When a party goes up or down in the polls there is inevitably speculation as to why. Sadly it’s not normally very good speculation… there is always a temptation for people to follow the logic of I think issue X is very important therefore issue X is the cause of the recent shift in the polls. Inferences from polls are not always much better than that – people who are supporting party Y are more likely to think X, therefore X has caused the increased support for that party. It sounds okay, but what about issues A, B and C which weren’t asked in the poll?

Daily polling does at least give us an idea of when movements in public opinion have happened, and therefore make inferences about what events may have caused them. The graph below shows a five day rolling average of UKIP’s support in YouGov’s daily poll since the end of 2011.

You can see there are two big increases – the first was the Budget in 2012, nothing to do with immigration or Europe or any of those issues we associate with UKIP, the thing that co-incided with an increase in UKIP support more than anything else was the budget. My guess, given the demographic make up of UKIP’s vote, that the granny tax and the messages it sent out were the most important factor there. UKIP’s support then faded away a bit, had a couple of lumps and bumps during the autumn and then shot up again during November when there was an almost perfect storm for them – the run up to the EU budget summit, a decent performance in the police elections, the Rotherham fostering row, the speculation over a Con-UKIP pact and finally the solid by-election performance at the end of the month, all combining to produce far more news coverage than the party could normally dream of. It is possible that the gay marriage issue since then has helped keep their support up.

All of this is still a far cry from proving what causes the ups and downs in UKIP support, after all, correlation does not prove causality. There could have been other events at the same time that got less attention, but it is normally a fairly good pointer.

Note also the biggest drop in UKIP support, back at the end of 2011 at the time of David Cameron’s veto in Europe. As I wrote the other day, Europe isn’t actually the main driver of UKIP support, so if the Conservatives suddenly became more anti-European UKIP would not vanish like magic… but it is an issue that plays to the sort of values that drive UKIP voters, so neither is it irrelevant.


223 Responses to “The ups and downs of UKIP”

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  1. PETE B

    Guns weren’t exactly in short supply in the UK after the war. It took years of increasingly restrictive legislation to remove them from the general population.

    Scotland has now started on that process with airguns.

    It takes time, but failure even to start on the process extends the period during which the problem will last.

  2. AinW

    Very sweet of you, thanks.

    Nowt serious that the end of the word won’t cure anyway.

  3. OLDNAT

    @”I’m surprised that you are critical of the UK and the USA, though probably not surprised at criticism of the Soviet Union.
    However, I’m delighted that you accept that states, which glorify the killings conducted by their troops, are uncivilised.”

    Finally found the little chink you were manuevering for eh ?
    ( quite a lot of smileys)

    …erm-I haven’t mentioned any individual states. You were the one tantalising us with your unspecified culprits.

    So-you think UK , USA & the Soviet Union have all “glorified killings conducted by their troops”?

    You would have to be a bit more specific before I accepted your assumption that I meant that-which conflicts?, what statements by their governments?, what do you mean by ” glorified?”…….

    But I’m not particularly anxious to know-wars are nasty things, and fine principles set out by armchaired civilians in peacetime, may not be too much help to troops bogged down in battle, fighting for their lives.

    I’m glad I never had to be in that situation-and none of it has anything to do with violent video games aimed at young children.

  4. AMBIVALENT SUPPORTER

    Happy Christmas to you too.

  5. Colin

    I didn’t need to maneuver. You walked into it.

  6. BB

    But what CURRENT LD supporters think of DM is nigh-on irrelevant. They are going to stick with the LDs.

    The issue is what the people who voted LD in 2005 and 2010 but have now come back to Labour would think of him.

    Given that the Blairite stance over Iraq was the main thing that drove them away (broad brush comment but it’s the last Friday before Xmas) I suspect that they’d not be fighting to get in line to kiss DM’s ring.

  7. TINGED

    Happy Christmas.

  8. Are there any stats which isolate “random” kilings with automatic weapons from those connected with gang war, murder and robbery?

    In other words is the US unusual in that, narrow respect?

    It certainly seems so but figures coud prove it one way or the other. As I wrote a few days ago the US stil seems rooted in the wild west and the NRA guy’s depicition of peope with guns being either “good” or “bad” falls neatly into that categorisation.

  9. @ PeteB

    I think you should be careful about using the Swiss example in arguments about gun crime. This is partly because although Swiss conscripts keep military weapons they do not seem to have access to military ammunition. And you cannot use one without the other.

    More to the point no one would pretend that the availability of guns is the only factor in homicide rates. A glance at the list of these rates given in Wikipedia suggests that they tend to be massively higher in the Americas than they are in Western Europe. So there are clearly historical, cultural or economic factors that are extremely important in producing differences in homicide rates between states.

    That said, the proportion of murders by gun in Switzerland seems to be unusually high. So the Wikipedia rates seem to be .7 per 100,000 homicides overall and .52 per 100,000 for gun murders. Using the UK by contrast we seem to have a rate of 1.2 for overall homicides and .04 for gun murders. So they do better than us on overall homicides (my impression is that the Swiss are amazingly law-abiding) but they have something like 14 times the rate of gun murders. (These are Wikipedia figures with different sources and dates but the contrasts are pretty stark)

    There seems to be a similar contrast in respect of suicide where their suicide rate by gun seems to be about 19 times ours (3.15 v. 17) whereas their overall suicide rate is less than twice as big as ours.

    Obviously you could argue that all this has to do with differences in recording or, perhaps more plausibly, that it is a matter of substitution, If you are going to commit a murder or kill yourself in Switzerland you use a gun while if you are going to do it in England you use some other means. The availability of guns has nothing to do with the means chosen but not the overall rate of murder or suicide,

    My understanding is that the substitution argument has some validity but it does not by any means explain the association between criminal and suicidal behaviour and the availability of the means to carry them out. For example, the substitution of a less lethal form of gas for domestic appliances was carried out at different times in different cities. The suicide rates dropped roughly in the order of the introduction of the new gas suggesting that the greater difficulty of killing oneself by putting one’s head in an oven had an effect on the over likelihood of suicide.

    So I don’t think that one should give any comfort to the likes of the NRA by citing the Swiss. This example doesn’t support their case and it may even work against it.

  10. Not a very UKIPPY UKIP thread is it?

  11. Turk

    I agree almost 100% with what you say. The only think I take issue with is that Switzerland has the highest gun ownership in the world. The figures I saw this week were that the US has 270million guns among 300million people.

  12. OLDNAT

    Willingly circled & played the game , just to observe the the inevitable end game & see how long it took you this time.

    You do seem to enjoy the ambush school of dialogue-though it’s a bit dated now . We used to know it as One Upmanship back in the 50s.

    Stephen Potter’s books were fun-but I never really saw the merit in being a Clever Dick.

    (one or two smileys.)

  13. @leftylampton

    Cheers!

    I can see differences in emphasis between the two brothers, and the timeline of their careers necessitated a different tactical approach (for instance Ed Balls thought Ed was being disingenuous over Iraq during the leadership contest), but how would it would work out in practice… in government?

    Both would be appeasing elements of their own party and any number of other powers and interest groups. The important difference would be in temperament, and although David does go down better with the electorate, it is possible that Ed may be more suited to the role.

    Fwiw here is my post from a couple of pages back :

    @reggieside – “Dave M in charge would probably see the labour party less attractive to the disgusted lib dems.”

    You may think that, but any polling evidence? It’s not a big deal but we may as well check it out.

    In Jan 2012 YouGov found the 2010 LD voter preferred David Miliband as Labour leader (25%) to either Alistair Darling or Ed Miliband (both on 7%)… current LD voters preferred David (20%) to Ed (4%), though 28-37% of both samples opted for “none of them would be any good.”

    Either LDs are not really that left wing, or there is not such a big perceived difference between the brothers. David does not even appear to be particularly unpopular with Labour voters:

    h
    ttp://cdn.yougov.com/cumulus_uploads/document/y4asheswh1/YG-Archives-Pol-ST-results-13-150112.pdf

  14. @ Old Nat

    Re: The NRA Press Conference

    I did not watch it (I had sh*t to do) but I’m hearing and reading about it. Apparently it was a total circus sh*tshow. This whole armed vigilante plan shows definitively that these people have just lost it.

    My new State Senator (though not yet elected) apparently watched the NRA press conference and had two lines he posted on Facebook in response.

    1. “After watching the NRA’s press conference, I now call for armed security at little league games because that is another place children congregate. While having umpires carry assault weapons may distract from America’s favorite pastime, that is the price of freedom.”

    2. “I call for armed security at churches and other places of worship, because that is where good children congregate. Bad guys know priests don’t carry assault weapons with high-capacity magazines.”

  15. Colin

    I enjoyed Potter’s books too. Particularly his reflections on the UK Ministry of Defence, which could have been labelled “Several Downmanship”.

  16. OLDNAT

    @”I enjoyed Potter’s books too.”

    I don’t doubt it !

  17. @Ann in Wales

    “I think that EM is a very pragmatic politician.He will set out his stall at the right time and not before.”

    If he’s in any way like his predecessor, he’ll wait and wait and wait and oops!

  18. SOCALLIBERAL

    “priests don’t carry assault weapons with high-capacity magazines.”

    Doesn’t that depend on which church they belong to?

    “Be safe! Attend our services in our land mined environs, with fully armed godly killing machines!”

  19. @ Old Nat

    “My Dad had a rifle (licensed) in the 1950s. We lived in the country and it was used for “hunting”. Actually, he kept it by his bedroom window, and used it to shoot the rabbits attacking his garden produce.

    Rabbit was one of our favourite meals.

    By the 1960s, the world had changed somewhat, and he surrendered the licence and the rifle.”

    Mmmmmm…..rabbit. You know who used to love deep fried rabbit as a child? The late Daryl Gates. Anyway, we could never have rabbit as kids because my little sister loved them and would get upset over the idea that any of us could eat one.

    You would probably know better than most that you don’t need an assault rifle to hunt (and that it’s probably ineffective for actually hunting).

    Why did he surrender his license and rifle? Did he become a vegetarian or something?

  20. SOCALLIBERAL

    “Why did he surrender his license and rifle? Did he become a vegetarian or something?”

    Nothing so dramatic! We moved to a town, where you might hit someone firing a gun from the bedroom window!

  21. @ Charles

    “I think you should be careful about using the Swiss example in arguments about gun crime. This is partly because although Swiss conscripts keep military weapons they do not seem to have access to military ammunition. And you cannot use one without the other.”

    The Swiss possession of guns and the lack of violence can teach us Americans quite a bit. After all, while the Swiss are not perfect, they have been doing the democracy thing longer than we have. They’re also capitalistic. Oh and they have universal healthcare coverage without government institutions providing it directly.

    @ Old Nat

    “Doesn’t that depend on which church they belong to?

    “Be safe! Attend our services in our land mined environs, with fully armed godly killing machines!””

    LOL. And yeah, I guess it does depend on which church or religious institution you’re talking about. We all know that Buddhist temples are going to be the most heavily armed. :)

    “Guns weren’t exactly in short supply in the UK after the war. It took years of increasingly restrictive legislation to remove them from the general population.”

    See, this is what the NRA ultimately fears as well as many concerned gun owners and I think some of their fear is justified. Of course, some of the things I’m hearing from the gun control wingnuts is filled with general ignorance, stereotyping, and a lack of tolerance or curiosity for others. They all seem to be pushing for things that might be considered kneejerk and emotional and might do so at the expense of individual rights and liberty.

    Of course, this is typically how right wingers behave. Maybe some of the right wing gun nuts will recognize this and come crying to us liberals (the ones who aren’t gun control wingnuts but support some common sense restrictions) for help. Or maybe they’ll reconsider how they react on seemingly every other issue.

    I won’t be holding my breath.

  22. @ Old Nat

    “Nothing so dramatic! We moved to a town, where you might hit someone firing a gun from the bedroom window!”

    Your dad sounds like a smart man. Like father, like son I suppose.

    I think my dad still has his gun and his concealed carry permit. But he never takes his gun anywhere with him anymore and keeps it locked in the house for emergencies (I don’t even know where it is anymore).

  23. Stat geek,well we shall just have to wait and see,but I feel that we have two very different personalities here.

  24. @SoCal (10.04)

    “See, this is what the NRA ultimately fears as well as many concerned gun owners and I think some of their fear is justified. ”

    Are you really saying that you are fearful that weapons may eventually be banned in most situations in the US. If you are, can I just remind you that the number of gun deaths per head of population is 30 times greater in the US than in the UK. I know in which country I feel safer and in response to your earlier question, I know of no-one who owns a gun (family or friends) so I certainly don’t feel safer because of possession of a gun.

    In conclusion, can I just say that while I have visited the US on four occasions in the past, I will certainly be thinking twice about returning.

  25. PETER BELL

    I didn’t read SoCal’s message as being that he was fearful of such a consequence, but that the NRA were.

  26. On the gun thing, I do worry slightly that if the citizenry is unarmed and untrained, any country is that much easier to invade. Just because Britain hasn’t been directly threatened for some time doesn’t mean it never will be.

    An invader would have a far harder time subduing the American populace than the British. If OldNat is right and the Scots can’t even have airguns, they’ll be reduced to throwing deep-fried Mars BArs at the enemy!

  27. PETE B

    You severely underestimate the death producing qualities of the deep fried Mars Bar!

  28. Do you know, I think it is unfair, but I think the letting Mitchell swing thing might do Cameron more damage than Coulson, Hunt and Fox. When he finally lets a pal go, it’s the wrong one, and he should have hung on.

    Nobody could have known that at the time, of course. But (not necessarily with the average voter, but with the Tory MPs) this might finally kill him off.

  29. Merry Christmas to everyone on here.

    I think a lot of Ukippers are former Tories just disgusted with everything that the Tories have become. They’ve dashed to the left on social issues (personally I agree with the socially left stance), but also the economic incompetence has turned people off, and the way that so many of the cabinet, seem determined to live up to the stereotype.

    On the issues of guns, I don’t think we should be led down this reactionary path. An interesting statistic I saw is that the states with gun controls have more gun crime.

    I like the NRA proposal of having armed security in schools to protect kids, as schools seem to be a target, and no matter what law you introduce you will never get rid of guns completely, so it’s good to have armed security in schools, would like to know how the fiscal conservative Republican party intend to pay for it however.

    On the fiscal cliff, I think a short term deal will be reached, kicking the can about 6 months down the road, then we can go through this whole charade again.

  30. NP:

    I don’t agree at all. He admitted using the F word and refused to elaborate on on what else he said.

    Its not sacking him that is the problem its not doing it early enough for that straightforward reason to have been appreciated and then eventually doing so simpy because he didn’t seem popular at grassroot level and was causing the party damage.

    Worst of both worlds and typically inept in my view.

  31. @ Nick P

    Do you know, I think it is unfair, but I think the letting Mitchell swing thing might do Cameron more damage than Coulson, Hunt and Fox. When he finally lets a pal go, it’s the wrong one, and he should have hung on.
    ————————
    Andrew Mitchell wasn’t Cameron’s ‘pal’. AM is David Davis’s friend & managed DD’s leadership campaign against Cameron.

    AM had been controversial as Minister for Development but instead of being dumped from the executive, AM was promoted to chief whip; the expectation was that AM could be tough on the backbenchers & they’d accept it because he wasn’t one of the ‘Camborne elite’.

    So, that’s why DC not following up the discrepancies looks bad; it looks like DC only defends his elite group of ‘pals’. It’s an awkward situation which could make managing his Party even more difficult for DC.

  32. Lefty

    ” But what CURRENT LD supporters think of DM is nigh-on irrelevant. They are going to stick with the LDs.”

    I wouldn’t be so sure, its conceivable that I might tell a pollster that I was going to vote libdem even through it ain’t going to happen, one thing is habit another thing is a high poll rating gives the dems more clout in govt, we hope!!!

  33. @ Ann in Wales
    “Grin ports,I think that EM is a very pragmatic politician.He will set out his stall at the right time and not before.”

    As is absolutely correct. And like you I think he will play it smarter than his predecessor did. I dont doubt his political acumen at all.

    I just find it interesting to see which way this will go.

  34. EM can’t play it worse than GB, that is certain, but I think he is very clear about a timetabe to 2015 and people who know him well are impressed at all levels – including him being a genuinely nice man.

  35. @ Old Nat and others

    Look I know this NRA and other stuff is an interesting distraction unrelated to the latest polls but you guys (and gals) north of Hadrians Wall seem strangely silent on the cold YouGov statistics

    Labour SNP
    16/17 Dec 42% 23%
    17/18 Dec 43% 27%
    18/19 Dec 45% 19%
    19/20 Dec 49% 16%

    Even allowing for the usual reservations on cross-cuts, the trend is pretty unambiguous. If the figures were reversed in SNP’s favour I suspect we would be reading numerous posts to celebrate ….. !

    So what is going on in Scotland exactly ? Do I hear the phrase “sea-change” ?

    Merry Christmas from Wales GB

  36. @ Pete B

    “On the gun thing, I do worry slightly that if the citizenry is unarmed and untrained, any country is that much easier to invade. Just because Britain hasn’t been directly threatened for some time doesn’t mean it never will be.
    An invader would have a far harder time subduing the American populace than the British. If OldNat is right and the Scots can’t even have airguns, they’ll be reduced to throwing deep-fried Mars BArs at the enemy!”

    Given there has been no invasion of Britain by an overseas power since 1066 I think we can all rest easy in our beds tonight.

  37. WELSH BORDERER

    It would be interesting if you could suggest the last time that I posted on here about Scottish crossbreaks.

    Isn’t it a little early in the festive season for you to be hallucinating?

  38. @ OldNat

    How can straight figures be hallucination ? I didn’t make them up. Your countrymen and women gave their views, sorry about that. If you compare these figures with 18 months ago there has apparently been a huge shift in voting intentions in Scotland, from SNP to Labour , true or false? Sorry I thought this site was supposed to discuss polling results ….
    Do any non-SNP Scots have an interpetation ?

  39. BB
    I’ll confess, I’d missed the “2010LD voter” part of your earlier post.

    That puts a slightly different spin on things and counters my assertion that the deserters are not DM supporters.

    But, being a bolshie sod, I’ll reply with the observation that Jan 2010 was by some way the low point of EM’s tenure, as his brother’s supporters were staging yet another (2nd? 3rd? 4th?) aborted putsch.

  40. WELSH BORDERER

    “Hallucination” referred to ” If the figures were reversed in SNP’s favour I suspect we would be reading numerous posts to celebrate ….. !”

    You do yourself no favours by suggesting that other posters place the same reliance on crossbreaks that you do, and then mount some attack on them as if they did.

    It may be that you are one of those sad wee folk on here who prefer political issues outwith (that’s a Scots word btw) the UK (or GB as you prefer) not to be discussed here.

    Sad that there a number of you.

  41. RiN

    I assumed that the current LD supporters were the “die in the trenches” true believers. I hadn’t computed the possibility that they are taking the piss out of the pollsters in a “yeah, right! Like we really gonna vote LD man?” stylee.

  42. LEFTYLAMPTON

    Wouldn’t it be fun if most YG respondents were “taking the piss out of the pollsters” – thinking, just rack up my points for my £50 cheque?

  43. @Pete B

    “On the gun thing, I do worry slightly that if the citizenry is unarmed and untrained, any country is that much easier to invade. Just because Britain hasn’t been directly threatened for some time doesn’t mean it never will be.”

    True, but there are things to keep in mind:

    1. We are part of NATO, so we are not alone.

    2. We are an Island, so it’s not as if you can mass forces along the border and advance.

    3. Regardless of any air offensives, the land still has to be taken and turned so it does not feed the defenders (both materially and tactically), so you need an army.

    4. The only nations capable of successfully launching an amphibious attack are:

    USA (nuclear)
    Russia (nuclear)
    China (nuclear)
    France (nuclear)

    Since the UK is nuclear too, we are into nuclear deterrent territory. None of those nations is going to attack the UK. The financial markets alone wouldn’t stand for it. There’s too much cash tied up in London.

    No other nations have a navy capable of such an invasion, and whoever did it would require an alliance with France or Ireland, and I think we might spot it happening before they did too much. :)

    So does the nation need to armed? No.

    Is it handy to have civilians armed? Yes, I believe so. In times of war there could be the need for those who are already experienced, or for training purposes. I believe familiarity of something breaks down the mystique and the fears.

    Most important of all, I believe that no section of society should dictate to another that something which was perfectly legal cannot be so now (if the latter section has done nothing to warrant it). That way lies bad things (not to mention Godwin’s Law).

  44. @ Welsh Borderer

    So what is going on in Scotland exactly ? Do I hear the phrase “sea-change” ?
    ——————–
    You never will hear that about Scottish cross-breaks which show swaps in support between Labour & the SNP. Even dedicated Scottish polls have raised expectations which were confounded at the actual election.

    2010 Westminster: The SNP were expected to do well. They hoped to take 20 seats; & I think polling supported them getting between 12 & 20. It’s actually 6.

    2011 Holyrood: The 2010 GE & polling close to the election had it looking good for Labour; we were expected to make substantial gains & maybe even have enough MSPs to run a minority administration. As you probably know, Labour were hammered & almost half the electorate hadn’t even bothered to vote!

    Polls of Scottish voters have a very short shelf-life. In the final weeks or even days, they seem to either change their minds or decide not to vote.

    YG Scottish x-breaks are known here as the Macbeth polls. They’re not to be mentioned unless you touch wood, turn around 3 times & balance a pencil on the end of your nose for 10 seconds before typing your comment (that’s to give you time enough to change your mind & not do it!).

  45. @ Billy Bob

    “I don’t have a problem with American greatness. Whether it wants to or not, America does wield a moral influence through the reach of its culture.”

    It’s something we ought to be aware of and careful about using.

    “Nor I am not saying violence in human history stems from permissive gun law or Hollywood galmourisation. I could point you to C16th accounts of choirboys stabbing each other in Salisbury Cathedral, and an organist sneaking out during evensong to murder the Dean.”

    Right and I don’t think that prior violence means that we can’t combat current things that contribute to violence. We’re lucky to live in a time that we do.

    “One thing does occur to me… 5 million Iraqi orphans, in a country with a population of 31 million. Many of these will have been as a result of collateral damage during the invasion, but many more result from the chaos which followed. I read that some of the influx of small arms and ammunition came from stockpiles that had been surplus to requirements during the break up of Yugoslavia. Who gives the nod/turns a blind eye to these shipments… which brokerage firms take a cut… is some kind of assumption that civilians have a right to bear arms at the back of this? The same inflows were seen in Afghanistan, Libya, you name it, and now Syria.”

    I’m not educated enough on this issue in order to comment intelligently about it. I do know that because of our permissive gun laws, Mexican Drug cartels have been easily able to purchase military style assault weapons to use in creating bloodshed in Mexico. Of course, our restrictive (and mindnumingly sutpid) drug laws help further enable these cartels economically. When you look at how certain parts of Mexico have become real life versions of the Scream movies (maybe worse) and the people live in constant fear because of our laws, I can’t imagine what the average Mexican thinks about us.

    “Larry Alan Burns makes some eminently reasonable points in the LA Times article you linked to, but “there’s a danger we would ban guns altogether the next, and your life might depend on you having one” appears to be an unchallenged truism. Reputable news organisations seem to be full of anecdotal stories about how guns save lives… my intuition would be that the following statistic might be nearer the truth: “people who attempt to use a gun in self-defense are four times as likely to die.”

    I believe we can avoid that through proper government regulation. See, e.g., Switzerland; Israel. Those two countries have plenty of guns and little (civilian) gun violence. But the NRA doesn’t want ANY regulation. They want free, unfettered gun usage. Any gun, at any time, in any place, in any amount, to pretty much anyone.

    No background checks, no restrictions on the severely mentally ill, no restrictions on ex-felons, no restrictions on known domestic violence abusers, no restrictions on the amount of ammunition. And they don’t want any gun safety regulations on manufacturers. They want no required gun training. Oh and I meant it on any place. Recently, Republicans in the Michigan Legislature pushed through laws to allow people to take concealed weapons into elementary schools, daycare centers, universities, hospitals, and other places. The Republican Governor was going to sign it until Newtown happenned the very next day and he then vetoed it. Classy.

  46. @ Pete B

    “On the gun thing, I do worry slightly that if the citizenry is unarmed and untrained, any country is that much easier to invade. Just because Britain hasn’t been directly threatened for some time doesn’t mean it never will be.

    An invader would have a far harder time subduing the American populace than the British. If OldNat is right and the Scots can’t even have airguns, they’ll be reduced to throwing deep-fried Mars BArs at the enemy!”

    I suppose. But don’t you think that any potential invader of either the United States or the United Kingdom would be destroyed before they got anywhere close to landing? You kind of did that in the late 1500’s against the Spanish and you did that in 1940 against the Germans. Plus, today in 2012, I mean, what with nuclear weapons and all, we probably could devastate any attacking force. Now I suppose you could argue that if we had some sort of alien invasion, potential alien spaceships carrying alien troops and the spaceships were immune to nuclear weapons, weaponry is not enough to bring them down, we could be invaded on the ground and need to fight with our own firearms (this has been a potential scenario in the movies). But if these alien spaceships were immune to American and British nuclear weapons, would our small arms and even assault rifles do much to stop those troops? I think at that point it might be useless. If they can resist nuclear weapons, don’t you think they can resist our shotguns and AR-15s?

    @ Old Nat

    “You severely underestimate the death producing qualities of the deep fried Mars Bar!”

    Shhhhhh! Don’t tell Michael Bloomberg! He might attempt to ban them next in his on-going attempt to create a nanny state for NYC. BTW, he is probably one of the WORST people to be out there talking about the need for gun control.

  47. Pete B
    “On the gun thing, I do worry slightly that if the citizenry is unarmed and untrained, any country is that much easier to invade. Just because Britain hasn’t been directly threatened for some time doesn’t mean it never will be.
    An invader would have a far harder time subduing the American populace than the British.

    That sounds like a pretty dangerouse delusion to be encouraging in any country. . Even with rapid fire autromated weapons they are still hand guns, and the users are still Dad’s Army. In any invasion of the States or UK – by whom, and in what circumstances, and for what conceivable purpose? – they would be faced with initial debilitating air strikes aimed at destroying logistics and communications, and in any ground war would be fighting against armoured mobile weaponry in the hands of highly trained and organised forces. This is fantasy land, but might be believable to nutters or to NRA propagandists, but the latter I doubt.

  48. @ Peter Bell

    “Are you really saying that you are fearful that weapons may eventually be banned in most situations in the US. If you are, can I just remind you that the number of gun deaths per head of population is 30 times greater in the US than in the UK. I know in which country I feel safer and in response to your earlier question, I know of no-one who owns a gun (family or friends) so I certainly don’t feel safer because of possession of a gun.”

    I’m not all that fearful myself. I think this is fear that many of the NRA members feel and many gun owners feel. I don’t really care about the murder rates as per their methodology so much as I care about murder rates generally. And attempted murder rates. I’m not sure I feel safer either with the possession of guns. I don’t own guns myself and I don’t desire to either. I don’t really like them. And I don’t really need one either. I don’t hunt. I don’t shoot for sport. I don’t think I need one to protect myself. At a personal level, I’m not sure I should have a gun either.

    But if I had to move someplace where I felt the need to protect myself, I might get one. Or at least consider it.

    That’s why a lot of people own guns btw. If you live out in the middle of nowhere, police response time could be very slow even if you have a good County Sheriff’s Department. And you might not even have immediate neighbors to help you either. Ever been to rural northern California? It’s very underpopulated and remote and often times people live extremely far away from another. You get some knife-weilding maniac or escaped convict out there, they could come in and do great harm. The fact is that those people find having firearms neccessary as protection. Crime is usually rare in these places but they want to be extra careful. And would be criminals understand that people in those rural areas are armed too. It acts as a deterrent. Private citizens aren’t the government and criminals know that if they go and commit criminal acts, they could well have their heads blown off. Without a gun, you increase the risk of harm due to lack of immediate police assistance.

    And it’s not just rural areas either, it’s suburban and urban places too. I remember when the LAPD used to have over 30 minute response times to emergency calls. Fortunately it’s gotten a lot better but it used to be terrible. My grandmother in the 1960’s had one such incident in her quiet and upscale urban neighborhood. It was 11:30 pm, my grandfather was out of town on a business trip and she decided to let my mom and her brothers stay up late to watch the Johnny Carson show. They’re all in bed excitedly watching tv when she suddenly has an instinct to go downstairs and fix them all a snack. She’s walking down the stairs when she looks over and sees an intruder entering through the front living room door (normally locked and used as a window but accidentally left unlocked by her gardener). She screams and runs back upstairs and locks the door. It took the LAPD 35 minutes to show up. Now fortunately that guy was only looking to burgle and didn’t realize that there were people home. Or he was looking for something more but expected the element of surprise which was lost when my grandmother spotted him. In that case, she was frightened but ultimately safe. But with that kind of wait time, you might not have that option.

    You also have to consider the violent acts of others who may seek to do violence against you because of your race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation.

    I’m reminded of the Sweet trials back in the 1920’s Detroit. A white lynch mob came to kill a black man and his family because he dared to live in a neighborhood thought reserved to whites. So he and a few other of his buddies armed themselves and when the Klan set upon his house, they gunned them all down. Now if you and all the other Europeans (as well as Australians and Canadians) had had your way, the white mob would have easily murdered him and his family.

    I don’t want a gun and I don’t like guns but that’s my personal decision. I’m not going to intervene in the personal decisions of others unless there is compelling reason to do so (i.e. they’re severely mentally ill, they’re ex-cons who used fire arms to offend, they’re plotting revolutionary overthrow of the government, they’re violent domestic abusers).

    “In conclusion, can I just say that while I have visited the US on four occasions in the past, I will certainly be thinking twice about returning.”

    I hope you’ll reconsider. I could have said I wasn’t going to go back to London after the July 2005 terrorist attacks but I did and I even rode the tube. Even though Paris was the victim of terrorism on occassion during the 90’s, I went back there too. Yes, the fear is great that we have but we will work to overcome it.

  49. @ Peter Bell

    To add to what I previously said before I go to bed. Guns are not a panacea as the NRA claims. They are only so good as you know how to use them and as you have the opportunity to use them. You could have a gun but let’s look at the EAR-ONS for example, if you wake up to have a criminal shining a flashlight and his own gun in your face, you’re probably not going to be able to get to your gun.

    There are a number of good reasons to not own guns. For example, if you have rage issues, you might want to reconsider owning a firearm. Because you might not be emotionally or mentally mature to have one.

    I generally don’t feel safer with them around but I understand why people do and why people have them. And why their feelings of safety might get taken away.

    The fear is this. You have a horrible tragedy like this one. Assault weapons get banned. Then another tragedy happens. Another type of gun gets banned. Bans on weaponry keep occurring with every new event until no one can own any kind of gun anymore. Then after that, the government will look to ban butcher’s knifes and then ban anything else that could be used to harm another. People fear losing their collections, their hunting ability, their sporting events, and most importantly, their feelings of safety and ability to defend themselves and their property. Ultimately too, people know taht even if you outlaw all guns, criminals will still find a way to get them and amke them. So for some, they’d feel even more defenseless.

    Are these feelings unfounded? Oh I’d say so. Proposing some common sense restrictions in order to make sure that guns don’t fall into the wrong hands is nothing close to taking away all guns. Nor is it a first step in that direction for many of us. You don’t need an AK-47 or an M-16 or an AR-15 rifle to do any of the things I just mentioned in the previous paragraph. But that’s the fear with which political opponents of gun control measures can manipulate people and defeat legislation like the Assault Weapons Ban.

  50. The Presence of several thousand troops many of them ARMED didn’t stop a lone gunman walking into Fort Hood and killing 13 people. What Should they have had a “good guy” in a tank?

    Hang on the “Monster” was one of the “Good Guys ” too.

    The Gun’s make you safe argument simply doesn’t hold water.

    Mind you the NRA certainly do their bit to maintain the perrceived international image of the USA as a bunch of deranged nut jobs

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