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. Pete B

    Perhaps such a company could aim to produce cheap drugs both to help the NHS pharmaceutical bill, AND help people in the third world?

    We are all people you know, wherever we happen to live…

  2. SOMERJOHN
    Yes, we fought on alone. One major European power was besotted with a vile regime which was at our throat. The other grand European power collapsed and surrendered because its backbone lay shattered at Verdun 21 years earlier. We turned to our brothers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and eventually the USA.

    What am I saying ? If anyone loves Europe that much go and live there. We stand with our own people not the cause of so much grief.

  3. GUY MONDE
    You may be right, you may be wrong, but the people who are prepared to vote for Corbyns Labour, even allowing for Londonistan
    and the Vote Dead Cat – its Labour, vote in the north, will be very very far short of GE “honourable defeat”, never mind victory.

  4. Roly,
    You seem to have forgotten our “brothers” in the Soviet Union who did by far the most to defeat Hitler!

    (And please let’s not have an argument about the actions and motivations of Stalin! Just stick to the actual fighting and it’s results)

  5. ANDREW
    The Soviet Union had a peace treaty with the Germans. They came into the war, not to help the UK, as did our Empire, but to to save their own skins under the Barbarossa onslaught. As for the contribution to the allied cause, it was colossal to say the very least.
    But it was bugger all to do with friendship toward us.

  6. ROLAND HAINES

    I have to agree with your last post. Somerjohns historic analogy was totally inappropriate for Remainers.

  7. Roland

    I should have said your last two posts. Totally agree.

  8. Of course there’s no guarantee that massive investment into drugs for third world diseases will actually result in a saleable product. Hence the concentration on financially valuable “first world” conditions, where the profits on the minority of projects that result in a licensed treatment will pay for the majority of projects that don’t.

    Trying to treat third world diseases will probably be a loss-making enterprise. That isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try, or that ultimately the production of drugs should begin and end with profitability. But losses have to be made good somewhere. I am perfectly open to using our locked-in GDP fraction for International Development to finance research into malaria treatments. I don’t really mind if this is through contracts with private companies to do the research, or through the running of a state-operated “not for profit” firm. But lets not kid ourselves that there’s necessarily a cost-neutral way of doing this.

    I’d also point out that whilst in general terms it’s easy to bemoan the concentration on treatment for “first world problems” like obesity, cancer, etc. I’m sure the left would be at the front of the long line of complainers if a government explicitly abandoned the search for improved medicine for our own populations.

  9. If it was possible to cheaply develop new drugs, Pharma would already be doing it. The costs involved in bringing a drug to the point where it can be used are astronomical, and that is before one considers the costs of candidate drugs that fail trials at various stages (the large majority).

    The only effect of withdrawing tax relief on research will be that Pharma moves its operations overseas.

    What needs to change its the balance of incentives. The greatest cost -benefit is currently in developing drugs that are taken for life (E.g. Statins), not one -off cures or treatments. That isn’t something that can be done by the UK acting on its own, it needs trans-national changes, for instance at the level of the EU.

  10. @ROLAND HAINES

    For once I agree. But the likelihood is that Stalin was always going to attack Germany once he left confident enough to do so – the Soviet armed forces were re-arming like mad in the years before 1941. Stalin’s aim was to use Germany as an icebreaker into the west, so that he could conquer all of Europe.

  11. If the polls ever did show there was a possibility of an election victory by Corbyn you would the see some establishment figures talking of a coup, like the 1970s.

    They like the notion of democracy within certain parameters, from Major to Blair is ok, but even Wilson was to left for them. they like to keep it from blue to light blue , like the current PLP.
    So do I , however I think thinks are changing to dark blue versus deep red.
    In that scenario there is only one winner and red is not involved in the rainbow.

  12. @ROLAND HAINES

    “Yes, we fought on alone. One major European power was besotted with a vile regime which was at our throat. The other grand European power collapsed and surrendered because its backbone lay shattered at Verdun 21 years earlier. We turned to our brothers in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and eventually the USA.
    What am I saying ? If anyone loves Europe that much go and live there. We stand with our own people not the cause of so much grief.”

    Britain chose to enter the war for entirely the wrong reasons. Poland was not worth the bones of one British grenadier, and it would have been all the wiser to have Hitler and Stalin fight each other out on their own before coming in at the end to secure a quick resolution at relatively low cost. Hitler wasn’t interested in fighting Britain, or even the west as a whole for that matter – his aim was east. Moreover, the issue around Danzig and the Polish Corridor was one in which the Germans actually had a valid case.

  13. If Corbyn does win again the PLP might decide to elect its own leader who would then become Leader of the Opposition. In order to give themselve legitimacy such MPs could decide to resign their seats en masse and so force circa 150 by elections. I suspect that almost all would be re-elected , and,thereafter, would attract much Union support and funding. Effectively they would be standing as a new party in the same way that Dick Taverne forced a by election at Lincoln in March 1973.

  14. “The only effect of withdrawing tax relief on research will be that Pharma moves its operations overseas.”

    My thoughts as well, but we need to wait and see what he is actually proposing.

  15. @Alec
    It’s already been happening as things are: E.g
    both Pfizer and Johnson&Johnson have moved research back to the US on the last 10-15 years

  16. Tancred

    Agreed.

    A.J.P TAYLOR the historian makes a similar argument in his book the origins of the second world war.
    In both world wars we declared war on Germany, could be argued that we would have been better not to have done so.

    However I am now with the 48% who wanted to remain.
    Still think will will be in the EU in 2020 at the GE when there will be parties wanting to remain, but the Conservatives should hold all the cards to brexit after the election with FPTP.

  17. Graham

    150 bye elections would be insane but what party would the rebel MPs be standing for? I think in such a situation they would be badly punished by the electorate

  18. @DEZ

    Indeed. And even Winston Churchill later admitted, in his own inimitable words that: ‘we have slaughtered the wrong pig’, meaning that the USSR should have been the target for the allies, not Germany. Soviet Russia had been, at least until 1941, by far the most brutal and oppressive of the totalitarian regimes. Hitler’s Germany was comparatively liberal by comparison. It was only when the Holocaust took shape in 1941 that the Nazis truly went beyond the pale.

  19. @DEZ

    Britain’s Germanophobia started in the 1890s, largely because the establishment of the time, led by Lord Alfred Milner and Cecil Rhodes, could not accept another imperial competitor after France and Russia, and Germany’s naval ambitions were identified as the key threat. Neither France nor Russia were viewed as naval powers; the USA was, but Rhodes and Milner had plans for a global English speaking alliance between the British Empire and the USA. Links between Britain and the USA were becoming strong even then and many Americans were marrying into the British nobility, e.g. Jenny Jerome and Randolph Churchill. Winston Churchill himself was part of the Milner-Rhodes circle and shared many of their views.

  20. CR
    ‘150 bye elections would be insane but what party would the rebel MPs be standing for? I think in such a situation they would be badly punished by the electorate’

    I really don’t think so. Dick Taverne enjoyed a massive majority at the March 1973 by election he forced.The SDP defectors missed a trick in 1981 by not seeking endorsement from their constituents at that time. All would have won very easily. I think it likely that any official pro-Corbyn Labour candidates would fare very badly.

  21. SYZYGY

    I’m sure thats what will happen if Corbyn ever gains power-and much more besides.

  22. Somerjohn

    Your analogy of Dunkirk to the referendum is distasteful in the extreme. That was a setback, not a defeat. My father “celebrated” his 21st birthday on the beaches of Dunkirk under bombardment from the Luftwaffe, so that we could have the freedom to do what we are doing now. How you could consider that the two events are remotely similar is beyond me. The football analogy was far better. “They think it is all over. It is now!”

    Incidentally, I celebrated my 21st in a pub getting blathered as I suspect did many on this board.

  23. Tancred thanks really interesting that history.

    I read A,J.P Taylor . The origins of the second world war at university.
    Really made me think.
    Especially

    Taylor’s thesis was that Hitler was not the demoniacal figure of popular imagination but in foreign affairs a normal German leader. Citing Fritz Fischer, he argued that the foreign policy of the Third Reich was the same as those of the Weimar Republic and the Second Reich. Moreover, in a partial break with his view of German history advocated in The Course of German History, he argued that Hitler was not just a normal German leader but also a normal Western leader. As a normal Western leader, Hitler was no better or worse than Stresemann, Chamberlain or Daladier. His argument was that Hitler wished to make Germany the strongest power in Europe but he did not want or plan war. The outbreak of war in 1939 was an unfortunate accident caused by mistakes on everyone’s part.

  24. Just to add a little knowledge into the bigpharma debate, having worked in the industry for 16 years.

    A drug patent lasts for 20 years. It takes on average 11 years to develop a new drug, test it and get it approved. So the business has 9 years to recoup the development cost and hopefully, make a profit.

    After the patent runs out, the formulation is made freely available and can be made up and marketed as a Generic at much lower cost, by anyone licensed to do so.

    Now not all new drugs are going to be developed successfully, so the lost cost of that research must also be recovered within the ones that are successful.

    And people are seriously suggesting that a few Civil servants in Whitehall could manage all that. Pull the other one.

    Corbyn is a bigger idiot than I even gave him credit for.

  25. Labour colleagues of mine, close to the centre, confide that Jeremy will win the leadership election by a margin “north of 20 points”.
    Labour MPs will then have to make a choice – back the leader, or leave the party.

  26. DEZ & TANCRED
    Well now we have established that Hitler was quite a nice man and his thousand year Reich was well cool, it certainly makes sense to have left him to it.
    Tell me, was the deliberate mass murder of 6,000,000 Jews, 6,000,000 non Jewish Poles (whom I note were not worth fighting for)
    and probably a another 2 or three million other Europeans, (excluding White Russians, Great Russians, Letts, Latt’s and Balts, an unfortunate accident also? What a dubious pair you are.

  27. Good Afternoon from a very hot Bournemouth.
    ROLAND.
    I fully agree of course with your post of 4.47 PM on Saturday July 23rd

  28. Roland

    The point I was making is not defending Hitler actions, but the origins of the second world war.
    Where there is disagreement.
    Surely it is worth studying these origins ?

  29. Chrislane

    Thought you was a teacher ?
    I am not arguing with Roland as I agree.
    Just discussing different arguments over the origins of the second world war.

  30. Robert N
    My father was at Dunkirk aged 21 as well. It marked him for life, as I expect it did for all of them. To compare current political events to that is ridiculous.

  31. Jasper

    I have paid my £25 to vote for Owen Smith.
    Looks like it is a total waste then.
    No official opposition and a one party state with FPTP for many a year.

  32. ROBERT NEWARK, out of interest what did you mean by your jibe at Hatton? Were you suggesting socialists shouldn’t be rich? Not sure I’ve ever read that in the rule book.

  33. ROBERT NEWARK, my father was at Dunkirk too and left wing as they come.

  34. Not sure why people get so worked up about Corbyn and the PLP.
    It’s fairly certain he’ll win any leadership contest, lead Labour to defeat at the next GE (unless something serious happens like a total house price collapse) and Labour will re-group under a different leader.

  35. Dez

    I can’t see any other outcome than a Corbyn victory. If he was up against Dan Jarvis then it may well have been very different.
    Labour have to get their act together. This has been a feeble Tory administration to date yet they are well ahead in the opinion polls.

    Corbyn is going to have to sit down with his detractors and try and reach an amicable way ahead. A few weeks ago the Tories were knocking lumps out of each other by are now back in line. Labour need to do likewise or face humiliation in 2020.

    As for WW2 it was the Russians wot won it. Had Hitler not attempted to march East in a Russian winter to take Moscow we may have been in deep trouble. Had he invaded Britain instead……

  36. Can anyone point to the source for claims that McDonnell has said th NHS should do all drug research? There seems to be a lot of criticism of this on Twitter, but can’t actually see the source.

    If true, then it’s rather sad – a case of making policy on the hoof to discomfit your opponent.

  37. Totally agree Mike.

    To be honest I think the Labour Party is in its death throes.
    Hope I am wrong , it would not be so bad if we had PR but with FPTP , It only really works , with 2 main parties.
    The Conservatives who are the most successful party ever know how to survive and win even against a decent opposition.
    Without any serious opposition it is not good as the thinking overtime becomes lazy and not challenged properly, especially with a main stream media also supporting them.
    At least when Blair had his large majorities he was really concerned about the fourth estate.

  38. @Alex

    It was the Today programme this morning, in a slightly garbled discussion about tax and spend flowing into the cost-effectiveness of the R&D tax relief on medical research.

    The pharma bit is about 56 mins into the programme, here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07lf4g6

  39. GRAHAM

    The SDP defectors missed a trick in 1981 by not seeking endorsement from their constituents at that time. All would have won very easily.

    One did. He lost badly.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitcham_and_Morden_by-election,_1982

    And all but four of the 28 or so SDP MP defectors lost their seats in the 1983 election. Even if the Lib Dems gave PLP Labour a free pass (which I would doubt) I can’t seem them doing even that well, despite media adoration.

    I suspect the Lincoln by-election is a poor analogy as well:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_by-election,_1973

    in part because it is very much a constituency with a strong sense of itself[1] and so liable to act independently. It’s also worth remembering that though Taverne won (aided by the Tories choosing an unsympathetic candidate and Liberal abstention) and just held on in the General Election a year later, he lost the following October. However the then roles of Margaret Beckett and her now husband provide a certain irony.

    But I suspect that those were more deferential times towards the wisdom of MPs and there were no alternative routes to challenge a powerful media narrative. Things are more sceptical now in several ways.

    [1] Wiki points out that it is the “oldest constituency in continuous existence in the United Kingdom having been established in 1265”.

  40. D’oh: “Alec”. Sorry.

  41. Crickey, Roly, there’s hope for us all, including the PLP and Jeremy.

    For the first time ever I agree 100% with one of your posts! I’m referring to the post about that pleasant chap, Hitler, of course. Apparently very much misunderstood and should have been left to ethnically cleanse Europe of Jews, Romanies and Slavs. What were we thinking!?

  42. Dez

    Labour will recover in time under a unifying leader.
    I remember in 1992 so called political experts saying they were finished because having been out of power for so long they still couldn’t win even in the midst of a recession. We know what happened in 1997.

    Then about a dozen years ago we were told the Tories were finished. Utter and complete nonsense.

    It will take time and 2020 may already be lost but they will return to power.

  43. The original source of the Pharma ” policy ,” which Humphries quoted to McDonnel was in JC’s Leadership launch speech :-

    “‘I hope Owen will fully agree with me that our NHS should be free at the point of use, should be run by publicly employed workers working for the NHS not for private contractors, and medical research shouldn’t be farmed out to big pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer and others but should be funded through the Medical Research Council.”

  44. Mike

    You maybe correct.
    Strange times though SNP winning nearly every seat in Scotland.
    Labour win London again.
    Brexit
    Possible break up of UK
    Donald Trump & Bernie Saunders.
    The cult of Corbyn.
    Return of Thatcher Mark 2.
    Only now need 3 million unemployed a major recession and we can all get those 80s records out again.

  45. Mike Pearce
    Not all parties recover. Look at the Liberals. Yes, they managed to be the minor party in the recent coalition, but they haven’t won a GE for over a century.

    NB I’m using ‘Liberal’ to include Libdems, and other name changes they’ve had,

  46. COUPER2802

    Scottish Labour is split on Corbyn. The Leader Kezia is anti-Corbyn and the Deputy Leader Rowley is pro-Corbyn.

    Oh I know – hence my use of the word ‘most’. But the balance Scotland’s leadership does seem more anti than any other area of Labour. This is partly because it’s one of the last strongholds of the Labour Old Right and over the last few years they have put on a fine display of Bourbonism – learning nothing and forgetting nothing. And earning an appropriate reward at a succession of electoral guillotines. So expecting a measured response to the rise of Corbyn would be unlikely.

    There’s also the situation that the SNP and the SGs recruited many of the sorts of people in 2014 who would otherwise have joined Labour in 2015. You can see this in the way that the membership (already low for what should have been a strong Labour area)[1]:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scottish_Labour_Party#Membership

    only went from 13,135 to 18,824 (43%) between the 2010 and 2015 leadership contests. At the same time the wider membership went from 177,558 to 294,221 (66%) and the fact that less than 3% of the registered supporters were in Scotland suggests that there wasn’t room for the sort of expansion there, later in the Autumn, that took UK Party membership to around 400,000.

    You suspect that even many that did join would be those not really linked to Scotland and so more influence by wider GB politics than Scottish ones. This may also be apparent in comparatively higher membership in areas like Edinburgh, with more traditional working class areas being ‘hollowed out’. So there’s been no real new blood to reinvigorate the Party in most places

    [1] Despite what the Wiki says (it misunderstands the source) I suspect there’s not much double counting in the 2010 figures though a few constituencies look odd, especially North Ayrshire and Arran. We have to take the 2015 18K figure on trust though, so the increase might be even less impressive.

  47. Jeremy Corbyn has more than double the support of Owen Smith, poll shows
    Opinium Research 19 to 22 July 2016

    Con 37%
    Lab 31%
    LD 6%
    UKIP 15%
    SNP 6%
    PC 0%
    Grn 4%
    Other 1%

  48. OPINIUM / OBSERVER:

    Con 37
    Lab 31
    LD 6
    UKIP 15

  49. Pete B

    Not all parties recover but there is a tendency for hyperbole in this era of 24/7 news. Besides as an electorate we have periods of Con/Lab in ascendancy which means the party out of power goes through periods of soul searching and recrimination.
    It’s remarkable how all that despondency and despair dissipates under inspiring fresh leadership. Labour will get there.

    In the meantime the obituaries are somewhat premature.

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