Posts Tagged ‘government’

Economic voting and party positions: when and how wealth matters for the vote

Does the ownership of economic assets matter for how people vote? Drawing on new research, Timothy Hellwig and Ian McAllister find the answer is yes. They argue that by changing their policy positions, parties can shape the influence of asset ownership on voter decisions.

The politics of asset ownership have received much attention in the aftermath of the Great Recession as researchers and financial advisers alike weigh the value of how best to store and build personal wealth. But the push for ownership is far from new. One of Margaret Thatcher’s many ideas was to create a ‘property-owning democracy.’ This belief in the virtues of private ownership aligned well with the Tories’ belief in citizens controlling their own wealth in the marketplace rather than surviving on state welfare.

In the ensuing decades, policies designed to foster homeownership have spread to other advanced capitalist democracies, notably in the U.S., with George W. Bush’s call for an ownership society in the 2000s, and to middle-income economies in places like Latin America as well. Over time, the policies to foster ownership have evolved into preferential tax policies to encourage participation in equity markets.

How has this advancement of asset ownership influenced electoral politics? Political scientists have examined whether wealth – conceived in terms of home or business ownership, savings, and holdings of shares of stock – matters for how voters decide. A growing body of research concludes, perhaps not surprisingly, that owners vote for centre-right parties such as the Conservatives in Britain, Republicans in the United States, and the Liberals in Australia. Once in power, centre-right parties are most likely to advance policies aligned with the interests of the owners to prevent their wealth being expropriated through taxation. In contrast, centre-left parties strive to curry favor among those individuals whose chief asset is their own labor. This ‘patrimonial’ logic of electoral politics harkens back to Marx in assuming that elections serve to play out the class struggle.

This story, however, leaves out the role of the electorally-motivated political party. It assumes that parties on the right uniformly favour cutting taxes and those on the left always advocate pro-spending policies. Of course, this is not the case, and we have to look no further than Britain as case in point. Labour in the 1990s and 2000s was demonstrably less favorable to spending than it was previously and has been since. And, with fits and starts, the Tories have moderated their market-based economic policy. Figure 1 shows this graphically, in terms of the two parties’ election manifestos. Higher values on the vertical axis depict more rightward-leaning policy positions and lower values views more to the left.

Figure 1: Left-Right Positions of Major Parties, Britain and Australia

Source: Comparative Manifesto Project.

In our research, we argue that this jockeying of positions over time matters for whether voters decide to draw on their identities as asset owners when selecting parties to represent their interests.  When the parties provide a choice, as was the case in Britain during the 1980s, then ownership ought to exert an influence, with owners of housing and shares supporting the Conservatives. But when the leftist alternative moderates, as Labour did after the 1992 election, the choice is less clear and the ‘patrimonial voting’ story less plausible.

To assess our claim, we examine post-election survey data which provides information on the parties’ policy positions, the respondents’ ownership status, and their vote choice. We first analyse the Australian case, which has been dominated by two parties with clear positions on welfare policy and economic management. Like Britain, the Australian parties have at times converged with respect to these positions, as Figure 1 indicates. Unlike Britain, however, we are fortunate to have information on the ownership status of survey respondents over six elections (from 2001 to 2016 from the Australian Election Study).

We find that when the Liberal and Labor parties are seen by voters as holding similar positions, patrimony has no effect on voter choice. It is only when voters consider the parties’ policies to differ that the traditional patrimony argument finds support. We further show that this effect of policy distance is stronger for higher-risk share ownership than for lower-risk home ownership.

Do these findings generalise to electoral democracies more broadly? To date, cross-national research on assets and voter choice has been limited by data availability. We are able to examine recently-available data from the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems which includes information on ownership.  Employing data from 25 countries, we examine the effect of assets on voting for centre-right parties. In some cases, like Switzerland, the parties were distinct in their economic policy views, while in others, like Japan, they were almost indistinguishable. Results of these analyses echo those from Australia. Ownership increases voter support for the centre-right but only when the parties are sufficiently polarized on economic policy matters. When polarizations are below the 25-country average, then a change in ownership status is no longer a factor contributing to the voter’s decision. Party positions, in short, provide an important scope condition for the presence of patrimonial economic voting.

Our research provides an important corrective to theories of asset ownership and party choice. The electoral benefits to political parties for advancing an “ownership society” agenda, in the mold of Thatcher or Bush, depends on the positions advanced by their opponents. This insight helps us to understand why assets have a greater electoral effect in some countries than in others. Some scholars suggest that differences in welfare state policies may provide an explanation, with ownership playing a more pivotal role in generous welfare states which levy high taxes on their citizens (e.g., Denmark or Sweden) compared to less generous, low tax, nations (like the UK or USA). Our polarization story suggests an alternative explanation. Ownership-based voting has weakened in recent elections in the US and Britain not because assets matter less to individuals but because the parties have differed little with respect to their positions on the economy.


Note: the above draws on the authors’ published work in Political Studies.

About the Authors

Timothy Hellwig is Professor of Political Science and, for 2017–2020, Remak Professor of European Studies at Indiana University. He is the author of Globalization and Mass Politics: Retaining the Room to Maneuver (2014, Cambridge).


Ian McAllister is Distinguished Professor of Political Science at The Australian National University, Canberra, and is a Director of the Australian Election Study and a former chair of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems.



All articles posted on this blog give the views of the author(s), and not the position of LSE British Politics and Policy, nor of the London School of Economics and Political Science. Featured image credit: Pixabay (Public Domain).


Shamima Begum – there is more to the story

Shamima Begum – there is more to the story

Once again, a story of national interest has polarised the left and the right in this country. The young girl from Bethnal Green who left to join Isis with two friends when she was merely fifteen has awoken the country from its Brexit stupor to be reminded of the evil that is the caliphate of Daesh.

The girl Shamima is now nineteen years old. She has had two children whilst married to an Isis fighter. They sadly died, the second child was nineteen months old and she states it died of malnutrition, although, it has to be said, she does look very well. She has just given birth to her third child, a boy, in a refugee camp in Syria,

She is in the camp because the territory Isis held has diminished in size and the number of people remaining as a fighting force numbers no more than 800. So Shamima has clearly got herself to safety and has left her husband behind to fight.

The Isis that once held great swathes of land across the middle east is now almost non- existent. They are, if reports from the USA are to be believed, shortly to be extinct.

It’s important to note that her husband, Yago Riedijk, is a Dutch man and is wanted for an act of terrorism in Arnhem in the Netherlands.

It is also important to note that her father, who is calling for her to be returned home safely with his grandson, is a supporter of Isis and the Caliphate. One also has to ask the question when Shamima and her friends left to go to Syria – how did a fifteen-year old girl get the monies, transport, passport and guidance to get there? It seems the trip was very well planned and executed. My experience of Muslim girls as young as these three were is that they can hardly go out to the shops without a chaperone and strict rules to follow.

So we now have a dilemma. It is law that as a British passport holder, if she can get herself to a country (Turkey being the nearest) with consular support, then there is nothing to stop this young woman coming back to England. It is emerging though that she was actually born in Bangladesh, so whether that muddies the waters about her re-patriation or not remains to be seen.

Back here in Blighty we have very set views: you either believe she should come home, along with her child of course, and settle, or be left to rot where she is. It is clear from interviews that she has no remorse about her actions, she is unfazed by things she has seen and experienced. Furthermore, she has no regrets whatsoever about travelling at fifteen to a far off, war-torn country to join a killing cult the likes of which has not been seen or experienced since Ghengis Khan or the Third Reich.

The Home Secretary has made his views very clear. Senior officials and pundits alike have all said she should be interviewed and brought to justice if guilty of offences. I suggest this is largely moot now as both the Telegraph (who first brought this story to light) and Sky News have interviewed her at length, and of course she denies any wrongdoing.

Just how a detective in London is going to prove or otherwise any criminality committed by this girl is a mystery. She is clearly worldly wise, would have a human rights lawyer or a team with her, probably on legal aid, and the task would be, I suggest, impossible.

What of her future? She has no qualifications, no skills to transfer to the world of work here. Her infamy would, I suggest, negate much chance of meaningful employment so the book writing and interviews on Loose Women would beckon. Magazine interviews, pictures and self-help books for others wishing to join a killing cult would, I am sure, make her a great living. Coupled with an Instagram following our Shamima will be set for life.

Contrast the call for her to come home and be feted by those on the left who see this as a cause celebre, to the plight of Asia Bibi, a Pakistani Christian woman begging for sanctuary in a Christian country from her persecution in Pakistan. Oh no – there was no outrage, no sympathy for this young lady!

The Prime Minister no less intervened on this one in order to put it to bed. Asia, who spent eight years in jail for an offence of blasphemy she clearly did not commit was turned down by our Theresa on the grounds that letting her come here might, just might, upset certain communities within our parishes.

Oh how wrong this country has become! Oh how we have gone off our axis and wallow in the soup of pathetic virtue signaling and Political Correctness! How can we ever get ourselves out of this soup made of the ingredients of wrong decision making, clever platitudes, lies and deceit!   

When did standing up for what is right and proper, truthful and common sense, become so wrong? Why do we not put our people and children first? The risks of all these Isis fighters and wives and girlfriends returning here is, to anyone with an ounce of common sense, a risk too great to take. I await with sadness the first casualty on these shores caused by some lunatic who thinks we are the infidel and must all be destroyed.

Stand back and see what happens then. I guarantee it will not be yet another candle light vigil.


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YOUR DAILY BREXIT – Thursday 14th February 2019, St Valentine’s Day

YOUR DAILY BREXIT – Thursday 14th February 2019, St Valentine’s Day

Will Ms May receive St Valentine’s Day cards? I doubt it, not when I see what’s on the cards for her today!

We alerted you yesterday (see here) on serious underhand dealings by the Government whose motion the HoC will vote on later today has taken on board an amendment meant to prevent the No Deal Brexit.

Tomorrow has now arrived – and the Government has, so far, not budged. It lead to today’s headline in The Express that 80 Tories will not vote for Ms May’s motion. The DT (paywalled) observes this morning:

“Theresa May is braced for another damaging defeat in the Commons on Thursday after Tory Eurosceptics accused her of ruling out a no deal Brexit.The European Research Group of Conservative Brexiteers says it cannot support a Government motion being put to a vote on Thursday after describing Mrs May’s position as “madness”. Senior sources within the ERG said the group would abstain, and with Labour expected to vote against the motion, it will mean yet another Brexit defeat for Mrs May just 43 days before Britain is due to leave the EU. The result of the vote will be purely symbolic, as it will not be legally binding, but a defeat would be a setback for Mrs May as she tries to persuade Brussels to change the Brexit deal. (my bold)

Jonathan Isaby, in his daily email newsletter for BrexitCentral, reports:

“The Prime Minister’s official spokesman was forced to deny that no-deal was being taken off the table, giving the media the following explanation: “What the motion reflects is the position the Prime Minister set out after those votes, which is the Parliament wants the UK to leave with a deal, but in order to do so it requires us to secure legally-binding changes in relation to the backstop. No-deal is an eventuality we wish to avoid, but one we continue to plan for. Does no-deal remain on the table? The answer is yes. (my bold)

Hands up all those who now understand the Government’s position!  Me, I am full of admiration for the collection of fluffy, obfuscating expressions Ms May’s spokesman has used to construct this statement. Jonathan Isaby also draws this conclusion:

“So as it stands, the Government motion could be defeated tonight although, not being a substantive motion, that would have no direct consequences. However, in terms of optics, it would suggest to those observing proceedings in Brussels that the PM is again struggling to hold together the fragile coalition that is the parliamentary Conservative party and command a majority in the House of Commons.” (my bold)

This is not the first time that I wonder what Ms May actually wants to achieve, and it’s not the first time that I ask myself why she and her Svengali Olly Robbins are so blind in their wish to keep us in that they have no regard for how they thrash our country on the world stage.

How disastrous their devious, underhand dealings are for the wellbeing of our country – a functioning economy surely is the basis for that! – is explained by Allister Heath in today’s DT (paywalled) who asks:

“Remind me: what’s so great about the single market and the single currency again? The latest economic statistics from the eurozone are appalling, and point to a continent that is sleepwalking into a catastrophic recession. Our own establishment is too busy self-flagellating to have noticed, even though a eurozone meltdown would not only hurt British businesses and workers but could transform the Brexit negotiations.”

Yes, well, anyone who has watched our MPs ‘perform’ knows that their economic knowledge isn’t even tending to ‘basic’, it’s non-existent. So of course, as long as they can flagellate not just ‘self’ but the opposition, they prefer doing that, grandstanding about ‘The People”, rather than educating themselves by reading business articles. I believe anyway that most of them must be functioning illiterates because, apart from tweeting, all they do is regurgitating what they’ve been told by their ‘advisers’. Thinking for themselves? Forget it! Allright, there are some honourable exemptions, but we can count them on the fingers of one hand.

Allistair Heath continues, giving us some numbers:

“If being part of the single market and customs union mattered so much more than any other policy, the eurozone would have boomed. Yet it didn’t, and the voters know they have been sold a pup. If you want to see proper growth, you need to turn to the emerging world, to China (which has multiplied the size of its economy in extraordinary fashion), to India, to Singapore, to Israel (up 98 per cent). Of course, the UK has underperformed these past two years; and yes, Brexit uncertainty, compounded by the Government’s incompetence, was one important reason. Yet this brief period of EU overperformance is ending. Eurozone industrial production was down a calamitous 4.2 per cent, year‑on-year in December, led by a 6.7 per cent collapse in Spain, 5.5 per cent in Italy and 3.9 per cent in Germany. French industry’s crisis was less pronounced at minus 1.7 per cent; Britain did slightly better again, by shrinking only 1.2 per cent. (my bold)

Where are the Remainers refuting these numbers? If it’s still not obvious that the whole Remain conglomeration lives with Alice in her Wonderland then I don’t know …

Allister Heath concludes:

One thing is certain: another eurozone crisis would strengthen the Brexiteers’ resolve, even if Britain is also affected. As a tangible EU failure, it would more than cancel out the warnings of Project Fear. It would make Eurosceptics even more sanguine about a no-deal departure. […] If we had a competent government, these are the sorts of discussions it would be having. […] Instead, there is nothing: no plan, no strategy, no reaction. But at some point, and soon, the British public will notice what is happening to the eurozone, and it will remember why it voted Leave. Woe betide the Tories if they betray Brexit under such circumstances.” (my bold)

There’s this saying that one ought not to ascribe to malice what is in fact sheer incompetence. I think we’re now seeing an unholy mixture of both incompetence and malice.

Anyway – if you want to see ‘blood on the floor’, book your place to watch today’s HoC debate and don’t miss watching the voting later this evening!




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The EU is good for British Industry? Oh no it isn’t!

The EU is good for British Industry? Oh no it isn’t!

There’s been a lot of stories of manufacturing jobs moving abroad using the excuse …”because of Brexit“.

Anyone think the EU is good for British industry or any other business simply hasn’t paid attention to what has been systematically asset-stripped from the UK over the last 47 years. The EU actively encourages UK-based firms to leave the UK with loans, but the EU hasn’t been the only reason. Labour and Conservative alike are equally to blame.

The Mini that David Cameron stood in front of as an example of British engineering are built by BMW mostly in Holland and Austria. Former PM David Cameron’s Remain battle-bus in June 2016 was made in Germany even though we have Plaxton, Optare, Bluebird, Dennis etc, in the UK. The Remain battle-bus was recycled for Theresa May’s 2017 General Election campaign. Says it all doesn’t it? (Reference)

Cadbury’s ( now owned by Kraft) moved their factory to Poland in 2011 – see here.

Ford Southampton moved their Transit van plant from to Turkey in 2013 with an €80 million EU loan allegedly backed by George Osborne when he was Governor of the European Investment Bank. Loan guaranteed by the UK Taxpayer! (References here and here)

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR is owned by Tata Steel, the same company who have trashed our steelworks and emptied the workers pension funds), agreed, before Brexit, to build a new plant in Slovakia, now opened in Oct 2018 with €125 million Slovakian state aid fund, backed by the EU Commission (Reference)

Now JLR say they have cut production in UK…because of “no deal” fears? No, people are buying fewer Diesel cars because of government policy, who at first encouraged us all to convert to diesel, now say we should convert to electric – see this.

But where are those electric cars going to get their power from in future? The Drax power plant, since 2013 in Northern Ireland and Selby, North Yorkshire, a Green Blob initiative, “Ash for Cash” scandal, burns wood pellets that are shipped across the Atlantic from Canada. This accounts for 80% of the Drax supply, with a massive carbon footprint in transporting wood pellets and burning them at no expense spared through government subsidy, adding 4 times as much CO2 and increased particulates into the air “equivalent to adding 3 million Diesel cars to the roads”, said Biofuelwatch. Many in the know who are also into biofuel electrical generation cottoned onto the fact that they received more through this subsidy than any electricity they generated. Labour or Tory, both are friends of the Green Blob insanity at your expense (here and here).

The British Army’s new Ajax fighting vehicle is built in Spain, using Swedish steel at the request of the EU Commission to support jobs in Spain, rather than Wales. A decision mostly made because the UK government has to follow EU Defence Procurement Directive 2009/81/EC, meaning contracts for defence have to be tendered across the EU internal market. And this was announced just before the Brexit vote in May 2016! Under WTO rules military equipment can be excluded from government procurement rules on national security grounds! (Reference)

With this in mind, 3 Royal Fleet Auxiliary support vessels are up for tender abroad too. The decision, whether a UK shipyard gets the contract or it goes abroad, is pending at the moment, subject to a government decision. The prospect looks bleak for UK shipyards the longer we remain in the EU. Why not freeze the tendering process and award the contract to a UK shipyard, after we leave the EU? Handy ePetition to sign! (Reference).

The list goes on:

M&S one of the last British clothing manufacturers left the UK for the far east in 2003

Also in 2003 Gillette fled Hemel Hempstead and London to Poland, with loss of 415 UK jobs.

Texas Instruments Greenock semiconductor plant announced in January 2016 that it was earmarked for closure in 2019, phasing production to Freising, Germany and Japan.

Peugeot moved their 206 Ryton car plant to Slovakia in 2006 possibly using state aid without EU approval.

The point is that businesses move about all the time, not because of Brexit, but because they move to where it’s favourable to make a profit. It’s up to the UK government to make businesses more favourable, less expensive, fewer taxes, fewer expensive regulations, make it easier for them to make a profit, instead like the EU, has embraced the subsidized Green Blob. For every job created through the Green Blob scam nearly 4 are lost (here).

In January 1993, whole sectors of  British industry were buried under an avalanche of expensive EU regulations to harmonize to EU standards from the Single Market. During 1992 in the run up to its introduction UK businesses were faced with a stark choice by over-zealous council inspectors who issued firm notices to either conform to EU directives and then go bankrupt or face criminal prosecution if they continued trading, closed shop for the last time. (Reference)

The biggest and most expensive piece of legislation ever put through a British Parliament is a mass exporter of UK jobs adding huge costs and regulation to businesses (Reference).

In 2006, Carbon Taxes (CCL) , were first implemented by Ed Milliband under the Labour government and any hopes that the Conservatives would repeal this Jobs destroyer has been dashed in 2010 as they endorsed it too with the Libdems. The UK government policy whether Lib Lab or CON for all UK industry is decline with a vengeance, despite Brexit, following the cult religion of Climate Change and alignment to the Single Market. Yet Remainers blame Brexit for companies fleeing the UK? But the industrial graveyards of the last 4 decades say otherwise!

The UK has to shake off this Green Blob and Single Market to be competitive, to keep jobs and industry in the UK, so why not start by scrapping the Climate Change Levy (CCL), Paris Agreement (2015) along with Single Market rules.

President Trump has shown the way, attracting businesses back to the USA making it more attractive for real jobs and growth of 4.1% (see here and here).



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