Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Fabian Review part II: Shock! as Britain found to be against Inequality

The Fabian Review led with a survey of 3000 voters, finding to the delight of the researcher that Britain was solidly against inequality. However, what it actually found was that, when asked to discuss abstract values or outcomes, people being polled preferred the nice answer. So:

- 94% of Tory voters supported "a fair wage for a fair day's work"
- 94% of all voters said that nobody should suffer discrimination because of their disability
- 95% backed giving access to high quality healthcare to everyone; 97% said the same for access to a good state school

These attitudes were meant to signal the capitulation of old nasty Tories to the Labour way of thinking. Yes, before Blair et al drummed home the message, presumably:

- a majority of Tories agreed with the idea of paying people 'unfairly', whatever that means
- similarly they backed "picking on people just because they're disabled
- they shook their jowls in anger at the notion of poor people getting well or educated.

What nonsense. Poll answers prove nothing of the sort. Asked their opinion of more apple pie for all, everyone says "sure". No dilemmas or trade-offs are asked for.

honest approach would have been to ask people to choose between trade-offs.

"Would you be willing to pay 10% more tax to ensure that all the kids in your neighbourhood got better schooling"

"Would you agree with the Government forcing all employers to pay at least £6 per hour because that is fairer?"

Megaphone politics never admits to their being trade-offs. When I asked campaigning undergrads at the LSE where the money should come from to replace Student Tuition fees with some middle-class subsidy, most of them thought "cut Trident" was a sophisticated answer (no doubt the Treasury are slapping their foreheads right now, wondering why they never thought of it)

The only interesting aspect of the poll was when Tories were asked whether things had gotten better in 10 yearsn ('fairer'). 10% said yes, compared to 74% for Labour voters. This just proves how bogus polls are: they are not objective measures of peoples' honest views, but a way for them to project what opinion they want registered. If you vote Tory, then regardless of your house tripling in value, regardless of low unemployment and booming capital values, you will want to say "life is crap". Whereas the Labour voter, trapped in insufficient social housing and facing a bigger crime problem, is duty-bound to say "it's getting better".

1 comment:

purplepangolin said...

I half agree with your last paragraph, but you are conflating getting fairer with getting better. My life has got better over the last ten years for a number of reasons, including a healthy economy. This has nothing to do with fairness though. If I am taxed more heavily on my increased wealth and the revenue from that tax is not spent in a way that I consider to be fair, then I could argue that things are both better and less fair.