Earlier this week NatCen released new polling on what people want from Brexit. The vast majority (90%) of people would like to keep free trade with the European Union. By 70% to 22% people would also like to limit the amount of EU immigration into Britain. Getting these two things together does not, of course, seem particularly likely. Asked if Britain should agree to keep free movement in exchange for keeping free trade, people are much more evenly split – 49% think we should, 51% think we should not (the full report is here).

Personally, I still think the best way of judging public opinion on Brexit is probably not to ask about individual policies, but to test some plausible scenarios – when it comes to it, people will judge the deal as a whole, not as the sum of its parts. YouGov released some updated polling on Brexit today that repeated that experiment, and again found that a Canadian type deal is likely to get the widest support from the public (that is, no freedom of movement and a more limited trade deal). The problem with a Norway type deal – retaining full free-trade with the EU in exchange for keeping freedom of movement and a financial contribution is that most of the public would see it as not respecting the result of the referendum.

I’ve written a much longer piece about the YouGov polling over on the YouGov site here, so I won’t repeat it all. One interesting bit though is looking at the possible outcomes of an early election, fought on the issue of Brexit. Now, I should start with some important caveats – hypothetical election questions are very crude tools. While I’m sure an early election would be dominated by the issue of Brexit, there would be other issues at play too, so a question like this will over emphasise the impact of Brexit policy. Nevertheless, it suggests some interesting patterns. YouGov asked how people would vote if Brexit could not pass a Parliamentary vote and instead an early election happened. In the scenarios the Conservatives and UKIP back Brexit (as they undoubtedly would) and the Lib Dems back a second referendum (as they’ve said they would). YouGov offered three different scenarios for Labour – one, where Labour back Brexit, two where Labour back only a “soft Brexit”, three where Labour also offer a second referendum. In all three cases the Conservatives would win easily – even the closest scenario gives them a twelve point lead. The interesting finding is the Lib Dems – in the two scenarios where they are the only party offering a second referendum their support goes up to 19% or 22% (if Labour also offer a referendum the Lib Dems don’t gain nearly so much). So, while these are hypothetical questions that need to be taken with a pinch of salt, it does suggest that appealing to those voters who really are set against Brexit could be a route back for the Lib Dems, especially if they are the lone “anti-Brexit” party. The full results for the YouGov polling are here.

Meanwhile Ipsos MORI released their monthly political monitor. In terms of voting intention the Conservative lead is halved from last month, but that is likely something of a reversion to the mean after a towering eighteen point lead last month. Topline figures are CON 42%, LAB 33%, LDEM 10%, UKIP 7%, GRN 3%. As ever, wait until you see the change echoed in other polls before concluding that the Conservative lead is waning.

Theresa May still enjoys a positive approval rating – 54% are satisfied with the job she is doing, 30% disatisfied. The new government also have a net positive rating at their handling of the economy so far – 51% think they’ve done a good job, 30% a bad job. Where the public are not convinced is on how the government are handling the biggest issue – only 37% think the government are doing a good job at handling Brexit, 48% think they are doing a bad job. Full details of the MORI poll are here.


424 Responses to “NatCen & YouGov polling on Brexit and MORI’s political monitor”

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  1. Thoughtful

    “Marine Le Pen takes huge lead over Nicolas Sarkozy in French first round presidential election poll”

    No she didn’t.

    Today is the Primary to select the Centre Right candidate, and Sarcozy has accepted that it won’t be him, and has endorsed Fillon for next Sunday’s run off.

    The Independent neither understood the poll, nor which election was happening.

  2. Apparently Fillon’s wife is Welsh. If Fillon wins, she’ll become British – just like Andy! :-)

  3. OldNat

    Here’s another set which tell a slightly different story with the polls too close to call – again.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_French_presidential_election,_2017

  4. Thoughtful

    The only set of polls there where it is too close to call is if she ran off against Mr. Hollande.

    Obviously a long way to go but as things stand, too close to call is misleading.

  5. Thoughtful

    See Anthony’s comments about “what if” polling above – “hypothetical election questions are very crude tools”

    However, Sarcozy hasn’t been the Centre-Right front runner for a while, which is a major reason for suggesting that the author of the Independent article had little clue.

    Of course, the paper might have thought that Sarcozy was the only Centre-Right candidate their readers had heard of.

  6. OLDNAT

    “But that is one poll. What I asked you for was for evidence of growing discontent with the EU. There has always been discontent with political institutions (and damn right too!) but is it growing? / remaining about the same? / reducing?”
    _______

    Don’t you read the news about growing resentment towards the EU in Eastern Europe and in France. Shock horror not all evidence can be summed up in polling.

    Actually you don’t hear much about EU resentment because much of the media tend to ignore it.

  7. Oldnat

    Also “Takes lead over Sarcozy” implies that previously Sarcozy had the lead over Le Pen.

    The last time he had a consistent lead over her was 18 months ago so hardly breaking news,

  8. @OldNat

    Fillon is a fan of Margaret Thatcher, so I’d say he’s gone a way to becoming British already! :-)

  9. PETE B
    “Perhaps they want us to have a referendum to decide whether to have another referendum?”
    __________

    That seems to be the sort of democracy we live in today. If you don’t like the result then cry, sulk and stamp your feet and have it overturned.

  10. AC

    Seems to be the case for the outcomes of high court cases too. Lots of crying and stamping of feet there. We’ll probably see the same in January.

  11. Allan Christie

    “That seems to be the sort of democracy we live in today. If you don’t like the result then cry, sulk and stamp your feet and have it overturned.”

    That certainly seems to be the behaviour pattern of SCon, SLab and SLD, so these right-wingers are at it as well!

  12. It’s certainly an odd system France has, imagine if as a Labour voter you had only a choice between Cameron & Farage, or if UKIP a choice between Corbyn or Farron ?

  13. Thoughtful

    It’s another form of transferring votes, so not all that weird really. If we had AV then the Kipper would either pick Corbyn ahead of Farron or vice versa or express no preference.

  14. @Thoughtful

    Le Pen is left-wing economically and Fillon is right-wing economically, and the election will likely get decided on economics, like most elections. It’s different from a Cameron v Farage battle, no-one can claim Farage is left wing about anything.

    Whichever way the French choose, they’re going to get a departure and break from the past.

  15. Candy

    I know I should probably refrain from responding to you but if you look at the polling, most of the socialists (who happen to be economically left wing in case you didn’t know) will split to Les Democrats in the final run off.

    The idea that they are all going to flood to Len Pen isn’t born out in any of the polling so far.

  16. @Alan

    The polling was wrong in this French primary we’re just talking about. Which means it’s likely out in the presidential polls as well.

    Fillon is a Thatcherite – he wants to cut the state, get rid of the 35 hr work week, increase the retirement age to 65 and cut corporate tax. Some left wing people might stay at home instead of voting.

  17. Candy

    …and that is showing up in the polling, Fillon isn’t as far ahead of Le Pen as Juppe.

    Historically, people do turn out to defeat the National Front, which is why they got 2 out of 2000 seats in 2011.

  18. Do people really think rural France will vote to leave the CAP!

    It really is a far off land of which you know little!

    Peter.

  19. Alan

    Why do you intervene in the discussion of two … Hm … people who expressed extreme rightwing (well, one of them a bit right of the NSDAP) views?

    Anyhow, France will be important (and so are the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden and Germany) in the coming months.

  20. Laszlo

    I know I should resist the temptation to get involved in this post-truth era of politics. I still haven’t gotten the hang of it yet!

    Yes France will be important and once we know the result of the primaries, we can watch to see if there is a shift in the polling once they stop being hypothetical.

    The Dutch seem to be heading for a similar result to 2010 which wasn’t exactly stable. It’ll certainly be a test of coalition building.

  21. OLDNAT

    Yes, a worthy World No 1 going into the new year. Well done him.

    Planet Earth 2 is great viewing. I have been privilaged to watch Indri’s in Madagascar, as well as both Red & Wilson’s Birds of Paradise on Batanta islands of Raja Ampat, West Papua. Brought back great memories.

  22. Hireton

    Sorry should have read …………..no doubt other’s…………

  23. CANDY

    @”Le Pen is left-wing economically and Fillon is right-wing economically,”

    This was an open primary. Reports indicate Far Right voters hedging their bets to cover Len Pen failing. Sarkozy was becoming Le Pen-lite.

  24. PETER CAIRNS

    @”It really is a far off land of which you know little!”

    And you too-it seems.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/03/rural-france-pledges-to-vote-for-le-pen-president

  25. I can’t see why, as a UK citizen, a wish to remain within the EU shows a lack of respect for democracy.

    After all, though we expect the losing parties in a general election to reflect on and learn from the result, we don’t suppose that they will respond by the wholesale adoption of the manifesto of the winning party.

    It’s the supposedly irrevocable nature of the referendum result that’s the problem here. Between 1992 & 1997 and 2005 & 2010 a sufficient minority of the electorate changed their minds for there to be a change of government. That can happen with general elections, but apparently there’ll be no possibility to check if this might also occur in the case of the referendum.

  26. Fascinating result in the first round of Les Republicains primary in France yesterday.

    A couple of weeks ago Fillon’s candidacy seemed lost – but the French are some of the most regular providers of electoral shocks.

    To be fair to the polls, they had captured a flavour of Fillion’s late surge in the final week to 10 days, and the last Ipsos survey carried out on Friday actually had him in the lead – though by nowhere near the final margin.

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sondages_sur_la_primaire_pr%C3%A9sidentielle_des_R%C3%A9publicains_de_2016

    Sarkozy had seemed certain to lag for sometime and became more divisive in the last stages of the campaign, Juppe, who remains personally very popular, appeared to run out of steam, especially in televised debates / appearances . Fillon triangulated expertly, stealing some of Sarkozy’s social conservatism and vigour whilst marrying it with Juppe’s gentler style and comforting rhetoric.

    Reading French first round results is something of a tricky business – sometimes they bear no resemblance to the final result, sometimes they are acute predictors of the outcome.

    Certainly trusting the British media to interpret them (particularly The Graun’s expertly inept Paris correspondent) is a lost cause. People might remember how the Front National had ‘won’ the regional elections last year, only to take no regions at all in the second and decisive round.

    In reading this outcome and what it might mean for the final result, all depends on who voted and for what reasons – particularly apposite questions in this instance.

    Firstly, this was effectively an open primary – 2 Euros and a vague pledge of commitment to ‘Republican values’ gained entry – and it is assumed that many liberals, socialists and some FN supporters voted.

    As an aside, those who hold up the Labour party’s leadership election as an example of mass participation should that note just shy of 4 million participated in this well organised process. Third placed Sarkozy garnering half a million more votes than victorious Jeremy Corbyn.

    Given the scale of the turnout – significantly above what was expected, perhaps explaining the inaccuracy of polling – many are speculating that the first round may have been in part a ‘stop Sarkozy’ vote. Simply put, when it became apparently clear from polls that (a) Juppe was home and dry and (b) Fillon had a chance, the selectorate voted tactically – in which the French are Grand Masters – to lock the controversial former president out of the battle.

    It is conceivable that liberals and socialists may have rather overdone their support for Fillon propelling him to this unexpected lead, and will return to Juppe next Sunday.

    Maybe, maybe Fillon has truly captured the French mood and will go on to comfortably win next weekend. Either scenario is entirely possible.

    Whichever the final result, this is not what Marine Le Pen and the FN would have been hoping for. Sarkozy and Hollande are the two candidates the FN would most like to see in the race and one of those is now certainly removed from the equation. Polls consistently show that Le Pen has / had the best chance against either of these highly unpopular figures.

    One odd consequence of this result is that Hollande might be more likely to run again if Fillon is Les Republicains’ nominee. Fillon’s social conservatism and (slightly over-stated) neoliberalism are said to persuade the current president that he has a chance against him for the actual presidency. If Hollande were to win the socialist primary and Fillon the centre right equivalent, all bets are off.

    Then one could see a real battle for the second round – Hollande, Fillon (if he leached centrists aligned to Juppe) and Macron (former socialist, now independent) all with a chance. Le Pen appears to be sitting pretty to go through – but who knows, consolidation around the centre right or left could even challenge her position.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_French_presidential_election,_2017

    Both the primaries and the presidential are truly wide open- but not in the way being widely reported. I still regard a le Pen win as extremely unlikely (though, of course, not impossible) in fact more unlikely after yesterday.

    That said, the identity of the next French president and even their party (or none) is a long way from being determined and the months ahead could deliver an upset, in the shape of Macron or Fillon, that no one envisaged.

    What does this mean for Brexit and the UK? With Sarkozy gone, all the candidates other than le Pen are avowed Europhiles of one degree or another. Much is made of Fillon’s Welsh wife and Anglophile tendencies, but a penchant for tea and a passion for Keats and ladies from Abergavenny do not shape European policy. Likewise his avowed anti-bureaucracy spiel is the paroles of all Gaulists in campaigning mode.

  27. Fascinating result in the first round of Les Republicains primary in France yesterday.

    A couple of weeks ago Fillon’s candidacy seemed lost – but the French are some of the most regular providers of electoral shocks.

    To be fair to the polls, they had captured a flavour of Fillion’s late surge in the final week to 10 days, and the last Ipsos survey carried out on Friday actually had him in the lead – though by nowhere near the final margin.

    https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sondages_sur_la_primaire_pr%C3%A9sidentielle_des_R%C3%A9publicains_de_2016

    Sarkozy had seemed certain to lag for sometime and became more divisive in the last stages of the campaign, Juppe, who remains personally very popular, appeared to run out of steam, especially in televised debates / appearances . Fillon triangulated expertly, borrowing some of Sarkozy’s social conservatism and vigour whilst marrying it with Juppe’s gentler style and comforting rhetoric.

    Reading French first round results is something of a tricky business – sometimes they bear no resemblance to the final result, sometimes they are acute predictors of the outcome.

    Certainly trusting the British media to interpret them (particularly The Graun’s expertly inept Paris correspondent) is a lost cause. People might remember how the Front National had ‘won’ the regional elections last year, only to take no regions at all in the second and decisive round.

    In reading this ballot and what it might mean for the final result, all depends on who voted and for what reasons – particularly apposite questions in this instance.

    Firstly, this was effectively an open primary – 2 Euros and a vague pledge of commitment to ‘Republican values’ gained entry – and it is assumed that many liberals, socialists and some FN supporters voted.

    As an aside, those who hold up the Labour party’s leadership election as an example of mass participation should that note just shy of 4 million participated in this well organised process. Third placed Sarkozy garnering half a million more votes than victorious Jeremy Corbyn.

    Given the scale of the turnout – significantly above what was expected, perhaps explaining the inaccuracy of polling – many are speculating that the first round may have been in part a ‘stop Sarkozy’ vote. Simply put, when it became apparently clear from polls that (a) Juppe was home and dry and (b) Fillon had a chance, people voted tactically – in which the French are Grand Masters – to lock the controversial former president out.

    It is conceivable that liberals and socialists may have rather overdone their support for Fillon propelling him to this unexpected lead, and will return to Juppe next Sunday.

    Maybe, maybe Fillon has truly captured the French mood and will go on to comfortably win next weekend. Either scenario is entirely possible.

    Whichever the final result, this is not what Marine le Pen and the FN would have been hoping for. Sarkozy and Hollande are the two candidates the FN would most like to see in the race and one of those is now certainly removed from the equation. Polls consistently show that le Pen has / had the best chance against either of these highly unpopular figures.

    One odd consequence of this result is that Hollande might be more likely to run again if Fillon is les Republicains’ nominee. Fillon’s social conservatism and (vastly over-stated) ‘Thatcherism’ are said to persuade the current president that he has a chance against him for the actual presidency. If Hollande were to win the socialist primary and Fillon the centre right equivalent, all bets are off.

    Then one could see a real battle for the second round – Hollande, Fillon (if he leached centrists aligned to Juppe) and Macron (former socialist, now independent) all with a chance. Le Pen appears to be sitting pretty to go through – but who knows, consolidation around the centre right or left could even challenge her position.

    Both the primaries and the presidential are truly wide open- but not in the way being widely reported. I still regard a le Pen win as extremely unlikely (though, of course, not impossible) in fact more unlikely after yesterday.

    That said, the identity of the next French president and even their party (or none) is a long way from being determined and the months ahead could deliver an upset, in the shape of Macron or Fillon, that no one envisaged.

    What does this mean for Brexit and the UK? With Sarkozy gone, all the candidates other than le Pen are avowed Europhiles of one degree or another. Much is made of Fillon’s Welsh wife and Anglophile tendencies, but a penchant for tea and a passion for Keats and ladies from Abergavenny do not shape European policy. Likewise his avowed anti-bureaucracy is the spiel of all Gaulists in campaigning mode.

  28. @ Candy

    “Fillon is a fan of Margaret Thatcher, so I’d say he’s gone a way to becoming British already! ”

    The French are actually intrigued by Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism. One reads more serious articles assessing (fairly objectively) the merits of her premiership and economic model in the French press than the British. ‘Fans’ – such as Fillon – tend to take a rather selective approach as to which parts of her policy platform they would like to emulate.

    Perhaps it is because, like Royalty, for which there is also an unabated curiosity, the French simply have no recent experience of unadulterated free market economics. Even the right (Fillon included) is more statist in many ways than the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

  29. Assiduosity

    Thank you for your fascinating analysis of the French candidates and their prospects. As I’ve said before, your calm, well-informed and objective contributions will hopefully set an example for some of our more excitable , not to say splenetic, posters.

    I sincerely hope that you are right in seeing Le Pen’s chances as declining. I do get the feeling that some on here can’t wait to see a Le Pen victory, Renzi losing the Italian referendum, and people like Wilders sharing power. In other words: chaos on the Continent, Brexit vindicated. But wishing misfortune and bad government on others in the hope of making your pet project look good has a habit of coming back to bite the ill-wisher. Anyway, leader of Trump’s calibre is surely enough for the world!

  30. ““One thing however is certain. The EU we do negotiate with will be a very different place to the one we see now””

    Certain?, I don’t even think it’s likely and more importantly it seems to be largely wishful thinking from Brexiteers.

    It seems to be based largely on the belief of a Continent wide rise in discontent about the EU and “Political Elites”, Political Elites being in this case democratically elected politicians from maim stream Parties which for decades have between then gained the support of the vast majority of voters for decades.

    Brexit and Trump are cited as reasons why change is on the way, but before that we saw the same thing in Scotland, a large rise in support for change amongst those who felt that change offered their best hope and that given how they faired under the present system they had nothing to lose.

    So why no Independence?

    At it’s most basic, the size of the Gap. In Brexit and Donkey v Elephant the starting point was around 55/45 so with a small increase in the vote for one from those who previously didn’t vote and some switchers added to some stay at homes for the leader and you get a vote against the odds.

    Not an expected result but not an earthquake even if the media decide to write it up as one.

    In Scotland it was more like 60/40, and although we saw a similar swing, about 5% to 55/45 it wasn’t enough. A good campaign and if we had been closer no doubt treated with the same incredulity as Brexit and Trump, but really only less than 1 in 10 shifting their vote in a campaign.

    Looking at France and Germany, there is a challenge from a nationalist right, with like Brexit and Trump, immigration and Globalisation key elements, but the gap between them and the current incumbents is if anything bigger than it was in Scotland.

    In both cases even if the make substantial gains, which is still unlikely, gains yes, shake the system no, they cannot realistically look to lead a Government or indeed be invited to be minority partners.

    So in the two most important states even on the basis of gains for anti establishment Parties, we would still expect more of the same. Le Pen will be her best second place as I am sure a fair number of working class French voters will switch from the socialists, but she won’t win.

    Apart from what I said earlier about rural France not voting against the CAP; Turkey’s don’t vote for Christmas, the French Statist approach; from EdF, Airports, Railways to Dassault and Renault make a Trump style revolt far less likely.

    In addition the General French public reaction to Trump and Brexit is to look with dirition rather than for Inspiration. If there was one nation less likely than fFrance to follow a UK or US lead I’d like to know which?

    In Germany their is a similar large scale distance for Trump and despite set backs the right still have fairly small representation and are unlikely to become a major force in the Bundestag. A major pain the the backside, Yes, a major force No!

    So there to even if weakened or chastised it’s hard to see Merkel as anything other than favourite to surpass Kohl as longest serving Post War Chancellor.

    Which kind of leaves us with Italy.

    Having watched Italian Politics on and off for decades the idea of the Prime Minister resigning and new elections struggles to raise a yawn let alone apexcitement.

    Whether you equate them to Buses or Dominos, one along in a minute or ever ready to topple the idea that losing the upcoming Referendum and elections will spark an Itaexit is fanciful.

    Like French Farmers, Italians will moan about this or that, but a nation with a morobund economy and a teetering Banking system isn’t going to turn it’s back on the Euro or the ECB.

    So Like it or not I suspect that the EU we negotiate with in 18/19 won’t actually be that different. A bit more protectionist perhaps and more inclined to put it’s own national interests ahead of cooperation, both of which point to a Hard Brexit, but largely the same.

    Peter.

  31. @Colin

    “I love this expression “Post Truth”. You see it everywhere on Social Media -used by people who have suddenly discovered a world in which the “truths” they promulgated for so long are now being questioned.
    Its the implication that it is only “truth” if I say it is , that is so telling of their disdain for democracy.
    Snowflakes melting after a General Election defeat.”

    I’m sure the term ‘post-truth’ is misused, as so many are.

    However, when applied to the increasing phenomenon of people who dissemble, fabricate and openly use untruths in order to achieve their political gains or achieve political power and are successful in doing so, it seems a perfectly acceptable and accurate adjective.

    It describes a political and social environment in which truth is no longer the primary currency of discourse, one which has become ‘post-truth’. That is the context in which I see the term used most often.

    Do you have a problem with it in that context? If so, why?

    I seems to me that Donald Trump was elected after a campaign in which – as acknowledged by non-partisan fact checkers – he frequently disparaged established facts instead employing fictional statistics and bogus assertion. Or is it now part of the ‘normalisation’ of the President Elect that we are to forget this?

    Terms I do dislike intensely are ‘snowflake’ and ‘generation snowflake’.

    Surely these are simply shallow, lazy and generalised forms of abuse. Not only is it always a unedifying spectacle for one generation to generalise and claim superiority over another, but the terms have a self-satisfied, intellectually flabbiness to them: they are a means of dismissing the views of others without engaging, or offering a proper critique of them. There’s an irony here as that is often what those who are the harshest critics of so-called ‘snowflakes’ attack them for.

  32. TOH: “How right you are Colin. Do you think it’s because they don’t like the truth?”

    Are you aware of the OED’s definition of post-truth?

    “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

    As far as I can see, the popularity of the descriptor ‘post-truth’ follows the increasing use and apparent effectiveness of blatant untruths in political discourse.

    So the reality is the polar opposite of your little dialogue. It is people who despair of the declining importance of truth who use the phrase, not those who don’t like the truth.

    I would hope, TOH, that you still attach some importance to truth and honesty in politics. But maybe for you untruthfulness is a legitimate political tool?

  33. ASSIDUOSITY

    @”However, when applied to the increasing phenomenon of people who dissemble, fabricate and openly use untruths in order to achieve their political gains or achieve political power and are successful in doing so, it seems a perfectly acceptable and accurate adjective.”

    Is it increasing?-politicians telling lies & half truths? Snake Oil salesmen trying to buy votes? Politicians of EVERY political persuasion?

    I think not. I think it was always so-and voters always have to listen carefully before voting.

    @”Terms I do dislike intensely are ‘snowflake’ and ‘generation snowflake’.”

    I like them very much. I particularly like Claire Fox on the topic :-

    http://www.spectator.co.uk/2016/06/generation-snowflake-how-we-train-our-kids-to-be-censorious-cry-babies/

    OUr Universities have become rife with the Safe Space flight from other people’s fearsome opinions. And this in our centres of Learning , Enquiry & Academic rigour.

  34. SOMERJOHN

    Really I was trying to be mildly funny, but thanks for the definition anyway, although I do understand. The trouble is that in some cases the people who despair at the declining importance of truth are themselves full of untruths.’ Twas ever thus. ( I took the trouble of looking up the spellling of “Twas as my dyslexia refuses to tell me where “ should go :-))

    “I would hope, TOH, that you still attach some importance to truth and honesty in politics.”

    Always have done and always will, so on that we can agree.
    Like you i thought that post from Assiduosity was up to his usual high standard and very interesting. I certainly agree with him that the result was probably not what Le Pen and the FN wanted. I am sure they would have prefered Sarkozy and Hollande come the election.

  35. @TOH

    “I was using that term in the same way as NeoLiberal is used to describe people like me. Since I don’t take offence at being called Neoliberal no don’t other’s won’t take offence at being called Liberal Elite if the cap fits.”

    If I may, I think it’s the word ‘elite’ which is problematic here rather than the other components.

    In the current public discourse ‘elite’ seems to have become a term of abuse and to be used increasingly inaccurately.

    In part I think this has to do with the attempt by some to undermine ‘experts’. I think we would both agree that a healthy amount of, if not scepticism, then understanding of the broad ranges that appertain to polling and economic forecasts, is sensible. However, this attitude seems now to be degrading into naked aggression and spreading to science, natural history, the law, medicine, technology and other fields of knowledge. In this paradigm ‘elite’ ‘experts’ are no longer to be trusted, particularly if they say things that are uncomfortable, or disrupt one’s world view, or aspirations.

    Secondly, ‘elite’ implies, or is increasingly taken to imply, an access to power and resources which is denied to others. A controlling interest in the systems of government and economy, that is exercised to further the interests of that individual or other members of that group to the exclusion of others. This is a particularly powerful accusation in societies where, as polling tells us, an increasing proportion of people feel they are ‘left behind’ or ‘just about managing’.

    This may be a reasonable use of the term ‘elite’ in very specific circumstances, but it becomes problematic when the term elite is married with, for example, liberal to form ‘liberal elite’ and then applied to large numbers of people without reference to their particular circumstances. It would be equally problematic for ‘conservative elite’ in my book.

    To take the example of the actor in ‘Hamilton’, he may well be ‘elite’ in the sense of ‘an elite actor’ after all he is appearing in one of the most acclaimed productions on Broadway. But the term ‘liberal elite’ is explicitly political and implies that he exercises economic and political control in a way, I would suggest, that is totally out of all rational proportion to his status, influence or wealth.

    An even more extreme version of this is when I hear or read of all left of centre or remain voters in London described as members of the ‘metropolitan liberal elite’. Clearly, even the most scant demographic research reveals this to be untrue, that the group of people who voted in these ways are as broad a cross section as you could find in any sub-set of voters (their geographical location aside). It will include everyone from single parents living on minimum wage in Lambeth council flats to millionaires in handsome townhouses in Hampstead. Whilst it might be legitimate to term the latter as members of a ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ it is misleading and fallacious to do that about the former.

    In associating vested interests and ulterior motives with people’s voting choices, it is in its own way a form of stereotyping just as deleterious to the democratic process as characterising all those who vote UKIP or to leave the EU as closet racists or ‘carpet slippered fascists’ .

    Why don’t we all simply go back to identifying people according to their views as liberals, conservatives, social democrats etc and then leave the separate matter of who constitutes the elite to one side for there are people of all political persuasions in the upper and most powerful echelons of life.

  36. “Is it increasing?-politicians telling lies & half truths? Snake Oil salesmen trying to buy votes? Politicians of EVERY political persuasion?”

    The proving of a lie is one of the most difficult things, which is why the crime of perjury requires the highest burden of proof.

    Here by way of example are four witnesses to a crime. Three of them say the perpetrator was wearing a red coat, but the fourth says it was green.

    Is the fourth witness lying or confused or telling the truth as s/he believes it?

    The problem is that the person stating the lie has to know that it is a lie and that in telling it people will be deceived. How do you prove this?

    The ‘Harry Bosco’ technique of altering the descriptors from say dead bodies to ‘casualties’ takes away the impact of what has happened. Some would say that this helps those of a delicate disposition others that it masks the true horror of the event.
    When does this ‘euphemistic’ reporting edge into lying?

    And then there are the lies by omission, neglecting to say something highly important relevant and prejudicial to a story is deliberately left out, then it is a lie.

    To say our politicians are lying would mean that when they uttered the words, they knew them to be untrue, and proving that is extremely difficult.

  37. Assiduosity

    Terms I do dislike intensely are ‘snowflake’ and ‘generation snowflake’.

    Surely these are simply shallow, lazy and generalised forms of abuse. Not only is it always a unedifying spectacle for one generation to generalise and claim superiority over another, but the terms have a self-satisfied, intellectually flabbiness to them: they are a means of dismissing the views of others without engaging, or offering a proper critique of them. There’s an irony here as that is often what those who are the harshest critics of so-called ‘snowflakes’ attack them for.
    ————————

    Well said Assiduosity.

    And I find it quite chilling when people who express their dissatisfaction with a political outcome are told to shut up and are accused of being “undemocratic” and members of a “liberal elite”. Don’t such critics realise that freedom of speech underpins our democracy?

  38. A couple of observations on recent themes raised by other contributors:

    1) There has surely been a worrying switch from politicians selecting the facts to support their arguments to those such as Trump and Boris who frequently spout things they know to be untrue because they think (often correctly) that it will gain them an advantage. There was a time when lying in public could ruin reputations (eg Profumo and, as time went on, Eden). Now the opposite seems to be the case.

    2) It is unreasonable to dismiss all opinion polling because some pollsters have became less accurate than in the past. The circumstances of both the UK referendum and the US Presidential election posed unprecedented difficulties in obtaining an accurate basis for designing a reliable sampling frame. And in both cases a number of the national polls still predicted the actual result within their stated margins of error – usually + or – 3%.

  39. “Is it increasing… Snake Oil salesmen trying to buy votes… Politicians of EVERY political persuasion…
    I think not. I think it was always so-and voters always have to listen carefully before voting.”

    Yes, it does appear to be increasing according to independent sources.

    University and non-partisan research centre fact checking is a fairly recent development.

    However; Trump scored generally between 60-78% (according to different sources) in terms of his campaign statements being wholly or partly made up, far more than any other candidate for elected office in the USA assessed in this way in the last 35 years (though far from every one was subject to the same scrutiny).

    Given that his was the most senior office in the USA, one could argue that not only has the scale of ‘economy with the truth’ increased but also its impact.

    On your second point around voters having to be very careful ‘what they listen to’ when making their minds up. Another element of the ‘post truth’ analysis is that social media and its patterns of functioning actually serve to reinforce rather than challenge untruths introduced into campaigns, lending credibility to such messages and enabling people to live in ‘echo chambers’ of their own opinions unimpeded by reality – something I think you are highly critical of others for.

    As for your like of the term ‘snowflake’ nothing in the Fox’s typically rather unpleasant article really addresses my core criticisms of the term…

    In what way is it anything other than a lazy generalisation and term of abuse.

    What evidence is there that actual debate is more narrowly focused on campus today than it was in the past or that younger people have a lesser capacity for broad ranging discussion.

    Evidence, not occasional anecdote.

    Isn’t the labelling of the views of a whole generation as mere ‘outpourings of snowflakes’ simply a tactic, fairly clearly, of shutting down discourse.

    The very thing you say you are against.

  40. valerie

    I agree but it depends whose side you are on.What are your views on the opprobrium heaped upon leave supporters. Little Englanders,thickos,racists etc and that is just on this site

    Freedom of speech does not exist as it is subject to legal restraints. However, the real restraint is when the political and media class create an atmosphere when a topic cannot be discussed openly.

  41. ASSIDUOSITY

    To be clear,

    I use “Liberal Elite” in the sense of the definition I supplied:-
    “Liberal elite (also metropolitan elite in the United Kingdom) is a term used to describe politically left-leaning people, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence and power and form a managerial elite.”

    It seems a reasonably accurate definition of a certain group in the same way as my description of Neoliberal is a reasonably accurate description, and one I am happy to accept as describing my economic views and those of people like me.
    .
    When I use the phrase a member of the “elite” I am talking about the social class definition:
    Elite Definition as per the 2013 Great British Class Calculator
    • They are the UK’s biggest earners and have major savings and investments
    • They score highest for social, cultural and economic factors
    • Many went to private school and elite universities – 24% of people in this group were privately educated, far more than in any other class group
    • This class is most likely to be found in London and the home counties
    • This group is exclusive and very hard to join, most come from very privileged backgrounds
    • 97% of people in this group own their own home

    As it happens I fit into this group although unlike most in this group I was not privately educated and did not come from a privileged background. Just a bit of fun really, but I think more accurate than the old social class definitions.

    I am not trying to undermine experts and agree with your ” I think we would both agree that a healthy amount of, if not scepticism, then understanding of the broad ranges that appertain to polling and economic forecasts, is sensible. ” I accept may be more sceptical of experts than many, hence my at best neutral stavce on “man made glonal warming”

    I have already accepted that the use of “Liberal Elite” should be restricted to my definition which is why i replied the Hireton as i did accepting that i had gone too far in describing the New York actors in those terms. I am happy to use it only when i think the people being described fit my definition above.

    As to Metropolitam Liberal Elite I sometimes use that to describe those who fit my Liberal Elite definition who live or work in London or other Cities which are centers of power.

    I have some sympathy with your last paragraph. However elites do exist and some have great power which they can use for good or ill.

  42. Assiduosity

    ;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;man made global warming.

    Sorry typing without glasses again.

  43. @Peter

    “Having watched Italian Politics on and off for decades the idea of the Prime Minister resigning and new elections struggles to raise a yawn let alone apexcitement.
    Whether you equate them to Buses or Dominos, one along in a minute or ever ready to topple the idea that losing the upcoming Referendum and elections will spark an Itaexit is fanciful.”

    I’m very interested to hear this and read your excellent post.

    My Italian is not as good as it should be, but following the referendum in the Italian media, my distinct impression was that it had taken on a rather different and domestic character to the ‘plebiscite on the EU’ it is almost invariably portrayed as in the English language media.

    Moreover, as you say, even if the temperamental Renzi resigns, this seems only to necessitate a change in personnel at the top with the current carefully assembled coalition remaining in place through to elections in 2018.

    Meanwhile, M5S seem to have rather softened their previously strident views on the EU somewhat, now moving to a position of radical reform and partial repatriation of powers to the state comparable to the AfD’s platform in Germany. I’m less clear whether they are still set on withdrawal from the Euro or whether an independent Lira is even a political starter with the inevitable devaluation that would entail.

    Finally, I’ve also followed a lot of debate about whether the failure of the referendum would act as a catalyst for a pulling back from electoral reform for the lower house – effectively ending or curtailing the ‘winners premium’ and returning to a purer form of PR. Do you now how likely this would be?

  44. I agree val.

  45. ASSIDUOSITY

    @”What evidence is there that actual debate is more narrowly focused on campus today than it was in the past or that younger people have a lesser capacity for broad ranging discussion.”

    Well senior academics have recently been moved to remind their students about the purpose of a university education .

    A couple of examples for you :-

    “The dean of students at the University of Chicago recently wrote to inform all new students that: “We do not support so-called trigger warnings, we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual safe spaces where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own.”
    Guardian 16 Sept. 2016

    and-following the Rhodes Statue business at Oxford :-

    “Two weeks ago, on the day of her formal installation as the new vice-chancellor of Oxford, the political scientist Louise Richardson spoke about the tensions to be found on university campuses across Britain. “Education is not meant to be comfortable,” she said. “Education should be about confronting ideas you find really objectionable, figuring out why it is you find them objectionable, fashioning a reasoned argument against them, confronting the person you disagree with and trying to change their mind, being open to them changing your mind. That isn’t a comfortable experience, but it is a very educational one.”

    Guardian January 2016.

    So perhaps they had some concern about trends. As for which., there is an annual look at Free Speech in UK universities.

    It uses a Red/Amber?green ranking system.
    In its 2016 results, of 115 universities, 63 were rated Red & 40 Amber.

    Compared to 2015, Red rankings were up 17 -or 37%, and Amber rankings were up 9 -or 32%

    http://www.spiked-online.com/free-speech-university-rankings/results

  46. ASSIDUOSITY

    @” social media and its patterns of functioning actually serve to reinforce rather than challenge untruths introduced into campaigns, lending credibility to such messages and enabling people to live in ‘echo chambers’ of their own opinions unimpeded by reality – something I think you are highly critical of others for.”

    Indeed so.

    The search for positive reinforcement & the herd mentality of political discourse on social media has made the average voters quest for objectivity more difficult.
    And if you add in the Like Button facility , and the coinage of “Troll” for unwanted contribution from a different viewpoint you have a pretty good counterpart for the Safe Space & No Platform regime in some Student Unions.

  47. @ TOH

    “I use “Liberal Elite” in the sense of the definition I supplied:-
    “Liberal elite (also metropolitan elite in the United Kingdom) is a term used to describe politically left-leaning people, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence and power and form a managerial elite.”

    I would agree that this is generally a reasonable descriptor of a certain group of people – the group incidentally to which I belong, and am quite happy to be identified as belonging to.

    I am also sure that you deploy the term accurately; however, my primary problem is that it is used by others (not your concern I know) rather too generally to apply to people only with reference to where they live and their political views and without reference to whether they are actually members of an elite, economically or socially.

    Not all liberals are members of an elite as much it might suit some people (not yourself) with opposing views to assert that. Many people who live in London and hold left wing views are ‘just managing’ or socially disadvantaged.

    My second problem with the term ‘liberal elite’ is that we do not apply ‘elite’ to people with other political views with the same consistency. So the equivalent of ‘liberal elite’ is not ‘neol!beral’ but ‘neol!beral elite’, ‘conservative elite’ ‘nationalist elite’ and so on.

    Now this may seem trivial, but I don’t believe it is, for if we only talk about liberals in connection with the term ‘elite’ then we collectively propagate – falsely – the view that liberals dominate the elite as a whole as, to use the definition you cite, categorised by the 2013 Great British Class Calculator.

    The reality is quite different, if we look at those areas of London that have the highest concentrations of home ownership, individuals of high net capital wealth, highest number of high income earners, highest proportion of individuals attending private schools and best access to private health and social and cultural assets, these are in the majority areas that vote Conservative at parliamentary elections.

    We should therefore talk about a ‘metropolitan conservative elite’ at least as much if not more than a ‘metropolitan liberal elite’.

    Where matters are confused somewhat in the capital is that London’s right of centre voters tend to hold different views of the EU to conservative voters elsewhere and are noticeably less socially conservative in general.

    When one moves away from the mixed demography of the capital into the home counties, the elite which you refer to is, in electoral terms, almost universally Conservative.

    There are certain places which defy this correlation – Hampstead being the most well known – a wealthy area, in the main, that has at times voted for the left. However, Hampstead’s notoriety, is probably due in large part to its exceptionalism as anything else. Hence we have the term ‘Hampstead liberal’.

    So, unless we are to start identifying all the ‘elites’ at play, and specifically those groups that make up what appear to be the economically and educationally most advantaged sections of London’s communities – ‘conservative elites’, I still think the term ‘metropolitan liberal elite’ is misleading – as it implies a domination of the economic and social means of control that is not actually the case.

  48. I agree but it depends whose side you are on.What are your views on the opprobrium heaped upon leave supporters. Little Englanders,thickos,racists etc and that is just on this site.
    .
    Again, clearly we inhabit different realities. A regular reader and contributor to this site, I have not noticed that Brexiteers are regularly picked on and insulted. I have never seen people being described as “thickos” or worse. On one occasion a poster called me a “cr-t-n”, but, hey, I thought it said more about him than me and didn’t lose any sleep over it.
    There are some sensitive souls about, but I guess I’ve got broad shoulders.

  49. Sorry, my last post was in response to s thomas. oh for an edit button :-(

  50. @Thoughtless
    Certainly, nothing more to say to you.

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