Reality Check: Nothing Changed

post-debate

As the spin-room packs up after the only TV debate the PM will take part in, what has really changed? The candidates were prepped for weeks, even Natalie Bennett remembered her talking points, each will have gotten something from the debate. Cameron got to look Prime Ministerial, Miliband looked a lot better than the he does when eating a bacon sandwich, Farage confirmed his Marmite status, fervently liked and disliked, Sturgeon really showed her mettle. Clegg was reasonable, Leanne Wood will have made them proud back in Wales. The spin-doctors will highlight where their candidate won on the issues, satisfied at least that their candidate didn’t screw up. 

On the numbers there was a great deal of variation between the pollsters on the key question of who won the debate? Leaving out the also rans of Clegg, Bennett and Wood the pollsters really differed – ICM said Miliband shaded it on 25% and Sturgeon came fourth after Cameron and Farage, YouGov had it in exactly the opposite order with Sturgeon first, followed by Farage, Cameron and then Miliband on only 15%. The double digit difference between first and fourth place and the exact reversing of the order does nothing for the collective credibility of pollsters.

In these circumstances is averaging the poll results really meaningful?  There was more clarity with the issue based polling which confirmed what we already know; Cameron is a clear winner on the economy, Miliband wins on the NHS and Farage wins on immigration. No news…

Did the TV debate enhance democracy? Last night two-thirds of TV viewers didn’t even care enough to watch the TV show that the political class has obsessed over for months. With only 7 million viewers it had a million fewer viewers than that other exemplar of participatory democracy, The Voice.

Are You Happier Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Depending on whether you believe the IFS or Ed Balls, the jury is out on Reagan’s question of “are you better off than you were four years ago”. One barometer that cannot be statistically disputed however is the question of whether or not we should, based on economic indicators, be more miserable than we were in 2010. There has been a clear decline in Guido’s Misery Index during this parliament and we should be happier today than we have ever been in the last five years.

Cameron and Osborne inherited an unemployment rate of 7.9% when they took office, a number which rose as high as 8.4% in March 2012 but has now fallen to a low of 5.7%, the lowest since 2008.

Falling inflation should make us happier. Though the Retail Price Index remained around 5% for the first year or so of this government, it then embarked on a steady decline reaching a current low of 1.1% in February.

Today’s very slightly revised GDP figures – up from 0.5% growth in the last quarter of last year to 0.6% – also contribute. While the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement – the individual monthly borrowing requirement – this month stands at zero. When we are borrowing less, we should all be much happier.

On all four measures of the Misery Index, there has been an improvement under this government, albeit small. Guido started our version of the traditional Misery Index – it is actually a variation on the Robert Barro version of the original Misery Index created by economist Arthur Okun – back before the last general election. Adding in the PSNR to the composite to give the deficit reduction objective of the government some weight. Are we happier than we were five years ago? Statistically the numbers say yes…

Another Shot Fox: IFS Say Yes To Reagan Question

Last year Ed Balls wrote:

‘”Are you better off than you were four years ago?” That was the question Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people in his first Presidential election campaign.

The answer back in 1980 was no — and his Democrat opponent Jimmy Carter was thrown out of the White House after just one term of office.

Thirty-five years on, it’s clear that Reagan’s famous question will be centre-stage in next year’s general election. Every previous British prime minister in my lifetime has always been able to answer it in the affirmative. But David Cameron is currently set to buck that trend…’

Today the IFS announce:

“Average household incomes have just about regained their pre-recession levels. They are finally rising and probably will be higher in 2015 than they were in 2010, and possibly higher than their 2009 peak.”

Are you better off than you were four years ago? Yes, probably.

Which MPs Will Lose Their Seats In May?

Given the polls are all over the place and the pundits are running out of ways to say that they have no idea what is actually going to happen, we’re left to follow the money. Bet2015 shows the live betting odds in each seat and which ones are going to change hands, as well as projecting the national picture based on the insight from the turf accountants. Right now it’s showing a dead heat between the Tories and Labour:

You might recognise at least half of those behind the site:


Bookies think Reckless will lose, that the polls are overestimating the SNP and the Liberals won’t be completely screwed. Track it here.

Clegg and Cameron at Sixes and Sevens

Red magazine have been quizzing the party leaders…

Tell us in six words why we should vote Lib Dem?

“Stronger economy. Fairer society. Opportunity for all.”

Yep, that would be seven words.

Tell us in six words why we should vote Conservative?

“Security for you, your family and country.”

Yep, that would also be seven words.

It must be a coalition thing…

Comprehensive Study Finds 64.7% of UK Laws Made in Brussels

BfB UK law Made in Brussels

Research from Business for Britain published today takes a detailed statistical approach to the question of who makes Britain’s laws. On the one hand we had Nick Clegg claiming in his debate with Nigel Farage that only 7% of British laws were made in Brussels. On the other side Nigel Farage, quoting Viviane Reding, the former European Commissioner for Justice, claimed 75% of legislation originates from the EU. Turns out Nigel was far closer…

Today’s report‘s key findings:

  • Between 1993 and 2014, 64.7% of UK law can be deemed to be EU-influenced. EU regulations accounted for 59.3%t of all UK law. UK laws implementing EU directives accounted for 5.4% of total laws in force in UK.
  • This body of legislation  driven by EU regulations consists of 49,699 exclusively ‘EU’ regulations, 4,532 UK measures which implement EU directives and 29,573 UK only laws.

Analysis of the EU’s influence on British law is continually hijacked for political purposes, leading to disputes over the true number:

Estimates UK law Made in Brussels

Nobody believes the 7% figure Nick Clegg advanced in his disastrous debate with Nigel Farage. Europhiles like to cite the various House of Commons Library which put the percentage in the mid-teens, however EU regulations are transposed into national law without passing through Parliament. Hence they do not appear in studies by the House of Commons Library which most recently estimated the proportion of EU legislation at just 13.3%. If most of our laws and regulations are being made abroad without reference to parliament, do we really need full-time MPs in Westminster?

Women’s Equality: From Maggie to Pink Buses in 40 Years

As Harriet Harman’s plans to spend her election riding around in a pink bus campaigning on female equality are revealed, ironically it is 40 years to the day that Margaret Thatcher became leader of the Tory party. Labour have still never elected a female leader, though at least Hattie is fighting for the sisterhood in this interview with Mehdi Hasan today:

HH: “Unite has provided us with a driver and blow me down they’ve managed to find a woman with one of these licenses. We’ve had lots of doctrinal discussions, such as: should we be alright with a male driver?”

MH: “Has there been any discussion of the colour of her vehicle? Isn’t driving around in a pink van a bit patronizing? A bit clichéd?”

HH: “Well it doesn’t have big eyelashes on the front.”

A union official driving Labour’s sexist bus on the 40 year anniversary of Maggie becoming Tory leader. PMQs gold for Cameron…

UPDATE: The Times say the eyelashes were actually mooted by a Labour frontbencher and genuinely considered.

GUIDO POLL: Foreign Nando’s V British Harvester

The PM has claimed that foreign food from Nando’s is better value than a good old British Harvester. He probably focus grouped his answers, but is he out of touch?

Unemployment Falls to 5.8%

  • employment continued to rise and unemployment continued to fall. These changes maintain the general direction of movement since

[…]

+ READ MORE +

We’re Healthier, Wealthier and Longer Living

Oxfam was complaining today that some people were too rich. Truth is globally, thanks to capitalism, we’re all getting richer.

We’re so much better off than our ancestors…[…]

+ READ MORE +

Are You Happier Than You Were Five Years Ago?


According to the Misery Index, the answer is yes. This is officially the least miserable we have been since Guido started recording the nation’s unhappiness before the last election. The fall in inflation today, as well as a slightly lower […]

+ READ MORE +

Smoke and Mirrors on Tory ‘Treasury’ Doc Cover

It looks like a Treasury document, it’s laid out like a Treasury document and it reads like a Treasury document. That doesn’t make it a Treasury document…

Ironically, Osborne won’t actually let Labour’s figures be analysed officially (by the OBR), […]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Former Miliband guru Arnie Graf reveals Labour’s disconnect with the working class:

“On one of my trips to the U.K. in the autumn of 2013, I bumped into one of Ed’s strategists in Portcullis House. He asked me if I was assisting the staff on Ed’s trip that was to take place in a few days to one of the regions. I told him that I did not have knowledge of his planned trip.

He told me that Ed was going to give a talk at the region’s annual fund raising dinner and that prior to the dinner he had invited the media to join him at a local coffee shop to listen to a conversation he planned to have with a minimum wage worker. The point of the conversation was to show how difficult it was for a minimum wage worker to get on in life.

There was only one problem. No one had been able to locate a minimum wage worker for Ed to talk with.”

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