Over on the YouGov website I’ve written a long piece looking at how the ground lies ahead of the European referendum campaign – what the breakdown of support and opposition currently is, how people perceive those who support and oppose Europe, how effective the arguments might be and how risky each option is currently seen. Read it here.

Meanwhile ICM put out their weekly tracking data on EU referendum voting intention today, their latest figures are REMAIN 44%, LEAVE 37%.


188 Responses to “Previewing the EU referendum battle”

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  1. @ John Pilgrim

    Sorry, but in a hurry, yet your two comments are good and essential, so just briefly.

    The knowledge about the EU (its institutions, decision making processes, etc.) is minuscule indeed. I don’t know, because I haven’t looked at it for ten years, but then there was not a single chair in European Law in British universities.

    The Commission sources a hell of a lot of studies on labour market issues (including intra-migration), but they don’t fly in the political processes within and across member states. These studies are available to the governments.

    The Commission is also let down by its own consensus driven processes, which waters down most proposals, and its complete lack of presence in micro-communities or even regions.

    I don’t know any force that would be able to drive through a major reform of the EU.

    As to migration: migration from outside the EU (as I wrote last night): it’s impossible to differentiate between economic migrants and refugees as the two are interdependent (one turns into the other). The intra-EU migration (with some exceptions) is economic migration (with a few exceptions), and it is not planned in any way, so it cannot really be regulated (success is accidental, while the brute forces of markets and individual decisions destroy the regulations.

  2. HAWTHORN
    “I certainly myself in the EU “no” camp around the time of the Greek crisis. I am now just about back in the “yes” but by no means certain.”

    Can you say on what basis you would be voting?
    My understanding is that we are intended to vote on whether we retain or end the transference to the EU under treaty of specific areas of policy and policy management, for example that of a single labour market and related border controls.
    Public sector policy in the UK is conducted as a sequence of policy ideas, policy research, policy formulation and decision making, policy execution, policy management and policy monitoring and evaluation – or it was when I took a group from the Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to the Civil Service College to sit in on training for the process. A given pol;icy, they teach our administrators, builds on previous policy implementation and is subject to continuous monigtoring and evaluation and to related research. The one we took for on the ground discussion was Manchester based regional human resource and enterprise management, including Training and Enterprise Centres, introduced by Ken Clarke, and included long-term assessments of long term manpower needs in relation to internal industrial strategy and market development.
    It’s that process which we expect to be accomplished on a European basis in accession to the EU, expecting it to be within the competence of the EC in managing labour movement, including labour migration. Have they been able to do it in the context of migration into the EU – despite knowing about it for some years and the good statistics available from the OECD and UN agencies. No.
    Do you think, in our own interests, we should remain in the EU and reform it – that is, participate in policy making which will govern future lebensraum in the form of population movement in response to the comparative advantage of differing national economic development and wealth creation and that of changing demographics, or stay out of what another poster described as the prevailing chaos – since it is taking place in other peoples’ back yards?

  3. John Pilgrim

    You assume too much I think. I have no problem with EU migration.

    However, if the EU is unreformably Neo-Liberal I do not want them having a veto over national sovereignty. The problem with the Greek crisis is the anti-democratic nature of the EU response, the failure to reform a very stupid currency bloc and the fact that the strong can still bully the weak just like in the old days.

  4. TOH

    Thanks-yep looks like a brief stayer. I was severely tempted to go, but won’t bother now.

  5. @ John Pilgrim

    ” My understanding is that we are intended to vote on whether we retain or end the transference to the EU under treaty of specific areas of policy and policy management, for example that of a single labour market and related border controls. ”

    We may be “intended” to vote on that… but people will vote on whatever criteria they deem relevant themselves, be that their view on transference of policy mangement, or whether they simply like David Camerons haircut on the day.

  6. The VW case is going to be a massive disaster for their brand & their finances. That the evasion was in US tells you two things :-

    The Lawyers are already drafting Class Actions of every conceivable kind.

    The EU emission targets are much much less stringent ( higher) than those in USA. -so- we have an EU auto-industry, dominated by Germany with all its reputation for suberb engineering ; avoiding prohibitive emission standards for engines, whilst selling
    its cars to US by engineering an inbuilt cheating system.

    The next question is therefore-did the EU lawmakers know this?

    And that question is already being answered by some :-

    “The German Green Party claimed Angela Merkel’s government admitted that it knew about VW’s test rigging software in an answer to a parliamentary question in July.
    “The government told us in July that it knew about this software, which has been used in the USA, and it’s clear they knew the software was widely in use,” Oliver Krischer, the deputy leader of the Greens told N24 television.
    “The government worked with the auto industry, not to see that emissions levels were reduced, but so that the measuring system was set up to allow the cars meet the necessary standards on paper,” Mr Krischer alleged.”

    DT

    Merkel must be wondering what has hit her-first mass migration, then German engineering credibility.

  7. John Pilgrim

    On re-reading your post, I think you bring up a useful point.

    Since the “renegotiation” hasn’t happened yet, pro-Europeans don’t know what would be voting for yet.

  8. Colin

    Ah, but the Germans always follow the rules, unlike those dastardly Greeks.

  9. @ Colin

    “Merkel must be wondering what has hit her”

    A classic case of ” events, my dear boy, events” if ever there was one. something no poitician is immune to no matter how lofty their position.

  10. With such a big undecided block this looks like coming down to the renegotiation. If Cameron gets a good deal then Remain probably walks it. However, on these You Gov numbers it seems perfectly possible for Leave to win if they can convince the Undecideds that the concessions were paltry and that the direction of travel is otherwise ever closer union. It would be interesting to know therefore more about the undecideds and what kind of renegotiation issues will be key for them.

  11. Whether we like it or not, immigration will play a big part in the referendum campaign. Our own government may be as incompetent as the EU in that regard, but if voters believe that control is better in our own hands it could be a decisive factor.

  12. HAWTHON

    :-) What’s the German for “touché” ?

  13. Anyone with a tv set ( plus the President of the European Council *) can see that EU control of its external borders is non-existent .

    The falling dominos of closed borders within EU have been an attempt to compensate for EU’s failure to stop mass illegal entry into EU via Greece & Italy ( and the many deaths resulting therefrom)

    Free Movement within EU currently means free movement of anyone who can breach its external border-and currently that is hundreds of thousands of economic migrants from Africa , the Middle East & the Indian sub-continent.

    Will this occur to UK voters in an EU In/Out referendum? I would say that it will. Will it inform their vote? I would say it will.

    * “we as Europeans are currently not able to manage our common external borders”.-Donald Tusk.

  14. @OldNat

    “To suggest that half of the Scots electorate have forsworn alcohol is a foul calumny, of which you should be thoroughly ashamed! :-)”

    You’re right; I apologies for this deeply offensive suggestion ;)

    “leaving the Tories as the only party with a perfectly balanced position (39% Remain, 39% Leave, 23% Undecided)”

    Talk about a knife edge…

    @Allan

    “That’s true but when the campaign proper starts I just wonder how many within the SNP will opt to leave the EU? Will it grow in support or will it dwindle?”

    It’d be hard to say. I suspect the SNP will campaign to stay in, so that could set the support drifting that way. On the other hand if the Greece situation blows up again, there might be a significant chunk of supporters who’ll think ‘hey that could be us!’ so they might drift towards leave.

    If they do drift towards leave it’ll be interesting to see what SNP High Commands response is – would they stick or twist?

    @Statgeek

    “Or a crowd in football stadium”

    Oh, I would never have gone for an analogy that insulting ;)

    @Carfew

    “So are you saying the issue in common is that the SNP are like alcoholics, or that they like being anonymous??”

    It could be both or neither. We’ll never know until they win independence and see how they do running things on their own.

    @Colin & Hawthorn

    The VW thing could run pretty badly – particularly if the wider implications of it (that the EU was knowingly fudging the numbers at the behest of Germany) turn out to be correct. That at any rate could precipitate a rather titanic struggle between France and Germany to be captain of the ship.

    As for the German economy, I suspect the fallout won’t make much difference. As I said, Greece is just going to discover that buying a large number of VW cars has suddenly become an essential part of their austerity program.

  15. @joe
    @hawthorn
    @couper

    There are a few reasons why this was the right choice for the LDs

    The LDs won’t win a majority. They can only make a difference by being in coalition with one of the main parties. Farron has also refused to rule out a coalition with Labour, despite them being much less attractive to many centrists since Corbyn.

    The LD membership has changed, just like the Labour membership. From what I’ve read a majority of the new members were brand new. Many were people who approved of the decision to go into coalition.

    I think it would be foolish for the LDs to come out with a load of policies and outright refuse coalition with the main parties. What is the point? Sure you’ll attract some party of protest votes but these will evaporate once you come into power, and what’s the point of drafting policies if you reject the idea of being in government?

    Farron has the advantage that the centre is much less crowded than it was during Clegg’s time. However, Osborne’s tack to the centre may make it hard if he pulls it off. The biggest challenge is being taken seriously by the electorate after the meltdown. If they don’t start making gains in local and regional elections then the general will be almost impossible.

  16. Good afternoon all from what will be my last day working in Mount Florida.

    AW..

    Any polling on pig-gate and its implications for the Tory VI?

    CROSSBAT on the previous thread had a good point when he said pig-gate could upset Muslims and Jews. Jews after all are more likely to vote Tory and also affluent and middle class Muslims are more likely to vote Tory.

    The joke going round twitter is…What did David Cameron say to the pig? “Open wide and no biting”

  17. Omnishambles

    It is up to the public who runs the country, not a small rump of Lib Dem MPs.

    It looks a) presumptuous and b) delusional.

    Talk about not taking a hint. Steve Bell summed it perfectly today in his cartoon.

    Having said that, there is nothing the Lib Dems can do except wait for a long time for people to forget about their behaviour before they begin to recover. History suggests that about 50 years should do it.

  18. Allan Christie

    Cameron made his name in PR by putting lipstick on a pig.

    The jokes are endless which is why it will never go away. I am not sure how such a change of perception could be polled though.

  19. Unbelievable after seeing Merkel Madness people are STILL saying they want to stay in the EU loonie bin! Is it cultural self-loathing combined with nihilism, or simple stupidity?

  20. @hawthorn

    “It is up to the public who runs the country, not a small rump of Lib Dem MPs.”

    It’s up to the public to elect an MP to represent their constituency. Once the MPs are elected, if there is no majority, it is NOT up to the public to choose who runs the country. That’s decided by the parties themselves, i.e. who can work with whom.

    I’ll tell you what’s delusional. Delusional is pretending coalitions aren’t a possibility when very recent history has shown they can be necessary.

  21. Lazlo

    A number of UK Universities had centres (or equivalents ) in European Law from the 1970s. Whether they had a Chair in European Law (founded 1972) like Glasgow University, I don’t know.

  22. @Brian Williams

    Just to remind you of the reason the EU was set up: to stop wars happening between countries which had too much cultural pride and too much loathing of their neighbours. If you prefer war to trying to work together, by all means vote to leave the EU…….

  23. Omnishambles

    The window for being a king-maker is much smaller when you have only eight MPs. It is even worse when the reason a lot of the supporters who abandoned you was for the very act of king-making.

    Farron’s best option is to tack to the centre tactically (probably), but perhaps he should not have briefed that he was going to go to the left of Labour. The drawback is that they could just end up looking like yet another pointless Blairite party. It can only work if the Tories swing further right after Cameron quits.

  24. @hawthorn

    “The window for being a king-maker is much smaller when you have only eight MPs. It is even worse when the reason a lot of the supporters who abandoned you was for the very act of king-making.”

    Of course having 8 MPs makes it hard to do anything. Fortunately this country holds general elections every 5 years and the number of MPs belonging to each party tends to change when this happens. The Lib Dem supporters who left because it stopped being a party of protest are never coming back and there’s no point focusing on people who detest the compromises of coalition government if your aim is to be in government.

    “Farron’s best option is to tack to the centre tactically (probably), but perhaps he should not have briefed that he was going to go to the left of Labour.”

    Did he actually say he wanted to go to left of the Labour party? Sure Farron is centre-left but he’s certainly not left of Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour party have changed the dynamics themselves, that’s nothing to do with the Lib Dems.

    “The drawback is that they could just end up looking like yet another pointless Blairite party.”

    Blairites were pretty good at winning elections as I recall. Anyway, using the Blairite label seems a bit odd. Liberals were around long before Blair.

  25. ‘Since the “renegotiation” hasn’t happened yet, pro-Europeans don’t know what would be voting for yet’ is Jeremy Corbyn’s position which seems eminently sensible to me. However, that view doesn’t seem to curry favour with the right of the party who are determined to back the EU regardless of whatever the EU elites throw at us (or the Greeks).

  26. Omnishambles

    My point is that if people abandoned the Lib Dems for propping up the Tories, you are unlikely to get them back if you say you’d do the same again. That makes it harder to gain seats.

    At least Labour recognise that they have to change.

    As for Blairites winning, they have not done so for ten years and 2005 was practically a win by default.

  27. Omnishambles

    To make this clearer. For someone who isn’t a Lib Dem, the Lib Dems talking about the coalition is as unfathomable as it would be if a Labour leader started talking about Iraqi WMD.

  28. It would appear that the moderation is getting a little, how shall we say, pig-headed around here.

    :-)

  29. Good news for supporters of the UK HRA. Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that there is (almost?) universal cross-party support for the Scottish Government using the Sewel Convention in an effort to prevent the UK HRA being repealed.

    If the UK were to leave the EU (& it could be a close run thing, if polling is to be believed) we would need the UK HRA more than ever before.

  30. @Amber star

    That’s good news, pity that the Scotland Bill doesn’t appear to be putting the Sewel Convention on a statutory footing as recommended by the Smith Commission.

  31. @Omnishambles

    I must agree with your thinking.

    Farron is hardly promoting a repeat of the last coalition – he is simply saying something eminently sensible: that you cannot rule anything out.

    There is surely still a place for a fiscally conservative, socially liberal party in this country. There is no point calling such a proposition ‘Blairite’.

  32. “The Lib Dem supporters who left because it stopped being a party of protest are never coming back and there’s no point focusing on people who detest the compromises of coalition government if your aim is to be in government.”

    ——-

    What about those who would have been fine with a compromise but had issues with a capitulation?

  33. HIRETON

    “That’s good news, pity that the Scotland Bill doesn’t appear to be putting the Sewel Convention on a statutory footing as recommended by the Smith Commission.”

    That’s good news for those who want the HRA repealed.

  34. @ OldNat

    Thanks. I was careless – English universities.

    I have checked since then and there are a number of professors in European Law, which is good news.

  35. @TOH

    Probably not unless Westminster wants to override the Sewel Convention thus jeopardizing the devolution settlement, unpick the Anglo Irish Agreement and create at least two forms of human rights legislation in the UK. But who knows?

  36. HIRETON

    Hopefully they will whatever is necessary to get rid of it. I always like to think forward positively.

  37. The Government may well be glad of a reason to avoid the HRA repeal vote because there’s talk of a significant number of Tory back-benchers rebelling against scrapping the HRA.

    A convention can be more powerful than legislation. If the Sewel convention was included in legislation, an amendment could be tabled to nullify it; or, if it made it into legislation, it could then be repealed. Either of those situations could get rid of it all together.

    Or, the fact that Scotland’s Sewel condition had a different status from the other devolved regions’ Sewel convention could make it less powerful.

    As I understand it, breaking the existing Sewel convention is probably a much trickier proposition.

  38. @Amber star

    Interesting,thanks.

  39. @Syzygy

    ‘Since the “renegotiation” hasn’t happened yet, pro-Europeans don’t know what would be voting for yet’ is Jeremy Corbyn’s position which seems eminently sensible to me. However, that view doesn’t seem to curry favour with the right of the party who are determined to back the EU regardless of whatever the EU elites throw at us (or the Greeks).

    Quite.

    If we are offered an EU which is much more democratic, absolutely kills dead any possibility of federalism or fiscal union, and where citizens are valued above Goldman Sachs, I might just vote to stay.

    Committing one way or the other before we know what kind of EU will be offered is intellectually flawed.

  40. @Colin

    I think the EU tried to tighten emissions standards in 2013 but were blocked by Germany.

    I know the VW scandal is about NOx, but Germany is pretty bad at CO2 emissions as well. See the following:

    http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/2995521/6875491/8-15062015-BP-EN.pdf/8adf74de-e79b-4778-905f-823c42c6e1b1

    Their emissions are nearly double ours. France and Italy also emit about half what Germany does despite both being manufacturing nations.

    And despite being the worst polluters, the Germans only managed to reduce theirs by 3.1% in 2014 (compared to a reduction of 8.2% in France, 6.9% in Italy and 8.7% in the UK). So they’re not even trying to cut down.

  41. One thought occurred to me over the VW stuff.

    Given the taxation placed on UK cars based on emissions, if it is known the results for many VW cars are flawed (and likely some others brands too), will the taxation applied be modified, based on new tests?

    That is Pandora’s box.

  42. @CatManJeff

    If I was Osborne I’d raise the tax on all diesel engines. It’ll be a nice revenue earner and he can justify it on health grounds. 19% of the NHS budget is devoted to sorting respiratory problems,

    Come to think of it, he should be lawyering up and launching a lawsuit against VW on the grounds of illegal activity and knowingly endangering the lives of Brits. That should help with revenue raising as well.

  43. @Candy

    “If I was Osborne I’d raise the tax on all diesel engines… That should help with revenue raising as well.”

    Unfortunately he’s a bit too busy touring China with a chipped begging bowl at the moment, but I’m sure he’ll get onto it when he gets back ;)

    (Although given his general hands off ant-state anti-regulation attitude this could be an awkward one if he was going to pursue it)

  44. @Anarchists Unite

    He’s not that hands off when he sees a chance for revenue. Look at his raid on non-doms.

    The diesel thing is easy enough to enact without upsetting too many people. You increase the tax sharply for new diesels to steer new buyers towards petrol engines and for existing diesels you announce that they will be hit with the same tax in five years time giving them a chance to replace their cars. In five years time the bulk of them are off the road, air quality improves (and the NHS should see how benefit from this as a result).

    It was the Thatcher govt that first started raising tax on fuel to force people into smaller more fuel efficient cars. So he can even claim a pukka Tory precedent for it.

  45. CANDY……..While he’s raising tax on diesel, which I agree with, he could also raise public transport fares for fat people, (1) To encourage them to walk a bit more, (2) To give me more room on the C10 bus.
    On pigs, most of my contempories at University would have done, “piggy” if it meant getting a laugh, why not ? Although I am a lover of pig, as a consumer of all things porky, my granny said, ” the only bit of a pig you can’t eat, is the squeak.
    If a Welsh shepherd strikes up a loving relationship with a particularly attractive member of his flock, it merely aligns him with his local priest. Just a thought. ;-)

  46. CANDY
    You increase the tax sharply for new diesels to steer new buyers towards petrol engines and for existing diesels you announce that they will be hit with the same tax in five years time giving them a chance to replace their cars.

    I take it you weren’t watching the BBC4 documentary on the history of the diesel when you wrote that.

    The petrol engine is much more of a danger to society than the diesel, relying on scarce and very volatile fuel and creating plenty of pollution whereas the diesel is much safer and can be run on bio fuel. I knew much of the story of the diesel but hadn’t known that Diesel himself ran some of his earliest engines on peanut oil.

    What’s needed isn’t a Luddite counter reformation but the development of European standards in the light of what we now know and enforcement of them. Something I suspect Germany will be leading on PDQ.

  47. @Ken

    That is some feat.

    You have offended the Welsh and people with a BMI over 25 in one post.

    If Nigel Farage needs a Spin Doctor, I’ll recommend you.

    ;-)

  48. CATMANJEFF…….Political correctness has never been my strongest suit, if I have given offence though, of course, I apologise. ;-)

  49. I was always told that the pig was unique as a domesticated animal, in that the only use of a pig was to eat it. Obviously, I was wrong.

    Seriously, this is a non-story, and will be much repeated but will do little damage to Cameron. I think it might even help to eliminate the image of being square and boring. The Times did a pretty effective demolition job on the whole thing, and it is either a complete invention or an exaggeration of a fairly inoffensive student ‘whizzo jape’. Laugh, but move on.

    @CMJ

    What I wonder is likely to happen to the second hand value of a Golf, that can no longer meet emission targets? I was speaking today to a Golf owner who has already submitted his claim. When he went to the VW garage, they said it was a storm in a teacup, and would soon blow over. He told them, why is the Chief Executive grovelling and apologising on every news channel? And he predicted his imminent resignation, which, sure enough, has followed.

    It is going to be a very big deal indeed, and Germany’s biggest company may not even survive.

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