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Polls on Brexit… May 21, 2017

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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Some interesting stats in this poll on Brexit… full details aren’t yet available from RTÉ but some straws in the wind.

The poll, commissioned for David McWilliams’ Brexit, Trump and Us, (Monday, 9.35pm, RTÉ One) shows that 82% of respondents think our politicians should be tougher in their dealings with the EU over Brexit.

When asked whether voters trusted parties to the upcoming Brexit negotiations to protect Irish interests: 75% of voters trust our own Government to do so; 72% trust the EU’s negotiating team; while only 43% trust the British government.

And…

On the whole, the survey found that voters see our future within the EU, with 71% agreeing that Ireland should stay in the EU, even if the outcome of the Brexit negotiations are bad for the country.

This next surprises me.

Voters also want to see a closer-knit Europe after Britain leaves the Union, with 67% of respondents saying that they want to see further EU integration once a Brexit deal has been agreed.

Though overall this kind of tallies with this from earlier in the month… I’m presuming the above poll has more options which channel support into stronger and weaker categories.

It found that 88% of Irish people agree that Ireland should stay in the EU, with 11% disagreeing.

Attitudes to Brexit remain relatively unchanged from last year, with 82% believing the UK should have voted to remain in the EU.

Just 16% believe that Ireland should follow the UK out of the European Union, and 87% believe that on balance, Ireland has benefited from being a member of the EU.

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1. EWI - May 21, 2017

You buried the lede, WbS:

The RTÉ opinion poll reveals that voters would be positively disposed towards such an outcome. When asked if they would favour a united Ireland if it made sense following a Brexit deal, the poll shows that 74% of respondents would favour a 32-county republic, while 21% are against.

Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth in the Irish Times, Sindo and RTÉ.

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2. Joe - May 22, 2017

Don’t be getting carried away now EWI. “asked if they would favour a united Ireland if it made sense” – ‘if it made sense’ is the key phrase here. Trust the Irish people to know if and when something makes sense or not.

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ivorthorne - May 22, 2017

Is it not more interesting that circa 1 in 5 oppose unity even when it does “make sense”?

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Joe - May 22, 2017

It is. 🙂

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ivorthorne - May 22, 2017

This is part of the problem with polling. Some people will answer the question asked even when it is phrased in a way that means it gives a false impression of where their support lies while others answer the question based on what they want the report to say.

If I ask you “When the State cannot ensure that the public will be protected from a murderer by incarcerating an individual, do you believe that the use of capital punishment might be justified?”, if you take the question literally, you might say “Yes” even if you think the circumstances described are almost impossible, but if you think about the fact that this poll might be used by someone to promote the use of capital punishment in circumstances they interpret as meeting the stated criteria but where you think do not, you might say “No”.

When it comes to a United Ireland, “making sense” is a rather ambiguous term. Some would argue that a United Ireland has always made more sense based on economics, geography, culture or history. Others would say “making sense” would require a lack of resistance from Unionists and Loyalists in spite of economics etc. Some would say it makes sense if resistance was confined to peaceful means, others would argue that physical resistance was tolerable if it was minimal while a few would argue that a majority of unionists should support unity before it “made sense”.

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Joe - May 22, 2017

Very good summary ivor. I’d be one of the last lot probably. How many is a few? Now there’s a question.

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ivorthorne - May 22, 2017

There is tolerating the outcome of a process that the majority support, and supporting the outcome.

I’m not sure if we will ever get to a point where the majority of people from a unionist background support Irish unity, but there may be a point where they support a process (e.g. referendum) even though the outcome is one that they do not want. They may be willing to tolerate a united Ireland even if they mostly want to pretend it does not exist.

Ideally, we could convince the majority of unionists that joining a united Ireland was something they actively wanted but truth be told, that would require things in the UK to go very badly. So long as the UK is stumbling along reasonably well, the unfamiliarity of a change of constitutional status is always going to be scary for people who have been raised within a tradition that has seen Irish unification and independence as akin to Armageddon.

Unfortunately, I do not see a scenario that is entirely blood free as likely. A section of the loyalist paramilitaries will react to the threat of a UI with violence on some scale. Yet, if in a situation where nationalists are in a majority, unity is postponed, what will nationalist paramilitaries do? A some point in the next 20 years, we are probably going to have to seriously look at the possibility of joint-sovereignty. Brexit will make that more problematic than ever, but it seems like the best way to keep bloodshed to a minimum and address unionist anxieties.

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EWI - May 22, 2017

Ideally, we could convince the majority of unionists that joining a united Ireland was something they actively wanted but truth be told, that would require things in the UK to go very badly.

I think we see that things ‘going very badly’ in the UK can lead to a resurgence of English (‘British’) nationalism, exactly what northern unionism has regarded as being in its favour. The only way to bypass this effective blank cheque for bad behaviour is to remove the UK as being there – a project well under way under Comrades Cameron, May and Boris.

As for loyalist violence, the reality is that they’ll resort to it whenever they see the ‘Taigs’ getting a whiff of equality. Nothing we say or do down here will make a difference in this scenario – unless someone’s suggesting that we should collaborate with the unionists in keeping our fellow Irish citizens down.

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EWI - May 22, 2017

Don’t be getting carried away now EWI. “asked if they would favour a united Ireland if it made sense” – ‘if it made sense’ is the key phrase here. Trust the Irish people to know if and when something makes sense or not.

Well, check your own anti-United Ireland biases for ‘sense’ here. As for the rest, this is a poll taken after about forty years of the most vile pro-partition and anti-Northerner propaganda in the southern media, much of it the work of a Stalinist splinter group who were focused on their grudge with PSF (a feud that puts SP/SWP in the ha’apenny place).

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Joe - May 22, 2017

Re a United Ireland, I prefer to describe my views as views rather than biases.
Here’s my current view: A united Ireland will only make sense when a majority of unionists agree to it.

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shea - May 22, 2017

An agreement in place for decades, taking as long to make, putting in place a peaceful means for two competing claims to exercise their objectives then BANG.

If your view becomes the dominant norm it shuts down the constitutional path for people who want a united ireland.

Why?

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Joe - May 22, 2017

Don’t see how it shuts down the constitutional path for people who want a united Ireland. If my view became the dominant norm, people would agree that the only way there could be a united Ireland would be if a majority of nationalists and a majority of unionists agree to it. So the path to a united Ireland would be the path of working out/describing/creating a united Ireland entity that would be supported by a majority of both communities (all island, not just the north).
Here’s a definition of the word ‘united’ from dictionary.com:
adjective
1.
made into or caused to act as a single entity:
a united front.
2.
formed or produced by the uniting of things or persons:
a united effort.
3.
agreed; in harmony..

So my view is that Ireland cannot be ‘united’ unless it’s, as the definition says, ‘formed or produced by the uniting of things or persons’ and ‘agreed; in harmony’.

If the unionist community is opposed to it, it ain’t united.

Make sense at all?

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shea - May 22, 2017

all that can be obstructed by unionists saying no which considering CAIN defines a unionist as

“In Northern Ireland the term is used to describe those who wish to see the union with Britain maintained.”

would be the intuitive thing for unionists to do there by obstructing the peaceful agreed path to a united ireland that determined the principle of consent as the wishes of the majority of the people of northern ireland.

A very stupid game. Ahern, fintan o toole, brendan howlin, martin, and varadkar have been at it the last month.

http://cain.ulst.ac.uk/othelem/glossary.htm#U

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WorldbyStorm - May 22, 2017

That’s not what the GFA/BA says Joe. That’s pretty clear that if a majority in the six counties are in favour then the way is clear to a UI. And that is – or was – the view of the two governments.

Of course practicality has to enter into it too and that might mean a transitional period of a greater or lesser length towards a UI, but the process is very clear and is underpinned by democratic legitimations in respect of the votes in both parts of the island for the GFA/BA.

There’s a further issue. How do we know that x number of unionists voted for a UI at a referendum in the future given that people aren’t given different voting papers in regard to their communitarian identification? We don’t know with absolute certainty that there was a majority of unionists who voted for the GFA/BA (best estimates seem to see 50-53% but they are estimates). Yet we move forward because even the truncated democracy that partition has left us with means we seek legitimation from an area – not from the blocs within it – and hence the assumption is that if there is a vote in NI where more vote for than against a UI then a UI there will be.

I think that given the broadly unreasonable parameters history has gifted us in all this that is about as reasonable a way forward as is humanly possible, not recourse to unionist ‘majorities’ which would of course simply function as yet further unionist vetoes (and don’t take account of how unionism itself changes – as evidenced by soft forms such as Alliance etc where unionists may accept the de facto reality of a UI if push comes to shove, and instead look to a sort of validation from the hardest and most recalcitrant forms of unionism which could easily wind up as a minority of former unionists in the longer term but would still be held as the barrier to change).

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Joe - May 22, 2017

Fair point. If unionists agree to a united Ireland, then by definition, they wouldn’t be unionists any more.
Can’t see unionists not being unionists any time soon. No more than I can see nationalists not being nationalists
So let’s drop the efforts towards a united Ireland. And let’s work towards an agreed Ireland.
The GFA says that there won’t be a UI until the majority in the north vote for it. If and when that happens, presumably it will be when the nationalist population in the north numerically overtakes the unionist population. But the unionists will still be unionists.
So there’ll be a fair bit of work to be done to get an Ireland (agreed or united or whatever) that the unionists will be happy to be part of.
Please God, some day I’ll have grandchildren. And when I do, I’ll chat to them about this. So that they can tell their grandchildren to be ready for the day.

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Joe - May 22, 2017

Sorry my last one was a reply to Shea, not WBS.

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EWI - May 22, 2017

Fair point. If unionists agree to a united Ireland, then by definition, they wouldn’t be unionists any more.
Can’t see unionists not being unionists any time soon. No more than I can see nationalists not being nationalists
So let’s drop the efforts towards a united Ireland.

Now, hang on a moment here. The GFA clearly says that once the majority tips the other way, then it’s an end to the NI opt-out (which was the basis of partition under the Treaty, after all). Others have pointed out the problem with your argument that unionists must agree to become nationalists – which would automatically make them no longer unionists – boom! We end up with a sole ‘unionist’ family still holding out in 30017 – call them the Frasiers. So a convenient unionist veto in perpetuity. And if you’re actually defining ‘Unionist’ to mean Protestant, then please say so. I would have hoped that we could have moved beyond the sectarian head-counting in this day and age.

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Joe - May 22, 2017

To your last question first. Shea says CAIN defines a unionist thus:

“In Northern Ireland the term is used to describe those who wish to see the union with Britain maintained.”

I’d go with that definition.

I don’t really follow the earlier bits of your piece EWI. I’ll try to put my point another way: Ireland cannot be ‘united’ unless the two communities (some might say nations) on the island agree to that unity. You could have a single state on the island with the unionist community forced into it against their will – but that wouldn’t be a ‘united’ Ireland, it would be a ‘divided’ or ‘disunited’ Ireland.

I’m off to bed now. Knew I should have read that GFA before I voted on it.

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WorldbyStorm - May 22, 2017

But the oddity of your position Joe is that the courtesy you extend to the unionists is one you deny nationalists and republicans. The latter in the North East were ‘forced’ into a state, without so much as a democratic vote (and the unionists of the other three Ulster counties were jettisoned when no longer needed by their comrades in the six – irony of ironies) and kept there with the very structures around them designed to prevent them exercising their rights.

And they’re still there – albeit in a much improved situation compared to the past.

I think, as EWI notes, the idea of ‘majority of unionists’ is unworkable for so many reasons – we can’t really map unionist opinion in the way you suggest without tipping towards deeply problematic territory, vastly more so than the less good aspects of the GFA/BA dispensation. And it is unpleasantly redolent of both an undemocratic and ethnic approach to political identity that many of us will recoil from.

That’s why a vote on a UI in the North isn’t dependent upon specific nationalist or unionist majorities but on those within the territory voting for it and accepting that vote. I can’t see the problem with that to be honest, unionism expects that the opposite is the case and we all expect that that opposite isn’t met with violence, and rightly so. Again, I’m unsure why you’d want to gift unionism more then in that regard than you would nationalism/republicanism as matters currently stand.

But there’s more again in that in order to get sufficiently over 50% plus whatever nationalism/republicanism is absolutely going to have to work with others and ensure their identity is safeguarded and there’s going to be some pretty massive compromises to be made (I’ve a post going up on precisely one aspect of that tomorrow AM). And I cannot seriously see anything progressing without a substantial, albeit not necessarily a majority, buy-in by unionism and that will be for the best.

But I hope that unionism will accept that new status quo as nationalism and republicanism currently accept the current status quo.

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shea - May 22, 2017

its not just joes position, in the last month a number of public figures have made similar comment. It would appear a new consensus is forming. Not sure how. One night on this site holes were poked in the concept. Do they not do this. Do they all share the same script writer, are they that ignorant, are they being lobbied. probably yes to all.

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WorldbyStorm - May 22, 2017

I think you’re right shea. Joes analysis is somewhat different or rooted somewhere different but the people you mention are as you say subject to all the above and also it’s expedient.

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EWI - May 22, 2017

It would appear a new consensus is forming. Not sure how.

It’s easy to see – an influx of several hundred thousand PSF voters in the near future sends the shivers up some parts of the southern establishment.

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shea - May 23, 2017

They have little to be worried about if thats the case.

‘Another long war is a small price to pay to hold brand positioning.’

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Joe - May 23, 2017

Brushing my teeth this morning I understood the point EWI was making about a majority of unionists. Unionist by definition support the union so 100% of unionists will by definition be opposed to a UI. If they’re not opposed, then by definition they ain’t unionists. Good point. I will mull over it and await insight as I brush my teeth tonight.
On the sectarian headcount – isn’t that basically what Northern Ireland is? WBS talks about recoiling from an ethnic approach to political identity. What are Ulster protestant unionists and Irish catholic nationlists if not ethnic groups? What’s the line between an ethnic group and a nationality? – Serbs and Croats; Slav Macedonians and Albanian Macedonians; Ulster unionists and Irish nationalists; British and Irish; and on and on.
We might indeed recoil from that and wish it wasn’t so but it is.
So until I brush my teeth tonight: the unionists exist and will continue to exist no matter how the sectarian headcount goes. So this united Ireland which so many on here are in favour of – it will need to engage with that fact. I’ve read WBS on here engaging with it, I’d like to read others doing likewise.

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EWI - May 23, 2017

So until I brush my teeth tonight: the unionists exist and will continue to exist no matter how the sectarian headcount goes. So this united Ireland which so many on here are in favour of – it will need to engage with that fact.

Well, I have had no teeth-brushing flashes of inspiration this morning myself, but it seems to me that people of a ‘unionist’ political persuasion will continue to exist just fine within the context of a United Ireland, just as they have in the twenty-six counties.

On the sectarian headcount, it may amaze you, but people do manage to be Protestant Irish republicans –
some are even relatives of mine – and even Catholic loyalists). So, just like WbS I recoil from the suggestion that people’s religion is to be taken as the political basis of NI, which seems a breath-taking statement in this democratic day and age.

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3. FergusD - May 23, 2017

Got to leave this link here about Corbyn, NI and IRA from “The Sun says” section of “The Sun” UK). JC “friend of fiends”:

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3625746/the-harm-done-by-jeremy-corbyn-and-john-mcdonnell-sucking-up-to-the-ira/

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