Today's Datablast: What would Jesus do? We have answers. Photo: Getty.
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We think Jesus would do what we would do

Many of us are unsure, but when we do offer an opinion of Jesus it is slightly coloured by our own views.

For more political data, explore May2015.com, where this article originally appeared. 

What would Jesus do? YouGov have polled the public.

He would want open borders and to renationalise the railways, but be undecided about gay marriage and oppose the death penalty. But many of us are unsure. At least a third of voters – and sometimes more than half – can’t muster an answer to these hypotheticals.

Do these questions also reveal something about us as voters? While people seem to mainly answer the questions without regard to their political beliefs, there are clear divides between voters of different parties. The poll shows what we might expect – our view of Jesus’ opinions is partly determined by our own.

Take immigration.

A third of us think Jesus would want “no restrictions at all” – open borders! Even the Green Party don’t think that. Only 1 in 20 of us think Jesus would want no immigration at all. Another 10 per cent think he would want tighter limits.

But that varies greatly between the parties. A third of Ukippers think Jesus would want no immigration or tighter borders, but only 6 per cent of Lib Dems agree. (As always with individual polls, we are looking at small sample sizes with high margins of error.)

What about gay marriage? It’s another issue that divides the liberal and the conservative, and again each think Jesus would tend towards their view.

Only a fifth of Ukippers think Jesus would support gay marriage, while around half of Labour and Lib Dem voters think he would.

As a country we can’t decide. Just over a third of voters say Jesus would be supportive, just under a third say he wouldn’t. (This echoes a “Jesus survey” YouGov ran of American voters in July.)

The even more startling differences are by age – just as they are on the issue itself. Here is how opinions of Jesus’ view on gay marriage differ by age group:

We can find a similar story in the rest of the data. Only 30 per cent of Tories think Jesus would want to renationalise the railways, but closer to a half of Labour and Lib Dem voters think so. And a third of Ukippers think Jesus would favour the death penalty, while fewer than a sixth of mainstream voters think he would.

But we can over-emphasise this bias. Even Tory voters agree Jesus would be three times more likely to support than oppose renationalising the railways. And Ukip voters, who are vehemently pro-death penalty, are divided on whether Jesus would agree with them.

Finally, how does religion affect people’s views? The only significant difference YouGov pick up is on gay marriage: 40 of those without a religion think Jesus would support gay marriage; 31 per cent of Christians think he wouldn’t.

What would Jesus do? If we offer an opinion, it’s likely to be shaped by our own.

Explore May2015.com.

May2015 is the New Statesman's new elections site. Explore it for data, interviews and ideas on the general election.

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It’s obvious why Thais can’t resist our English footballers. But they want our schools, too

The only explanation is . . . our footer must be great and exciting to watch.

At Bangkok airport, sitting in the Club lounge, as I am a toff, I spotted a copy of Thailand Tatler, a publication I did not know existed. Flicking through, I came across a whole page advert announcing that RUGBY SCHOOL IS COMING TO THAILAND.

In September, Rugby will open a prep and pre-prep department, and then, in 2018, full boarding for ages up to 17. How exciting – yet another English public school sets up a satellite in Thailand.

But I was confused. Just as I was confused all week by the Thai passion for our football.

How has it happened that English public schools and English football have become so popular in Thailand? There is no colonial or historical connection between the UK and Thailand. English is not the Thais’ first language, unlike in other parts of the world such as India and Hong Kong. Usually that explains the continuation of British traditions, culture and games long after independence.

When I go to foreign parts, I always take a large wodge of Beatles and football postcards. I find deprived persons all over the world are jolly grateful for these modern versions of shiny beads – and it saves tipping the hotel staff. No young Thai locals were interested in my Beatles bits, but boy, my footer rubbish had them frothing.

I took a stash of seven-year-old postcards of Andy Carroll in his Newcastle strip, part of a set given away free in Barclays banks when they sponsored the Premier League. I assumed no one in Thailand would know who the hell Andy Carroll was, but blow me, every hotel waiter and taxi driver recognised him, knew about his various clubs and endless injuries. And they all seemed to watch every Premiership game live.

I have long been cynical about the boasts that our Prem League is the most watched, the most popular in the world, with 200 countries taking our TV coverage every week. I was once in Turkey and went into the hotel lounge to watch the live footer. It was chocka with Turks watching a local game, shouting and screaming. When it finished, the lounge emptied: yet the next game was our FA Cup live. So I watched it on my own. Ever since, I’ve suspected that while Sky might sell rights everywhere, it doesn’t mean many other folk are watching.

But in Thailand I could see their passion, though most of them have no experience of England. So the only explanation is . . . our footer must be great and exciting to watch. Hurrah for us.

Explaining the passion for English public schools is a bit harder. At present in Thailand, there are about 14 boarding schools based on the English public-school system.

Rugby is only the latest arrival. Harrow has had a sister school there since 1998. So do Shrewsbury, Bromsgrove and Dulwich College (recently renamed British International School, Phuket).

But then I met Anthony Lark, the general manager of the beautiful resort where I was staying in the north of the island. He’s Australian, been out there for thirty years, married to a Thai. All three of his sons went to the Phuket school when it was still Dulwich International College.

His explanations for the popularity of all these British-style schools included the fact that Thailand is the gateway to Asia, easy to get to from India and China; that it’s relatively safe; economically prosperous, with lots of rich people; and, of course, it’s stunningly beautiful, with lovely weather.

There are 200,000 British expats in Thailand but they are in the minority in most of these British-style public schools – only about 20 per cent of the intake. Most pupils are the children of Thais, or from the surrounding nations.

Many of the teachers, though, are from English-speaking nations. Anthony estimated there must be about five thousand of them, so the schools must provide a lot of work. And presumably a lot of income. And, of course, pride.

Well, I found my little chest swelling at the thought that two of our oldest national institutions should be so awfully popular, so awfully far away from home . . . 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 27 April 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Cool Britannia 20 Years On

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