Following the FT story about hedge funds and exit polls, it’s probably worth setting out some facts about exit polling and the referendum. I have not a clue whether the FT story is correct, but for those interested here’s what we can say about exit polls at the referendum.

There will not be an official exit poll for the referendum. At general elections the BBC, ITN and Sky normally jointly fund an exit poll. The fieldwork is normally conducted by Gfk and Ipsos MORI, and then John Curtice, Steve Fisher and the rest of their team use the data to project seat numbers. This did not happen for the Scottish referendum or the AV referendum, and it won’t be happening for the EU referendum either.

The way exit polls are done at general elections can’t be done for a referendum. I’m not privy to the BBC’s discussions, but my guess is that the reason they are not doing an exit poll is for technical reasons: the method the exit poll team use for general elections would not and cannot work for a referendum. Here’s why. At general elections the team try to revisit the same polling stations at each election (obviously some are added as electoral battlegrounds change, but the core remains the same) the projection is then done by looking at the changes in support in those polling stations since the exit poll five years before. Curtice, Fisher and colleagues will look at patterns of change (e.g, are there bigger or smaller changes in different regions, or where there are different parties in contention) and use that to project the swing across different types of seat. While the overall swing can be used to come up with national shares of the vote, that’s very much a by-product, at its heart the exit poll is all about change since the last election.

For obvious reasons this is not an option at a referendum: there was not a previous EU referendum a few years back that we can draw changes from. This means the exit poll method that has been so successful at the last three general elections cannot be used for referendums, and presumably as a result of this, the BBC, ITN and Sky have chosen not to have an exit poll at all.

Someone could still do an exit poll in theory, but who knows whether it would be accurate or not. It is possible to do exit polls in other ways. Instead of looking at swing, one could try and sample from a random selection of polling stations and work out national shares of the vote. This used to be how exit polls were done in this country before the current method was developed. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking it would necessarily be as accurate as the recent BBC exit polls though: back in 1992 the exit poll was conducted this way, and was almost as inaccurate as that year’s pre-election polls.

It is illegal to publish an exit poll until the polls have closed. Exit polls are the only type of poll that has specific laws around their publication. Under the Representation of the People Act it is illegal to publish any poll based on the responses of people who have already voted until the polls close at 10pm. There is no legal restraint on carrying them out (after all, Gfk and MORI do it at every general election), the legal bar is on publishing them while people are still voting.

Any results from much before 10pm would be of questionable use anyway. Anyone with any experience of elections knows that voting is not uniform throughout the day, there are ebbs and flows and different types of people vote at different times. Exit poll data from only the morning or only the early afternoon could be wildly misleading.

So when will we know the result? In the absence of any exit polls, we will have to wait for actual counts to take place. The Electoral Commission already has estimated result times up here. The earliest results are expected to be Sunderland, Wandsworth and Foyle, all around half twelve. Swindon, Oldham, Newcastle and Hartlepool are expected at about one. Lots of results are expected about two-ish, the bulk around three or four in the morning. Obviously how soon those results actually allow us to be confident of the overall picture depends how close it is – if all the early results show a heavy lead one way or the other we will know quite early, if they are extremely close we won’t be certain till most places have counted.

On other matters YouGov had their regular EU poll for the Times this morning. Topline figures were REMAIN 41%, LEAVE 41%, Don’t know/Won’t vote 17%… exactly the same as a week ago. There is no obvious sign of any movement towards Leave there. Full tabs are here.

344 Responses to “Exit polls on the EU referendum”

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  1. Hi all, I’ve been reading this posts for a long time but decided I will try to contribute now – probably not very often but just thought I’d introduce myself anyway.

    I’ll start by butting in on @Alun009’s discussion with @Alec:

    “Everything you’ve said applies equally to Scotland in the UK not being able to vote out a UK government. Or substitute Wales, Cornwall, Shrewsbury, Acacia avenue, or John down my local. You seem to regard the fact that they are all minority parts of an electoral system as being qualitatively different from the UK in Europe having its fair share of representation. I can’t for the life of me figure out why you think this and you won’t address the reasons. You keep just restating the fact that the UK isn’t in a majority in the EU. That isn’t in dispute. You need to say why that is somehow a bad thing.”

    I got the impression from Alec’s post that he wasn’t saying it was a bad thing, but that the numbers between a region of the UK and a country in the EU are fundamentally different that makes democracy less effective. (please forgive and correct me if I’m wrong in this impression)

    When there are less people, each individual person has more political power. Even in an FPTP system, a single person has more influence when electing one of 650 MPs to a parliament that represents 65 million people compared to a parliament that elects 751 to represent 500 million people.

    The European Conservatives & Reformists, for example, make very little noise themselves during the EP elections. Instead the only option you have is to vote for the Tories, on vague manifestos filled with buzzwords. You could argue it is similar in a GE, but at least in a GE, there is far more substance and the issues are relevant to the people of the UK as opposed to just vague European things that will very likely not be achieved.

    The UK gets its fair share of representation in the EP in theory, but in the real world arguing that it is more representative of people’s views, at least on the UK side of things, than Westminster, merely because it’s proportional, conveniently overlooks the fact that the Tories are not the ECR, even if they dominate it, the UKIP isn’t the EFDD, even if they dominate it etc. and it also overlooks the fact that most people have no idea what the parties do in the EP, let alone what the EP does.

  2. @Candy

    Unless they want to push up house prices even more, in which case they would want to keep immigration more down South.

    As house prices rise in the South East, this has the knock on effect of pushing prices up in the dormitories of the Midlands marginals. Which might assist electoral prospects…

  3. @Alec: “Putting aside whether or not Brexit helps or hinders the wider economy, a government with a 12 seat majority trying to unravel decades of worker and consumer protection is not something that I would like to try and deliver.”

    I think you are entirely right.

    A Brexit vote is a mandate for being able to make all decisions without restraint of European law. The right to make or unmake any law whatsoever.

    But it is not a mandate to make major changes of laws and policies which were outside all contemplation at the last election. The Brexit campaign is inherently a campaign to regain freedom of choice – not a campaign for particular choices to be taken.

    This actually is one of its difficulties. It cannot (or should not) make pledges as to what will happen after. This is a difficulty, as it makes it harder to answer “what happens next” questions.

  4. Jonathan,

    My postal vote will be posted out to me “on or around 13th June” (although other people I know in Kirklees have had theirs). This may be because I only applied for it 3 weeks ago.. However it shows that many postal votes cannot be cast next week and in any case many undecided people will wait till the last minute. The people who have already voted will mostly be people who cannot be swayed one way or the other anyway…

  5. Joseph,
    The timetable for actually leaving after a Brexit vote is pretty long since there are many things to negotiate.. We could be into the campaign for the next GE before anything actually changes..

    If the vote is close there are also likely to be calls for a rematch, just like in Scotland… I have even met people who say they will vote out in the expectation of getting better terms…

  6. Alec
    “I know nothing of prediction, but I was trying to imagine the political impacts of telling millions of part time workers that they no longer have rights to paid holidays, or millions of RSPB members that Habitats Directives are going to be scrapped, or supermarket shoppers that food standards are to be weakened.”

    Why on earth would any of that happen? Even if it did, we could then vote in a government that would reinstate everything. If the EU decided to do those things we couldn’t kick them out. That is the whole point.

    P.S. I have it on good authority that Boris and Nigel have drawn up a secret plan to execute the first-born of every Labour-voting family. (Just in case there is the usual sense of humour failure, that is a joke)

    I thought Boris and Gove said they could fund more polls out of the £350 million a week saving along with a hospital in every street.

  8. Carfrew – “Well, there is a third option: don’t use economic policies that favour the south east and hamper the North”

    The chief economic policy favouring the south east is the EU.

    There is a strong geographical component to the economy. The Empire favoured the north and west of the country (the ports on that side make easy shipping to the rest of the world). When we wound Empire down and switched to trading the EU, the south-east came to the fore – because they face Europe. The Rotterdam-London and Rotterdam-Felixstowe routes are the main way we trade with Europe.

    If you genuinely want a shift in trade with the rest of the world, then getting out of the EU is a must.

    Take a look at the following article on how poor the EU is at organising trade deals with the rest of the world (they haven’t managed to nail one with a top ten economy outside of the EU, instead they take years to do deals with tiny places like the Faroe islands):

  9. @John B

    “It’s exactly the same with the EU, only on a larger scale. The electorate is EU wide for EU elections, just as the electorate is UK wide for UK elections. In either case, I only have one vote.”


    Well, it’s true in either case you only have one vote, but this is to obscure other important aspects, concerning power within a union, in part due to voter dilution but also non-voter clout, e.g.

    1) your vote gets more diluted as you vote in bigger entities. Thus, one vote has more clout in Scotland than in the UK, and a vote in the UK has more clout than in the EU.

    (Obviously a more extensive answer might consider marginals under FPTP etc. But you catch my drift…)

    2) related to this is economic clout which tends to be diminished proportionally as they expand the EU.

    3) Conversely, economic clout within a union may increase if, say, oil fields are discovered.

    All of which is consistent with the observation that Scots have quite a bit of clout in the Union and secured Brexit and Barnet and are still getting extras, while when Cameron went negotiating to the EU he mostly just a few temporary trinkets.

  10. @Candy

    Well, it may be that Europe assists the South East, and the Empire wound down, but it’s also true that after empire we still had full employment and made lots of cars etc. Pre oil crisis, meanwhile following the Big Bang we hoovered up a lot of banking, and it’s a significant chunk of our economy. And it supports a lot of related services. And it’s benefitted from the huge injection of QE and infrastructure etc.

    Whereas the North had VAT and swingeing interest rates piled on in an era of stagflation.

  11. @Candy

    And more recently the North has experienced quite some cuts while SE gets infrastructure, QE, banking industry saved (unlike industry in the north etc.)

  12. Apols, in my post to John B that should read…

    “All of which is consistent with the observation that Scots have quite a bit of clout in the Union and secured DEVOLUTION and Barnet…”

    (Unless Scots confound polling and do actually vote for Brexit…)

  13. @Carfrew

    Did you read the article I linked to?

    Britain is unique in the EU in that it does more trade with the rest of the world than it does with the EU. But because the EU hasn’t bothered to negotiate trade deals with the countries we trade with outside Europe, we’re being forced to operate under the default WTO rules.

    So much is made of the fact that if we left the EU we may be forced by them to do business with Europe on WTO rules. But the bulk of our trade with the rest of the world is already under those rules, and if we left we might be able to negotiate much more favourable terms of trade. After all, Australia, population 30 million, has managed to secure deals with China, Japan and the US. The EU hasn’t.

    This is important, because trade with the rest of the world favours the west and north of the country (ports on the west used to get into the med and suez canal, and the factories are located close to those ports) – but they are operating with their hands tied behind their backs under default WTO rules because the EU is too lazy to negotiate proper deals on our behalf.

    If we left the EU the govt wouldn’t be spending precious time tinkering with the rights of part-timers and whatnot – it’s whole focus will be on nailing deals with the rest of the world to ensure the economy thrives. If Oz can make those deals, we can.

  14. Alec,

    Congratulations on some excellent psts.

    If you are still undecided, try considering these questions:

    If the UK were not already a member of the EU and this were a referndum about joining rather than leaving, how would you vote?

    Do you believe there is any certainty over how the UK economy will fare over the next two years if the UK votes to remain?

    Do you have a clear idea of where the EU is heading in the next five years?
    Which countries might join?
    What new treaties will be proposed?
    How likely is it that the EU will seek to implement ever miore change without using treaties?

    What is the likelihood of another Eurozone crisis within three years?
    What is the likelihood of the UK being obliged to bail out the next Eurozone crisis in order to protect the UK economy from the fallout?

    Please don’t worry about a post-Brexit government tearing up existing rights or regulations in the short term. The first priority will be negotiating the exit treaty. The second will be to negotiate bilateral trade agreements with key third countries (USA, China, India, Canada, Australia, NZ etc). Actually, the quickest option – assuming the New US president is willing to discuss it, would be for the UK to join NAFTA.

    The greater challenge – and prize – would be to create a Commonwealth Free Trade agreement. This would do more than anything else to help millions of poor people in Africa and Asia gain the benefits of intra-regional trade. It could also underpin improved democracy and environmental standards. The UK is uniquely placed to lead such an arrangement – but only if we vote to leave the EU

  15. Carfrew – “And more recently the North has experienced quite some cuts while SE gets infrastructure, QE, banking industry saved (unlike industry in the north etc.)”

    We have been just discussing population pressures in the south-east because migrants crowd there. So of course that is where the infrastructure spending is concentrated – if it wasn’t we’d be having Mexico city style problems with water shortages, lack of sewage facilities for all the extra people and so on. We could build bridges to nowhere in emptying parts of the north, but what good would that do? No-one would use them.

    If you want to stop money spent on infrastructure in the south east, you need to stop migrants piling into the south-east creating that demand for infrastructure.

    And if you want more economic activity in the north we need some trade deals with the rest of the world that would favour the north – something the German-centric EU isn’t interested in doing.

  16. @Candy

    I wasn’t arguing for more infrastructure for the North. Not that I’m against infrastructure for the North either. Nor was I arguing against infrastructure in the south east. The point is that the SE has had the economic stimulus of infrastructure, and QE etc. and had its financial centre bailed out, while the North experiences cuts and stuff which hampered it’s industry when in crisis.

    So no surprise if migrants choose to stay further South. Whereupon of course they’ll require more infrastructure as a result, providing further stimulus, hence more reason for migrants to flood there etc.

  17. Don’t get too carried away with the idea that immigrants go only to London and the south east. Have a look at Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, Rotherham, Boston and numerous other places.

  18. @Candy

    Nope, haven’t read the article yet, but I wasn’t taking issue with your stance on EU trade deals, negotiation of. I was just dealing with the issue of why more migrants aren’t moving north in terms of OUR economic policy, rather than the EU’s policy.

    However, I shall read the article, once I’ve finished my Ohio Players playlist…

  19. Carfrew,

    Geography matters for trade in goods, less so for trade in services.

    At present, we are tied into the EU single market. However, there is a big difference between a “single market” and a “free market”. The EU single market is only “free” internally – though in reality it is highly regulated. Externally, it is protectionist, and uses its regulations as non-tariff barriers. This is the main reason why the EU has been stagnating/declining, even as other countries grow.

    Being able to negotiate genuine free trade agreements with growing economies will stimulate growth – in particular for manufactured goods. That will be beneficial for those UK regions that have experienced relative decline since we joined the EU.

    As for banking, whatever Mr Dimon says (and he seemed unclear when he spoke yesterday) we will not see banks decamp from London to Paris or Frankfurt post Brexit. London is a global banking centre for the following reasons (in order of priority):
    – English is the native language
    – English Law is the preferred law for international contracts
    – The UK has strong judicial and regulatory structures
    – London sits in a favourable time zone between USA and Asia
    – London is the global centre of the insurance industry
    – London has liquid markets for capital and commodities
    – London has a critical mass of banks
    – London has a broad range of commercial and cultural services
    – London has excellent universities with diverse research faculties
    – London has excellent transport links to Americas, Europe and Middle East
    – The UK has flexible labour laws

    There are not many European cities that can claim more than a few of tbe above. Ironically, the one EU financial centre which could gain most from Brexit is Dublin – the only non-UK EU citizens who can vote on 23 June.

  20. @Pete B

    I know. After all when my parents moved here they didn’t live or settle in London or any of the places you listed…

  21. Carfrew – “The point is that the SE has had the economic stimulus of infrastructure, and QE etc. and had its financial centre bailed out, while the North experiences cuts and stuff which hampere”

    Starting with the bank bailouts – the bailout banks were Northern Rock (Newcastle based), HBoS (Edinburgh based and RBS (Edinburgh based). Barclays (headquarters London) and Lloyds (headquarters London), did not need bailing out. Neither did any of the small independent investment banks based in London.

    QE was not a “bailout of the south” – it was done to prevent UK-wide deflation because the velocity of money had collapsed. The whole UK benefited because the whole of the UK avoided deflation.

    The south-east’s economy isn’t caused by the “stimulus” of infrastructure. It is caused by massive trade with the EU, which attracted migrants, who then needed infrastructure. London’s population went from 6.5 million 10 years ago to 8.7 million – that is a 33.8% rise. Of course a lot of transportation etc was built to accommodate all that. The infrastructure spending was a consequence of the south-east’s success, not the cause of it. Like I said, you could build bridges to no-where in the north but it wouldn’t create an economy because no-one would use them.

  22. @Paul H-J

    Not sure I agree geography isn’t important for services. Look at all the business that feeds off the financial centre. It helps to cut deals face-to-face. (Often till quite late in the evening as I discovered when visiting a merchant banking friend. Then they rip up the agreement the next day when they realise it wasn’t very good and start again…)

    Meanwhile many things are manufactured using components shipped from around the world.

    Not that London doesn’t have its advantsges, but main reason we hoovered up banking in the first place was being the first to deregulated, then we benefitted from critical mass.

    And a lot of banking peeps like being in one of the world’s major cities, which is why they don’t tend to take-up their threads to flee to some low tax backwater.

  23. @Candy

    Tens of billions were provided quickly to keep them afloat, to inject liquidity because they had seized up etc.. THEN you had QE on top.

    Because QE went through the banks, based in the SE., The SE got most of the benefit.

    I didn’t say the SE’s economy was “caused” by infrastructure. But it does help, in terms of stimulus building it, and productivity gains thereafter…

  24. @Candy

    And I already pointed out that some infrastructure spend might follow immigration, hence leading to a cycle as more immigration follows.

    Not stimuli like the Olympics of course. They’re bonus extras…

  25. PETE B

    Don’t get too carried away with the idea that immigrants go only to London and the south east. Have a look at Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, Rotherham, Boston and numerous other places.

    Well according to this House of Commons briefing published a week ago:

    The UK’s migrant population is concentrated in London. Around 37% of people living in the UK who were born abroad live in the capital city. Similarly, around 37% of people living in London were born outside the UK, compared with 13% for the UK as a whole.

    After London, the English regions with the highest proportions of their population born abroad were the South East (12.2%), the West Midlands (11.6%), and the East of England (11.0%). In each of these
    regions the proportion of people born abroad was lower than for England as a whole (14.2%), where the percentage was pulled up by London. Of all the nations and regions of the UK, the North East had the lowest proportion of its population born abroad (5.2%), followed by Wales (5.9%), Northern Ireland (6.8%), and Scotland (7.2%).

    No one claims that immigrants are only in LOndon and the South East, but an awful lot are includng over half the non-EU ones.

  26. It never ceases to amaze me what nonsense is talked about postal votes, usually based on the belief that they are part of an evil conspiracy by [Party I don’t support] to seize power. The conventional wisdom was always that they were dominated by Conservatives (because they had older voters and/or were better organised) but paranoia seems to have driven some people to now believe that it is all a Labour plot often involving lot of imaginary Asians.

    With the exception of those London elections, which Guymonde pointed to earlier[1]

    In the London Mayor elections, Con won 42.6% to Lab’s 36.7% on postals. However Lab won by a stonking 47.3% to 32.0% on the day. [UKIP had] 4.2% of PVs versus 3.1% on the day

    there is no way of assessing how postal votes split politically, so we have to rely on polling. The best information for this seems to be from Ashcroft’s post-election poll of 12,253 voters[2]:

    This showed 31% postal voters[3]. They do differ from non-postal voters in some ways. You are more likely to have a PV as you’re older for example – only 20% of under-25s do but 40% of over-65s. But that’s not as big a difference compared to some and there’s not a lot a variation for the majority of voters who are in between.

    Most of the other variation is a spin-off from the expected more PVs for older people – slightly more women, DEs, Con and UKIP voters for example. But otherwise there’s little bias in terms of how people voted, their attitudes or their ethnicity or religion.

    [1] These are a special case because they are counted by machine and tallied electronically and so all sorts of analysis can be produced. Though whether it is quicker or cheaper to count that way is another matter.

    [2] As with other post-election polls this doesn’t quite reflect the result:

    Con 33.6% (37.7)

    Lab 31.0% (31.2)

    UKIP 14.1% (12.9)

    Lib Dem 9.3% (8.1)

    Green 5.3% (3.8)

    SNP 5.1% (4.9)

    PC 0.7% (0.6)

    Other 0.9% (0.9)

    (Percentages exclude Refused 2.9%) Actual in (). All figures exclude NI. A lot of the analysis of what went wrong has been about the Lab-Con gap; in reality all the underestimation of the Conservatives was because of overestimation of all the smaller Parties, but not Labour.

    [3] In reality the percentage of postal vote ‘at the count’ was only 20.46% according to the Electoral Commission. You’d expect this discrepancy among poll respondents, however, as they are more likely to be keen on voting and so more likely to take action to make sure they can vote. There’s nothing to suggest that the breakdown of such people by other criteria would be unusual though.
    Proxy votes have not been included but only make up 0.35% of the sample.

  27. @Carfrew – “Tens of billions were provided quickly to keep them afloat, to inject liquidity because they had seized up”

    True – but HBoS and RBS weren’t London banks. We essentially bailed out Scotland. And perhaps if RBS etc had been based in London, Fred Goodwin wouldn’t have had the god-complex that caused the disaster – in London he’d have been just another financier, and there would have been smarter people around to keep him in place.

  28. @Candy

    Don’t forget that immediately following the Crunch, we had a policy of stimulus, curtailing a spirallng downwards and gettingbthe economy back to growth in excess of two percent inside two years.

    Economic policy following the first oil price spike, although tricky because of inflation caused by oil price, still saved a lot of the ecoomy, bringing inflation down and getting us back to growth.. Policy following the second oil spike was rather different in outcome. Until the oil price collapsed save the day…

  29. Charles

    If only WWII HAD been “the last war”!

    Sadly, the UK has been involved in a lot of wars since 1945.

  30. @Candy

    In terms of economic impact, what matters is where banks spend the money they get from us. Which tends to be in the SE…

  31. Rather than, I dunno, Hartlepool…

  32. Carfrew @ Candy

    There’s also the matter of where the UK decides to base its military personnel – with all the local spending power that they generate for the local economies.

    Wales and the North of England seem to be particularly lacking in these.

    Some may remember the episode of “Yes Prime Minister” when the attempts by the Minister of Employment to transfer bases to the North of England were scuppered by the “Establishment’s” insistence that senior officers and their wives couldn’t be moved far from Wimbledon and Harrods. :-)

  33. @OldNat

    There is a geographical component to where the military is based too. You don’t want to locate in the wrong area because if there is a threat, it would take too long to get to it.

    Traditionally sea invasions always came from the south – the Norman conquest, the Spanish armada. Which is why we have naval bases in Plymouth and Portsmouth. Blitzes by air came from East Anglia and Essex – Germans flying across Belgium and across the north sea. There are bases in Scotland because that is where the threat from Russia manifests. Faslane is a big naval port because it is so deep that submarines can’t be tracked entering or leaving by satellite. And those subs patrol the seas near the Arctic – which is where Putin is trying to extend his influence (especially if there is a thaw, which then opens up a sea route to China via the Arctic).

    There is no threat to Wales – it faces neutral Ireland. And the north east of England faces neutral Norway.

    It would be silly trying to defend Scotland from the Russians, starting from a base in Wales – you’d lose precious time responding to the threat. In the same way it would be silly for a commercial enterprise that was exporting to Europe from Felixstowe to locate in the Highlands – you’d just incur the expense of transporting the goods south and the cost would mean the difference between profit and loss. Better to locate in Suffolk or Essex.

    Geography matters.

  34. Alec to Andrew111

    One of your very best Alec, totally support your views expressed.

  35. @Candy

    You speak of ‘traditional’ invasion routes and then go on to refer only to invasions of England (by the way, you manage to exclude invasions of England coming from north of the border!)

    The ‘traditional’ invasion routes in Scotland were
    a. from England
    b. from Norway
    c. from Ireland

    And the last invasion of the UK by a military force was in Wales, I believe, with the Napoleonic French retreating from hat wearing Welsh women.

    The German bombers also set off from Denmark and Norway, not only from Germany itself.

    Let’s have a less anglocentric view of things!

  36. Oh, and Norway is not ‘neutral’. It is part of NATO

  37. @Alun009 – I think it’s time to put this to bed. I think you are being completely fatuous in claiming that the UK is not a unit, or that there is no such thing as a UK identity. Yes, the points I make can be applied to Scotland – but Scotland voted by a majority to retain their UK identity – a point you failed to mention. We can pointlessly argue what precisely that identity is, but in truth it means many things to many people, but meaning it does have. If it didn’t, we would equally at home calling ourselves French. Silly.

    I have previously posted that democracy is all about borders. Talk to people in Ireland/Northern Ireland and you will understand that. The scale of those borders needs to be balanced against the ability of the administrative unit to deliver outcomes, within the bounds of effective democratic control. They also need to take account of history and matters of identity.

    Once again, with feeling; British voters have far more effective democratic control over Westminster than Brussels. Whether one is better or worse than the other is not material to the question, as the question is only about how we control governance. If Westminster is worse than Brussels, that’s our fault.

    Thanks for the discussion, but I’ll refarin from continuing. I think everyone else on the board understands the point I am making, as I don’t think it is conceptually that hard to grasp. Carrying this on is therefore somewhat pointless.

  38. Roger –

    I’d be wary of putting too much confidence in the postal vote figures from the Ashcroft poll (or other polls). Make up of postal votes was one o the areas the polling inquiry specifically pointed to as signposting sampling failure – that the balance between young and old postal voters was all off (I expect because the young people in polls are too politically engaged, too educated, and therefore too likely to get a postal vote and to actually vote).

    The London figures are far more interesting

  39. @TOH – thankyou.

    To others regarding Brexit and the ‘regulatory bonfire’.

    While it is true to suggest that the formal leave campaign can’t offer a detailed manifesto for a post EU UK legilsative program, I think it is fair to say the campaign is largely centred on the ability to get rid of many EU regulations. This week the farming minister, George Eustace, expressly promised that the Habitats Directive would go, for example.

    My point wasn’t so much about the merits of this or which directives would be dropped, but was intended to be more about the process of government and opposition should there be a leave vote.

    As with the Indyref, once you have won your independence vote, you no longer have anywhere to hide – you have to make the hard choices, and there can be no blaming the dominant outsiders for all ills.

    Post leave, the UK political has to lay out what it wishes to do with it’s new found freedoms, and I think this will be problematical for a party that has long claimed to favour deregulation. Labour will be able to raise specific ‘good’ regulations and pressure the government to confirm or deny it’s intentions, and the game will have changed.

    Personally, in or out I believe there is space for a political party to look less at which regulations should be scrapped, but more at how the UK applies them. The Habitats Directive provides a handy example.

    If you want to submit a development proposal within 50m of a watercourse, this is expressly covered by the Habitats Directive. Most planning authorities will therefore require you to complete an automatic Phase 1 Ecological Survey – expensive and potentially time consuming.

    However, the Habitats Directive also states that in the vast majority of cases, it will be clear that such developments will not have any implications under the directive, and so can be screened out of the process at an early stage.

    You usually find you really have to argue the case tooth and nail with planning officers and local authority ecologists, who tend to operate by the precautionary principle and assume everything is liable to the directive.

    If a UK government could address the issues of gold plating and the misapplication of directives, I suspect we could achieve a much happier balance and remove much frustration.

    However, with too many people seeking to blame Brussels, it’s unlikely we will see a concerted effort to do this. However, this is something Labour should be doing, in my view, whichever way the vote goes.

  40. @Charles

    Thank you for your response yesterday at 21:27.

    I think the EEC/EU has done some good things, but has simply lost it’s way. Since the UK joined the EEC, we have seen Thatherism come and go, ‘Third way’ politics come and go and we are currently scrabbling to find some way to address the issues we have since both previous ideologies have failed. The world we face now is different, so just because the EEC/EU worked in the past doesn’t mean it can address the issues of today and most critically tomorrow. The EU is an oil tanker that can’t react or alter course quick enough for events.

    I think the problems with the EU are not just policy A or B, but are problems with it’s deepest DNA. If I thought the EU was reformable, I would vote Remain. However, I think it is a slow moving car crash about to happen, thus I think getting out makes sense. Too much power is held by those who benefit from the status quo. That status quo needs to be changed via reform (which I don’t think won’t happen), or the alternative is to smash it, in an act of creative destruction.

    I would like the UK to be in a partnership with other countries based on free-trade and cooperation on matters like the environment. The terms of the EU currently are not ones I can support.

  41. @CMJ
    Yes, the EU is a large complicated polity trying to reconcile the interests and prejudices of 28 member states with different and constantly changing priorities. It’s bloody hard work and it takes time, and by its very nature not every country gets what it wants on any issue.
    It has achieved an enormous amount, given that background, and given that one of the nations that by virtue of size and history should be a leading light has been a constant resister of progress.
    Compare it’s achievements with the WTO.
    If you’re an internationalist, the last thing you should do is abandon this courageous attempt at international cooperation, which despite all the carping and the genuine concerns has been hugely successful on many different levels, most notably its prime purpose, the eradication of war within its boundaries. If Brexit succeeds there is a serious chance that the EU will fall apart and with it, this happy settlement we have enjoyed throughout my lifetime.

  42. With all due respect, there is absolutely no reason why an exit poll could not be conducted.

    The fact that exit polls in British general elections are conducted in an idiosyncratic way to make seat projections has nothing to do with whether or not one could simply canvass a representative slice of constituencies and produce a clean per centage projection, just like they do in most all countries.

    In fact, I can only think of the UK and US as places that conduct exit polls without releasing topline figures (even Ireland does – where they are particularly irrelevant), and for the US you can still deduce them by reading the exit poll demographics when published online – if you manage to do so *before they adjust them to match the official results(!!!)*.

    The suggestion that you cannot have a straight referendum poll because there isn’t one to which to compare it is bizarre. Obviously, the general election exit polls still produce actual figures even if they are only comparing results between sets of demographically/geographically similar seats.

    There is nothing particularly difficult about this – they just don’t want to spend the money and effort on it.

  43. ALEC:
    “I think it’s time to put this to bed. I think you are being completely fatuous in claiming that the UK is not a unit, or that there is no such thing as a UK identity.”

    You call me fatuous, but your real issue is that I won’t let YOU define MY identity for me. You seem to think that the UK is a natural political unit, that somehow its distinctiveness as a unit far exceeds the internal differences. I don’t mind you having that opinion, but when it intrudes on your public pronouncements on how Europe should be organised, it’s utterly valid to publicly question them.

    Here’s the thing. I don’t see myself as British. Many people of these islands do not. That’s just our opinion. Again, we’re all welcome to those opinions. But if you said that the UK is somehow better able to cater for policies under which I live, I have to ask you why you think that. Because it does affect me. If you think that just because that’s your opinion, then we can agree to disagree. If you think that the system run by Westminster is fairer, then I’d like to examine your assumptions (and this was all I was ever trying to talk about).

    But if your argument is that the UK is distinctive, unitary, and that is the start and end of the discussion, then I have to say you’re flat wrong. Because you imagine me to be part of that, and I am not.

    It’s sad that you couldn’t engage with a comparative analysis of why two systems are different, but it’s worse that you try to speak for me and my identity without asking.

    And you’re spot on about Scotland voting to stay in. That was, after all, the point I was trying to make. Despite there being some consciousness of a difference between Scotland and England, it wasn’t enough for a majority to vote for independence. A majority of people chose (to my regret, it must be said) to say that the differences are not profound enough to put an end to a shared parliament for reserved powers. The whole point is that even if you sense a difference that in itself is not enough. If you think British people are somwhat different to “Europeans”, that in itself doesn’t justify a vote to Leave. There are massively important issues beyond identity. And all this is entirely in keeping with everything I’ve ever said about Scottish independence. I should know, because I’m not Scottish. I have never tried to speak about Scottishness, about identity, that sort of thing. I try to speak about representation, democracy and what systems of government can best represent the will that people express.

    I was excited because I thought we’d get into the nitty gritty of systems and political machinery. I was wrong. You recoiled away from that under scrutiny, to the refuge of defining politics by identity, and defining my identity along with it.

    And it’s been useful for me too. It has opened my eyes to the fact that, in fact, when I hear Brexiteers speak it absolutely always is about identity politics. Even their illiterate economic arguments about spending “our” money as “we” see fit carries an unspoken and unexamined assumption that Johnny Foreigner does indeed have different priorities than John Bull. And it’s that assumption that I think is “fatuous”. That, and the whole notion that people like you, Alec, think that it’s enough to draw a box around a UK and declare that “we” are one, and “they” are different. Fatuous, but also highly dangerous.

  44. Candy

    Among the many nonsensical arguments in your post is “There are bases in Scotland because that is where the threat from Russia manifests.”

    There is now one RAF base (instead of the previous 3) and no base anywhere has maritime patrol aircraft. Which, means that whenever the Russian Fleet enters the Moray Firth, the Navy has to send a destroyer chugging up from Portsmouth to see what is going on.

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