Author Archives: David Allen

Why the polls really got it wrong

The statisticians appointed by the British Polling Council have spoken.  The cause of the 2015 opinion poll disaster was – wait for it – statistical sampling error.  Pollsters chose the wrong mix of people.  Never mind that they had previously blamed bad statistics for their 1992 disaster, and thought they had then sorted out how to do the maths.

Meanwhile, professionals and pundits agreed that asking which party had the best leader was, consistently, a more reliable guide to who would win.  Thus, if they’d just relied on the finding that Cameron led Miliband in 2015, they’d have called it right.

Hang on, though!  If the problem was really a faulty, Labour-biased sample, then why should that sample be any less biased when asked “Who’s the best leader?”  If you have a biased sample, changing the question you ask them cannot possibly get rid of the bias!

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged | 48 Comments

An Ideology for the Liberal Democrats?

agenda2020aThe new Agenda 2020 consultation on Liberal Democrat Philosophy appears on a special page of the Libdems website which provides the consultation paper and a box for members to submit comments. However, these would then seem to disappear without trace, so that only the privileged will see what anyone else has said. Not a very liberal start. LDV provides a better forum for open discussion, so – here’s my shot.

The consultation paper says:

All political philosophies are based on a view of human nature. … We believe in the essential goodness and improvability of humankind.

Deep breath. Well, OK, I do believe that humans are capable of doing good as well as evil, and that much of the time they don’t really do either. But – surely this is far too unworldly, too trusting, too out-of-touch with life’s harsher realities?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 34 Comments

Refugees – Europe’s failure to plan by consensus

 

To state the obvious, Europe is failing to tackle its long term refugee “crisis”.  Less obviously, I would argue that it is primarily a failure of analysis and planning, and above all, failure to seek consensus.

Ironically, Cameron gets closest to a coherent plan.  He plans a token effort, just enough to defuse criticism and satisfy shallow consciences.  Then he can retreat into military fantasy, and dream of the Pax Britannica he will impose in Syria, just as we did in Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq (!)

Merkel’s plan, if more appealing, contains a gaping hole.  Germany blithely invites half a million refugees a year.  But when they come, Germany demands that other nations should also take a share.  Eastern Europe angrily refuses to play ball.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 12 Comments

Opinion: The Conservative campaign – some concerns

 

It is an opportune time to take issue with some of the key planks of the Conservative campaign.

Mr Crosby, who likes simple messages, has primarily put forward just two.  The first is that the Tories have a long term economic plan.  The second is a clever cartoon presenting Miliband as a puppet in Salmond’s pocket.

It might perhaps be argued that George W Bush, who repeated endlessly that Saddam Hussein was in league with Al-Qaida, was the original inspiration for the “Long Term Economic Plan” campaign.  Surveys showed that a majority of Americans came to believe a story known to be entirely false.  Constant repetition of the untruth helped Bush justify the invasion of Iraq.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged , and | 9 Comments

Opinion: Stop state sponsorship of sweat shops

BBC News reports:

Outlining proposed restrictions on tax credits and child benefits, Mr Cameron said a migrant in work with two children was getting £700 a month on average in support from the state, twice the amount paid in Germany and three times as much as in France.

Let’s forget about migrants for a moment. Britain’s “generous” in-work benefits are payable to all. Should we be proud of our “generosity”?

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 28 Comments

Opinion: Devo-Instant – a recipe for disaster

Union FlagWe are now into headless chicken mode. With a week to “save the Union”, we are contemplating fundamental constitutional reform at breakneck speed, driven by a timetable drafted on the back of a fag packet by Gordon Brown. Decades of unresolved debate about conflicting options will now be sorted out in months.

We all know about the Dangerous Dogs Act, “emergency” legislation which turned out unworkable. This time we’re not just talking about dangerous dogs. We are talking about the dangers of a botched constitutional settlement and national disintegration.

For politicians who don’t understand, this is not just about abstract ideas like regional government or an English Parliament. It is about organisation. It is about making sure there is one authority for each necessary task, not three or zero. It is about the jobs of those who skivvy for you politicians and do these tasks. It cannot be set up in a fortnight.

photo by: mrs.timpers
Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 25 Comments

Opinion: The Rawnsley Challenge

White Rabbit Super Yacht visits MelbourneAndrew Rawnsley, in the Observer, describes the rumoured Westminster paedophile scandal and asks the question: “Whom do you trust? Comes an answer that is as popular as it is succinct: trust no one.”

Rawnsley wearily summarises why we have lost trust in bankers, doctors, intelligence services, police, bishops, supermarkets, media and celebrities – and above all, politicians of all sides, from Blair onwards.  Then he gets more original.  He identifies judge-led enquiry as a means of establishing who we can trust – and then shows how that option was kyboshed.  When Hutton exonerated Blair (and when Blair recommended the Hutton process to his friend Rebekah Brooks), judge-led enquiry was discredited. Government, as often, has been slow to recognise the problem – as evidenced by the recent proposal that the sister of a previous Attorney-General should lead a historic child abuse enquiry.

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Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 21 Comments
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  • User AvatarManfarang 10th Feb - 2:49am
    Looking forward to Tsai Ing-wen taking office as president on 20th May this year.
  • User AvatarJane Ann Liston 10th Feb - 12:11am
    I have never been so cold as I was one night at the beginning of February during that campaign, canvassing in Dunfermline. There were even...
  • User AvatarLorenzo 10th Feb - 12:11am
    Glenn Thank you Mark Thank you Stuart In the memory of many on the BBC of old words come to the fore , "you cannot...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 10th Feb - 12:07am
    The current Lib Dem effort is, so I understand, to concentrate on supporting charity appeals for unaccompanied child refugees to be admitted to Britain, including...
  • User AvatarStephen Glenn 9th Feb - 11:56pm
    I do remember coming back after one of my many trips around the doorsteps of Inverkeithing on one Sunday to run into the smokers outside...
  • User Avatarmalc 9th Feb - 11:51pm
    Without trying to be harsh we should remember that the majority of these unaccompanied children are males between the age of 16 and 18. Many...