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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

New Open Europe/ComRes poll: British voters want changed relationship with EU rather than outright withdrawal

There has been a lot of debate recently about what the UK public really want in terms of the UK’s relationship with the EU. In an attempt to shed some further light on this Open Europe has today released a new poll conducted by ComRes.

The results show that among those certain to vote in next year’s European elections, UKIP would come first overall with 27%, closely followed by Labour on 23%. The Conservatives would come third with 21%. Two-fifths (39%) of Conservative voters from 2010 would vote UKIP in a European election if it were held tomorrow – this remains a major problem for the Conservatives.

However, paradoxically, there’s substantial support for David Cameron’s EU policy. If a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU were held now, 37% say that they would vote to remain in the EU compared to 41% that say they would vote to leave. But, if there was a significant return of powers to Westminster followed by a referendum, 47% would vote to stay in the European Union, including one in five (20%) voters who say that they would vote UKIP in a UK General Election. Only one third of all voters (32%) would still vote to leave.

Of the individual party leaders, the public still has the most faith in David Cameron to negotiate a better deal for the UK in EU – though it’s clear that there’s a high degree of scepticism about whether a new deal can be delivered by anyone. In order address this 'credibility deficit', Cameron must start to press ahead with substantial reforms now.

In general, one thing is clear. That is the desire for a wider choice between simply In or Out. When asked to choose between different possible relationships that Britain could have with the EU, the public’s preferred option is to remain a member of the EU, without the Euro as their currency, but with the significant return of EU powers to the UK (38%). Surprisingly for an anti-EU party, “only” 61% of UKIP voters said they favoured completely withdrawing from the EU, with 30% saying they would be content with “significant return of EU powers”. For every other main party, a slimmed down EU was the single most popular option, suggesting that Ed Millband and Nick Clegg risk ending up out of step with their own voters if they continue to sit on their hands.

Here are some other interesting findings from the poll:
- In a General Election, Labour would win 37% of votes, followed by the Conservatives on 26%, UKIP on 20% and the Liberal Democrats on 9%. Under current constituency boundaries, Labour would win a majority of 110 seats with the Conservatives losing 102 seats. UKIP would not win any seats.

- More than half (55%) of the British public think that the Government should prioritise allowing the UK to have its own immigration policy when seeking to reform Britain’s relationship with the EU. Other areas of priority include giving the UK Parliament more powers to block un-wanted EU laws (42%), reducing Britain’s contribution to the EU budget (36%) and allowing the UK to have control over police and criminal justice laws (32%).

- 38% support the Prime Minister’s policy of negotiating new EU membership terms for the UK and then having an in/out referendum versus 32% who oppose it because they think meaningful renegotiation is impossible or want to withdraw altogether. Only one in ten voters (11%) say they favour the status quo and fear Cameron’s strategy creates “uncertainty”. 68% of Conservative voters, a surprising half of Lib Dem voters (52%), 32% of Labour voters and 21% of UKIP voters support Cameron’s strategy.

- However, when asked the question differently, six in ten (60%) think that it is unlikely that the Government will be able to deliver the changes it wants in the UK’s relationship with the EU – showing that whilst there’s support for Cameron’s strategy in principle, there remains a ‘credibility deficit’ which he must seek to close by pressing ahead with substantial reforms now.
See here for our full briefing on the poll results.


Rik said...

You closed most of the gap created by the poor poll of a week or so ago. Good way to communicate a poll always get alot of media coverage.

Cameron should start to work on his communication re the EU. He has let himself be pushed in a corner while his EU policies have the highest approval rates, but he still takes the hits.

As OE remarks it is a bit weird that Labour and the LibDems keep very vague on this. To be honest I expect not too far from here they will also get pro-referendum. It is simply looks so undemocratic. And even weirder that the Conservatives have not made this an area that is constantly attacked. Moving all over the place with your opinions and against the majority of your voters hardly a position you want to be in.

People look to be somewhat more negative the chances of a successful reneg than before. Probably also some more explaning to do. People also usually donot understand long processes like this that might be another point.

EU elections won by UKip also has a lot of positives. Makes things really clear even for the EU blind.

In general Cameron should try to take the initiative (not only vis-a-vis the EU but also on the homefront).

Ray said...

Voters are alarmed by the pressure of information being forced on them, especially the false vision painted by the Europhiles. Fear will force them to take a middle line which will play into Cameron and Barroso's hands. The smoke and mirrors of renegotiations will disappear in a gale of laughter, and we will have a new currency by 2020.
You have been warned.
Whats so terrible about leaving anyway ? What harm can it do? none of the predictions of gloom have stood up to investigation, and we will be joined by others almost immediately, and we will have a big world to play in on our terms.

Rollo said...

The second part of this poll is faked. It assumes some sort of renegotiation to leave us with a free trade area and no political subservience. But there is no meaningful renegotiation, as OE well knows; and there is no level playing field for trade, as our £4Billion trade deficit with the EU proves. And the political subservience will grind on until collapse.

Anonymous said...

out is the only way forward--free trade fine but losing sovereignty is not on--i also want our fisheries and farming and energy under control by govt here--nothing but completely out is acceptable to me

Anonymous said...

The people of the UK want to leave. Full stop.

Renegotiation of powers? That means take back everything that the EU currently mismanages (which is everything) and let us have free trade only.

Would you be a member of a club where you pay full membership fees, are openly mistreated and discriminated against and have no vote to change things?

Well then.

Let us start by putting our politicians on trial for ignoring the electorate, illegally handing over sovereign powers with no mandate from the people and breaking countless manifesto promises to the people on the subject of the EU.

The broken promises must come under some legislation somewhere that covers MIS-SELLING. Why should politicians be exempt when bankers and everyone else are not?

UKIP for me.

Anonymous said...

The UK must have the final say on all things that concern it.

The EU must never ever again have any of the UK's sovereign powers or the ability to override a decision made by the UK.

If this means that the UK is a "bad European" then so be it.

Let's let the other EU nations be naive and stupid.

Anonymous said...

Again, the Eurofascist Open Europe misrepresents a poll result with a deceitful headline.


"if there was a significant return of powers to Westminster followed by a referendum, 47% would vote to stay in the European Union ..."

does not support this headline:

"New Open Europe/ComRes poll: British voters want changed relationship with EU rather than outright withdrawal"

But, you know that, don't you, Open Europe.

Average Englishman said...

The second part of the poll is meaningless. You may as well have asked the respondents if they'd like the EU to give them each £1,000 and respect their democratic rights, as there's about as much chance of that happening as a any negotiation by Dave or anyone else providing a meaningful improvement in the UK's relationship with the EU and.... BOTH DAVE AND OPEN EUROPE KNOW IT. Such tactics reveal your organization as having a Europhile bias whilst professing to be neutral. Shame on you. The good people of the UK have had enough trouble with politicians that spin like tops without Open Europe joining in.

christina speight said...

As Rollo says above "The second part of this poll is faked" AND OPEN EUROPE knows it is and just uses the trickery to pretend that there is a 3rd way. Without Article 50 being used there can be NO definitive negotiations. Cameron will not take that route so there will be absolutely NOTHING on offer at a referendum but crumbs of trivia.

This is disgraceful behaviour on OE's part of which they / you should be ashamed.

Rik said...

On UKip

Looks a scenario very similar to what has happened in several countries in Northern Europe. Southern Europe have different style populists, they want to attack and change the system (and its corruption). In the North the parties mainly attrack voters that want as little as possible to be changed.
Basically a protestparty built around an issue that is top of the agenda. LePen and Wilders have their immigration, IP has the EU.

Like in the rest of N. Europe it looks like a perfect storm for this sort of parties. Economy goes bad, welfarestate under fire, EU has made a mess of it and isnot able to clean it up, immigration has finally boiled over as an issue.
For IP it works fine all issues are now basically EU related as well (immigration and Poles/Rumenians), economy and Euro). The EU makes things worse as they donot want to face reality (not only for the UK) that a lot of their stuff simply has no popular platform.

These parties are based usually around a charismatic person. Farage works great for that in the UK.
They hardly have an organisation however. Organising meetings just goes, but know how, technical expertise is hardly there.
They have difficulties in general to attrack proper MPs (usually loose guns are heavily overrepresented).
Similar for IP.

Usually populists start with protestvoters and desillusioned people (in politics in general) and usually move to the right lateron. IP is a bit different, it basically is the social and cultural conservative wing of the Tories.

IP electorate. Bit different than standard. Started without tattooed racists and alike. But moves to the same crowd as eg Wilders does in Holland:
-Social/cultural conservative not positive re things like gay marriage, abortion, under- and lowerclass immigration.
-Lower middleclass, probably slightly undereducated, average income, financially things in order. People who have aleways paid their taxes and who are now afraid it goes to foreign aid and unemployed immigrants first. Important to see that this is the main group for eg communication.

Two main parts: voters and Farage. There is no real political organisation (eg think tank and MPs). And no extended leadership.
Voters are basically described above.

Communicationstyle. Simple/oneliners. Outspoken but decent ones not Wilderian, would probably not work for Farage.

It is important to understand that the largest group of voters is as described above (and not like the Christina's and the Rollo's at this blog).

Weak points:
-heavily oversimplify and have no worked out policies.
-budget will almost certainly be a huge mess (deficit looks gigantic).
-rely on one guy.

Rik said...

How to attack populist parties like IP.
In Europe they basically have done everything wrong in this respect so some valuable lessons can be learnt from there.

First how to communicate.
-Donot call voters morons or loons. You can only call them that way if you are totally uninterested in their vote. Dave should be very interested so should work on his and his team's manners.

-Simplify the message. Most voters simply are unable to hold a logical somewhat more complicated discussion, with things as arguments. Have a look at some blogs go for 95-100 IQs. Keep the message simple and direct, they are not Christinas.

-Take them and their worries serious.

-These people largely might decide on emotion and not rationality. Important to make them feel comfortable with things (eg your message).

-Repeat a lot. They probably need that to get the mesage.

At present Dave and Co donot really do a good job. Idea might be to let the Cos who not yet have destroyed their credibility with this group do most of the talking. Anyway more communication and getting back the initiative.

Attack simply in general their overall heavily oversimplyfied policies. Oneliners backed up by nothing.
Leaving or reneg with the EU is always highly complicated and timeconsuming. But if not done properly the UK could end up tanking its economy. Start with asking how Farage want to manage that process and subsequently put a pricetag on it. Bit like with Scotland, the guy keeps shooting in his own feet when put under pressure.
Budget is a similar issues. You cannot keep entitlements whole and not raise taxes. Put a pricetag on that.

Not too much negative or playing on the man. Mud throwing always looks bad on all involved.
Dave probably have to gamble on strategic voting at election time. Too much has happened fully restore credibility wil be very difficult. Imho a bridge too far.
It has to be made sure the Tories are the 'realistic referendum party' and IP the 'unrealistic probably end up with empty hands' one.

Average Englishman said...

@Rik on UKIP
Interesting take and some truth therein but an equal measure of errors.
UKIP's supporters are of a wider cultural and social mix than you indicated Rik. There is a large knowledge base and capability base there and it is mobilising.
All parties start small and it is true that UKIP needs more members, more active supporters and more of a party machine, so that it can deliver a full poackage of properly researched policies. This is happening.
There are many people like me who support UKIP and its desire for a UK that is free from the clutches of the EUSSR but who are not at present members and direct contributors but who will be soon. I am no 'heavyweight' but there are plenty of people who could be described as such who will be 'coming out' soon to help UKIP's cause.
Nigel Lawson and others have made supporting UKIP more intellectually respectable and Dave's ravings about 'swivel eyed loons' have helped to make it 'cool'.
Contrary to press opinion UKIP also has a strong youth following and this will grow stronger as time goes by.
UKIP is not a small protest group set in stone but an emerging major party in the making and its organization and policy detail will improve as time goes on.
Also Rik, do not underestimate the intelligence of UKIP's supporters and potential supporters. 50% of us may be of below average intelligence by definition but that does not mean that 50% of the population is stupid, do not appreciate the realities of life and do not have opinions that should be respected. UKIP has a mixture of supporters, as do all of the parties.
A 'flash in the pan' protest group says Rik; a real political party in the making says I. We shall see in time which of us is correct Rik but of one thing I am certain, the longer the UK stays under the control of the EUSSR the stronger and bigger UKIP will become at the expense of the other main parties and the only thing that would stop this growth accelerating would be for the UK to leave the EU. I wonder if Dave is listening? I doubt it. He's caught between the 'rock' of the UK leaving the EU and the 'hard place' of a Conservative Party in decline and like it or not he has a choice to make or others will make it for him; Boris is waiting.............

Rik said...

Of course they are of a wider cultural and social mix. But like with the Conservative voters people with these characteristics are heavily overrepresented.

It is very difficult to adress all these groups so choices have to be made. How to get a decent group of voters back with as little as possible (but still likely an awful lot) effort.

No use try with a small group to start a more academic discussion (group is simply too small).

Expertise is not what I have seen. Still waiting for an answer on very basic questions like how (the procedure) to exit the EU without running the risk that there will be a gap between a new situation (whatever that might be) and the present one. And more important the whole financial world looks out for that answer as well.

Great that the UK imports more than it exports, but basically wanting to exit because the EU is purely powerfocussed (in the IP world at least), simply doesnot lead to a logical businesslike compromise (of a freetradezone like situation) in case of an exit.
They are logical/businesslike in which case a compromise in a reneg can likely be achieved) or power hungry and the exit will be a battlefield. Both logically more likely scenarios than picking the sort of EU which is convenient.

So I (and as said more important a lot of others as well) am still waiting for a more detailed plan how IP is thinking to manage the EU exit. No one liners but real measures. Same with the budget btw, you likely have a bigger gap than then Greece or Hollande.

Rik said...

Fully agree that UKip is a real political party in the making. That is the reason the Conservatives have to be afraid very afraid.
However it clearly is not there yet. Cameron has still the opportunity to get most back on board. Unlike in say Holland where Wilders has established himself as a real political party (in the eye of his voters at least and that is the only thing that counts). However Dave is simply waisting time. Basically now he can start as gay marriage is now off the table, but it has done a lot of damage that will last for years to come in the process. But at the same time IP is 15-20% now in national election polls. He simply didnot have his priorities right.

As said earlier the structure is simple Farage and the voters and that is about it, the rest is (still) irrelevant (relatively at least. Farage is pretty simple to draw unlike say Wilders who is much more clever.

Same with the voter profile. I could probably have come up with with some other points. But nevertheless if you start to focus on the group I describe, you probably have more than half of them. Most will not meet all the criteria. But it is good enough to have an idea who and how to adress (that was my point). Slightly below average educated and IQ probably (leaving out the non-Western immigrants certainly) and with little volatility (low sigma). Nothing wrong with the people (basically the backbone of society), but in general they are hardly people to start an academic discussion with.
You will also reach other people than the ones with more or less 'my' profile. Anyway in general communication by political parties is highly unprofessional, boring and a lot of other negative things. It should be more directed to the target groups anyway and especially in this situation.
No use to adress people like Christina (as well) takes too much time and energy if you already would succeed and it reaches only a very limited group. Simple marketing go for the largest realistic easiest to reach market.
Labour is eg much more complicated. Mr Ed, MPs, other leadership, unions, workers, welfarestate clients, lefty academics.

Anyway in my experience polls are much more reliable than own observations or anecdotal evidence. It looks very clear that of the 3 alternatives by far the largest group want to start with a reneg. Whatever your own experience is. I always check if the questions/polls look ok and often they are not. But if the poll looks ok nearly certain it is more accurate than your own initial assessment.
Which brings me on another buig negative. People only supported by say 1/4 of the voters thinking they have a majority for something as what almost 50% of the voters want is apparently in their view totally unrealistic. This will not reflect good on IP if this trend is continued. People not like to be bullied into views period, and not only donot want to be bullied into views by the EU. This is simply way too much: ' it is not undemocratic when we do it'. Imho both stink and one as hard as the other.

Rik said...


Most want a reneg and I can tell you that that group will grow larger if IP doesnot come up with a proper strategy how to manage an exit and avoid negative fall out. Look at Scotland oneliners galore until the real questions like about EU membership and Central banks came up. Approval for independence dropped several 10s %. EU has its PR not in order clearly, but if people's jobs are at stake that is nearly always more important. And it is easy to predict how their vote goes.
IP looks very similar if put under real scrutiny it is hard to belive Farage will do better than the Scottish guy who was simply caught with his pants down.
I havenot seen any answers on the 2 most relevant questions: how will they manage in real life the exit and how will proposed policies vs budget work out. Farage will have to be able these questions. For budget I can imagine a not too difficult way out. Simply for entitlements focus on people who also have contributed (more like a real insurance), those are his voters and the group left out are the usual basketcases which will not vote IP anyway.

However on the EU exit I cannot see a proper relatively easy way out of that discussion. It is simply way too complicated 100s of laws/rules/directives, going to the large majority of UK legislation and essential for most international business. At least these have structured things according to that. Hugely complicated and massive.
As that is Farage's main issue he will have to be able to answer this question. Otherwise when an exit comes closer real companies will start to get nervous and people will get scared for their job.

As I see it there are answers and strategies also out of the EU but it always need careful planning. It is hard to see how you could not come pretty close to Cameron's present strategy. Even more so if you take the seats in parliament and polls into consideration. Simply no majority for a referendum now even if Cameron would want so and how hard the referendum now people shout. And as well there is no majority for a straight exit and not be far almost 3/4 is stay in or reneg. Only if you heavily 'Barroso' the questions and leave the unconvenient one out you have a chance. And still a very little one as everybody will see it stinks. And if one thing is really clear the UK people want a fair referendum (no dodgy results from the reneg not being bullied into whatever).

Anonymous said...

Most people I talk to want a government that they can hold accountable, and to conduct a peaceful trading relationship with other countries.

Any discussions about staying in and renegotiating terms or choosing to leave are about means to an end.

I do detect, though, a large perception that it is not possible to stay in the EU and meaningfully repatriate powers. Some of my more politically literate contacts mention things like 'acquis communautaire', commitment to ever closer union and Mr Van Rompuy's warning to Cameron that the European Council will give short shrift to any requests to discuss any return of powers and the unpicking of treaties.

If there is no meaningful return of powers (as in the hyped 1975 renegotiation), a recent poll showed that over 70% of those voting would be amenable to withdrawal.