After every by-election I write pretty much the same blog post. By elections tell us almost nothing about the state of public opinion, but are nevertheless extremely important in setting the political weather. This one is no different.

First, why they don’t tell us much. By elections are not little mini general elections. They take place in but a single constituency, which is not necessarily representative of the country as a whole. Richmond Park is an extremely affluent slice of South West London – it is not like other places. In a by election that it appears the Lib Dems successfully steered onto the issue of Brexit it is wildly unrepresentative – on Chris Hanretty’s estimates it voted 72% to remain, making it one of the thirty most remainy constituencies in Britain (and the fourth most remainy out of the 330 Tory constituencies). Secondly, by elections don’t change the government. In a real election the public are heavily influenced by issues like who they trust to run the country, who will the best PM. By elections don’t change that, so there are different dynamics. Thirdly, the intensity of campaigning is different, so larger swings are common. Campaigning was a particularly unusual issue here because Goldsmith was running as an independent – while some conservative MPs came to help him out, he did not have the might of the Conservative party machine behind him, while the Lib Dems appear to have thrown the kitchen sink, worktop, cooker, etc at it.

So it’s an unusual event in an unusual area that, in isolation, tells us little. It does, however, serve as an illustration of a wider pattern we’ve been seeing in local government by elections, where the Lib Dems have been doing very well. Lib Dems always out perform in local by-elections (and simplistic analyses of them has long been a straw for their supporters to grasp in dark times) but even by their own high standards they’ve been pulling out very positive results that have not been reflected in national polling. My best guess is that the explanation for this is something along the lines of people having stopped wanting to punish the Lib Dems. Having seen them humiliated and almost wiped out of parliament, they think they’ve had their medicine and now when a nice Lib Dem candidate comes along in a by-election people are again willing to give them a hearing. They aren’t doing well at a national level because people don’t hear them – they are the fourth party in votes and seats and struggle to get much coverage.

The impact of this victory will, therefore, be important. It will get the Lib Dems a hearing, remind people they are there and can win. Expect to see a Lib Dem boost in the national opinion polls, like they enjoyed after by-election victories years ago. The Lib Dems have a long history of using by election victories to show they are a viable party and to get themselves noticed. This could be another.

There’s another important impact too, that on the crude Parliamentary maths. Theresa May had a majority of 12, now it’s 10. As that is whittled away defeats become more likely…and an early election becomes more likely. The by election tells us little about what would happen in such an early election. Richmond Park is an extremely pro-EU seat, while a general election would be fought in a country that voted for Brexit. More than three-quarters of Conservative seats voted to Leave (and most those those that didn’t were far closer than Richmond Park). Don’t imagine that the swathe of Lib Dems seats the Conservatives won in 2015 are all itching to go back to the Lib Dems purely on the issue of Brexit – looking at Hanretty’s estimates, 20 of the 27 Lib Dem seats that the Conservatives gained in 2015 voted to Leave the EU.

Previous polling has suggested that the Lib Dems could indeed do very well in an early election fought around the issue of Brexit, and I think that is the case (especially if they are the only explicitly pro-membership party and can win pro-European support from Labour). Nevertheless, those same polls also suggested a very solid overall win for the Conservative party. Britain is NOT just a bigger version of Richmond Park.


789 Responses to “What Richmond Park can tell us…”

1 2 3 16
  1. Thanks AW

    It’s what I expected you’d say, but it’s always good when you say it. Your explanations are so much clearer than others can manage, and obviously come with that much more authority.

  2. On the likelihood of an early General Election, is it still LD policy to support one as it was in July?(http://www.libdems.org.uk/conservatives_must_call_an_early_election_lib_dems).

    I wonder if their recent improvement might encourage them to want one, for party advantage, or whether their fear of a larger pro-Brexit Tory majority would make them renege?

    Not that 9 MPs would make a huge difference to the FTPA mathematics. But 9 is more than 8.

  3. Reposted from the previous thread, because it’s such fun;

    Here’s for something completely different;

    I watched ‘The Joy of Data’ on BBC iplayer this week, and apart from being thoroughly interesting programme, it also came up with a fascinating fact.

    Apparently, if you search for something on Wikipedia, and then click on the first link in the main text repeatedly, you will find that for 95% of everything, you will quickly end up on the entry for ‘philosophy’.

    I tried this this morning for a topical subject, commencing with ‘Zac Goldsmith’.

    The route went;
    Politician – Classical Greek – Greek – Modern Greek – IPA Alphabet – Alphabet – letters – grapheme – linguistics – scientific – knowledge – awareness – PHILOSOPHY

    Then I tried ‘Brexit’ and the route went;

    United Kingdom – Europe – continent – landmasses – Earth – Greek – Modern Greek – …….PHILOSOPHY

    Then, for a change of tack, I tried ‘Body Hair’, which went;

    Terminal hair – vellus hair – hair – protein filament – biology – natural science – natural phenomenon – Phenomena – Greek – …..PHILOSOPHY

    This adds nothing to the debate on immigration [Immigration – country – political geography – political – Greek…..PHILOSOPHY] but is a fun distraction and for a Friday [Friday – Thursday – day of the week – week – time unit – base – International System of Units – French – International Phonetics Alphabet (French) – International Phonetic Language – International phonetic notation – phonetic notation – phones – Phonetics – Greek …..PHILOSOPHY] morning is a highly entertaining [Entertaining – entertainment – interest – emotion – consciousness – quality – PHILOSOPHY] diversion on UKPR. [UKPR – ARRGH! ‘UKPR’ does not exist on Wiki!!!]

    Enjoy! [Enjoy – Enjoy (play) – Alan Bennet – Leeds – West Yorkshire – metropolitan county – administrative division – country – political geography – political – Greek …..PHILOSOPHY]

  4. One of the very deeply troubling points about Brexit, immigration and whether or not ‘tabloid hype’ matters, is the increasing evidence of deliberate manipulation of the media. In many cases there are genuine fears that foreign governments are behind this, with proven links between the Trump campaign team and Russia, for example.

    Currently in the US there is a long running meme regarding a paedophile abuse ring centred on a pizza restaurant in Washington owned by Democrat supporter. This has led to demonstrations and death threats, and wild speculation about the involvement of Democrat politicians, despite there being not a single complaint or accusation being made, nor any evidence whatsoever. The story has gone global and has been run as a ‘fact’ on Turkish media, as an example.

    In Germany, there has been a demonstration by far right activists following the ‘news’ of a 13 year old Russian descended girl being abducted and raped by Middle Eastern immigrants. There is no girl, there has been no crime, and the police have completely dismissed the story as a complete fabrication, but Russian news media outlets have been running with the story, and far right websites are erupting with this.

    False news is being pumped into the atmosphere in the US, across Europe, and in the UK. The less worthy press play their part by picking up the nonsense and repeating it. This was fine when it was restricted to things like bent bananas banned by the EU, but it is now organised and targeted, with the involvement of a malevolent foreign power, and it is striking at the very heart of the democratic process.

    News manipulation, linked to the internet, is now a very serious threat to our tolerant and open liberal democracies.

  5. As always, very informative blog.
    It seems that at the next general election the parties will be fighting on very different grounds from what they have done in the past and to perhaps different types of voters.
    If this is true I suspect getting the polling correct might be very difficult. Are the polling companies worrying about this?

  6. I think Richmond tells us the Lib Dems are rebuilding, as has been the case for a little while now. They are remarkably resilient, having been long used to lurking in the cracks and crevices of the political landscape. They are the ultimate survivors, and are very adept at building local support.

    I suspect their real influence will be whether they shave a few percentage points of one or other of the main parties in specific constituencies, rather than how many seats they themselves actually win, and therefore what difference they could make to the relative balance between Labour and Conservative.

  7. I agree with Anthony analysis here. I have always felt that for the Lib Dems, Richmond Park was win or bust. Now that they have won, they are merely not bust and the hard work starts now.

    Based on my analysis of the Lord Ashcroft “exit poll” for the referendum, I predicted that the Lib Dems could win Richmond Park if it followed the pattern of the Witney byelection. This seems to have happened with additional tactical voting by Labour supporters. In this YouTube clip I produced last month, I explain how I came to that conclusion.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OL0w7xGSdJU&feature=youtu.be

    This is part 4 of a 4-part series on the referendum that I have published on YouTube. In parts 2 & 3 I explain my model for predicting the Leave vote for each seat with is different from Chris Hanretty’s even though we come ta similar conclusion that just over 400 out of 650 seats voted Leave.

  8. I am devastated by this result and feel I no longer recognise my country. I cannot believe my fellow countrymen and women have voted the way they have and believe they should be given another chance once they see the catastrophe that will soon unfold.
    I am going to campaign for soft Lib Dem policies as a hard approach – such as all adults having to wear open toe sandals – is not what Richmond voted for.
    I am also considering an appeal to the Supreme Court and think another by election should take place as the people were clearly misled by the LIb Dem campaign…..

  9. ” Don’t imagine that the swathe of Lib Dems seats the Conservatives won in 2015 are all itching to go back to the Lib Dems purely on the issue of Brexit – looking at Hanretty’s estimates, 20 of the 27 Lib Dem seats that the Conservatives gained in 2015 voted to Leave the EU”
    ___________

    Yeah us political anoraks would go along with this but try telling it to last nights winning screech…..she was almost attributing her win to a UK wide rejection of BREXIT.

  10. JASPER

    ;-) :-) :-)

  11. @Jaspar22 – stop being a numpty. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the Richmond campaign, voters will get the chance to vote again sometime between now and 2020.

  12. Alec,
    “One of the very deeply troubling points about Brexit, immigration and whether or not ‘tabloid hype’ matters, is the increasing evidence of deliberate manipulation of the media. In many cases there are genuine fears that foreign governments are behind this, with proven links between the Trump campaign team and Russia, for example.”

    Yes, definitely. This of course transcends all political opinions, it should be a worry for people of any stripe.

    It is also going to get much, much worse thanks to tools like VoCo (the so-called “photoshop for audio”) which lets you create entirely synthetic recordings based on genuine speech samples: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2016/11/adobe-voco-photoshop-for-audio-speech-editing/

    Within the next few years we may see the internet swamped with audio (and eventually video) material which is utterly fabricated. Taking quotations out of context will be chickenfeed compared to the potency of a convincing but fake “leaked” recording.

  13. Jasper22,

    Are you saying we should have another EU referendum in 2020?

  14. I’m not sure a whole load of rich Londoners voting to keep their Romanian cleaners and Polish builders, while being free to own their villas in the South of France and send their kids off for a “year out” on Erasmus really has much resonance with the rest of the country.

    People will vote Lib Dem on a one off basis, as a protest vote locally, but will not trust them with national issues – hence the divergence between their local by-election successes and their national voting intention, which is still flat on its back.

    Pitching itself as the Soft Brexit, worst-of-all-worlds (unlimited immigration, continued contributions, no say over market rules) party is not going to earn it many plaudits in middle England.

  15. AW

    You say that byelections don’t change the government. However, five or six more results like these and who knows……?

  16. Ir can tell us pollsters are still getting it wrong ?

  17. Seems to be that the route to “philosophy” is via “Greek”. Most everything ends up at “Greek” and hence to philosophy…

  18. “UKPR’ does not exist on Wiki!”

    ———–

    … But “opinion poll” does, and it also winds up at Philosophy, and not via Greek!! It gets there via “quality”. Who knew??…

  19. Using Hanretty’s estimate it looks as if about half of all those able to vote in the constituency in June turned out to vote remain.

    Yesterday Mrs Olney fell just short of half of the votes cast in poll which involved little more than half the electorate.

    So while Farron and his party can take some comfort from the result, the remainers can take none – Olney, on an overtly anti-BREXIT ticket, was supported by little more than half of those who voted remain five months ago.

  20. Here is an interesting page for those who haven’t seen it before:

    http://www.may2015.com/ideas/not-a-single-sitting-mp-won-a-majority-of-their-constituency/

    At the last election the median vote for a winning MP was just 30.1 per cent and given the majority this time for Sarah Olney she is well below the median at just 26%

    (FIgures used
    20510 votes Lib Dem
    41283 votes cast
    53.6% turnout
    77020 eligible votes)

    It is quite a surprise to find that many MPs (mainly Labour for some reason) were elected with as little as 12.5% of the total registered electorate.

    Even the most legitimate Tim Farron failed to secure an outright majority. He secured 60% of the vote on a 76.9% turnout meaning he had a 46.2% endorsement.

    Getting the vote out should perhaps be more of a priority for PPCs than actually trying to change peoples minds on doorsteps!

  21. @Thoughtful

    If only there had been a recent referendum of some kind to require MPs to receive 50% of the vote in an instant run-off election.

  22. I think that the most important message from the Richmond by-election is that Labour supporters are now willing again to hold their nose and vote Lib Dem to get the Tories out. The drop in the Labour share of the vote is a clear indication of tactical voting in a situation where it is obvious that there is a single challenger to the Tories.

    I believe it is unlikely that May will be forced into an early election by losing her majority because she can count on DUP support as fellow Leavers, but a rise in tactical voting could produce a hung parliament in 2020, particularly if the polls suggest a small Tory majority (the reverse of 2015).

  23. @Carfrew – glad someone else picked that up and found it interesting.

  24. leftieliberal:
    “Labour supporters are now willing again to hold their nose and vote Lib Dem to get the Tories out. ”
    There was no Tory candidate.

  25. Just under 70% of the Richmond electorate voted “Remain” in June and the Lib Dems got just under half of the votes last night – turnout just over half.
    Not really a vote against Brexit, surely?

  26. Farron has already been making silly noises re Brexit, but one figure not quoted on the site is that this constituency voted 70/30 for remain and Goldsmith is a prominent Brexit supporter.

    I do not believe for one moment that this result can be interpolated into a statement on the Brexit situation.

    I’m a little surprised that AW’s post doesn’t contain any mention of the single issue which caused this by election in the first place, the promise of Zac Goldsmith to resign if a third runway at Heathrow was to be built.

    How much of this vote was a punishment for that decision ?

    The Huffington Post is claiming that the third runway was indeed the deciding factor, so my question is why has AW decided not to include it in his write up ?

  27. Britain is not a bigger version of Richmond (more’s the pity as Richmond is a very nice area), however this is still significant in the sense that remainers are not willing to simply give up the fight. And let’s not forget that Goldsmith had a majority of over 20,000 in the 2015 election. Noone is suggesting that the Lib-Dems will win an endless stream of seats in the next GE but they are clearly back as a political force. To say that this result is completely insignificant is far from the truth.

  28. @LEFTIELIBERAL

    “I think that the most important message from the Richmond by-election is that Labour supporters are now willing again to hold their nose and vote Lib Dem to get the Tories out. The drop in the Labour share of the vote is a clear indication of tactical voting in a situation where it is obvious that there is a single challenger to the Tories.”

    True, but the other important message is that Corbyn has completely alienated his vote base in southern England. His gamble that by supporting Brexit he will win support in the north is unlikely to make up for the electoral disaster that awaits him in the south.

  29. Difficult to see how Heathrow was the key factor as both candidates were opposed. It’s also fair to say that Zac was still a Tory candidate. Local Tories were campaigning for him and were with him at the count. [snip]

  30. @NEIL MACK

    “So while Farron and his party can take some comfort from the result, the remainers can take none – Olney, on an overtly anti-BREXIT ticket, was supported by little more than half of those who voted remain five months ago.”

    Meaningless, as many remainers would stay loyal to their party of preference regardless. Goldsmith may be an independent but he is still a Tory and had no competition from a competing conservative candidate.

  31. @ROBERT C

    “I’m not sure a whole load of rich Londoners voting to keep their Romanian cleaners and Polish builders, while being free to own their villas in the South of France and send their kids off for a “year out” on Erasmus really has much resonance with the rest of the country.”

    Rubbish. Richmond has many rich people but also a lot on normal incomes who rent, like all parts of London.

  32. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/john-stewart-/richmond-byelection-heathrow_b_13367918.html

    The Richmond Park Result Signals The Amber Light Turning Green On Heathrow’s Expansion

    “The attitude of the residents contrasts sharply with that of active campaigners against Heathrow expansion. They were queuing up to campaign and canvass for Zac Goldsmith. They felt that, in their darkest hour when Theresa May had announced her Government favoured a third runway, Zac Goldsmith’s resignation provided them with a glimmer of light.

    The activists’ fury with the Greens and the Progressive Alliance who wanted all the other candidates to stand down to give Sarah Olney a clear run against Zac Goldsmith knows no bounds. They feel betrayed.

    The fact that most of the Greens do not understand the depth of this fury neatly illustrates the very different assumptions organisations brought to this by-election campaign.

    The Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the left-leaning and self-styled Progressive Alliance instinctively saw this as the chance to band together to topple Zac Goldsmith because of his support for Brexit and his alleged ‘racist’ Mayoral campaign.

    They assumed that UKIP backed Goldsmith because of his views on Brexit. It didn’t enter their mind-set that it might also have been because UKIP shared his opposition to Heathrow expansion

    If the other potential candidates did stand down and campaigned for Sarah Olney then this result is even less significant than at first sight.

  33. LEFTIELIBERAL
    I believe it is unlikely that May will be forced into an early election by losing her majority because she can count on DUP support as fellow Leavers

    I wouldn’t be so sure about the DUP being onside. Foster seemed to have a damascene conversion when it dawned on her that Brexit could mean trashing the Belfast Agreement and a hard border.

    SF have also indicated that they may temporarily drop their HoC abstentionism if Brexit voting looks tight. Should the DUP be needed to support May, I suspect SF’s willingness to unabstain will increase.

  34. NEIL A
    Remainers would have to be ashamed of relying on the votes of retired terr*rists to get their way in parliament?

    As Churchill put it in 1941, the evening before Operation Barbarossa:
    If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.

  35. AW

    Sorry about my last comment to NEIL A. I should have refreshed before posting. Feel free to zap that and this one.

  36. Jasper

    :-) But your campaign for “all adults having to wear open toe sandals” falls foul of European legislation on safety footwear which (as everyone knows) require a 200J toecap.

    It will, therefore be necessary to involve the European courts to decide the matter.

  37. @TANCRED

    No. Entirely meaningful.

    The Liberal Democrats intended this as a test of opinion on BREXIT, and presented it as such. Though they unseated a weak independent candidate, they completely failed to demonstrate any momentum in their anti-BREXIT campaign. Far from it. If the anti-BREXIT sentiment can’t turn in a more covincing performance in the remain heartland, Farron would be well advised to drop his agitation for a second referendum altogether.

  38. It seems to me that the Referendum has produced an infantilisation of UK politics, in that Brexit has taken on a symbolic importance whereby both Remainers and Leavers have long since become impervious to evidence regarding the best way forward.

    The continuing controversy looks set to dominate parliament & the country for the next two years (at least), with the consequence that insufficient consideration is being given to other vital national issues – to take a few examples, the long-standing housing crisis in parts of the country; the growing inadequacies in social care, especially for the elderly; and the time-bomb of insufficient pension provision for virtually everyone under the age of 50. And that’s to say nothing about the response to the accelerating displacement of jobs by machines, or the (in)adequacy & (in)security of energy supplies!.

    Neither Con or Lab seem to have a credible or coherent strategic vision, and until either or both develop one the future looks very bleak – with more “freak” election results to follow, no doubt.

  39. Of course the EU will dominate our politics for the next 4-5 years, since it is the most important issue facing the country since the 1930s.

    It’s easy for the Liberals and UKIP, almost all of whose supporters are in favour of one or the other. It’s a problem for both the Conservatives and Labour who have a 60-40 split amongst their supporters, and therefore have an uncomfortable time ahead.

    The Conservatives are in government and will have to come out at sometime in the next year in favour of what we are calling a “hard or soft brexit”, and will alienate some of their core support either way. It’s a bit easier for Labour who are in opposition and can simply call for a better deal, without having to take any responsibility for achieving it. Both parties appear to be already acutely aware that support on both sides can easily peel off to the Liberals and UKIP. I very much doubt that changing the subject is going to work, although both parties will try.

    It’s a bit of phony war at the moment. As YouGov have shown the public currently is strongly in favour of having their cake and eating it (as usual I’m inclined to add). When they finally realise they can’t no-one can say right now what will happen.

    Finally just to emphasise how dangerous and polarising referendums can be. This one bids fair to have repercussions for at least 20 years, and mutual hostility is way higher than it was a year ago. Despite having won, Leave proponents are already threatening violence on those opposed to them. Businesses that have been unwise enough to come out on one side or the other are already being subjected to boycotts.

  40. “This one bids fair to have repercussions for at least 20 years”

    Looking at what’s happening in Italy, I don’t think the EU’s got that long.

    The UK would have tumbled out of the EU at some point in any case for a multiplicity of reasons. Among them, the EU Army is now conducting its first exercises.

    http://www.defensenews.com/articles/eu-battle-group-preparation-picks-up-steam-in-italy

    Whether it will be used to try to “shore up” nations that try to leave has yet to be seen.

  41. @NEIL MACK

    “No. Entirely meaningful.
    The Liberal Democrats intended this as a test of opinion on BREXIT, and presented it as such. Though they unseated a weak independent candidate, they completely failed to demonstrate any momentum in their anti-BREXIT campaign. Far from it. If the anti-BREXIT sentiment can’t turn in a more covincing performance in the remain heartland, Farron would be well advised to drop his agitation for a second referendum altogether.”

    Goldsmith called this election because of Heathrow, not Brexit., regardless of what the Lib-Dems said. Goldsmith had a 23,000 majority and this was turned into a 1,900 majority the other way – to me that’s a pretty significant success.

  42. New YG Westminster VI

    CON: 39% (-2)
    LAB: 27% (-1)
    UKIP: 14% (+2)
    LDEM: 9% (-)
    GRN: 4% (-)

    Since their Full Scottish poll didn’t ask about W/M, here are the Scots crossbreak numbers

    SNP: 50%
    CON: 20%
    LAB: 18%
    LDEM: 5%
    GRN: 3%
    UKIP: 2%

  43. @Tancred re:rubbish

    http://election-data.co.uk/richmond-park

    Very unusual, wealthy, area. More common in London, but only by comparison of barely existing outwith.

    Aslo Re fake news, the problem is people only want to stop fake news that hurts their candidate (although they’ll claim otherwise). The current debate is anti-Trump, but fake-anti-trump news got far more traction that pro-trump….that quote, all his “consipracy theories”, the smear story which got the most notice was the “mocking disabled dance” thing.

    There is the foreigninity ofc, perhaps it’s fineish for native powers-that-be to skew perceptions against reality….but not for the russians to interfere.

    Re the by-election….I reckon this only firm up the argument that the next election could be run almost entirely on brexit…especially in the case of an early election. Bad for Cons in the very few richmondlikes, but probably great for them overall.

  44. LEFTIELIBERAL
    “I think that the most important message from the Richmond by-election is that Labour supporters are now willing again to hold their nose and vote Lib Dem to get the Tories out. The drop in the Labour share of the vote is a clear indication of tactical voting in a situation where it is obvious that there is a single challenger to the Tories”
    __________
    Crikey in Scotland the buggers are propping up the Tories in local government and at the last Scottish election a lot of Labour supporters voted tactically against the SNP and voted Tory.

    To recap..Labour in Scotland are tactically supporting the Tories (outside West central Scotland) look set to support UKIP in the North of England should BREXIT get botched up and in London the metropolitan Labour lot are backing the Lib/Dems.

    In short… the Labour vote is being passed around like a dirty po#n mag

  45. @JOHN CHANIN

    “Of course the EU will dominate our politics for the next 4-5 years, since it is the most important issue facing the country since the 1930s.”

    It should not be – it is being made so by the Brexit zealots. Most people are more concerned about the economy and the NHS. Brexit is just an unwelcome distraction.

    “It’s easy for the Liberals and UKIP, almost all of whose supporters are in favour of one or the other. It’s a problem for both the Conservatives and Labour who have a 60-40 split amongst their supporters, and therefore have an uncomfortable time ahead.”

    Until Corbyn popped up Labour was strongly pro-Europe. Only a small minority of Labour MPs backed leave. The Tory party was only a bit less pro-Europe. What has happened is that these parties are now dominated by leaders who never really believed in remaining in the EU in the first place. This might change in the future.

    “The Conservatives are in government and will have to come out at sometime in the next year in favour of what we are calling a “hard or soft brexit”, and will alienate some of their core support either way. It’s a bit easier for Labour who are in opposition and can simply call for a better deal, without having to take any responsibility for achieving it. Both parties appear to be already acutely aware that support on both sides can easily peel off to the Liberals and UKIP. I very much doubt that changing the subject is going to work, although both parties will try.!”

    It’s true that one group or another will be alienated, but sometimes you have to stick to your guns and act on principle. However, if the principle itself is wrong then the future will really look bleak for both Labour and Conservatives.

    “It’s a bit of phony war at the moment. As YouGov have shown the public currently is strongly in favour of having their cake and eating it (as usual I’m inclined to add). When they finally realise they can’t no-one can say right now what will happen.”

    The public is ignorant – as usual. Once they wake up to reality they will then their views will become more polarised than ever. Not a happy prospect.

    “Finally just to emphasise how dangerous and polarising referendums can be. This one bids fair to have repercussions for at least 20 years, and mutual hostility is way higher than it was a year ago. Despite having won, Leave proponents are already threatening violence on those opposed to them. Businesses that have been unwise enough to come out on one side or the other are already being subjected to boycotts.”

    Absolutely. Brexit is now the burning issue that the Catholic-Protestant divide was between 1530 and 1700, and the Irish question in the 19th century. Let’s just hope that it does not lead to bloodshed.
    What I will say is that if the pro-Brexit camp want war then I’ll be the first to volunteer against them.

  46. YouGov poll showing a Tory lead of 12% would imply a majority of 54.

  47. I see reference to the ‘EU Army’ again. Sigh.

    During the referendum campaign I identified the EU and defence as one area I was potentially troubled by, so I spent some time researching the treaty provisions. It was quite illuminating.

    The Lisbon treaty seeks to establish what is in effect a research based group to identify potential threats and assess capabilities, with the specific intention of identifying gaps and shortages. It specifically references NATO and the need to avoid replicating or undermining this alliance. The treaty specifies that peacekeeping, nation building, disaster relief and humanitarian missions are all areas where the EU should be doing more, but lacks coherence in terms of capability, with the clauses making it clear that defence is not the main focus of the EU military planning group.

    EU members may join any new defensive arrangements, or may sit out. This is a choice entirely for national governments. They cannot veto the right of other nations to form combined forces, but neither can anyone be forced to join. NATO has welcomed the development of the ‘battle group’ concept.

    If Brexit voters believe that EU nations shouldn’t be forced to join an EU army, while also believing that the EU nations needs to coordinate more on defence and provide more resources for mutual defence and humanitarian operations, then I really do struggle to understand why they witter on so much about ‘a European army’.

    It’s just lazy, bigoted thinking, by people who can’t be @rsed to go and do some research but instead wish to follow the sheep and object to anything with ‘E’ and ‘U’ in the title, even if it might be good for them.

  48. OLDNAT

    I don’t understand why Yougov never asked for Westminster VI in Scotland when they carried out the the Scottish parliament poll?

    Mind you I think the cross break has it spot on the nose.

  49. @WOOD

    “http://election-data.co.uk/richmond-park
    Very unusual, wealthy, area. More common in London, but only by comparison of barely existing outwith.”

    Thanks – interesting. Despite this, there are several Tory seats in London that that could fall to the Lib-Dems because of Brexit. Not many, but enough to hurt. Also, Labour will lose support all round the south, and the Lib-Dems will benefit as a result.

1 2 3 16