Donald Trump has been citing Brexit as the model of how he could win the election despite expections, his surrogates of how there might be a shy Trump vote, like Brexit. So what, if any, lessons can we learn about the US election from recent polling experience in Britain?

In 2015 the British polls got the general election wrong. Every company had Labour and Conservative pretty much neck-and-neck, when in reality the Conservatives won by seven points. In contrast, the opinion polls as a whole were not wrong on Brexit, or at least, they were not all that wrong. Throughout the referendum campaign polls conducted by telephone generally showed Remain ahead, but polls conducted online generally showed a very tight race. Most of the online polls towards the end of the campaign showed Leave ahead, and polls by TNS and Opinium showed Leave ahead in their final eve-of-referendum polls.

That’s the first point that the parallel falls down – Brexit wasn’t a surprise because the polls were wrong. The polls were showing a race that was neck-and-neck. It was a surprise because people hadn’t believed or paid attention to that polling evidence. The media expected Remain would win, took polls showing Remain ahead more seriously and a false narrative built up that the telephone polls were more accurately reflecting the race when in the event, those online polls showing leave ahead were right. This is not the case in the US – the media don’t think Trump will lose because they are downplaying inconvenient polling evidence, they think Trump will lose because of the polling evidence consistently shows that.

In the 2015 general election however the British polls really were wrong, and while some of the polls got Brexit right, some did indeed show solid Leave victories. Do either of those have any relevance for Trump?

The first claim is the case of shy voters. Much as 1948 is the famous examples of polling failure in the US, in this country 1992 was the famous mistake, and was put down to “Shy Tories”. That is, people who intended to vote Conservative, but were unwilling to admit it to pollsters. Shy voters are extremely difficult to diagnose. If people lie to pollsters about how they’ll vote before the election but tell the truth afterwards, then it is impossible to distinguish “shy voters” from people changing their minds (in the case of recent British polls, this does not appear to be the case. In both the 2015 election and the 2016 EU referendum recontact surveys found no significant movement towards the Conservatives or towards Leave). Alternatively, if people are consistent in lying to pollsters about their intentions beforehand and lying about how they voted afterwards, it’s impossible to catch them out.

The one indirect way of diagnosing shy voters is to compare the answers given to surveys using live interviewers, and surveys conducted online (or in the US, using robocalls – something that isn’t regularly done in the UK). If people are reluctant to admit to voting a certain way, they should be less embarrassed when it isn’t an actual human being doing the interviewing. In the UK the inquiry used this approach to rule out “shy Tories” as a cause of the 2015 polling error (online polls did not have a higher level of Tory support than phone polls).

In the US election there does appear to be some prima facie evidence of “Shy Trumpers”* – online polls and robopolls have tended to produce better figures for Donald Trump than polls conducted by a human interviewer. However, when this same difference was evident during the primary season the polls without a live interviewer were not consistently more accurate (and besides, even polls conducted without a human interviewer still have Clinton reliably ahead).

The more interesting issue is sample error. It is wrong to read directly across from Brexit to Trump – while there are superficial similarities, these are different countries, very different sorts of elections, in different party systems and traditions. There will be many different drivers of support. To my mind the interesting similarity though is the demographics – the type of people who vote for Trump and voted for Brexit.

Going back to the British general election of 2015, the inquiry afterwards identified sampling error as the cause of the polling error: the sort of people who were able to be contacted by phone and agreed to take part, and the sort of people who joined online panels were unrepresentative in a way that weights and quotas were not then correcting. While the inquiry didn’t specify how the samples were wrong, my own view (and one that is shared by some other pollsters) is that the root cause was that polling samples were too engaged, too political, too educated. We disproportionately got politically-aware graduates, the sort of people who follow politics in the media and understand what is going on. We don’t get enough of the poorly educated who pay little attention to politics. Since then several British companies have adopted extra weights and quotas by education level and level of interest in politics.

The relevance for Brexit polling is that there was a strong correlation between educational qualification and how people voted. Even within age cohorts, graduates were more likely to vote to Remain, people with few or no educational qualifications were more likely to vote to Leave. People with a low level of interest in politics were also more likely to vote to Leave. These continuing sampling issues may well have contributed to some of those pollsters who did it wrong in June.

One thing that Brexit does have in common with Trump is those demographics. Trump’s support is much greater among those without a college degree. I suspect if you asked you’d find it was greater among those people who don’t normally pay much attention to politics. In the UK those are groups who we’ve had difficulty in properly representing in polling samples – if US pollsters have similar issues, then there is a potential source for error. College degree seems to be a relatively standard demographic in US polling, so I assume that is correct already. How much interest people have in politics is more nebulous, less easy to measure or control.

In Britain the root cause of polling mishaps in 2015 (and for some, but not all, companies in 2016) seems to be that the declining pool of people still willing to take part in polls under-represented certain groups, and that those groups were less likely to vote for Labour, more likely to vote for Brexit. If (and it’s a huge if – I am only reporting the British experience, not passing judgement on American polls) the sort of people who American pollsters struggle to reach in these days of declining response rates are more likely to vote for Trump, then they may experience similar problems.

Those thinking that the sort of error that affected British polls could happen in the US are indeed correct… but could happen is not the same as is happening. Saying something is possible is a long way from there being any evidence that is actually is happening. Some of the British polls got Brexit wrong, and Trump is a little bit Brexity, therefore the polls are wrong really doesn’t carry water.

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

*This has no place in a sensible article about polling methodology, but I feel I should point out to US readers that in British schoolboy slang when I was a kid – and possibly still today – to Trump is to fart. “Shy Trump” sounds like it should refer to surreptitiously breaking wind and denying it.


451 Responses to “What can British polling mishaps tell us about the US election?”

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  1. Sea Change,

    Actually I think you’ll find that America is actually still bigger although it might depend on you calculate EU exports post Brexit without our contribution.

    I would expect the US to overtake us anyway because UK EU trade will suffer, if only marginally and the disruption of Brexit will make countries initially wary of getting to involved with the UK particularly as Sterling will be difficult to predict.

    Peter.

  2. Surely there’s no point in even thinking about extra runway capacity for London until and unless the city get to retain passporting post Brexit.

    If that comes to pass then sooner or later there’ll be a major crash somewhere in central London on the approach to LHR and it will be closed.

    In the one sensible idea BoJo has made public, he recognised that the HK solution was the only one viable for the long term, however much it costs.

  3. I suppose that must be what passes for humour in Scotland !

  4. @SEA CHANGE

    “The issue with Gatwick as I see it is it’s in the completely wrong place for the rest of the country outside of the South East. Essentially it’s an extra 1 to 1.5 hours more (depending on traffic) for anybody to the West or North of London to get to it.”

    Have you not heard of railways? is there any reason why Gatwick cannot have fast rail links to Heathrow and central London?

    As for driving, both of these airports are in the wrong place for anyone outside the south-east. There are regional airports you know! I happen to live within close driving distance of both Heathrow and Gatwick, but if I lived in Bristol or Birmingham I would use my local airports instead.

  5. @ARTAIR

    “Most of the objectors to Heathrow expansion would have stopped the railways in the 19th centuary and the canals a centuary earlier.”

    Rubbish! If your house was right on the flight path you wouldn’t be saying this.

  6. @SEA CHANGE

    “Hyperbole!
    And if you were to get violent the Police will be there to wield their truncheons upon you and Swampy. You were keen on angry Brexiteers seeing those if the Referendum was to be turned over. So sauce for the goose…”

    It’s not the same. Heathrow is a completely different issue – one that directly affects quality of life for people in close proximity.

  7. As a user of airports I’d rather a nice airport like gatwick was expanded. Heathrow is a hell hole, I hate it, adding another runway will only make it worse. Really the thing to do with heathrow is nuke it and start again

  8. Yet he answer to Heathrow is the A320LR.

    By next year Airlines will start to take delivery of a 100 seater that can cross the Atlantic.

    In the same way that the Airbus 380 with up to 700 seats has struggled against a new generation of large twin engined jets with long range that can do marginal routes more economically and avoid the congested major hubs, the new A320Neo and 737Max will create more options for low volume long haul without needing to go to Hubs like Heathrow.

    It’s taken the UK so long to get a Runway decision that the Airline World has moved on!

    Peter.

  9. I’m amused that people objecting to the impact of Heathrow expansion on those who – presumably – bought houses knowing they lived on an airport flight-path think the solution is running a high speed line through a swathe of south London that had reason to have an inkling it would be razed to make way for railway line…

    Heathrow is in totally the wrong place – the problem is that it is already there and is hideously expensive to move.

    Personally I think the answer was Maplin in the seventies, but I suspect it is now all too late, and Heathrow expansion is the least bad of a long line of bad ideas.

  10. that should say ‘had NO reason’… oops…

  11. Last year my daughter for her 21st wanted to go to Comicon at Excel in the Victoria docks so we flew Edinburgh to London City’ quick convenient and no massive crowds.

    My wife and daughter are now just back from Japan, again from Edinburgh with just one easy stop over….Charles De Gaulle!

    Peter.

  12. If instead of spending billions refurbishing the Palace of Westminster, I wonder if we could just level it and fit a runway in?

    Peter.

  13. Why not put an extra runway at Birmingham airport instead? Much easier to get to from most of the country.

  14. PeteB,

    Not to mention getting out of Birmingham!!!

    Peter.

  15. Lib Dems and Zak Goldsmith (Condependent) installed as bookies co-favourites for Richmond Park by-election.

    Interesting times…

  16. Zac Goldsmith opposes Heathrow – so he resigns and stands (apparently) “to give voters a referendum on Heathrow”. The Conservatives put no-one up against him so, as far as I can see, all the candidates oppose Heathrow. How is it a referendum on Heathrow? Whatever the result voters will be supporting an anti-Heathrow candidate. If Goldsmith is returned then things go on as before – if anyone else is returned ditto. If a pro- Heathrow candidate appears and stands, and is actually elected ………things go on as before. What a waste of public money! Or what a cynical stitch-up to allow Goldsmith to keep his promise and his seat!

  17. In the Dáil today, the Taoiseach was asked about Brokenshire’s assertion that the UK has “put in place a range of measures to further combat illegal migration working closely with the Irish government.”

    It seems that Brokenshire has been misleading people. As the Taoiseach pointed out “We do not have an agreement because we do not yet know whether the British Government is looking for a hard exit from the customs union and the Single Market and controls at its own borders or something else.”

    Sensible arrangements can be made (including Scotland in EFTA, if the UK insists on a hard Brexit), but until we know just what May intends proposing everyone has to stay in the dark, and realise that the utterances of UK Ministers are not “the light at the end of the tunnel”, but the flickering match of someone trying to find the bloody candle!

  18. MAURA

    It’ll depend on how successful the LDs are at making it about Brexit. As you say, the LD candidate opposes Heathrow just as strongly, so the distinguishing point between the candidates will be their views on Brexit.

    If they’ve been put in as joint favourites, obviously someone thinks they have a good chance of doing just that.

    “It’s not much of a referendum on Heathrow if every box has No next to it, is it?”

  19. @ Alan

    The Lib dem candidate may find it hard to be all that distinguishable if the telegraph are to be believed

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/10/26/lib-dem-brexit-referendum-candidate-says-people-must-accept-refe/

  20. Bardin1

    “The Lib dem candidate may find it hard to be all that distinguishable”

    In a constituency like that, isn’t that a good thing? If “soft Brexit” is a preference among sufficient potentially former Tory voters, aren’t they more likely to support her?

    It’s a bit like the story that she tweeted/posted (now deleted) saying that she thought May was “impressive”.It was up long enough to be picked up and publicised – again, I can’t see that damaging her prospects among those wishing to move LD from Tory.

  21. @ Oldnat

    I’m not sure to be honest. I live in the same general area and I think there is quite a strong independent, local viewpoint which has helped the Lib dems in local elections but helped Goldsmith in the general. I think she needs to be very clear about what she wants to happen which is different from either May or Goldsmith’s stances. Otherwise why change when you are likely to have a strong independent pro-Brexit anti Heathrow MP in Goldsmith (Note I don’t think either of these are good things), but how does she distinguish herself if not on the remainers’ platform?

  22. Bardin

    I would have thought “We can’t rerun the referendum but we can hold the government to account as to what Brexit really means” could easily gain traction in a heavily remain area.

    It’d put Mr Goldsmith in a tricky position as “I don’t want to talk about Brexit, lets talk about Heathrow” would give a very strong impression that he has no interest in holding the government to account over Brexit.

    We’ll see, it’ll all depend who gets to set the narrative as to whether it’ll be a competitive by-election or a coronation. How much help Goldsmith gets from the Conservatives will matter quite a bit, they’ve already ducked the seat which gives the impression he’ll wait until it’s a done deal either way then rejoin.

  23. Bardin1

    “how does she distinguish herself if not on the remainers’ platform?”

    No idea! It isn’t the kind of constituency whose voters I have any experience of.

    But how many of the Remainer vote in that constituency were “obstinate Remainers”, and how many are more concerned that there should be a “soft Brexit” – especially in regard to the financial sector.

    Do such people still believe (they might well) Goldsmith’s idea that the City would prosper whether in or out?

    You will know better than me, but that possibility seems worth exploring.

  24. Im reading that the greens might not put up a candidate and labour is under pressure to stand down in favour of the dems. If that happens it could very easily become a brexit poll

  25. sea change,
    “It’s virtually impossible to get over 50% of the vote in modern multi-party elections anyhow. Unless your name is Putin.”

    Exactly. So maybe the top vote winner gets 30% of the vote, and then gets to form a government? That means 70% supported an alternative party.

    How far will people defend this system? 20% 10% 1%? biggest minority gets to govern the country absolutely?

    It is obvious why people become dissatisfied with the system. It becomes completly divorced from the reality of what most people want.

    colin,
    “We will be negotiating to CHANGE the existing rules for the new relationship with UK.”

    Well thats he rub. The only argument I have seen why the EU might want to do that is trade. People above observed that the UK is by no means the most important trade partner with any EU country. A split with no deal might hit their trade, but it will not eliminate it, so no good imagining the size of the trade is the size of the hit. In the long run, the logic of placing businesses inside the EU will come into effect and business and that trade will relocate inside EU countries. To some extent that is also inevitable. It is possible that in 20 years the EU will end up better off for having no special relationship with the UK.

    And then there is the politics of changing the EU. Which is a formidable barrier to any kind of change, never mind a change which might undermine the entire structure.

    I think the only way the UK could get a revision of the basic rules for being inside the market is if the entire EU feels a fundamental revision is needed on its own merits. Do they?

  26. @CR

    It depends on whether the Green and Labour voters are prepared to vote for the LibDems.

    Witney was also a Remain area. But the Conservatives held it. The most interesting feature of that election is that the Labour vote held, which is unusual for the third-placed party in a by-election. And it’s because Labour voters couldn’t stomach voting for the LibDems. In the olden days, the Lab vote would have been squeezed to nothingness and the LibDems would have taken the seat.

    And if you look at Batley and Spen, the absence of the Conservatives and LibDems didn’t make people vote Labour, instead turnout collapsed to 25% as those voters abstained.

    Witney is the reason I no longer think that the LibDems will overtake Labour, despite Lab being led by Corbyn. If Lab voters won’t tactically vote LibDem, the Libdems won’t make progress.

  27. Candy

    Yes it would seem that the libdems are still toxic to labour leaning voters, I wonder how long that will continue for

  28. I wonder if voters are getting fed up of parties standing/not standing for tactical reasons.

    Being from Batley and Spen, I know many non-Labour voters were miffed at not having the choice they wanted to make. Therefore, they stayed at home.

    I don’t think people take kindly to the party they normally vote for saying ‘we aren’t standing, vote for x’. People are capable of making a grown up choice without being told what to do.

    I really hope the contest is fully contested.

    From what I see, a ‘progressive alliance’ is for the birds.

  29. @CR
    “libdems are still toxic to labour leaning voters, I wonder how long that will continue for”
    Until they forget the LibDem-Tory coalition?

  30. Even though candidates and/or voters may SAY that it’s about Brexit there will be one candidate, the present MP, saying it’s about Heathrow! And there’ll be no denying that’s what has caused the by-election so it won’t exactly be a referendum on either issue. I still think it’s a waste of money although that may not be Goldsmith’s fault; he said he would resign and he has (I’ve not much time for him as it happens but he has done as he said here) but the Government should be prepared to defend a decision they’ve just made and give the electors a chance to support the Heathrow decision or at least return a Tory not an Independent if that’s their choice.

  31. oldnat

    you really are living in a fantasy world if you think scotland can join Efta while the rest of the uk is not.

    why not have the courage of your convictions and leave the uk instead of forever whining on about it.

    when the EU welcomes you with a kick in the groin you can have your own currency as well. 100 scroats to a titanic.

    sturgeon and scotland are becoming a sad joke and i speak as a scottish woman.

  32. Heathrow decision looks absurd, the traffic around there is already crazy and now its going to be 30% worse during construction and 10% worse after and that’s before you factor in the continuing expansion of the M4 corridor. I can’t see any sense in it at all

  33. Dave

    …or until they need them to form a coalition, when they will suddenly revert to being best of friends over all these years!

  34. CR
    “Yes it would seem that the libdems are still toxic to labour leaning voters”

    Despite UKIP’s troubles, many ex-Labour voters in the Midlands and North (of England for ON’s benefit) are more likely to vote for them than the Libduds.

  35. Peter CAirns
    “Not to mention getting out of Birmingham!!!”

    You’re in a mischievous mood today (or yesterday now) but Birmingham’s a wonderful city with modern buildings and amenities, plenty of green space etc etc. And then there are the ‘culturally enriched’ bits, where you half expect to see a sacred cow wandering in the street. But of course some of us might think that makes it even better.

  36. @Maura –

    Totally agree with you. This by-election is a waste of money and will achieve nothing. However much the fanatical LibDem Remainers want to make this a referendum on Brexit, it won’t be. We might as well have a by-election in Boston as a referendum on Brexit in that case, for all the good it will tell us.

    @BIGFATRON

    – Yes I agree with your thoughts. Heathrow is the least bad choice within a plethora of bad choices.

    @PETER CAIRNS – (on the USA being a bigger market post exit for the EU)

    You may well be proved correct. That will be determined on what deal they hack together of course.

    @Tancred “It’s not the same. Heathrow is a completely different issue – one that directly affects quality of life for people in close proximity.”

    I see so millions of people coming into the country doesn’t affect the quality of life of whole communities in terms of impact on their public services, on the environment, on the current infrastructure and the need to build new infrastructure, the increase in congestion on the trains and in our airports, the extra pollution from the road use. I could go on and on. I really don’t feel your position is tenable.

  37. @Colin, “So I’m not looking to debate the options. I ‘m interested in the Politics of the decision-and I think this one may turn out to be “A brave decision Prime Minister”

    You’re right. This is a political minefield. I do empathise with the government to a certain extent because it is between a rock and a hard place. We absolutely need to increase capacity, especially if we are to open up to new markets. Heathrow is the only sane financial decision at this point compared to the sheer cost of trying to build another hub airport elsewhere along with all the other associated infrastructure and services.

  38. @Danny “It is obvious why people become dissatisfied with the system. It becomes completly divorced from the reality of what most people want.”

    I think this is a pseudo-logic statement. Because most people do not want the same thing. It’s not 38% vs 62%. It’s 38% vesus 29%, 11% etc.

    FFTP works because it gives weight to the largest block within all the other smaller blocks.

    Even with PR coalitions most people will not see their particular views respected. There is no answer for this. The largest bloc gets to dictate while trying to assuage enough of the voters to get re-elected.

  39. @SEA CHANGE

    “I see so millions of people coming into the country doesn’t affect the quality of life of whole communities in terms of impact on their public services, on the environment, on the current infrastructure and the need to build new infrastructure, the increase in congestion on the trains and in our airports, the extra pollution from the road use. I could go on and on. I really don’t feel your position is tenable.”

    This is nonsense. The referendum on the EU was not about immigration, although some people seem to have interpreted it as such, very wrongly. As I have said maybe a million times, EU immigrants made up less than half of the total number of immigrants coming into this country. This obsession with immigration is hugely counterproductive, as you will soon see. The missing EU labourers will have to be replaced, not with British workers (who don’t want to do dirty jobs) but with non-Europeans. I think this is a much more worrying prospect – look at what has been going on in Germany for a taste of what is to come.

  40. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    “Heathrow decision looks absurd, the traffic around there is already crazy and now its going to be 30% worse during construction and 10% worse after and that’s before you factor in the continuing expansion of the M4 corridor. I can’t see any sense in it at all”

    You are absolutely correct. I know this first hand, as a resident of the M4 corridor.

  41. @CANDY

    “It depends on whether the Green and Labour voters are prepared to vote for the LibDems.
    Witney was also a Remain area. But the Conservatives held it. The most interesting feature of that election is that the Labour vote held, which is unusual for the third-placed party in a by-election. And it’s because Labour voters couldn’t stomach voting for the LibDems. In the olden days, the Lab vote would have been squeezed to nothingness and the LibDems would have taken the seat.”

    Witney was and is a safe Tory seat and never a marginal in its entire history. Richmond is very different ground.
    I think many London Labour supporters would be willing to compromise and vote tactically because I am sure they hate the Tories a lot, lot more than the Lib-Dems. In the midlands and the north it may not be the case, but in London definitely.

  42. @BIGFATRON

    “I’m amused that people objecting to the impact of Heathrow expansion on those who – presumably – bought houses knowing they lived on an airport flight-path think the solution is running a high speed line through a swathe of south London that had reason to have an inkling it would be razed to make way for railway line…”

    There are many ways the line could be built – e.g on a flyover basis, like the DLR. And there are old lines that could be reused as well. What is certain is that a railway would be much less disruptive that an expansion of Heathrow.

  43. @PETE B

    “Why not put an extra runway at Birmingham airport instead? Much easier to get to from most of the country.”

    For once I agree with you. All this concentration of airports near London is not good for the country. I don’t know of any country that has so many of its flights landing and departing near the capital city.
    Unfortunately there is still the mentality of the division between London as the metropolis and the ‘provinces’ being the rest of the country, a mentality that has been outdated for decades but is still prevalent. I would favour expanding Birmingham and also Manchester.

  44. @CAMBRIDGERACHEL

    “Yes it would seem that the libdems are still toxic to labour leaning voters, I wonder how long that will continue for”

    ——————

    Interesting question. At first blush, one option might be when those associated with the coalition and its U-turns are no longer involved.

    It is possible to rehabilitate.a party, an obvious example being the SNP who have clearly recovered from being associated with the advent of Thatcherism and what that meant for Scotland.

    Devolution assisted tbem rather, isolating Scots to some degree from Westminster, thus affording the indulgence an SNP vote. LibDems don’t enjoy such a luxury, and people furthermore might make the calculation that it may happen again that a party in their position may in future once again make u-turns in order to secure hoped-for party political advantage.

    Perhaps ironically, the LibDems might need to see reform of it electoral system, so that peeps won’t suspect they might trash their manifesto to secure summat like a referendum on AV, or indeed HoL reform, because there’ll be no need if already sorted…

  45. “I could move to Manchester tomorrow, no one is stopping me and I’m sure its a very nice place. In reality, it hasn’t even crossed my mind.”
    ————

    Eh? Clearly it’s crossed your mind becoz you just mentioned it…

  46. “Hmmm. Surely by now she should have the loud and clear message that you can’t have the single/common market without free movement of people. Just like the song, love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage, and the single market goes with free movement. You can’t separate them.”

    ————

    Well, you can have an awful lot of the single market sans free movement. You don’t need free movement to abolish tariffs, harmonise taxes, harmonise regulations, etc. etc.

    Free movement, done right, might offer the chance of things being even more efficient, but you can secure a lot of benefits without it.

    Nonetheless free movement affords some advantages, including possibly making war less likely, but might require taking a bit of a hit early on.

    Taken this way, free movement might be considered initially a shorter term pain in some respects for longer term gain, and being part of the single market is an incentive, or reward, for accepting free movement.

    Could the EU forego free movement in our case? Yes. Should they? That’s a different thing.

  47. Revenons a nos moutons. AW’s”
    “The relevance for Brexit polling is that there was a strong correlation between educational qualification and how people voted. Even within age cohorts, graduates were more likely to vote to Remain, people with few or no educational qualifications were more likely to vote to Leave. People with a low level of interest in politics were also more likely to vote to Leave. These continuing sampling issues may well have contributed to some of those pollsters who did it wrong in June. …One thing that Brexit does have in common with Trump is those demographics. Trump’s support is much greater among those without a college degree. I suspect if you asked you’d find it was greater among those people who don’t normally pay much attention to politics.”
    seems to me quite relevant to @Colin’s charge, levelled at me in the last thread, of being a “faux intellectual” and which could, I thought, more faily and relevantly be aimed at the practitioners of false reporting, such as the blatant use by Trump of facts and figures about migration and the characteristics and behaviour of migrants. By contrast it might be shown to be ethical and rational to use hypotheses about migration and the character and actions of migrants which other evidence suggests are relevant to policy and which stack up in general understanding and common sense. Hence Obama’s legitimisation of illegal migrants who are long resident in the States and make an essential contribution to services and essential elementary occupations and are otherwise decent citizens.
    This does have similarities to the division of sides and statements of facts by both sides of the Brexit debate. Brexiteers made patently false statements about e.g. the recouping of 350m p.w. for use in the NHS, and more widely fostered beliefs about the impact of migrant workers on the UK economy which are not supported by the stats and independent research. Neither did the Remain side much bother to state the available facts about migration and its historic role and forecast benefit in the development of the UK economy. They, the Remainers, being the Government and all the opposition parties, their failure was in not echoing Obama’s courage in stating plainly the value and evidence of migration to the UK, and in not openly giving the lie to a Leave campaign that was plainly misrepresenting the facts – and in not carrying out the clear need identified and tested in previous deployment of a Migration Fund which would provide discriminatory public investment in areas of high migrant population.

  48. faily – fairly

  49. sea change
    “Even with PR coalitions most people will not see their particular views respected. ”

    While we might see similar results, I would expect to see different views expressed directly in the commons and then voted on issue by issue. We would not have this spectacle of May saying one year she absolutely opposes Heathrow and then saying how wonderful it is. We could have an anti Heathrow party. The difference would be more public honesty by politicians. Two monolithic parties operating in secret just does not work. I’d sooner vote for the SNP than either main british party.

  50. candy,
    “The most interesting feature of that election is that the Labour vote held, which is unusual for the third-placed party in a by-election.”

    I’m not sure I agree about the ‘most interesting’ bit, to me that was a big swing from pro to anti brexit parties.Taking that as the driving force, labour neutral result might be expected.

    I don’t think the media expected libs to do well because of their recent track record, and this would inevitably have affected voters choice for a protest vote.

    Although, yes, the labour vote apparently holding up was a much better result than their polling. Overall it would suggest libs doing best in tory areas, which does seem to include Goldsmith’s seat.

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