Almost a month on from the referendum campaign I’ve had chance to sit down and collect my thoughts about how the polls performed. This isn’t necessarily a post about what went wrong since, as I wrote on the weekend after the referendum, for many pollsters nothing at all went wrong. Companies like TNS and Opinium got the referendum resolutely right, and many polls painted a consistently tight race between Remain and Leave. However some did less well and in the context of last year’s polling failure there is plenty we can learn about what methodology approaches adopted by the pollsters did and did not work for the referendum.

Mode effects

The most obvious contrast in the campaign was between telephone and online polls, and this contributed to the surprise over the result. Telephone and online polls told very different stories – if one paid more attention to telephone polls then Remain appeared to have a robust lead (and many in the media did, having bought into a “phone polls are more accurate” narrative that turned out to be wholly wrong). If one had paid more attention to online polls the race would have appeared consistently neck-and-neck. If one made the – perfectly reasonable – assumption that the actual result would be somewhere in between phone and online, one would still have ended up expecting a Remain victory.

While there was a lot of debate about whether phone or online was more likely to be correct during the campaign, there was relatively little to go on. Pat Sturgis and Will Jennings of the BPC inquiry team concluded that the true position was probably in between phone and online, perhaps a little closer to online, by comparing the results of the 2015 BES face-to-face data to the polls conducted at the time. Matt Singh and James Kanagasooriam wrote a paper called Polls Apart that concluded the result was probably closer to the telephone polls because they were closer to the socially liberal results in the BES data (as issue I’ll return to later). A paper by John Curtice could only conclude that the real result was likely somewhere in between online and telephone, given that at the general election the true level of UKIP support was between phone and online polls. During the campaign there was also a NatCen mixed-mode survey based on recontacting respondents to the British Social Attitudes survey, which found a result somewhere in between online and telephone.

In fact the final result was not somewhere in between telephone and online at all. Online was closer to the final result, and far from being in between the actual result was more Leave than all of them.

As ever, the actual picture was not quite as simple as this and there was significant variation within modes. The final online polls from TNS and Opinium had Leave ahead, but Populus’s final poll was conducted online and had a ten point lead for Remain. The final telephone polls from ComRes and MORI showed large leads for Remain, but Survation’s final poll phone poll showed a much smaller Remain lead. ICM’s telephone and online polls had been showing identical leads, but ceased publication several weeks before the result. On average, however, online polls were closer to the result than telephone polls.

The referendum should perhaps also provoke a little caution about probability studies like the face-to-face BES. These are hugely valuable surveys, done to the highest possible standards… but nothing is perfect, and they can be wrong. We cannot tell what a probability poll conducted immediately before the referendum would have shown, but if it had been somewhere between online and phone – as the earlier BES and NatCen data were – then it would also have been wrong.

People who are easy or difficult to reach by phone

Many of the pieces looking of the mode effects in the EU polling looked at the differences between people who responded quickly and slowly to polls. The BPC inquiry into the General Election polls analysed the samples from the post-election BES/BSA face-to-face polls and showed how people who responded to the face-to-face surveys on the first contact were skewed towards Labour voters, only after including those respondents who took two or three attempts to contact did the polls correctly show the Conservatives in the lead. The inquiry team used this as an example of how quota sampling could fail, rather than evidence of actual biases which affected the polls in 2015, but the same approach has become more widely used in analysis of polling failure. Matt Singh and James Kanagasooriam’s paper in particular focused on how slow respondents to the BES were also likely to be more socially liberal and concluded, therefore, that online polls were likely to be have too many socially conservative people.

Taking people who are reached on the first contact attempt in a face-to-face poll seems like a plausible proxy for people who might be contacted by a telephone poll that doesn’t have time to ring back people who it fails to contact on the first attempt. Putting aside the growing importance of sampling mobile phones, landline surveys and face-to-face surveys do both depend on the interviewee being at home at a civilised time and willing to take part. It’s more questionable why it should be a suitable proxy for the sort of person willing to join an online panel and take part in online surveys that can be done on any internet device at any old time.

As the referendum campaign continued there were more studies that broke down people’s EU referendum voting intention by how difficult they were to interview. NatCen’s mixed-mode survey in May to June found the respondents that it took longer to contact tended to be more leave (as well as being less educated, and more likely to say don’t know). BMG’s final poll was conducted by telephone, but used a 6 day fieldwork period to allow multiple attempts to call-back respondents. Their analysis painted a mixed picture – people contacted on the first call were fairly evenly split between Remain and Leave (51% Remain), people on the second call were strongly Remain (57% Remain), but people on later calls were more Leave (49% Remain).

Ultimately, the evidence on hard-to-reach people ended up being far more mixed than initially assumed. While the BES found hard-to-reach people were more pro-EU, the NatCen survey’s hardest to reach people were more pro-Leave, and BMG found a mixed pattern. This also suggests that one suggested solution to make telephone sampling better – taking more time to make more call-backs to those people who don’t answer the first call – is not necessarily a guaranteed solution. ORB and BMG both highlighted their decision to spend longer over their fieldwork in the hope of producing better samples, both taking six days rather than the typical two or three. Neither were obviously more accurate than phone pollsters with shorter fieldwork periods.

Education weights

During the campaign YouGov wrote a piece raising questions about whether some polls had too many graduates. Level of educational qualifications correlated with how likely people were to support to EU membership (graduates were more pro-EU, people with no qualification more pro-Leave, even after controlling for age) so this did have the potential to skew figures.

The actual proportion of “graduates” in Britain depends on definitions (the common NVQ Level 4+ categorisation in the census includes some people with higher education qualifications below degree-level), but depending on how you define it and whether or not you include HE qualifications below degree level the figure is around 27% to 35%. In the Populus polling produced for Polls Apart 47% of people had university level qualifications, suggesting polls conducted by telephone could be seriously over-representing graduates.

Ipsos MORI identified the same issue with too many graduates in their samples and added education quotas and weights during the campaign (this reduced the Remain lead in their polls by about 3-4 points, so while their final poll still showed a large Remain lead, it would have been more wrong without education weighting). ICM, however, tested education weights on their telephone polls and found it made little difference, while education breaks in ComRes’s final poll suggest they had about the right proportion of graduates in their sample anyway.

This doesn’t entirely put the issue of education to bed. Data on the educational make-up of samples is spotty, and the overall proportion of graduates in the sample is not the end of the story – because there is a strong correlation between education and age, just looking at overall education levels isn’t enough. There need to be enough poorly qualified people in younger age groups, not just among older generations where it is commonplace.

The addition of education weights appears to have helped some pollsters, but it clearly depends on the state of the sample to begin with. MORI controlled for education, but still over-represented Remain. ComRes had about the right proportion of graduates to begin with, but still got it wrong. Getting the correct proportion of graduates does appear to have been an issue for some companies, and dealing with it helped some companies, but alone it cannot explain why some pollsters performed badly.

Attitudinal weights

Another change introduced by some companies during the campaign was weighting by attitudes towards immigration and national identity (whether people considered themselves to be British or English). Like education, both these attitudes were correlated with EU referendum voting intention. Where they differ from education is that there are official statistics on the qualifications held by the British population, but there are no official stats on national identity or attitudes towards immigration. Attitudes may also be more liable to change than qualifications.

Three companies adopted attitudinal weights during the campaign, all of them online. Two of these used the same BES questions on racial equality and national identity from the BES face-to-face survey that were discussed in Polls Apart… but with different levels of success. Opinium, who were the joint most-accurate pollster, weighted people’s attitudes to racial equality and national identity to a point half-way between the BES findings and their own findings (presumably on the assumption that half the difference was sample, half interviewer effect). According to Opinium this increased the relative position of remain by about 5 points when introduced. Populus weighted by the same BES questions on attitudes to race and people’s national identity, but in their case used the actual BES figures – presumably giving them a sample that was significantly more socially liberal than Opinium’s. Populus ended up showing the largest Remain lead.

It’s clear from Opinium and Populus that these social attitudes were correlated with EU referendum vote and including attitudinal weighting variables did make a substantial difference. Exactly what to weight them to is a different question though – Populus and Opinium weighted the same variable to very different targets, and got very different results. Given the sensitivity of questions about racism we cannot be sure whether people answer these questions differently by phone, online or face-to-face, nor whether face-to-face probability samples have their own biases, but choosing what targets to use for any attitudinal weighting is obviously a difficult problem.

While it may have been a success for Opinium, attitudinal weighting is unlikely to have improved matters for other online polls – online polls generally produce social attitudes that are more conservative than suggested by the BES/BSA face-to-face surveys, so weighting them towards the BES/BSA data would probably only have served to push the results further towards Remain and make them even less accurate. On the other hand, for telephone polls there could be potential for attitudinal weighting to make samples less socially liberal.

Turnout models

There was a broad consensus that turnout was going to be a critical factor at the referendum, but pollsters took different approaches towards it. These varied from a traditional approach of basing turnout weights purely on respondent’s self-assessment of their likelihood to vote, models that also incorporated how often people had voted in the past or their interest in the subject, through to a models that were based on the socio-economic characteristics of respondents, modelling people’s likelihood to vote based on their age and social class.

In the case of the EU referendum Leave voters generally said they were more likely to vote than Remain voters, so traditional turnout models were more likely to favour Leave. People who didn’t vote at previous elections leant towards Leave, so models that incorporated past voting behaviour were a little more favourable towards Remain. Demographic based models were more complicated, as older people were more likely to vote and more leave, but middle class and educated people were more likely to vote and more remain. On balance models based on socio-economic factors tended to favour Remain.

The clearest example is Natcen’s mixed mode survey, which explictly modelled the two different approaches. Their raw results without turnout modelling would have been REMAIN 52.3%, LEAVE 47.7%. Modelling turnout based on self-reported likelihood to vote would have made the results slightly more “leave” – REMAIN 51.6%, LEAVE 48.4%. Modelling the results based on socio-demographic factors (which is what NatCen chose to do in the end) resulted in topline figures of REMAIN 53.2%, LEAVE 46.8%.

In the event ComRes & Populus chose to use methods based on socio-economic factors, YouGov & MORI used methods combining self-assessed likelihood and past voting behaviour (and in the case of MORI, interest in the referendum), Survation & ORB a traditional approach based just on self-assessed likelihood to vote. TNS didn’t use any turnout modelling in their final poll.

In almost every case the adjustments for turnout made the polls less accurate, moving the final figures towards Remain. For the four companies who used more sophisticated turnout models, it looks as if a traditional approach of relying on self-reported likelihood to vote would have been more accurate. An unusual case was TNS’s final poll, which did not use a turnout model at all, but did include data on what their figures would have been if they had. Using a model based on people’s own estimate of their likelihood to vote, past vote and age (but not social class) TNS would have shown figures of 54% Leave, 46% Remain – less accurate than their final call poll, but with an error in the opposite direction to most other polls.

In summary, it looks as though attempts to improve turnout modelling since the general election have not improved matters – if anything the opposite was the case. The risk of basing turnout models on past voting behaviour at elections or the demographic patterns of turnout at past elections has always been what would happen if patterns of turnout changed. It’s true middle class people normally vote more than working class people, older people normally vote more than younger people. But how much more, and how much does that vary from election to election? If you build a model that assumes the same levels of differential turnout between demographic groups as the previous election then it risks going horribly wrong if levels of turnout are different… and in the EU ref it looks as if they were. In their post-referendum statement Populus have been pretty robust in rejecting the whole idea – “turnout patterns are so different that a demographically based propensity-to-vote model is unlikely ever to produce an accurate picture of turnout other than by sheer luck.”

That may be a little harsh, it would probably be a wrong turn if pollsters stopped looking for more sophisticated turnout models than just asking people, and past voting behaviour and demographic considerations may be part of that. It may be that turnout models that are based on past behaviour at general elections is more successful in modelling general election turnout than that for referendums. Thus far, however, innovations in turnout modelling don’t appear to have been particularly successful.

Reallocation of don’t knows

During the campaign Steve Fisher and Alan Renwick wrote an interesting piece about how most referendum polls in the past have underestimated support for the status quo, presumably because of late swing or don’t knows breaking for remain. Pollsters were conscious of this and rather than just ignore don’t knows in their final polls, the majority of pollsters attempted to model how don’t knows would vote. This went from simple squeeze questions, which way do don’t knows think they’ll end up voting, are they leaning towards or suchlike (TNS, MORI and YouGov), to projecting how don’t knows will vote based upon their answers to other questions. ComRes had a squeeze question and estimated how don’t knows would vote based on how people thought Brexit would effect the economy, Populus on how risky don’t knows thought Brexit was. ORB just split don’t knows 3 to 1 in favour of Remain.

In every case these adjustments helped remain, and in every case this made things less accurate. Polls that made estimates about how don’t knows would vote ended up more wrong than polls that just asked people how they might end up voting, but this is probably co-incidence, both approaches had a similar sort of effect. This is not to say they were necessarily wrong – it’s possible that don’t knows did break in favour of remain, and that that while the reallocation of don’t knows made polls less accurate, it was because it was adding a swing to data that was already wrong to begin with. Nevertheless, it suggests pollsters should be careful about assuming too much about don’t knows – for general elections at least such decisions can be based more firmly upon how don’t knows have split at past general elections, where hopefully more robust models can be developed.

So what we can learn?

Pollsters don’t get many opportunities to compare polling results against actual election results, so every one is valuable – especially when companies are still attempting to address the 2015 polling failure. On the other hand, we need to be careful about reading too much into a single poll that’s not necessarily comparable to a general election. All those final polls were subject to the ordinary margins of error and there are different challenges to polling a general election and a referendum.

Equally, we shouldn’t automatically assume that anything that would have made the polls a little more Leave is necessarily correct, anything that made polling figures more Remain is necessarily wrong – everything you do to a poll interacts with everything else, and taking each item in isolation can be misleading. The list of things above is by no means exhaustive either – my own view remains that the core problem with polls is that they tend to be done by people who are too interested and aware of politics, and the way to solve polling failure is to find ways of recruiting less political people, quota-ing and weighting by levels of political interest. We found that people with low political interest were more likely to support Brexit, but there is very little other information on political awareness and interest from other polling, so I can’t explore to what extent that was responsible for any errors in the wider polls.

With that said, what can we conclude?

  • Phone polls appeared to face substantially greater problems in obtaining a representative sample than online polls. While there was variation within modes, with some online polls doing better than others, some phone polls doing worse than others, on average online outperformed phone. The probability based samples from the BES and the NatCen mixed-mode experiment suggested a position somewhere between online and telephone, so while we cannot tell what they would have shown, we should not assume they would have been any better.
  • Longer fieldwork times for telephone polls are not necessarily the solution. The various analyses of how people who took several attempts to contact differed from those who were contacted on the first attempt were not consistent, and the companies who took longer over their fieldwork were no more accurate than those with shorter periods.
  • Some polls did contain too many graduates and correcting for that did appear to help, but it was not a problem that affected all companies and would not alone have solved the problem. Some companies weighted by education or had the correct proportion of graduates, but still got it wrong.
  • Attitudinal weights had a mixed record. The only company to weight attitudes to the BES figures overstated Remain significantly, but Opinium had more success at weighting them to a halfway point. Weighting by social attitudes faces problems in determining weighting targets and is unlikely to have made other online polls more Leave, but could be a consideration for telephone polls that may have had samples that were too socially liberal.
  • Turnout models that were based on the patterns of turnout at the last election and whether people voted at the last election performed badly and consistently made the results less accurate – presumably because of the unexpectedly high turnout, particular among more working class areas. Perhaps there is potential for such models to work in the future and at general elections, but so far they don’t appear successful.

892 Responses to “What we can learn from the referendum polling”

1 16 17 18
  1. Shame we haven’t had more polls lately. In their absence, this blog has turned into fantasy corner.

  2. @Charles – I agree – I thought it was wrong of people not to serve in the cabinet.

    I also made an error in reporting Coleman’s comments. When talking about the reservoir of support, he was quoted as saying the shadow cabinet, not the PLP, but he did say that the cabinet and other MPs did not share the outlook of a small group of MPs who were never going to support him.

    This is where I think his supporters are making a very big mistake. I think it’s pretty clear that there were a relatively small number of irreconcileables who would never be happy with Corbyn, but equally the bulk of the PLP appears to have been happy to give him a chance.

  3. The SNP MPs back up Corbyn’s position that he was undermined and hated from the start and that the PLP and his shadow cabinet never supported him from the get go.

  4. @ Alec et al

    ‘Also, why go to the expense of setting up new state owned research facilities?’

    We don’t need to .. just invest in University facilities. Imperial college developed a new drug treatment for (I think) diabetes. By collaborating with Indian Univiersities, they completed the drug trials extremely fast and cheaply. (unfortunately, I can’t find a link).

    The research skills are already in place, with statisticians, chemists, medical expertise, epidemiologists, anthropologists etc. A whole host of research projects, just waiting to be done. And as Mariana Mazzucato has repeatedly indicated, the state often funds initial research which gets utilised commercially and little of the profits are returned to the state.

  5. I forgot to say that most Pharmaceutical companies spend more on advertising than they don R&D.

  6. I enjoyed this line from JC’s wiki page:

    “Corbyn began a course in Trade Union Studies at North London Polytechnic but left after a series of arguments with his tutors over the curriculum.”

  7. Syzygy
    “…..the state often funds initial research which gets utilised commercially and little of the profits are returned to the state.”

    And Corbyn wants to do even more of this, thus enriching ‘evil’ Big Pharma even further?

  8. @DEZ

    Taylor was very brave for saying what he did in the ’60s when the Nazis were a taboo subject and you were expected to teach the ‘official’ history that the establishment wanted. In many ways Taylor was the first revisionist historian, and started a global re-examination of the causes of WW2 that some other historians have embarked on.

    In any case, it’s true that Britain did not go to war with Hitler because of his regime or because he persecuted Jews. The main reason was because Hitler was viewed as a threat to the Empire, in the same way that the Kaiser’s Germany was. Hitler never openly repudiated claims to the old German imperial colonies and this worried the British establishment more than anything else. Also, Hitler’s barter based international trade deals and his refusal to take part in the international banking system angered the USA in particular as well as many key people in the City.

  9. @Syzygy

    “most Pharmaceutical companies spend more on advertising than they don R&D”

    This is the second time this has been said on this thread. What it fails to mention is that almost all of this advertising spend is in the US. And that it includes *all* spend related to sales, including billing, shipping etc.

    Just to be clear, in the UK Pharma spends 35% of turnover on R&D.


    I am denying the Holocaust – don’t even go there please. What I am saying has been accepted by many historians of good reputation (i.e. not the David Irving types). There was no master plan for the Jewish Holocaust before the 1941 Wannsee Conference and without war there would have been no possibility that such mass murders could have taken place. It’s likely that the decision to exterminate the Jewish population was taken as an act of folly as a revenge against the people Hitler considered the source of all his troubles. Obviously a sign of a psychopathic mind but this does not detract from Hitler’s otherwise broadly normal political behaviour, given his dictatorial powers, in the peacetime years of his rule.


    TYPO: I am NOT denying the Holocaust!!

  12. @ANDREW111

    No. Hitler’s ambition was to reform the Treaty of Versailles and nothing else. Hitler’s demand on Poland in 1939 was extremely moderate; the return of Danzig, which was an entirely German territory, and an extra-territorial highway and railway through the Polish corridor. This minor issue became blown out of all proportion and used by the British government as a pretext for war, with the Poles refusing to negotiate after the foolish unconditional alliance offered by Britain. This should never had led to a full European and later world war.

  13. Tancred

    You had me worried for a moment there! :-)

    AJP Taylor was my favourite historian when I was at Uni. Not just for the brilliance of his analysis (though a little dated now) but because we share the same surname.

    In tutorials, that allowed me to confidently state, in support of an argument, “As Taylor sys ….” – without actually specifying which Taylor I was ‘quoting’. :-)

  14. It is only very recently that Universities have introduced full economic costings. Before that Pharma just paid Unis at the most for consumables but not for researchers’ time or overhead costs.

  15. The Wannsee Conference took place in January 1942.

  16. @GRAHAM

    “The Wannsee Conference took place in January 1942.”

    I stand corrected. However the decision for the Holocaust was probably made some months beforehand, upon the invasion of the USSR. Wannsee was a rubber stamp.

  17. @PETE B
    “…..the state often funds initial research which gets utilised commercially and little of the profits are returned to the state.”
    And Corbyn wants to do even more of this, thus enriching ‘evil’ Big Pharma even further?

    Corbyn/Mcdonnell may be but that is the precise opposite of what I was suggesting … and IMO Pfizers sponsoring PhD students to do their research for them on the cheap is .. well cheap! Exploitation of postgraduates is not part of my proposal for a not-for-profits or nationalised centre for developing new antibacterials and treatments for tropical river blindness etc

    (I was listening to a World Service programme tonight about investigation of 2000y old poo found in a latrine on the Silk Road. Fascinating because it revealed
    Schistome infection that could only have been acquired from South west China, and hence indicated how many thousands of miles that individual had traveled. But of more relevance to this comment – they also demonstrated parasitic infections with amongst others, tapeworms, roundworms and whipworms. In fact, pretty much what would be found in modern samples from poor communities in poor countries.)

  18. ALEC

    @ The key point is the fundamental misunderstanding of why an MP is an MP. It’s the voters who put MPs in the HoC, not party members.”

    I’m not so sure that it is a “misunderstanding”-well maybe in the technical sense. But not in the philosophical sense.

    Corbyn appears to actually believe that the process of Selection as Labour Candidate has primacy over the process of Election as MP. It is as though the Voters have merely rubber stamped the decision of the Members.

    In Corbyn’s world The Members reign supreme. It explains why he is able to say that his “Social Movement” will “influence” Parliament. The central pillar of our Democracy is secondary to the will & mandate of Labour Party Members.

    So every Labour MP becomes a creature of The Membership who “made” them.

    I have tried to highlight the dangers for our Parliamentary Democracy in this bizarre version of what Corbyn calls “Democracy”. The Voice of HIS chosen group ( mobilised by HIS Praetorian Guard, Momentum ) becomes the Voice of The People-ALL The People.

    I have yet to hear anyone challenge this dangerous polity-and ask Corbyn the question someone asked here the other day.

    And what of the views -the “mandate”-of the vast majority of people who are not members of The Labour Party or Momentum?

  19. Good Morning All.
    OLD NAT:
    AJP Taylor is my hero.
    The greatest thrill of my young life was to hear his introductory lecture ‘What is History?’ in October 1975- in the Oxford ‘Schools’ building.

  20. @Colin

    re: Brexit Deal on Free Movement

    And so it comes to pass. How very predictable.

    From day one, I have been perplexed by the Remainer assertion that there can be no single market without free movement. Philip Hammond has said it repeatedly. Down here in Devon we still hold up our trousers with baler twine and point at planes, but I just could not see why this had to be so. Why should free movement be required for a single market, but not a common currency?

    Along with others on this site, I have suggested that the correct tactic for the Referendum was to vote Leave in the expectation of a serious renegotiation thereafter, And another vote. It is, after all, a common EU device.

    Is it just me, or is all this starting to look like it is turning out rather well?

  21. Chrislane did you study history at Oxford?

  22. Colin

    I predict that for the next X years the newspapers will be fill of stories about what is being offered, who is being upset that that, and who is pushing for it. Etc.

    I don’t think your story tells us much about what will happen. Will the French support it? Can the EU support it?

  23. MPs stand on a manifesto and that manifesto is decided by their party, so in effect the MP does represent their party NOT their constituents. The voice of the Labour Party in parliament is the voice of the workers, poor, trade unions etc, it is the voice of the people the party was set up to represent. This was always my view when I was a Labour Party member.

    In the 90s I was very active and I had no truck whatsoever with MPs thinking they could make decisions for themselves and was a big fan of mandating, Basically because in general MPs were not to be trusted to follow the party line and get Labour into power.

  24. I do not fit one second believe that the Holocaust only happened because of World War 2. The Nazis – including Hitler himself, other officials and their newspaper supporters – had discussed the extermination of the Jews as a possibility or desirable outcome prior to 1939. Hundreds of Jews died in Kristallnacht in 1938.we could perhaps debate whether the Holocaust could have been as efficient and as long-lasting without WW2 (I’m not sure this is the place for that debate) but I think the argument that it would never have happened is untenable. The claim that “Hitler’s ambition was to reform the Treaty of Versailles and nothing else” seems insultingly ignorant to me.

    “The ultimate goal must definitely be the removal of the Jews altogether” ~Hitler, written comment on the Jewish question, 1919

    Some examples shamelessly nicked from wiki:
    “The nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated.” ~Hitler, Mein Kampf

    “Once I really am in power, my first and foremost task will be the annihilation of the Jews. As soon as I have the power to do so, I will have gallows built in rows—at the Marienplatz in Munich, for example—as many as traffic allows. Then the Jews will be hanged indiscriminately, and they will remain hanging until they stink; they will hang there as long as the principles of hygiene permit. As soon as they have been untied, the next batch will be strung up, and so on down the line, until the last Jew in Munich has been exterminated. Other cities will follow suit, precisely in this fashion, until all Germany has been completely cleansed of Jews.” ~Hitler, remarks to Major Joseph Hell, 1922

    “I shall once again be your prophet: if international Jewry with its financial power in and outside of Europe should manage once more to draw the peoples of the world into world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevization of the world, and thus the victory of Jewry, but rather the total destruction of the Jewish race in Europe” ~Hitler, “Prophecy Speech”, January 1939

    And here’s a 1933 article from the Nazi propaganda paper Der Sturmer – the last line leaves no room for ambiguity.

  25. ProfHoward.
    I did; I was sent there against my better judgement in 1975, by my Superiors; the Degree Study was wonderful, but I found the social mix very intimidating.

  26. @Coupar2802 – “The SNP MPs back up Corbyn’s position that he was undermined and hated from the start and that the PLP and his shadow cabinet never supported him from the get go.”

    Yawn. Could you find a less biased bunch of people to comment on Labour affairs if you tried?

    When Corbyn’s ex friends tell you this wasn’t the case (in the shadow cabinet, at least) I think you should listen.

    @Millie – yes, me too. A mixture of anger and contentment that changes will come, but that Cameron was too incompetent to ask for what was needed. In the meantime, we will all suffer the damage.

    Far, far better to have the migration deal within full membership, rather thn under Brexit.

  27. Millie

    “Is it just me, or is all this starting to look like it is turning out rather well?”

    Having briefly read the reference that does not sound like a deal acceptable to Brexiters who really want Brexit ie no free movement, no payments to the EU.

  28. Chrislane I teach there and it has not changed very much in that regard unfortunately .

  29. MILLIE

    I think it might be less traumatic than many ( including me) thought-we will see.

    The thing which struck me was-well haven’t they thought how things might have been if they gave Cameron that deal !!!

    Of course there will be those on the Leave side who want no conditionality attached to ditching free movement. Indeed some don’t want any truck with the Single Market!

    Much water under many bridges yet.

    I remember binder twine-wonderful stuff-has the strength of steel.

    PROF Howard.

    It wasn’t my story-it was the Guardian’s.

    Yes I expect we will get a running commentary on the whole thing.

  30. The Other Howard

    I noticed a Howard at the Newsnight debate who was a Brexit supporter and I wondered if it was you…

    Anyhow, I agree that what Millie links to may not please a lot of people – strong Brexit people, the French, etc. Though it may represent a *compromise* that keeps a lot of important groups happy – the City, the Scots, the Irish, the Car Manufacturing industry etc.

    And I would suggest its way too soon to believe any such report. The story when read is very weak in terms of who its sources are and what those sources are actually saying.

  31. @Syzygy – I think you seem to be misunderstanding the entire approach of funding by private companies of university research. Universities already raise large elements of their budgets from research contracts, so preventing pharma from doing this and replacing it with government money would simply be shifting the deckchairs around, but as the government would need to pay 100% of the costs, instead of the 20% corporation tax relief they currently forego, it would be 5 times more expensive.

    I also disagree with your assertion about funding research on the cheap. Again, you don’t understand what they are funding. PhD students are trainees, and funding their studies is training future scientists, ones that don’t even work for you company to boot. It’s actually a really good thing for companies to do, as once funded, the nation gets a fully trained post doc who can work for anyone.

    The research is also open. PhD students and post docs look to publish papers, which then means the knowledge can be used by anyone. We are also quickly moving to an open access model for academic research, so you don’t even have to subscribe to the specialist publications.

    On the wider scale, income from research contracts also helps fund graduate students, who are still not paying the full cost of their education. It’s an essential part of good universities budgets.

    The model of private funding of university research is far from perfect, however. If you are doing an industry sponsored PhD you are likely to have to do a lot more presentations and [email protected] business management type stuff (Pfizer are good at this!) which gets in the way of research. It’s also true that he who pays the piper calls the tune, so much needed research areas may be neglected the chance of financial reward looks slim. This is precisely where the research councils step in, and why we have them.

    The idea that scrapping tax relief on the billions that go into UK universities for privately funded research is a good idea is frankly risible. If Corbyn really thinks this, then I’m afraid we are heading to a disaster for left of centre policy making.

    Big, profitable companies can behave badly, and do need controlling at times and nudging to do good things at other times. To make the leap from that to say that everything they do is bad and only the state can do good things is very poor politics and extremely poor governance,

    I get more and more concerned with Corbyn’s policy platform the more I hear about it.

  32. “It has never before been the case that a Labour leader has dismissed a vote by his parliamentary party as of no “constitutional legitimacy”, as Mr Corbyn did after he lost a no-confidence motion on 28 June. Nor has it ever been the case that Labour in the House of Lords has announced its independence from the leader.

    Labour is in uncharted waters, and as it faces a leadership election pitting Mr Corbyn against Owen Smith, the form of its future existence is uncertain. On the far right and far left of the party people are gaming out the split for their own interests; for them the very future of the party itself appears secondary. But for those of us who believe that a broad-based Labour party has been a blessing to our country, this is a time of great peril.

    The closest historical parallel with this situation lies not in Westminster but in Berlin in 1918. Friedrich Ebert led the Social Democratic party (SPD) and the national government in the Reichstag, claiming legitimacy from the democratic vote of the people, whereas the Spartacists, including Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Kautsky, claimed theirs from the workers’ movement, the factory committees and works councils. Ebert ultimately unleashed the Freikorps against the leaders of the insurrection leading to the establishment of the German Communist party and a wider political polarisation across German society and the eventual victory of fascism.”

    John Cruddas


    I completely disagree with your pompous diatribe which displays your own ignorance of history.

    The ‘crystal night’ events happened following the murder of a German diplomat by a Jewish youth who was possibly also his homosexual lover. Basically, the situation was exploited by some Nazis as a way of enacting further confiscatory measures against the Jewish community in Germany. And there is evidence that the pogrom was initiated by Goebbels with Hitler’s express approval, given the diplomatic harm this caused and the final breakdown in relations with the USA.

    ““The ultimate goal must definitely be the removal of the Jews altogether” ~Hitler, written comment on the Jewish question, 1919”

    To me, removal means precisely that – the expulsion of Jews from Germany. That was always an aim of the Nazi Party right from the outset. Expulsion does not mean genocide.

    The Hitler remark to Joseph Hell has not been corroborated and there is no evidence that he ever uttered those words. In any case, the following words, less quoted, also came from the same alleged interview:

    “When I now broached the question of what the source of his so strongly felt hatred for the Jews was, and why he wanted to destroy this so undeniably intelligent race – a race to which the Germans and all other Aryans, if not the entire world, owed an incalculable debt in virtually all fields of art and knowledge, research and economics – Hitler suddenly calmed down and gave this unexpectedly sober and almost dispassionate explanation:”
    “´It is manifestly clear and has been proven in practice and by the facts of all revolutions that a struggle for ideals, for improvements of any kind whatsoever, absolutely must be supplemented with a struggle against some social class or caste.
    My object is to create first-rate revolutionary upheavals, regardless of what methods and means I have to use in the process. Earlier revolutions were directed either against the peasants, or the nobility and the clergy, or against dynasties and their network of vassals, but in no case has revolution succeeded without the presence of a lightning rod that could conduct and channel the odium of the general masses.
    With this very thing in mind I scanned the revolutionary events of history and put the question to myself against which racial element in Germany can I unleash my propaganda of hate with the greatest prospects of success? I had to find the right kind of victim, and especially one against whom the struggle would make sense, materially speaking. I can assure you that I examined every possible and thinkable solution to this problem, and, weighing every imaginable factor, I came to the conclusion that a campaign against the Jews would be as popular as it would be successful.”

    Thus, according to this, Hitler allegedly confessed that his anti-Semitism was mostly faked and simply a propaganda method used in order to gain power, which is an unusual view and seldom mentioned by those who selectively quote only the first quote as alleged evidence of Hitler’s early, murderously intended anti-Semitism.

    Also less often mentioned is that Josef Hell wrote down the alleged quote in its present form only in 1945, more than twenty years later.
    It is thus not a text published long before the Holocaust. Even if assuming no deliberate fabrication by Josef Hell, he is arguably an unreliable source considering the unreliable and easily influenced human memory.
    Furthermore, Josef Hell was a journalist who worked with Fritz Gerlich, a major opponent of Hitler and the editor of the anti-National Socialist newspaper Der Gerade Weg. Gerlich was arrested and later killed during the Night of the Long Knives. Josef Hell was thus no impartial witness and may have fabricated the quote or parts of it.

    “And here’s a 1933 article from the Nazi propaganda paper Der Sturmer – the last line leaves no room for ambiguity.

    This newspaper was edited by Julius Streicher and had nothing to do with Hitler himself. Hitler did not approve its contents and in the end suspended Streicher from the party for various misdemeanours. Streicher was despised by most of the Nazi leaders – he was an not an influential voice in the Nazi Party.

    Let’s now examine the Reichstag speech of 1939.

    The most often quoted speech is one made on January 30, 1939 in the Reichstag: “Today I will once more be a prophet: If the international Jewish financiers in and outside Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more in to a world war, then the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth, and thus the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation [Vernichtung] of the Jewish race in Europe”.

    “Vernichtung” does not necessarily means killing in the German language.
    Furthermore, most historians seldom quote what Hitler stated thereafter: “for the time when the non-Jewish nations had no propaganda is at an end. National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy have institutions which enable them when necessary to enlighten the world about the nature of a question of which many nations are instinctively conscious, but which they have not yet clearly thought out. […] If this [Jewish] nation should once more succeed in inciting the millions which compose the nations into a conflict which is utterly senseless and only serves Jewish interests, then there will be revealed the effectiveness of an enlightenment which has completely routed the Jews in Germany in the space of a few years. The nations are no longer willing to die on the battlefield so that this unstable international race may profiteer from a war or satisfy its Old Testament vengeance.”

    This is argued to show that Hitler wanted to “annihilate” the Jews by enlightening the world about their alleged evil plans and deeds, which had already led to their routing (=annihilation) in Germany within a few years. Furthermore, it is argued that the speech clearly outlines Hitler’s policy of emigration and resettlement of the Jews.

    Hitler referred to this speech in a later speech on January 30, 1941 and then stated “And I should like to repeat the warning that I have already once given, on September 1, 1939 [correct: Jan. 30, 1939], in the German Reichstag: namely, the warning that if Jewry drives the world into a general war, the role Jewry plays in Europe will be all over!”
    On October 25, 1941 Hitler in another speech stated “From the rostrum of the Reichstag I prophesied to Jewry that if war could not be avoided, the Jews would disappear from Europe. That race of criminals already had on its conscience the two million dead of the Great War, and now it has hundreds of thousands more. Let nobody tell me that despite that [we] cannot park them in the marshy parts of Russia! Our troops are there as well, and who worries about them!”

    This seems to point out that Hitler’s ‘extermination’ statement of 30 January 1939 was never intended to mean ‘extermination’ in the literal sense.

    In short, there is no credible evidence that Hitler had any intention of pursuing the mass murder of the Jews before 1941 or possibly even early 1942. My own belief is that Hitler held out the possibility of using the Jews as hostages in order to find a way of keeping the USA, which he saw as dominated by a Jewish elite, out of the war. With the entry of the USA into the war in December 1941 the war became truly global and ‘total’ in every sense and thereafter Hitler saw no more reason to hold back against those he saw as responsible for having created the grand coalition against Germany.

  34. “And there is evidence that the pogrom was initiated by Goebbels with Hitler’s express approval”

    I meant WITHOUT Hitler’s express approval. The lack of editing ability on this forum is a PAIN in the backside!

  35. When I voted in the 2015 GE each candidate had their party clearly printed next to their name. One suspects there is a reason for this.

    Yes of course it’s the voters who return an MP to Parliament , and of course an MP represents all their constituents, but the person I voted for would not have had his name on the ballot paper in the first place had he not been supported by his local party.

  36. The hard line leavers have set out their stall:

    And in the light of this, Boris Johnson declaring that ‘we will get everything we want’ seems utter nonsense. For a start who is ‘we’? If by ‘we’ he means the leave camp then he is living in cloud cuckoo land. If he means the government, maybe so, but he will have to prepare for stiff opposition from the likes of Davies, Cash and other hardliners. Sooner or later May will have to define what she means by ‘Brexit’ and that is when the troubles will start for her.

  37. If we are going to discuss the Holocaust, may I throw in another factor.

    You cannot just look at it in terms of the desires of Hitler to wipe out Jews. That went way back. You need people willing to follow such instructions. It is worth remembering how off the scale the mass extermination of men, women and children is. Even during the war, Himmler commented on how such slaughter demoralised those carrying out the killings – which was one of the advantages of mechanising the process.

    It can’t be seen as a perverse act of Hitler’s revenge during the war – although we do know that his last testament did indeed blame the Jews for everything. Because atrocities committed by such anger tend to burn themselves out, and those on the ground tend to get sickened after a while.

    There is a book which charts the development of the SS’s own brutality and attitude to murder – SS: Soldier’s of Evil, I think. You can’t draw neat lines between the desires of those who gave the order, and those who carried it out. They had all arrived – as brilliantly shown in Branagh’s drama on Wanasee – to a point where something utterly extraordinary seemed to them banal and logical. To ask why Hitler did it is not the most interesting question – the real question is why those carrying it all out didn’t say: okay, I know we don’t like these people, but isn’t this a bit extreme?

  38. Or, to put it another way, why did so many bad people go so far beyond the ordinary limits of human evil?

    Perhaps the “banality of evil” should be seen not in terms of the individual’s character, but in how an evil act can become banal.

  39. Wales is the only Nation in the UK which has an overall majority of Labour MPs. But not one of it’s MPs here (some of whom are relatively Left Wing) supports Corbyn. You’d be hard pressed to find a single Labour Party activist (as opposed to Member) here who does either.

    I now notice that sources in the Welsh Labour Party are saying that if Corbyn is re-elected leader it might break away from the UK Labour Party and go it’s own way otherwise it’s own electoral brand’ will become fatally damaged. If it does, the breakaway party will definitely easily eclipse any attempt by Corbyn to start a Corbynite one in competition with it.

    If that happens it is inconceivable that Labour will ever again come close to winning a General Election. Corbyn Labour will have no seats at all in in Wales (where Labour started electorally) and only one in Scotland. And it’ll probably lose that in 2020. Both of these Nations have previously been Labour’s core heartland.

    Well done Corbyn. You are on the verge of destroying the UK Labour Party completely. You will only exist at all in England, the UK Nation which is historically the most Tory and even there only in London. If you and your supporters ever ventured outside London and listened to a single thing you hear people there say, you would resign immediately.

  40. Couper 2802

    MPs DO NOT REPRESENT THEIR PARTY. They represent their constituents whether they voted for them or not. It does not matter what the manifesto says.

    Corbyn has virtually never adhered to the Manifesto in all the time he has been in Parliament. He refuses to adhere to Labour Party policy even now insofar as Party Policy is to replace Trident. When an attempt was made to change the policy at the Conference in 2015 less than 1% of members voted to even put it on the Agenda.

    Corbyn as an MP, like any MP, is entitled to disregard Labour Party Policy if he thinks the policy not in his constituents interests.Whether his conduct is compatible with ‘leading’ the Parliamentary Party is another matter.

    Breaking with the Manifesto line will however weigh heavily on any MP’s conscience because he or she has to weigh up the competing interests of the Manifesto, the local party, which selected them as candidate, it’s members, it’s voters, and the constituents who voted for other parties.

    If MPs fail to adhere to the manifesto their electors can, if they regard it as important, kick them out at the following election. However they never do on manifesto grounds alone, because virtually no one votes for the manifesto. In fact we are more likely to vote for someone who actually defies his or her party line.

    The relationship between MP’s and their constituents is sacrosanct and fundamental to our system. Political Parties are the organisational vehicles which candidates use to get elected in co-operation with like minded candidates in other constituencies in order that they can form a plausible reasonably unified government. They are diverse coalitions of people. Standing on a manifesto does not require Chairman Mao, or Hitler style adherence to a single National Party Line let alone obedience to the views of activists in constituencies other than the MPs own some of whom might have joined the party after the election.

    Even local parties themselves are largely independent from the centre locally. How can an MP with any integrity honestly vote for a Party Line which he or she fundamentally disagrees with, and which his local members and voters, let alone other voters in his constituency, deeply disagree with. The Labour manifesto was anti EU and anti Nuclear deterrent in 1983. By 1987 it had reversed both. If ideological adherence was required to the manifesto Labour would have had to replace all its candidates.

    Without Labour rebels in Parliament the the EU Treaty of accession wouldn’t have been passed in Parliament in 1972. Without respected Labour rebels like Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey, John Mann and Dennis Skinner etc we probably wouldn’t have voted to Leave.

    The MP/Constituent relationship long predates the existence of Political Parties. If MP’s owed their allegiance to their Manifesto rather than to their constituents, most of us would be permanently unrepresented in Parliament. I am a Tory voter but can be represented by a Socialist, Lib Dem, Sinn Fein, SNP, or UKIP whose political opinions I totally disagree with, as long as he or she is considering my interests when arriving at his or her judgement.

    He or she owes me their personal judgement. The Manifesto is only a very small part of the picture, otherwise I might as well be ‘represented’ by a computer programme voting electronically in Parliament. It would be cheaper.

  41. PS. Couper 2802

    Here’s the 10 Labour MPs who definitely voted to Leave the EU. (although I suspect there were more, including the saintly Jeremy himself, who until he became Leader a year ago was in favour of Leave).

    Should these 10 be expelled from Parliament for defying the Manifesto?

    1. Dennis Skinner

    2. Frank Field

    3. Gisela Stuart

    4. Graham Stringer

    5. John Cryer

    6. Kate Hoey

    7. Kelvin Hopkins

    8. Roger Godsiff

    9. Ronnie Campbell

    10. John Mann

1 16 17 18