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. @ Rich

    “Have we got this all summer?”

    Yes, and in September too.

  2. Guardian reporting that Corbyn’s current shadow attorney general (MP, must be a Blairite MI5 stooge) and his former communications and rebuttals chief (not and MP, must be a Blairite MI5 stooge) have come out today for Smith.

    The Guardian is clearly an MI5 black ops publication.

    As am I.


  3. @ Alec

    Well, the communication chief also worked for B. Johnson.

    And anyway, who cares? You really don’t understand the problem in the case – it is about a war between the majority of LP membership (as far as we know – see all polls) and PLP.

    It is also quite clear that the machine of the timed resignations is replicated by feeding the media with false news (Smith, Eagle, Jowell) whose denial then is drown in the next lot of fabricated news pieces. The trouble is that the next news item will have to be that Corbyn propsed the reduction of the number of seal pups by hitting them with baby pandas.

    I’m quite sure that most of the voters have made up their mind up now.

    I also think that after the NEC elections (providing that the polls are correct, otherwise it is different) the real task would be expulsions and not deselection. However, I doubt that the Corbynista has enough determination. Anyway, for th time being I stop commenting on the LP affairs until there is some polling.

  4. Well FWIW I’m putting on the record that one poster here in particular is really dragging the whole site down. Wish Anthony would return to moderating, I think this individual managed to break every single rule the site has in one post…

  5. The main reason the UK still has Gibraltar is because that’s what Gibraltar wants. If Gibraltar ever decides to rejoin Spain, I’ll be a little sad (there’s something reaffirming about bobbies on the beat and red telephone boxes in “foreign” parts) but it’s entirely a matter for them. I don’t think the UK needs the port capacity, I don’t Gibraltar is exactly a money-spinner and the days of controlling access to the Med are long gone.

    The main reason the UK still has Northern Ireland is because that’s what Northern Ireland wants. If Northern Ireland ever decides that leaving the EU is such an undesirable concept that they decide to rejoin the Republic, or to go it alone, then I’ll be a little sad (the blend of the four countries of the Isles has always had a romantic attraction for me, even if that romanticism has to compete with my awareness of a bloodstained and traumatic history and a fractious and distrustful present) but it’s entirely a matter for them. I don’t think Northern Ireland has anything that the UK really needs, and it’s a net drain on the economy.

    The main reason that Scotland remains in the United Kingdom is because that’s what Scotland wants. If Scotland ever decides the advantages of the Union are outweighed by the indignity of tolerating the English (oh, yes, and leaving the EU) then I’ll be very sad (I very much think of Scotland as part of “my country”, far more so than Northern Ireland) but it’s entirely a matter for them. There are some major problems that Scotland’ secession would cause (loss of oil, gas and fishing resources, loss of trade across the Border and difficulties with Trident) but it wouldn’t be the end of the World.

    As for Wales, well all the above applies but I think the reality is that the vast, vast majority of Welsh voters would never contemplate leaving the UK so it may be a moot point.

    I love England, I love the UK, I love Europe. Hell, I love the whole world. But I am no sense an Imperialist in the true sense of the world. I’ll confess to holding some pride in my heart that the countries of the UK have made such a mark on the rest of the world, in our joint endeavours over the past 300 or so years. But I would never dream of coercing a nation or people into accepting a political arrangement they’re not happy with.

    So there’s no point waving the breakup of the Union in front of me like some sort of shroud. If the other countries break away, I wish them every success and happiness. I don’t see a future with a United Ireland, an independent Scotland and a Spanish Gibraltar as some sort of bad outcome. It’s simply not the outcome I’d choose if it were up to me. But it’s not up to me.

  6. “If Gibraltar ever decides to rejoin Spain, I’ll be a little sad (there’s something reaffirming about bobbies on the beat and red telephone boxes in “foreign” parts) but it’s entirely a matter for them”

    No, we must keep Gibraltar. Where else in Europe am I going to get 20 Marlboro for less than £3 a pack?

  7. On the Labour Party the plotters need to unite behind Corbyn. Using the right wing media to demonise fellow members of their own party is ridiculous. Exactly what Scottish Labour did to the Yes movement and look where it got them. The rage of your everyday socialist against injustice is strong, so seeing the same media that was marshalled against the trade unions, Hillsborough, Orgreave now marshalled By the Labour Party against the members, the same dirty tricks and lies deployed. It is well past the point of unforgiveable.

    If there is any justice many of the PLP will be deselected, pity they keep their jobs till 2020

  8. @Neil A

    Well put and obviously I entirely agree

  9. Somerjohn

    You really should look at what I wrote carefully I never said at any price but as you well know from earlier discussions I am quite prepared to go through a period of downturn before things start to improve and we reach an economic future which will ultimately be better outside the EU IMO. The scenario you paint is as silly as some of the lies peddled by both sides during the referendum.

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

    Just read what I said, I did not suggest that they were not British but that they should be backing Britain as it goes in a new direction. The usual suspects start moaning as soon as we get some negative news. They should try being more supportive of the country they live in as it moves forward.

  10. Neil A

    A very sensible post (apart from your “the indignity of tolerating the English” – a silly and petty comment from you there).

    Whether peoples want to remain in particular political unions, leave them, or form new ones, is very much a matter for them.

    There are always both advantages and disadvantages from being in or out of particular arrangements. Things which were very important at one time (like securing the Protestant succession of the monarchy) fade into insignificance, while other reasons for international co-operation become much more important.

    The balance of advantage isn’t a constant over time.

  11. David Carrod

    “Where else in Europe am I going to get 20 Marlboro for less than £3 a pack?”


    I fully realise that there will be bad news and a rocky road as a result of Brexit. The signing of Article 50 is not in doubt, just the date on which it is signed. The constant aspersions on the validity of the result
    by “disappointed of Cleethorpes” is extremely wearing however.

  13. @”the majority of the people didn’t vote for them as a person, but as a representative of the party ”

    But which “party” ?

    The Labour Party whose manifesto they voted on -led by Ed Miliband. ?

    Or the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn , which puts his policies forward from the front bench now ?

    When it comes to “false pretence” there is only one qualifier in the PLP.

    Anyway-this just cannot go on.

    Either the PLP get a Leader they respect & can believe in -or the Leader gets some MPs who will do his bidding -“come on board” as Corby puts it.

    And when they have decided which it is to be, the sooner the voters can adjudicate on the choice the better. Then Labour’s new membership can see what the public actually want.

    The trouble for Labour is that May seems in no hurry to provide a GE with which to demonstrate the answer to LP Members.

  14. I see some activity on Twitter that has apparently unique twitterers posting identical anti-Corbyn messages.

    It’s exactly the same thing I saw during indyref where identical anti SNP/indy messages were posted by supposedly different people.

    It’s exactly the same thing that happened in Australia with attacks on the Coalition.

    That would be odd – except that there is a single common factor.

    John McTernan was Julia Gillard’s media adviser.
    John McTernan was Jim Murphy’s Chief of Staff
    John McTernan is advising Owen Smith on strategy.

    Correlation isn’t evidence of causation – but, sometimes, it can be a damn good indicator!

  15. How can Merkel not resign the bloodbath in Munich ?

    How can a clearly insane leader be allowed to make decisions which potentially could cause devastation to Europe without any control at all?

  16. @David Carrod

    59 years and counting (in case you were thinking of me!)

    I love Britain actually.. never really felt at home anywhere else! But anywhere in Europe feels more at home than Canada where I lived for two years..

    I do frequently feel embarrassed to be British thanks to the behaviour of my fellow citizens however…

  17. Ah Thoughtful, I wondered where you had gone, but when a thoughtful and measured comment is required, there you are!!

  18. @Andrew111

  19. Thoughtful

    I saw this tweet – and immediately thought of you.

    The instinctive reaction to terror? Shut the borders to people different from us, whoever we are!
    There is too much stupid in the world.

  20. NeilA
    Good post with which I largely agree. However returning Gibralter to Spain so they can stay in the eu, would be logical as would re uniting an Ireland which should never have been split in the first place.

  21. Good evening all from Stevenage.

    Just a quick post…..To settle the Gibraltar question they could simply join a Union with Scotland if Scotland chooses to bolt from the UK that way they will remain within the EU.

    And before anyone asks….Aye my new Audi TT RS is just the ticket. Real treat on wheels.

  22. @Robert Newark

    And what is your position on Ceuta & Mellila? Should they be returned to?

    Seems to me that the usual response is what ever is the worst posible position for the UK to take is the one the liberals approve of most !

  23. @ Colin

    Even if you seem to argue against my point, I happen to agree with you.

    However, the only evidence we have:
    1) the PLP and Corbyn cannot work together – I found the first article on this on the 14th of October last year in the Guardian.
    2) the current evidence suggests that the membership agrees with Corbyn (by the way, the pre-2015 membership also agreed, and apart from some foreign and defence affairs, Corbyn is not much different from Milliband in policies).

    And we have a narrative about electability and alike, which could (even likely) be true, but it must be a challenge when whenever you are aiming somebody shoots you in the back. I actually think Corbyn should get a go (none of my business) – it was interesting to listen to people in Durham and S-Yorkshire. The plotters didn’t give him a chance to fail, although they did more than the Tories to achieve it. So, I’m afraid, this narrative is just a (or rather several) private opinion.

    In my opinion, if Corbyn is finished this summer, it is end of the LP, with Corbyn it may (!) have a chance to survive as the strongest part of a lefty coalition (and probably replacing Corbyn).

    I promised that I would not comment on the LP, but @ Colin deserves the answer even if it makes him even more incredulous.

  24. @ANDREW111

    I’m so glad your liberal views can protect you from reality, but now 11 people have needlessly lost their lives as a result of Merkels bleeding heart and hand wringing. Trump has for good or ill been proved right and yes, better border controls should have been in place.

    Protecting peoples lives is now seen by you as “too much stupid in the world” Just great that one. I wonder how that would go down with the families of the dead?

    One thing for certain soft liberals like you won’t be there getting their hands dirty will you ?

  25. Thoughtful, as usual your comment is far beyond the pale.


    ” but now 11 people have needlessly lost their lives as a result of Merkels bleeding heart and hand wringing”

    I had to search the news online to see what you were on about. Terrible news from Germany, however I wouldn’t be quite as blunt as you about the attacks but certainly major questions have to be asked on Merkels free for all policy for migrants coming into Germany. 1.3 million over the past year.

    Also the free movement of people has to be questioned now, we can’t simply have terrorists roaming freely across Europe.

    My thoughts are with the German people.

  27. Apparently, the gunman was shouting “scheiß ausländer”.

    Just sayin’.

  28. @ Allan Christie

    Thank you for your response about Germany.

    I have deleted my comment three times, and you put it perfectly, so I don’t have to struggle.

  29. @ Allan Christie

    But the reasoning would be different (however, it is a different matter).

  30. “we can’t simply have terrorists roaming freely across Europe.”

    So can we arrest and expel the members of EDL, BF and similar organisations too?

  31. Laszlo
    There is a difference between those wishing to destroy our culture and way of life and those defending it, even if some of those defenders have views we may think extreme.

  32. LASZLO

    “So can we arrest and expel the members of EDL, BF and similar organisations too?”

    Is this on the back of HAWTHORNS post that it could be the work of a ultra racist German group? As far as I’m concerned any organisations who commit acts of murder are terrorists and should be banned.

  33. Err Laszio I realise it’s a Friday night and some have had a drink, but which terrorist atrocities have the EDL and BF (?) committed, because the other side is apparently in open warfare with us!

  34. Far right Germans have been known to operate in Munich.


    Keep digging.

  36. Misleading user names? Why can’t people be honest?

  37. A few hundred jihadis spread around Europe doesn’t in my view constitute a “side”.

    Remember “Je Suis Ahmed”. There are more Muslims on our “side” than on “theirs”.

  38. Ah I believe the maxim that a drowning man will clutch at a straw applies here !

    I think there’s a clue in the choice of target, harks back to an event in 1972 the lessons of which should have been learned but clearly have not.

  39. Thoughtful

    “How can Merkel not resign the bloodbath in Munich ?”

    They’ll never admit they were wrong – either the current political class are completely replaced or we’ll carry on down the road to hell.

  40. @ Allan Christie

    It would be easier to me to say yes, but in reality it is because I have seen the handiwork of both organisations, and for the praise of the British justice system those who really cross the lines are sentenced.

    Currently the police puts out that there is no evidence of Islamist attack. But it could be.

    Where I agreed about the free flow: you can get a disabled machine gun on the Balkans, you can get it reactivated in Slovakia, transport it wherever you want – a big challenge for the intelligence services.

    The second point where I agreed was that Germany was not prepared for the 1.3 million people, and overcrowd, dependence, etc can create human behaviours we don’t want to see (although first it is among the camp-dwellers).

  41. @NEIL A

    Surah At-Tawbah 9:5

    It’s quite simple really – there are a lot of apostate Muslims who don’t believe the nonsense in the book.

  42. There’s a whole lot of people around here who claim to have human decency.

  43. Presumably it won’t be long before the German people too are told that they must “get used to this”.

    When the response becomes-actually we don’t want to-I hope there is an somewhat more constructive piece of advice forthcoming

  44. @ Thoughtful

    You are just a common racist, Islamophobic person. Well, a fascist really.

    There is nothing to discuss with you, absolutely nothing.

    I won’t comment anything on this blog until you are allowed to do so, and I hope many will join me.

  45. I think for now let’s follow the advice of the German police and not speculate.

    It’s not over yet. The truth will come out in the end.

  46. Aside from the political positions the likely political upshot is that Marine Le Penn is much more likely, and similar parties are going to be coming to power all over Europe.

    This is a failure of liberal optimism which those in power were told at the time would happen, but simply didn’t care.
    Even on these pages the denial can be seen the Russian Roulette argument that “they’re not all like that” is still unbelievably being used.

    The fact that they will carry on with ‘business as usual’ is testament to their inability to admit they got it disastrously wrong.

  47. @Laszlo,

    Don’t do that, it simply validates him in a roundabout way.

    Better would be to continue as normal, but simply ignore him. Self-moderate, if you will. Or “send him to Coventry” as we say in England.

  48. @Jayblanc

    I would add there a whole of lots of guesswork going on too, alongside assumptions and prejudgments.

    Tweet from the Munich Police @ 1947

    Munich Police says: no indications of islamic terror

  49. Thoughtful
    Please don’t accuse me of being a Liberal. Put me down as a TMT (Theresa May Tory). I have rejoined the party since she became leader. Exciting times.

    I have no view on the two places you mention. That’s Spanish business. I was merely commenting on NeilA’s earlier post.

    The answer for both Gibralter and NI is simple. Give them another referendum on which the choice is,

    1. Leave the EU and remain part of the U.K. or,
    2. Remain in the EU as part of Spain/Eire.

    It would be sad to see them go but there will be little economic cost.

  50. Wow-44 female Labour MPs are in MI5 !

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