflicting goals (social, economic, environmental, infrastructural)- something that *only* the state can accomplish BTW- just how much influence over the final decision- and how long it takes to reach it- do you give the local community (and powerful or articulate local individuals)?

    Indeed a related notion here is that ‘Localism’ (so championed by the coalition in their first 18 months but disappearing from trace these last economically difficult 9 months) in reality more often than not actually means ‘Not In My Back Yard’- as witnessed by this hilarious piece from 24th August:

    The Telegraph and the whole range of other organisations who successfully campaigned to have the original NPPF drastically scaled back will no doubt kick off their new campaign this week in response to what is going to become the ‘Economic Development Bill’.

    If Labour are clever IMHO they can take a middle- dare I say- third way between untrammelled development achieved via an eviscerated land use regulation system on the one hand; and ludicrous notions that we must not use up a single square metre of what is currently zoned green or that we should not have any more airport capacity built in the leafy blue rinse south east.


    “Have the LDs done anything in the past week that might cause support on the left to reengage?”/ “So why Labour has left the field clear for a wealth tax to be seen purely as a LD policy leaves me dumbfounded”

    Lib Dem YouGov numbers over the past week (last night’s/ today’s poll last)

    10, 10, 9, 10, 9


    Absolutely NO indication of any ‘left swing’ to LDs at all since Cleggs rather suspect pre conference Dennis Healey (vintage 1976) chatter. In fact the beneficiaries in this poll (in terms of recent YG shares) are the Tories….. ;-) But- really- we all know this is either m.o.e or an outlier.

    “All the more reason then for Labour to choose to define its stance on taxation on issues where it is in line with the overwhelming popular will (e.g, 50p tax rate, wealth taxes”

    Whilst I agree that the 50p tax rate should have been both retained and decreed permanent until the fiscal situation has been improved- there is no significant longitudinal polling evidence that a specific extra ‘soak-the-rich-until-their-pips-squeak’ “wealth tax” has consistent majority support. In the heat of an election campaign such hostages to fortune- eagerly adopted in midterm on the basis of a few polls- can become millstones.

    In any case the last thing Labour now needs is to adopt now is a leftist platform- that is surely easily the most simplest and effective way to hand largest party status at the next inevitably hung parliament (2013-2015) to the Tories. The Social Democracy so hated by so many ‘Labour’ posters on here will IMO be the manner by which EdM hangs onto most of the defecting yellows from 2010- and possibly also wins over some non aligned voters who gave Nick or Dave the benefit of their doubt vote last time out.

    Someone said at the time of the (Blairite) Cruddas being appointed Labour policy chief: ‘new labour values but in a modern setting’.

    I’d go along with that.

  26. OldNat

    I’ve said before that the 1970s analogy extends to a Leader of Opp widely seen as unelectable, with a weird appearance and voice. But who sniffed the wind that an epochal shift in people’s attitude to the governing philosophy of the past generation was occurring, and positioning themselves to take advantage of it.

    And to extend the analogy, the Nats misread the tea leaves and overplayed their hand in the 70s too ;)


    “In any case the last thing Labour now needs is to adopt now is a leftist platform”

    Maybes Aye, maybes Naw.

    Gaining a reputation for competence is, however, something that all UK parties need to gain.


    Political parties frequently misread the tea leaves!

    It may well be that there is “an epochal shift in people’s attitude to the governing philosophy of the past generation” coming, which sees philosophical positions taking precedence over managerial competence, that I can’t see.

    What are you suggesting this is?

  29. !

    Press preview just started on [Sky]

    Telegraph main headline tomorrow:

    “Osborne in new assault on green belt”


    Good link. Ta.

  31. RobS

    A fascinating theme and a very concisely accurate statement of the issue at the core of the US Election. There is a crucial decision point coming over there in 2 months.

    Yet the article is ruined by silly, lightweight comments like this.
    “The modern Left seems intolerant of financial speculators and—in Britain particularly—Old Etonians and dastardly Liberals. Were these commentators consistent in their fury, they would hate Keynes too ”

    That is a rather stupid comment. It assumes that The Left is some monolithic entity, enslaved by ideology and class bigotry. It is noteworthy that the author mentions the Occupy movement (as if that were representative of The Left).

    Personally, I see no problem whatsoever with embracing Keynes the insightful genius who shone a light on the mechanics of Depressions and pointed the way to avoid or emerge from them, whilst believing that we can and should move beyond an era in which our leaders were intensely relaxed about financial barrow boys making themselves obscenely rich.

    If the author had bothered to read The General Theory, he might have found that Keynes himself had very similar views. Which is a very obvious reason why he is so viscerally hated by the Republicans and the new Tory right.

  32. On the wealth tax/inheritance tax thing.

    Yes it’s true that the LDs advocating wealth tax undercuts Labour on a leftie issue, but it is not so easy for Labour to respond. If LDs pick up some votes from Labour as a result, Labour can’t just counter by mirroring the policy as it’ll cost them votes in the centre. A case of robbing Peter to pay Paul. We saw the impact of the advocacy of the opposite kind of policy – cutting inheritance tax. There are a lot of baby-boomers with a few quid, and their offspring would like a share of the loot too.

    Liberals no longer have much cred. advocating leftie issues anyway, given their actions in government. Lib Dem policies are just noise now, until such time as they actually start delivering. If the Tories let them of course. And even if there was a wealth tax, people might wonder what it might be used for… better services, or to fund greater privatisation a la free schools and NHS…

    That’s the additional problem for the Lib Dems… even if they get a policy through, it can get co-opted for other purposes or sabotaged by their partners. Especially since their partners know the Lib Dems were so desperate to remain in government at any cost… They get a pupil premium but there are cuts to education elsewhere. THey get income tax thresholds upped, but again with the other related cuts. They get the AV referendum but… well we all know how helpful Tories were on that.

  33. OldNat

    I assume you’re playing dumb to wind me up? But I’ll take the bait anyway.

    Thatcher’s genius was to see the crumbling of the post-War Keynesian consensus, and to position herself to become the beneficiary. And she wasn’t rewarded for it as LoO. Remember that as late as Autumn 78, a significant majority of Tory supporters stated in polls that they would prefer Heath as leader. THAT is how useless and unelectable she seemed.

    And now? Well, as I’ve just said to RobS, a platform that proposed reining in the unfettered excesses of the financial and media sectors over the last 30 years, and proposed sharing out the benefits of growth across society rather than concentrating them in the top few percent of earners would, I suspect, have considerable appeal. In which case, being ahead if the game in pointing out the case for responsible capitalism, for reining in the press, for supporting the squeezed middle may, with hindsight, appear to be very clever politics by Miliband. Even if there are plenty in his own party who would eject him at the drop of a hat.


    I wasn’t denying that Thatcher saw a way to grab much of the working class vote in the affluent areas of England, and pushed Labour into long years of opposition.

    Blair simply re-branded Labour to continue the same policies, and gained much support from (what I think is termed) the “lower middle class” in those self same affluent areas.

    What is surprising is that you seem to see “sharing out the benefits of growth across society rather than concentrating them in the top few percent of earners” as a radical new direction of politics. :-)

    However, you may well be correct that in the comparatively small number of constituencies which decide UK elections, such thoughts from Labour might well be seen as being new thinking.

    You don’t see the irony?

  35. A couple of interesting articles that caught my eye in today’s Observer [snip]

    Firstly, a piece from Matthew Taylor, a former Blairite adviser, where he discusses prevailing attitudes to the educational system in this country and our predilection to denigrate it. He argues that “our schools are being undermined by a constant rhetoric of decline” and he believes strongly that “we should stop running down the manifest improvements in the country’s education system.” This is something I’ve said many times on these very pages but Taylor prosecutes the argument much better than I. “The declinist narrative”, as he terms it, is succinctly described by education expert Professor Stephen Ball as “the mobilising myth of education in crisis”. He bemoans the fact that “the central feature of political discourse about English education is the deeply held assumption that educational standards are falling and that we are lagging further behind the rest of the world.”

    It’s a balanced article, and talks about some of the weaknesses inherent in an inevitably imperfect system, bit it’s overriding message is one that I think is right; we ignore so much that is good about our educational system and fail to acknowledge how much it has improved since the days when we educated an elite very well but consigned great chunks of our young people to an educational cul-de-sac. Some escaped, many didn’t and it amounted to a criminal squandering of talent and potential.

    The second Observer article that interested me was the one on Dutch politics that suggested growing electoral support for a radical left party in that country. Following on from Syriza’s strong showing in the recent Greek elections, and Hollande’s presidential win in France, followed by the Socialists victory in the Assembly elections, the Dutch Socialist Party (SP) could be on course to become the largest force in Parliament in the forthcoming elections. Like Syriza, and to some extent Hollande, they are running on a stridently anti austerity platform and, should they succeed, the political complexion of the Eurozone will change another significant notch.

    Fascinating stuff and I await Virgilio’s next post with great interest!

  36. OldNat

    I’m taking no more baits, so you can stop right there, you cantankerous Old Nat…

    Suffice to say that I agree entirely with your first two paragraphs. And it is the crumbling of that two-generation long consensus that opens up possibilities on the Left.

    And when the sensible folk of Scotland decide, as they surely will, that they can do more for the common good by sticking with their English comrades, we’ll have an even better chance of putting the consensus of the past 30-odd years to bed ;)

  37. @Rob Sheffield

    What you and I don’t know is whether the (still very reluctant) Labour waverers that the LDs may have picked up were offset by losses from those LDs who identify more with the right and were prompted to move across to the Cons. Net result: Con up, Lab down, LD unchanged. So the LD polling in isolation tells you next to nothing.

    “In any case the last thing Labour now needs is to adopt now is a leftist platform”
    Judging from your post and general track record here, I suspect you really mean something more akin to
    ” In any case the last thing Labour now needs is to adopt now is any leftist policy on any issue whatsoever”.

    My position is more subtle and pragmatic than that. I think there is a balance to be struck. There is a difference between adopting a position on the left on a specific policy issue and a wholesale “leftist platform” as you put it.

    Adopt positions on the left where they are popular – and the principle of a wealth tax clearly is, despite your comment, just as is the 50p rate. I wonder quite what sort of polling would convince you if the current (and earlier) YouGov data doesn’t. In this case it’s an open goal, waiting to be scored to put flesh on the bone of Miliband’s so far pretty tepid attempts to capture the mood of public anger at the culture of greed that is being allowed to prevail in the face of unprecedented austerity.

    But I’m being pragmatic because I’m quite prepared to accept the retention of New Labour principles in other policy areas where they remain consistent with the public mood.

    “The Social Democracy so hated by so many ‘Labour’ posters on here…”
    Why not name names? I suggest that it’s more the case that so many Labour (without inverted commas) posters on here don’t consider New Labour and Social Democracy to be one and the same.


    Nice to see that you are advocating more of the “common good” by advocating that we should merge with the USA and provide a few left-wing voices and votes to their debate.

    That was what you meant, wasn’t it?

    I’m glad that you aren’t some kind of narrow British Nationalist, who is reluctant to sacrifice the widespread Social Democrat consensus in your country (Hah!) because it might occasionally have some minimal effect on your primarily right wing partner.

    That clearly would be better for the common good, don’t you think?. After all, what is the possible harm that could be done to us because the larger group of people decided that Mitt Romney was the better political leader to make decisions for us?

  39. @Rob Sheffield

    Maybe it’s thanks to ‘social democrats’ like yourself who are that afraid of being left-wing and have capitulated nearly everything that’s allowed the right-wing to march ever further to the right where they have the luxury of looking to the idealists, while the Left is left nostalgic at the thought they could still have decent paid jobs and a welfare state?


    Why the assumption that it’ll be a net vote-loser, when polling shows it receives popular support? Surely the fact that it receives such support suggests it is the centre? The amount of millionaires voting Labour who would be affected enough to go elsewhere would be a small loss when compared to the amount of working class and middle class voters wanting to take less of the burden of austerity it’d attract?

  40. CRAIG

    “The amount of millionaires voting Labour who would be affected enough to go elsewhere would be a small loss when compared to the amount of working class and middle class voters wanting to take less of the burden of austerity it’d attract?”

    However, the reality of political funding in most “democracies” is that the rich can buy political parties by funding them, since the extent to which they are funded by low/middle income supporters is very different from the days of mass membership parties.

  41. Don’t I know it, Nat.

    Labour shouldn’t need to rely on that, given its ties to the unions, but given the latter are getting increasingly mutinous at being f’d over, and Labour are itching for more money and donors, that’s probably why it won’t be adopted.

    But I’ve still difficulty believing it’s a vote loser or it’d repel the centre.

  42. Leftylanmpton

    Whilst I go along with your description of the US Presidential election as a real choice and that there is some oversimplification in this blog entry I think you are too harsh on it in terms of some of the basic essentials it espouses.

    The essential point seems to me to be that these two economists/ political economists have become totems of the ‘left’ and of the ‘right’ in a way that both of them would be distinctly uncomfortable with were they alive now. I think that is bang on the money.

    Keynes was never a man of the left if we are to be intellectually and philosophically honest. Centre left…perhaps. Hayek was essentially an anarcho-capitalist libertarian who would make Ron Paul look like a centre rightist!

    In terms of ‘occupy’- I think both the fringe 99%ers (sic) themselves and those on the left/ far left who have fallen over themselves when spying a potential new ‘mass movement’ (sic encore) would define themselves as ‘of the left’. My main critique of deploying the ‘occupy’ movement in this blog entry would be that- just like the late 90’s ‘anti globalisation movement’- it has essentially died a death. It is irrelevant. Even in the US Presidential election let alone in the UK/ Europe.


    “The left and the right in the Netherlands are coming at the traditionally pro-European centrist politicians from both sides”

    – it would appear that the minority left party in Holland is up in the polls due to adopting an anti Internationalist Euro-sceptic platform which means its nicking voters from the Dutch far right party !!

    Though of course…

    “Smits, like many other business leaders, would not be especially alarmed by having Socialists in the government. As a pragmatist, he cannot imagine that his country’s politicians would truly jeopardize the euro after the election”

  43. @Craig


    Why the assumption that it’ll be a net vote-loser, when polling shows it receives popular support?

    Surely the fact that it receives such support suggests it is the centre? The amount of millionaires voting Labour who would be affected enough to go elsewhere would be a small loss when compared to the amount of working class and middle class voters wanting to take less of the burden of austerity it’d attract?


    I didn’t assume it would be a net vote loser. I was just pointing out you can’t assume it would necessarily be a net gain. A lot would depend in practice on how it played in the marginals, and I would expect Labour would have done some analysis on this.

    The additional problem of such taxes is the perception of the thin end of the wedge… that people lower down the wealth scale may be next. In any event, if wealth taxes include assets like property, there may be quite a few of them.

  44. CRAIG

    I think Labour has a particular problem with Union funding nowadays.

    In much of the 20th century, lots of workers in the private sector were unionised. Now the unions are predominantly public sector – ie their income is indirectly funded by the state.

    Consequently, they can be seen as being particularly partial in trying to influence the distribution of state expenditure.

    While I remain reluctant to go down the road of state funding for political parties, my resistance to it is weakening as I consider the alternatives in today’s world.

  45. Very interesting to watch the build up to Cameron’s first major reshuffle. Oddly enough, it doesn’t seem likely to actually be a big reshuffle. The top names have publicly said they are not moving, which rather flags up Cameron’s desperate weakness as PM.

    Allied to this, we are also building for a big relaunch, with talk of all kinds of growth measures (again!). There doesn’t seem to be anything new or imaginative, and it seems wearily reminiscent in many ways of the dog days of the Major and Brown administrations. This is quite astonishing, as we’ve only had this lot for a couple of years, so to achieve this level of dither and indecision so quickly is a remarkable achievement.

    Someone mentioned the ST editorial today, which sounds genuinely damaging for Cameron if it is a sign of the mood turning, but everything seems to have changed. I still think the July PBR figures seem to have burst the bubble of government competence. Seeing the government fail on their central objective, from which all bad things flowed, was highly destructive.

  46. @Phil

    “Adopt positions on the left where they are popular – and the principle of a wealth tax clearly is, despite your comment, just as is the 50p rate.”

    Nothing wrong with populism- as you advocate here. Only that- as said- there is no longitudinal evidence that ‘soak-the-rich’ special taxes and surcharges have popular support. You might wish they do but sadly wishing does not make it so (neither does today’s poll).

    Whereas a progressive tax system with incremental changes / increases as income grows does have longitudinal popular support. Hence my support for retaining the 50p rate and considering a higher rate than that as a part of the formal tax system.

    “I suggest that it’s more the case that so many Labour (without inverted commas) posters on here don’t consider New Labour and Social Democracy to be one and the same.”

    And they don’t still (see @Craig ad nauseam at every possible opportunity); and the ones that ‘got our party back’ currently do but probably won’t when Cruddas publishes the election policy platform: perchance your self-defined ‘subtle and pragmatic self’ amongst them !!

  47. CROSSBAT11.
    Good Evening to you.
    Back from Southampton match.

    I would be more convinced if children were having good schooling if the people who run the country actually send their own children to the state secular schools.

    According to Nick P one of the top ‘comps’ in Croydon is a ‘war zone’, and many areas have a lottery for the best schools.

  48. Rob

    I think you may have overlooked a couple of key issues here.

    1) Keynes was a centrist, centre-left at best, yes. It’s indicative of the rightward shift under Thatcher and Blair that he is now seen as out on the left-ward fringes of the economic debate. As our Celtic friend said earlier, do you see the irony in that?

    2) That the Occupiers and their fellow travellers see themselves as being of The Left is not grounds for judging the opinions of The Left by a critique of the opinions of the Occupiers. Had I not shaved my head tonight, I would be tearing out my hair at the pointlessness of this aspect of the debate. Lift your gaze. There is a debate to be had that rises above some playground “You’re an idealistic, ideologically rigid lefty, nah ner nah, ner nah nah” level.

  49. CHRISLANE1945

    “I would be more convinced if children were having good schooling if the people who run the country actually send their own children to the state secular schools.”

    I have no idea whether the people running my country send their kids (if they have any) to state schools or not – though I’d guess that if they didn’t, that would have been highlighted in the press.

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