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.


*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?”

1 7 8 9 10

    The suicide rise in America is alarming, but it’s not a bed of roses here either. Yes, our welfare state is better, but it only helps those who have literally nothing left – if you are unemployed but with say, £25k in savings, be prepared to see them vanish before you get any tangible help from the government. And at least in America there are more opportunities to earn small amounts from doing odd jobs, with dollars lasting a lot more than pounds here. When I was in Florida last year there were loads of buffet places where you could eat for $10-15, and the food wasn’t bad either.

  2. The Nissan situation here clarity. It is likely taxpayers money is being used to ensure Nissan remain in the UK. That will have an impact going forward with other firms expecting the same incentives.

    If no financial benefits have been given to Nissan then let’s hear this Government be clear in confirming this instead of the current politicians speak.

  3. In the Times, Matthew Smith of YouGov… analysing what would make Leavers change their minds on Brexit…

    “If that pain ever comes, will it be enough to convince Brexit backers that the benefits of leaving the EU are still worth it? In short, what would it take for those who think that the UK was right to vote to leave the EU to change their minds?

    New research from YouGov has found that the factor most likely to shake Leave voters’ resolve would be a significant increase in unemployment – 7 per cent say that under these circumstances they would then oppose Brexit, whilst an additional 13 per cent would no longer be sure about whether Brexit should happen or not.”

    After this, the financial services industry fleeing the UK would persuade 4 per cent of Leave voters to change their mind (plus 7 per cent no longer sure), while the introduction of EU tariffs on UK goods and the price of groceries rising 10 per cent would persuade 3 per cent of Leave voters to change their mind (plus, again, a further 7 per cent would no longer be sure).

    British people needing a visa to travel in Europe and Scotland leaving the UK were the least likely to change people’s minds on Brexit (although 21 per cent of Scottish people who think voting to leave the EU was the right thing to do would change their mind if it resulted in Scottish independence, compared to 3 per cent of British people with the same view).”

    “And herein lies one of the problems for those seeking to keep Britain in the EU: Leave voters essentially see Brexit as a no-risk proposition. The overwhelming majority of Leave voters believe Brexit will either make things better, or at least not make things worse.

    Of all the negative side effects of Brexit, the one Leave voters most expect is that the price of their weekly shop will go up. However, this still only applies to just a quarter of Leave voters, fewer than half the 57 per cent who think Brexit will make no difference to the price of groceries.

    Just under a quarter (24 per cent) of Leave voters also think that the British economy will get worse in the short term as a result of Brexit – but this drops to just 3 per cent in the long term. Additionally, fewer than one in five Leave voters (18 per cent) believe that #marmitegate was the harbinger of future grocery supply problems.

    Otherwise, fewer than 10 per cent of Leave voters think that Brexit will have any other negative effects – just 8 per cent think it will mean their personal finances get worse, 4 per cent think it means their access to public services will get worse, and 3 per cent think that their own job will be less secure (rising to 5 per cent of Leave voters who currently have a job).”

  4. It’s common for governments everywhere to use tax revenues to “bribe” companies to set up business in their jurisdiction, or to remain there – as long as it is within the appropriate set of rules.

    Any subsidy to Nissan (if one is being given) wouldn’t necessarily breach any rules, but it would be surprising if such a use of public funds wasn’t openly and explicitly declared.

    At this stage, there would seem to be only a couple of possibilities (though each has innumerable variations)-

    1. there is (and won’t be) any subsidy, or other financial incentive and Nissan have been persuaded (somehow) that their fears about Brexit were unfounded
    2. there will be sufficient financial support for Nissan to continue their plans, but it is being kept secret for some reason

    So we don’t know much about why Nissan reached the decision they did.

  5. Carfrew

    That’s the poll I linked to earlier. Smith’s analysis and a link to the tables [1] are there.

    [1] The tables, however, are badly laid out. The header at the top accurately describes the whole sample – as does the next header (apparently for a single question) showing the “Leave was right” subset ( showing 90% of Leavers unchanged, but only 27 individuals [5%] moving from Remain to Leave)

    For all the other questions, the tables show the wholly meaningless whole sample numbers, and consequently ludicrous crossbreaks. Showing a percentage of 27 people isn’t very valuable!

  6. @John P, Somerjohn

    Bristol is notoriously foggy, but less of a problem these days, with modern technology.

    It has a very good safety record: a fire officer there recently retired after 37 years without attending a single incident. His crew did attend an incident, but it was on his day off!

    I use Bristol regularly,and it now has a new security facility. Excellent airport.

  7. Millie
    “….a fire officer there recently retired after 37 years without attending a single incident. ”

    I wish I’d had a job like that!

  8. S Thomas,
    “why is the educational attainments of voters in the referendum an issue? Does it make their vote less worthy or important?”

    Not at all. But it might mean they were easier to decieve. And the importance of that would be if they are then likely to change their minds.

    BT says,
    “The arrogance of some who think educational attainment or intelligence or having read more about the issues, made them a better judge, is very sad and doesn’t reflect well on us as a society.”

    erm, I think there is universal agreement that better education makes people a better judge. That is part of the rationale for providing education. It does not make them entitled to more than one vote.

    The other howard,
    ” we have not left the EU yet so this is not a reflection of any Brexit effect just a reflection of how wrong those who forecast an immediate recession were. Osborne in particular has egg all over his face.”

    Except that Cameron planned to trigger article 50 immediately, and there seems to have been an expectation of a much quicker full departure. We have had a stay of execution.

  9. @Millie “Here in Exeter, we have an airport that is virtually disused, and which can take 747s. And in Plymouth, to widespread dismay, the airport has closed.”

    Exeter’s runway is way too short for Jumbos. You could land a 747 at Exeter International but you’d never get it out again with any weight on board. You need a runway in excess of 10,000 Feet!

    @Alec – “No one would seriously imagine the quarterly figures commencing seven days after an event would react fully to that event, but apparently some did.”

    But that is not true. Plenty of people did. Indeed the Treasury itself predicted a 0.1% contraction for this quarter after a Brexit vote. In the end it has been a respectable 0.5% positive increase.

    What this really underlines is the pointlessness of predictions in times of greater uncertainty especially as Government and Bank of England policy can mitigate unpleasant effects to some degree.

  10. iuvenis,
    ” Accordingly, the fact that older people are more likely to have voted for Brexit means that less educated people are automatically more likely to have voted for Brexit. You have correlation but no causation.”

    Or it may be that younger people voting more to remain is a consequence of better education…. Possibly one could analyse the figures to see if the proportion of people with educational attainment accounts for the age trend.

    ” Suppose it was the case (I don’t believe this by the way) educated people are doing well from the existing set up and would do worse from Brexit, while less educated people are doing badly now and would do well from Brexit. It would be rational for well educated to vote remain and less educated people to vote for Brexit.”

    Do you not? strikes me as a good point. I don’t doubt better qualified people on average do better in society. They then might be more satisfied with the status quo.

    Peter Cairns,
    ” I think the “It’s worth a try any things better than this!” Attitude was a factor, but I can’t say how much.”

    I agree. But this is just to say it was a rational choice based on self economic interest. If events prove it to have been a false conclusion, self interest will dictate a change of vote.

    “Nobody was duped on “Brexit”.
    The majority voted to leave the EU.”

    At the moment my conclusion is the great majority voted for a better economy, whether that is in or out. Will that be achieved by our current course?

  11. @Danny (and others)

    There is one angle on the ‘better-educated voted to remain’ meme that I don’t think has been brought up yet.

    If we assume that better-educated means university educated, then consider this. Most academics have gone from school to university to university teaching. As such, they have had limited exposure to what one might call the real world. Therefore their understanding of ordinary peoples’ lives and concerns are limited. Therefore they tend to be idealists – ie. left-wing. Whether they like it or not, their unconscious bias will be towards state control, ‘nanny knows best’ attitudes and so forth. They teach university students, therefore university graduates are more likely to be left-wing. This does not mean that they are right.

    I would be interested to see a breakdown the percentage of university educated people who voted Leave or Remain by age group although I do understand that attitudes gained early in life are difficult to shake off. I would expect (hope?) that older graduates were more in favour of Leave after some real life experience.

    A top education does not guarantee good judgement. I cite Burgess, Maclean, Blount and Nunn May as examples.

    G’night all. I look forward to any replies in the morning.

  12. @Pete B –

    Here’s an interesting quote about whether professors are out of touch or not.

    Sir David Greenaway, British economist, Professor of Economics & Vice-Chancellor (Nottingham University)

    “Did you know an astonishing 90 per cent of the Higher Education community voted for remain? Compared with the Leave campaign’s winning margin of only 4 per cent, it’s a position of relative unity that would make many people blush. Yet it fills me with a slight unease.

    “Why? Because it suggests either the academic world knows something the electorate doesn’t or we’re hopelessly out of touch.

    “While we deal with this sense of loss and disconnect there’s a risk that the opportunities presented by Brexit are overshadowed.

    “As our future becomes more closely determined by trade and forging new global links, all universities, and not just those in the Russell Group, have a lot to share with Whitehall.

    “You may think Nottingham too small to think like this, compared with the Londons and Manchesters of this world.

    “In fact, we’re the ninth largest city in the fifth biggest economy in the world. Nottingham University has partnerships with Rolls-Royce, Boots, and GSK and we were the first foreign university to set up a campus in China.

    “The spirit of endeavour that took us there was the same spirit that took me from a Glasgow tenement as a child to Vice Chancellor of this university and I’m keen to rediscover that sense of breaking free and exceeding expectations all over again. We all can.

    “Brexit might be the catalyst we all need.”

    I’m glad that some people in that field are beginning to take an optimistic forward looking approach to Brexit.

    I can say as someone who has built and run businesses and who has read many university books on the subject (and related subjects) that the theory written in books by professors is often far removed from the day to day reality of those in the trenches.

    That’s not to say there isn’t a huge amount of value from university research of course, depending on the subject matter.

  13. Somerjohn

    Clearly from your response, you didn’t like it.


  14. It’s an interesting quote, but I’m not sure he hasn’t skipped an option.

    To his binary option of the academic community either being out of touch or knowing something the rest don’t, I think we probably need to add the possibility that are clued in to everyone else and know roughly the same things politically, but were answering a different question: “What is best for academics?” rather than “What is best for the rest of the population?” Just as you might expect bus drivers to respond to “What is best for bus drivers?” and freelance organic basket weavers to consider “What is best for freelance organic basket weavers?”

    I doubt that one would suggest that landowners voting for a landowner-protecting party, or manual labourers voting for a manual workers’ party would necessarily have either a privileged access to truth or not know other people’s situations. I think one would simply accept that they were doing what was in their personal best interests.

    In that sense, maybe a highly uniform vote across a certain demographic simply shows that which option is in the best interests of that certain demographic is highly obvious…

  15. Cambridgerachel,
    “Now we are directly helping exporting firms, taxpayer subsidies for everyone!”

    Isnt it funny. Conservative policy gone full reverse since Thatcher.

    Sea Change,
    I had a look at the new statesman poll you posted. The data is from April 2016, and the writeup from
    July. The poll reports 33% for ‘beneficial for Britain to remain even if not total control over immigration’, and 55% ‘should have total control over migration even if means leaving EU’, 12% dont know. I dont know if this is raw data, or adjusted for likelihood to vote, because the final result was much closer than this, which might imply either a systematic error or a shift in view towards membership by the polling day, or it is not a decisive question.

    More interestingly from my perspective, I am still not sure this measures whether the economy is more important than immigration in people’s minds. The question does not ask this! Similalry other polls i have seen talking about market access v. immigration do not ask that question.

    The problem is that if you believe the economy is the most important issue and would be adversely affected by leaving, then you would be in the 33%. If you believe the economy is the most important issue but that it would not be adversely affected by leaving, then you might be in the 55%. This reasoning is born out by the split shown in post election polls where the people who had no strong view on the economic consequences of leaving (about 1/3 of the total) mostly went for Leave.

    Data or polling such as this does not answer the question of how fixed the voters view is if they are then faced with changes to the economy because of leaving the EU.

    The second result they post is about the sensitivity of voting intentions to even small changes in numbers of immigrants. The pollsters conclude that views are highly volatile on even small changes to immigrant numbers. My conclusion is that it suggests a real ignorance in voters minds about immigration levels or even that they do not really care about this very much, otherwise they would have clearer formed views. Again, no real support there for the referendum having given a definite fixed result.

    It needs to be mentioned there is a group of people who regard immigration as a very important issue, because of the need to continue it. This group included both the Cameron government and last Labour administration and presumably they still believe this. Again, a vote to leave the EU is by no means synonymous with cutting immigration, and voters would be unwise to believe it is. Neither side in the referendum seemed keen to make this point. Voters, however, might come to realise this.

  16. One aspect of the Nissan story that hasn’t had widespread coverage is that being in the EU offers citizens a protection against being held to ransom by big multinationals.

    While I have at times railed against EU States Aid rules, this has been exclusively because of the strange application of the rules, particularly those around the issue of whether an enterprise affects cross border trade. I find it odd that, say, grant support for a community shop with a turnover of less than £30,000 maintaining a non profit making service for a remote village, is considered liable to states aid rules, while France can run state owned car makers and energy companies, apparently free from such burden.

    However, in principle, the idea still stands that being in the EU helps protect citizens from being forced to pay out tax income to keep big business in play. This is precisely what States Aid rules were designed for – as a protection against the race to the bottom and a bulwark against the effects of globalization.

    For the UK, that has now gone, and every major producer, and lots of minor ones, will have seen the cosy chat with Nissan and will be lining up to demand help.

    This will be expensive, and the government has no back door out of this, as they can no longer cite EU competition rules. This is going to be expensive, either in direct payments, or other inducements through the tax system.

    Big business now has a much bigger stick with which to beat the taxpayer, and every pound that they gain is one less pound for the NHS.

  17. @Sea Change

    Quite right – apologies.

    Exeter Airport has plans to extend the existing runway to take Jumbos, but has not yet done so.

    Memo: must check facts rather than rely upon pub assurances

  18. @Danny

    I think your comments are entirely reasonable. There definitely isn’t an answer yet to the question of how much short term pain would be accepted in return for reduced immigration. I did post that link in a vain attempt to get Tancred to admit that mass immigration was a key issue in the referendum. Something he seems totally blind to.

    @Popeye –

    Yes there would definitely be the thoughts of EU Funding, Erasmus etc = Good therefore Brexit = Bad. Still 90% does suggest there is confirmation bias at play within Academic circles.

  19. Pete B,
    I am not convinced that academics are quite so influential in transferring their own views to their students. I would be minded that the experience of obtaining a higher education is more likely to be influential than creeping academic influence. Someone from an area with few immigrants is likely to be introduced to them in a positive situation, which might reverse the home bias against immigrants shown by polling in areas where there are few. From my university days, socialising with academics was pretty limited.

    Conversely, it is striking that academics drawn from presumably a very wide spread of backgrounds all reach the same conclusion.

    “Whether they like it or not, their unconscious bias will be towards state control, ‘nanny knows best’ attitudes and so forth. They teach university students, therefore university graduates are more likely to be left-wing.”

    I am not convinced ‘state control’ is a left wing phenomenon, there are plenty of right wing dictators.

    I’d agree that the youth/education factor might be one and the same, and a breakdown of voting by relevant groups might at least demonstrate the effect was the same in both groups and thus it could be the same thing. Unfortunately the sample sizes might be rather small?

  20. Why does this site bother with ‘moderation’ when it takes so long for anyone to get around to actually doing some moderation that the page is so old no one reads it?

    Because of this on other sites many people now agree ‘moderation’ is simply another word for ‘deletion’ by a site which just can’t bring itself to actually use the word!

  21. @DANNY

    Perhaps you might like to name some of these right wing dictators, and also give us your definition of ‘right wing’.

    It would appear that left & right wing have become meaningless terms, because of constant misuse by those on the left.

    A recent complain to the BBC about the use of ‘Right WIng’ to describe a very Left Wing dictator brought the explanation that the BBC use the term ‘Right WIng’ to describe any authoritarian regime.

    Therefore it might be said – Left wing good – Right wing bad in the eyes of some people.

  22. ALEC

    @”This is going to be expensive, either in direct payments, or other inducements through the tax system”

    As I understand it , the commitment to Nissan is to ensure they are no less competitive as a result of Brexit rule changes on Trade.

    ie-if UK fails to secure access to the European Single Market with no Tariff Barriers. If that is the case , then it will mean that UK is operating under WTO rules-which-as Civitas recently demonstrated , will provide the UK Treasury with more import EU Duty, than is imposed on UK Exports to EU.

    It may be that Nissan will require no compensation for impaired competitiveness after Brexit. It all depends how the negotiations pan out.

  23. I see the discussion about the correlation between educational attainment and referendum vote has rumbled on.

    One of the points made has been that you would expect more people with degrees to vote remain, simply because many more young people than old people are educated to degree level, and we know young people were much more likely to vote remain.

    However, that is surely to misunderstand how polls work.

    If you construct a poll with a representative sample that is correct weighted by age, you will get progressively fewer graduates in each age cohort, with rising age. I’d guess going from something like 35% amongst 18-30s to 7% amongst over-65s.

    If you then ask all those people how they voted in the referendum, you should get an accurate indication of the correlation between degree/no degree and remain/leave. If expressed in percentage terms for the whole sample, there is no age effect.

    Of course, it may be that the reliability of a degree as an indicator of educational attainment, or at least academic attainment, has weakened as the nature of degree courses has changed but that’s a separate can of worms!

  24. For me Nissan have made a straight calculation regardless of what the Government has said based on the value of their existing Investment, the impact of Brexit and the relative cost of investing elsewhere.

    Even if they hadn’t announced new models they were unlikely to close one of their most productive plants and right off billions early. So it was invest or not.

    On the down side a reversion to WTO rules would have an impact but then so does the lower value of Sterling and the relative merits of investing elsewhere almost certainly somewhere with higher costs at higher cost or building on an existing quality facilitate at lower cost all be it with the possibility that costs would rise.

    There decision; all said and done despite Brexit Sunderland still represents the best investment option.

    That doesn’t mean they like Brexit, that doesn’t mean Brexit won’t cost them, that doesn’t mean Brexit won’t be bad for business and it certainly doesn’t mean their decision shows that Brexit was right or a vote of confidence in the UK Car Industry.

    It just means that despite it’s negative impact on them Brexit is something Nissan have to live with and given the scale of their investment they have little option but to stick with it and hope the costs going forward don’t outweigh the cost of moving.

    In effect Nissan were just in too deep to pull out which works for us this time but it won’t be the same for every business in every sector.

    It also fits in with my overall view of Brexit, bad for the UK and the EU but worse for us, but neither Jersusalem or the Pits of Hell.


  25. @Colin – I appreciate your post, but I think you miss the point I raised.

    Post Brexit, all companies will be seeking greater support from the UK government, as they know that we will not be bound by States Aid rules to the same extent.

    WhetheR or not Brexit means they will need greater support is immaterial – they will pressure government for this, as they know they can threaten to leave, based on fears of Brexit, and the government cannot argue that Brussels needs to approve any deal.

    This was one of the good things about being in a large trading block – that we gained protection from other nations subsidizing industries, and we also gained protection from big business playing governments off against each other.

  26. @Candy –

    Shurely shome mishtake?

    You promised us an army of angry Brexiteers would ensure that no company used Brexit to push up prices, but here we have techie favourites Apple slapping 20% on their products becasue of devaluation.

    Has your army of Brexit warriors gone to sleep?

  27. The Nissan thing suggests that the government plans to stay in the Single Market, thus caving in on other factors such as immigration. No doubt there will be face-saving fudge involved to provide a fig-leaf.

    This is not the same as throwing a few tens of millions as an inducement to build a new plant. This could cost serious money in the event of hard Brexit.

    I might expect EU immigration to fall as the UK gains a reputation for xenophobia.

  28. ALEC

    My impression , when it comes to EU rules against State Aid, is that they are less observed in the compliance, than in the evasion.

    And of course, since the French auto industry is State owned to such a large extent-the playing field was never level was it?

    Nissan is just the first wave of the Tsunami of sovereign decision making facing the UK Parliament. over time.

  29. Colin,

    Part of that “State Owned ” French car industry, Renault, owns 43% of Nissan.

    In addition if we start subsidiesing our Car industry I doubt the EU will sit back and let us under cut them!


  30. Colin

    I quite agree. It has always fascinated me, that Renault and to a lesser extent PSA, have prospered as nationalised companies. Particularly when one looks at our efforts in that area.

  31. @Alec

    Have you noticed that Apple’s sales have dipped for the third consecutive month? See

    They can put prices up – but they can’t force people to buy, and I expect the standoff will end with them lowering prices again!

    Same standoff is going on in the retail sector. Last month’s inflation rose to 1% partly because fashion retailers put their prices up. Consumers refused to buy at those prices, Kantar Worldpanel reported four consecutive months of falling sales. This month they’re heavily discounting to get rid of stock. I expect consumers to win all their standoffs, producers have very little pricing power.

  32. IMHO play has moved on from the referendum result. I note though that there are themes developing to challenge the result:

    1. obvious and odious that the great unwashed (17.4 million) have such shallow views and have obviously reached the wrong decision that time will re-educate them;
    2.That they voted for soft brexit not hard brexit even those these terms were not in use at the time:
    3.That no-one “on the doorstep” said that they wanted to be out of the single market despite that not being a question and with no adaquate government information about what the single market is.
    4.That no one voted “to be less prosperous and for their neighbour to lose their job” therefore the vote was invalid .Well no doubt if the remain lobby had had their way that was the question they would hav e put on the ballot but it was not there. It is facile to make up questions that were not asked since that is almost infinite, and then say no one voted for that.Well quite. because no body asked the question.Interesting polling technique.

  33. @Colin – “My impression , when it comes to EU rules against State Aid, is that they are less observed in the compliance, than in the evasion.”

    Not really. The thing with States Aid rules are that it is the recipient, rather than the government, that is deemed to have breached the rules, and therefore has to pay back any funding.

    This means that directors of companis receiving aid that might possibly be states aid must satisfy themselves that they are not in breach of the de minimis rules, or potentially face having to repay the money for anything up to 15 years. This means that most of the time, the rules are adhered to.

    Governments can and do submit proposals to the commission for a pre determination prior to enactment precisely to give certainty to businesses, so, for example, the Feed in Tariff scheme is exempt from States Aid rules, but cannot be granted to projects funded by grants, even where the grant total plus FIT payments fall under the de minimis rules, because this is what was agreed with the EC.

  34. @PETE B

    “If we assume that better-educated means university educated, then consider this. Most academics have gone from school to university to university teaching. As such, they have had limited exposure to what one might call the real world. Therefore their understanding of ordinary peoples’ lives and concerns are limited. Therefore they tend to be idealists – ie. left-wing. Whether they like it or not, their unconscious bias will be towards state control, ‘nanny knows best’ attitudes and so forth. They teach university students, therefore university graduates are more likely to be left-wing. This does not mean that they are right.

    Huge and groundless assumptions here!

    Most university educated people do live in the ‘real world’ and have ‘real jobs’ in the professions and senior management. Only a relatively small number stay in academia. And your implication that academics are by definition left wing is utter rubbish – take people like Andrew Roberts or David Starkey; would you call them remotely left wing? Nonsense of course. And to say that academics are removed from the concerns of real people is also deeply insulting to people who have spent years studying and analysing precisely such concerns, including Prof Anthony Wells, who owns this very website!!!


    Yes-I know. I wonder why Nissan didn’t choose France?

    On second thoughts-I don’t :-


    re @” if we start subsidiesing our Car industry I doubt the EU will sit back and let us under cut them!”

    I love this sort of stuff from Remoaners. Its almost as though they really want Brexit to be a disaster for UK-or for England in your case :-)

  36. Aw but @Candy – you promised us prices wouldn’t rise.

    “Last month’s inflation rose to 1% partly because fashion retailers put their prices up. Consumers refused to buy at those prices, Kantar Worldpanel reported four consecutive months of falling sales.”

    Now now – I’ve pulled you up before for misquoting Kantar Worldpanel, but you haven’t mended your ways. Very naughty!

    Firstly, you raised a single month’s inflation figure, and then claimed an effect for this, but backdated by three months. That is simply illogical. In fact, KW’s ‘four month decline’ figure relates to the year to end September, while the 1% inflation figure relates to price rises largely in October.

    Secondly, you then imply that Kantar Worldpanel’s figures for four months of declining sales are linked directly to price rises – which is not what the figures imply, or what KW said.

    They said that in the year to 25th Sept, shoppers spent £700m less.

    They said – “…retailers had been hit by a combination of unseasonal weather and fragile consumer confidence caused by economic doom warnings around the Brexit vote.”

    They said nothing about prices being a causal factor in the four month loss of sales, which makes sense, as the aggregate sales value was down – not the volume. In other words, the amount shoppers spent declined by pending, rather than shoppers buying less because prices were the driving factor, as this would be more likely to mean level sales by value but a drop in volumes.

    As a general point, I would say that while we can all misinterpret statistics and facts on occasion, or misremember news snippets, or seek to put our own gloss on factors where there is room for some interpretation, in general, life works best when we try to remain more or less honest in our dealings.

    On two occasions I have now had to pull you up for completely misquoting the same source, and this won’t help your reputation on here.

  37. @S THOMAS

    I don’t share the arguments you listed.

    My key, fundamental argument is simply this: the referendum was an oversized opinion poll, not binding on the UK government, and parliament should make the final decision. We are a parliamentary democracy and therefore parliament should always be the final arbiter of a judgement, especially one as constitutionally fundamental as our membership of the EU.

    I also reject those who claim that MPs opposing Brexit would somehow be massively voted out by the electorate. Some would, but most people do not vote in general elections on the issue of Europe – this has always been the case.

  38. @Alec – “That is simply illogical. In fact, KW’s ‘four month decline’ figure relates to the year to end September, while the 1% inflation figure relates to price rises largely in October. ”

    The 1% inflation figure was for September. October’s number won’t be out till next month.

    Fashion retailers put their prices up in September hoping to claw back some profit and they got mullered. Lets wait and see what October’s inflation figures turn out to be. I predict that the heavy fashion discounting will reverse that portion of last month’s rise.

  39. Candy

    If you hadn’t noticed, the price of a lot of PC components have been rising a fair bit since Brexit.

    I suppose we could all move to the Raspberry Pi 3.

  40. @OLDNAT

    “That’s the poll I linked to earlier. Smith’s analysis and a link to the tables [1] are there.”


    Yes for some reason you only seemed to focus on the Scotty stuff, so I quoted some of the other stuff.

  41. Colin,

    “I love this sort of stuff from Remoaners. Its almost as though they really want Brexit to be a disaster for UK-or for England in your case”

    I love this sort of stuff from Brexiteers. When you point out the obvious, that the EU may well react to UK state aid in the same way it does to India or China over dumping steel, your portrayed as “Unpatriotic” or “Talking Britain Down!”

    The contention made by others earlier was that now we are outwith the EU and free from EU rules on state support we can give more aid to industry if we choose is true.

    I merely pointed out that the EU might view that as unfair and take measures to protect it’s industries from what it viewed as unfair competition.

    Take a look at the long running disputes between the US/Boeing and the EU/Airbus.

    Not an exact parallel but an example of how Governments don’t just sit back when they think the other side is tilting the table.


  42. “leave” varies by education because the TV media’s version of reality isn’t true but most of the people above a certain income level don’t know it

  43. Morrisons raises the price of Marmite by 12.5%

    You either love it or you hate it.

  44. “Big business now has a much bigger stick with which to beat the taxpayer, and every pound that they gain is one less pound for the NHS.”

    I’m amazed this sort of zero sum thinking still abounds. The government could give Nissan a billion pounds and it wouldn’t reduce the amount they could spend on the NHS by a single penny.

    And that’s because Nissan tends not to be in the business of buying healthcare goods. If there are healthcare goods spare, the government can always purchase them.

    Whatever the government spends generates about 90% taxation and 10% increase in saving. Whatever the amount spent and whatever the tax rate. Because 10% is about what the gross saving rate tends to be in the UK.

    The problem with giving Nissan a billion pounds is firstly that it simply isn’t fair to other car manufacturers, and secondly that they might overbid the UK economy beyond its production capacity and create excessive inflation.

    But let’s at least drop the zero sum game myth. That simply cannot apply in a country like the UK with its own currency. It’s a dynamic system that grows and shrinks as required by the underlying real transaction levels

  45. @Millie – No worries, I’ve lost many a wager on a pub assurance!

  46. Belfast Court Ruling from Mr Justice Maguire:

    “It is the court’s view the prerogative power is still operative and can be used for the purpose of the executive giving notification for the purpose of article 50. This, however, is said without prejudice to the issues which have been stayed and which are under consideration in the English courts,” the judge said. “In respect of all issues, the court dismissed the applications.”

    The plaintiffs intend to appeal to the Supreme Court.

  47. New thread

  48. peter cairns,
    “In effect Nissan were just in too deep to pull out which works for us this time but it won’t be the same for every business in every sector.”

    Hard to say what they really think. My general thought is that companies in such a position will wait to see the final outcome before making a decision to move or not. This is what disturbed me most about news some banks were planning to move before christmas. Very early to move if there was even some hope of not needing to, unless in fact moving was far easier than we have been led to believe. I am guessing it is easier to move a bank than a car factory.

    Nissan have only committed to the next model being placed here. It will always be a model by model decision as a new investment decision arises. That was always true. I expect at this time they wish to keep their options open, but they have extracted a significant promise from the government.

    “The Nissan thing suggests that the government plans to stay in the Single Market, thus caving in on other factors such as immigration”

    I think its a bit early to tell. From their perapective they could have done nothing or make a vague promise. If a promise was needed otherwise Nissan might leave, then they stopped them leaving without having to do anything. If the worst comes to the worst, then they can decide whether to honour the promise, or if it is even possible to honour the promise. If it is not, well at least one new model was based in the Uk before Nissan leave.

    ” the referendum was an oversized opinion poll, not binding on the UK government, and parliament should make the final decision”

    I think that is precisely what it is doing. Conservatives are pushing through their choice of policy for Britain. This question of a decisive referendum result is a smokescreen.

  49. Post #1: US polling

    I looked at the individual polls that are used to make up the state and union averages and saw a much more disparate bunch of pollsters than the UK.

    Firstly, there is a much larger number of organisations involved than in the UK, even accounting for the different sizes of the countries. The type of organisations involved is more diverse – you don’t tend to get universities directly involved in polling in the UK, for example.

    Looking at the sampling techniques employed by US pollsters gives a wide variety of competence. The best are probably more sophisticated than anything in the UK. Others appear to make minimal effort to achieve a representative sample. A small minority of polls appear to set out to achieve a certain result.

    I don’t think that RCP weights polls by credibility in the same way that UKPR does. I’m not sure that if they did, it would make any difference.

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