Archive for May, 2016


Mind the Gap

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016


Cyclefree: If Leave wins, immigration will likely have been one of the main factors.  But what then?  Indeed, what then if Remain wins?

Much as with the EU debate itself, the immigration debate has been characterised by dishonesty, evasion and avoidance of reality.

So – much like the Irishman asked for directions saying that they wouldn’t start from here – let me suggest some basic requirements for an immigration policy and compare them with what we have within the EU and what we might get outside it.

  1. Governments need to be explicit with voters about – and get their consent to – (a) the need for immigrants; (b) the numbers; and (c) who the immigrants are likely to be.
  2. The number and type of immigrant needs to be what is in this country’s interest. Immigration should be primarily for the benefit of the receiving country not the immigrant.  Bluntly, just because someone wants very much to come here should be an insufficient reason for accepting them.
  3. Not all immigrants are of equal value. Any well-run immigration system should distinguish between those groups – and individuals within those groups – who are likely to be a benefit to this country and those who are not.
  4. Benefit” should be defined widely to mean more than economic benefit. Social cohesion matters.  Willingness to contribute and integrate and become British matter.  Being British involves something more than simply holding a British passport.  It means living fully in a country and setting aside to a very significant extent the mores, habits, culture and behaviours of the country you are leaving.  An immigrant should be like another drop of water in a jug of water not like a drop of oil which will never mix.
  5. Immigration has costs and benefits. Government should be open with voters about who bears the costs and about how those who benefit should contribute so as to mitigate the costs.
  6. There must be a quick and effective way of getting rid of those immigrants who turn out to be not wanted (e.g. because of criminal behavior).
  7. Immigrants should contribute to the receiving country for a period before receiving benefits or otherwise pay for benefits. Immigrants should not be free riders on the contributions of others.  “Need” cannot be the only basis on which rationed public goods and benefits are shared; “contribution” should also feature.
  8. There are many areas of the world where there is war / serious civil strife / appalling governments. It is no longer feasible to think that one country can give asylum to the numbers involved even if the individuals involved may have well founded claims for asylum.  The international asylum/refugee laws need to take into account of the numbers involved and either severely limit the right to asylum or place a numbers cap on it for any one country.

With the EU’s Freedom of Movement EU governments have effectively lost all control of points 1-4.  But this has been known ever since we joined.  It has become acute because of the recent increase in numbers (itself a consequence of Britain’s relatively better economic performance) and because this occurred at around the same time that there was also an increase in immigration and asylum claims from non-EU countries.

The government’s failure to be open about non-EU immigration or to control it effectively has fed a sense that it has lost control of all immigration and, for some, that only departure from the EU will restore control.  But will it?  Even setting aside the likelihood that any post-Brexit deal will likely require some level of free movement, the most intractable social problems associated with immigration have not really centered around Spanish nurses, French bankers or Polish plumbers.  How to manage non-EU immigration will still exist whether or not Britain leaves the EU.

5 has never been done.  It is not being done now.   Some level of good quality immigration is on the whole a good thing.  But even it will have costs and those who bear the costs are often those least able to do so.  Governments who fail to recognize people’s concerns, who insult or condescend to the losers, who fail to take action to share those costs fairly, who fail to help those most affected deserve to get a bloody nose from the losers.  This referendum will be used by some to give the government that bloody nose.

7 is a British peculiarity.  A more contribution based system would do much to allay concerns, something which British governments of all types have been reluctant to do.  Whether we stay or leave, this would require a more ruthless approach to how a welfare system should be constructed and what a “free” schools/health system really mean when anyone flying into a country can access them.  Free movement of peoples and a welfare system sit uneasily with each other.  At some point one or other will have to give.

6 and 8 are the most intractable.  But they are the ones that any serious government will need to address.  No immigration system can long hold people’s consent if those who break the rules face no moral hazard, face no punishment for so doing.  A right to family life should not mean a right to a family life only in the country of the wrongdoer’s choice.  And yet the irony is that any attempt to alter the ECHR or redefine asylum or alter the various refugee conventions will require Britain to work with other countries.   Whether we are in or out of the EU will not change that fact.

Two tentative conclusions for PB’ers to chew over: (1) Brexit will not be an answer to all or even most of the immigration issues Britain currently faces.  It may help at the margins.  But that is not how it is being sold by the Leave campaign.  (2) A vote to Remain is not the sort of whole-hearted “yes” to more unlimited immigration from the EU by the voters not because that is not the reality but because that is not how it is being presented to voters.  And so the same concerns will resurrect themselves in some form even after a Remain vote.

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


Note – This post was originally published at 2pm, but was replaced due to the ICM polls coming out shortly thereafter


ICM Phone poll sees Leave 4% ahead. A fortnight ago Remain was ahead by 10%

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Both the ICM phone and online polls show Leave winning by 4%. The phone poll sees a 7% swing from Remain to Leave, the online poll sees no swing.

Like last night’s ORB phone poll, there’s been a significant shift to Leave, this time a 7% swing from Remain to Leave. What makes this poll very interesting is that ICM online poll has seen no movement whatsoever.

Whether this is a genuine shift, we need to see more polling, there’s a danger of repeating the mistake of the last general election and assume today is the day the polls turned. In the past there’s been some outliers produced when polls have been conducted during the Bank Holiday period, but nothing on a scale of a 7% swing.

For David Cameron and the Remain campaign, this is squeaky bum time. Whilst correlation doesn’t imply causation, both phone polls have seen major shifts to Leave after Vote Leave decided to focus heavily on immigration. I’d expect Remain to focus heavily on their strongest asset, the economy.

For punters, Martin Boon of ICM says the ‘polling also suggested a healthy turnout in the referendum. Asked how likely they were to vote on 23 June, more than 60% of respondents on both methods gave a score of 10 out of 10, which he said pointed to a turnout of 60-62%.’

You can access the ICM data tables here.

Unsurprisingly this has seen movement towards Leave on Betfair.



Betting on the Democratic Party California primary

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

California Dem

Perhaps I’m reading too much into the tweet by the political correspondent of The Washington Post, but Hillary Clinton’s actions don’t appear to be the actions of someone confident of winning California, There is of course huge symbolism if she fails to win California, America’s most populous state, people will inevitability say she’s the wrong candidate to win in November.

I looked at the polling in California, the most recent poll has Clinton defeating Sanders by just 2%. Whilst leads of this size appear to be outliers, Paddy Power have a market up on the California Primary, and I’m wondering whether to back Sanders to win it at 4/1 . The punting heart says back him, the punting head says back Hillary. Perhaps punters will be more bolder than me.

The fact we’re discussing Hillary Clinton not winning California is a reflection on her campaign so far. If she wasn’t facing Trump in November, I’d struggle to come up with plausible reasons on why you should be backing her to win The White House race in November.



Guest Slot: A Look at the Remain Campaign.

Monday, May 30th, 2016


David Kendrick looks at the Remain campagin

The Remain approach has been strikingly one-paced. It has been relentlessly and exclusively negative. There has been nothing about how good the EU is, nor how it will become better. We have heard no ‘In 5 years time, the EU will…..We don’t want to get off this Euro-express.’ There is no mention of the direction of travel of the EU, and why that direction is good for Britain. There is not even the pretence of enthusiasm for the EU.

Their entire campaign could be summarised: “Vote Remain. Your family’s least worst option”

This is not why Brexit is likely to lose. It would lose because it is matched up against the most polished politician of the age, who has enlisted the support of his party, his government and the civil service. And Remain has the tacit support of the BBC, which is the more powerful because it affects neutrality. It is a reflection of the distaste for the EU that Leave is ‘still in the game’ after such a one-sided contest.

But because there has been no attempt by the Remain team to win hearts-and-minds, Brexit will be kept alive. If the EU became more unpopular, it will be easy for Leavers to claim that the EU is no longer ‘the least worst choice’. Remain would struggle to win the same argument a second time.

David Kendrick

David Kendrick is a long standing contributor to PB


The Tories are dominating the referendum campaign and that’s not good news for Remain

Monday, May 30th, 2016

If the referendum is seen solely as a Tory/right wing affair then non Tory/non right wing voters might not bother voting

Loughborough University’s Centre for Research in Communication and Culture has analysed the media coverage of the first few weeks of the referendum campaign. As we can see in the table above, it is being dominated by the Tories. If we look at the table below, unsuprisingly the Tories dominate the top 10 individual appearances as well.

All of this risks making it seem to non Tory/non right wing voters this referendum is an issue solely for Tories/right wing voters, and thus they might not participate. For Remain to win, they need Labour supporters to vote and back Remain.

If Cameron wants June 23rd to be his Waterloo, then Labour voters are his Blücher, which my, my, is a most awkward position for a Tory Prime Minister to be in. This might explain why David Cameron is shared a platform with Sadiq Khan this morning, only a few weeks after that infamous Tory campaign in the London Mayoral election.

Interestingly in the first phase of the campaign, Immigration only featured around 11% of the time, with that being Leave’s strongest issue, and the plan by Vote Leave to crank the volume up to eleven on immigration from now on, Leave might see a substantial swing to them in the polls the final few weeks of the referendum campaign.

This is the first in series of reports, I plan to follow up on this piece when the next report by Loughborough University is published.



A tale of two broadcasts. Roger’s critique of the opening two broadcasts

Monday, May 30th, 2016

[Political] ‘advertising isn’t about truth fairness or rationality, but about mobilising deeper and more primitive layers of the human mind.’ – Brian Eno.

The first two campaign broadcasts couldn’t have been more different. A brutally apocalyptic one for LEAVE and a bright new tomorrow for REMAIN.

The REMAIN spot features 14 month old Sam on a baby bike in his garden and through misty slow-motion sequences a young female voice-over talks us through the opportunities young Sam will have throughout his life if we REMAIN in the EU.

He could be driving an earth mover or working in a factory with some very cheerful chums or running his own business……while watching these smiley workers the voice over tells us how the EU makes all this possible.

When a fact needs emphasising there’s a title superimposed ‘Over 3 Million Jobs……Over 200,000 businesses…..£66 million a day….’ As we near the end a gentle reminder of the £4300 it would cost every family if we leave and then seamlessly back to blonde haired blue eyed Sam and his happy family.

LEAVE open with a brief history of the NHS before a warning that it’s now in DANGER. Through a series of graphics and a female voice over we learn that every week we pay £350 million to the EU “MONEY THAT’S WASTED”. Then in urgent tones it lists …..Albania… Macedonia… Montenegro… Serbia…..TURKEY…. as the graphic points Dad’s Army style arrows from these countries to the UK plotting the course of the invasion.

Briefly recovering from this hammer blow the voice over asks what will happen to ‘OUR MONEY WHEN THE EU FACES THE NEXT BAILOUT?’….and just as you’re about to slit your wrists the mood changes……

Gentle guitar music and we’re transported to the kitchen of an elderly woman who has become unwell. The screen splits into two. On one side her story if we ‘REMAIN’ on the other if we ‘LEAVE’. No dialogue. Just two parallel stories with the titles ‘In the EU’ / ‘Out of the EU’

‘In the EU’ there are queues brooding nurses a full and threatening waiting room a snarling looking foreigner being shepherded to the front of the queue… an interminable wait. On the non EU side smiling staff small queues a comfortable bed and a nice doctor checking all went well……It looks like an ad for BUPA.

Who was the REMAIN broadcast aimed at? Clearly not Sam. At 14 months he’s far too grown up to be impressed by this cheesy nonsense. Even the £4300 was lost in this tepid blancmange. A small reminder near the end that little Sam would be able to work or play in 28 countries was as inspiring as it got. It left me wondering how John Lewis can produce a Christmas ad that makes the news for several cycles yet creating a vision that affects all our futures struggles to command our attention for three minutes.

LEAVE’s apocalyptic vision of an enlarged EU with its Dad’s Army graphics is probably targeted at elderly Labour voters. Dire warnings of a collapsing NHS have been the bedrock appeal to Labour voters at every election I can remember. Rarely do they go as far as this and rarely do they finger the culprit so confidently. The claims and scares are outlandish even by the standards of this referendum.

But honesty in political ads is not a requirement so you might as well get away with what you can and negative advertising works. It certainly showed more passion than the bland effort from REMAIN.

LEAVE 6/10 REMAIN 4/10


Roger, who has had a long and successful career in advertising has been posting on PB since 2004


Fear and loathing in the Tory Party. Whatever the result of the referendum, the Tory party is looking ungovernable

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

If Labour had a decent leader, they’d be leading by at least double digits in the polls right now.



Guest slot: Polling analysis finds Labour Loses Supporters of Brexit

Sunday, May 29th, 2016


Philip Walker analyses the polling and finds 3 in Every 7 of Labour’s 2015 Voters Backing Brexit Would Not Vote Labour in 2016

In the EU referendum, online and phone polls have persistently been at odds. Last week, YouGov reacted by publishing in full a set of parallel online and phone polling conducted in early May, exposing flaws in the phone sample to defend its own online method.  For polling junkies that unprecedented transparency had a further welcome consequence. A full, representative online data set of 1527 people who voted at the 2015 general election came into the public domain, allowing us map their views and link them to a host of other variables, regardless of how YouGov chose to use the data. Wikileaks could not have given us more.

YouGov’s polling data set includes 2015 general election vote, current general election voting intention, and current EU voting intention. That means we can look at the ebb and flow of each individuals’ support for each party since May 2015, and how that relates to their EU voting intention.

For Labour, this evidence should ring alarm bells. Those who voted Labour in 2015 split about 2:1 in favour of Remain over Leave. By early May 2016 that had risen to almost 3:1 for current Labour voters, thanks almost entirely to the desertion of former Labour voters backing Leave. In the sample, 42% of the 137 Leave supporters who voted Labour in 2015 would not back the party today and overall the number of current Labour voters backing Leave is 29% down on 2015.

By contrast, only 21% of the 282 Labour voters from 2015 backing Remain would not vote for the party now. Those supporters of Remain lost to Labour are almost entirely countered by new Labour supporters of Remain, including a significant tranche of former Greens whose switch of allegiance surely reflects Corbyn’s accession rather than his recent conversion to the EU cause.

Britain remains a highly Eurosceptic nation, however many might be enticed into voting for Remain with gritted teeth for fear of something even worse. YouGov found in 2014 that 61% of the electorate would favour substantially less EU integration or complete withdrawal compared to just 25% backing more integration or the status quo. For the working class (C2DE) electorate, those percentages are even more stark: 65% against 17%. Parties that seek to appeal to the working class on a Europhile platform do so at their peril.

The “Labour In” campaign, uncritically and superficially extolling the EU as the best thing since sliced bread, while dismissing out of hand concerns over EU migration, may yet bring a few of the party’s tribal supporters into the Remain camp. The polling evidence though suggests that there will be a price – that of causing more of Labour’s 2015 supporters to question their own tribal allegiance. Rather than reversing Labour’s losses to UKIP in 2015, Labour has seen further losses.

16% of the 137 Leave supporters who still voted Labour in 2015 had by May 2016 switched directly to UKIP, with another 26% switching to undecided, non-voting or other parties. No party should be content to be losing support on this scale, let alone a party in opposition to a government about to encounter the perils of mid-term. As the “Labour In” campaign gets into full swing, it could reinforce those trends by 23rd June. Just as in Scotland in 2014, Labour could end up losing significant electoral support as the price of achieving the referendum result that its MPs desire.

For all their divisions over Europe and their slide in current polling, the Conservatives are in a far better position to recover after the referendum. Conservative retention rates of 2015 supporters are only 68% for Leave and 73% for Remain, but the similarity of these suggests that much of these losses are down to the usual woes of a second year government rather than specifically due to the EU, despite the undoubted pull of UKIP now for some voting Conservative in 2015. For all its acrimony, the open debate between the wings of the party shows that the party wants to keep the door open in future for Conservative supporters of either camp. In addition, if Cameron’s successor is a prominent Leave supporter, many Conservative defectors to UKIP in 2015 and since could return in significant numbers. Do not bet against a general election before 2020 under a new Conservative leader.

There is one final statistic that should give Labour concern. 2015 voters who are undecided or who are currently inclined to no longer vote break heavily towards Leave: 39% for Leave to 28% for Remain. By turning itself into a Europhile party, Labour risks limiting its potential appeal to such swing voters to only the 61% not hostile to the EU. In contrast, by keeping a foot in both camps, the Conservatives can appeal to the full 100%.

Philip Walker

Phil Walker will be voting for Brexit and stood as a Labour candidate in Wolverhampton in the 2016 local government elections. He has previously contributed to PB as “Wulfrun Phil”.

You can access Philip’s analysis by clicking here: YouGov Apr 2016 EU Flux Values v2