Labour’s position

 

             The Coalition spinners have done a great job, presumably with some help from within the Labour party. They have made the issue of the Labour conference the question of Ed’s leadership and his own personal poll ratings.

                 They would be wise in the privacy of their own politcal meetings to recognise an inconvenient truth for them in the polls. Labour is around 4-6 points ahead of the Conservatives, and the Lib Dems are way down. The latest average polls show Labour on 40%, Conservatives on 36% and Lib Dems on 11%. The Coalition parties combined have come down from 59% at the General Election to 47% today. Even today’s poll showing the Conservatives one point ahead, show the Coalition down 10% from 2010.

  Incidentally, to all those bloggers forecasting a UKIP breakthrough, their poll rating remains at 4% which would guarantee no seats next time round, just like 2010. The strongest UKIP support is amongst southern males post retirement. The party seems to have  little attraction for other voters.

The main change since 2010 is not a UKIP surge, but a big switch from Lib Dem to Labour, probably  influenced heavily by their change of stance on tuition fees. The Conservative poll rating has remained unchanged from May 2010.

              The Labour poll ratings are remarkable, given the state of the economy and the debts Labour passed on to its successors. The issue polls show  the Coalition has  won the arguments on the need to curb spending to control the deficit, boosting the Coalition’s rating for  economic competence . However, what matters is how people vote. Voters often hold apparently contradictory views when you read a wide ranging poll. There are still plenty of interest groups out there wanting to defend every last penny of public spending, whatever the consequences for the national economy, and however ineffectual or ill judged. Labour’s strength has increased probably because it opposed the tuition fees and  is saying cut less quickly than the Tories, and that attracts Lib dem left wing voters. It will put off Tory floaters, and get in the way of Labour driving to the “centre ground”.

               Mr Balls was wise to apologise for several items in Labour’s record. I presume Mr Miliband will do the same. Labour is also wise to see that they need to shift from saying all spending is a good idea, to saying that what matters is effective spending in the areas where  people value a public sector presence. Whilst the message of cutting less and not liking high tuition fees has made some easy gains from disaffecetd Lib Dems, there is an undercurrent of understanding amongst the public that several countries around the world are in a huge mess because they borrowed too much. Many people see that there are limits to how much the UK can spend and borrow to avoid a worse tragedy. Labour understand this, and are saying they will mnot pledge to reverse any of the Coalition specific cuts.

           I have been impressed by the tough questioning of some BBC  journalists to Labour spokes people, pressing them hard on why they spent and borrowed so much in government and whether this made the crisis worse. I have yet to hear, however, a BBC journalist ask a Labour representative why their policy throughout the last thirteen years was to join the Euro in principle, and why they still cannot come out and accept that was a mistake. The UK would be a safer place for the future if the two main parties could at last agree that the Euro would be a very bad idea for Britain. That would leave the Lib Dems free to represent the small unrepetant minority who still want to abolish the pound.

 

 

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104 Comments

  1. Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    The Coalition Government has made a grave error in not opening either a full poilitical or criminal inquiry into the dealings with the banks in the latter years of the Labour administration. Suspicions are confirmed by close reading of Alistair Darling’s recent book.

    Never mind precedent, or the fear of such a tool being used against themselves at some point in the future (if they act with probity thay will have nothing to fear), the circumstances surrounding RBS/Lloyds HBOS were politically inspired and encouraged and what occurred remains unknown in spite of the £Billions of taxpayers money lost as a result!. If the Government/Public Prosecuting authorites will not act then back bench MPs should.

    If Labour are allowed to dodge responsibilty, as they are presently being permitted so to do, it will not just be Lib Dem MPs thrown out in an election held amidst economic meltdown!

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:29 am | Permalink

      I tend to agree that some inquiry into the way in which Lloydstsb shareholders lost considerable value by being pushed by government into the Halifax deal. Also in the case of the RBS Rights Issue document of April 2008. Many other dealing during this banking fiasco are questionable – lessons need to be learned and people held to account. Labours approach was an insane way of dealing with the mess I would contend.

      More shareholder control over directors and “honest” shareholder information is needed and rational action from government when problems arise – so that the losses end up with the right people to carry them.

    • Disaffected
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:42 am | Permalink

      John,
      Your analysis is not completely accurate. If any party at the next election promised to cut spending, cut taxes, stop immigration and get out of the EU they would win the election. Politicians are discredited and few people believe what they say and group them together. Cameron failed to say what the Tories would do in office (no one knew or does know what he stands for, and the situation is turning bleak for him and the Tories) and consequently he blew the chance for the Tories to be in power by themselves; Brown is shown to be the most disliked politician for a generation. It was an open goal and Cameron missed. Politicians are not acting in accord with the public wishes and the tolerance for this is diminishing.

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

        Any party whose promise could actually be believed that is and Cast Iron Cameron has already thrown away any trust he once had – so a new leader is needed for the next election.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

        They’d win by a landslide in fact. So long as the cuts were in the right places.

        Add to that manifisto ‘Life’ imprisonment to mean imprisonment for life and wind up the sentencing charade. Why would any reasonable party not put that in its manifesto ?

        Alas none will. Democracy in the UK is not about answering to popular opinion – it’s about a clique which is in broad agreement and which thinks it knows best.

  2. lifelogic
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I agree broadly UKIP voter and sensible enough to know that the electoral systems will not let them break through at Westminster but at MEP level I expect them to do much better.

    The only person, on the BBC, that I have heard asking sensible questions is Andrew Neil most would not know what a sensible question was having been schooled in Guardian think. The BBC I suspect is reluctant to ask many question on the issues they have been pushing so hard and been proved so wrong. Namely the EURO and EU, the green agenda (and the so called renewables), their ever bigger state spending agenda and virtually uncontrolled immigration.

    The message for the Tories to get over is that Labour is the party, of and for, the state sector unions who are bleeding the country to death and delivering almost nothing in the way of useful “services”.

    • lifelogic
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

      Ed Milliband today, in his speech promised that “a future labour government will ………. manage you money properly” and later “vested interest have triumphed over private”.

      Is he perhaps referring to the last labour administration and the state sector unions – who fund the labour party and who also put him where he is – rather than his brother?

      Could he be trusted on this issue do you think?

      • davidb
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

        Oh, you listened to him? I niftily switched between two channels news shows each time I heard his dulcet drones. He has nothing to say which I want to hear, and I dislike his intonation intensely.

      • BobE
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 1:14 am | Permalink

        Hes too sqeeky. He will never sound real

  3. Mr. Green
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    I would like the BBC to press Labour more on their policy of ‘creating jobs.’ This ‘policy’ is presented by Labour as a kind of cure-all solution which the Conservatives are too brutal or stupid to understand.

    Ed Balls says that if someone is in a job he is paying tax and this somehow magically stimulates ‘growth’ which is the only way to pay down the deficit. Actually for many years Balls denied the very existence of a structural deficit. Clearly, a brilliant mind at work, we can only watch and wonder.

    Wealth is created largely by the private sector, with the public sector mostly using taxes on the wealth creators to pay for public sector salaries.

    If the job Mr. Balls wants to create is one of the many non-jobs in the public sector, the value-added to society is negligible. The funds to pay the salary must be borrowed. So the UK borrows say £30,000 so that this person pays 20% tax. And the UK pays interest on the borrowed money. In turn this interferes with the market forces of the private sector, as their access to borrowing and staff availability is distorted.

    So when Ed Balls tells a BBC journalist that we need ‘jobs’ the interviewer should ask ‘public or private sector jobs?’ and ‘where is the money going to come from to pay the salaries for these public sector jobs?’

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:35 am | Permalink

      Mr.Green ,

      “….with the public sector mostly using taxes on the wealth creators to pay for public sector salaries.”

      I was surprised to learn recently that this is NOT the case .

      The Govt spends something like 50% more with private sector companies than it does on public sector staff remuneration .

      Whatever they may say about transparency in the tendering and procurement process , Whitehall and the EU have their own preferred suppliers .

      To get on the list you have to be putting business in the direction of other suppliers on the list . The people in these companies come from the same social strata as the civil servants themselves ; same schools and universities etc .

      The contracts between Govt /EU and these preferred suppliers are poorly disguised back door subsidies .

      Everyone knows what non-descript “consultancy” really is .

      That is in my opinion why Siemens got the train contract over Bombardier .

      All the bluster about Siemens being able to get cheaper financing was just a smoke screen .

      The real shame is that not one British civil servant had the decency to pull one of the Bombardier directors aside and tell him they were wasting their time before they spent millions on putting together a proposal .

      • Bazman
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

        It’s called the middle class social security system and like some other we do not mention. It’s greatest trick is to persuade us that it does not exist.

  4. alan jutson
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    John the Conservatives only have themselves to blame for not first of all winning the general election, and at the same time really crushing labour for a good few years.

    Firstly, not enough was made of the huge mountain of the increasing deficit, National debt, and the cost of funding it in interest alone.
    No graphic illustrations were included in Party political broadcasts.

    Secondly the Conservative position on cuts was not fully explained properly, in that the policy would be to cut the increase in the rise of government spending, but not the actual amount of spending, thus you got the tag as the Party which was going to produce savage cuts, when no such thing was planned or executed. The population by and large are still not aware of increasing government spending.

    Third the EU. DC promised to hold a referendum on the Lisbon treaty if it was not ratified, he should have gone ahead, even though it was ratified, so that at the very least everyone (those in the UK and in Europe) would know of the feelings of the UK public to further EU integration.

    Fourth, Not enough was made of Labours increases in taxation over the previous decade, new taxes were not listed, existing taxes which were raised were not mentioned, no real or true comparison with 1997 and 2010 were ever made.

    Fifth, Not enough was made of Labours profligate expenditure programme over the previous decade, not even a simple comparison with expenditure 1997 and 2010 to try and show how, and why such money was being spent, even a simple satement like we now employ more than 1,000,000 more on the state payroll than we did 13 years ago, has the service, or anything got better was made.

    Sixth. Brown had made a such success of his progressive social engineering policy of bribing a huge percentage of the population with government (taxpayers) finance, in the form of wages, benefits, tax credits etc, that he guaranteed that the vast majority of those who relied upon such money a Labour vote, for no other reason than they thought to protect their income.

    Whilst I hate political spin with a passion, Labour and the LibDems at the time of the election, were far, far better at it than the Conservatives were at presenting anything.

    The wonder of the result was, given the dire state of the country at the time, how many still voted Labour, and will do so again.

    The Conservatives have to up their game by a large margin if they want to increase their share of the vote, its as simple as that.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:51 am | Permalink

      Absolutely and your list could be extended

      Seven) Immigration . No willingness to challenge the official figure of 2.9million extra people and come up with a real figure for the population . No real effort to reduce immigration , just more spin .

      Eight) Not making enough noise about abuse of cash based rather than accruals based accounting of expenditure . No effort to show which Labour commitments will become due for payment over the next few years .

      Nine) No proper solution for retirement provisions for private sector workers .

      Sadly , due to the need to concentrate on the dire situation we are in the revisionist BBC will be allowed to erase all record of the damage Labour did .

  5. JimF
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    1 Both Labour and Conservative Parties had factions both in favour and against joining the Euro. The only party totally in favour was the Libdems. The only party totally against was UKIP.
    2 I can’t see why a promise of only £6000 instead of £9000 tuition fees would pull supporters away from Libdems to Labour. You’d have to be pretty lukewarm, not to say naive.
    3 Ed Milliband is today calling for an end to the fast buck society. The information will be relayed by journalists who are allegedly being asked for £250 for a broadband connection. I think that says it all.

    Reply: Labour have only just announced that view on tuition fees – they won the Lib Dem votes by simply opposing.

  6. Greg
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    Interesting that the BBC don’t point out to Labour that the spending cuts that the coalition is supposed to be making are actually increases every month. It would also be helpful if the BBC did some research on the amount of debt the country has. It is far higher than official figures suggest and a frightening large figure. Perhaps they should ask all parties why that problem is not being addressed in anything but waffle.

    • Bob
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      The BBC don’t report facts, they spin them to support their political agenda.
      Can anyone explain why the BBC paid £200k of licence fee money to lawyers to prevent publication of the Balen report.
      Who paid for the Balen report anyway?

      • lifelogic
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

        They keep telling us it is ours/the viewer’s BBC very annoying this is too. Almost as annoying and as inaccurate as Natwest/RBS “helpful banking” adverts.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

      Well Cameron could always make a speech explaining that currently the Government is currently increasing the money they borrow and the cuts won’t happen until next year. I wonder why he doesn’t?

      Could it be that he wouldn’t be able to condemn Labour’s borrowing if he had to admit that his party was currently borrowing more than Labour?

  7. Javelin
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    I have never heard a sustained attack on Labours overspend by the Conservatives. By that I mean ministers lambasting them for week after week after week.

    As this is such an obvious vote winning strategy I presume this is because the Conservatives are 1) not in touch with voters 2) want to overspend themselves 3) enploying the wrong spin doctors.

  8. Chris
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:12 am | Permalink

    Most voters are merely dumb animals in a cage, swinging their heads from side to side between Labour, Tory and Liberal (these three in general)….believing that next time whoever is elected from these three will be “different”. Seen it all before, and they never are different. With some exceptions (and we generally know who they are), most MPs are serving themselves, not the electorate and until this changes whoever you vote for won’t make the slightest difference.
    The fact that Labour is currently leading the poll goes to show that a large chunk of the public has less than the memory-span of a goldfish.

    • backofanenvelope
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      I think you are too hard on the voters. Most of them are like me, they don’t believe a word any of them say. Which is why it is a complete waste of time Labour apologising.

      Did you read a piece about the Greeks the other day? They are described as suffering from anomie – they just don’t care what the politicians say.

    • Tim
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:57 am | Permalink

      Whilst I would agree that the public has dumbed down over the last 20 years, I believe most aren’t dumb but haven’t got the time or interest to follow politics so they vote in the hope that it will be different next time. A lot will therefore just vote as they always have. They’d vote for a donkey wearing a red rosette in some northern Cities/towns. Most only have time to watch a snatched headline or news report. If its on the BBC we know the biase they will show in favour of the EU, immigration, Labour etc. It’s time this organisation had root and branch reform and was brought to account or privatised. I don’t want to pay a £148 fine for Labour Party each year. I just can’t stand watching a news or current affairs programme without shouting at the TV screen.
      We need the Tory leadership to be brought to account on the things that matter to the public. They should be judged on delivery not words. Still waiting on reductions in public spending, immigration, foreign aid, EU regulation and contributions and our referendum.
      The reason for the distortion to UKIP in the retired male section is they are the ones who have time to actually see the truth of our ineffective Tory politicians. I think the 2014 European elections may be a tipping point where people will show their dissatisifaction with our political classes and UKIP are the only party standing up for the English as a nation and a culture. If that gets reported widely then they’ll be on the map for the next election or we’ll get just more of the same self interest not National interest from our politicians, many of whom have never had proper jobs in the real world.

  9. lojolondon
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    Brave Dave would certainly have a very special place in history if he was to lose to Labour in the next election. I can tell you it would be entirely due to his failure to behave in any single way like a Conservative.

    I remain convinced that he is a LibDem at heart, and smooth as he is, he is absolutely the wrong person for the job.

    Five points :
    – Failure to deliver promised referendum on the EU
    – Failure to axe ‘uman rights act
    – Failure to act on the Euro
    – Failure to act against the biased BBC
    – Failure to stop Chris Huhne’s crazy plunge into the darkness

    When he eventually does any of these it will be too late.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

      The Lib Dem’s are a party with a stated aim of wiping the UK out of existence in order to have it subsumed into a United States of Europe .

      Huhne is frankly a disgrace .

      The Govt issues exploration licenses for Shale gas , Coal Seam gas and Gasification of Coal .

      Then when Cuadrilla Resources announces a Shale gas find in Blackpool the Govt tell them they won’t be able to put it into production .

      Quote Huhne “We will not consent so much gas plant so as to endanger our carbon dioxide goals.””

      Apart from anything else this is designed to preserve the monopoly of existing producers at the expense of new competitors . What right do Govt’s have to decide who wins and who loses ?

      Could it be possible that Huhne is being set up to be the patsy for the previous Govt’s unwise commitments to reducing the UK’s CO2 generation ?

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

      Five reasons:
      – Can’t leave the EU so a referendum will be problematic.
      – Can’t axe human rights.
      – If the Euro fails it will severely damage the UK economy.
      – No bias in the BBC.
      – We need to stop relying on carbon based fuels.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

        What stops the Uk leaving the EU?
        Why can’t parliament grant the UK courts sole jurisdiction over UK affairs?
        Granted a Euro failure will have repercussions for the UK economy, but there are other countries to trade with other than European ones. We’ll just have to get on with it.
        Presumably you see no bias at the BBC because in general you agree with their editorial approach.
        I hate to ask but, why should we stop using carbon based fuels?

  10. Amanda
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    The Labour conference is a complete irrelevance. The Government now sits, unaccountable, in Brussels – and they are waging war against us !! Labour, Liberal, Tory – it doesn’t matter, they will all do as they are told. The only game in town is protecting ourselves and our families, fighting back where we can against such people as baliffs and planners, and facing the common enemy – the EU, and its supporting Troika players.

  11. Richard1
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    This is very charitable! Balls has apologised only for not kicking the banks more, in the modern political tradition of faux-apologies for something you arn’t really blamed for. He hasn’t apologised for selling the gold, spending £70bn on the equity of insolvent banks, running a deficit in each of the years from 2000 when even a Keynesian would say the Govt should have been in surplus, growing the public sector payroll at the expense of the private sector, seeing the UK’s competitiveness plummet, moving the UK from one of the lowest to one of the highest taxed economies in Europe…have I missed anything? Jim Naughtie’s interview with him was so soft it was difficult to listen to. Andrew Neil is the BBC journalist who really asks the tough questions to these guys.

  12. Nick
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    Its very easy.

    Publish all the debts and stop hiding them. You personal promised this prior to the election

    Then send every tax payer a bill with their share of the capital, and their expected share of the annual interest. Make this an annual event.

    Now split income tax in two. One to pay for services, and the other a labour tax – small l – no confusion with the Labour party – capital L – to pay for it.

    Result – no more Labour party or 40%.

    The longer you leave it, the more the public will blame you – rightly – for increasing spending.

    Reply: The government has published the debts as promised. I like youridea of telling every taxpayer in person how much collectively we owe, and this could be expressed as so much per head, as I sometimes do on this site. I doubt this government will do so by writing to everyone, as it could be seen as a propaganda exercise at taxpayers’ expense.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

      Don’t forget to include how much the services and labour would cost in the private sector. For example if these services were privatised how much extra would it cost the tax payer.

  13. Nick
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:34 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, in the real world, you approach to taxation is working. Twitter has gone to Ireland, not the UK.

    50% of nothing is nothing.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

      We can always attract businesses from Denmark where they pay a 63% tax rate.

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

        Or more likely they will go to Ireland or the Isle of Man or other similar low tax jurisdictions.

        • Bazman
          Posted September 28, 2011 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

          This will explain Denmark’s above average European living standards, equality of income, highest minimum wage, advanced, generous welfare system, 13th highest GDP 11th most free market in the world, with 46% tax overall and 25% VAT. Minimum tax rate for adults is 42% scaling to over 60%, Denmark is in the EU and supports wind energy and coal. Wind energy being a large earner and power source. Cars are very expensive.
          What you need to do is go and live in your tinpot tax haven like the Cayman islands or if you like beer and food, the Isle of Man with all your cheerleader apologists friends to see how well it is and how bad Britain is. Your rich friends will look after you for supporting them so much.

  14. Electro-Kevin
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    I thought the BBC Radio 4 questioning of Labour was tough.

    Best give Ed Miliband an easy ride up until the election – you don’t want him ousted too early. He seems awfully ineffectual and will not convince voters when finally put under pressure.

    Another thing that Labour seems to be getting away with (though not in the Radio 4 interviews) is claiming that they spent money on ‘investments’. Hospitals, schools and such like.

    It was all done on PFI never-never. This wasn’t a success. It was one of Labour’s biggest failures.

    As I’ve already quoted: there is nothing honourable about spending money yet to be earned by people yet to be born.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Miliband may be able to win simply by claiming that he’s not Cameron. The state of the economy will play a major role in whether the country decides to stay with the current Government or switch to another party.

      • Electro-Kevin
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

        I could win by simply claiming not to be Cameron.

        Please don’t tempt me. The hours in politics are terrible.

        I wish I’d gone into backing though. I could have buggered everything up for a fraction of the price that they charged us.

        • Electro-Kevin
          Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Banking. Not ‘Backing.’

      • Jon Burgess
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

        Great choice that will be. The Coalition who failed to do anything for 5 years and made things worse, or the numpties who created the mess in the first place.

  15. A.Sedgwick
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    If this government lasts the course, the European Elections will precede the next GE. The marker for UKIP will be the maintenance or improvement of its second place-yes, to emphasis, second place. The main reason UKIP polls badly is the very reason you give it has no seats and at best, like the Greens, it could only achieve a seat or two with our totally skewed electoral system. The logic is simple, but wrong, many voters think wasted vote.
    Maybe we, southern males post retirement, have the wisdom and experience to spot a wrong ‘un from a country mile or 22 miles. Politics being what it is if the EU survives in tact to the next election I would not rule out an in/out referendum popping up in manifestos to kill off UKIP, which any savvy politician would have done in 2010.

    Reply: UKIP supporters keep telling me how popular their cause is, yet every time they go to the polls they give federalist opponents the opposite opportunity. Even in European elections where minority causes can get representation they do fairly badly in terms of seats won, and I see your ambition is to come second. Parties like the English Democrats further splinter the anti federalist cause.

    • Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Surely the surprise is not that UKIP has not done better but that it has done so well.

      Without support from sectional interests and with the entire political class against it, UKIP has survived and it has achieved a recognised place in the political debate.

      Within UKIP we see a move away from dominance by elderly white male southerners, which was formerly a fair observation. But it is the older people who join most voluntary organisations, including political parties. The reasons are pretty obvious.

      Our own observation is that poll results show relatively strong support among younger and older voters. We also note how badly we do in relative terms among white middle class professional and public sector people; teachers, police, solicitors – the people with those damnably long gravel drives which are so hard on the legs when leafletting! The reason is pretty obvious – those people do very well out of the EU and high public spending and nothing recently has disrupted their lives to make the think again.

      Johnis right to note how often UKIP claim to have a lot of support out there; the reason is that we do. On the streets and doorsteps we so often get told how strongly the voter supports us but they go off and vote Tory or for some other party because they have been convinced UKIP will not win.

      Some get convinced by Tory dog-whistles that Dave is a true Eurosceptic at heart – just wait until he is PM and thunder and lightning will crash on the EU and its supporters. Ha! In my very strong Tory constituency they even voted for an expenses cheat in order to keep out the LibDems from government. Ha again!

      Apart from the fight with our Ever Closer Union rivals in other parties UKIP has to contend with “we will reform it” Tories, the media and press. We have no patronage to use to keep difficult members in line and we do not have access to large overdraft facilities as the three old parties do.

      All in all, UKIP has done well but not well enough; we will do better.

      Simply by being there UKIP has kept alive and spread the word that another future is available for us.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      J.R. ,

      What alternative do Eurosceptic voters have to UKIP other than a few Eurosceptic Tory MP’s and also a few Eurosceptic Labour MP’s ?

      Can you deny that the leadership of all three main parties is fully signed up to the European project ?

      Reply: I do not accept your proposition. Politics is more complex and frustrating than that. Neither Conservatives nor Labour have been fully signed up the EU project. Past evidence shows Labour were more signed up than Conservatives –

      Conservatives kept us out of the social chapter and common borders.

      Labour put us into social chopter and common migration policy

      Labour and Conservatives kept us out of the Euro

      Both Labour and Conservative leaderships say they are against EU taxes – and have sometimes opposed them – and against common defence policies.

      Conservatives voted as a party against Nice, Amsterdam and Lisbon in the Commons, Labour put all 3 centralising Treaties through

      Eurosceptics have to get the government of the day to be sufficiently Eurosceptic to avoid more disasters and to start to get powers back. 10 years and 2 General Elections have not got a come out party a single seat. Backing a party that has got nowhere electorally in order to be pure is all very well, but it does not get you a jot nearer where you want to be.

      • A different Simon
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the full reply .

        Labour and Conservative leaderships say a lot , we can only judge them on their actions .

        What the leadership says goes . Parliament has not held the executive to account .

        I’m proud to have you as an M.P. and would vote for you again as an individual even though I have reservations about the party you belong to .

        reply: Thanks. Major parties are coalitions requiring compromises as well as thriving on internal argument

    • A.Sedgwick
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      “The marker for UKIP will be the maintenance or improvement of its second place” – how can this be construed as being satisfied with second place?

      I am not a member of UKIP or financial supporter and I have no ambition with them, they are just a refuge in the EU maelstrom, which the mainstream parties do not recognise.

  16. Electro-Kevin
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    Yes. There is a certain amout of duality in all of us; having to reconcile precious, deeply ingrained ideologies with reality borders on schizophrenia to the outside observer.

    This duality could be handled – just about – when we were a mono-culture with an established class system and could at least pull in one direction even if it was along the wrong path.

    I have to be careful but there is such a thing as too much democracy. It creates chaos and chaos is where Leftism thrives.

    What have Australia and Canada been doing right ? Why does no one think ill of them ?

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:05 am | Permalink

      Europe.

      Relatives tell me things were picking up until we joined the Common Market. We hitched ourselves to the wrong wagon.

      The ‘too much democracy’ I was talking about earlier – ostensibly the defending of minority groups is a tool by which to control the language of debate and change direction against majority will.

      Whatever we think or say it works the Federalists’ way. We get the Guardian’s agenda despite the fact that this has lower circulation than some parish magazines.

  17. Liz
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    Pre Coalition the LibDem party used to attract a lot of protest votes at elections and by-elections, from people who thought it was to the left of the Conservatives but to the right of Labour. However power has shown this to be otherwise with the feeling being that they are more red than Ed! They support the Human Rights Act, Foreign Aid, Tuition Fees, Europe and the Euro which are all deeply unpopular so they should not be surprised at their fall in popularity -they do not seem to have an popular policies. Reality has caught up with the illusion.

  18. James Reade
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 8:56 am | Permalink

    Fighting a losing battle in places like this, I’d like to point out what the data say, i.e. not a ideologically slanted take on events. As always, a Conservative slurs Labour with the tar of supposed economic mismanagement, because apparently Labour has saddled us all with unburdenable debts, and it’s only the wondrous saving measures of Osborne that is keeping us out of the abyss.

    Of course, as usual, a little looking at the data kind of destroys this. I wrote the following back in April, and it’s still very valid today:

    http://bit.ly/q6NEr9

    The point is this. If we take simply the data, no prejudice, no ideology, and ask: What should the deficit have been in the recent downturn, given how steep the downturn was, based on past economic history?

    The data is from 1980, so it includes all the Tory years of 1979-97, and hence the majority of the sample is Conservative government.

    What you find when you look at the deficit and real GDP growth is that actually, the deficit should have been higher in the recent downturn. That’s higher based on how much of a deficit we ran after the recession in the early 1990s, the deficits we ran in the 1980s.

    I suspect the message is lost here, but hey ho, I’ll give it a go. The data do not present a picture of a reckless government in 2008-11 any more than they do paint a reckless one in 1990-95. But of course, for John Redwood, that’s politically inconvenient and he will likely try all sorts of ways to argue out of this hole. And all his loyal readers here will unquestioningly follow…

    Reply: Stop playing silly politics. I did not disagree with using the cyclical stabiliser in 2008-9. I did disagree with the starting level of the deficit prior to the downturn, and strongly disagreed with taxpayers having to assume all that banking risk when the bad banks should have been put into controlled administration. The financial hit should have been taken by shareholders,bondholders and senior execs, not taxpayers.

    • norman
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:07 am | Permalink

      I think you’ll find most of us here aren’t Osborne loyalists parroting the line that he’s ‘saving the world’ but instead criticising him for raising already sky high taxes even higher while at the same time increasing already sky high levels of government spending even higher.

      Let’s not complicate things. Labour increased public spending by around 50% in real terms and funded this largesse by a combination of tax rises and borrowing.

      That the left see that as a great thing, fine, your derogative, but I doubt few here will be convinced that this is anything but profligate and a gross misuse of our money regardless of how it’s dressed up.

      • norman
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        ‘Prerogative’ – Freudian slip!

        • James Reade
          Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

          Derogative – haha nice!

          As said, I’m not defending what Labour did, just pointing out that if they were reckless, then so was the Tory government of the early 1990s.

    • James Reade
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

      I’m not playing politics – I’m using data to point out where you play politics. Data does not play politics when left to speak for itself (I’m happy to provide you with the data if you want to look at it yourself).

      I’m not defending anything about the nature of the stimulus, or anything about how Labour went about it.

      What I’m very simply saying is this: If Labour was reckless in 2008-10, then so was the Conservative administration in the 1990s.

      • Caterpillar
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

        To James Reade:
        Just read your linked note. A few points that would cause me, as a non-economist Joe Bloggs, to not give it time in its present form are:

        (i) Labelling the green line deficit, when a positive sign on this curve is presumably a surplus – are ug students happy with such labelling these days?
        (ii)Not running such time series back through more of the 20th century, to less politcically sensitive times.
        (iii) Does X-M need to be included in the model, or is Govt surplus/deficit sufficient? A statement clarifying why real GDP growth and not nominal is valid.
        (iv) The phrase “This is the long-run relationship between the two variables: So if real GDP growth is at its expected value” is very unclear as to whether there is an assumption or two here. (Does the longrun relationship imply soemthing optimum? Who say’s real GDP growth is at its expected value?)
        (vi) Does the in-phase behvaiour of the red ECM curve and Green deficit (surplus) curve from ’95 to ’08 indicate a pro-cyclical policy? For example red curve ’98 to ’02 indicates ‘need’ more deficit, but there is actually a surplus; ’02 to ’07 red curve indicates ‘need’ a surplus but green curve indicates a deficit, this worries me when real GDP growth is flat from ’95 to ’07 (X-M, inflation, unjustified model?)

        I will not hijack JohnR’s diary, nor do I have time for a discussion but overall, if you want non-economists to follow your arguments more clarity could help (you can see my confusions above); it is hard to take your linked post on faith. Apologies for my dumbness.

        • James Reade
          Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          Catarpiller – happy to discuss it more – I don’t doubt it’s not the best written bit of blogging ever, and the more comments I get, the better hopefully I become at explaining these things. Thanks for taking the time and posting comments.

          (i) Being cynical, I doubt most UG students would be quite so observant as that! You’re right though – it’s the balance, and as it’s from the OECD, the primary balance so before interest payments.

          (ii) It’s only back to 1980 because that’s when the OECD series starts. You’re bang on though, it is fascinating to see how it’s evolved over a longer period, but 1980 on allows us to look at quite a few cycles, and long periods of power by both parties so is a reasonable sample for starters.

          (iii) If I was running a more complete model aiming to explain the deficit, or real GDP growth, then for sure more variables should be included. The aim with that was just to look at the relationship through time of GDP growth and the deficit, pointing out that the two do tend to move together – not making statements about causality, but it seems fairly evident that a growing economy leads to better public finances, and a depressed economy to worse.

          (iv) Ok I’m talking statistics here. With the kind of model I was using, you can calculate what economists call long-run relationships between X and Y which essentially say: When X is at its expected value (mean value), Y will be at this particular value (the long run mean). Apologies for not being clear – it’s hard to convey detail and not get too boring/geeky in a short enough to be readable post but point taken.

          (vi) As you haven’t got time for discussion nor want to hijack John’s Diary (I think it wouldn’t do so much harm to introduce some more data and statistical analysis here if I’m honest!), I won’t go into too much here on the interpretation of the long-run relationship.

          Cheers.

    • Richard1
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

      Despite your denials, you clearly do write with an idealogical slant. The charge against Labour is simple: they ran deficits when even Keynesian economics would argue for running surpluses, they disguised the true level of debt to the point the official figures are meaningless, and the money they spent was in many places wasted – much of it of course on public sector wages, due to the power the public sector unions have over Labour. John Redwood is almost alone in having pointed out what is becoming increasingly clear – the bank bailout, far from being necessary and ‘saving the world’, was in fact a disaster, & we will never see the money back.

      • James Reade
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

        Richard1, I use data, pure and simple.

        The point is this: The deficit is proportional to GDP growth, since a growing economy pays more in taxes and claims less in benefits.

        Hence, if we look at the size of the 2009-10 downturn and the size of the deficit, and the size of the downturn in the early 1990s and the size of the deficit, we see that proportionally, the deficit of the Conservative government of the 1990s was proportionally higher.

        That’s what I mean by letting the data talk. You can bring in all the other things you wish to bring in – that’s not my point. My point is: If you call one reckless, you have to call the other reckless. It’s unavoidable.

  19. Caterpillar
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    I still do not understand why student loans are underwritten by the taxpayer. I would have thought if there were an intention for competition to drive university performance in terms of degree quality and fees then underwriting would not be helpful.

    Roughly speaking there are two groupings of degrees, ‘investment’ and ‘consumption’. Investment degrees are those that the expected future gains outweigh the (opportunity) costs forgone by undertaking the study period, consumption degrees are those that do not. Although the Govt can provide liquidity for student loans; appropriate pricing of , development & delivery of , and acceptance onto, the two types of degrees would be more encouraged by the univerties bearing responsibility for the downside risk and additionally having no cap at all. The market would find the solution.

    If a government wishes to then socially engineer for certain backgrounds, disciplines etc. to be supported, it can still then do this openly and with more focus through support that goes directly to the ‘deserving’ student. A university can then choose to accept the leveraged student or not.

    Reply: One of the oddest things about Dr Cable’s conversion to student loans was the impact his scheme had on government finances in the early years, boosting borrowing. The Treasury went along with it, though it makes cutting the cash and borrowing costs fo governemnt mroe difficult for a bit. The state subsidy/borrowing was proesumably meant to make the loans easier and more palatable to people taking courses that do not repay them in future, but the students do not seem grateful for this concession.

    • Caterpillar
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:19 am | Permalink

      Thanks for reply. Hopefully in the future the fees/loan argument will move in an efficiency & effectiveness direction, rather than remaining on the ‘cap’ debate.

    • Mark
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      JR: Why should students be grateful (still less other taxpayers) that the government plans to indulge in wasteful education spending implicit in writing off loans instead of increasing productivity in the education system that would make the loans unneessary?

      Reply: There was a hint of irony in my comment.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

      The problem with leaving things to the market is that the rich get the most benefit, not the most able. This will be disastrous for the economy as the brightest students will not be able to afford to become scientists, engineers, and doctors.

      • A different Simon
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:55 pm | Permalink

        They will be able to join the police force where as a constable they will be able to earn a bigger package than a scientist or an engineer .

        • A different Simon
          Posted September 27, 2011 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

          Edit : Why would you take on a mountain of debt to become an engineer or scientist and go through years of hard study for miserable job prospects and low pay when you can hit the jackpot doing a middling job in the public sector ?

  20. Caterpillar
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    I am not convinced the Labour apologies have quite demonstrated a full understanding yet, I would prefer it if they were provided with some simple blanks to complete and to see how they were able to complete e.g.

    As a Labour party MP please fill n the following blanks:

    When we were in power we criticised George Osborne’s idea of an OBR, we did this because …. we were wrong because ….

    When we were in power we rapidly increased the number of public sector employees and their reward packages, we did this because …. we were wrong because ….

    When the world economy was benevolent and we could have run a surplus in preparation for less benevolent times, we ran a deficit because … this was wrong because …

    When experts identified the UK housing bubble in 2005 (some earlier), we allowed this to continue because … we were wrong because … we now think …. should be done to repair the housing bubble.

    I won’t sit here and draft two dozen of these, but perhaps someone could and pass them on to the Opposition front bench.

    • James Reade
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      There’s a fairly simple reason why this has happened. That’s because all of what you say is completely subjective and open to interpretation, and others quite validly take opposition positions.

      The OBR – whoop de do. Call the same thing by a new name.

      The supposed running surpluses in the good times thing – well, if your public infrastructure has been underinvested in for 18 years, then investing in it over 13 years to remedy that might just lead to a few deficits. All perspective, opinion, and hence – DUH! – why you won’t find Labour apologising for that. The current govt will enjoy the benefits of that investment and won’t thank the administration that made it. It’s politics.

      On the bubble – what exactly should the govt have done in 2005? How do you identify a bubble exactly? I assume you have some fail safe test that you can apply in all situations, which then justifies intervention to depress a market? What if you get that wrong? Hindsight’s a lovely thing. Once again, I doubt you’ll get an apology for that and nor should you. Incredible that someone is asking for Labour to have been more socialist (interventionist) in its stance, and criticises it for being more capitalist.

      Reply: Some of us said well before the blow out that allowing banks to gear 34 times compared to the 20 times we allowed in office in the 80s was dangerous.

      • A different Simon
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        “On the bubble – what exactly should the govt have done in 2005? How do you identify a bubble exactly?”

        James .

        Do you really think a formal test was necessary to determine whether house prices were in a bubble ?

        Surely common sense must have told you that it was all going to end in tears even if you couldn’t tell exactly when ?

        125% loans for houses averaging over 6 times wages when the occupiers were saving not one penny for their old age , house equity release , borrowing for consumption , mass immigration . Couldn’t you tell something was wrong ?

        • James Reade
          Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

          When is a booming market a bubble market, exactly? What gives you the insight to know that a price has departed from fundamentals?

          Why should you be stepping in to stop mortgage lender doing stupid things? Why shouldn’t they just go bust? Fundamentally, how do you tell when financial innovation has become reckless?

          These are all very, very fine lines, and if we decided we wanted to step in when some paranoid politician decided there was a bubble, we’d stop a heck of a lot of creative innovation in our economy.

          When you have all the answers to these questions, then perhaps we can start a little discussion here.

      • Richard1
        Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        Good to have a Lefty on this blog, James Reade – a few days reading & you might see the light…Your assertion that Labour’s overspending was due to a need to correct ‘underinvestment’ is nonsense. Most of Labour’s spending increases went in wage increases and new public sector positions. We should not accept Gordon Brown’s Orwellian use of ‘invest’ as a substitute for ‘spend’. I checked your data: they show the opposite of what you assert. It is quite clear the deficit was on a strong downward trajectory by the time the Conservatives left office in 1997, whereas the opposite was true for Labour in 2010 – even if you don’t count the money Brown wasted on the bank bailout.

        • James Reade
          Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          Richard1, already answered your points above. I’m very centrist actually, and if you read a bit more of what I write, you’ll find this out. The simple fact is if you wish to take a view on either extreme, left or right, you have to ignore two things: (1) data, and (2) basic economic theory.

          There is about a 0% change of me “seeing the light” by reading a politician of a right-wing persuasion try to apply basic economics through his prejudiced eyes. My purpose here is to try as much as possible to point out the times when this politician (and his commenters) do precisely this.

          You can’t possibly have “checked my data” since you haven’t emailed me for it. Looking at graphs is a weak version. Furthermore, looking at the data via regression would completely shatter the really poor point you make. By 1997, the UK economy had had FIVE years of growth. It had had 1 quarter by the 2010 election. Seriously, come on.

          • Richard1
            Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink

            You point out correctly that the Conservative government delivered a period of steady growth from 1992. Your graphs – and I suppose the data underlying them – clearly show the deficit on a declining trend by 1997. Brown stuck more or less to their plans, as Blair had committed him to do, and so the budget went into surplus. What is inexcusable by Labour was then running a deficit in boom years when they should have been in surplus. By the 2010 election the deficit was running out of control. No wonder we’re in such a mess now. Your supposedly neutral interpretation of the data is clearly influenced by your politics.

          • James Reade
            Posted October 6, 2011 at 10:04 am | Permalink

            Replying to Richard1’s rather blue-tinted view of events – not influenced by the data – since I can’t click reply directly on it.

            “You point out correctly that the Conservative government delivered a period of steady growth from 1992. Your graphs – and I suppose the data underlying them – clearly show the deficit on a declining trend by 1997.”

            Point being, it took until then, until 1997, for the deficit to start falling – it didn’t start falling in 1994, two years after the much milder recession than the current one. We’re talking data here, nothing about prejudice or bias. If you want some bias, we could talk about the ERM fiasco and the Lawson Boom, and the steady growth that gave us, if you’d like? But I’d prefer not to either.

            “What is inexcusable by Labour was then running a deficit in boom years when they should have been in surplus.”

            Why is it inexcusable? I think Brown could give you plenty of excuses, as could Labour. Things like repairing the decrepit state of national infrastructure after 18 years of Tory government. I’m not defending that stance, I’m just telling you what Labour might say. The fact is that our public services were underinvested in during those people, and you have to accept thus that a left-of-centre party will seek to remedy that.

            “By the 2010 election the deficit was running out of control. No wonder we’re in such a mess now.”

            As I point out in that blog, the deficit was getting large (but still not relatively as large as it was in 1992!) because of a very deep recession. Please try to keep up, that is my ENTIRE point. I don’t care about the composition of the deficit, or anything – I’m simply pointing out that recessions cause deficits, and in fact if Labour had run the same size of deficit as the Tories in 1992, the deficit would have been LARGER than it actually was, relatively speaking. I know you think I’m prejudiced because I’m arguing against you, but I’m using data, that’s it. I’d love to talk you through this in person to try and convince you.

            “Your supposedly neutral interpretation of the data is clearly influenced by your politics.”

            Nope, once again, I’m just using data, and I’ve actually used it to run models, rather than interpreting it through prejudiced eyes.

            Reply: The criticism of Labour by the Coalition is for the structural deficit – which allows for the recession – which has just got bigger on the new figures released yesterday

      • Caterpillar
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 1:23 am | Permalink

        JReade,

        (1) On the bubble I chose 2005 as a date based on the analysis of Farlow, still avaialble at

        http://www.economics.ox.ac.uk/members/andrew.far
        low/Farlow Housing and Consumption.pdf

        (2) In terms of countercycle policy, I agree it can be difficult but if house prices are not brought within the CPI target (I think in one of Chancellor GO’s early letters to the Governor he did enquire about this) then I would consider a dynamic LTV policy.

        (3) Ansd on the house price bubble identification problem, the real terms house price growth rate was outstripping real GDP growth, as a non-economist this would at least give me some casue for concern. How were houses suitably performing in increasing productivity ?

        • James Reade
          Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          Caterpillar, on the last question – you can’t take such a narrow view regarding prices in a market. And prices shouldn’t be kept to within some arbitrarily defined index like CPI either – that’s a recipe for disaster as the price sends a signal to all market participants about relative shortages or surpluses and helps us organise our economic activity.

          We need to ask a few things about house prices; the first is: What is the right price for a house? Was the market price distorted over the years before the mid-1980s by regulation? Undoubtedly. Has the price since been allowed to appreciate to what the market would suggest? Undoubtedly, and that’s a good thing.

          But what has happened since? We have restricted and restricted how where and when houses can be built. We thus have more than ever before a supply problem, and households are getting smaller. So demand increasing, supply fixed and not budging much, it’s quite easy to see why prices went crazy.

          Yet I read on here John Redwood talking about how he’ll pander to NIMBYs in his constituency on changes to planning procedures. Now there’s a recipe to keep house prices high – keep those restrictions right where they are…

          If we wish to play politics then, it’s clearly a cross-party problem – no party seems willing to override constituents’ concerns for the greater good.

          Reply: try exercising fairness and commonsense in what you write. Wokingham Borough has identified substantial areas for new building. I intend to help them protect the rest. It’s all a question of balance.

          • James Reade
            Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

            John – touche!

            Glad you can justify your contorted position.

          • Caterpillar
            Posted September 29, 2011 at 10:03 am | Permalink

            JamesReade,

            I can not disagree that prices are a signal, both the price of property and the price of money. And I certainly agree about buliding restrictions. I think I am one of the few people on here who do not believe in the greenbelt, seeing it both as a contraint on growth as well as socially and environmentally damaging (but I guess you’ll give me some hedonic pricing model to disagree!). I also prefer building outwards in general onto greenfield and turning brownfield green. I think some NIMBYs can have their way, whilst property is still built, advantageouly for the economy, society and environemnt. I am also a supporter of HS2, as such infrastructure can break monoploies that are not always included in initial CBA.

            Now, back to prices, I confess I would prefer a ‘capitailist utopia’ where national security and property rights are protected by a small governemnt and the rest is left to a market mechanism … and I am glad that you seem to have already given up your left leanings, and come to this side. But given that we are far, far from that eden I am (sometimes) prepared to recoognise that if there are occasions in which there is a failed market mechanism which does not tend to maximise social welfare, then one might look to policy intervention to improve it. So I do remain concerned that house prices have grown faster than real terms GDP, but I would not consider that this only signals a shortage of supply (though this must be included), I think it signals a misdirection of capital from more innovative investments (houses are easy low hanging fruit) and in general a tax distorted market (stamp duty acts on liquidity but there is no capital gains for own home).

            I would further go along with the idea that interest rates should not be at such an historical low, and this would have helped the property market to clear. Nevertheless it is my ‘soft’ side that suggests a countercyclical dynamic LTV policy. If the loan to value is low, preventing withdrawal of wealth or overborrowing when house prices have been subtantially outrunning the country’s growth, then this would moderate the market, vice versa allowing proportionately high loans in a property slump. [Again, in the utopia of no central bank and no macro policies, I’d just go for a free market solution]. I would also posit that seeing the existence of a dynamic LTV policy may help the general populace (such as myself) to think more clearly about the debate on capital reserve requirements put on banks – some symmetry in responsibility may go a long way (unless we have the true free market).

            Finally, returning to the house price numbers, my concerns have stemmed from the trend, not so much the peaks and troughs. If you download the Nationwide inflation adjusted median house prices you’ll be able to fit the peak prices with an annual growth of ~3% and the troughs at about 1%, as a non-econometrician, averaging these two exponentials comes out as expected, growth at a touch above real GDP growth. Recent real term falls drop the median house price pretty much back to having grown with real GDP from 1970 – this is a trend, not the big peaks and troughs. To me this remains a very serious signal.

            (Apologies again if I have any of my economic terminology wrong).

      • James Reade
        Posted September 28, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        John: On 34 times vs 20 times. Let them be stupid and pay the consequences. Elsewhere you seem dubious about the value of the bail out – I think we’re agreed here. Not bailing out would have let these people pay the consequences of their foolishness.

    • uanime5
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

      When we were in power we criticised George Osborne’s idea of an OBR, we did this because it was a bad idea.

      When we were in power we rapidly increased the number of public sector employees and their reward packages, we did this because they deserve a salary that represents how vital they are to the community.

      When the world economy was benevolent and we could have run a surplus in preparation for less benevolent times, we ran a deficit because we had to bail out the banks.

      When experts identified the UK housing bubble in 2005 (some earlier), we allowed this to continue because it made all MP’s houses worth more money. We now think that prices should remain high to maintain the housing bubble.

  21. a-tracy
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    The problem for me is that we British are expected to wear the hair shirt; pay more taxes, some of our English children take on huge personal debts to study; small business have had to take on huge social cost burdens through legislation; Oct 1st an increase in the nmw pushing up pay differentials and costs that the customers just won’t bear at the same time that fuel, employer’s NI, holiday pay even whilst the worker is off work on long term sick leave, and next year an additional contribution to nest (state pension) for SME PAYE workers. Yet at the same time we read the other nations in Europe won’t bend on their pensions, our public sector are threatening to strike over their unaffordable pensions, the Irish have much higher Income tax reliefs than the UK yet we bailed them out. We’re not in the Euro yet we’re expected to bail out the Piigs. We’re expected to contribute to aid in India and other Countries that are building their own military presence instead of looking after their own needy.

    I heard EM on Marr on Sunday and he expressed concern about public sector workers facing a lead in to 3% extra pension contributions, well that is what everybody is facing in the private sector PAYE sector with no guaranteed pay out at the end of it, nest is just extra national insurance dressed up as a new pension – well we all thought we were to get our guaranteed state pension for paying our NI stake and our employers making their contribution all this time, yet all politicians have colluded to move this just out of our reach whilst protecting your own sector. This State pension used to be linked to paying NI contributions for 40 years now it’s a free for all pensions credit system with a universal payout for all not linked to how much you’ve paid in and we’re all expected to swallow this. Public sector pensions accrued up to this point should and must be protected and frozen and new terms only from that point on based on the salary today, the public sector workers need to take a look around the job centre to see what jobs are paying without sick pay, holidays over 28 days, time off with pay for all sorts, training courses even in topics not required for their job. Labour is the party of the public sector and large company private sector unionised worker and anyone in the private SME sector that votes for them are voting for their pensions to be raided, their retirement age to go up and up to pay for the Labour party protected paymasters. However, with the Conservatives we just get more of the same too.

    Truthfully most people I know have no party they want to vote for because we’re screwed no matter which party is in charge.

    • A different Simon
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

      Superb post .

      LibLab and to an extent Con don’t care about the self employed or SME workers (soon to be ex-workers) .

  22. Sue
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:21 am | Permalink

    All these fickle poll ratings show is nobody really knows who to vote for. Who is the best of a bad bunch? You’re all the same, except maybe for one or two insignificant differences.

    It’s no good gloating about UKIP either. If they had as much press coverage as the other parties, you would all be very worried. The fact that they are muzzled and denigrated at every opportunity doesn’t help either.

    Party politics has become corrupt, you lot no longer work for us, YOU WORK FOR YOU!

  23. Mark
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    I would actually support the Lib Dem idea of zero tuition fees (we should either have fees throughout the public education system, or not at all), but with some important caveats. Firstly, there should be many fewer university places, so that the budget spent is actually much reduced (because government is in any case funding tuition fee loans, many of which will not be repaid). We have long passed the point at which the investment in university degrees will be matched by the added lifetime earnings of the marginal graduates and drop-outs. Secondly, academic standards across the entire education system need to be restored so that today’s students don’t need a second degree to reach the standards of undergraduates of 30-40 years ago, and so that A level school leavers are adequately prepared as they used to be to train for fairly demanding careers, and so that no later than age 16 (and really by age 12) every child has good standards of literacy and numeracy unless they are truly disadvantaged, with enough breadth of education to become productive members of society.

    Restoring academic productivity in education would reduce the cost because each child would attain similar (probably higher) standards in less time – perhaps two years less on average – requiring fewer classrooms, lecture halls and teachers to get there, and start earning a living sooner, so that they are better able to afford a house, a family and a pension. For those children currently failed by the education system into a life on welfare, there would be the opportunity to take many of the jobs that have been taken by immigrants in recent years, generating a substantial real benefit for society as a whole.

    Gove is making some effort in the required direction, although he is unlikely to succeed unless he is prepared to offer selective education to all, and he manages to root out the ethos of dumbing down that pervades the educational training establishment. Willetts is heading in the wrong direction altogether, being suckered by blandishments about providing more places and places to overseas students who it turns out are paying fees that average the same still subsidised £9,000 p.a. that most universities are now charging (HESA statistics that I discussed here a few weeks ago).

    Having said all that, I doubt whether tuition fees have swung more than a small number of votes, mainly among those with children approaching school leaving age.

    Huhne’s expensive energy policies affect us all, and are much more likely to cost votes to Lib Dems and Conservatives alike. If there is one reason why Labour might win the next election it is that having got Brown out, we failed to get Huhne out before lights out.

    • norman
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

      For all the criticism Huhne gets, and goodness knows I’ve little enough time for him, getting rid of him would achieve nothing. He’s simply implementing policies that all the cabinet are 100% behind.

      It might even be counterproductive. The coalition at least have to try and appear as though they are considering all options with an eco-loon in the Ministers chair so as not to be accused of being led down the garden path by, well, eco-loons.

      With someone perceived as more balanced in place they could just wave everything through on a nod and a wink.

  24. Denis Cooper
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    “The UK would be a safer place for the future if the two main parties could at last agree that the Euro would be a very bad idea for Britain.”

    Neither of the two main parties can be trusted on this.

    It was a Tory government which agreed that the EU could start issuing its own currency, and refused a fresh referendum even though the 1975 referendum had been predicated on the Labour government’s promise that plans for a single currency had been dropped.

    And that Tory government could have said that the “no” in the Danish referendum had killed the Maastricht Treaty, but instead agreed that the Danes should be made to vote again.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danish_Maastricht_Treaty_referendum,_1992

    It was the same Tory government which failed to insist that there must be treaty provisions to allow a country which had joined the euro to make an orderly withdrawal, and allowed the adoption of the euro to become the EU norm so that all new EU member states would have to legally commit themselves to joining it as part of their EU accession treaties, errors which should now be corrected and could have been as part of a quid pro quo for Cameron’s assent to the major EU treaty change agreed on March 25th through European Council Decision 2011/199/EU.

    And while that Tory government was pressured into securing a treaty “opt-out” so that the UK itself would not be legally obliged to join the euro, even though it was and still is expected that like all other EU member states the UK will eventually conform to that EU norm, at that time Tory leaders were ambivalent about whether the UK should choose to join it.

    As the Tory MP Julian Critchley wrote in 1996:

    http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Treachery+will+wreck+my+party%3B+The+Tory+party+is+in+total+disarray…-a061328290

    “John Major has deliberately kept his options open. There is no commitment by the government to join it willy-nilly.”

    Moreover the UK’s “opt-out” Protocol (No 15) says:

    “RECOGNISING that the United Kingdom shall not be obliged or committed to adopt the euro without a separate decision to do so by its government and parliament”,

    but does not say that the other EU member states and the EU institutions will not accept any such decision as valid without its direct endorsement by the British people in a national referendum, which it could and should say.

    Furthermore later Tory pledges on the euro were always time limited – “not in this Parliament or the next” etc – until January 2009 when Hague finally said “We would never join the euro”:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/newsdebate/article-1103618/EXCLUSIVE-Why-Britain-join-euro-Tories-WILLIAM-HAGUE.html

    But even then that pledge referred to actions by “a Conservative Government under David Cameron”, and another leader might reverse that policy; as far as I know, there is nothing in the Conservative party constitution which commits the party to keeping the pound in perpetuity.

    Then there is the much-vaunted “referendum lock” in the European Union Act 2011, where the Tory-led government stubbornly rejected all attempts to entrench the law against easy repeal, admitting that a future government could use its Commons majority to cancel the legal requirement for a referendum before joining the euro but claiming that this would never happen because the political cost would be too high.

    One might have thought that Gordon Brown would have been frightened off by the potential political cost of ratifying the Lisbon Treaty without the promised referendum, but he still did it and then we were told that it couldn’t be undone.

    And now we have Cameron and Osborne and Hague dropping Save the Pound as old hat and instead signing us up to the Save the Euro campaign, even though the existence and continued expansion of the eurozone is plainly a deadly threat to our long term national interests.

  25. Posted September 27, 2011 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    It’s difficult to express the level public disgust for all the Westminster parties at present. It’s so obvious to those of us who can clearly see what’s happened in Scotland.

    Why on earth don’t any of the three major parties learn from what’s happened there?

    1. Appoint politicians with substantial life experience who can personally command the respect of people ordinary people (especially those who make society function).

    2. Consult properly on the detail of policy reform over an appropriate timescale.

    3. Do not treat education as a political football.

    4. Focus on pragmatic rather than idealistic policies.

    It’s not blooming rocket science. People in the rest of the UK seem to have given up on ever expecting sane policy from Westminster. Why can’t parties focus on selecting credible and experienced politicians.

    We don’t want all these bright young sparks with no life experience who believe those of us who understand society are self-interested groups because they haven’t the vocabulary or width of understanding of the things they are talking about or the policies they are developing to have coherent conversations with us.

  26. Barry Sheridan
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Dear Mr Redwood,
    Why are you so concerned about Labour recognising its mistake over the Euro. Who cares! Surely the objective is to direct all energy towards getting our economy moving by cutting the regulatory stranglehold and reducing the excessive taxation as well as coming to terms with the reality that the green agenda is disastrous.

    I see little of this happening, in fact I often wonder what Mr Osborne does with his time. It is of course easier to see what Mr Cameron is doing as he jets here, there and everywhere, just like his hero Mr Blair.

    The coalition are doing poorly because too much time is spent handwringing over issues we can do nothing about, for goodness sake why are government not getting on with what needs to be done!!

    Reply: If you read my blog you will see I usually write about the very matters that concern you. I still think interviewers should put to Labour how wrong support for the Euro has been and is, at a time when the story about Labour is how it moves on from past mistakes.

  27. Sue
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    “As the European Commission gets ready to unveil a draft proposal on taxing high-value financial transactions, EU sources are confident they can get the least enthusiastic country, the UK, on board to back the tax”.

    http://bit.ly/nEao3f

    The question is, are we going to bow down to our Masters in the EU? Are you going to do your jobs and represent Britons or are you going to ignore what’s in our best interest?

    We demand a referendum on the EU.

    You do NOT have our consent!

    “For in reason, all government without the consent of the governed is the very definition of slavery.” Jonathan Swift

    Reply: I trust the UK government will maintain its current stance of opposition to the EU transactions tax. I will continue to oppose it, and continue to support a referendum.

  28. Winston Smith
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

    The ComRes poll today has the Tories on 37% and Labour on 36%. The poll is based on a telephone poll of 1,000. Polling is very unreliable, especially mid-term. Of the 1,000 people ComRes phoned how many responded to their questions. According to their figures they phoned 1,000 people and 100% told a stranger over the phone how they will vote. Do you believe that? I would suggest a considerable number told them to “get lost”
    Or “no, thank you”. In reality, this is a poll of people who are, at present, motivated to vote. Labour inclined voters are more likely to vote because we’ve had a media onslaught on public sector cuts, Uni fees, etc. The problem for you, John, is I fail to see what is going to motivate Tory inclined voters to cast their cross. ‘They are worse than us’ won’t wash anymore.

    Most politicians and politicos are remote from the public, which is why they rely on polling. When I talk to friends and family and listen to LBC, I realise that large numbers of people do not vote, and the ex-Tory voter bloc is rising. The average turnout from 1979 to 1992 was 75%. Since Labour came to power and instigated a culture of spin and deceit, the turnout has plummeted to a low of 59%, rising to 65%, last year.

    With increasing longevity and mass immigration the electorate is 4.5m larger than in 1979, yet Cameron received 3m less votes than Thatcher, and if you factor in the increase in the electorate, 4.5m less. If you take the average t/o 79-92 and apply it to the current electorate, there are 5m missing voters. I believe a majority of these are disillusioned Tory voters. UKIP has taken 1m, but 2-3m have given up or left the Country. This reveals the scale of Cameron’s strategy failure.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      I agree with this. I had a look at the YouGov website for the data on their latest poll:
      The total sample was 2,500 people
      783 Lab – 31.3% of the total
      687 Con – 27.5%
      296 Lib – 11.8%
      121 other – 4.8%
      613 Non voters/don’t knows – 24.5%

      The don’t knows/won’t voters have nearly as much support as the Tories, but you don’t hear this on the BBC and most other media. So you never know, Mr Redwood, if these decide to vote UKIP, they might be the second largest party…

    • Mark
      Posted September 28, 2011 at 1:12 am | Permalink

      The detailed data for the Comres poll are available here:

      http://www.comres.co.uk/polls/Independent_Political_Poll_27_Sept11.pdf

      It does answer many of your questions about the poll, including such important factors as the margin of error (around 3%), how many refused or were vague, how many claim they did not or would not vote etc. You can also trace through adjustments they made to take account of differences between the poll sample answers on how respondents voted in 2010 compared with the election outturn, which provide correction factors.

      All reputable polling companies publish similar detailed results on their websites within 24 hours of the poll going public. Sometimes these can reveal what the commissioning media didn’t bother to report because they didn’t like the answers: recently, the Guardian failed to publish the main headline numbers of a poll it commissioned that showed Labour had lost its lead. The detailed numbers also reveal more about the minor parties.

  29. javelin
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

    Reading Spiegel this morning its a huge contrast between German and British politcs. It’s difficult to see how Merkel can come back. The depth of the criticism from the Bundesbank president, Jens Weidmann is very heavy blow to any chances she has – and she has almost none before hand. She is over half way through her term and the coalition she is in with her Bavarian sister party is now looking very fragile. The opposition are promising a Euro vote. The Parliamentary vote for the small stablity fund this week will go ahead but purely to keep the Party in power. I can’t see the full funds needed ever being granted. I now feel Germany has turned and the Euro must try to survive as best it can.

  30. Posted September 27, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    There can be no question that if the BBC did not give 40 times more coverage to the Greens per vote, all of it supportive, than it does to UKIP, almost all of it opposed UKIP would be getting more votes than the PseudoliberalPossibly more than Labour, as they did in the Euro election.

    A country cannot be a democracy when the people’s access to “news” is generally limited to political propaganda and lies as ours is.

    I note John, that you do not dispute that if we had a government following UKIP policies we would not only not be in recession but growing fast.

  31. Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Harold Wilson used the phrase ’13 years of Tory Missrule” in the election campaign which he narrowly won in 1964,he continued to use it all through until unexpectedly for him to Edward Heath’s Tories in 1970,he then continued to use it along with other phrases in 1974 and subsequent to having won again in 1974,by my count that is over a 12 years or more period.
    YET when this liebour party are quite rightly castigated for creating this economic mess during their 13 YEARS [Ironic that it was also 13 years] that somehow has to be overcome along with the greatest economic CRISIS the world has seen for over 65 years ,they and their supporters don’t like it,look at the reaction of Question Time audiences hand picked for their Bias by the Bolshevik bc,why aren’t the spin doctors or whatever else they might be called NOT using this fact of History in current arguments,and for that matter Don’t our current younger MP’s know their history.This MUST be repeated over and over it is a matter of Public record ,What about George Brown Wilson’s deputy PROMISING 3%
    mortgage interest to get the Youth vote in the same election ,which then went to 8%
    NO different to Tuition fees.

  32. wab
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    Opinion polls at this stage are meaningless.

    Labour has two problems winning the next election.

    First of all, Miliband lacks credibility, and the Tory media and the large Tory media spend come the election will guarantee prominent coverage of Miliband’s faults.

    Secondly, the Tories have fiddled the electoral system to their eternal benefit, by basing seats on the electoral register rather than the adult (UK citizen) population, hence biasing it to the old and the rich, i.e. the Tories.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

      Which Tory media is that then?
      The Guardian?
      The Independent?
      The Financial Times?
      The Mirror?
      The New Statesman?
      The BBC?
      Oh yes, I remember, it’s the Mail, the Express, The Telegraph The Times and the Sun.

      Not such a Tory bias there then, is there?

      Maybe the right wing media have more to spend come the election, but that’s because most of them make a profit…

      You can’t blame the Tories for looking to change the boundries in their favour. Labour did exactly the same thing whilst in office.

  33. forthurst
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    “The Labour poll ratings are remarkable, given the state of the economy and the debts Labour passed on to its successors.”

    Not really, it merely shows how successful the Labour Party has been in increasing the size of its basic constituency by third world (migration-ed), public sector profligacy and the financial rewards for idleness and parasitism; meanwhile, the native working class who had been the bedrock of that party still largely supports for that same party which (failed to look after them-ed).

    The Conservative Party need to focus rapidly on reducing the size and cost of the Labour constituency including the BBC and to attempt to attract those whom Labour have betrayed. This will not happen because those that support the Conservative Party with hard cash are not Conservatives but rather those who are as content as the Labour Party to see this country, as a bastion of Northern European strength and independence, be destroyed from within. The democratic process in this coutry has failed, by design.

  34. Chris
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    Not the same Chris as above.

    There is a very large number of people with UKIP sentiments regarding the EU but who also know that there is no hope in UK election of gaining any power or much influence – very few candidates, perceived problem re lack of other policies. I feel that the best thing would be for UKIP to rejoin the Conservative party and restore some balance to the apparently liberal left approach of Cameron. Now that UKIP has been marginalised its sentiments are kept safely out of the fold and are therefore easier to dismiss/fight. They really have no power over Cameron and the direction of the Conservative Party at the moment as they are on the fringes. If they somehow got back in and were able to influence policy and voting then we may get somewhere with altering policy regarding the EU. Maybe too simplistic, but the status quo is not helping those very concerned regarding the direction of the Party and its apparent strong support for the EU.

    reply: Indeed, it would be most helpful to have more Euosceptic active members.

    • JimF
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Do you think that if this happened Cameron would be a/happier or b/sadder?
      I think he’s be saying great, always knew they’d come back in the end, the Conservative Party is a broad church and we’ll listen to their Eurosceptic policies blah blah. And nothing would change and there’d be absolutely no Eurosceptic party left to vote for.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

      Have to agree. UKIP exists because the Tory Eurosceptics have singly failed to deliver any meaningful change to the one way transfer of power to the EU. The only reason EU referenda became a mainstream policy with Labour and the Tories is because James Goldsmith forced them into it. And look how they both shamefully conspired to avoid that obligation.

      Reply: My resignation from the Cabinet was about forcing Mr Major to offer a referendum or to rule out the Euro

  35. Posted September 27, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3xseCcfMZY
    SHAMELESS Baroness Byrony Worthington openly boasts how Friends of the Earth “outwit” the Treasury to get the Climate Change Bill pushed through parliament in just 3 months!

    There should be an investigation and the Climat Change Act must be repealed.

  36. Martin C
    Posted September 27, 2011 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    I would be interested to hear John Redwood’s thoughts on this new power that Ed Milliband is proposing, for the government to be able to set taxes on a business by business, case by case basis. Basically, legalising the ability for the state to arbritrarily punish or bankrupt a business on a whim using the tax system. And enshrining this banana-republic style law onto the statute book of the country, for all to see.

    • Jon Burgess
      Posted September 27, 2011 at 9:49 pm | Permalink

      If the last 50 years are anything to go by, the Tories/Coalition will oppose it in public but fail to repeal it if ever Labour get to put it on the statute book, or equally likely, enact their own version of it. I’ve given up waiting for anything conservative to emerge from the Cameroon tent.

  37. REPay
    Posted September 28, 2011 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    UKIP remains a dangerous distraction and the best way back for Labour. I would like to see UKIP act as a pressure group – not as a political party. The Tories have moved in their direction. You cannot believe in a small state and your country’s sovereignty and be a full-blown supporter of the EU. This is where the Conservatives stand. It should be enough given the fact that the EU is only ne of many issues.

  38. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:22 pm | Permalink

    UKIP deserves greater support as their voices are heard – far more frequently than Labour, Conservative or Liberals; in defending the Pound against the EURO disaster.

    I find it difficult to disagree with Nigel Farage. I also find it difficult – with all your critcism of the EURO experiment; that you Mr Redwood; disagree with the fundamental arguments of Nigel Farage. I would have thought that you at least agree with the spirit of what he is saying.

    Reply: UKIP wasn’t even formed when some of us fought and won the battle to keep the UK out of the Euro. I did get some help from J Goldsmith who met me and made common cvause when I resigned from the Cabinet to help save the pound.

  39. Conrad Jones (Cheam)
    Posted October 3, 2011 at 9:25 pm | Permalink

    It is sad to see such a man as Mr Balls – Gordon Brown’s accomplice; still in politics.

    In an ideal world, he would have been thrown in jail – a cell right next to Gordon’s; for his gross incompetence.

    I think that’s enough of talking about Mr Balls.

  • About John Redwood


    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, He graduated from Magdalen College Oxford, has a DPhil and is a fellow of All Souls College. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.

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