Britain and Europe… January 22, 2013Posted by WorldbyStorm in British Labour Party, British Politics, European Politics, The Left, Uncategorized.
I was listening to the Guardian podcast on the issue of Europe and the Tories from last week and was surprised to hear some of those commenting suggesting that on a straight stay or go referendum public opinion would tend to swing to the former. But then, checking out the always interesting ukpollingreport, run by Anthony Wells of YouGov (which has information about individual polls and a poll aggregator) and what do I read about new data on voting intentions in a referendum on EU membership. For the last number of months the figures were solidly enough in the OUT camp, as Wells notes:
At the start of the month YouGov was showing people would vote to leave the EU in a referendum by 46% to 31% who would vote to stay in – figures that were pretty typical of YouGov’s polling on EU referendums for the last year.
But, lo and behold, as the prospect of an actual referendum has become more concrete those figures have shifted, and bloody radically too…
Last week those figures had shifted to 42% get out to 36% stay in. This week they have moved even further and now 40% of people say they would vote to stay in compared to 34% who say they would vote to leave.
Wells explains this as being the result of the following:
What appears to have happened is that normally people use an EU referendum question to express general disatisfaction with the EU, with the European Court of Human Rights (I know its different from the EU – most people don’t!), Eastern European immigration, bureaucracy, bans on straight bananas & bent cumcumbers and all the general media perception of the EU. In the last fortnight some will obviously have thought a little more about it as a referendum becomes a more likely possibility, as people like Richard Branson, the US Embassy, Ed Miliband, Vince Cable and David Cameron have all spoken of the importance of Britain being in Europe… and it has changed views.
And he makes an interesting point which is that it’s not that euroscepticism has decreased – as such, but rather that support ‘for leaving’ has reduced. That’s a very very important distinction to make because while the latter is the harder edged position, the former is much less so and much more contingent.
Haven’t we seem something of this in our own polity over the years, although here the more regular use of referendums has offered examples of decisions being made and the state returning to them again in order to overturn them. But the underlying dynamic is not unfamiliar, of a broader disquiet which is trumped, usually – but not exclusively, by the orthodoxy. http://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/6886
BTW, ukpollingreport is a good site for an overview of the situation, for example, they currently project the LP on 41, Tories on 31 and LDs on 10 – by polling averages, and they found nothing in yesterday’s Guardian/ICM poll ‘to get excited about’, despite that showing Con 33, LAB 38, LD 15 and UKIP 6. And there’s a projection for an LP majority of 112. All moonshine of course in the sense that there almost certainly won’t be an election for a couple of years, but… not at all moonshine in the sense that that the dynamics are well embedded currently and this allows us an insight into them.