Archive for the 'EU matters' Category


After the IndyRef experience it’s going to be harder not to allow 16/17 year olds to vote in the EU referendum

Monday, May 25th, 2015

When Alex Salmond pushed through his measure to allow 16 and 17 year olds to vote in last September’s IndyRef in Scotland it was only a matter of time before this became an issue for the whole of the country.

With constitutional change, like Scotland going independent or Britain leaving the EU, there’s clearly a strong argument that those who will be most affected, the young, should be able to participate in the decision.

    After their apparent reversal on having an EU referendum at all Labour clearly wants to be seen to be doing something that means this is not all a Tory measure.

The big risk to Cameron is that the referendum bill could get clogged up in the House of Lords where it is in the minority. A concession, using the Scottish precedent is possible although it will be strongly opposed by some sections of the blue team.

The polling suggests that the older you are the more you oppose Britain remaining in the EU.

Mike Smithson


STAY likely to win the EU In/Out referendum for the same reason that CON won GE15 – the fear of the unknown

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

On the face of it the numbers look good for STAY but are they?

One of the things that the Tory victory on May 7th ensures is that during this parliament there will be an in/out referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. The question is which way will it go?

A big campaigning lesson from the general election was how successfully the Tories were able to deploy the fear of the unknown factor in the closing few days. Labour and the Lib Dems in seats they were defending were simply not prepared and had no answer.

The same, I’d suggest, could happen in the coming EU referendum. When faced with a choice between the status quo and the unknown British voters have a long record of opting for the former. Fears about what tomorrow could bring are a very powerful campaign message and will be used extensively by those wanting us to stay.

The polls above, only one of which was carried out after GE15, presents a fairly consistent picture although in today’s context people will rightly question the validity of all political polling.

A factor that could change everything, of course, will be how Cameron’s negotiations with other European leaders on the where Britain has specific concerns are seen to have gone. My guess is that he’ll seek to present the the outcome as showing that sufficient progress has been made to enable him to report things in a positive light. If Cameron recommends LEAVE then in the current context that could happen.

One problem with referenda is that the actual issue being voted upon is sidelined and it becomes a vote on something else.

The bookies make STAY the 4/7 favourite.

Mike Smithson


Will this win back the Con to UKIP switchers Dave needs to remain in Downing Street?

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

If the Tories are to remain in power after May 7th, they need to win back the near in one in five voters they’ve lost to UKIP since 2010.

The Sunday Times are reporting (££)

If the Tories keep the keys to Downing Street, one scenario being considered would see negotiations with EU governments continue this summer to get a new deal for Britain in Brussels.

The prime minister would outline his final demands at the Conservative party conference in October and announce a referendum date, either in the spring or autumn next year, setting the clock ticking on final talks with the other 27 EU countries.

One minister told The Sunday Times that Cameron would “like to go early” and a second said a 2016 referendum is “the preferred route”.

Whilst cynics would say this is an attempt to win back those voters who have switched to UKIP, the Tory logic is thus, a referendum held in 2017 will be complicated by the fact France and Germany are holding general elections in 2017, which may not make amenable in to giving the UK concessions. By holding in 2016 it will also reduce the economic uncertainty.

Given Cameron’s past contretemps over the Lisbon referendum, holding the referendum in 2016 might not help in winning back those switchers, especially as Nigel Farage has said in the past a “July 2015 referendum is my price for propping up Tories”

At the time of writing, you could get odds of 6/4 that there would be a referendum by 2019.



As UKIP surges Ipsos-MORI finds that support for wanting to stay in the EU is at a 23 year high

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014

Could the Kippers be giving the BOOers a bad name?

As I often say one of the great things about Ipsos-MORI is that it has been carrying out political polls in the UK for 40 years and is has a vast amount of historical data on which we can make comparisons.

Today the pollsters has issued its latest findings on whether we should leave/remain in the EU. The figures and trends in the chart above come as something as a shock given the current UKIP narrative.

Maybe there’s something of a reaction to the Scottish referendum outcome here. Fewer of us are attracted by the prospect of change. But I wonder whether the way UKIP is dominating the headlines is having an impact and is polarising opinion?

  • Date for your diary. There’ll be a post Rochester PB gathering at Dirty Dicks, near Liverpool Street in London, from 1830 on Friday November 21 – the day after the by-election.
  • Mike Smithson

    Ranked in top 33 most influential over 50s on Twitter


    David Herdson says “Britain’s EU exit is now when, not if”

    Saturday, June 28th, 2014

    eu flag

    The Juncker class are the problem not the solution

    The nomination of Jean-Claude Juncker as next EU Commission President has moved Britain substantially closer to leaving the Union.  On the one hand, Britain was marginalised in a process that has traditionally been built on consensus; on the other, the attitude of the Euro-elite – including Juncker – to the European Parliament election results has been to ignore the opposition to the EU direction of travel and carry on as normal.

    The justification from Juncker and his allies is a simple one: his party group won the election and therefore as their nominee, he has the right to the job.  It’s an argument the Socialists back, though as the only other group who could benefit from it, their support is hardly disinterested.  Even so, they’re both wrong.  The EPP did not win the election.  They might have ended with most seats but were 155 seats short of a majority; in terms of dynamics, they went rapidly backwards.  If the leaders were really taking account of the EP results, they would nominate someone pledged to reform rather than more of the same but it’s clear that’s not what they want.

    Consequently, both the fact of Juncker’s nomination and the reasons for it mean that Cameron’s stated objective of achieving EU reform is now very visibly more difficult than ever.  Not only will there be little support for it from the Commission or many other leaders but it will be a tougher domestic sell too: if he can’t win this fight, how can he win the much more difficult one he’d like to take on?  It’s a question UKIP will no doubt keep raising and which could well make a small but not insignificant impact at the 2015 election – which of course Cameron has to win if negotiations are even to start.

    There have always been three likely medium-term routes to UK exit.  The first is that a Cameron-led government negotiates but fails to convince the UK electorate in the ensuing referendum; the second is that such a government fails to even win an agreement it can itself back (or which the Tory Party and MPs force it to refuse to back), and so supports Out; the third is that Labour form the next government, for both the Tories and the country move to even more Eurosceptic positions during that parliament and then for the Tories return to office in 2020 with EU exit on their platform.  All three have become more likely these last few days to the extent that I’d make it odds-on that Britain leaves sometime within the next decade.

    The analysis, vision and principles that Cameron laid out in his speech on the EU in January 2013 remain as valid now as then, particularly his explicit rejection of the ‘ever closer union’ commitment.  What’s clear is that the European Council has, by nominating someone so bound up in and committed to the EuroProject as Juncker, chosen to reject both that alternative route and the surge of opinion across the EU opposed to the status quo that the Juncker class represents.

    If that is so, then there doesn’t seem any obvious reason why they should change their mind or attitude after 2015.  As such, reform may be all but impossible.  In which case, British exit is merely a question of when, not if.

    David Herdson


    The Cameron-EU stand-off over Jean-Claude Juncker: If the PM wins it would be a major coup

    Friday, June 27th, 2014

    But if he fails then where does that leave Dave?

    Until now the row over Jean-Claude Juncker has made Cameron look increasingly isolated in Europe.

      What’s not generally appreciated in the UK is that in most other EU countries the recent European Parliament elections were presented as being about choosing the EU president as well as MEPs.

    Each of the main party groups in Brussels went through a process of selecting a candidate and in the run up to polling day there was a series of TV debates. In a number of member states there was extensive polling.

    Back in April I took part in a Euro TV discussion on the elections and was taken aback by questions about which of the contenders would go down best with UK voters. I hadn’t realised that this was how the process was being seen.

    As it turned out the EPP – European People’s Party – came out with most seats in the voting and Jean-Claude Juncker had been selected earlier as their man. The EPP, of course, was the grouping that the UK Conservative party used to belong to. That ended following Cameron becoming Tory leader.

    It is against this background that the current row between Cameron and the rest needs to be seen and why, I believe, this has been such a tough fight.

    Today’s Telegraph story alleging that Juncker has drinking problems is certainly well timed and adds force to Cameron’s case.

    If he wins and Juncker doesn’t get the job it will be huge victory for Cameron on a scale greater than the famous veto of December 2011. If he doesn’t then it is hard to predict the consequences.

    Mike Smithson

    2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble


    Christine Lagarde is 4-1 to be next President of the European Commission

    Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

    Q A   An Audience With Christine Lagarde   YouTube

    The battle for Presidency of the EU is hotting up

    Yesterday it was reported by Reuters that:

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked France whether it would be willing to put forward International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde as president of the European Commission, two French sources briefed on the exchanges said.

    They said Merkel, Europe’s most powerful political leader, made the inquiry in a private conversation with French President Francois Hollande after European Parliament elections characterised by widespread anti-EU protest votes.

    “Merkel raised it privately with Hollande, who did not take a final position but said he did not think it would be a good idea for Europe to lose the IMF post,” one source said.

    Emerging nations have said they want to break a long-standing arrangement under which a European gets the top IMF job and an American heads the World Bank.”

    Another source said there was no way the Socialist president, under pressure from the far-right National Front, which won the election in France, and the left wing of his own party, could back a member of the centre-right opposition for the top European Union job.

    You can back Madame Lagarde at 4/1 with Ladbrokes (as at midnight)

    After much umming and ahhing, I’ve decided not to back her, for the reasons listed above, especially given how poorly President Hollande’s ratings are, they are at a post-war low.

    I can’t see any markets up yet, PBers may disagree, but it would be wiser to save your money and back her for next President of France.

    The favourite for the Commission President is Jean-Claude Juncker whom Nine-in-10 EU voters cannot name.



    Checking the Political Weather in Wales

    Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

    Results of the May Welsh Political Barometer

    In 2009 the Conservatives were the big success story of the European elections in Wales, topping the poll in a Welsh national election for the first time in over a century (I haven’t been able to track down an earlier occurrence, Labour has topped every poll since 1918 when the Coalition Liberals stormed to victory under David Lloyd George). This was mainly down to Labour’s nosedive (down 12.2 points since 2004) rather than a Conservative rise (up 1.8 points) and both parties sent one MEP to Brussels, but it was a victory nevertheless.

    In 2014 however they are fighting not for the lead, but to grab the last of Wales’ 4 MEP slots.

    For completeness, Plaid Cymru (+1.1%), Lib Dems (+0.2) and UKIP (+2.3) were all up on 2004, with UKIP jumping ahead of the Lib Dems to take the 4th MEP.

    Now we’ve had the interesting (if slightly clunkily named) May Welsh Political Barometer published, which offers polling on not just the European Elections, but also Welsh Assembly (constituency and list!) and Westminster elections alongside some additional questions (EU membership, Welsh independence) as well. Truely a thing of delight for psephology nerds.

    In truth I am a little leery about all the different elections being crammed into one set of polling due to the possibility of the different elections bleeding into each other and this goes alongside a general concern about polling for other elections during the final part of an election campaign. So I suspect the UKIP scores for the non-European elections may be a little high because of this (Labour has lost support on each election type compared to the last barometer in February with UKIP as the main beneficiary, and I think the focus on Europe is driving at least some of that).

    But caveats aside let’s pull out the highlights in votes and seat projections (most of the projections are by Professor Roger Scully who has an excellent and more detailed piece on this polling alongside the data tables for hardcore pollwatchers.

    For the European elections Labour and UKIP are certain of winning the first two seats. The final 2 seats are a 3-way contest between Plaid Cymru, Labour, and the Conservatives. Using all respondents as above leaves Plaid out in the cold, but applying a filter of only those certain to vote gives them the third seat with a dead-heat between Labour and Conservatives for the fourth.

    It’s likely to be a nervous down to the wire count to see who’s left out.