Almost a month on from the referendum campaign I’ve had chance to sit down and collect my thoughts about how the polls performed. This isn’t necessarily a post about what went wrong since, as I wrote on the weekend after the referendum, for many pollsters nothing at all went wrong. Companies like TNS and Opinium got the referendum resolutely right, and many polls painted a consistently tight race between Remain and Leave. However some did less well and in the context of last year’s polling failure there is plenty we can learn about what methodology approaches adopted by the pollsters did and did not work for the referendum.

Mode effects

The most obvious contrast in the campaign was between telephone and online polls, and this contributed to the surprise over the result. Telephone and online polls told very different stories – if one paid more attention to telephone polls then Remain appeared to have a robust lead (and many in the media did, having bought into a “phone polls are more accurate” narrative that turned out to be wholly wrong). If one had paid more attention to online polls the race would have appeared consistently neck-and-neck. If one made the – perfectly reasonable – assumption that the actual result would be somewhere in between phone and online, one would still have ended up expecting a Remain victory.

While there was a lot of debate about whether phone or online was more likely to be correct during the campaign, there was relatively little to go on. Pat Sturgis and Will Jennings of the BPC inquiry team concluded that the true position was probably in between phone and online, perhaps a little closer to online, by comparing the results of the 2015 BES face-to-face data to the polls conducted at the time. Matt Singh and James Kanagasooriam wrote a paper called Polls Apart that concluded the result was probably closer to the telephone polls because they were closer to the socially liberal results in the BES data (as issue I’ll return to later). A paper by John Curtice could only conclude that the real result was likely somewhere in between online and telephone, given that at the general election the true level of UKIP support was between phone and online polls. During the campaign there was also a NatCen mixed-mode survey based on recontacting respondents to the British Social Attitudes survey, which found a result somewhere in between online and telephone.

In fact the final result was not somewhere in between telephone and online at all. Online was closer to the final result, and far from being in between the actual result was more Leave than all of them.

As ever, the actual picture was not quite as simple as this and there was significant variation within modes. The final online polls from TNS and Opinium had Leave ahead, but Populus’s final poll was conducted online and had a ten point lead for Remain. The final telephone polls from ComRes and MORI showed large leads for Remain, but Survation’s final poll phone poll showed a much smaller Remain lead. ICM’s telephone and online polls had been showing identical leads, but ceased publication several weeks before the result. On average, however, online polls were closer to the result than telephone polls.

The referendum should perhaps also provoke a little caution about probability studies like the face-to-face BES. These are hugely valuable surveys, done to the highest possible standards… but nothing is perfect, and they can be wrong. We cannot tell what a probability poll conducted immediately before the referendum would have shown, but if it had been somewhere between online and phone – as the earlier BES and NatCen data were – then it would also have been wrong.

People who are easy or difficult to reach by phone

Many of the pieces looking of the mode effects in the EU polling looked at the differences between people who responded quickly and slowly to polls. The BPC inquiry into the General Election polls analysed the samples from the post-election BES/BSA face-to-face polls and showed how people who responded to the face-to-face surveys on the first contact were skewed towards Labour voters, only after including those respondents who took two or three attempts to contact did the polls correctly show the Conservatives in the lead. The inquiry team used this as an example of how quota sampling could fail, rather than evidence of actual biases which affected the polls in 2015, but the same approach has become more widely used in analysis of polling failure. Matt Singh and James Kanagasooriam’s paper in particular focused on how slow respondents to the BES were also likely to be more socially liberal and concluded, therefore, that online polls were likely to be have too many socially conservative people.

Taking people who are reached on the first contact attempt in a face-to-face poll seems like a plausible proxy for people who might be contacted by a telephone poll that doesn’t have time to ring back people who it fails to contact on the first attempt. Putting aside the growing importance of sampling mobile phones, landline surveys and face-to-face surveys do both depend on the interviewee being at home at a civilised time and willing to take part. It’s more questionable why it should be a suitable proxy for the sort of person willing to join an online panel and take part in online surveys that can be done on any internet device at any old time.

As the referendum campaign continued there were more studies that broke down people’s EU referendum voting intention by how difficult they were to interview. NatCen’s mixed-mode survey in May to June found the respondents that it took longer to contact tended to be more leave (as well as being less educated, and more likely to say don’t know). BMG’s final poll was conducted by telephone, but used a 6 day fieldwork period to allow multiple attempts to call-back respondents. Their analysis painted a mixed picture – people contacted on the first call were fairly evenly split between Remain and Leave (51% Remain), people on the second call were strongly Remain (57% Remain), but people on later calls were more Leave (49% Remain).

Ultimately, the evidence on hard-to-reach people ended up being far more mixed than initially assumed. While the BES found hard-to-reach people were more pro-EU, the NatCen survey’s hardest to reach people were more pro-Leave, and BMG found a mixed pattern. This also suggests that one suggested solution to make telephone sampling better – taking more time to make more call-backs to those people who don’t answer the first call – is not necessarily a guaranteed solution. ORB and BMG both highlighted their decision to spend longer over their fieldwork in the hope of producing better samples, both taking six days rather than the typical two or three. Neither were obviously more accurate than phone pollsters with shorter fieldwork periods.

Education weights

During the campaign YouGov wrote a piece raising questions about whether some polls had too many graduates. Level of educational qualifications correlated with how likely people were to support to EU membership (graduates were more pro-EU, people with no qualification more pro-Leave, even after controlling for age) so this did have the potential to skew figures.

The actual proportion of “graduates” in Britain depends on definitions (the common NVQ Level 4+ categorisation in the census includes some people with higher education qualifications below degree-level), but depending on how you define it and whether or not you include HE qualifications below degree level the figure is around 27% to 35%. In the Populus polling produced for Polls Apart 47% of people had university level qualifications, suggesting polls conducted by telephone could be seriously over-representing graduates.

Ipsos MORI identified the same issue with too many graduates in their samples and added education quotas and weights during the campaign (this reduced the Remain lead in their polls by about 3-4 points, so while their final poll still showed a large Remain lead, it would have been more wrong without education weighting). ICM, however, tested education weights on their telephone polls and found it made little difference, while education breaks in ComRes’s final poll suggest they had about the right proportion of graduates in their sample anyway.

This doesn’t entirely put the issue of education to bed. Data on the educational make-up of samples is spotty, and the overall proportion of graduates in the sample is not the end of the story – because there is a strong correlation between education and age, just looking at overall education levels isn’t enough. There need to be enough poorly qualified people in younger age groups, not just among older generations where it is commonplace.

The addition of education weights appears to have helped some pollsters, but it clearly depends on the state of the sample to begin with. MORI controlled for education, but still over-represented Remain. ComRes had about the right proportion of graduates to begin with, but still got it wrong. Getting the correct proportion of graduates does appear to have been an issue for some companies, and dealing with it helped some companies, but alone it cannot explain why some pollsters performed badly.

Attitudinal weights

Another change introduced by some companies during the campaign was weighting by attitudes towards immigration and national identity (whether people considered themselves to be British or English). Like education, both these attitudes were correlated with EU referendum voting intention. Where they differ from education is that there are official statistics on the qualifications held by the British population, but there are no official stats on national identity or attitudes towards immigration. Attitudes may also be more liable to change than qualifications.

Three companies adopted attitudinal weights during the campaign, all of them online. Two of these used the same BES questions on racial equality and national identity from the BES face-to-face survey that were discussed in Polls Apart… but with different levels of success. Opinium, who were the joint most-accurate pollster, weighted people’s attitudes to racial equality and national identity to a point half-way between the BES findings and their own findings (presumably on the assumption that half the difference was sample, half interviewer effect). According to Opinium this increased the relative position of remain by about 5 points when introduced. Populus weighted by the same BES questions on attitudes to race and people’s national identity, but in their case used the actual BES figures – presumably giving them a sample that was significantly more socially liberal than Opinium’s. Populus ended up showing the largest Remain lead.

It’s clear from Opinium and Populus that these social attitudes were correlated with EU referendum vote and including attitudinal weighting variables did make a substantial difference. Exactly what to weight them to is a different question though – Populus and Opinium weighted the same variable to very different targets, and got very different results. Given the sensitivity of questions about racism we cannot be sure whether people answer these questions differently by phone, online or face-to-face, nor whether face-to-face probability samples have their own biases, but choosing what targets to use for any attitudinal weighting is obviously a difficult problem.

While it may have been a success for Opinium, attitudinal weighting is unlikely to have improved matters for other online polls – online polls generally produce social attitudes that are more conservative than suggested by the BES/BSA face-to-face surveys, so weighting them towards the BES/BSA data would probably only have served to push the results further towards Remain and make them even less accurate. On the other hand, for telephone polls there could be potential for attitudinal weighting to make samples less socially liberal.

Turnout models

There was a broad consensus that turnout was going to be a critical factor at the referendum, but pollsters took different approaches towards it. These varied from a traditional approach of basing turnout weights purely on respondent’s self-assessment of their likelihood to vote, models that also incorporated how often people had voted in the past or their interest in the subject, through to a models that were based on the socio-economic characteristics of respondents, modelling people’s likelihood to vote based on their age and social class.

In the case of the EU referendum Leave voters generally said they were more likely to vote than Remain voters, so traditional turnout models were more likely to favour Leave. People who didn’t vote at previous elections leant towards Leave, so models that incorporated past voting behaviour were a little more favourable towards Remain. Demographic based models were more complicated, as older people were more likely to vote and more leave, but middle class and educated people were more likely to vote and more remain. On balance models based on socio-economic factors tended to favour Remain.

The clearest example is Natcen’s mixed mode survey, which explictly modelled the two different approaches. Their raw results without turnout modelling would have been REMAIN 52.3%, LEAVE 47.7%. Modelling turnout based on self-reported likelihood to vote would have made the results slightly more “leave” – REMAIN 51.6%, LEAVE 48.4%. Modelling the results based on socio-demographic factors (which is what NatCen chose to do in the end) resulted in topline figures of REMAIN 53.2%, LEAVE 46.8%.

In the event ComRes & Populus chose to use methods based on socio-economic factors, YouGov & MORI used methods combining self-assessed likelihood and past voting behaviour (and in the case of MORI, interest in the referendum), Survation & ORB a traditional approach based just on self-assessed likelihood to vote. TNS didn’t use any turnout modelling in their final poll.

In almost every case the adjustments for turnout made the polls less accurate, moving the final figures towards Remain. For the four companies who used more sophisticated turnout models, it looks as if a traditional approach of relying on self-reported likelihood to vote would have been more accurate. An unusual case was TNS’s final poll, which did not use a turnout model at all, but did include data on what their figures would have been if they had. Using a model based on people’s own estimate of their likelihood to vote, past vote and age (but not social class) TNS would have shown figures of 54% Leave, 46% Remain – less accurate than their final call poll, but with an error in the opposite direction to most other polls.

In summary, it looks as though attempts to improve turnout modelling since the general election have not improved matters – if anything the opposite was the case. The risk of basing turnout models on past voting behaviour at elections or the demographic patterns of turnout at past elections has always been what would happen if patterns of turnout changed. It’s true middle class people normally vote more than working class people, older people normally vote more than younger people. But how much more, and how much does that vary from election to election? If you build a model that assumes the same levels of differential turnout between demographic groups as the previous election then it risks going horribly wrong if levels of turnout are different… and in the EU ref it looks as if they were. In their post-referendum statement Populus have been pretty robust in rejecting the whole idea – “turnout patterns are so different that a demographically based propensity-to-vote model is unlikely ever to produce an accurate picture of turnout other than by sheer luck.”

That may be a little harsh, it would probably be a wrong turn if pollsters stopped looking for more sophisticated turnout models than just asking people, and past voting behaviour and demographic considerations may be part of that. It may be that turnout models that are based on past behaviour at general elections is more successful in modelling general election turnout than that for referendums. Thus far, however, innovations in turnout modelling don’t appear to have been particularly successful.

Reallocation of don’t knows

During the campaign Steve Fisher and Alan Renwick wrote an interesting piece about how most referendum polls in the past have underestimated support for the status quo, presumably because of late swing or don’t knows breaking for remain. Pollsters were conscious of this and rather than just ignore don’t knows in their final polls, the majority of pollsters attempted to model how don’t knows would vote. This went from simple squeeze questions, which way do don’t knows think they’ll end up voting, are they leaning towards or suchlike (TNS, MORI and YouGov), to projecting how don’t knows will vote based upon their answers to other questions. ComRes had a squeeze question and estimated how don’t knows would vote based on how people thought Brexit would effect the economy, Populus on how risky don’t knows thought Brexit was. ORB just split don’t knows 3 to 1 in favour of Remain.

In every case these adjustments helped remain, and in every case this made things less accurate. Polls that made estimates about how don’t knows would vote ended up more wrong than polls that just asked people how they might end up voting, but this is probably co-incidence, both approaches had a similar sort of effect. This is not to say they were necessarily wrong – it’s possible that don’t knows did break in favour of remain, and that that while the reallocation of don’t knows made polls less accurate, it was because it was adding a swing to data that was already wrong to begin with. Nevertheless, it suggests pollsters should be careful about assuming too much about don’t knows – for general elections at least such decisions can be based more firmly upon how don’t knows have split at past general elections, where hopefully more robust models can be developed.

So what we can learn?

Pollsters don’t get many opportunities to compare polling results against actual election results, so every one is valuable – especially when companies are still attempting to address the 2015 polling failure. On the other hand, we need to be careful about reading too much into a single poll that’s not necessarily comparable to a general election. All those final polls were subject to the ordinary margins of error and there are different challenges to polling a general election and a referendum.

Equally, we shouldn’t automatically assume that anything that would have made the polls a little more Leave is necessarily correct, anything that made polling figures more Remain is necessarily wrong – everything you do to a poll interacts with everything else, and taking each item in isolation can be misleading. The list of things above is by no means exhaustive either – my own view remains that the core problem with polls is that they tend to be done by people who are too interested and aware of politics, and the way to solve polling failure is to find ways of recruiting less political people, quota-ing and weighting by levels of political interest. We found that people with low political interest were more likely to support Brexit, but there is very little other information on political awareness and interest from other polling, so I can’t explore to what extent that was responsible for any errors in the wider polls.

With that said, what can we conclude?

  • Phone polls appeared to face substantially greater problems in obtaining a representative sample than online polls. While there was variation within modes, with some online polls doing better than others, some phone polls doing worse than others, on average online outperformed phone. The probability based samples from the BES and the NatCen mixed-mode experiment suggested a position somewhere between online and telephone, so while we cannot tell what they would have shown, we should not assume they would have been any better.
  • Longer fieldwork times for telephone polls are not necessarily the solution. The various analyses of how people who took several attempts to contact differed from those who were contacted on the first attempt were not consistent, and the companies who took longer over their fieldwork were no more accurate than those with shorter periods.
  • Some polls did contain too many graduates and correcting for that did appear to help, but it was not a problem that affected all companies and would not alone have solved the problem. Some companies weighted by education or had the correct proportion of graduates, but still got it wrong.
  • Attitudinal weights had a mixed record. The only company to weight attitudes to the BES figures overstated Remain significantly, but Opinium had more success at weighting them to a halfway point. Weighting by social attitudes faces problems in determining weighting targets and is unlikely to have made other online polls more Leave, but could be a consideration for telephone polls that may have had samples that were too socially liberal.
  • Turnout models that were based on the patterns of turnout at the last election and whether people voted at the last election performed badly and consistently made the results less accurate – presumably because of the unexpectedly high turnout, particular among more working class areas. Perhaps there is potential for such models to work in the future and at general elections, but so far they don’t appear successful.

892 Responses to “What we can learn from the referendum polling”

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  1. @Laszlo

    That would only apply at a by-election, i.e. when Eagle was first elected (although for that I believe she was selected, not imposed). For all subsequent general elections (with the possible exception of the one immediately following) the standard reselection rules will have applied. Either her CLP has simply not *wished* to institute a reselection procedure, or has been through one or more such processes and Eagle was reselected (I suspect the former).

    If you think different, perhaps you can point to evidence that the NEC has imposed Eagle on her constituency?

  2. I know Corbyn doesn’t get to choose his MPs, but he does get to lead them. I am fairly neutral in this debate, but it seems to be an unanswerable fact that Corbyn is a very poor leader.

    People very rarely get to choose their team in any walk of life – as a manager I’ve always inherited – often failing – teams, and although I have generally had some flexibility to bring in one or two of my ‘own’ people, have always had to make the best of what I have – it’s basic management 101.

    Imagine what would have happened on D-Day if Eisenhower had just not bothered to try to manage the very disparate and egotistical team he as handed?
    Yes, Corbyn started with a team that was sceptical at best, but the idea that this exceptionally common situation is somehow ‘unfair’ to Corbyn is simply ludicrous…

  3. @ HAWTHORN
    SYZYGY
    I thought going on strike was generally seen as being quite an important right in democratic socialist circles.

    These strikers and general public should get support from everyone not just democratic socialists.

    In response to the dispute and without warning, Southern rail have cancelled a huge number of scheduled services and are not negotiating with the unions. It is pretty impossible. Stations are left open and unattended; people with disability unable to use the trains; lots of trains cancelled without warning and of course late to very late. People are losing their jobs because of always being late, other are having to set off hours earlier and get back hours later.

    It seems that Southern’s intention is to beak the Strike and the unions. They have delusions of repeating Margaret Thatcher’s Miners Strike.

  4. OLDNAT

    Thanks for the Paul Kavanagh link. Looks like he’s been right all along that the “constitutional” means of achieving independence was all that Spain have ever been worried about.

    Not that that will stop the hoary old chestnut being given an airing on all the mainstream media if/when indyref2 happens.

  5. Tancred

    “But this is the lull before the storm and once we are truly out of the EU and having to rely on WTO terms it won’t be so pretty.”

    I for one have always said I am prepared to pay the price of exiting the EU. This mornings report was no surprise to me, however long term we will see.

    What does surprise me is how remainers who claim to be British seem so keen to run down Britain and it’s economy. One would have hoped that they would get over their “sour grapes” and get on with making the new reality a success.

  6. @ Robin

    This is pretty accurate as everyone know in the LP around here (with the exception of the counting – I have had contradictory opinions). And it has been repeated this year (the intimidation of CLP members who were against AE).

    https://medium.com/@pitt_bob/how-angela-eagle-got-to-be-mp-for-wallasey-e30d4ad9483#.p32za5apf

  7. SYZYGY

    I am a daily Southern commuter so I am well appraised of the situation.

    It was in response to your comment about the PLP “downing tools”. I thought that was generally considered to be an appropriate response to an incompetent leader who will not listen to his workers.

  8. @ BIGFATRON
    I know Corbyn doesn’t get to choose his MPs, but he does get to lead them.

    Forgive me but how do you lead people who are determined not to be led? With a 2y old, you can just pick them up but it’s not possible with MPs that you haven’t chosen and cannot sack.

  9. SYZYGY

    Plenty of the PLP gave him a chance.

    There will always be irreconcilables. One of them used to be Corbyn.

  10. TOH: “I for one have always said I am prepared to pay the price of exiting the EU. ”

    Brexit at any price? Is there no calamity so extreme that you would not regard it as an acceptable price?

    How about a deep recession, 3 million unemployed, the break up of the UK, city riots and a Corbyn government? Would all that be acceptable? I’m not forecasting that all that would happen, but it’s not inconceivable. Would wanting to avoid that constitute a lack of patriotism?

    And what does “who claim to be British” mean? Are you suggesting that there are some posters here who falsely claim to be British?

  11. @syzygy
    Re rail strikes – someone I know who works for the Rail Regulator tells me the government have told Southern that they have to hold put, so that the principle of guard-less trains can be rolled out nationally; basically this is a government-led dispute, and this is part of the reason the Rail minister recently resigned.

    Re Corbyn – you could say that about anyone stepping in to a job where they are not popular on arrival, which is often the case; you have to work to win people over, talk to them, listen to their concerns, show them a plan that they can get behind, encourage them and judge when to be supportive and when to push them to adjust their approach. Most importantly you need to bring key opinion formers over to your perspective.

    It doesn’t appear that Corbyn has tried any of these basic steps, which suggests he is simply a really bad manager – not a bad person, but someone who is very badly equipped to do the job he – let’s remember – applied for, presumably on the basis that he thought he would be really good at it!

  12. This whole conversation is pointless. Corbyn isn’t the boss of the labour party, the members are. Corbyn can’t sack MPs but members can. Members are absolutely furious, it doesn’t matter who wins the leadership battle, the members want blood. Some MPs will be deselected, the question is how many, its starting to look like all of them

  13. “Paul Kavanagh has more on the Spanish position from an interview on Spanish TV last night ”

    Oh good, so we’ve now got the Spanish, as well as the French and Germans, trying to tell us how we should run our country.

    With 21% of their population unemployed, and record numbers of people being evicted from their homes due to inability to afford rents or mortgages, the Spanish Government would do well to sort out their own problems first.

    Still, they remain in the EU and Eurozone, so everything will be hunky dory.

  14. @THE OTHER HOWARD

    Sour grapes don’t taste very nice but at present the sweet ones are not available to me. What worries me about the leave camp is that they look at all this as if it was a cricket match and the ‘well, you jolly well lost chaps, so accept it’ mentality. Here we are dealing with the future of the country, it’s not sport. So, no, I won’t accept the result and I look forward to a total disastrous failure of Brexit so that we can get back to the real world and start to face the future as part of the EU, not outside it. My money is that Brexit won’t happen – there are massive obstacles to overcome and a minefield of legal issues as well. It’s easy to talk about trade deals but hard to work them out in detail, so don’t expect half the world to come knocking on our door.
    I also don’t think the current cosiness in the Tory party will last. As time goes by the old divisions will start to open up again and May will come under fire. I don’t expect May to be PM by the time of the 2020 election. My expectation is that Hammond will take over at some point once the whole Brexit thing crashes in flames.

  15. @ Cambridgerachel
    Having rejoined the Conservative party as a result of the change of Prime Minister and policy, I am concerned to see the disaster that is the Labour party as the country needs a strong government with an effective opposition.
    If the Labour party splits, which I believe is a real possibility, what effect will this in fact have?
    Our current MP supports Corbyn and he is likely to face a Liberal Democrat who is also against Trident and was the previous MP. Some Labour voters may transfer their support enabling the Liberal Democrats to regain control of Cambridge. (Some Conservatives may also switch to ensure Labour will be defeated in Cambridge)
    I believe that many Labour voters support renewal of Trident and many of the declared policies of the new Conservative Leadership.
    The latest polling seems to show an 11% lead for Teresa May’s Conservative Government.
    He continued unpleasant infighting throughout the summer would increase this lead even further.

  16. @ HAWTHORN

    It was in response to your comment about the PLP “downing tools”. I thought that was generally considered to be an appropriate response to an incompetent leader who will not listen to his workers.

    Beg pardon. The problem is that there are no straight lines of responsibility. The MPs have a responsibility to their electorate to oppose the Conservative govt. Jeremy Corbyn has a responsibility to the membership to be leader of the LP.

    A strike is taken by employees to persuade their bosses to change x. Jeremy Corbyn is not the boss because he can neither hire or fire the rebel MPs.

    Jeremy Corbyn is fulfilling his responsibility to the membership but the rebel MPs are failing in their responsibility to their electorates, to do all possible, to provide an effective opposition to the government.

    In other words, their strike is taken against their constituents not Jeremy Corbyn. Hence, my question to ChrisLane.

  17. @Laszlo

    That is (or is not, it doesn’t really matter) how she got to be candidate in the first place. But since then there have been general elections in 1997, 2002, 2005, 2010, 2015, and for each of those the standard reselection triggers will have been in place.

    If she hasn’t been through those it is because the local party decided not to trigger a reselection.

  18. DAVID CARROD
    Still, they remain in the EU and Eurozone, so everything will be hunky dory.

    Sneer at Spain all you like, but the one thing you ought not to sneer at is that they would indeed have some veto over any negotiations following A50 notification.

  19. SYZYGY

    The PLP have decided that the best way to fight the Tories is to have a competent leader.

    Corbyn is not fulfilling his responsibility to the members because he is incompetent.

  20. @SOMERJOHN

    “And what does “who claim to be British” mean? Are you suggesting that there are some posters here who falsely claim to be British?”

    I’ve noticed this type of smear from many of the leave supporters on this forum, not from ‘David Carrod’ but also from ‘Candy’ and others. It seems that they cannot accept that remain supporters can be British. It pains them, given that they are still living in the 1950s world of Agatha Christie villages and Dixon of Doc Green coppers on patrol. The pyscho-pathological explanation for this is that the leavers are basically anti-modernists, fearful of anything associated with the modern world and the 21st century. They try to grab the moral high ground by pompously declaring to be non-racists but then, paradoxically, use xenophobic language to make their points.

    This episode sheds some light on the mentality of the typical ‘leave’ supporter:

    http://www.standard.co.uk/news/crime/london-ukip-councillor-faces-probe-after-suggesting-campaigners-trying-to-block-brexit-should-be-a3300106.html

    Behind the facade of respectability there lies a very disturbing intolerance and tendency to want to resort to violence.

    Worrying times indeed.

  21. Hawthorne

    We will decide if corbyn is incompetent or the PLP are wreckers

  22. @ BigFatRon

    ‘Re rail strikes – someone I know who works for the Rail Regulator tells me the government have told Southern that they have to hold put, so that the principle of guard-less trains can be rolled out nationally; basically this is a government-led dispute, and this is part of the reason the Rail minister recently resigned.’

    Exactly.

    Btw No-one was more surprised to win than Jeremy Corbyn :)

  23. Well well Spain threatening to VETO UK’s Brexit if it includes Gibraltar. Note: Spain has never actually threatened to veto Scotland joining/remaining in the EU.

    So NI has ROI looking after them and offering unification to stay in EU

    Gibraltar has Spain protecting them

    Scotland is planning a second indyref.

    Looks like only E &W will be leaving the EU.

    So WM needs to come up with a solution that allows all parts of the U.k to stay in the EU when E&W leaves. Or accept the loss of Gib, NI & Scotland, or abandon Brexit.

  24. *all=some

  25. @ Camb Rach

    ‘CAMBRIDGERACHEL
    Hawthorne
    We will decide if corbyn is incompetent or the PLP are wreckers’

    Thank you :) And the electorate can judge whether their MP is doing a good enough job opposing the govt., by downing tools.

  26. There is a lot more to the Southern dispute than just DOO.

    (I am sympathetic to the unions in general with when it comes to Southern, although DOO is probably where they are on the weakest ground).

    It is worth pointing out that there was a similar dispute in the early 1980s when DOO (then known as OMO) was introduced on St Pancras to Bedford commuter trains by British Rail.

    London Overground also introduced DOO recently.

    If anything, privatisation has held back DOO as the TOCs have never had the incentive to risk the disruption as the extra expense is met with subsidies.

  27. @ Robin

    They (the CLP) were threatened by suspension in 2005.

    And now they are suspended (under false pretences) while Angela Eagle is not suspended from the LP after two malicious lies (her office windows were not bricked, and the police did not advise her to suspend her surgery – both publicly announced, and reported in small prints) for bringing the party into disrepute.

    But my point is still not this. The point is that there is a massive split between the majority of the membership (as far as we know) and the PLP. It seems to be unhealable. However, my concern is the awful lies that fly from all sides, and the complete lack of responsibility, the covering up with meaningless stuff like party democracy, leadership, electability, etc. And it was the tactic of the PLP that forced this on the country.

  28. Unsurprisingly, the official communique from the British Irish Council says nothing of note –

    During discussions, Ministers collectively reaffirmed the importance of the Council as a key institution of the 1998 Agreement and an important and unique forum to share views, enhance cooperation and strengthen relationships amongst all Member Administrations at this time. They reiterated their commitment to facilitating harmonious and mutually beneficial relationships among the people of these islands.

    Judging by the STV report of the subsequent press conference, nothing new from that either.

    http://stv.tv/news/politics/1361477-sturgeon-uk-must-show-it-can-secure-scotland-s-eu-interests/

  29. HAWTHORN

    Perhaps OMO as implemented by the DLR [automatic trains with a roving guard] would be a more logical approach to ensuring cost effectiveness than DOO.

    At least there would be some help on hand against attacks against individuals, which seem to be rising just now.

  30. Anyway, to the calmness of local council by-elections last night.

    Nothing really, apart from a LibDem win from the Cons, and a Con win from Lab (it seems that only the Conservatives had a candidate in that ward).

  31. SOMERJOHN
    My God, you really have bought the project fear package have you not. The list of disasters you quote is frankly ridiculous.
    As for being British, I for one know what Howard means. Half the persons on this site may well be British passport holders, but how long have they lived here and how much do they care about this country. From some of the posts, I would say that the benefit of clean drinking water is not given the thanks it should be.

  32. OLDNAT

    Thanks for the STV link. The BBC now seem to have 4 takes on it via their NI, Welsh & Scottish sub-sites, with the 1st 2 on NI:

    Brexit: ‘No hard Irish border’, says Taoiseach Enda Kenny

    Brexit: McGuinness ‘cannot see how Common Travel Area can survive’

    Four parliaments should agree Brexit deal, says Carwyn Jones

    Sturgeon attends emergency British-Irish Council summit

    Can’t quote URLs for all 4 but they’re easy to find.

  33. Oldenglish

    The situation in cambridge is complicated, its not really a Labour seat, but its way too liberal to be a conservative seat. Labour won this seat from the Dems because of the tuition scandal. Part of the appeal of the dems was/is their greenness , lots of people in cambridge have a middle class obsession with green policies. whether daniel can hold it will depend on how quickly people forget tuition fees and if Daniel can hold on to the green segment of the libdem vote.

    I know a lot of green party people or green party voters, Labour under corbyn has been making significant inroads into the green activist base, under a different leader those people will either go green or libdem as a greenlite option. But I recognize that the more conservative types might be put off by corbyn.

    I think its a toss up whether corbyn does daniel more harm than good. This is a small c conservative seat, highly educated, well paid and very pro Europe all of which could count against corbyn. But its also very green and more politically interested than most constituencies which is good for a corbyn led party plus there will be a lot of very enthusiastic activists for a corbyn led party.

    Daniels best chance is of course a rainbow alliance which would definitely mean a win.

  34. BARBAZENZERO

    My understanding is that DLR style operation is easy when you have brand new infrastructure and a simple mode of operation (for example all station trains only).

    If you go to a lot of French cities, you have completely unmanned metro trains, but they have a Latin attitude to risk.

  35. TANCRED
    For Christ sake give it a rest. We had all this about the coalition, Dave’s tiny majority, now “all those Tory divisions”. What divisions, Europe? Its decided and May will do her job. As for the rest of your pathetic wishful thinking, go to Socialist Now or some other left wing snake pit. You lost two elections, you will lose the next two elections,
    and you lost the referendum. With your current leadership the only thing you could win is the “How to fcuk up a political party contest”.

  36. @CR
    That’s a good analysis – both Huppert and his predecessor are well-respected locally, and also two of the few MPs who were totally clean on expenses, but – with 20,000+ students – it was a seat where the Tuition Fees debacle was always going to hit hard.

    it will almost certainly be a close call between Lib Dems and Labour next time – Conservatives will go nowhere as they will never be forgiven for the Lion Yard scandal (local politics can inflict very long-term damage, even if most people don’t remember why the Tories are despised locally!)

  37. This gives a fascinating insight into the minds of Corbyn’s backers – http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/22/intelligence-services-using-dark-practices-against-jeremy-corbyn

    I don’t necessarily reject McCluskey’s central charge that ‘dark forces’ would try to destabilise Corbyn’s leadership, but to be perfectly honest, I think the bunker mentality that they are all out to get you is what is causing them so many problems. I doubt that MI5 are really bothered about a Corbyn government – they know, like us, that it’s never going to happen.

    However, McCluskey is correct in that thesecurity services have tried to attack left wing movements in the past, and having some awareness of this is essential. However, the problem then comes in that you surround yourself with mental teflon and deny anything is wrong inside the camp of true believers, and that everything is the fault of those dark forces.

    It seems to me that this is the line being taken by Corbyn and his supporters with the PLP, for example. Yes, there were some actively working from day 1 to topple him, but equally there is ample evidence of many more others willing things to work and trying to help, only to give up once it became clear just how bad the top table operation was.

    We’ve also seen live TV footage of Corbyn failing to intervene at a major press event when a demonstrator abused one of his MPs. The man stood inanely smiling while this went one, talking afterwards in a firendly way with the activist. He could have been an MI5 plotter, but why didn’t Corbyn tackle him head on, tell him he was out of order, and show some leadership?

    I do get the very real sense that Labour are slipping further back into the bunker, decrying any criticism or advice, from friend and foe, as plotters and conspiracists, ramping up the persecution complex and as a result making poor judgements about what is really happening.

    It’s a great shame, as this won’t get them anywhere.

  38. HAWTHORN
    My understanding is that DLR style operation is easy when you have brand new infrastructure and a simple mode of operation (for example all station trains only).

    So is mine. If they just sack guards, passenger safety will be at risk. If they upgrade the infrastructure they’ll have lower operating costs and safer passengers.

    A sensible government might make the latter a condition of franchise renewal.

  39. Roland Haines: “My God, you really have bought the project fear package have you not. The list of disasters you quote is frankly ridiculous.”

    I specifically said that I was not predicting that all of the items on my list would come to pass, though it was not inconceivable.

    The point of my post was: if they did come to pass, would TOH still regard that as an acceptable price to pay for Brexit?

    You might like to answer the same question. Yes or no?

  40. ROLAND HAINES @ TANCRED

    Temper, temper. A number of us here hope that E&W will survive as viable economies, but if you expect bad economic news will vanish before the A50 negotiations reach a conclusion you’re being unreasonably optimistic. And in the meantime Gibraltar,NI & Scotland will be doing their utmost to act in accordance with their own electorates’ wishes, probably also to your annoyance.

  41. The (New) Labour machine is in full on spin attack on Corbyn. Have we got this all summer?…

  42. BARBAZENZERO

    The Southern system in London is exceptionally complex, so will not have driverless operation in my lifetime (I am 36).

    The Southern Metro service has been DOO since the 1980s I believe.

    The root cause of Southern’s problems is that for many years they have paid their staff less than other TOCs.

    There is a good blog on the subject here:

    http://www.londonreconnections.com/2016/railway-roulette/

  43. Barbazenzero

    “And in the meantime Gibraltar,NI & Scotland will be doing their utmost to act in accordance with their own electorates’ wishes”

    You can add Wales to that list, according to the Grauniad report of the BIC summit

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/22/brexit-scotland-wales-northern-ireland-eu-referendum?CMP=twt_gu

    Jones set the tone in a press briefing after the summit held at the Temple of Peace and Health in Cardiff. Asked if he was in a more difficult position because the majority of people of Wales voted in favour of leaving the EU – while Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain – he replied bluntly: “The people of Wales voted to leave, they didn’t vote to be done over in any subsequent negotiations.”

  44. Alec

    You say that some were prepared to give corbyn a chance but whats been sadly lacking since corbyn has been elected is MPs coming out and denouncing those that have actively been undermining him. Im sorry but to my mind they are condemned by their silence

  45. @COUPER2802

    “So WM needs to come up with a solution that allows all parts of the U.k to stay in the EU when E&W leaves. Or accept the loss of Gib, NI & Scotland, or abandon Brexit.”

    I think the only acceptable option is the last one. Then we can all blame the bl**dy foreigners once again for blocking Brexit and keeping us in chains etc. There will be revolution, UKIP will take over power and declare war on the EU. Nuclear weapons will be used and we’ll all die. End of story.

  46. HAWTHORN
    The Southern system in London is exceptionally complex, so will not have driverless operation in my lifetime (I am 36).

    But the computer Apollo 11 had on board in 1969 was less powerful than the cheapest Android smartphones are today. I would hope you are no more than half way through your lifetime and expect technology to make the necessary upgrades affordable well within it.

  47. SOMERJOHN
    Some nations have paid an even bigger price for freedom. Your doom laden speculation is not realistic enough to comment. But, leaving is worth a great deal.

  48. @ROLAND HAINES

    Roly poly – cool down please. Funnily enough I’m not a socialist, I am vaguely close to being a social-democrat but also surprisingly right wing on some issues – not the EU obviously. In the 1970s people like me were commonplace in the Tory party, but that was before Thatcher and her ilk took over.

    Nothing is decided – not yet. The decision will only be made upon the invoking of article 50, and even then it will be up to two years before a final and binding decision is made. We are only at the beginning of the process.

  49. OLDNAT
    You can add Wales to that list, according to the Grauniad report of the BIC summit

    Fair comment, but the sad thing for Jones is that the Welsh leave vote will probably be all that Westminster and the media ever report.

  50. Given the size of modern parties Labour’s 503,143 members could split into 4 equally sized parties, all of whom would be bigger than the Tory membership (reported as 125,000 in 2013),

    The SNP membership is 120,023 today – which is quite good. It might even exceed the actual Tory membership by now.

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