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Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Farage Paradox: UKIP on the rise but so is public support for EU membership

Poll watchers in the last few years would have seen many polls showing a majority of Brits would vote 'out' in a referendum of the UK's membership of the EU. In the last few months this trend has been slowly reversing, and a new Ipsos-MORI poll out today shows that if a referendum were held right now, 54% would vote to stay in - the highest support for the EU for a few years - and 37% would vote to leave.

Why is this the case? The most obvious factor is the improving economic situation in both the UK and (most of) the eurozone. Another factor could be that as the EU debate has become more prominent, it has forced people to consider the issue and come down on one side or the other - it is notable that only 10% say they don't know how they would vote.

Likewise, the concerted focus on EU reform primarily by the Conservatives but also to a lesser extent by Labour and the Lib Dems may have reassured voters that the EU may be moving in the right direction. This has also involved much sharper and clearer communication by David Cameron of what kind of EU reforms he will prioritise, as well as high profile interventions by EU politicians calling on the UK to stay in and emphasising the UK's importance to the EU.

The irony is that the upswing in support is happening at exactly the same time that UKIP is riding high in the national polls and could well come first in next week's European elections, and UKIP leader Nigel Farage was widely seen as having beaten Nick Clegg in the EU debates. These figures lend credence to the theory put out by some including British Future's Sunder Katwala that while Farage is effective at maximising the UKIP vote, his message and rhetoric, including the overwhelmingly negative focus on immigration, is actually a turn-off for potential supporters of a UK exit (Douglas Carswell has also made this point).


Rik said...

The lack of credibility with traditional parties is as much the driver of Farage's success as his EU policies. The latter are the flag around which the lack of credibility problem is fought.

You are making a standard mistake her.
Basically there are 3 options on the table. A proper pollster should give all 3. However the thing is nearly always reduced to 2, equivalent of in-out.

It looks like the proper link between reneg and EU membership has not been found yet. Before the reneg camp looked to have taken: Out now it looks to have taken In.
Until a proper poll, with questions that allows to see that differnce, is held it will however be hard to say.
It looks like that Cameron finally starts to do a proper communication job but very likley a lot of work to be done there. Even ignoring trying to convince people with other ideas. The complete plan looks still not proiperly landed with a big part of the main stream electorate.
Of course it would help if the pollsters would finally ask all the relevant questions and not just 2 of the 3. Every poor poll brings the whole thing up again.

Ipsos is as far as I have seen it in the rest of Europe simply crap.
Same btw with the Pew thing lately, one can seriously doubt the independence of that one.
Look at their recent Ukraine poll.
Simply sending in a press release (it got in the same way in the press nearly everywhere so has a central source) in which some of the most relevant info is missing (and all positive for the most likely not favoured side) simply stinks. the total stuff looked a lot better, but the analysis thereof was worse than poor. Uncredible with one job you simply get uncredible with all including the EU thing. With again a lot of spin around it which was missing when things went the other way. Similar as that the longer trend (by far more relevant) still seems to look to go down. There have been several uplift in EU popularity but all saw later the longer term trend picking up again.
Stuff looks a bit dodgy as well. There seems to be a high correlation between EU bad news and approval. Well lately we have seen a lot of EU bad news but in polls often great approval results are shown. Simply seems highly dodgy. As an example apparently 2/3 of the Germans want to give German financial assistance to the Ukraine according to one poll. If you believe that you probably believe Spanish GDP figures as well.
So short before electiontime simply looks dodgy. Not that the electorate will see that btw. On the other hand hard to see that this kind of polls have much effect as well, it is the lack of credibility stupid.

Nowadays most polls simply are usually a pile of rubbish. Look at your UK General Election polls. The differences between polls roughly held at the same time are simply statistically as probable as the sun not coming up tomorrow, well not much better than that. You have frequent 10 and more sigma misses/gaps.
A complete joke to summarise.
Seems like a lot is used to attracked media attention (and do nothing else).
Probably has to do with the format in which they are often done.

Denis Cooper said...

Maybe it should be recalled that the three people cited as promoting this theory of a "Farage paradox" are all opponents of UKIP.

Daniel Hannan and Douglas Carswell are Tories who want to leave the EU, but it long ago became clear that their tribal loyalty to the Tory party will always take precedence over that.

As for Sunder Katwala, he is a former general secretary of the Fabian Society, and as such he is actually more of an enemy of UKIP than just an opponent.

Then maybe it should also be recalled that only about a quarter of the British electorate are firmly convinced that we must leave the EU, while about half are open to persuasion that it would be possible to stay in the EU on improved terms.

For example, from an Open Europe report a few months ago:


"Among British voters, a less integrated Europe with more decisions taken nationally or locally, is by far the most favoured option (37%). 24% want complete British withdraw, 15% favour the status quo and only 10% would like more integration with more decisions taken at the European level."

The more Cameron and the Tory media successfully push the line that he would be able to renegotiate our terms of EU membership and secure a favourable outcome, the more that 52% will swing towards staying in; but also the more he talks about achieving something which is self-evidently unachievable in a patent attempt to string the public along for a few more years, the more the 24% will decide that if they want to ever see their country free of the EU then they will have abandon whichever party loyalty they have previously had and instead support UKIP.

And, that I suggest, is the true explanation of what has been going on; there is no "Farage paradox" whereby he is putting people off wanting to leave the EU, just "Cameron trickery" giving them false hopes that he can sort out their various grievances against the EU without the need to leave it.

Rik said...

See we agree for a change.
I donot see why you are against Cameron's set up?
-It looks to have the democratic mandate (to reneg first).
-Plus he will have to deliver, hard to see how he will deliver an In with a bogus outcome.
-If there is a bogus or no outcome it will very likely strengthen the out camp;
-Hardly will lose time. Reneg looks at the same time a proper inventory so that after an Out art 50 can directly be started with a reasonable chance that it can be fineshed within 2 years. I still donot see if you would go for art 50 now, how you could finanlise that in 2 years. Hague's inventory is simply not fit for purpose. It should have done 3 things (inventory risks and benefits); establish a negotiating position; and the least relevant the one thing it covers now.
Summarised: I understand your personal pov, but of the realistic options this sounds by far the best one for people with your pov. Your personal pov is simply at this stage totally unrealistic.

It is basically a technical problem.
You need to have ALL THE POSSIBLE answers as options. Adding up to 100%. If 20% want to grow a beard, wear a pink dress and take singing lessons you simply have to include that.
Really one of the basics for making a proper poll.
And nearly all polls miss this one way or another.

You can however put 2 options together. Say reneg and leave vs stay or reneg and stay vs out.
However it should be fully clear what is what. Next to the fact that you miss more than half of the info it could give and give rise to this kind of discussions.

Just ask yourself if I want a reneg where should I vote for and is it clear to everybody what is what. No use when you are the only one who sees that options are combined but the rest of civilisation not. Non of the polls I have seen was however clear on that.

Here that is completely unclear as well. So basically the poll is absolutely useless. It is similar to asking who you think will win the EPL next season: Man City or Liverpool. And donot give Chelsea, Arsenal, Man United as options. Or here leave the popular favourite Man City out.

So in a nutshell when market researcheres are making these kind of basic mistakes (no 100% and totally unclear where things belong to in real life options), the agancy is simply crap or have a bias or are in a certain camp. None give however a guarantee of a proper reliable poll.

They simply donot understand the set up of the situation it seems, which is simply poor at best.

On the other hand if agencies miss this you will need time to communicate it to the ordinary voter if you are Cameron. Simply a difficult one, allthough the results indicate that he is finally on the right way.

Rollo said...

The 'improving situation in the eurozone'? Who are you kidding? Growth down, unemployment ridiculously high (just imagine 47% or 66% youth unemployment in the context of your family) and the bond market still offering low interest rates on the basis of Draghi's promise to do everything needed.
People are fooled by 'Cast Iron Pledge' Cameron's lie that he will renegotiate. There is no forum for renegotiation. Cameron knows it. But he also thinks people are to stupid to realise he is telling lies, again.

Average Englishman said...

@Denis. You got it right again.

@Rik. Along with a lot of other people I do not go along with Cameron's pledge to renegotiate even though I know that his inevitable failure will bring more people round to the 'BRIXIT' cause because that would just be cinical politicing typical of cameron himself. I want my politicians to tell me the truth, good or bad, along with a justified opinion for me to follow or not as I see fir. In other words, proper debate and democracy in action. I will never vote for (or respect) someone who puts forward a policy that he knows he can never fulfil, even if supporting them short term may give me the results I want long term.

Anonymous said...

I think that the average person is confused by what is meant by "leaving the EU". Our politicians have deliberately left this as a grey area to raise fears about "leaving the EU". People do not realise how much power/law making power they now have over our lives.

The common mis-perception is that leaving the EU ends "free trade" and that we will not be allowed to trade with the EU bloc anymore - Free trade is guaranteed under EEA and EFTA rules.

If there is any confusion over that then the balance of trade is firmly on our side as we import more from the EU than they do from us. We have a strong hand and should play it properly.

The other issue is that why does being a member of the EU mean that we have to be ruled by them?

The EU's track record on democracy, accountability, financials/budgets and economics is abysmal and the ECJ pronouncements are getting even more bizarre (e.g. the internet search engines ruling this week).

Why can't nations be members of the EU without having to surrender their culture, laws, sovereignty, currency, collar size and shoe size?

For me it is : Free trade and friendship but NO sovereignty.


Anonymous said...

The previous writer is right about renegotiation of terms of membership of the EU; it is not legally possible to discuss alternatives unless we give notice under the Lisbon Treaty of our intention to withdraw from membership. None of LIB/LAB/CON will agree to this.

So Cameron resorts to a devious formula: he must be re-elected with an overall majority; he will not commence renegotiation until after the 2015 election; any IN/OUT plebiscite must wait until 2017. His ploy is quite ruthless: he knows that in four years’ time a large number of the ‘left behind group’ that support UKIP will be dead. He knows the great majority of the remaining English voters have no experience of the freedoms and liberty this nation possessed before signing the Treaty of Rome.

The unanimity (maybe conspiracy) of the three main political parties is about a move away from democracy. In this endeavour they hope to increase our ignorance – starting with a planned deterioration of formal education. The elite political class are engaged in increasing their power. They are succeeding quite well: they have already replaced a sovereign English parliament with an unelected oligarchy that the voter cannot remove.

Anonymous said...

The unelected EU Council President said the other week: 'The EU intends to control every country on the western flank of Russia and if the people don't want it, we do it anyway'.
The EU will not hand self-governing powers back to nations. They want full blown empire building anti-democratic POLITICAL UNION. As soon as people realise they are being lied to by the pro-EU LibLabCon the better.

Barry Milford said...

I wonder how much of the increase in the pro EU support comes from the supporters of the campaign for an independent Scotland? Scotland will see the Barnett formula reduce to possibly zero and with the prospect of not being able to use the pound sterling as their currency they may opt in to the Euro.

Simon said...

@Rik "You are making a standard mistake her.
Basically there are 3 options on the table. A proper pollster should give all 3. However the thing is nearly always reduced to 2, equivalent of in-out."

Pretty baffling comment. First, the poll does list the third option (don't know) as being 10% if you click on the link. Second, it's incredibly common (and not problematic in the slightest) to present a binary poll without showing don't know/refused responses. That says nothing, whatsoever, about the accuracy of the poll.

The standard error here is, as usual, that when someone reads a poll they don't like they automatically assume it's biased or methodologically flawed. You could at least have come up with some nuanced argument about weighting rather than throwing out the first thing that came into your head.

Fred said...

Membership in the EU is the most desirable event for many countries. It is great when emerging market countries may count on business cooperation and even financial aid from highly developed friend-countries. TPP is beneficial to all the participants and solutions which may treat any of them should be negotiated. Looking for financial solutions is also an important question and the answer may be found at Britain Loan.

John said...

Yes, UKIP is not getting its main message across. The EU is bad for Britain - see The European Union: pros and cons -yet all we heard about in the election was migration.