Monday, December 14, 2009

John Rentoul vs the people

John Rentoul, chief political commentator for The Independent on Sunday, writes that "the tax on bankers' bonuses was the final act of self-destruction" for the Labour Party, and that "Brown's reversion to class-war politics has compounded his error. The City's fury matters...And for what? It won't make Labour any more popular among the voters it needs to save its marginal seats at the election."

So according to Rentoul's argument, we would expect opinion polls to reveal that most people oppose the government's policies, right?

ComRes:

From what I have heard, the Government’s plans for heavier taxes on people with high incomes are fair
Agree 66%
Disagree 28%
Don’t know 5%

Ø The Government is right, in the eyes of most voters, to tax high earners more heavily
Ø Unsurprisingly the highest proportion who agree are DEs (71%) although even 64% of ABs agree
Ø There is also a correlation between age and agreement, with older voters the most likely to agree
Ø Although Labour voters are the voter group most likely to agree, 61% of Tories do too .

YouGov:

Given the current economic climate and the need for the Government to reduce borrowing in the years ahead, do you support or oppose the following measures that Alistair Darling announced this week?

Requiring banks to pay a one-off extra tax on bonuses of more than £25,000
per bank employee

Support 79
Oppose 11
Don't know 10

*

The sub editor at the Independent summarised Rentoul's article as "Gordon Brown's party is being propelled into the wilderness by economic plans that repel voters". An improved version of this summary would be:

"Gordon Brown's party is being propelled into the wilderness by economic plans that repel 11% of voters, and are supported by 79% of voters".

And if you think 'but that argument makes no sense, Tony Blair's biographer appears to be launching an unfounded attack on Gordon Brown', then, um, you'd be right.

5 Comments:

At 3:15 pm , Blogger Liam Murray said...

You're misrepresenting his article to make your point hold.

You're examples refer only the tax on bonuses announced last week. In the current climate it's hardly evidence of political nous to have identified that will land well with the public.

Rentoul cites other policy announcements, general polling data and fiscal mismanagement going back c.7 years - I don't think you've offered anything to contradict that.

 
At 3:40 pm , Blogger donpaskini said...

Hi Liam,

You say, "In the current climate it's hardly evidence of political nous to have identified that [taxing bankers' bonuses] will land well with the public"

Rentoul says, "the tax on bankers' bonuses was the final act of self-destruction"

He also references the 50p tax on the top rate of tax, which was also supported by a majority of people.

He doesn't cite any polling data except for the ComRes question about Cameron and Eton.

 
At 6:32 pm , Blogger John said...

It's a fair cop, donpy. Didn't express myself well. The bonus tax is popular in the short term (on the tax anybody but me principle), but I think it will have a negative effect on perceptions of Labour over the long term because it makes the party look as if it doesn't like success.
John Rentoul

 
At 10:37 pm , Blogger Liam Murray said...

I still think you're missing his point. There are two things to weigh in the balance here:

(1) Strong public support for 1 or 2 very specific policy proposals and

(2) A sustained & material poll lead for the Tories & widespread recognition that they're likely to win next May.

Rentoul's argument rests on giving greater prominence to the second of those. Yours rests on the idea that first - "popular support for populist policies" shocker - should outweigh the wider political reality.

Rentoul's point as I understood it is that Labour have sacrificed wider, deeper (& centrist) appeal on the alter of shoring up their core vote. Polling data that flags up a few exceptions to that for rather silly 'bash the baddies' policies doesn't undermine his wider point.

 
At 9:27 pm , Anonymous Chris Baldwin said...

The debate shouldn't even be happening. It should be obvious that Labour, in Tory terms "hates success", because we damn well ought to. This party needs to nationalise anything that isn't nailed down, raise taxes on the well-off to pre-Thatcher levels, scrap every single piece of anti-union legislation enacted since 1979 and go on from there.

 

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