There are far worse crimes than being smug

I try to avoid the Sunday press. From its echoes on Twitter, it appears to be a troll-fest through which innocents like me are unpleasantly reminded of the existence of columnists we’d thought had gone to pasture years ago.  And even the thoughtful ones, like Matthew Syed, feel an extra urge to be provocative onContinue reading “There are far worse crimes than being smug”

What the betting markets are saying …. It’s complicated

I am pathologically fascinated by political probabilities, and have been for easily 20 years: my first big speculative win in life was to “buy” Labour seats in the 1997 General Election at around 350, and I have been hooked every since. Here are some of the current odds. A meaningful vote to pass in 2019 Continue reading “What the betting markets are saying …. It’s complicated”

The defeat of the Treasury must not be final

For most advisers toiling within government, the standard daily routine is simple: “wake up/go to work/try to do things/get told you can’t by the Treasury/grumble a lot/go home”. OK, I exaggerate: there is the whole maddening business of government by collective agreement to wade through. This means that any other department, from the mighty HomeContinue reading “The defeat of the Treasury must not be final”

The vast, unknowable potential of tactical voting

TL;DR summary: if you adjust the uniform swing so that voting patterns reflect echoes of past Labour or LibDem strength, the predicted Tory majority vanishes. If you add onto this a measure of tactical voting, their seat share might fall by dozens of seats more.  But detecting whether this is realistic is very, very hard. Continue reading “The vast, unknowable potential of tactical voting”

Conventional wisdom comes good, with a time fuse

I’ve had this thought for a while, and wanted to get it down in case it proves to be an enduring one.  We have seen recently – by which I mean, since I have been paying attention – a number of sharp examples of the conventional wisdom being overthrown. By this, I mean suggestions orContinue reading “Conventional wisdom comes good, with a time fuse”

Some recent polling implications

Wild recent polling produces wild results The columnists had a lovely job this week: the Johnson government in unprecedented meltdown (seemingly owned by the opposition, in possession of a minus-43 majority, a heated debate about what kind of prison food the former PM might expect, etc etc) and yet a swarm of polls suggesting thingsContinue reading “Some recent polling implications”

The way Lib Dems vote could take an extra 40 seats off the Tories

Of the many ways First Past the Post fails as a voting system, the way it punishes a split opposition is the most enduring. To recap: recent Tory polling leads, on a uniform swing, would see the Conservatives returned with a governing majority – quite a hefty one, if the Brexit Party disarms.  But suchContinue reading “The way Lib Dems vote could take an extra 40 seats off the Tories”

Could the voting system be “cruel” to the Tories?

The rumours are of a general election, and the polls bad for the anti-No Deal side. Since the new administration took power, there has been a somewhat-predictable bump in Conservative support, with some polls showing CON ~32 LAB ~ 25, the BXP and LD jostling together in the low- and high-teens. You hardly need myContinue reading “Could the voting system be “cruel” to the Tories?”

Burke, and being against “the coercive authority of such instructions”

When I first heard the words “MPs don’t get to choose which votes to respect” (repeated loyally by the PM and Party Chairman) my first thought was that someone is going to mention Burke.  No doubt many of you had that same thought.  And Sunder Katwala had it first and best, and wrote a splendidContinue reading “Burke, and being against “the coercive authority of such instructions””

Time for macro economics to get political once more

A former No10 colleague asked me recently: is there a definitive guide out there to how monetary and fiscal policy work together? What determines incomes?    What made his questions remarkable were both how fundamental they were, and yet how distant from the day job when we had worked together in Downing Street. Politicians doContinue reading “Time for macro economics to get political once more”

Freethinking Economist

Economic advice. No longer special.