Opinium’s latest voting intention poll has topline figures of CON 38%, LAB 31%, LDEM 6%, UKIP 13%, GRN 4%. The seven point Conservative lead is much tighter than we’ve seen in other recent polls, which have almost all had double-figure Tory leads. While the lead has dropped in this poll, I suspect the difference is methodological somehow – most of Opinium’s recent polls have had Tory leads that are smaller than those from other companies. One of the results of the 2015 polling error and polling companies’ efforts to correct them is that we can’t really tell for sure which are right. Is it that some companies haven’t done enough to correct the errors of the past, or others who have done too much?

Given I’ve flagged up the increase in Lib Dem support in the last three polls I should also point out the absence of one here, they are down one point. We’ve had four polls since the Richmond by-election, two showing a small increase, one a small drop, one a substantial increase. Taking an average across the four polls, a very modest impact on national levels of Lib Dem support. Full tabs are here.

The same poll had a couple of questions for Keiran Pedley – the first asked people if they preferred a Brexit where Britain left completely, but got a harsh deal meaning the economy suffers, unemployment increases and there’s less money for public services… or a Brexit where Britain remains in some EU institutions, has freedom of movement, is subject to the EU courts and so on. Faced with that stark choice, people went with the “soft Brexit” option by 41% to 35%. However, it does, of course, assume that people can be convinced that a “hard Brexit” option would result in the economy suffering, unemployment increasing and so on. We’ve just had a salutary lesson that lots of experts telling people that leaving the EU would have negative economic effects is not necessarily effective. I think the most we can say is that it suggests if people can be convinced that a hard Brexit would damage the economy, jobs and public services and that a soft Brexit would not, then they would prefer a soft Brexit… but that “if” is doing a lot of work.

Keiran also asked two questions about a second referendums, both finding a majority of people do not want one. The first asked if people would like a second referendum after terms are agreed, the second asked if there should be a second referendum if it becomes clear that Brexit is damaging the economy. In both cases 33% said yes, 52% said no – suggesting that a declining economy wouldn’t necessarily make people want to reconsider the issue.

That second question is key in a lot of current discussion about public attitudes to Brexit. It is clear from current polling that that has not been any significant shift in public opinion since the referendum, most people think the govt is obliged to deliver on the referendum result and that most people do not currently want a second referendum. The hopes of some of those who would like to stay in the European Union are pinned upon the idea that as the negotiation period progresses the impact on the British economy will begin to be felt and at that point the public will change their mind, want to stay after all, and therefore be open to the idea of a second referendum.

Whether there is a chance of this happening is very tricky to measure in a poll. It’s asking people to predict how their opinions might change as a result of future economic developments, when respondents themselves don’t know the answer. We don’t know what’s going to happen to the economy in coming years, and we certainly don’t know what the public will attribute it too. It would be naive to think that an economic downturn will necessarily be blamed on Brexit by those people who supported Brexit. People view new events and information through the prism of their existing views, and many Brexit supporters will blame it on other economic factors, or on the rest of the EU trying to punish us, or pro-Europeans wanting Brexit to fail…. or take it as short-term pain that will be outweighed by later gain (in the same way, many pro-EU people will be liable to blame things on Brexit that have nothing to do with it. This is not a comment about supporters of one side or the other, but on human nature in general).


986 Responses to “Opinium – CON 38, LAB 31, LDEM 6, UKIP 13”

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  1. I seldom link to opinion pieces in the UK press, since they are usually just much longer versions of arguments that have been articulated here,.

    Articles from non-UK sources can, however, provide an understanding of how opinion is being formed elsewhere, so I’ll link to this from the Irish Times –

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/why-reunified-ireland-offers-best-outcome-for-north-s-future-1.2918645#.WGQULEl-jt5.twitter

  2. @Paul h-j

    “Ulster” is not Northern Ireland. And the “provinces” of Ireland have no legal or political significance. The terms on which reunification may be considered are set out in the Good Friday Agreement as subsequently enacted legally and constitutionally in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

  3. @Andrew111

    And there you go again. In a political campaign, taking the headline figure of £350m, and forgetting that £100m is rebated and never actually goes to Brussels, is quite a modest exaggeration. I struggle to think of a GE campaign that didn’t have far worse from both sides. Politics is not a particularly truthful art; it never has been.

    I don’t recall getting any leaflets from Leave, I got a booklet from the Government advocating Remain that was paid for out of taxation, that was all. That turned out to be full of exaggerations as well.

    Are exaggerations only wicked when the wrong side do it?

  4. @Andrew111: One of the key lessons on this site is that most voters do not engage with debates as closely as the sort of people who follow this site.

    So, it is quite possible many voters believed the £350m figure and remained oblivious to the enormous publicity challenging it, and the rather unconvincing attempts to explain it away as a gross figure rather than a net one. It was bad, and unnecessary.

    But it did not come top of the pops of post-referendum surveys on why people voted.

    It is comforting to believe that your side lost because the other side is full of liars and dupes.

    BTW: I saw much from Remain about how only 7% of Acts of Parliament related to EU laws. It airbrushed out every Directive implemented by UK regulations, and every EU Regulation that doesn’t need UK legislation. So, please do not get high and mighty.

  5. Rodger

    “I don’t recall getting any leaflets from Leave, I got a booklet from the Government advocating Remain that was paid for out of taxation, that was all.”

    I’m amazed that you got no literature at all from either side during the campaign.

    The “booklet from the Government” you mention must have either ore-dated the campaign, or not have been from the Government at all, but from the Remain campaign – in which case it would certainly not have been “funded from taxation”.

    It could also be that your memory is simply faulty about this.

  6. @ANDREW111

    “Unlike Tancred, i do think the £350 million ( and Farage’s poster) won it for Leave.. clever and successful cynical campaigning.. But let’s not rewrite history by pretending it was a “modest exaggeration, just left in the background”

    I don’t agree. People had largely made their minds up well before the referendum – the campaign had little effect, in my opinion.

  7. PAUL
    “So, logically, the Irish (all provinces) should vote for reunification.
    Maybe once they see how well Britain fares freed of the shackles of the EU they may well decide to do just that, as part of the United Kingdom.
    Every bit as logician as your argument that Ulster should want to leave the U.K.”

    Dangerous talk. But given how the Troika ran riot in Greece, one does wonder!

  8. JonesinBangor

    It would certainly be a wonder!

    Every small country will have less influence than bigger ones.

    However, merging with a single dominant neighbour means having no influence at all.

    If being part of a bigger political unit was the solution to problems, then England would have enthusiastically embraced “ever closer union”.

  9. UK leaving ECHR pushed back to somewhere after 2020.

    That will be the 3rd consecutive UK GE where the Tories have campaigned on implementing that policy – if they actually do.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/12/28/theresa-may-fight-2020-election-plans-take-britain-european/

  10. Prediction.

    2017 will the year that the UK backed away from Brexit, as more information about ecomomic consequences starts to affect polling numbers, causing Theresa May to pause for thought. If the British public changed their minds, no Government could plough on with implementing a non binding referendum. Parliament would have to consider the interests of the whole country.

    Of course this will lead to Theresa May potentially losing half of her cabinet to the backbenches and a number of Tory MP’s defecting to UKIP. This could happen before the end of the Summer.

    Before the end of July 2017, we will see both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn face leadership contests. I don’t think Corbyn would take part this time around and a younger candidate from the left will stand. By September 2017, we could have a different PM and Labour leader. A general election could follow in November 2017.

  11. [email protected]

    The Remain campaign leaflet – quite long and detailed, very well done with lots of simple statements – was indeed done by David Cameron and co and paid by taxpayers to the tune of I think £9m – it caused quite a furore. Being so patently one-sided (although purporting to be neutral advice, with a recommendation in conclusion to stay in) and therefore ‘unfair’, as a result its impact may have been neutralised.

    I’m surprised you forgot / didn’t receive this.

  12. A new WIN/Gallup poll [sample of 14,969] on EU support now being reported on Swiss TV and now on Reuters with EU voters upset but say no inclination to follow Brexit – poll. Including:

    While EU voters are clearly discontented, there was only a small rise in the number of people who would vote for an exit: 36 percent from 33 percent across the 15 European countries including Britain that were surveyed.

    The percentage of people in Germany, France and Belgium who would vote to leave fell from a year ago. Finland and Greece saw an increase in support for leaving, up to 40 percent from 29 percent and to 46 percent from 38 percent respectfully.

    No sign of the tables yet.

  13. huckle

    you could get very good odds on that and end up sunning yourself on some carribbean island.On the other hand ……..

  14. BBZ

    i thought there were 28 EU countries? Why would you only survey just over half and who selected the countries to be surveyed?

    Also I would be slightly concerned if i was the EC that Greece is edging to a majority leave position and Finland seems to have moved from peripheral leave to mainstream leave.

    The core countries position is entirely consistent with circling the wagons after brexit.

  15. S THOMAS

    I wouldn’t bet against Greece as the next peg to fall:-

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/francescoppola/2016/12/28/greece-the-game-is-on-again/#2e9cccfc46e5

  16. S THOMAS
    Why would you only survey just over half and who selected the countries to be surveyed?

    If I had commissioned the poll, it would probably have been determined by how many I could afford.

    If you really want to find out why, ask WIN or Gallup.

  17. SThomas,

    Not surprised at shift in Finland. Unlike fellow Nordic counties Denmark and Sweden, it joined the Euro. Since then, its major industries have shifted production to lower cost countries. In addition, it has suffered more than most EU countries from sanctions against Russia, which was Finland’s largest bilateral trade partner.

    Personally, I don’t think mainstream Finns will be campaigning to leave the EU in the near future, but, they are monitoring how the EU responds to the UK vote. If the answer seems to be “more Brussels” then we can expect a leave campaign to sprout.

  18. colin

    or Eire

  19. BBZ

    sorry to have offended you by asking a question about a poll that you linked. I thought it was an EC poll and i did not think that they had run out of money yet as we are still paying them £350m per week i believe:)

  20. Re Greece, the key question is whether they can leave the Euro while remaining in the EU. If yes, they are unlikely to abandon EU subsidies, which will be needed in large measure once they leave the Euro.

    If no, then it becomes a matter of when, not if. The underlying problem has not gone away and can never be fixed while Greece remains in the Euro. At some stage Greece will reach a tipping point – possibly within 2017. The real question is whether such an exit is negotiated peacefully or triggered by a violent explosion. Given Greek history, don’t bet on the former.

  21. S THOMAS
    sorry to have offended you by asking a question about a poll that you linked.

    No offence taken. Reuters don’t seem to show who commissioned it and neither did Swiss TV. An EC commissioned poll probably would have covered all member states, perhaps excluding blighty.

    I would appreciate your using BZ rather than BBZ though, just as Barbarossa would probably have preferred BR.

  22. Re :greece

    Reading the forbes link it is extremely depressing for Greece.on the one hand the EC seems their only friend while the German led Creditors are preventing full debt relief.The IMF should never have become involved in assisting a member of the worlds richest club.
    I suspect that leaving the euro and the EU is probably too much of a risk for the politicians and ultimately for the people.

    For that reason i do not predict that greece will leave the EU.

  23. Bz

    Ah yes poor Barbarrossa a man whose name is forever remembered for a particular german adventure.

    Although Operation “BR” sounds a bit like the repair to some sidings outside luton

  24. Paul HJ,

    “Not surprised at shift in Finland. Unlike fellow Nordic counties Denmark and Sweden, it joined the Euro. Since then, its major industries have shifted production to lower cost countries.”

    Not according to this from Statistics Finland.

    http://www.stat.fi/ajk/tiedotteet/v2008/tiedote_016_2008-06-10_en.html

    Looks like a Geheral Trend that is apparent in all the Scandanavian Countries with or without the Euro including non EU Norway.

    More about Globalisation and the Single Market than the EVIL EURO!

    Peter.

  25. That poll was carried out by Gallup, and it included the U.K., and the majority was for Remain.

  26. Oh, the tables for Europe (as it is Gallup’s end of the year report).. indeed according to this 54% Remain in the U.K.

    So…

    http://www.wingia.com/web/files/richeditor/filemanager/Global_WE_Tabs_221216_11.pdf

  27. Finland-the perfect economic storm:-

    The death of Nokkia
    Uncompetitive labour costs.
    Trade sanctions on Russia.
    Membership of the Single Currency

    http://www.economist.com/news/business-and-finance/21689751-nordic-laggard-can-forge-ahead-reforms

  28. OECD’s view of Finland’s economic problems is interesting.

    I particularly noted this from the Executive Summary :-

    “Narrow qualifications and a lack of foundation skills
    among vocational education and training graduates
    reduce adaptability to structural change. Difficulties to
    access employment for the low-skilled is one of the
    main sources of income inequality.

    Strengthen foundation skills in vocational education
    and training.”

    I remember when Finland was touted in UK as THE educational model to copy.

    http://www.oecd.org/eco/surveys/Overview-OECD-Finland-2016.pdf

  29. Jayblanc
    I’m sure those who remember the leaflet will remember that it carefully talked of “risks” of doom and gloom, rather than actually predicting their occurrence. But it did say:

    “The referendum on Thursday, 23rd June is your chance to decide if we should remain in or leave the European Union. The Government believes it is in the best interests of the UK to remain in the EU. This is the way to protect jobs, provide security, and strengthen the UK’s economy for every family in this country – a clear path into the future, in contrast to the uncertainty of leaving. This is your decision. The Government will implement what you decide. If you’re aged 18 or over by 23rd June and are entitled to vote, this is your chance to decide. ”

    As I see it, over half the population chose to accept the risks the Government pointed out, voted for ‘the uncertainty of leaving’ and wanted the Government to do what it promised.
    Perhaps it wasn’t entirely ‘the economy, stupid’.

  30. over half those voting {but as this is a polling site, I suggest the sample size was large enough to portray the wishes of the whole population)

  31. I watched the best thing on Christmas TV last night-Ethel & Ernest-Raymond Briggs’ fond, sensitive portrayal of the very ordinary lives of his parents.
    This caring memorial to loving , unexceptional people in a world of change made me think that this article may be onto something :-

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/29/trump-brexit-society-complex-people-populists

  32. The Greek problem is intractable but essentially simple. Previous reckless borrowing has left it with a massive overhang of debt; and it has an economy strangled by bureaucracy, over-regulation, restrictive practices and under-investment. Austerity cannot be the whole answer – as the UK experience shows – as only rapid growth or debt forgiveness can reduce the debt to manageable proportions. And without radical reform, and the end of austerity, rapid growth is unattainable.

    The country’s creditors are unwilling simply to write off the debt. So what’s the answer?

    Leave the euro, cry the europhobes. But that would lead to massive disruption, massive inflation and the further impoverishment of the population, while the euro-denominated debt would balloon as a proportion of GDP. Defaulting would make the country a pariah (and Argentina is hardly a shining example of economic success).

    But there seems to me a simple solution. The creditors are never going to get all their money back. But straightforward debt forgiveness would simply reward irresponsibility while leaving underlying structural problems in place. So why not offer debt forgiveness tied to essential reforms? Write off €10bn when tax collection is made efficient; another €10bn when inefficient state industries are privatised; and so on.

    After a few years, with the economy reformed and the debt burden lifted, the new lean, fit Greece can zoom ahead.

  33. somerjohjn

    unfortunately your first paragraph may provide an answer to your penultimate paragraph.

    The creditors will sooner or later have to forget punishmnent /deterrence and reward irresponsibility. having said that it was Creditor France that made it a condition of its support for the original package of debt relief that Greece continued with the purchase of 5 frigates ..yes.. youve guessed it..on credit.

  34. Colin

    “I watched the best thing on Christmas TV last night-Ethel & Ernest-Raymond Briggs’ fond, sensitive portrayal of the very ordinary lives of his parents.”

    Totally agree with you by far the best thing on TV over the holiday. My wife and I both loved it , and almost lived it if you know what I mean. A wonderful testament to his parents.

  35. TOH

    I do know what you mean.

    It evoked so many memories of my parents & grandparents too.

    Truly wonderful.

    ……………on to 2017 now-a year of enormous possibilities.

  36. LASZLO

    Thanks for finding the tables. Some interesting reading.

    The Stay/Leave split by country is on p32, and as you say the UK split was 54% stay, 46% leave from a weighted sample of 1000.

    A pity that Cameron was in quite such a hurry and insisted on having the vote so close to the national GEs.

  37. BT Says …

    “The Remain campaign leaflet – quite long and detailed, very well done with lots of simple statements – was indeed done by David Cameron and co and paid by taxpayers to the tune of I think £9m”

    You are confusing two separate items.

    The Government leaflet which you (and presumably Rodger) were referring to predated the campaign. It was not “the Remain campaign leaflet”.

    My surprise was at Rodgers claim that, at no point, did he receive any campaign literature. There must have been very few houses in the UK for which that was true.

    Here is the relevant extract from Lidington’s statement to the HoC on 11 April (source Hansard)

    The leaflet follows precedent from previous referendums, including those on EU membership in 1975, on the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in 1997 and on the creation of the mayoral system in London ?in 1998; in addition, there were two Government leaflets during the Scottish referendum in 2014. Government publications of that kind, and the distribution of a Government leaflet, are entirely lawful. Special rules limiting all Government publications and communications will apply in the last 28 days of the referendum campaign under the provisions of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.

    The text of the leaflet is 16 pages in length. It will be delivered to households in England from 11 to 13 April, ahead of England’s local election purdah, and to households in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland throughout the week commencing 9 May, to avoid disrupting the pre-election period in those parts of the United Kingdom. The total cost will be £9.3 million, which is equivalent to 34p for each household in the country.

    The Electoral Commission will shortly announce the designation of the two overall campaign groups, ahead of the 10-week official campaign period that leads up to polling day. Those two groups, in addition to having a higher spending limit of £7 million apiece, will each be entitled to the publicly funded delivery of a leaflet of its own, which will be sent to every household or to every elector, as the campaign group chooses. That benefit will be worth up to £15 million each for the designated leave and remain campaigns. The two campaigns will also be entitled to campaign broadcasts on television, the use of certain public rooms and a public grant of up to £600,000. That is in addition to the Electoral Commission’s own leaflet to every household, in which each campaign will be given a page.

    It’s hard for people to remember precisely what junk mailing they received when, so perhaps one should be clearer about the reality of what happened, instead of misrepresenting it.

  38. So rejoin,

    “So why not offer debt forgiveness tied to essential reforms? Write off €10bn when tax collection is made efficient; another €10bn when inefficient state industries are privatised; and so on.”

    To all intents and purposes that is precisely what the EU is trying to do, extend Greeces line of credit until it has reformed enough to service it’s own debt.

    I think some of the commercial debt will be converted to EU debt which the ECB will reschedule to a lower interest rate and repayment schedule which effectively makes it a write off, but it rightly won’t even talk about doing so till the reforms are made and have started to work.

    Until Greece makes reforms it will be a lifeline and nothing more, just keeping them afloat. When we see signs of life and them pulling themselves towards shore, that’s when the EU will start to pull them in.

    Peter.

  39. Extend & Pretend is as far as Germany will go on Greek Debt Relief

    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eurozone-greece-debt-germany-idUSKBN13S0VY?il=0

  40. CMJ

    Thanks – interesting analysis.

    “Little change” can sometimes mean that voters are waiting on something significant to happen before they see a reason to change their vote.

    I had thought there might be a rise in those unsure of how they would now vote, but that doesn’t seem to have materialised.

  41. The 2020s looks as if it will be a decade from hell in the UK:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-38459135

    Lower growth, job losses and a rising elderly population.

    Welcome to third world Britain – thanks to Brexit!

  42. @COLIN

    “I watched the best thing on Christmas TV last night-Ethel & Ernest-Raymond Briggs’ fond, sensitive portrayal of the very ordinary lives of his parents.
    This caring memorial to loving , unexceptional people in a world of change made me think that this article may be onto something :-
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/dec/29/trump-brexit-society-complex-people-populists

    Interesting. There is definitely a reaction against modernity; indeed, every populist movement is, to some extent, a reaction against the modern world. The Nazis were successful in Germany not just because of the widespread bitterness at the loss of territory after the Treaty of Versailles, but also because of discontent in many sections of German society with the increasing licence that became associated with a democratic state. The nostalgia for authoritarianism was always there and it ended up fatally undermining the Weimar republic.
    I’m not saying that Brexit and the rise of Trump mirror the rise of Hitler, but there are similarities. Modernism suits the richest and best educated sectors of society, not the ordinary people. Ordinary people feel threatened by modernism, so they will oppose anything that claims to be progressive simply because they don’t like change. We saw that in the AV referendum as well.
    In the long run progress always wins out over the Luddite mentality, but it often takes a long time.

  43. @BARBAZENZERO

    “A pity that Cameron was in quite such a hurry and insisted on having the vote so close to the national GEs.”

    Indeed. If he really wanted a referendum he should have held it at a more propitious time.

  44. @COLIN
    @TOH

    “I do know what you mean.
    It evoked so many memories of my parents & grandparents too.
    Truly wonderful.
    ……………on to 2017 now-a year of enormous possibilities.”

    Sentimental tosh, but I can see why the leavers would like this sort of thing. I too have had grandparents, but instead of looking back at the misery of the 1930 and 1940s I prefer to look forward to a more prosperous future, now jeopardised by nostalgics who refuse to accept the reality of the modern world.

  45. BZ

    I doubt that without promising the referendum Cameron could have won the elections. But that part is history.

    Brexit is, however, not history, but present, and future.

    I start to have the feeling that it helps none – none of the parties (maybe SNP and PC are exceptions to this, although the heightened nationalistic tones on my social media pages from both make me wonder).

    It really could end up in an unmitigated disaster, except if the “elites” somehow wake up, and start to prioritise (fat chance).

  46. Tancred

    do you think we ought to call a paramedic for him? he seems very depressed !!!

  47. NEIL A

    This comment is intended for anyone interested, but you may be particularly interested given your environmental concerns….

    The Irish Examiner has an interesting article today on the environmental impact of NI leaving the EU: Do we need a United Ireland to protect the island’s environment?

    I don’t consider myself a tree hugger, but it strikes me as fairly convincing. If it happens in NI it will happen in a post-Brexit GB too.

  48. LASZLO
    [Brexit] really could end up in an unmitigated disaster, except if the “elites” somehow wake up, and start to prioritise (fat chance)

    Agreed.

    I haven’t followed PC lately so I can’t comment on them, but I find it hard to imagine what more the SNP could do to provide unionists with a workable alternative to indyref2 or a hard Brexit.

  49. Laszlo

    “maybe SNP and PC are exceptions to this”

    I wouldn’t discount the Scottish Greens benefitting as well.

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