One year to go

You will unavoidably have noticed that today marks one year until Brexit day, when the article 50 timetable runs out and the British government has signalled its intention to leave the European Union. I’ve written a long piece over on the YouGov website here about where public opinion stands on Brexit which I’d encourage you to read, but here is a brief take on where we are.

Firstly, there has still been no big shift in opinion since the referendum. Since last year there has been a gradual drift, but nothing substantial. However, given the original vote was so close, that still means that you tend to find marginally more people saying Brexit is a bad thing than a good thing. YouGov ask a regular question asking if Brexit was the right or wrong decision – until the middle of last year it was typically showing an even split, in recent months it’s typically showing slightly more people think it was the wrong decision than the right one.

While it’s right to say people have moved against Brexit, it’s not right to say that most people want it stopped. If you ask people what the government should do now, the majority still want Brexit to go ahead in some way. The reason for this apparent paradox is that there is a minority of Remain voters who say the government should go ahead with Brexit – presumably because it is seen as democratic duty given the result of the referendum. One should be careful when interpreting individual polling results for this reason – you’ll sometimes find pro-Brexit sources representing polls showing a majority want to go ahead with Brexit as indicating majority support for Brexit, or anti-Brexit sources representing polls showing people disapprove of Brexit as opposing it going ahead. Neither appears to be true – looking at polling evidence in the whole the position appears to be that the public want Brexit to continue, despite starting to think it’s a bad idea.

Secondly, as ever it’s worth remembering that most people are really not that fussed about the details of Brexit. I could apply this caveat to almost any political issue, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth repeating. One reason that the ins and outs of the Brexit negotiations don’t make an impact on views is that people aren’t paying that much attention. 55% of people say they find news about Brexit boring (36% interesting). 47% of people say they are following Brexit very or fairly closely (itself probably an exaggeration) – 48% say they aren’t following it closely or at all.

Thirdly, support for a second referendum. Different polling companies produce very different results for this question, some (including the YouGov poll today) show more support than opposition for a second referendum, others show more people now support one. It seems to depend how the question is asked – wording along the lines of “asking the public” tends to provoke more support.

If a referendum was to happen, it would most likely be because of a government defeat in the Commons on the Brexit legislation or deal. The new YouGov poll asked whether people thought it was legitimate or not for the MPs to vote against Brexit. On the deal, the balance of opinion was that it was legitimate for MPs to block it – 42% thought it legitimate, 34% thought it was not. However, if it came to actually blocking Brexit itself the position swaps over – only 33% would see it as legitimate, 45% would not (as you might expect, it is mostly Remainers who see blocking Brexit as legitimate, most Leavers do not).

Finally the poll included some questions about whether the campaigns cheated in the referendum and the impact it had. Once again, people largely viewed it through the prism of their existing support for Remain or Leave.

  • 66% of Remain voters thought that the campaigns had cheated (39% Leave only, 3% Remain only and 24% both), and 45% of Remainers thought that if the campaigns had followed the rules Remain would have won.
  • 47% of Leave voters thought that the campaigns had cheated (14% Remain only, 4% Leave only and 29% both), but only 7% of Leavers thought that if the campaigns had followed the rules Remain would have won (16% thought Leave would have won more convincing had the rules been followed).

The full article on the YouGov website is here and the full tables are here.


218 Responses to “One year to go”

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  1. DANNY

    The French operate a hypothecated healthcare tax, they have one of the best funded and best performing healthcare systems in the world.

  2. TOH – here’s my comment with the evidence about antisemitism from the last thread:

    OLDNAT (from Friday night)

    Perhaps due to my reading (or maybe misreading) documents from the 1930s, and seeing the occasional reports of attitudes in some golf clubs, I’ve always tended to associate anti-Semitism with sections of society in London and SE England, rather than all of the English polity.

    Are my assumptions wrong?

    I must say that when I lived in England in the 80s, when you did occasionally come across antisemitic remarks, they tended to be from upper middle-class people, but they were usually unthinking rather than malicious. However we have an opinion poll from YouGov from last August to test the current situation:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/bs0i5dmt7s/CampaignAgainstAntisemitismResults_170803_JewishOpinions.pdf

    They put a number of mildly antisemitic statements to people and asked how much they agreed with them (or not). In general there was around 10% agreement, a bit more in some cases. There was little variation on region or social grade, but quite a lot on age, sex and political leaning[1] with older people, men and Conservative voters all being more likely to agree[2]. But to put it in context, the variation isn’t massive in absolute terms and, even in those groups most disagreed.

    Most other differences (such as between Leave and Remain) are probably derived from these biases. But there was notably high agreement among Catholics as opposed to other Christians and those with no religion[3]. It’s difficult to see a reason why. The sample size is pretty small (92) and age bias may partly responsible (but that doesn’t seem to apply to other Christians). Eastern Europeans probably aren’t that well represented on YouGov panels (and the questions are clearly aimed at Brits). It’s most likely just an odd subsample.

    So basically the British aren’t particularly antisemitic and Labour voters are less so than average. The British also don’t think that antisemitism is that much of a problem either – a 2011 YouGov poll found that people thought that Jews suffered less discrimination thatn Christians and only slightly more than people with ginger hair[4].

    Not that you’d know this from the media of course, who seem obsessed with the topic – providing the target of the accusations is someone they want rid of.

    [1] Particularly on the statement “British Jewish people chase money more than other British people” for some reason where over-65’s were four times more likely to agree than under-25s. However there was little variation on “Jewish people can be trusted just as much as other British people in business”, so maybe some in these groups don’t see chasing money as a bad thing.

    [2] This is slightly distorted by these being the groups traditionally least likely to answer “Don’t know”, but even so there is clearly a high acceptence of antisemitic statements.

    [3] Other religions also look high at first, but the tiny sample size (25) and high DKs mean this is meaningless.

    [4] See https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/today_uk_import/YG-Archives-Life-Sun-Discrimination-190111.pdf
    I think a similar question has been asked more recently, but I can’t find it at the moment.

  3. JIM JAM

    Thanks-but I don’t believe :-

    “The opportunism ironically may have slowed down the addressing as the genuine was dismissed unfairly, and regrettably by even those dismissing.”

    “opportunism” isn’t a defence-it merely acknowledges that the complaints are made at an inconvenient time.

    The answer in all of this is -surely-to be open & honest & address the complaints of those who have been PERSONALLY offended.

    ie not people like me-or journalists-but those of Jewish faith making a complaint to , or within, the Party.

    If offenders are dealt with to the satisfaction of complainants-then the story ends doesn’t it?

    This is true for any organisation so afflicted.

  4. JOHN PILGRIM

    ” in areas where the risks are apparent, such as that affecting financial services, ….”

    The facts are interesting, first it was claimed a 100,000 jobs would go in the City, then 75,000, then 10,000 and now we have 5,000. Where next?

    As I understand (from memory) there has been an increase of 12,000 jobs since Brexit was announced.

  5. NEILJ

    Thanks.

    I note the authors tag line :-

    ” Palestine Solidarity Campaign”

    Sad-the Palestinian vs Israeli cause is definitely an ingredient in this antisemitism row in LP-on both sides.

  6. John Pilgrim

    Further on the City. CME the US Trading Company is to set up it’s European HQ in London, not Paris or Frankfurt.

  7. COLIN
    Thanks.
    I note the authors tag line :-
    ” Palestine Solidarity Campaign”
    Sad-the Palestinian vs Israeli cause is definitely an ingredient in this antisemitism row in LP-on both sides.

    Agree

  8. Hypothecation

    We had this discussion a little while ago, I’m still of the same opinion, and would be whether proposed by Lab, Con, or Greens. I think it might provide a short term boost for NHS, but any funding model would soon by changed by a new government with new priorities. Just as with National Insurance, which no-one even pretends it has had much to do with National Insurance for years.

    Maybe there’s some way to make a hypothecated tax really work as intended, but I don’t think it’s an easy thing to do, and it’s likely just to make the tax system more complex (and probably more flawed with more loopholes). If a government of any hue proposes a fool-proof way of doing it, then I’d be happy to support it.

  9. John PIlgrim

    Thanks for re-posting your previous on antisemitism. Interesting but what about the piece that Colin posted which deals with actual complaints?

    As I said my own experiences in a long life certainly do not support Somerjohn comments.

    Possibly I am not typical of my age group as I have had a strong fellow feeling with the Jews since reading an account of Auschwitz-Birkenau as a teenager. This was reinforced by a visit to Israel in the 70’s just after the LOD airport massacre.

  10. ToH @ 10.50 am

    You are a star at making the best of a bad job.

    You really ought to have told us that these 5000 jobs to go are up to March 2019, not after we fully leave the EU.

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/us-britain-eu-city-finance/5000-uk-finance-jobs-may-be-moved-by-brexit-half-earlier-forecast-reuters-idUKKBN1H40ZV

  11. TOH: That’s a really unpleasant smear, back it up with facts or apologise.

    It’s sadly typical that you address not the content of my post, but what you perceive as a slight on your peers.

    As Roger Mexico has kindly demonstrated by repeating his earlier post, there is indeed evidence that older, right-wing Tories are more likely than Labour supporters to hold anti-semitic views.

    So since you are so keen to take offence and demand apologies (barking “back it up with facts or apologise” in peremptorary, ill-mannered fashion) perhaps you would care to withdraw your accusation of a smear.

    BTW, for what it’s worth, my father was for many years chairman of his constituency Tory association, so I am not unacquainted with the sort of private discussions and views in those circles. It was half a century ago, and I hope and expect that those views are less prevalent now, or at least less openly expressed.

  12. Our star at selective reading ought to explain the LSE report on Brexit annual costs:

    https://www.eveningexpress.co.uk/fp/news/local/report-warns-of-brexit-effect-on-granite-city1/

    Or is the LSE an incompetent source, ToH?

  13. Hah! Peremptory, not peremptorary.

    Come to think about it, is there an irascible subdivision of the Tory tribe known as peremp tories?

  14. Somerjohn

    “withdraw your accusation of a smear.”

    Happy to do that so i apologisse. You have an irritating style which tends to cause over reaction which I agree it was on this occasion. As I said to JP your comments do not reflect my own experiences, especially as a new Conservative member.

  15. Davwel

    No the LSE is relatively well respected. However it is just a forecast and forecasts about brexit have been very wrong so far as I have pointed out this morning, so this is probably wrong as well.

  16. Squawkbox has used YouGov data to prove that anti-semitism in Labour has fallen under Corbyn:

    https://skwawkbox.org/2018/03/29/exclusive-caa-yougov-data-show-labour-significantly-less-antisemitic-under-corbyn/

    Doesn’t excuse those who are still ignorant but probably makes sense when you consider the influx of new members who are likely to be younger/more enlightened.

  17. Davwel

    “You really ought to have told us that these 5000 jobs to go are up to March 2019, not after we fully leave the EU.”

    Even more interesting, so how do you explain the 12,000 increase?

  18. Personally, I think very few voters are anti-semitic, whether they vote Lab, Con or LD. Probably more of the far right parties would be.

  19. @TOH

    Thank you.

    As for my “irritating style”, maybe that’s inevitable when one person disputes another’s strongly held beliefs. Every oyster needs its piece of grit!

  20. NICK P

    “Personally, I think very few voters are anti-semitic, whether they vote Lab, Con or LD. Probably more of the far right parties would be.”

    Agree with you Nick

  21. Somerjohn

    “Every oyster needs its piece of grit!”

    Well you made me smile, very good!

  22. Colin
    Interesting link, but one which to my mind raises at least as many questions as it answers. I also agree most heartily with your post of 10.49.

    Firstly, alarm bells are ringing over their definition of good, bad and unsatisfactory outcomes. If a good outcome is defined as being upheld and a bad one as an acquittal, where does that leave someone who either has no case to answer, or is not as cut and dried as the author of this piece might consider it to be?

    I am by no means convinced that Labour supporters are any more anti-Semitic than anyone else, as has been eloquently described in earlier posts already today. It is my perception that someone making racist or anti-Semitic comments in a room full of Labour or liberal supporters is more likely to be called out on it than at a middle class garden party or down the conservative club. I once had the misfortune to end up on a minibus with a party of NF supporters and left with a sense that any attempt to engage in debate or report them to their leadership for agreeing with their own party policy would not have got anyone anywhere.

    No doubt Leadsom considers herself extremely clever to have scheduled a debate about this, (having met the woman and had dealings with her at work I would consider it a daily miracle that she can wake up and work out how to get out of bed each morning), but I remain convinced that this is far more dangerous terrain for the Tories than Labour.

    It is, of course, entirely possible that Labour will fail to take the opportunity to do anything effective with it, equally likely that the debate will be postponed, cancelled or entirely ignored.

  23. ToH @ 11.33 am

    It`s a little much to ask me to explain what`s in your memory about 12,000 extra London financial jobs since Brexit June 2016.

    This link doesn`t have it:

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-city/brexit-and-the-city-taking-londons-financial-pulse-idUKKBN1DK0VL

    Maybe you could dig out the claim, or just withdraw it with your dignified hat on.

  24. Job losses in the City are possibly not an adequate indicator of the overalll loss to the financial sector and certainly not of the effect on the economy of any transfer of trading from London to Paris or Frankfurt. As the Reuters report concludes:
    “The future of London as Europe’s financial center is one of the biggest issues in Brexit talks because it is Britain’s largest export sector and biggest source of tax. Rival cities within the bloc are battling to draw highly-paid banking jobs and the revenues they bring.”
    The effect will be also on related sectors, and will be felt and known about more in the 20 to 50 year future than in the immediate period of Brexit.

  25. TED

    @”I am by no means convinced that Labour supporters are any more anti-Semitic than anyone else”

    I’m not aware that anyone has suggested that.

    Though to judge from the posts here trying to identify higher levels of anti-semitism in the Conservative ranks of support, some have seen it that way.

    My perception is that the allegation ,from Labour’s own MPS in the main it seems, is that JC’s Leadership has been followed by an increase in online abuse by people who self identify as his “supporters”; and that he & his top team have not responded to itr quickly or comprehensively enough.

    Personally I think this pretty uncontrovertible & indeed the response from the top of the Party indicates that they recognise these charges.

    I do however think that a significant part of this “problem” arises in Corbyn’s support base because of their support for the Palestinian cause. It seems self evidebnt to me that some of these people , in the free space of Social Media ,slip all too easily from railing against “Zionism” to offence against Jews.

    It seems equally probable that Jewish opponents of the Palestinian cause respond in kind.

    It is a conflation to which those with Corbyn’s world view seem to be prone.
    I don’t think any Opinion Poll can measure it & I don’t know what the answer to it is.

  26. I ought to have pasted out a comment in the link.

    https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-city/brexit-and-the-city-taking-londons-financial-pulse-idUKKBN1DK0VL

    “”The number of available jobs in London’s financial services industry fell the most in six years in 2017, said recruitment agency Morgan McKinley which hires staff in finance””.

    Maybe ToH has the 12,000 as a count of new appointments, ignoring the people who resigned from these positions.

  27. On Sky’s business slot last evening Ian King interviewed a City representative who explained that London has assembled a unique “ecosystem” of Financial, Legal , Insurance, Banking & other expertise which no other City has replicated.

    It will be difficult to match quickly.

  28. Somerjohn

    After JimJam had pointed to my post in the previous thread, TOH did write:

    Fair enough, just not met any in my circle or at the local Conservative Club.

    Which you must have missed. I merely reposted my comment afer so people didn’t have to go rooting for it.

    He also said later that he might be untypical of his demographic in not being antisemitic, but actually he isn’t. It’s just that older, Conservative-voting (and possibly Catholic) men are more likely to agree with those mildly antisemitic views that were in the survey than other groups, but most older people, Tories and men still don’t share them.

  29. @ Robbie Alive
    I fully concur with your post on the previous thread.

    Just scrolled thru this thread, at some speed I must confess. 123 posts. Me the only female? Don’t know about TED or Poll Troll.

    Never mind, it’s worth coming here to read AW’s insights.

  30. COLIN: @”But that makes it even more a conspiracy, because you can bet there is some interest group behind the idea with the specific intent of undermining universal healthcare.”

    So………..you think Hunt lied to Peston in order to conceal a plan to destroy universal healthcare , behind a load of waffle about funding it adequately?

    Is that what you believe?

    No, I don’t think that one way or the other, because [and I’ll admit I may not have been following the thread assiduously] I didn’t know Hunt spoke to Peston.

    Read my comment in its context. I was agreeing with Polltroll that the tories are not clever enough for thinking this way, and Hunt is a tory, not a special interest group, I think you might agree. So that lets me off completely from your accusation.

    My point is that parties sometimes do things suggested by an interest group for a set of reasons suggested by that interest group, which may be quite different to the reasons the interest group has for doing those things

  31. AW,
    ” – looking at polling evidence in the whole the position appears to be that the public want Brexit to continue, despite starting to think it’s a bad idea. ”

    Is there really evidence to support that?

    My starting point would be the remain/leave question, which puts remain ahead. So at first glance, these people would want to remain and act to further that aim.

    Next is the question about what the government should do re brexit. As I posted above, this has the effect of splitting the remain responses amongst several options, whereas leavers only have one real choice, for the government to continue as it is. Summing the alternatives which amount to softening or halting brexit, the two sides are pretty even with 75% wanting to press ahead with their stated goals. But the question shows remainers divide on the proper process to go forward and change policy.

    It might be interesting if the questions provided more options for leavers, eg government should be aiming for a harder Brexit, or no deal Brexit. Most likely this would split the leave camp and give a better idea what sort of brexit leavers want. But presumably the question was initiated when such divisions were less apparent, and now is part of a time series which yougov would like to keep consistent.

    Its a real question whether leavers do really support the sort of Brexit the government is heading towards, and whether they might end up not wanting brexit to continue on the final terms. This is likely to counterbalance any remainers willing to go along with a final deal. Hasnt been investigated?

    There are a series of questions whether people think the outcome of brexit will be good or bad, and the consensus seems to be bad. Suggestive they would support remain.

    Should or should not be a referendum after deal completed, small majority against. But this is confounded by the group who think there should not be a referendum, rather government should simply halt Brexit. Those who think parliament should decide to stop brexit and therefore do not want a referendum arent allowed for.

    Then there are two questions about legitimate actions.

    Is it legitimate for MPs to reject the deal? yes. (42/34)

    would it be legitimate for MPs to vote against Brexit going ahead? No. (45/33).

    And here I see the same problem as above, but in reverse. If you are someone who thinks there should be an option to stop brexit, but the people should decide rather than MPs, what do you support? You would support a referendum to stop brexit, but oppose MPs making that decision. The earlier questions suggest some people think there should be another decisive referendum, whereas others think there should be a decision by MPs.

    These questions at the end dont allow for all the alternatives, so they do not prove there is a majority to permit Brexit to continue even though voters think it wrong. One question excludes one group of remainers, while the other excludes another. No single question forces all the options to be considered at once, as per the question on how negotiations should proceed.

  32. The Other Howard,
    “Further on the City. CME the US Trading Company is to set up it’s European HQ in London, not Paris or Frankfurt.”

    Always partial news, eh? A quick look reveals a telegraph article here https://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2018/03/29/broking-giant-nex-agrees-39bn-takeover-cme-group/

    saying CME is about to take over NEX. This will involve a 16% drop in the combined workforce, or 750 jobs saving £200mn a year. Bad news for someone. While CME had decided to leave London, it will now have a new combined presence in London. It isnt really clear to me whether this means the combined total workforce in London will now be bigger or smaller than previously suggested.

    I have seen other people posting ‘good news’ finance stories about the Uk, and on investigation found them to be not what they initially seemed. There regrettably seems to be someone out there spinning such stories.

  33. @danny

    The only party that could deliver a second referendum is Labour. Unfortunately the Kinnocks, Umunas and Powells and Coopers of this world no longer
    running Labour, haven’t any significant influence, and are seen by many in their own party as Red Tories.

  34. “I think you will find that to most Brexiters that economic gain is not the main driver, sovereignty is.”

    ——–

    In the days when UKIP were pushing that angle, they polled around 3%.

    Once immigration kept getting pushed as an issue by Cameron with the vans etc., and the media, immigration rose to be the number one concern in issue polling, and UKIP rose along with it.

    Sovereignty wasn’t even close to being the top concern, and I don’t know that it has ever been in the top ten.

  35. The Other Howard,
    ” However it is just a forecast and forecasts about brexit have been very wrong so far”

    Have they? I thought people on here already made a very credible go at arguing they had in fact been fulfilled.

    “Possibly I am not typical of my age group as I have had a strong fellow feeling with the Jews since reading an account of Auschwitz-Birkenau as a teenager. This was reinforced by a visit to Israel in the 70’s just after the LOD airport massacre”

    I watched the world at war. My onetime landlady was Jewish and a secretary at the neuremberg trials. But that has nothing to do with views in the labour or tory parties now. This is mostly trying to fluff up a political attack on an opponent because no credible attack on actual policy can be found. It simply brings the perpetrators of the attacks into greater disrepute themselves. It is leave politics in action. In fact, the news just now sounds like some prominent leavers are piling in in defence of prejudice. Funny old world.

  36. @THE OTHER HOWARD

    “As I said to JP your comments do not reflect my own experiences, especially as a new Conservative member.”

    ——–

    Well, as Roger points out, they are still minority views, but also, it’s probable that you wouldn’t attract such associates. You’ve always struck me as quite meritocratic about things, don’t have a problem with others doing well, are quite happy to acknowledge it. So those who WOULD have a problem with foreign peeps doing well, they might keep away from you!

  37. Alec

    “the traditional Scots air of superiority over the English makes people think that somehow the level of debate up there was better than the EU referendum.”

    You may believe in such a proposition. It is, of course, utterly irrelevant to the point I was making.

    Nothing I said suggested that the level of debate was better in Scotland than in England. Indeed the debate (such as it was) in Scotland during the EUref, was probably poorer, as all parties and their leaders were arguing for Remain.

    My comments simply related to the lengths of the two campaigns, and the different narratives that existed prior to them.

    While you may not have intended to give that impression, your response seems to be to what you assumed I was saying, and not what I did say.

  38. ROGER MEXICO

    @”To be fair, if they had headlined it “Jess Phillips Tries to Make Something All About Herself – AGAIN”[1] no one would have bothered to read any further.

    [1] Yes I know they wouldn’t have used so many capital letters, but some of us have standards.”

    I’m not surprised that CROFTY didn’t respond to this.

    He suggested that the headline to this article was “misleading”:-

    https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/mar/29/labour-mp-apologises-for-social-media-abuse-aimed-at-tory-activist

    He clearly meant that the syntax & punctuation did not indicate that Jess Philips was apologising, not for her own remarks-but those of Labour Party supporters.And doing so it should be said in defence of a political opponent.

    You have a reputation here for second prime provider of Polling analysis after our Host-rightly so.

    But I have never understood the implied reputation ( explicit for some posters) for “impartiality”. The liberal use of numbered references & footnotes certainly provides an academic veneer.

    But even a trademark footnote cannot disguise , as in the quoted response above ; the distinctly prejudiced opinion about anyone who criticises Corbyn or any of his supporters, even when that person is a perfectly decent working class Labour MP, defending a young female Tory supporter from vile personal abuse.

  39. Why do most people not want a second referendum.

    My guess is that it is some combination of the following.

    They feel that the die is cast and it would be undemocratic to question it.

    They are fed up with hearing about it and want it out of the way.

    They think that anything is better than the current uncertainty and just want to know what the future holds so that they can adjust their lives. A further referendum would add yet more uncertainty.

    Their side won last time and they don’t want any chance of having their victory reversed.

    No political party other than the Lib Dems has given a clear lead on wanting one.

    In my view the democratic thing to do would be for parliament to arbitrate on what is an acceptable deal. The country should then be given a choice between ratifying that deal, and whatever the other options then are. If the EU would accept that article 50 can be stopped the other options would be a) going out on WTO terms or b) going back to the devil we know, My guess is that if this was done on some kind of system that allowed for second choices if there was not a 50% majority whatever parliament ratified would win, But at least people would then have voted for some realistic alternative.

  40. @Somerjohn

    It probably serves no great purpose debating which extreme ends of the political spectrum cultivate the most virulent strains of antisemitism, although railing against Jews in the most offensive and overtly racist way seems to be a badge of honour with far-right political groupings rather more than far Left ones. Witness the Charlottesville demonstrations in the US last August when the far right groups taking part marched to the tune of constant antisemitic chants. Extraordinary and very scary to see in a mature democracy.

    Labour’s problem is that the arguments about the pockets of anti-Israeli, quasi antisemitic, opinion on the Left of the party are mutating into a proxy war between Corbyn loyalists and centrist Labour members and MPs who are still lukewarm about Corbyn’s leadership. A convenient arena of conflict and excuse for muscle-flexing rather than a serious discussion about the actual problem. We’re probably talking power-plays here rather than the specific issue of how extensive antisemitism may be within the Labour Party and this way lies confusion and inaction as people start to dig trenches. Corbyn may feel he can’t act as he should because his loyalists may accuse him of betrayal and caving in to “Blairites” if he did and the centrist elements in the Party scent Momentum blood; an opportunity to smack in the face some of their local party tormentors and “de-selectors”.

    Corbyn’s way out is probably to put a few ceremonial heads on spikes (Shawcroft would be a good start) and then move swiftly on to stronger political ground for him. As I’ve said before, most of his tormentors on the right and in the press don’t give a stuff about antisemitism per se. If they think it isn’t hurting him any more, they’ll move on too and look for other sticks with which to beat him.

  41. @ Charles

    Against my better judgement, but I’ll wade in.

    For me the reason why I don’t think a second referendum is a good idea is because it will tell us nothing new. Almost certainly it’ll come out pretty close, and the country will be as equally divided as it was before. Whichever way it goes, the government is left in the tricky position of steering the course, as they are now. I don’t think the government should necessarily slavishly follow the 52%, it’s their choice to be doing so at the moment, but whatever they do, they know they only have the support of about 1/2 the country, and another referendum won’t change that.

    The only slight advantage is if the vote really can be on the exact terms, but the way the EU withdrawal process works (especially with the additional transition period now), there’s no way we can know the full deal at a point where a referendum can anything.

  42. That should be ‘can change anything’.

  43. TCO

    There’s a real tendency for people to conflate NHS funding and NHS provision, but the two are quite separate. The Tories (and some in Labour) are keen on increasing the amount of private sector provision in the NHS, but other than the occasional noises about nominal charges for seeing the doctor, they have never seriously proposed that the vast bulk of NHS funding should come from any sources other than the taxpayer.

    Now, if you look at the funding issue on its own you’ll see that it’s a constant problem for the Tories. The NHS is Labour’s primary weapon, but the Conservatives find it difficult for all sorts of ideological reasons to raise taxes in order to increase the NHS budget, and even if they do they’ll still be attacked regardless (they’ve already increased it by more than Labour said they would in their election manifesto). Hypothecation provides the opportunity to depoliticise NHS funding, to either make it independent of treasury control, or to at least provide them with the political cover for the tax rises necessary to cover spending. It offers the possibility of effectively neutering the NHS as a political issue, or perhaps even better from their point of view, of the Tories being the party which will keep the NHS tax under control. They have a lot to gain from it politically, and little to lose.

  44. CB11

    As a matter of interest, is it your opinion that Lord Winston & these 39 MPs are ” muscle-flexing ” rather than demanding a ” serious discussion about the actual problem.” ?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-43597132

  45. Not much new in the criticism of Corbyn

    https://www.spectator.co.uk/2015/04/how-ed-miliband-lost-the-jewish-vote/
    ‘This week, a poll for the Jewish -Chronicle found that 69 per cent of Jews intend to vote Tory next month, with Labour trailing on only 22 per cent. Moreover, while 64 per cent said David Cameron had the best attitude towards British Jewry, only 13 per cent picked Miliband as the best supporter of the community. The Jewish Chronicle poll found 73 per cent of Jews said the parties’ approach toward Israel and the Middle East was ‘very’ or ‘quite’ important in determining how they would vote, and by 65 to 10 per cent Cameron led Miliband on having the best attitude.
    Community activists believe Miliband’s position on Israel has become such a sticking point that many Jews who traditionally vote Labour can’t bring themselves to do so.’

  46. @ Colin

    39 “Labour politicians” not MPs so quite conceivable.

  47. Crossbat11

    I tend to agree that anti-semitism isn’t a major problem in the UK, and is significant mainly as a totemic issue and a proxy for other issues. Or, as you more succinctly put it, a convenient stick to beat Corbyn with.

    If one were to pose a polling question:

    If you were to swap your ethnicity for another one, which of the following would you choose in order to suffer the least discrimination in Britain?

    A. Arab
    B. Black African
    C. Chinese
    D. Indian
    E. Jewish
    F. Pakistani
    G. Polish

    I suspect that Jewish would be the most popular choice. I’m sure there is some prejudice, but so is there against Brummies and ex-Etonians. That anti-semitism nevertheless provokes so much angst is why it seems to me a confected or totemic issue rather than a real and serious one. But I’m no expert and may well be missing something here: I’m sure the views of Jewish posters here would be better informed and more insightful.

  48. COLIN

    Ta for your excellent 1-58 post. Must say I thought the response to my brief Jess Phillips comment rather missed the point.

    But, as you implied, I really couldn’t be bothered discussing it. I am increasingly prone to let others’ opinions rest [matters of fact are different f course]. They won’t be converted and neither will I.

    Like you I find Jess P to be a thoroughly decent person so don’t really understand the snide comment at all.

  49. @Oldnat – where you said – “The long campaign that the Yes side wanted, and got, allowed many people to look at the issues in some detail, rather than just going along with the narrative…..” I think rather gave the game away.

    Scotland did not look at the issues in any more detail because they had a longer campaign. They just had longer to go along with whatever narrative they thought, with a distinct lack of detailed thinking in evidence throughout.

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