Do you approve?

Yesterday's YouGov/<i>Sun</i> poll is the best snapshot of the mood of the British public. So how ar

I like opinion polls. I go to YouGov's interesting website most days to get a sense of the changing mood of the nation. Today, it had some interesting results that are worth discussing, especially on the economy, in the YouGov/Sun poll taken between the 5 and 6 September.

First, after some recent evidence that the Labour Party's lead over the Tories was narrowing, it has widened again to 6 points: Labour 43 per cent, Tories 37 per cent and the Lib Dems 9 per cent.

Plus, there were some striking findings on the economy that make interesting reading. The government looks to be in trouble on the economy.

Question 1 Do you approve or disapprove of the government's record to date? (per cent)

Approve 30; Disapprove 55; Don't know 15.

Question 2 Thinking about the way the government is cutting spending to reduce the government's deficit, do you think this is . . . (per cent)

a) Good for the economy 35; Bad for the economy 49; Don't know 16.
b) Being done fairly 27; Being done unfairly 59; Don't know 14.
c) Necessary 57; Unnecessary 31; Don't know 12.
d) Too deep 47; Too shallow 9; About right 27; Don't know 17.
e) Being done too quickly 52, Too slowly 8; About right 28; Don't know 12.
f) Having an impact on my life 68; Not having an impact on my life 23; Don't know 9.

Question 3 Thinking about the next two or three years, how worried are you that people like you will . . . (per cent)

a) Not have enough money to live comfortably? -- Worried 70; Not worried 27; Don't know 3.
b) Suffer directly from cuts in spending on public services, such as health, education and welfare? -- Worried 71; Not worried 26; Don't know 3.
c) Lose their job/have difficulty finding work? -- Worried 64; Not worried 32; Don't know 4.
d) Lose their home? -- Worried 43; Not worried 53; Don't know 4.

So, Britons think that cuts are necessary but are being done unfairly; are bad for the economy; are too deep; are being done too quickly and are having an impact on their lives; they are worried about the future impact of the cuts and losing their jobs, and they disapprove of the government's track record. I agree, of course. I suspect the lack of support for the coalition's economic policy is going to spread as the economy slows further in the second half of the year. I will keep you posted.

David Blanchflower is economics editor of the New Statesman and professor of economics at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire

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Labour is a pioneer in fighting sexism. That doesn't mean there's no sexism in Labour

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

I’m in the Labour party to fight for equality. I cheered when Labour announced that one of its three Budget tests was ensuring the burden of cuts didn’t fall on women. I celebrated the party’s record of winning rights for women on International Women’s Day. And I marched with Labour women to end male violence against women and girls.

I’m proud of the work we’re doing for women across the country. But, as the Labour party fights for me to feel safer in society, I still feel unsafe in the Labour party.

These problems are not unique to the Labour party; misogyny is everywhere in politics. You just have to look on Twitter to see women MPs – and any woman who speaks out – receiving rape and death threats. Women at political events are subject to threatening behaviour and sexual harassment. Sexism and violence against women at its heart is about power and control. And, as we all know, nowhere is power more highly-prized and sought-after than in politics.

While we campaign against misogyny, we must not fall into the trap of thinking Labour is above it; doing so lets women members down and puts the party in danger of not taking them seriously when they report incidents. 

The House of Commons’ women and equalities committee recently stated that political parties should have robust procedures in place to prevent intimidation, bullying or sexual harassment. The committee looked at this thanks to the work of Gavin Shuker, who has helped in taking up this issue since we first started highlighting it. Labour should follow this advice, put its values into action and change its structures and culture if we are to make our party safe for women.

We need thorough and enforced codes of conduct: online, offline and at all levels of the party, from branches to the parliamentary Labour party. These should be made clear to everyone upon joining, include reminders at the start of meetings and be up in every campaign office in the country.

Too many members – particularly new and young members – say they don’t know how to report incidents or what will happen if they do. This information should be given to all members, made easily available on the website and circulated to all local parties.

Too many people – including MPs and local party leaders – still say they wouldn’t know what to do if a local member told them they had been sexually harassed. All staff members and people in positions of responsibility should be given training, so they can support members and feel comfortable responding to issues.

Having a third party organisation or individual to deal with complaints of this nature would be a huge help too. Their contact details should be easy to find on the website. This organisation should, crucially, be independent of influence from elsewhere in the party. This would allow them to perform their role without political pressures or bias. We need a system that gives members confidence that they will be treated fairly, not one where members are worried about reporting incidents because the man in question holds power, has certain political allies or is a friend or colleague of the person you are supposed to complain to.

Giving this third party the resources and access they need to identify issues within our party and recommend further changes to the NEC would help to begin a continuous process of improving both our structures and culture.

Labour should champion a more open culture, where people feel able to report incidents and don't have to worry about ruining their career or facing political repercussions if they do so. Problems should not be brushed under the carpet. It takes bravery to admit your faults. But, until these problems are faced head-on, they will not go away.

Being the party of equality does not mean Labour is immune to misogyny and sexual harassment, but it does mean it should lead the way on tackling it.

Now is the time for Labour to practice what it preaches and prove it is serious about women’s equality.

Bex Bailey was on Labour’s national executive committee from 2014 to 2016.