Ed Miliband made a speech earlier today talking about immigration, saying Labour got Eastern European immigration wrong in the last Parliament and promising to introduce rules to deter firms from employing too many workers from overseas. I thought it a good opportunity to write about policies and their effect on public opinion.

I expect any poll asking directly about whether there should be changes to deter companies from employing too many foreigners would find it was extremely popular. However, a straight support/oppose question only really scratches the surface of public opinion on an issue. There are three (or possibly four) aspects to public opinion on any issue. The first is simple support or opposition – although even that needs to be seen in the context of party, the second salience, the third the effect on broader party image, perception and narrative, and the possible fourth, the impact on “elite” opinion (which you may or may not think counts depending on how you define public opinion!)

For immigration, almost all opinion polling suggests the public are broadly hostile towards immigration and, generally speaking, would support tighter restrictions upon it. Looking beyond that, Labour normally trail behind the Conservatives when it comes to which party people trust on immigration – it is a “Conservative issue” in much the same way that the NHS, for example, is a “Labour issue”. Generally speaking it is very difficult for parties to establish themselves as the preferred party on an issue that the other parties are strongly associated with. For example, for all his focus upon it in opposition the best David Cameron ever managed on the NHS was to drag the Conservatives to roughly equal with Labour in a handful of polls. Tony Blair made a supreme effort on the issue of crime and did manage to get Labour ahead on the issue for a while… but during the election campaign of 1997 there was still a meagre Conservative lead on the issue.

If Labour put enough effort in on immigration they could perhaps establish themselves as people’s preferred party on immigration, but they are hardly likely to want to make the issue their main focus in the years ahead, and in the absence of such a concerted effort it is likely to remain an issue of Conservative strength (I suspect it will remain so even given that the government are very unlikely to hit their own target of reducing immigration; hardly anyone expects the Conservatives to hit it anyway).

Secondly there is the effect on salience. Immigration is an issue is one that people do consider important to the country, but not necessarily towards their own lives. In questions asking what people think is the most important issue facing the country immigration has for the last few years come second or third. It does, however, tend to register lower down the scale when asked about what issues are important for people and their families. As an issue where people tend to favour the Conservatives moving it up the agenda however is not going to be particularly helpful to Labour.

Thirdly there is the effect on party perception and narrative. Unlike other angles this is almost impossible to objectively test in opinion polls, but just because something is difficult to measure doesn’t make it any less important. For example, the Conservatives tend to be cautious about the issue of immigration because talking about it too much risks reinforcing negative perceptions of the Conservative party as being racist, intolerant or stuck in the past, and would play to a narrative of the party “lurching to the right” or “playing the race card”. I suspect Labour do not have to worry about this to the same extent, as a party they are seen as far closer to ethnic minority Britons and don’t have the same baggage from the past. They can talk about immigration without risking some of the negative associations a Conservative politician would suffer – it takes a Nixon to go to China.

I suspect this angle also tells us why Ed Miliband is talking about immigration. It probably isn’t going to suddenly make immigration a strong issue for Labour, and it’s not an issue that would help Labour by being high on the political agenda. I suspect he is aiming more at tackling a negative perception of the last Labour government having become out-of-touch with the concerns and worries of its supporters.

The final angle one needs to consider is “elite” opinion – by which I mean the commentariat, columnists, party activists and so on. While the public tend to like anti-immigration policies or rhetoric, Labour supporters in the commentariat tend not to, so there has been a muted or sometimes quite negative reaction to his speech in places like the Guardian (though there have also been many voices welcoming it). This is rather beyond my remit – and going against the commentariat is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if you want to look in touch with ordinary people, but it is certainly a factor that politicians need to consider.


61 Responses to “On immigration and public opinion”

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  1. An interesting piece Anthony-thanks

  2. @anthony Wells

    You said “…it takes a Nixon to go to China…”

    Old Vulcan proverb… :-)

    Regards, Martyn

  3. ” …there has been a muted or sometimes quite negative reaction to his speech in places like the Guardian.”

    Two comment pieces in the Guardian so far:

    Alan Travis takes the line that “anti-immigration rhetoric” is an attempt to out-tough the Conservatives – not borne out by what Miliband actually said imo.

    Matt Cavanagh seems to decode the speech better. Migration/immigration as a symptom, rather than as a cause of problems.

    Milband: “a phoney debate about immigration which has often ignored the big issues of how our economy works… ”

    “part of our economy has not been subject to sufficient rules and regulations.”

    As Cavanagh puts it “…it is the nature of our economic model, rather than our feckless or welfare-dependent youth, that encourages employers to prefer foreign-born workers. These workers are more willing to fill jobs that are temporary, low-paid, with bad conditions, and no training or career progression – “nasty, brutish, and short term”, as Miliband summed them up today.

    I’m guessing there will be no specific measures to deter companies from employing more than 25% of “foreign” workers beyond surveying and a duty to report – it will be more a question of using the information to emphasise training and make changes to employment law in general.

  4. For those who might want a more balanced and evidence-based assessment of the economic impact of the sharp rise in immigration from the EU countries that started in 2004, this article by Jonathan Portes makes interesting reading. He is the director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, Britain’s longest established independent economic research institute.

    http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2011/09/27/labour-are-apologising-for-their-record-on-immigration-in-office-they-are-wrong-to-do-so/

    Of course any debate on immigration is emotive and politically charged, and it’s sometime good to see empirical data that challenges the many myths that surround the issue. Sadly, however, it’s a subject where myths quite often prevail over evidence.

  5. Takes a Celtic striker to score against Germany! :-)

  6. OLDNAT,

    Amazing….with that strike rate he should have his next Celtic hat trick by 2018!

    Peter.

  7. I suspect the Conservatives are quietly glad Miliband has said this. It opens up the possibility of discussion without fearing the deployment of the R-word. Progress of a sort.

  8. What Ed was trying to do was to make sure there won’t be any flocking problems over this issue at the next election :-)

  9. Would be nice to have a speech on immigration and emigration.

    As i remember the OECD report only Mexico has more of its people in other countries than the UK.

  10. KeithP

    I am lost about the R word. Is that repatriation?

  11. Why politicians cant just come up with the obvious – and true – statement about immigration, I dont know.

    “There are times when we need immigration. Like when times are economically good. And there are times when we do not need immigration. Like when times are economically bad”.

    And I’m sure most people would probably see the sense in that.

  12. The issue is a moving feast. Not sure about that metaphor actually. I was away from this country for 15 years and a few years aftyer my return, i got involved with environmental politics and ended up on the Regional Assembly (RIP).

    During a reception I asked a colleague, ‘who is the negro gentleman over there?’ and she almost bit my head off. I asked what was wrong and was told that ‘we don’t use that word any more’.

    Confused and hurt, I went home and did some googling to try and discover the error of my ways.

    I am born of the working class, and my impression of the Mrs Duffys is that on a personal basis they are not worried about any immigrant, although one of another race takes getting used to, and a different culture excites even more suspicion.

    On a societal basis, the tabloids heap more on this natural human tendency (animal actually) and the attitudes are reinforced or even created. The most worries about immigration are felt by people who live in areas where there isn’t any, other than the odd Indian and Chinese restaurant or kebab shop in the nearby market town. They were probably born here anyway.

    There is no answer to this and EM’s populist move will make no difference in those areas and in the urban areas, nobody is listening to EM.

    The EU point is made by EM because it is safe -it’s an ex problem.

  13. Well I don’t have a problem with immigration at all. People think the numbers are too high but I suspect their are a number of things at work.

    Firstly by and large the more welcoming you are the more people integrate. If people’s experience of your culture is warm and engaging they will want to be part of it.

    By and large my experience of people who say things like”Immigrants don’t want to integrate” actually don’t want to get to know them our have them live or work with them.

    It’s not surprising that newcomers don’t want to mix with people who don’t make them feel welcome.

    Secondly if you don’t support and encourage people be they immigrants or anyone else you can create problems. We are finally decades late starting to do more early intervention as preventing a kid going off the rails is hugely less expensive than incarcerating them when they do.

    That for me suggests a relationship between the number of immigrants and the resource to support them. That might seem a lot, even a burden to some when immigration is high but it will pay huge dividends in the future.

    Skimp on it initially or when things are tight and it will come back to haunt you. You could argue that under investment in new Britain’s over the last half century is coming back to bite us now.

    We have less of a problem with those who have come to a booming economy in the last decade and earned than we do with the children of previous generations who never got out of poverty.

    Thirdly there is the difference between reality and perception.

    That works on two levels,

    Firstly it is public perception on immigration that is driving this debate not the facts. Although it has risen as an issue and their are some areas where immigrants make up large sections of a local population or workforce it is still relatively low.

    Secondly on a personal level our senses are evolved to detect differences. Evolution means that the guy who can tell the differences between a mountain and a mountain lion gets to live and reproduce.

    We detect change and react, the amygdela creates adrenalin and we get ready for fight or flight. An ancient response that filters out the norm and focuses on the different, a handy trait to have to help you survive.

    Fast forward a million years and go to Tescos. There are a thre hundred people in the store and five Polish staff stacking shelves.

    Your brain automatically filters out almost all of the voices, although it will pick up on familiar voices like a friend or someone you want to avoid. But it will also home in on the Polish voices particularly if they aren’t speaking English and because as they work their you will need to walk past them.

    In reality they make up less than 2% of those in the store, little more than 10% of the staff, but the perception is “Tesco is full of foreigners and they are taking all the jobs”.

    It’s not unlike the last thread about exams and “Bobbies on the beat”, it’s based on perception more than evidence.

    [snip-aw]

    Peter.

  14. @HOWARD

    “I asked what was wrong and was told that ‘we don’t use that word any more’.”

    My next questions would have been, “Who is ‘we’?” and “Do you send out newsletters or e-mail updates on political correctness, so I can stay abreast of which words you do use?”

    In the words of the first traveller on the London underground,

    “What a tube!” :)

  15. Jim

    Re Milibands speech on immigration. Remember that people don’t tend to be avid watchers of day to day politics, like the people who post on UKPR. If you asked 100 people on an average high street, to say which subject Miliband had delivered a speech on, many would be scratching their heads. A lot of people don’t watch the news.

    The important thing is that Miliband has raised the issue, so no one can say that he has not talked about it. He has apologised for Labours failings when in office. Therefore when this is raised again, he can say that in June 2012, he delivered a speech on the subject and agreed that Labour had made mistakes.

    The strategy of Miliband and Labour is to neutralise the issues that stop people voting for them. They are trying to do this now and will spend the time before the GE formulating their policies that will form their manifesto.

    Pretty smart strategy if you ask me, which should stand them in good stead for the GE, IF they come up with a common sense policy proposal in their GE manifesto.

  16. Jim
    I think the views of the ex-Lib-now-Lab voter will be a lot more important than any potential gain from the Tories/UKIP.

    Polling suggests that 2010 LibDem voters are broadly in line with Labour voters on immigration (support for quite strict controls, but not as much support as Tory voters), so it might not do too much damage to the Labour VI – but bringing to the forefront a ‘Tory policy’ could allow Tory VI to significantly recover and put omnishambles behind them.

    I also suspect that the main beneficiaries in the short term of Ed’s speech, politically speaking (although perhaps not for VI), will be UKIP.
    Although in the long-run, any focus on UKIP could be potentially bad for them – they’ll come to the same stumbling block that the tea party did in the US.
    UKIP claim to be a libertarian party but largely only in an anarcho-capitalist way [1]. Many of their other policies [2] are definitely anti-libertarian – and I suspect that their unifying anti-immigration stance will only take them so far.
    A man cannot serve two masters – as the LibDems have found out – so their other policies may come to be divisive. [3]

    [1] Except when it comes to immigration – then it’s a staunch conservative view.
    [2] A “single British culture”, burqa bans, big-state when it comes to military spending, same-sex marriage, etc
    [3] I should note, I do actually support some UKIP policies – as a socialist I’d fully support UKIP’s tax policy if it came with their basic cash benefit (which is essentially a negative income tax, without calling it that).

  17. Also, could we potentially see an approval drop in Cameron/the government by current Liberal Democrat voters over the handling of Gove’s new policies?

    Nick Clegg claimed that neither he nor Cameron knew about Gove’s plans – which have already caused a split in coalition narratives – but No 10 have confirmed that Cameron did know about the policy so there could be a sense of double betrayal for LibDems.

    Not only were the Conservatives planning education policies which would be politically divisive but kept the LibDems completely in the dark about them.

    And since journalists are incapable of deeper analysis of polling – if LibDem unhappiness is the thing that causes an approval drop, it will likely just be reported as ‘public turn on Cameron’ as opposed to ‘LibDems unhappy with Cameron’.

  18. “I think the views of the ex-Lib-now-Lab voter will be a lot more important than any potential gain from the Tories/UKIP.”
    I should clarify this point – Ex-LibDems shouldn’t (according to the polling which shows their views are Labour-like) turn on Ed Miliband over the immigration policy – but they could *potentially* turn on Labour over it, which would be very bad for Labour as most of their gains since 2010 are Ex-LibDems.

  19. Good Morning All.
    I could feel a little sorry for Nick Clegg and for Sarah Teather.

    I am not so sure about the Immigration issue; most people are, IMO/Credo- quite ‘right wing’ on this issue.

    On the schools front, I never thought that Mr Gove would not have consulted David Cameron.

  20. PETER CAIRNS

    @”By and large my experience of people who say things like”Immigrants don’t want to integrate” actually don’t want to get to know them our have them live or work with them.

    And how would you say your “experience” compares with that of people who actually live in suburban areas with high density , culturally distinct, immigrant enclaves ; and who experience it’s effects in local schools, shops, jobs , housing & public services ?

  21. CHRIS LANE

    @”On the schools front, I never thought that Mr Gove would not have consulted David Cameron.”

    Nor me.

    The Institute of Directors, the Confederation of British Industry, the British Chambers of Commerce and the Federation of Small Businesses have all welcomed Gove’s call for a rethink of secondary education.

    Tells you that Gove is on the right track………assuming we actually wish to be internationally economically competitive.

  22. @TingedFringe, yes I agree. I do not think UKIP/Tories are the focus here. I think this speech was aimed at the BNP- white working class, socialist but socially conservative. Question is will it be worth alienating the much larger group of LibDem converts, especially considering the fact that the former group will be unlikely to trust Labour after a decade of being socially “liberal’.

    I find it hilarious that my comment is being moderated. Not sure whether it was that I said Labour had lied or not, but I was trying to highlight the fact that is how BNP supporters may see this- through a lense of distrust. Anyway I anhor socialists whether they be Labour or racists like the BNP so I really don’t care.

  23. Colin
    I do wonder if Gove would have gained more support (outside of the traditional support you list) if he had presented his proposals as reformed GCSEs – rather than presenting them as nostalgic utopianism.

    There used to be phrase in the US conservative movement which was ‘don’t let them immanentize the eschaton’.
    Essentially the idea is that there are utopianists who have a certain world view and wish to bend reality to fit that world view, even if reality stands in the way.
    This was largely only applied to utopians on the left – but there is a brand of nostalgic utopianism that is equally as strong and harks back to a time when there was no crime, one culture, perfect 2-parents-2-children families, etc – but a time that didn’t actually exist.
    Those who have a gnostic belief in any utopia (of whatever ideology) won’t let any arguments sway the idea that when their utopia is created (in the case of nostalgic utopianism – when the utopia is restored) then everything will be fine. Hence why, according to (small-c) conservative belief, the utopians need to be stopped.

    And I think that Gove sought to tap in to that nostalgic utopianism with his presentation as “O-Levels” for cheap political gain, as opposed to presenting his ideas that may have got more teachers/etc (the ones who have to implement his proposals) on side.

    But the problems with tapping in to nostalgic utopianism is that it reinforces it – which may make other Conservative policies (which fit the small-c conservative ethos of making changes slowly and carefully) which are more radical (gay marriage, etc) more difficult to pass – and that those who don’t share the nostalgic utopianism [1] will be less likely to support them.

    I actually think that some of his proposals are reasonable, but am skeptical of others – although, that said, I think state education reform should be taken out of the hands of a ministry and in to the hands of a board who are experts on educational research and university heads who are better equipped to shape policy based on ‘what works’ rather than any ideological stance (either way).

    [1] But may have progressive utopian ideology.
    To give a theological analogy to the difference – nostalgic utopians see ‘the fall from grace’ as the point that the world has gone downhill from, progressive utopians see the fall from grace as the bottom point and history is a slow progress back toward moral perfection.

  24. Tingedfringe – given the sample size of current Lib Dem voters, I would hope no journalist worth their salt would balance a story on changes in that figure!

  25. Jim
    I disagree – the BNP vote is already in decline and a ‘tough on immigration’ stance seeks to gain the same ‘Tories for Tony’ vote that Blair gained from being ‘tough on crime’.

    Whether it’ll work or backfire for Labour (I think backfire is much more likely), we’ll have to wait and see.

  26. @ R Huckle, I agree that this what Labour is trying to do, but I wonder if the BNP supporters that this speech was aimed at will be receptive. Is there any polling on the likelihood of BNP supporters returning to the Labour fold? I’m thinking it might be a case of “never again”, much like many spurned former Tories turned UKIP.

  27. AW – the small sample size for LibDems may make the subsample volatile, but surely a drop in approval from LibDem voters for Cameron should on average make a large dent to his overall approval figures?

  28. @TingedFringe, but do we know where those BNP supporters went? I can’t see them having gone to UKIP considering the level of state control they wanted in the economy and civil liberties they wanted to squash. Is there any data about this? Perhaps they dropped out of political participation altogether?

  29. “Is there any polling on the likelihood of BNP supporters returning to the Labour fold?”
    YouGov Sep 2010 UKIP+BNP voters (warning, weighted sample of BNP voters is only 433).

    BNP –
    Which of the following parties would you consider voting for?
    Conservative – 18%
    Labour – 7%
    LibDems – 8%
    UKIP – 31% (for UKIP voters, 21% would consider BNP)

    Which of the following parties would you NOT consider voting for?
    Labour – 69%
    LibDem – 61%
    Conservatives – 52%
    UKIP – 20%

    Thinking back to previous elections, which parties have you voted for?
    UKIP – 20%
    Conservative – 42%
    Labour – 47%
    LibDem (incl Lib or SDP) – 17%

    When did you last vote Conservative?
    2005 – 27%
    2001 – 23%
    1997 – 10%

    When did you last vote Labour?
    2005 – 28%
    2001 – 19%
    1997 – 24%

    Answer: Unlikely in September 2010.

  30. @Jim

    ” but I wonder if the BNP supporters that this speech was aimed at will be receptive. Is there any polling on the likelihood of BNP supporters returning to the Labour fold? ”

    I think you are wrong with your assessment. The speech was never aimed at BNP supporters. I doubt that many BNP supporters, would have voted Labour. In my experience from the people I know who have dallied with voting BNP, is that the other choice of voting would be for the Tories. They don’t trust Labour on immigration or any other issues. I have looked at the BNP site and they have been quite critical of left of centre parties/politicians. The BNP are clearly a party of the right in all aspects.

  31. @TingedFringe, Odd that more of those supporters voted Labour in 2005 than in 2001. Also the 69 % never consider voting Labour when 47% had voted Labour in the past seems to support my argument.

    Interesting regarding the UKIP support, perhaps we will be seeing large numbers of them leaving UKIP when the discover their policies. Or perhaps they were never really socialist or racist and immigration being their number one concern, they had nowhere to vote in line with their views (concerned about immigration, but not racist or socialist) until they discovered UKIP.

    At any rate, very interesting data, thanks!

  32. @R HUCKLE, really? I think they have elements of both hard left and hard right.

  33. @Jim

    “@R HUCKLE, really? I think they have elements of both hard left and hard right. ”

    BNP are a right wing party in my opinion. The people I know who agree with some BNP policies, would never vote Labour. But other people may have a different experience.

  34. R HUCKLE

    Discussion as to whether a particular party is right or left wing is a fairly arid exercise. It usually involves concatenating positions on various political axes to produce a single label.

    While measures like the Political Compasses are still fairly blunt instruments, they do, at least, involve a degree of the complexity that surround political positions.

    In any case, positions move over time, as this graph indicates.

    http://www.politicalcompass.org/images/enPartiesTime.gif

    The SDLP in 2010 are roughly where Labour was 30 years ago.

    h ttp://www.politicalcompass.org/ukparties2010

  35. Jim – I try to discourage (well, ban) discussion of whether the BNP are right wing or left wing here. It is one of those discussions that never leads to anything but a silly partisan argument.

  36. Tinged

    @”do wonder if Gove would have gained more support (outside of the traditional support you list) if he had presented his proposals as reformed GCSEs – rather than presenting them as nostalgic utopianism.”

    ummm-he didn’t do that actually.

    He talked about the need for more rigour & competing with he best educational systems.

    I can find only one mention by Gove of “O levels” -in connection with Singapore’s exam system.

    He did not indulge in nostalgia, but talked about the need to improve for the future.

    I think all the ” back to the 1950s” stuff is knee jerk from the usual suspects in the Press.

    So far as the Gove statement in HoC & subsequent debate was concerned -judge for yourself:-

    http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201213/cmhansrd/cm120621/debindx/120621-x.htm

    …….or wait for the consultation paper before pre-judging it .

  37. AW

    I hate any form of publicity that is given to the BNP.

    It is up to the mainstream political parties to make them an irrelevance. This is why I think it is good for Miliband and other leading politicians to talk about immigration and social integration of people from all backgrounds.

  38. COLIN,
    Good Afternoon after a terminated ‘meet’.

    The CSE streams or bands were brutal.

    So there is no golden age to which we can look back.
    For my own discipine, History, I am in favour of
    i. Linear syllabii: for O Level and A Level. My choice would be one British Paper in Years 10 & 11 (4th and 5th)which would take young people from 1750 to 1850

    Then an A Level>
    A european paper from 1789 to 1949.

    A British Paper from 1850 to 1950.

    In terms of standards;
    the GOM: Gladstone- the Grand Old Man, used to complain about falling standards in Oxford, when the new middle class under graduates were allowed to write essays in English, instead of Latin and Greek.

  39. @ Chris Lane

    If there is a cost difference between CSE and O’Level exams, we could see people put down for a cheaper CSE, if the school has a budget to meet. This is what happened before and parents who wanted their kids to take the O’Level, had to pay. I had to do this for one subject. I achieved a better result in the O’Level that was paid for, than in the CSE that the teacher thought I was capable of. I had a smug face when seeing the teacher, who pretty much admitted that kids were entered into CSE’s for budget reasons.

  40. Great British hypocrisy in action again, Jimmy Carr says he’s sorry, well that’s alright then, he, ‘earns’ £ 5 million a year, pays 1% tax, but it’s okay because he’s, ‘nice’. Were he a banker or boss of PLC he would be out on his ear, and a target for Jimmy Carr. :-)

  41. Ken

    You come from the banking sector. How much money have banks made from clients who have avoided tax ? I suspect that banks have earned extra money due to this and indirectly you may have benefited.

  42. ken

    “Great British hypocrisy in action”

    Unfortunately for Cameron, I suspect the upcoming polls will reveal who the great British Public actually thinks is the hypocrite here.

  43. @Howard

    the R-word is racism. We need this taken out of the debate.

  44. R HUCKLE.
    Yes, I used to see cost implications working for choice of CSE and O Level entries.

    The hardest groups to teach were the Option Block Groups, where there were not enough students for two groups, on cost grounds.

    Therefore we had to teach ‘O’ Level and CSE Level syllabii at the same time! LOL- Happy Days- Not.

    Presumably Mr Gove has thought through such issues.

  45. CHRISLANE

    Thank you.

    I took O Level-so have no memory of CSE.

    Clearly there is a need to provide those children who are not in the vanguard of academic ability with something better than a D or E at GCSE after multiple resits, and the distrust which that brings from prospective employers.

    I can see no difference between being squeezed in to the bottom end of a one size fits all qualification; and the “two tier” system which Clegg & co ( not to mention teachers’ unions ) seem to fear from “the 1950s”.

    I have no doubt that Gove intends all children to have a qualification which means something, has stretched their particular talents, and has the confidence of universities & employers.

    I don’t care what he calls it.

    On R4 the other day someone was recounting a story of standing in for a science teacher. The subject he put before the students was the evolution of man & the age of the earth.

    He used that line representing 24hrs=age of the earth which so brilliantly explains the late appearance of man in the vast span of earth’s history.

    He said that a student asked why this was relevant-it wasn’t in his “book”. The teacher explained that it was -on page 17-but it was explained in a different way-that was all.

    The student then asked why the teacher was doing it this way-it didn’t tie up with his “notes”-this was “wasting their time” .

    The teacher told the student that he was explaining it this way for them-to make them think about the subject-the student asked -“so you did that for us ?”.

    The teacher said “, I did, yes”.

    The class then sat in rapt attention.

    Two of my grandchildren take their final GCSE on Monday. They have both spent two or three weeks taking exams-I’ve lost count of the number, but it must be around 15 or so-some subjects seem to be examined in two or three different papers.

    They are both knackered .

  46. KeithP

    Many thanks.

    As we have a sophisticated discussion group here I wonder in the cited polls by AW whether it is possible to detect whether the polled voters understand the difference between
    a) an immigrant
    b) an immigrant who cannot be refused to be here
    c) someone who looks like they could be an immigrant but was born here
    d) someone who looks like they were born here but in fact is / was an immigrant

    (perm your extra interpretations from 20)

    Listening to debates and vox pop interviews, it has always been clear to me that many voters have not a clue that what they are being asked about is not what they are giving their opinion about.

  47. EM would have been better advised not to talk about immigration, particularly from Eastern Europe – it is likely to worsen his poll ratings as it draws attention to his own “Polish/Jewish” background, which does not endear him to those British folk whom he was trying to persuade by his speech.

  48. @Jim – “the BNP supporters that this speech was aimed at… ”

    The Miliband speech can be found here:

    h
    ttp://www.ippr.org/research-project/44/7675/progressive-migration?showupdates=1&layout_type=updates#update9312

    It won’t appeal to BNP supporters, why should it?
    Even if we forget about values, why would any mainstream party tarnish their image with the general public by appealing to the BNP, given it is so tiny?

    AW deals with some of the misconceptions about were BNP support comes from in this piece about the 2009 EU elections:

    h
    ttp://ukpollingreport.co.uk/blog/archives/2172

    “Asked to place themselves on the political spectrum they put themselves right of centre.”

    It is worth a read.

  49. COLIN.
    Yes, the current system is very silly. The worst aspect is the Controlled Assessment structure in my view. 10 Subjects, three exams in each subject in the first term of Year 11; this replaced ‘Course Work’.

    BY ELECTIONS.
    The Independent on line has some very interesting results for yesterday, and have a strong Labour lead.

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