Evidence-based politics: the case of the incredible shrinking Tory Party

9 April 2013

7:26 PM

9 April 2013

7:26 PM

Here is something those who rely on political commentators will not have expected to see. The latest poll from TNS BMRB has the Tories down to just a quarter of the vote: CON 25% (-2), LAB 40% (+3), LD 10% (nc), UKIP 14% (-3). The Opinium/Observer online poll had LAB 38, CON 28, UKIP 17, LD 8% at the weekend. YouGov for the Sunday Times on the same day had CON 30, LAB 40, LD 11, UKIP 13. (The Tories were just 1% above their low point with firm.)

How can this be? All these polls were taken during the raging welfare debate. Commentator after commentator wrote articles assuring us that Labour was on the wrong side of public opinion, and the Tories had at last found an issue that would move the voters their way. Unanimity gripped the punditocracy. Attitudes to welfare had hardened, they said; and, indeed, they were right about that. Cameron and Osborne had Labour where they wanted it, they continued; and the panicked reaction of the Labour leadership suggested they had a point there too. As Belloc might have said, when it came to welfare cuts

The stocks were sold; the Press was squared:
The Middle Class was quite prepared.


But, however good they were as essayists, the pundits made pretty poor reporters. The evidence does not show any surge in Tory support, quite the contrary in fact. If readers or conservatively-inclined journalists want to look for comfort they can say that at some point in the future the Tories will profit from the welfare debate – although I suspect that as cases of decent working people losing money and homes multiply the government’s position will weaken. Perhaps they can look at the large share of the vote UKIP is collecting in the polling figures, and speculate that it will go to the Tories at a general election. Maybe they can criticise the polling companies, and say they’ve overstated Labour support in the past, although they did not get it so wrong in 2010.

But all these arguments are predictions, often wishful predictions. I have always said that it’s difficult enough for a journalist to find out what is happening and impossible for him or her to know what will happen. We are reporters not clairvoyants. The evidence shows that while a large section of the public want to cut welfare payments to the undeserving, it does not like it at all when Conservatives propose doing just that. (Or if that is too strong, does not like it enough to tell opinion pollsters that they will vote Conservative as a result.)

The old line about the voters liking Tory policies until they find out that they are the policies of the Tory party still holds. To use language that would give the editor every right to take me outside and shoot me, the Conservatives still have not “decontaminated their brand”. If I were a Tory I would be worried. They have had what was meant to be one of their best weeks in months, and there is no evidence that it has done them any good whatsoever.

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Show comments
  • Jules

    Nick, people like the idea of cutting welfare for mythical scroungers, immigrants and those they don’t actually know. However when said welfare cuts affect them, their families and their friends, it’s not so popular. This is exactly what is happening.

  • thanksdellingpole

    Com Res place UKIP in the “Other” column!

  • wayoffmessage

    People might want to cut welfare to the minority of undeserving, but they don’t want to cut for the great majority of deserving, not do they want their university educated kids being forced to work for nothing at Poundland. The rest of what the government has been up to from “equal marriage” to more wars to suspect “reforms” of the NHS, just have no appeal, not just to the normal malcontents but to the great mass of the middle class the Tories have to win, while unemployment has ceased to be just a worry of the lumpen, along with pay freezes and the rising cost of living is affecting the middle classes. The Tories are finished for at least a generation, maybe forever,

  • Bob339

    The conservatives are over. Make way for UKIP. We want no more immigrants, especially not Romanians, Bulgarians etc.

  • David Gillbanks

    Oh no! The fake socialist party is having a bit of a crisis aren’t they?

    I guess when it comes to voting for a real socialist party (Labour) or a fake one (Tory), those on the left tend to go for the real deal.

  • GIN1138

    The main problem for the Conservatives is that the economy remains in the doldrums.
    Everything else is really secondary.

  • Steven Barr

    The Tory move to the left didn’t begin under Cameron, it started as soon as they stuck the knife into Thatcher. The first New Labour government was really the John Major government

  • Joe Stanley-Smith

    Really interesting article. Reckon if Labour acts as a stronger opposition it could still do very well in May though.

  • Scott Lynn

    The UK Labour Party helped drag the world through the mud, with its delivery
    and implementation of a sub-prime housing policy. The voting public needs an iron-clad apology, not a half hearted one. Voting against Labour would demonstrate to the
    Labour Party that unlike them, the voting public has principles. These principles
    need to be demonstrated at election time.

  • Bill

    The British public know that these welfare cuts are only about balancing
    the books. That’s why they don’t like them. They know very well that
    it’s very little to do with punishing the undeserving, because they are
    fully aware that in reality these cuts do not discriminate between the
    deserving and undeserving. And that despite the very unconvincing lip
    service to the contrary, they do not even begin to try.
    People that are not fit for work have been labelled as fit for work in order to cut
    welfare spending, not because philanthropists are attempting to
    “liberate them from the benefits trap”. People have died as a result of
    the incentivised government doctor’s application of the, and I quote the
    man the government appointed to design it “unfair and not fit for purpose”
    new medical exam. To be whipping incapable people back to work expecting
    them to risk their lives or even endure extreme pain and discomfort for the
    Tories economic cause, is as callous an act as any government has
    committed in living memory. It’s abhorant. It’s disgusting. It’s the
    very very worst of the Tory party.

    • fantasy_island

      Cobblers, do you really think it possible that more invalids were created under the labour government 1997 / 2010 than the entire First World War?

      Doesn’t it occur to you that maybe some recipients of invalidity benefit are taking the piss?

      Didn’t almost 1 million people leave the scheme voluntarily rather than be found out by assessment?

  • Matt Charman

    Of course the welfare debate wasn’t going to sway that many people – they can’t think that the majority of the populace are small-minded and cold-hearted individuals who buy into their disgusting rhetoric which makes the poor socially unacceptable. And they must realise that whilst they’re making all this noise about ‘scroungers’ someone will notice the insane sums that they give to the financial sector – or indeed notice that for a government claiming to be hard up they’re managing to give away an awful lot of state schools for free to very dodgy private companies.

  • Chris Ray

    It shrank by one more yesterday. The idea that the Tories have deserted their core constituency is laughable. Their core is all they have left – all the human beings have left them because they are unable to stomach the pure naked nastiness of real Tories.

  • Reborn

    I believe in the Undeserving Poor.
    I also believe in the Undeserving Rich.
    Why do the “Left” leave out “celebrities”, & footballers from their attacks on
    the rich ?
    Why do they pretend that persons who live on benefits are somehow “vulnerable” rather than workshy. Often immigrant workshy who have not contributed anything
    to the hypothetical pot that Attlee, Beverige & Co envisaged

  • Barbara Stevens

    You are right in one assumption, people do want benefits cut to those who refuse to work. However, what they have seen is disabled people, the sick, and and the bedroom tax, appear on the scenes; this is not what they wanted. Take the ‘bedroom tax’ and it is a tax on the poor, who may have lived in the same house for years, spent money on it an made it livable. To then assume they are living with spare rooms and effectively charge them for it is awful. The disabled will in effect be housebound if some of the cuts take place, stop some from working, its not right to do this at all. What people want is the idle made to work, and refusal then cut benefits and housing benefits. Some have suggested targeting pensioners, if this takes place the Tories will be below 15%.
    They are the only people who consistantly vote, many are dependant upon benefits like pension credit and housing benefits, without it they would not survive. They could try cutting child benefits to two children, many would support this. Large families are by choice not to be supported by the taxpayers. My two children don’t have any children but pay high taxes to support these kids in education and welfare; where is their voice? It seems to me the wrong people have been targeted, yes, they should be ascessed but fairly and by companies who know what they are doing, not by numbers for money which seems to be the norm now. It can only end in the Tories being, again, shown the door, fairness is paramount in all policies, and their poliices are not fair at all. If we can afford 15 billion in foriegn aid we can afford to look after our own, even if we mean test them for health and money.

  • Eeeek

    Beware the government shill. Please don’t argue with it. It doesn’t spout its own honest opinion, only the rhetoric of its masters.

    • fantasy_island

      loony alert!

  • A-Polly-Tickle

    Like all political parties these days, the Tories are an irrelevance, they don’t speak for anyone except their own sort, flowing along the Westminster and Brussels gravy trains. The word ‘political elites’, the fact that they exist, is an outrage to our so-called democracy. How can anyone explain, for instance, the LibDem pledge about tuition fees at the last election, and the reality of actually allowing it to be put up threefold when in coalition? May the LibDems diminish too.
    The truth is our ‘political elite’ all went to the same universities and believe in very similar things, they are like different supermarkets with snazzy colours, when essentially, they’re selling us the same stuff. We are kidding ourselves if we think there is much of a choice. Which colour do you like? Red? Blue? Green?
    So, let the Tories diminish to nothing, and the others, too. Perhaps then we as a people might grow up and run the country (if it still exists) ourselves.

  • zanzamander

    We as a nation have become dependent on welfare and as such any party that wants to curtail this gravy train bonanza is bound to be unpopular.

    Look at the polls this way, 50% of us now depend on welfare (Lib/Lab supporters) – that’s a big ask to turnaround.

  • Bill Rollinson

    Ian Duncan Smith crucifies the poor and infirm and accuses them of being fraudulent, yet he, while in opposition in 2002/03 paid his wife £15-18,000 a year for work she never did? Should he not be INVESTIGATED by the CPS?

    • D B

      I thought those accusations had all been refuted.

      • John Bell


        Call me innocent …….but ………,

        Does that mean ‘whitewashed from public view’?

        I humbly ask!

  • Bari Aziz

    They tax spare bedrooms and now they tax those of us who do not vote for the tories to pay for a ceremonial funereal service for one of their past party leaders, can we claim the funereal tax back?.

  • NeilM639

    The Tories have tried to disguise political dogma as financial necessity and they appear to be so dim that they didn’t think the British people would know what they are up to. Perhaps they thought we are as dim as they are.

  • Jon Videan

    What a selfish person you truly are berosos. In fact a typical fact tory banker (sorry i have a slight wlisp)

    • fantasy_island

      Rubbish, Berosos make a perfectly reasonable point.

      Do you seriously believe that no saving at all can be made in the welfare spend, absolutely nothing, anywhere.

      I am sick to the back teeth of people such as you simply labelling people nasty / selfish without advancing a credible argument.

      How do you think we should eliminate the deficit and pay off the debt?

      I am all ears.

      • Gaudi

        Indeed there are savings to be made by not providing very wealthy pensioners with winter fuel allowances, bus passes etc but do you think any politician is going to seriously call for that?

        • fantasy_island

          Please define a very wealthy pensioner, what exactly are we talking about.

          I agree that many recipients of WFA / BP could and should manage perfectly well without, but wonder if we would consume more cost identifying these individuals than we spend providing the service.

      • Ray Rogers

        stop giving money to other coutries and eu,get rid of useless qangos,stop polititions ripping off expences, stop legal aid to terrorists,dont spend 10 mil on a funeral,dont give royals more money ,they dont need it,stop paying civil servants lottery sized wages,stop fighting wars we cant win.i wont go on lol,but u get the idea

        • fantasy_island

          Which useless quangos would you cut and what would it save? please be specific.

          Where’s your evidence that politicians are ripping off expenses?

          What’s the lowest salary package in your opinion that would allow the recruitment and retention of civil servants to a sufficient caliber?

          Which convicted terrorist do you have in mind? were they granted legal aid before conviction in line with current rules?

          The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, what would you consider to be a victory? in what way haven’t we won?

          I get the idea alright, you know FA.

      • John Bell

        Re:- ‘How do you think we should eliminate the deficit and pay off the debt?

        I am all ears.’

        Try bearing down on the Tory approach to tax avoidance on a monumental scale, perhaps?

        • fantasy_island

          Which taxes?

          You may as well call for a crackdown on people who hold an ISA account.

          If you are genuinely concerned that coach and horses are driven through loopholes in current legislation then blame Labour, It was the worst chancellor in living memory after all (Brown) that complicated the tax system to the current degree.

          • John Bell

            …………… and those out for a quick buck …… no matter what the social cost ………. who held onto his coat tails and filled THEIR pockets!

            I humbly suggest!

            • fantasy_island

              Be specific man.

              Who is out for a quick buck? How did they do it? What was the social cost?

              Whose coat tails? what are you talking about?

  • ChrisTavareIsMyIdol

    The Tories have made the fatal error of trying to win Lib Dem and Labour votes when what they really need are UKIP ones. Cameron is so pro-EU he’d rather lose the election than offer a referendum, and that’s precisely what he’s going to do and take many good Tory MPs done with him

  • Bellatrixa

    Looking at those poll results, if I were Clegg, I’d give up now. Seriously, the Lib Dems are toast. Stand down as leader, pull out of the coalition and force a GE now. That’s the only way you’re going to save some face now, Cleggy boy.

  • David Lindsay

    Labour and the Lib Dems have suspended their local election campaigns as a mark of respect. The Conservatives had not yet started campaigning. These, remember, are the English County Council Elections. In less than a month’s time. But the Tories had not even bothered to begin trying for them. Thank you, George Osborne.

    The Conservatives have now managed to convince themselves so completely that no one in the North ever did vote for them, that when UKIP came second at Rotherham, all the talk was of “former Labour voters”. The same would happen if UKIP came second at South Shields. On that same night, Lancashire looks more and more likely to be one of three County Councils to pass straight from Conservative to Labour control.

    But if the UKIP voters at Rotherham or South Shields were formerly Labour, then how come Labour still romped home at Rotherham, and is still going to romp home at South Shields? If necessary, Labour can win without the South, as happened in 2005. Whereas the Conservatives cannot win without the North, as has never happened. That is just the reality.

    And UKIP, not to say Question Time, take note: it’s called First Past The Post for a reason.

  • brossen99
  • SP Resident

    The conservatives have deserted their core constituency. They no longer support conservative values or policies. Expect UKIP to perform well in May Elections

    • martinvickers

      Actually, a UKIP triumph in May, bizarrely, may be the only way to save the Party for the GE. The more real the spectre of defeat, the more many UKIP voters will have to weigh the ‘tactics’.

  • Duncan Stott

    Basically, we only see significant shifts in opinion polls when either the state of the economy changes or the public sense a political change in the strength/unity/competence/trustworthiness of a party.

  • Jon Leighton

    The Conservatives have vastly underestimated the consequences of some of their welfare reforms. Take the ‘Bedroom Tax / Under Occupancy charge; Not only are there issues of basic fairness here, these are compounded by so many impracticalities. I doubt you can find a housing professional willing to fully back it.

    The British Public are not given enough credit. They can sniff out a cruddy policy which is being imposed on their communities much faster than a Westminster village journo. Expect this policy in particular to go down in flames in the next six months. There are horror stories coming.

    • Felix

      I hear today at a public meeting that more and more councillors are being contacted by more and more people over the bedroom tax as the Tory MP declines to help with the issue. This is a key marginal seat, so it looks like electoral suicide to me.

      • The Sage

        There is no tax on bedrooms any more than there is on windows.

        • Steve Richards

          Really? ?

          • The Sage

            Withdrawing benefit is not a tax.

            • Bill Rollinson

              A reduction in Income is a tax!

              • Dicky14

                Not unearned income, it’s a gift.

                • Pat Roberts

                  The sage is being pedantic!

              • The Sage

                Since when? So, if I earn £1,000 less this coming year by not working hard enough then I should consider this a tax.

              • Eeeek

                Please don’t argue with the paid shill.

        • mightymark

          The Tories played fast and loose applying the label “tax” to things that arguably were not under the Labour Government. Now, as the late great Corporal Jones said “they don’t like it up em”.

          • fantasy_island

            Did they?

            Examples please.

            • mightymark

              Two things were called stealth taxes that weren’t. In the first case there were taxes that were clearly announced as such – in the second things were adjudged tax increases that simply were not.

              Presumably you will accept the Centre for Policy Studies as a broadly Conservative think tank. If you look at pp34-55 they list a number of tax changes deemed “stealth taxes” that were clearly announced in the budget (I know because I wrote some of the press releases).


              The other kind was typified by that description attching to diversion of National Lottery money to things that could have been tax payer funded. Whether this was justifiable in itself can be argued however to call it a tax is illogical as it assumes all public funding is tax funded – which is obviously untrue (borrowing, licence fees etc).

              • fantasy_island

                Thanks for replying mightymark.

                Exactly what did the conservatives incorrectly label as a tax in reference to the labour governments 1997 – 2010?

                As far as the good causes financed via the National Lottery, for me it is inevitable that the distribution of funds would become politicised when administered via the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. It is doubtful that projects such as the recent Olympic Games would have qualified under the original remit, although not wrong in my opinion that they did.

                The link is fine as far as it goes but does not make your point for you, of course I am open to a change of mind once you substantiate your original post.

        • Barbara Stevens

          If you charge or reduce people’s rent for an extra room its a cut or tax, where I come from, whatever you call it it’s taking money from families who may already be in difficulties, it won’t wash and it won’t come off.

          • fantasy_island

            How many spare bedrooms do you think a person on housing benefit should be allowed to have?

            • Barbara Stevens

              They rented their properties in good faith, may be when working full time, just because their circumstances change it should not mean they have to be charged more. Its a discrimitory law and won’t work. There are more elderly people in large homes than famlies are they to be forced to move eventually? Its sick and desisive.

              • fantasy_island

                So for you it doesn’t matter, if a family moved into a 5 bed house they should be allowed to stay there once the kids have gone, for the rest of their life.


                Do you realise that the under occupancy rule has applied to anyone spending housing benefit in the private sector for twenty years, surely by your own logic it would be devisive not to apply the same rules to people renting public sector properties.

                • global city

                  That is a terrible straw man. If you have a council or housing association house you have entered a system. Getting an exchange or transfer is down to the authority. The amount of housing choice is determined by the institution, rather than the market. For example, there is now a terrible problem in Liverpool with smaller premises because for the last 30 years the council has had tens of millions of £ to demolish flats and maisonettes. The tenant has played no part in these strategic decisions.

                  On the other side, unlike with private tenants council tenants tend to maintain the property, decorate and carpet them, etc. They invest in the houses. Your example of a 5 bed house lying nearly empty would just not occur. Councils and HA’s do try and move people into more suitable accommodation, but the availability of the stock is still the central issue, even with those who own the stock.

                  Making people pay for a situation they have great difficulty solving is not a fair one.

                • fantasy_island

                  You truly are a simpleton.

                  Encourage people to take responsibility for their own live rather than waiting for someone else to help.

                  Did you learn nothing from Mrs Thatcher?

                • global city

                  Simpletons see the world in black and white, with no nuance and no exceptions. To be able to rent social housing you have to join a system. many people in rented accommodation of that sort take responsibility for their lives, but the system dominates your housing choice, if you make the decision to seek public housing.

                  One real lesson to learn from Margaret Thatcher was that she was not a blind dogmatist. One reason why the right to buy was so popular is that it helped break a choke-hold that councils had in this one area. If you do not understand that in the public housing system the tenants have a greatly restricted opportunity for ‘responsibility’ in the housing choice and allocation area then you must be quite a simpleton yourself.

                  Perhaps you have a rather one dimensional picture in your mind of what people in public housing are like? you would be wrong. One additional issue to consider is the nature of public housing. If you are lucky enough to find a house that you like, in an area that you like, it will be in the middle of a big council estate. As I said, the system removes lots of choice from the tenant. Those who CAN remove themselves out of the system do.

                • fantasy_island


                  It is completely unfair to apply different rules to recipients of housing benefit based on who owns the property that they live in. If a local authority in a particular area fails to provide an adequate number of properties, then people have no choice but to either rent privately owned accommodation or move to a different authority with a surplus of suitable property.

                  You seem to have a very low opinion of your fellow man, weak willed victims at the mercy of a system. It is this type of comment that shows you have no understanding of Thatchers values, ie, empower the individual.

                  Perhaps for the record you could state how many spare bedrooms a recipient of housing benefit be permitted to have?

                  Also please advise what we should do with the families waiting right now for suitable properties that are currently under utilised by existing tenants?

                  It is not unreasonable in my opinion that welfare and benefit provision becomes a truly bespoke service, changing naturally as the circumstances of the recipient change at different stages of life.

                  The simpleton comment was a cheap shot for which I apologise.

                • global city

                  You are completely missing the central point. If you have a house with a council or housing association you are part of THEIR system. It is not about being weak willed or anything. My Grandfather used to only rent in the private market because it allowed him to move freely when ever he wanted, and he never had to do this from a position of being dependent on the government for help with his rent.

                  Pleading the ‘Thatcher’ mantra is a little obsessive and dogmatic, as she never made the changes suggested. I imagine that she did not do this because, well, it’s actually a little bit nutty. Margaret Thatcher actually understood the complexities of the council housing system and was one of the reasons that she tried to implement change. She did not target those trapped in it for good reason.

                  You have to detach this issue as you seem to think that these people can get on a housing list and just chose what ever size property they want and the government is compelled to go along with it! Most of them are left in a position of having ‘too many bedrooms’ due to a change of circumstances, like a divorce or a death; a child leaves home, or what ever.

                  Now; because they find themselves within the council system, the fleet move to a more appropriate sized property is NOT UNDER THEIR CONTROL. They can apply for an exchange (with one of those overcrowded families, for instance) or a transfer, but how and when this happens will be down to the council or housing association. The choice of places to move is also limited to the houses and the areas that the council or housing association own.

                  The vast majority of people who find themselves in such a situation do attempt to resolve it, by joining the transfer list, but some people do decide to try and remain in their homes, as they have roots in the community, for example.

                  The vast majority end up in this situation temporarily. As I’ve mentioned, they will join a transfer list, but then you wait for the COUNCIL to resolve the problem. Are you suggesting that they should be immediately evicted, as the council cannot provide them with a suitable property straight away?

                  As for your ‘how many bedrooms?’ question, it is actually a bit absurd, as 99% of the people involved in this debate will find themselves with just one extra bedroom. Older people who may find themselves in a family house with 2 empty rooms are not actually affected by the benefit changes. Do you really imagine that there are tens of thousands of 5 bedroom houses being taken up by single Mothers who have put their kids into care, so that they can party in their state funded mansion?

                  The most important point is that THE VAST MAJORITY of people who find themselves in such a situation DO get themselves out of it as fast as possible, as it is not a very nice place to be in.

                • fantasy_island

                  Just one excuse after another with you isn’t it, to operate a two tier benefit system is simply unacceptable.

                  I am genuinely pleased that you recognise an individuals circumstances will change with time and extra pleased that you concede 99% of people involved in this debate will have one extra bedroom, now what should we do about that?

                  To simply waffle on about a “system” is pathetic, individual men and women are not merely passengers bent to the will of officialdom, they are sentient beings able to make a free and rational choice. It may be that a person decides to move into the private rented sector in the short term whilst waiting for a more appropriate dwelling to become available under the local council, it may be that they decide to stay put and accept a reduction in the benefit as a direct result of their under occupancy. It’s up to them.

                  Personally I think that it would be far more appropriate to offer a shorter fixed term tenancy in the social sector, with renewal say every 3 years than offer a tenancy for life as currently is.

                  You failed to answer the questions I asked in my previous post by the way, I wonder why?

                • global city

                  I thought that I had answered your points, and some more too! I am not excusing anything. What I am doing is laying down some valid reasons as to why it is pretty nutty to force this change as soon as a circumstance occurs.

                  I am not waffling about ‘a system’, just explaining to you the system in which social housing operates. If you want the freedom (and the many downsides) of the private housing market then you do not join the council one. Your idiotic suggestion that people should step out of the public system and into the private system until the council sort them out makes no sense, on two counts.

                  1. If you step out of the council system they are not obliged to help you any more. To be obliged to would mean a major change in their current practice.
                  2. As I have already mentioned, the private sector is much more expensive than the public, with regards to rents. So it would cost the tax payer MORE. Thatcher understood this when she disbanded the ‘Fair rent’ system and is probably why she didn’t change the rules on ‘bedrooms’ herself. Let me ask you that, seeing as you raised the great woman. Why did Thatcher not change this absurd imposition of the good tax payers of ye olde ingerlund? My guess is that it was because she had much more sense and foresight than this government.. and dare I say it, you.

                  Your notion of 3 year terms of tenancy would not work as most people resolve their issue well within that time.

                  Most people in council property pay their own rent

                  Most people have the appropriate number of bedrooms

                  Most people find themselves with an excess bedroom for only a short while

                  We have a dual payment system I presume because the two systems operate differently. the tenant does not control either of these.

                  Let me give you an example. A family live in a house for 15 years, happily bringing up their kids. Their neighbours are good, they have a settled life. they spend tens of thousands of £ maintaining and decorating their ‘home’ (which council tenants tend to do, where as private tenants do not). The eldest child leaves home. A month later the Dad loses his job, forcing them to apply for housing assistance. Are you really saying that they should be forced out of the house immediately? Sure, they can pay the extra for a few months until he gets more work, but State aid is not calculated to accommodate such things. It is calculated on things like food and utilities costs.

                  You see how it gets really convoluted and difficult? the bureaucracy being put in place now to check then enforce this must be costing a bomb.

                  Another importaant aspect of the public housing sector is is was created to help those who could not otherwise afford it, a chance to build a home, rather than spend their lives in one rackman type shithole of a house after another. I think people should be able to find a house and turn it into a home, even if they hit occasional ‘situational’ problems. Do you really not think that too? I will assume that I may well earn quite a bit more than you do, but I do not begrudge a tiny bit of my taxes helping people overcome these sorts of short term issues. I think that you have taken on all of those left wing myths portraying MT as a cold bitch as truth, and have built some whackjob template on the back of it.

                  I could go on, but you will no doubt accuse me of just making excuses. I apologise for raising some sound issues that you obviously not considered, but the act of learning is always refreshing.

            • wayoffmessage

              People should have as many spare bedrooms as the Queen,she is a sterling example to us all. God bless her

              • fantasy_island

                Alas, Queen Elizabeth does not rent so you comment is simply fatuous.

                It is quite remarkable how reluctant many people are to qualify opinion with actual figures.

                • wayoffmessage

                  The Queen owns Balmoral and Sandringham if my memory serves me right but Buck House is state owned and therefore social housing

                • fantasy_island

                  Not true.

                  The crown estate is leased to the government from the Queen, in a contract that is renewed on every monarchs ascension. This is the case since George III.

                  Should Charles decide not to renew this agreement he will sacrifice the civil list payment, but regain control of the crown estate and its £7bn portfolio.

                  Buckingham Palace does have 188 bedrooms available for staff however.

                  To claim that any residence owned by the state is social housing is just silly, are the billets at Catterick Garrison social housing? fancy a social housing cell at HMP Belmarsh?

                • wayoffmessage

                  Dear fantasy_island, the crown lands are pure robbery of the commons, nationalise them

                • fantasy_island

                  Well, that’s just your opinion.

                • wayoffmessage

                  And your enthusiastic brown-nosing is just yours.

                • fantasy_island

                  Oh dear.

                  No opinion from me, only facts.

                • wayoffmessage

                  Some facts are temporary, the law of gravity might be permanent but laws about ownership can be changed, very quickly too as the depositors in Cypriot banks have so recently discovered.

                • fantasy_island

                  I presented you with the facts as they stand.

                  The situation is what it is.

                • wayoffmessage

                  Dear fantasy_land,
                  Why bother we all know the facts “as they stand”, it is the different facts of the future which matter

                • fantasy_island

                  Because I wished to counter your original statement which was factually incorrect.

                  It is very important that mis-information and untruths are refuted.

                • wayoffmessage

                  You missed the point fantasy_island, I imagine you always do

                • fantasy_island

                  There is no point with people like you, only ideology. You think something so it must be correct.

                  You have not countered the facts I presented in a single reply……quite remarkable.

          • AlexJ

            An amount of free money being reduced to a smaller amount of free money does not equate to a tax, wherever you come from. Irrespective of the circumstances.

        • Gareth

          Yes, we know – we keep on hearing that message from Cameron, senior Tories and their supporters. It bemuses me how poorly they have played the politics of this issue.

          The typical critic on the left tends to either raise concerns of unfairness (as there are not enough smaller properties in most areas to make it possible for all Housing Benefit claimants to downsize), or concern about how people on such low incomes can feasibly cope with a reduction in their income.

          By repeatedly giving a response which focuses on definitional minutia, the government has shown that its primary concern is with the presentation of the issue rather than the effects of its policy. Attacks on welfare may be popular with a certain proportion of the electorate, but for a party which needs to increase its support in order to secure a Conservative majority in 2015, failing to engage with the genuine misgivings which so many of us hold is hardly wise.

        • martinvickers

          The ‘poll tax’ wan’t actually a ‘poll tax’ either, but it still did for the Lady. I’m afriad, like it or not, perception sometimes matters.

        • wayoffmessage

          That’s not what they are saying in the hood honey

    • Daniel Maris

      The Tories are always vulnerable on this sort of thing. They have no idea what problems face low income families. The fact that many people here assumed grandparents are “pensioners” shows how little they understand.

      The bedroom tax and other policies will be spreading fear through the benefit system in much the same way the austerity propaganda from Osborne’s first months spread fear among the employed.

      I agree JL, there will be many horror stories. A few doughty types will take it all the way to eviction.

      What a self-inflicted wound. Another own goal from the so called “master strategist”.

      • rubyduck

        “They have no idea what problems face low income families”.

        Do you ? Are you poor ?

        • The Sage

          I couldn’t care less about low-income families. Nor should we. Let them eat cake.
          It’s for so-called low-income families to transform themselves into higher income families by hard work and endeavour, not waiting around in a supine fashion for hand-outs from the state.

          • gladiolys

            Thus spake the Sage, giving voice to the silent majority of the Tory Party.

            I’m looking forward to seeing “Couldn’t Care Less” on Conservative election posters.

            • The Sage

              Me too.

          • Steve Richards

            Typical Tory, The Nasty Party.

          • Eeeek

            You ARE definitely a government shill. How can you call what you are doing a job? A job insomuch as Josef Mengele’s position was a job!

          • Barbara Stevens

            You are likened to the greed and selfishness created by Thatcher, its still here I see. I just hope you never find yourself in some peoples shoes, compassion for ones fellow citizens is paramount for a fair society, greed manifests its self for more chaos.

            • global city

              “CREATED by Thatcher”. before 79 it was all warmth and Russian buns I suppose?

          • Jayeflo

            Who endowed you with the name of Sage??? You egotistical,self centred,self indulgent,hypocritical bigot!!! You must be a tory who needs a Topectomy!!!

            • The Sage

              Thank you for your beautifully crafted comment.
              I don’t why, but your gift for prose has reminded of the superb
              Jim Davidson joke:
              “You know, I really thought long and hard about donating
              money to the starving in Ethiopia. But then, I thought………… nah fuck ‘em”.

          • robert

            u need shooting

        • Jambo25

          I think a lot of us have been poor even if we aren’t now. The problem with the present Tory cabinet is few, if any, of it’s members ever have been. They are, in Nadine Dorries’s words, “Posh boys who don’t know the price of milk”.

    • Bill Rollinson

      It is also illegal or should I say some implications of it are. Take size of bedroom, this is laid out in the housing act 1985 at 50 sq ft. Yet when people ask, the councils are telling them to ask the landlord what their definition is for the rent they charge. This is clearly wrong, leaving legislation to a landlord, basically to set his own rate. Conflict of interest. It has been proven that there are some implications and grounds for appeal. This would cost councils 4-5 times what it’s supposed to save and it will cause unnecessary loss of trade.

    • Eddie

      I think you’ll find most people think charging people for living in large state-owned houses is utterly fair.
      What the government wants to do is remove the unfairness that already exists!

      • Ray Rogers

        plus they need places for the romanian and bulgarians to live.evict current tennents problem solved,simples

      • Chatterclass

        The problem is in the mindset. People don’t just want to live in a house/ flat. They want a home, with security. In a community. A secure tenancy gave you that. In the private sector, a tenant has no security at all. The landlord can evict you without any reason once the term of your tenancy has expired. Not good if you want to put down roots.
        So, the problem with the bedroom tax is that it looks alright on paper: under occupying people should move ( I am leaving out the issues of disabled etc). But it fails to address the lack of suitable alternative accommodation in the community. So, you are expecting people to be uprooted from their communities and security.
        That is why it is so unpopular.

    • Nick

      Hello John.I agree with what you say about the bedroom tax.
      I am all for hammering welfare scroungers & hammering them hard but while I don’t pretend to understand the ‘ins’ & ‘outs’ of welfare policy my gut instinct is telling me that the bedroom tax is being implemented unfairly.
      This bedroom tax has shades of poll tax over it.

      • Bill Rollinson

        I too am all for hammering scroungers, but this government think they ALL are? Before implementation should they not have done a ‘risk assessment’ or even identify the scroungers. Government tell us it is costing £165 billion yet they DON’T tell you that £135 billion comes BACK in taxes! All in al we have the LOWEST welfare figures in Europe @ 18% of average income., compared to 35% and 68% in some parts of the EU.

        • Nick

          Bill I did reply to you hours ago but my post has not appeared.It wasn’t rude or offensive and I agree with you.

      • Barbara Stevens

        Why refer to people as scroungers are they not human as you are, albeit, may be better humans.

        • Nick

          I refer to them as scroungers because some of them are scroungers.And if they are scroungers,then they are certainly not better human beings than me.
          Oh I get it…….you don’t like me because I’m white,middle aged & work for a living.
          I suppose if I was an illegal Somalian rapist,you’d be showering me with compliments…….Do me a favour Babs……Pipe down.

          • Barbara

            No, Nick, I won’t pipe down, I much prefer to treat all human beings fairly, how can we really know people’s circumstances at any moment in time? I’m white, have worked all my life as did my husband, but that does not mean we are better than anyone else, the word ‘scrounger’ as been applied for all and its most unfair, of course you get those who ‘won’t work’ and I too, think they are idle, but they are human beings and we have to deal with them, not by demonising them but showing them the way forward with manners and humanity, and consistently making sure they understand the work ethic, You won’t do that by slandering them and calling them names. What we do need is training and education programmes to show them the way.

            • Nick

              Hello Barbara.I agree with just about about everything you say in your reply & just because I called someone a scrounger doesn’t mean that I have demonised every person who is on benefits.
              The word scrounger is an accurately descriptive word to describe the kind of people that you & me are talking about.And that’s the kind of people who have no intention of working even though they are capable of doing so.
              And it’s all very well you taking the moral high ground by saying that all humans should be treated fairly….well I disagree.
              What about paedophiles & child rapists for example? Should we treat them fairly? No,they should be treated with all the contempt they deserve.
              And the same applies to the scrounging shirkers,not those that genuinely need & deserve benefits.
              Again I agree with your comments about training & education programmes & from what I can see,there are plenty of available programmes in existence.But some bugger refuse to use them.

              • Barbara

                Well you’ve now extended the category of people, we were discussing non-workers, but its nice to see you agree with some points. I still think the name calling is not necessary you can discuss without being rude, which it sounds. I consider all human beings be they poor unemployed, rich or not, as worth something in this life, which is short, believe me. I should know about life my husband lost his last month, after lifetime of work, 46 years NI stamps on his card. He was however denied a hospital bed in his last weeks, life is hard so be thankful for life where ever you have it.

                • Nick

                  Barbara I’m sorry to hear about the loss of your husband & I lost my Dad in February & I know that my mum will pop her clogs real soon.But that’s life & death for you.
                  Name calling is not so bad as most of us do it.I appreciate your stance but it’s not as if I used swear words to make my point.
                  With regards to your views regarding human beings……well I’m not like you as there are many that I like & love.But there are others who are not worth a light.
                  But putting all that aside,I hope that you recover soon from your loss & grief & live a happy life.

      • martinvickers

        The key problem, I would argue, is that this ‘bright idea’ runs rather contrary to a basic understanding of human beings. It looks good in numbers, but it looks awful in people.

        And that understanding is very simple. Peope, public sector, private sector, subsidised, not subsidised, don’t rent bedrooms. they rent homes. And while the economic arguments can be made, and will be, the horror stories will all have one line “he, she, they were evicted from their homes” – not their three bedroom living units. Not their overpriced, underused accomodation.

        Homes. That is the language on a gut level that people understand.

    • Reborn

      Horror stories from the BBC

  • berosos_bubos

    They are not in oppostion anymore. Public opinion of the government is based on the effect their policies have on people’s lives , not on whether they win debates. If they want to improve their opinion polls they need to cut taxes. If cutting the welfare state allows them to do that then so much the better.

  • BenM_Kent

    Spot on.

    The unedifying spectacle of Tories gloating at the loss of income for millions will harden attitudes of those that think – rightly – that Tories are nasty, hard hearted scoundrels.

    • The Sage

      Excellent, I hope so and they might then actually get my vote instead of pretending to be cuddly fluffy pink kittens. This government is spending £120 bn more each year than it earns. Some things have to be cut. Let’s start with the undeserving poor – of which there are millions in this country.

      • Pat Gorman

        Why not start with the undeserving rich? The welfare budget is around £157 billion p/a. Of which only 0.7% (according to the DWP’s own figures!) is lost to benefit fraud, around £1.2 Billion. Yet they themselves state that there is £1.3 billion in unpaid or underpaid benefits, so if they did their job perfectly, and stopped ALL fraudulent/incorrect benefits, but paid all genuine cases, it would cost this government MORE!

        Now compare that figure…£1.2 billion, to the estimated figure for all unpaid income tax, (including unpaid, evaded or just late) £130 billion. Can you please explain to me why big companies and rich individuals are seemingly exempt from paying the taxes everyone else does? No? Here’s an easy one for you, why do Cameron and Osbourne ignore this grotesque situation? If you really are that stupid, I suggest you do some more research. If however as I suspect, you are just another troll…then you need to worka lot harder to construct an argument.

        • The Sage

          Thank you for your kind and generous comments.
          What gives you the idea that big companies are exempt from paying tax (listening to the BBC, perhaps?). Business taxes take many forms and do not only comprise Corporation Tax, of which the government collects many billions of pounds each year.
          For example, my own company had a turnover last year of around £600,000, of this over £100,000 was paid in various taxes of which Corporation Tax comprised only 16%.
          Rich individuals are not exempt either, the top 1% of income tax payers contribute around 25% of all income tax collected.
          Now go back and read your copy of The Guardian.

          • Gaudi

            Such blinkered one-sided views have more in common with the likes of Scargill. Those on the extremes never contribute anything meaningful to the argument, so entrenched they are in their own world view and belief in personal certainties. Luckily, the majority of us are a little more balanced.

          • Pat Gorman

            My apologies, I should have signposted the hint of sarcasm more clearly. Interesting that you choose to ignore the central issue I raised, ( so I must assume you have no answer) so I will make it even more bluntly nonetheless.

            Why do Cameron and Osbourn vilify those on benefits, while ignoring the group that actually cost this country 100X as much? Business are not exempt, yet Vodafone owe £6billion. Cameron even employed Phillip Green, tax avoider supreme, to advise the government on saving money! In the absence of a better answer, I have to assume he wants to keep his friends (and party contributors) happy.

            All I am asking is for EVERYONE to pay their share, not just the Middle and Working classes.

            • fantasy_island

              Pat Gormless more like.

              • Pat Gorman

                So when you have no answer to a reasonable question you resort to insults. Is this what passes for debate now? Actually, for you it probably does.

                • fantasy_island

                  Only when replying to scum like you.

                  You speak about insults yet post that avatar, you are beneath contempt.

          • Pat Roberts

            Explains a lot of your replies,self serving,odious cretin!

            • fantasy_island

              Do you have anything to contribute or this simply a lefty gangfest?

              You know the usual where tons of people register, leave a couple of idiotic comments before disapearing again.

              And whats with the personal insults? How would you feel if I described you as a stupid, fat, hideous, munter?

              • Pat Gorman

                More insults…you really are an intellectual giant.

                • fantasy_island


      • Joseph Dunne

        By undeserving I’m assuming you include those with learning and physical disabilities;single parents – especially women – who pay their mortgage with a single income; those, like me, who are forced to rent privately because I don’t earn enough to buy a house. And lets not forget those other thousands who cannot find full time, permanent work and are made (and, now, legally forced) to work on minimum wage stacking shelves whilst trying to feed and clothe themselves and their families. I and many others like me have no desire or skill to work in finance or for large, multinational corporations (I’m studying for a PhD in Drama and work at a library) . With wages falling in real terms across the public sector, compounded by government cuts to services which a) limit access to information and b) decrease job opportunities for low and unskilled workers, tax receipts to the treasury will fall, whilst societal fractures will be ripped apart with the majority in thrall to a small, corporate elite whose wealth will do anything but ‘trickle down’.

        • The Sage

          Studying for a PhD in Drama? I rest my case.

          • Pat Gorman

            Nothing like intelligent debate is there.

          • fantasy_island

            I know, good luck to the chap but WTF.

            We certainly have a serious shortage of Drama boffins as any fule no.

            • Pat Gorman

              And a lack of English teachers…as any fool knows

              • fantasy_island

                Are you serious?

      • Loulou

        How about the rich pay their fair share of taxes? You can’t blame all of this on the ‘undeserving poor’.

        • The Sage

          They already are. Go check out the stats on the income tax paid by the top 1% and also the top 10% of earners. Then compare with, say, the situation in 1988 or 1978.
          Also compare with the bottom 10% who, of course, all pay their taxes and never work cash in hand – if they bother to work at all.

      • Eeeek