The referendum on EU membership will naturally cover the whole of the United Kingdom, but the vast majority of polling covers only Great Britain. This is because Northern Irish politics are so radically different from the rest of the UK. I suppose in some cases one could make a similar case for much more polling in the post-devolution age as Scottish politics diverges more and more from English politics, but we are where we are – the default position is still for polls to cover Great Britain but not Northern Ireland. When we get closer to the referendum I expect we’ll see some start to include Northern Ireland, but for the time being many questions will just be being asked on the back of regular Omnibus surveys covering just Great Britain.

The Belfast Telegraph today have a new poll from Lucidtalk asking specifically about EU voting intention in Northern Ireland. Current Northern Ireland voting intentions are REMAIN 56%, LEAVE 28%. Unionist voters are more than two-to-one against EU membership (REMAIN 21%, LEAVE 54%), Nationalist voters are overwhelmingly pro-EU (REMAIN 91%, LEAVE 8%).

Northern Ireland is only 3% of the UK population so is unlikely to have a decisive effect in the EU referendum unless it’s extremely close – even if Northern Ireland does vote two-to-one in favour of EU membership, that would increase the REMAIN lead in the UK as a whole by about one percentage point. Still, worth remembering when looking at GB polls that the UK position will be ever so marginally more pro-EU once Northern Ireland is included.


100 Responses to “Northern Irish poll on the EU referendum”

1 2
  1. @OldNat

    Thanks. Yes, BritainElects has fast become invaluable, especially for local by-election results, though they could sometimes be clearer on some things – especially, as you say, when STV comes in.

  2. OLDNAT

    Re FPTP, Thursday’s STV by-election in Aberdeenshire for 2 councillors was – perhaps unusually – a genuine First Past the Post election, with both the Con and SNP candidates exceeding the quota in the first preference count.

  3. OldNat

    …er I rather think that’s the point I was making. Thanks for emphasising it for me.

  4. Norbold

    Alas, your understanding of the true nature of pedantry is insufficient. :-)

    In the context of the time, with what is now the British Isles as part of the continental land mass, it simply makes no sense to describe movement from one part of the continent to another as “from the continent”. As well to say that people moved to the Pyrenees “from the continent”.

    Glad to help in making your comment clearer. :-)

  5. Barbazenzero

    To continue with pedantry ……

    Surely, you would have to describe the Aberdeenshire results as “Firsts Past the Posts” or “First Two Past the Post”? :-)

  6. OLDNAT
    Surely, you would have to describe the Aberdeenshire results as “Firsts Past the Posts” or “First Two Past the Post”?

    The pedant in me prefers the latter, as “Posts” should be singular in an election completed in one round.

  7. Barbazenzero

    Pedants agree – and peace and harmony flourish around the world (or, at least in Aberdeenshire). :-)

  8. OLDNAT

    Lucky Aberdeenshire, as opposed to Edinburgh’s Court of Session, which tomorrow will be hosting the Electoral Court, where I confidently predict that peace and harmony will be in short supply.

  9. Barbazenzero

    My understanding is that the Electoral Court will not allow the cross-examination of witnesses to be televised [1], but will permit the summations by counsel to be broadcast.

    In many respects, whether Carmichael survives by stating that his admitted falsehoods were part of a dirty tricks national campaign, and not an attempt to win the O&S seat hardly matter now.

    The decision of the court that “self-talking” is covered by the Act means that every candidate for the Parliament/Assembly/Mayoral/Council elections in May will have to ensure that they make no false claims as to their personal probity.

    Presumably, every party is already busy “digging the dirt2 on their opponents, so that charges can be made prior to the election which, if falsely denied, can lead to the election being overturned.

    May’s elections could be the nastiest for a very long time.

    [1] While that is poor theatre, it is probably good law.

  10. Barbazenzero

    My understanding is that the Electoral Court will not allow the cross-examination of witnesses to be televised [1], but will permit the summations by counsel to be broadcast.

    In many respects, whether Carmichael survives, by stating that the reason for his actions were part of a national campaign against an opposing party, and not an attempt to win the O&S seat, hardly matter now.

    The decision of the court that “self-talking” is covered by the Act means that every candidate for the Parliament/Assembly/Mayoral/Council elections in May will have to ensure that they make no false claims as to their personal probity.

    Presumably, every party is already busy “digging the dirt” on their opponents, so that charges can be made prior to the election which, if falsely denied, can lead to the election being overturned.

    May’s elections could be the nastiest for a very long time.

    [1] While that is poor theatre, it is probably good law.

  11. I’m glad we don’t have powerful religiously-oriented political parties in GB. The major mainland parties (apart from SNP obviously) do at last seem to be making some effort to stand in NI. I wonder if there might have been less trouble in NI if they had done so earlier?

  12. OLDNAT
    May’s elections could be the nastiest for a very long time.

    I fear that you are right, unless the current UK government amend the law to allow “self-talking”. I’m not sure that they are brave enough to “nail their trousers to the mast“, as Sir Humphrey would have put it.

  13. I’m fascinated by the huge divergence between unionist and nationalist sentiment in NI regarding the EU. I profess almost total bewilderment at NI politics, but this is another striking dividing line.

  14. @AnthonyJWells

    heeeelp!

    I’m trying to chase down poll data for the 1975 referendum but the data’s not available online: wikipedia doesn’t have them, the Cabinet Office briefing papers aren’t digitised on the National Archive, and Gallup doesn’t have an online archive for the 1970’s. I’ve managed to track down four: feb74 NOP, Aug74 Gallup, Aug74 Labour/Worcester, Jan 75 Gallup. Do you (or anybody else?) know where this stuff is held online?

    Help would be appreciated…

  15. Pete B

    “I wonder if there might have been less trouble in NI if they had done so earlier?”

    I doubt it. While the GB parties don’t espouse religious affiliation – neither do the NI parties. Indeed, all the NI parties are making efforts to appeal to those from different traditions (not very successfully!)

    In a partly similar environment (West Central Scotland in the 1950s/60s) the GB parties actively campaigned for the support of “their” part of a “religiously” divided community – Labour going for the “Catholic” vote and the Tories for the “Protestant” vote. I can see no reason why Tory and Labour would have behaved any differently across the North Channel.

    From the days of the 19th century division of English Protestantism between the Church of England and Non-Conformism, CoE members predominantly voted Tory, while Non-Conformists voted Liberal [1].

    Even the 2010 BES survey showed a continuation of that process. 45% of Anglicans voted Tory (only 29% of Catholics and the non-religious did). 40% of Catholics, on the other hand, voted Labour.

    Like many aphorisms “The CoE is the Tory Party at prayer” is not wholly devoid of accuracy.

    I think it may be more accurate to say that parties appeal to “communities” rather than religious groupings (though religion may be a major identifier for particular communities).

    There are strong reasons why community integration has been much slower to develop in Northern Ireland than in England or Scotland, but the actual process of particular groups identifying with different political parties seems to be much the same.

    [1] Predominantly non-Anglican Wales and Presbyterian Scotland (regardless of sect) were Liberal.

  16. MARTYN

    The EU website has 5 polls conducted between September 1973 and October 1975, which you can view graphically or download as CSV.

    See http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/cf/showtable.cfm?keyID=5&nationID=15,&startdate=1973.09&enddate=1975.10

  17. @BARBAZENZERO

    “…The EU website has 5 polls conducted between September 1973 and October 1975, which you can view graphically or download as CSV.
    See http://ec.europa.eu/public_opinion/cf/showtable.cfm?keyID=5&nationID=15,&startdate=1973.09&enddate=1975.10 …”

    God bless you, Barbazenzero, but unfortunately I already knew about the Eurobarometers. What I was asking for was polls of voting intention

  18. Hello all. Took 6 months off commenting post election but decided to pop in and say hello to all.

    I’m interested in the news that the SNP will be tabling an amendment to the Scotland Bill this week requesting the formal power to call future Constitutional Referenda to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

    I have long thought this would be a likely demand of the SNP and have entertained a theory that if refused by Westminster a potential manifesto commitment for 2016 might be a referendum, referendum. Demanding the right to future referendums via a referendum.

    This either forces a concession from Westminster or if it went ahead acts to draw in Scots who support the principal of self determination while disagreeing with the decision last time.

    May not be their plan of course but an intriguing possibility. Is anyone aware of polling asking Scots whether the SP should have the power for future referend?

  19. NorthumbrianScot

    Good to see you back.

    I don’t know of any such polling.

    My guess has been that the strategy would be –

    1. ask for the power

    2.when it fails to be given (200 amendments and only a 5 hour debate – I doubt that the Speaker will even call it) frame a Bill allowing a form of referendum (remember the convoluted wording in the 2007 draft Bill?)

    3. When passed by SP, but challenged by Mundell, refer through the legal process to the highest level.

    ie Do everything by the book, while watching Catalunya with interest. :-)

  20. Martyn

    I assume by VI polls you mean some thing along the lines of “If the referendum was tomorrow how would you vote?”, rather than the more general attitude survey of the Eurobarometer.

    Google books found a reference in a book on opinion polls (Opinion Polls: History, Theory and Practice By Nick Moon p 99) which gave a list of the final polls from the pollsters operating then:

    ORC: Yes 74%, No 26%

    Harris: Yes 72%, No 28%

    NOP: Yes 68%, No 32%

    Gallup: 68%, No 32%

    Marplan: 68%, No 32%

    (Actual 67%, 33%)

    But no details of dates or earlier polls. Mark Pack’s poll archive, downloadable from here:

    http://www.markpack.org.uk/opinion-polls/

    will give Party VI for the period and, as with current polling, it could be they asked referendum VI at the same time as regular Party polling.

  21. @ Northumbrian Scot

    I have long thought this would be a likely demand of the SNP and have entertained a theory that if refused by Westminster a potential manifesto commitment for 2016 might be a referendum, referendum. Demanding the right to future referendums via a referendum.

    And if the SNP lost the referendum to hold future referendums…? Wouldn’t that be perceived as strengthening the ‘moral’ authority of the UK to refuse future requests for another independence referendum?

  22. As ever though the important thing to look at will be what question was actually asked along with supporting information given. There’s an interesting quote from Bob Worcester in the transcript of a ‘European Referendum witness seminar’ carried out on 5 June 1995:

    http://www.kcl.ac.uk/sspp/departments/icbh/witness/PDFfiles/EuropeanReferendum.pdf

    The most telling measure of public opinion was the Gallup poll in January 1975, which showed the continuation of a fairly consistent pattern up to that point, that a majority, by a narrow margin, from about mid 1973 to January 1975, if asked in a referendum how would you vote, would vote to get out.

    That’s what I was finding and reporting to Harold Wilson, Ron Hayward and the other people I was working with at the Labour Party. However Gallup, very adroitly, asked a second question: ‘If the Government were to renegotiate the terms and strongly urge that Britain stay in, then how would you vote?’ And I remember that the figure was 65 to 35 (reallocated).

    Of course we see exactly the same sort of thing in YouGov’s double question at the moment. It would be interesting to know if the vast majority of the swing between the two occurred with Labour voters switching because Wilson was recommending it – just as currently Tories prompted by mention of Cameron change their mind.

  23. Roger, thank you for your reply, which seems to have vanished. There may have been something dodgy in one of the links.

  24. ..and now it’s reappeared! I assume there was something wrong with the cache…

  25. @Amber

    The clever bit about it is that by holding the referendum referendum they’d entrench the principle of Holyrood holding referenda(ums) (according to preference) due to manifesto commitments.

    May just be idle speculation on my part but the SNP do like a referendum!

  26. Catalonia held a referendum and Spain ignored it. Unless Catalonia wants a civil war I suspect that’s it.

  27. @Martyn

    There are some details of Gallup polls in David Butler and Uwe Kitzinger, The 1975 Referendum (London: Macmillan, 1976). I don’t have access to the book now this second but based on a spreadsheet I have it looks like ‘Yes % minus No % among decided voters’ is the way they’ve presented it. The results of this were:

    27-Feb 8
    3-Mar 16
    20-Mar 29
    4-Apr 26
    17-Apr 29
    23-Apr 28
    30-Apr 24
    7-May 31
    14-May 32
    21-May 28
    29-May 34
    5-Jun 36
    Actual result 34

    That book also included NOP (pro versus minus balance of feeling on British membership of the EEC, 1961-73) and Gallup (If you were told tomorrow that Britain was leaving the EEC would you be very sorry about it, indifferent or relieved? 1973-74).

    I spent much of this summer compiling polling details for referendums around the world, though I can’t help you beyond that data I’ve quoted to you on 1975 as we started in 1990.

  28. Candy

    Re: ‘Second Langiuages’

    I always find it insulting when people in the south assume that ‘English’ is the first language of everyone of (how shall I put this?) ‘native stock’. Many in Wales regard English as their second language; idem for a number in the West Highlands and the Hebrides.

    Personally I would be happy for all road signage in the west to be in Gaelic; if those who are limited to the English language cannot hack it, tough! (Perhaps there could be temporary signage in English during the tourist season!)

    Of course, it would help if Gaelic speakers were the ones doing the signage!

  29. And then there are all those for whom what some patronisingly call ‘standard English’ is their second language. Many in these parts learn one language at home and another in the class room. English (pronounced as written, and not ‘Inglish’) is the second language of many people.

  30. OldNat

    It comes down to whether pedantry trumps irony I suppose. Personally, I think Irony outranks pedantry…..

  31. @Jack Sheldon, hi!

    *Nobody* has the Butler and Kitzinger to hand: the book (“The 1975 Referendum”) is brick-thick, Google Books hasn’t b****y indexed it, and the cheapest used copy on Amazon is £110!…:-) CURSE YOU COPYRIGHT LAWS!

    I think the data is also collated in “British Political Facts”, but – yes – that is also very big, very expensive, and very offline.

    The Cabinet committee charged with collating the polls (CAB193/119?) aren’t scanned in in the National Archive.

    The Economist archive is for institutional researchers, and I haven’t had JSTOR/Athens since I went private sector (I needed to eat, godsdammit!).

    My local library hasn’t got a copy.

    I am quite vexed.

  32. Jack/Martyn –

    Gallup polls on referendum VI from 1975:

    If the question in the referendum were “Do you think that the United Kingdom should stay in the European Community (the Common Market)?” How would you vote

    March 5th-10th – Yes 52, No 36, DK 12
    Apr 4th-7th – Yes 57, No 31, DK 12
    Apr 9th-14th – Yes 60, No 26, DK 14
    Apr 17th-21st – Yes 57, No 28, DK 15
    Apr 23rd-28th – Yes 58, No 30, DK 12
    Apr 30th-May 5th – Yes 57, No 33, DK 10
    May 7th-12th – Yes 60, No 29, DK 11
    May 14th-19th – Yes 51, No 29, DK 10
    May 21st-27th – Yes 59, No 31, DK 10
    May 29th-June 2nd – Yes 61, No 29, DK 10

  33. My university has a copy of The 1975 Referendum – but only one, and it’s signed out until next Monday.

  34. @ OLDNAT – “Sectarianism has undoubtedly declined, as has its cause – organised religion.”

    Oldnat – You may know much better than me but I doubt if organised religion was the sole cause of sectarianism in Ireland. The suppression of the minorities in the North – Presbyterians and Catholics – and the Plantation itself had much to do with sectarianism perhaps?

    Have you read “The Narrow Ground” by A T Q Stewart?

  35. @AnthonyWells

    1) I love you to bits.
    2) Do you have a source for that, please?

  36. Sam

    I was being somewhat tautological! :-)

    I was thinking in terms of sectarianism being the form of discrimination based on differences of religion – hence as religion declines so does sectarianism.

    Sadly, it is frequently replaced by other forms of discrimination. I agree with you that the discrimination in Ireland (and elsewhere) had multiple causes. Religion was a handy label for the elites to use to create “otherness”, and cement their own power.

  37. I think Irish sectarianism was born of an age when religion and politics were inseparable. The concept of Irish nationalism (i.e. independence from the rest of the British Isles) was born largely, if not entirely, from the outcome of the Glorious Revolution. If James had defeated William, the labels of “Unionism” and “Nationalism” would almost certainly have been applied to the opposite religious communities that they are today. Religious discrimination largely reflected the fact that one’s political opponents were generally defined on religious lines.

    What has happened is that in England, Wales and slightly belatedly, Scotland, religion has become decoupled from politics. In Northern Ireland, due to the sterling efforts of paramilitaries to keep society as polarized as they can, the link has been retained.

  38. @AnthonyWells

    I am quite embarrassingly grateful. Thank you very much

  39. Neil A

    “What has happened is that in England, Wales and slightly belatedly, Scotland, religion has become decoupled from politics”

    I presume that you meant “politics has become decoupled from religion”? Judging by the responses of the Scottish Churches to Trident renewal – eg “”The Church of Scotland has had a long-standing opposition to nuclear weapons stretching back over thirty years”, the Kirks are still active on political issues.

    Perhaps the CoE has “belatedly” joined in – judging by the speeches by their bishops in the Lords?

    I referred to the 2010 BES earlier, I don’t think that the 2015 version has published the religion/party figures yet, but the 2010 data makes it clear that an increased proportion of Anglicans voted Tory.in that election (50%).

    In Scotland, the Tories lost the vote of most in the Presbyterian communities many decades ago, and as many with an RC heritage (in West Central Scotland) joined them in voting SNP in 2011 and 2015.

    It will be interesting to see the 2015 figures to see which GB nation has most religious identifiers still voting along historical lines.

  40. Interesting to see Cameron, and also Boris, make noises today to try to convince that they would, in the right circumstances, be prepared to campaign for a leave vote.

    This is not remotely plausible, but is part of the fiction that their party must maintain to have any credibility in front of the electorate. It’s going to be a very difficult act to pull off for Cameron to do this and stay vaguely believable, but such is the nature of the battleground on which he has chosen to fight.

    This NI poll, like many Scottish polls, really brings his problem into sharp relief. He can, if he wishes, campaign for a leave vote, but he will know well that he would effectively be campaigning for the break up of the UK. It’s quite feasible to imagine that a post leave scenario would create the conditions for England alone to be outwith the EU, as I would imagine Wales also will see greater benefits in remaining inside the EU.

    There must be a not-so- vague sense of terror in the corners of Whitehall that think about such things.

  41. Alec

    “Unite us, Lord, but not if it costs money” might have wider applicability within Europe and the British Isles – and might apply to Division as well. :-)

    http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/diarmaid-ferriter-unite-us-lord-but-not-if-it-costs-money-1.2420323#.VkElt8Pu8Pk.twitter

  42. Whether subsidiary provinces of the UK are for or against leaving the EU is irrelevant. The decision will be for the entire UK. The subsidiary provinces may then campaign for independence from the UK if they wish, I suppose.

    As for religious traditions having effect on voting, I don’t believe that has any more than a tiny effect in England, where most non-religious people will identify as C of E out of habit and tradition and because they got married in church. If more Tories in England are C of E that’s because most people in England vote Tory.

    Who cares which brand of magic sky pixie people believe in? I know some do, and it’s caused more wars and suffering than anything else in history.

  43. Oldnat,

    If politics and religion were still coupled, that would mean that the Church of Scotland would automatically take positions that concurred with their chosen wing of politics, and that parties would embrace or shun the Church of Scotland based on whether they enjoyed its support.

    I think what we are seeing is churches, and their members, making their own decisions about political issues rather than lining up like obedient sheep for their allied party.

    That’s what I meant by decoupling. Not that all religious organisations and their members eschew any political opinions at all.

  44. @Pete B,

    There are still quite marked differences in party VI between different faith groups, but you will find members of all faiths in all parties, and I tend to think that these days it is more correlation than causation (eg if you’re Muslim you’re more likely to support Labour, but this isn’t because of your religion, it’s because of your skin colour, socio-economic status, the region you live in or the job you have – or don’t have. All of which may have links to party support, and links to faith followed).

  45. @Alec

    That is a real possibility, and the one the SNP would undoubtedly be praying for as it would solve the Euro question for them (‘we don’t need to reapply, we’re just inheriting the UK seat’, which would likely work – not least because of the liked pressure coming from the City of London).

    Having seen the reforms he’s asking for, this is a worry. Most of then are so vague that they could be agreed to with no real problems, or with only cosmetic rewordings of things (interestingly he comes out against EVEL, or Euro Votes for Euro Laws). The trouble is that the biggie, migration, won’t go through as demanded and the proposed reform, restricting benefits, won’t have any significant impact on the migration numbers. So in probability this will fail to win over anyone he wants to convince (the reform and the our crowd).

    In short, this looks set to be a clusterf*ck and a half.

  46. I agree that Cameron’s ‘demands’ are vague. So vague in fact that they reminded me of the infamous Ed stone. I noticed that the one specific demand was to delay in-work benefits. Why not out of work benefits as well? Or can they already be delayed?

    It shows how far we’ve come when we have to beg the EU to allow us not to pay child benefit for children who don’t even live here.

  47. New EU poll from ICM

    REMAIN 46 (+2)
    LEAVE 38 (=)

    Fieldwork 6th-8th Nov
    N=2,024
    https://gallery.mailchimp.com/fbcf81e4dd2761d48aba0b6da/files/9_Nov.pdf

    @anarchists unite

    Eh.. speaking as one of the “reform” crowd, Cameron’s demands look ok to me. My main concern is that non-Eurozone countries, like us, are protected from the Eurozone acting as a bloc to undermine our interests. The danger grows as (if?) the Eurozone becomes more integrated. This concern is made pretty clear in Cameron’s letter. Commitment to a multi-currency EU in writing sounds like a good idea to me.

    Is it vague? Yeah, but it’s too early to outline specifics. Before negotiations begin you have no choice but to be vague.

  48. Watching

  49. “Who cares which brand of magic sky pixie people believe in? I know some do, and it’s caused more wars and suffering than anything else in history.”

    ———-

    Also, the magic sky pixies do not seem much fussed about Thorium, or storage.

    New Thread.

1 2