Saturday, April 27, 2013

Germany’s ditch-the-euro Afd more popular than God! Scores 113pc in global survey! Watch out Angela! And the Government finally takes action on the growing epidemic of self-importance

The trouble with surveys is that at one and the same time they can be enormously misleading, highly informative, hugely subjective and generally a jack-of-all trades in that their results can be used in all kinds of ways. If I conducted a survey and found that of 1,000 people who responded a massive 76 per cent of them were in favour of toast being available on the NHS, I might well go ahead and claim: ‘More than three-quarters of all Brits want your GP to make you breakfast’. That would most certainly strike us all as complete nonsense, although, interestingly, if there were a faint - very, very faint, about one in a trillion trillion trillion - chance of that statement, in fact, being true, basing that claim on the results of my survey would still be bollocks, for a great many reasons. The only legitimate conclusion one can draw from the results of my survey is that of 1,000 people questioned by me, 760 were in favour of toast being available, which tells you nothing very much except that 1,000 people were feeling exceptionally bored when I approached the with my clipboard.

Faced with such a bizarre statistic (‘Never in the history of surveys has toast been more popular. World In Action finds out why’) sceptics would most certainly ask all sorts of questions: how were those surveyed chosen? Do they have a vested interest in the making of toast (father’s a baker/mother sells toasters)? Were they drunk at the time? Were they all Brits? How many people approached over and beyond the 1,000 who responded told me (who was conducting the survey) to fuck off and stop wasting their time? There are endless questions, and if you really are interested in the science, practice and protocol of when, where, how and why to conduct surveys, what different kind of surveys can be conducted, for what purpose and what can be done with results thus obtained this blog really isn’t for you.

I’ve been rattling on about surveys and what a load of cack their results can be if we don’t handle them with extreme care because I’ve come across a survey conducted in Germany which makes interesting reading (if you are interested in the things that interest me, that is - when, at work, we get letters from readers who begin by telling us ‘Reading about so and so, I was reminded of an amusing incident that happened...’ you can be absolutely bloody certain that there is nothing at all in what follows that will tickle the funny bone of any reasonably sane man or women in the slightest). It appeared in the Bild, usually trailed as ‘Germany’s Sun’, but, in fact, modeled by its original publisher Axel Springer on what was then the Daily Mirror long before the Sun started up. But calling it ‘Germany’s Sun’ will give you a fair idea of who its readership are. (And Bild is a broadsheet, by the way, not a tabloid, and oddly it works rather well.)

What Bild did was to mimic a general election - one is due in Germany this September - in view of the founding of a new ‘political party’ (though I like to think of it - and, whatever they say, UKIP - as pressure groups). That party is Alternative Für Deutschland, which, broadly, wants an end

Bloody hell! Now look at the kind of thing that’s
appearing from nowhere!

put to all the German taxpayer-funded bailouts for the Med countries (they have started calling them Rotweinländer - red wine countries) and for Germany to return to the D Mark. It is still, however, in favour of Germany remaining in the EU and would even countenance a small eurozone made up of ‘more responsible’ countries. Phonelines were opened at 8am and closed at 6pm and readers were asked to phone in an register who they would vote for if there were a general election.

Here are the results:
  • Union (CDU/CSU): 42pc
  • Alternative für Deutschland (AfD): 19pc
  • SPD: 17pc
  • Bündnis 90/Die Grünen: 7pc
  • FDP: 6pc (Incidentally, the FDP - more or less the Lib Dems in trendier specs - almost always - like the Lib Dems - do badly both in surveys and at elections and it is always touch and go as to whether they will cross the 5pc threshold. They always do, of course, because the Germans can be quite kind and like to help a man when he’s down)
  • Die Linke: 5pc (generally communists who can’t or don’t want to call themselves communists/spotty students who can’t get a shag)
  • Eine andere Partei (Sonstige): 2pc (any other party - Ostfriesenwitz Gemeinschaft/Freibier Gesellen/Die Klo Partei, that kind of thing)
  • Piratenpartei: 2pc (The previous disaffected lot, now superseded by the Afd)
A previous survey had established the the AfD was likely cross the 5pc threshold necessary to win seats in parliament, but Bild’s 19pc for the party - 2pc more than for the SPD, broadly Germany’s Labour Party, is of a different order entirely.

So my first caveats: that 19pc is strictly of all those Bild readers who could be bothered to ring in to take part. So, for example, it does not include those who might have thought the whole exercise something of a gimmick and so did not take part (an obvious point, of course, but still worth explicitly making). Then it would be worth knowing the political and cultural views of those who responded, which, of course, we can’t and don’t. That, too, is relevant. If in a survey of Wogs Out! members a whopping 89pc were in favour of everyone who was not of the purest white skin tones being kicked out of Britain, we wouldn’t be at all surprised and the only worthwhile question to ask is: why were 11pc not in favour? But the survey would tell us absolutely nothing about the general attitude in Britain to immigration over the past 100 years. I don’t mean to get hoity-toity about Bild, but you are unlikely to find its readers discussing the finer points of psephology of a night in the pub.

Is there anything Bild’s survey can tell us. Well, to state the bleeding obvious, more of those readers to took part (see above) say they would vote for the ‘let’s leave the euro’ Afd than would vote for the ‘let’s keep the euro’ Opposition SPD. One might venture to suggest that a head of steam is most certainly building up in Germany over the taxpayer funded bailing out of the red wine countries, but, well, it really is difficult to quantify.

The only sensible observation is the one our politicians always make when they do badly in an opinion poll: ‘Look, as far as I’m concerned the only poll that matters is the one of our electorate on polling day’. Afd is thought to draw its support from across the board, and it is fair to assume that all three main parties - actually, in Germany, it should now be all four as Die Grünen do quite well these days - would see some of their supporters deserting them and expressing their anti-euro frustrations. If more established pollsters come up with results suggesting that AfD support is growing, the most likely effect would be for the CDU/CSU, the SDP and the FDP to consider amending their euro policies accordingly. Whether they would do so, of course, is another matter entirely. Because for all their efficiency, the Germans do have the occasional blind spot.

. . .

The Home Office was in touch late last night and has asked me to perform a public service. And I agreed. It seems there has been some concern in recent months that one John Ward aka The Slog and a self-styled debunker of more or less everything which takes his fancy is in danger of becoming far too self-important. ‘Self-importance’ (which doctors know as loquens bolloccitis) is not, in itself, dangerous and is quite a common affliction. Extreme cases, however, can cause concern

and might need treatment. Symptoms of this condition include a puffed-up chest, a bigger head than normal, a degree of paranoia (which can vary in intensity) and a pronounced choleric temperament, although sufferers are not usually violent. Those afflicted also tend to surround themselves with mirrors and also talk a lot about ‘their sources’, which research has shown are largely delusional.

Knowing my slight acquaintance with Mr Ward and that of late I have had dealings with him, and that I regularly publish a blog on the net, the Home Office has asked me whether I would, on its behalf, agree to carry regular bulletins on the state of Mr Ward’s condition and his blog. I am, of course, only to glad to do so, and if there’s a knighthood in it for me at the end of the day, so much the better.

So I shall do my best to keep an eye on Mr Ward and his witterings on his blog and keep you all posted.

4 comments:

  1. You received no less than two references in todays essay Patrick, along with a veiled allegation of responsibility for purveying voluminous emails of the diatribe variety. A shame really as the remainder of the essay made some salient points that any reasonable minded individual should defer to before reaching a conclusion even if the conclusion might be obvious at the outset.

    M

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  2. I received an interesting comment from a gentleman who is also an occasional reader of the Slog. This is what he had to say

    "Pretty good content from time to time, albeit in far too sensational manner, but for my taste it lacks style and class. John Ward must be an extremely frustrated and complexed individual."

    The real problem with the Slogger is that he can't tell when an opinion is honestly held - but differs from his own. This lack of clarity in his thinking leads to the most absurd alarmism. This is the sort of thing that's great when you want people's attention steered away from the real danger points. Well, alarmism gets readers, dunnit!

    As to DSK - was he not going to arrange a default for the Irish banks? After all, AIB doesn't even have a banking licence. His sudden demise smacks of a group of people who are truly terrified.

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  3. DSK: There are any number of theories circulating about his downfall and to be honest it is pic 'n mix time, you pays your money and you makes your choice. I don't think any of us on the outside pressing our pretty little noses against the window like Bisto Kids will ever know what actually happened. I subscribe to the theory that news is what doesn’t appear in the newspapers. One theory is that the whole episode in New York with the maid was engineered by Sarkozy, but then if that were the case Sarkozy himself (who in the event didn't benefit from DSK's demise) would himself give a hostage to fortune and forever be in fear that his dirty tricks are made public. Then there's an alternate theory that some on the left didn't want him as their candidate knowing what a liability he was and helped to stitch him up. Then there are those folks who think the Yanks did it. Me, I rather detect the dead hand of St Breward Parish Council who aren’t half as daft as they often appear. It’s always the last one’s you suspect, isn’t it.

    If - if - one were going to stitch DSK up (as is suggested), you have to admit that he is eminently stitch-up-able what with his predilection for sex parties etc. At the time I did think that the whole business in New York didn't quite ring true - unwanted sexual approaches might be interpreted as sexual assault, but rape? Would a man like that really be that stupid and just half an hour or so before he was due to fly out (if I remember correctly)? Hmm.

    As for JW, at the end of the day he and I are just two of several trillion billion cyber voices babbling away for no particular good reason and to no great effect and just adding to the noise produced on this planet. I don't for a moment doubt that he is sincere in his anger at 'bollocks', but he does strike me as being a tad self-important in that he has persuaded himself he is digging up scandals etc. Actually, he is doing no more than I do: sounding off. It's good for the soul. One difference between me and Mr Ward is that I hope I don't believe my own bullshit. I also find his attempts at humour - the silly names and the doctored piccies of, for example, Merkel with a moustache, downright embarrassing. But I suppose it takes all sorts and some might like that kind of thing. I just find it puerile.

    I write this blog because I like writing which is not something we sub-editors otherwise get much of a chance to do. In the past it was something of a commonplace book cum diary, then I got to the stage where I was 'commenting' and when I realised I was in danger of taking myself seriously, I decided to cool it. Now I just stick anything in that takes my fancy, but in the grand scheme of things it is slightly less important than a gnat's turd.

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    1. Well, well, now I'm not sure if our opinions are worth as little as a gnat's turd. Little more in the eyes of some - and in my case worth rather a lot to an extremely narrow focus of businesses. That we both like writing and can put ideas onto paper with some degree of coherence is enough.

      DSK? He was so set-uppable on wonders why he took the job. But then when many of the cabinet make use of Downing St's broomcupboards in pairs, one wonders why they haven't met the same fate. I presume it's only that they haven't 'misbehaved'. That's why I reckon DSK was up to something nasty. That's why I like him, had he been able to do it, we'd all be better off. Plus I've had my DSK moments. You need the determination of a Merkel to keep them off though. Furthermore, I could tell he (my last one at least) was an exceptionally sensitive and talented lover. The problem being of 'that new face' and the need to 'give it a go'. If you allow for that sort of peccadillo, DSK is the kind of guy to make a dream husband.

      My guess is that DSK'll bob up somewhere else. Democracies in Europe are a lot harder to undermine. A voting system that gives Merkel a minority government gave Thatcher her 160 seat majority in the UK for the same proportion of the vote. But then, the German economy is also harder to undermine (which is why Greece was let in, bureaucrats have heads that are alarmingly easy to pull the wool over). Never mind if you can't see the links, they are obscure. What's more, it's terribly easy to be wrong. Only it's no reason not to try!

      One last thought, you do ramble a little. That's fine as it's your blog, however readers would find it easier to digest if you kept one post for one topic. Perhaps I'm missing the 'links' I spoke of earlier? Only given that I do take myself seriously (if you're in a business like mine, you have to). I guess it's in the blood. For perceived intolerance, South Africa is the Ace of Spades to Germany's Knave!

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