Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Why the UK Won't Vote to Leave the European Union

Supporters of the UK leaving the European Union are excitedly sharing the latest YouGov poll which suggests a 4-point lead for leave. Thus Louise Mensch former MP for Corby said Out will win because the PM's deal is so "disastrous". I offered her a bottle of champagne that it won't. The bet is recorded for posterity here.

Louise is right, the PM's deal is pretty small beer. But it doesn't matter, and here's why: The EU is pretty low down the list of voter's concerns. Those who're noticing the "debate", have already made up their minds. While Leave's supporters are busy hopping up and down, talking to each other about the polls and about Cameron's "betrayal", Remain voters aren't listening, and won't take an interest until the campaign is actually called.

Then there's the polls, whose problem is internet panels are self-selecting. When there's a decent back-record allowing you to weight your sample, such as in general elections, then the polls are pretty good. But while the poll may be reporting the right number of Conservatives after weighting, I suspect the Euro-obsessive breed of Conservative is more assiduously seeking out polls to answer. This is somewhat counteracted by phone polls' doing the selecting. There may be a differential propensity to respond, but this is probably smaller than the self-selection of an internet panel.

I suspect there is a big differential in propensity to respond to polls between 'Leave' voters, for whom this is their one and only chance, and will excitedly respond compared to 'remain' for whom voting for the status quo is mostly a tiresome duty. How much this is captured in polling methodology, only time will tell, but I suspect the polls, phone and internet overstate the support for 'leave' for much the same reasons they consistently understate support for Conservative party.

For every half-dozen internet polls there's only one or two phone polls. And when the two methodologies diverge, go with the phone poll.  Phone polls are still showing a significant lead for 'remain', though it's true there hasn't been one since Cameron's renegotiation terms were announced.

The reason Remain is probably ahead is simple. The UK is a vastly better place to live and work, its economy vastly superior than it was in 1972, in both absolute and relative terms. That may or may not be because of the EU, but at the very worst, the EU hasn't noticeably held the UK back. The status quo is therefore clearly not untenable. 

Nor would the alternative be: the UK is the world's 5th (soon to be 4th) largest economy on earth and quite capable of standing alone. We are NOT a "small country". But the Leave camp must persuade sceptical voters that going it alone would benefit them, and that remaining risks their prosperity. On the evidence of the last 40-odd years, that is going to be a hard sell. The press leans Eurosceptic, but is much less powerful than in the past, and the BBC will be neutral, leaning 'Remain'.

Even if the the case for Britain to leave is not a crazy one, but the people selling it, (the delightful Mrs Mensch aside) are mostly a toxic bunch of odd-balls, has-beens and worthless onanists. Meanwhile the Prime Minister, Most of the Cabinet, Most of the Parliamentary Tory party, most of whats left of the Labour party, the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, most sensible figures from the Arts and Business are all going to be voting for 'Remain'. Boris Johnson, the UK's most popular politician (how that annoys the lefties) will probably see which way the wind is blowing and break for 'Remain'. The uncommitted voter tends to notice these things.

It may be there is a huge differential in turnout favouring 'leave', but differential turnout is the perennial hope of the loser. The status quo has a habit of getting out its vote just enough to stop the excitable mono-maniacs. And I suspect the turnout will be high. There is still all to play for. The polls, as Scotland showed can change enormously during the campaign. But I cannot see the public voting with Nigel Farage against the Prime Minister.

Cool heads will prevail and so I got evens on an 80% bet ("No chance" of 'leave' winning is clearly overstating the case...). Those are good odds, Louise, and I look forward to a Wine-Bottle-shaped package from New York some time after the Referendum.

As for me, I have no dog in this fight. I don't much like the EU or most of its works, but think we should stay in, mostly as a means to thwart the French & German desire for a European empire (as is Britain's historic mission). I certainly won't campaign for Remain and will not be at all upset if we do leave. I merely seek to predict, and profit from that prediction.


Anonymous said...

"but think we should stay in, mostly as a means to thwart the French & German desire for a European empire"

How exactly will we do that with our one vote out of 28? Perhaps Cameron will stamp his little foot and cry (then pop over to Brussels to put his signature on the 'great deal for the UK'?).

Anonymous said...

I note your comments about the leavers, but aren't these also true about the remainers? Aren't the latter also, in general, liars? I think I had better put my cards on the table that I'm an already decided leaver, but this is democracy after a fashion, and if the other side wins fairly, then I agree generally with your comments. The critical issue seems to me that once in a generation we should as a population answer important questions like this, and useless though many of us may decry Cameron to be, he has at least pushed for the referendum.

I don't think we go to hell in a hand cart if we stay in, but I think we could have got a far better deal if from the outset we had prepared the EU for leaving vote by invoking the exit procedure. Moreover, Cameron would have far more admirers if he told the EU that they don't get a penny more until their accounts are straight. There is a huge similarity between the EU and Kid's Club.

Anonymous said...

There's so many pretend patriots in the UK like 'very British dude'. 'I don't like the EU but I want us to stay'.


Cuffleyburgers said...

I think you're probably correct although depending when the vote happens there is plenty of time for the EU to demonstrate even more convincingly its utter incompetence at even the basic functions of government and the potential, nay certainty, of severe negative consequences for everybody in the country (except for certain sections of the country)

However, your problem, is that you are a part of the problem. YOu work in the city, cycle smugly to and from work and in short suffer from the same utter disconnect from any level of reality that the political scum like dave and the mandarins do. YOu have a great ability to take the heli-view but nothing else. Any opinion or fact which doesn't compute with this view is ignored. In this you are like the lefties, although fortunately you ignore different facts and opinions which is why I agree with you on many issues (but not this one).

Fortunately 95% of the population have a much more visceral view of reality and there has been over the last three months a steady change of the tide. Not so long ago outers rarely spoke their minds, had few possibilities in the public eye and were basically treated as the lunatic fringe. That is less and less the case.

Dave's risible performance only strengthens that.

YOur assertion that nobody could really give a shit is wrong and is becoming wronger.

Only a fool would pay any attention to the polls.

As things are in a vote tomorrow I agree we would probably lose. HOwever, a vote 18 months from now might very well be completely different.

And besides, even if we do lose at some point the whole jerry built heap of crap will fall to bits of its own accord.

Anonymous said...

BBC neutral? Are you off your rocker? They are anything but that!

Anonymous said...

What about the visceral outlook of the public though?
You seem to be ignoring the perilous onslaught of the violent rapey million immigrant friends of Angela Merkel.....


Jackart said...

CuffleyBurgers your comment paraphrased: "I feel very strongly about this, actually, and so everyone else probably does too". Pathetic self-delusion. The outists are hopping up and down, yelling to each other, pretending they're something other than a minority. The vast, vast majority of voters aren't listening yet. Look at the parade of losers and turds in human clothing Out are putting up, vs those who're going to be on the stump for remain. LOOK AT THEM. The winners are drifting to Remain.

Anonymous said...

Jackart as usual you're a cunt.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, 5.51pm: Spot on.

Jackart said...

Ah, the 'KIPtard anonymongs I see are out in force. Suck it up losers.

Anonymous said...

You lost me and the argument at "The BBC will remain neutral".

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