Michael Gove and the bogeymen of Europe

Also in our Barometer column: Treasury forecasts, the Queen and life expectancy, and pay at the top

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

23 April 2016

9:00 AM

European bogeymen

Michael Gove said ‘remain’ campaigners were spreading tales of bogeymen. But what is a bogeyman? Appropriately enough, the concept of an imagined monster is a pan-European concept which has exercised the right to free movement for centuries.
— The boggel-mann has been terrifying children in Germanic cultures since the Middle Ages, as has the bussemand in Scandinavian countries. In Dutch, he became the boeman.
— Middle English had its bugge-man and Scotland its boggarts — the latter suggesting a possible connection with marshy ground. But possibly the earliest bogeyman was bugibu, a monster in a French poem written in the 1140s.

Reversed forecasts

A Treasury report claimed that leaving the EU would leave the UK economy 6% smaller by 2030. Can the Treasury forecast GDP a year ahead, let alone 14 years ahead? Some previous efforts:

Previous year’s prediction
2008 2.5-3%
2009 4-6 mths
2010 2.25%-2.75%
2011 2.3%


2008 -4.2%
2009 -1.3%
2010 1.8%
2011 2.1%

After that, the Treasury handed predicting growth to the OBR.

Elizabethan age

The Queen celebrated her 90th birthday. It isn’t just the royals who are living longer.
— In 1952 life expectancy at birth was 66 for men and 70 for women. It is now 79.1 and 82.8 respectively.
— There were 300 Britons over the age of 100 in 1952. There are now 14,500, with another 527,000 over 90.
— In 1952, 1.5% of women over 65 were still working. Now, 6.5% are.

The big money

BP shareholders voted against the £13.8m pay package of chief executive Bob Dudley, although he has already been paid the money. Which FTSE bosses earn the most relative to their average employee (not accounting for part-time staff)?

Total pay in 2014
Martin Sorrell, WPP £29.8m
Simon Wolfson, Next £4.6m
Richard Cousins, Compass £5.5m
Andy Harrison, Whitbread £6.4m
Peter Long, TUI Travel £10m


Multiple of average employee’s earnings
Martin Sorrell, WPP 780
Simon Wolfson, Next 459
Richard Cousins, Compass 418
Andy Harrison, Whitbread 415
Peter Long, TUI Travel 377

Source: High Pay Centre

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  • Presumably, “bugibu” is the origin of the American “bugaboo”