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Confirmation Bias?

by Frank Schnittger Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 03:13:08 PM EST

In Off the reservation I wrote I would "make some far out predictions based only on the most tenuous of currently observable facts." At the risk of confirmation bias I will hereunder examine what evidence to support that thesis is gradually becoming available. I will rely heavily on Wikipedia compilations of all available polls as any one poll has to come with so many health warnings.

Even compilations of polls have to come with a health warning that they represent, at best, a snap shot in time, and are subject to becoming out of date very quickly in a rapidly evolving environment. For that reason I will rely as much as possible on polls whose field work was conducted after 29th. March 2019, the date Brexit was supposed to happen. I do so as I believe that date could come to mark a watershed in UK history.

I also believe that not a lot of significance may happen between now and 23rd. May, the starting date for the European Parliament elections. Westminster is in recess, and Theresa May has survived (again). The May Corbyn talks are being kept on life support so that both sides can claim they are doing something positive to resolve the mess, but it is in neither leader's interest to actually come to an agreement.

Any agreement they could strike would probably split both the Labour and Conservative parties and might not pass in the House of Commons even with both leaderships applying the whip. Corbyn has absolutely no incentive to bail out Theresa May, and May has now achieved her immediate objective for the talks of providing a pretext for securing another A.50 extension.

It has come at the price of having to take part in the EP elections, but she can always claim that they are irrelevant in the context of delivering Brexit. Until she can't.

What happens if the turn-out is much higher than previous EP elections and results in a large surge of support for Remain or second referendum supporting parties? Strangely for a departing member UK European Parliament elections turnout has actually increased slightly over the years, while it has declined almost everywhere else.

A poll for the Open Europe think-tank by Hanbury Strategy indicates the Tories would suffer a crushing defeat if the elections took place now.

Basically a 60:40 split in favour of Remain or second referendum supporting parties... This compares to the results of the 2014 UK EP elections as follows: Labour 25%, Conservatives 24%, UKIP 28%, Lib Dems 7%, Others 18%: Almost identical to the 52:48 referendum result if you count Labour as a Remain party and the Conservatives as Leave. Basically, since then, Labour has gained over 10% support at the expense of hard Leave parties: UKIP and Farage's new Brexit party.

These results are corroborated in General Election polling for the main parties:

The trend line is based on the average of the previous 15 polls. Basically the Tories have been in free fall since Theresa May failed to "deliver Brexit" at the end of March and the Labour decline has halted. Recent polls all show Labour ahead.

Strangely, there has been no Remain/Leave polling since March, but March polls all show Remain well ahead, often by double digit margins. Interestingly, some February polls show Remain ahead of leave by c. 50% among Labour 2017 voters living in Northern England and the Midlands - supposedly the heartland of Labour Leave supporters. Another February poll shows Remain ahead of Leave by 62% among respondents of voting age only since the 2016 referendum, and by 26% among non-voters in the 2016 referendum.  If Corbyn is worried about splitting the Labour party, it seems he has less and less to worry about.

Most polls show undecideds in the 10-30% range, so there is still plenty to play for. However it is hard to see those voters plumping for the Conservative party, given the humiliations it has wrecked upon the country since February.

This has resulted in a lot of voters saying they would boycott the European Elections:

Some 26% of Britons say they would sit out elections in protest, while 47% say they would vote in them, and 17% admit they would not vote in them anyway.

A higher proportion say they would vote than turned out in the 2014 EU elections in the UK - 36% of potential voters turned out five years ago, though usually more claim they will get to the ballot box than actually do so.

Four in ten (43%) say they will be angry if European Parliament elections go ahead (30% saying they would be 'very angry'), while 28% would be pleased and 23% would not mind either way - 5% were unsure.


Forced to choose between no deal, Theresa May's deal or a long delay with EU elections, 41% prefer no deal, 35% a long delay with EU elections, with just 16% favouring the prime minister's plan - nine percent answered 'don't know'.

The vast majority of the boycotters seem to be Tory activists and voters: Rank and file Tories to BOYCOTT EU ELECTIONS - `Brexit shambles SHAMES BRITAIN'

GRASSROOTS Conservatives are set to "go on strike" and boycott the European elections after Theresa May extended Article 50, it emerged today.

Theresa May was forced to plead with the EU to extend Article 50 until June 30 to prevent the UK crashing out of the bloc without a deal. In her letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, the Prime Minister said the UK would be participating in the European elections on May 23. But according to local party chiefs, "a lot of Tory activists are going to be on strike" because of the extension.

The Chairman of the Conservative London East Area said the Tories were struggling to find people to campaign for the party in the European elections.
Dinah Glover said: "They just don't have that commitment - they're just not going to put weeks of their lives on hold to campaign for something they don't believe in.

"Going out to campaign would be giving a very literal example of the fact that we are still in the EU.

The mood among Tory activists is hardly going to be improved now that May has actually agreed a Brexit delay until October 31st. Basically I see no reason to alter my prediction in Off the reservation that the Tories will win only 15% of the vote and that the turnout will be high compared to previous EP elections. The Hanbury poll cited above found that "The survey also suggests that Remain supporters would be more likely to vote - 47% compared to 38% of Leave voters" which should increase the Remain parties margin of victory.

So we have the perfect storm for Theresa May. Unable to get rid of her until December, her party has effectively gone on strike. Her supporters are much less likely to go out and vote, and Remainers - disappointed by the response to their 1 Million march and 6 Million petition signatures - are likely to turn the EP elections into an effective second referendum vote. If Remain and second referendum supporting parties can rack up in excess of the 17.4 Million who voted Leave, the argument could well be all but over.

Strangely, there has been no Remain/Leave polling since March

You mean, none of it has been published. I'm sure there's been plenty.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 03:41:24 PM EST
Am I to understand that there is neither majority nor interest in a confidence vote to boot Mdm May?

Am I to understand also that there is neither majority nor interest in tabling another referendum ("people's vote", "Having our say") on the question.

The usual suspects are silent today --"white out" of news on HoC conspiracies appears in effect.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 04:20:29 PM EST
The DUP and ERG have consistently voted confidence in May when Corbyn has tabled votes of no confidence. They are terrified of a general election right now.

All indicative votes supporting a second referendum have been defeated in the HOC. That is why the EP elections will effectively become one by default, despite all efforts by the Tories to prevent it or pretend it isn't happening.

The "white out" is due to fact that the HOC is in recess.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 04:28:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank: The "white out" is due to fact that the HOC is in recess.

From Reuters:
With Halloween the new Brexit deadline, MPs head off on holiday

After the European Union agreed to delay Brexit by six months to end-October, European Council President Donald Tusk pleaded with Britain: "don't waste this time". Hours later, British lawmakers are heading off for a more than week-long Easter break.
Parliament usually has a six-week break over the summer and almost a month off in late September for the political party conference season, meaning lawmakers will not be due to be in parliament for close to half the Article 50 extension period.

"Cancel the villas in Tuscany and get this mess sorted out," said one Twitter user, Rob.

by Bernard on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 06:45:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jacob Rees-Mogg's sister to stand for Nigel Farage's Brexit Party
The sister of Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg is to stand as a candidate for Nigel Farage's new Brexit Party in the forthcoming European elections.

Annunziata Rees-Mogg was introduced by the former Ukip leader at the party's campaign launch at a factory in Coventry.

Addressing cheering supporters, Ms Rees-Mogg said it was not a decision she had taken lightly after years loyally supporting the Tories.
Annunziata Rees-Mogg attends the launch of the newly created Brexit Party campaign for the European elections, in Coventry. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters Annunziata Rees-Mogg attends the launch of the newly created Brexit Party campaign for the European elections, in Coventry. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

"I joined the Conservative Party in 1984 and this is not a decision I have made lightly -- to leave a party for which I have fought at every election since 1987, from Maggie Thatcher through to Theresa May.

"I know which one I'd rather have representing us now."

She added: "The point at which our prime minister will not listen, not only to her membership, but will not listen to the people of her country... I can't sit by and let her do it.

"We've got to rescue our democracy, we have got to show that the people of this country have a say in how we are run.

"That the politicians are not our masters -- they are to do our bidding."

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 04:23:47 PM EST
Annunziata Rees-Mogg : Voice of the people.

As for Thatcher, I loath the ground she walked on, but she'd never have had any truck with referenda and would have destroyed the juvenile pretentions of the Leavers with a single basilisk stare. Neither the Mail nor the Telegraph would have dared raise a peep in her earshot.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Apr 16th, 2019 at 08:29:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Remain and second referendum supporting parties can rack up in excess of the 17.4 Million who voted Leave

There was a 72.2% turnout in the referendum. If the best to be hoped for in these elections is 47%, there won't be any 17.4 million...

I used to be afew. I'm still not many.

by john_evans (john(dot)evans(dot)et(at)gmail(dot)com) on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 05:12:50 PM EST
Yes, it's most unlikely. The most Remainers can hope for is a much higher turnout than 2014 (38%) and a decisive margin. Still if all 16 million who voted remain turn out, they won't be far away

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 06:01:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think participation rate similar to 2014 is likely if a lot of Tory voters stay home, and Remain/second referendum voters. Then Remain claims victory, but Brexit proponents claims it just shows that the voters are ignoring the pointless election and many more voted in the referendum.

With the loss, the Tory MP's gets even more scared of a general election which keeps May in place. And then suddenly it's October and time for a new prolongation...

by fjallstrom on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 08:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the turnout rate will be critical if the elections are to be deemed to be a valid expression of a change of mind among the people as a whole. Even a 2:1 victory wouldn't be accepted as a valid refutation of the referendum if only 10 Million voted for Remain/second referendum supporting parties versus 5 million for Leave supporting parties. It may be enough force the House of Commons to agree to a second referendum, however.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 09:20:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This has actually very little to do with your reasoning, but the participation rate graph bugged me. Because EU are different sets of countries in different elections.

As it turns out, the new members in eastern Europe has lower and mostly decreasing participation rate according to this article about the 2014 elections.

This could mean that the UK's participation rate is similar to other member states in western Europe. Doesn't have to, but could. And since I won't bother pursuing the numbers further and it really doesn't matter, I will leave it at that.

by fjallstrom on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 07:51:46 PM EST
Yes, you are correct, much of the reduction in turnout rates in the rest of the EU is probably due to the addition of Eastern European members over the years. But it did strike me as significant that UK turnout rates are converging with the EU average despite 40 years of anti-EU propaganda and have actually risen slightly since 1999.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Apr 12th, 2019 at 09:10:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]

NewGov have just released a new poll: Compared to the results of the 2014 EP elections:  [Labour 25%, Conservatives 24%, UKIP 28%, Lib Dems 7%, Others 18%] this shows Labour, the Lib Dems, and the combined Brexit/UKIP parties roughly unchanged and the Conservatives down 8%.

Compared to the Hanbury poll published in the Diary above and conducted just a few days earlier this new YouGov poll shows Labour are down 14, Conservatives -7, Brexit Party +5, UKIP +6.5, Lib Dems (no change), Greens +4, and ChangeUK +3.

The official Launch of the Brexit party (and unveiling of Rees-Mogg's sister as a candidate) may give the Brexit party a further bounce, but it is harder to explain the boost to UKIP and the fact that Labour have lost more than the Conservatives. However the Conservatives, at 16% are probably close to their irreducible core vote (and in line with my prediction!) and probably can't fall much further.

Based on these figures, Leave supporting parties are at 45% but I don't know to what extent the poll take account of differential Remain/Leave turnout.

YouGov's standard general election polling has Labour on 32 and Conservatives on 28%. For the EP elections Tory supporters are defecting mainly to UKIP and the Brexit party while Labour supporters are defecting to the Greens, Lib Dems and Change UK.

Buried in the small print  of the detailed results is the fact that over 40% of respondents would not vote (18%), didn't know how they would vote (21%) or refused to answer (2%). 19% of those who voted Leave in 2016 said they would not vote while only 7% of 2016 Remain voters said they would not vote.

Although voters typically overstate they intentions to vote, a high poll (by EP elections standards) still seems likely and there are still a lot of don't knows to be swayed either way. Voting patterns seem much more fluid than in a general election, and even if there were a general election, only 60% would vote Labour or Tory.

In that respect the UK is increasingly resembling the European norm, with the traditional mainstream centre left and centre right parties losing more and more support to fringe parties, chiefly on the right.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Apr 13th, 2019 at 12:35:50 PM EST
The BBC News channel does occasional "vox pop" pieces where they send a reporter to far flung places (outside the M25 in London) to find out what the local populace is thinking. I doubt their selection of which voices to broadcast is random. but some are amusing or instructive anyway.

Interviewing a conservative looking Brexit supporting lady she pronounced herself as "losing the will to live" at all the procrastination and delay and feeling embarrassed that her government was making them "look foolish" around the world.

To the casual eye she reeked of self-entitlement and innate superiority, but I suspect she spoke for many now that a second season of the Brexit series seems all but guaranteed. Even if she is a hardened Tory party supporter I suspect she will vote UKIP or Brexit party if she bothers to vote at all.

But who will vote Tory party other than a few party loyalists, establishment types and sympathisers for Theresa May's predicament? To most conservatives she is damaged goods, yesterday's woman, and the cause of their embarrassment.

Added to the fact that most Tories think the EP elections shouldn't be happening anyway, oppose a second referendum, and just want the the government to "get on with it (Brexit)", it is hard to imagine the Tory vote doing anything other than implode.

My 15% prediction could even be generous...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 14th, 2019 at 03:23:10 PM EST
Conservative voters - and MPs - are far beyond any kind of rationality at this point.

I've just watched a lifelong Tory on FB complaining about police cuts. There's no point explaining that it was the Tories who cut the police, just as they promised to.

He says the Tories aren't perfect. But still - why was the number of officers cut? He's quite unhappy about this.

But still supports the Tories.

The most depressing thing about Brexit has been realising just how many utter idiots live in the UK. These people might as well be cognitively handicapped. They simply cannot understand how the world around them works, how causes lead to effects, or how being British doesn't mean they can't get whatever they want just because they want it.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Apr 14th, 2019 at 06:54:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The name "Tory" is derived from a Middle Irish word tóraidhe; modern Irish tóraí; modern Scottish Gaelic Tòraidh: outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning "pursuit", since outlaws were "pursued men". It seems an apt etymological origin for the party and its membership. The mystery is how men of such character ended up becoming the ruling caste of the UK. Something to do with the manner in which the British aristocracy were formed through the crucible of armed conflict no doubt. The 100 year anniversary of Amritsar comes to mind... though in that case, only one side was armed.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Apr 14th, 2019 at 08:30:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, both Tory and Whig were originally terms of disparagement, but, by the 18th century had been adopted as badges of honor by their respective, respectable members and each had their own coffee houses as well. The Tories were the part of King and country, meaning the landed gentlemen, while the Whigs were the party of commerce. Tories were Anglican while dissidents flocked to the Whigs, who were more 'ecumenical'. The Liberals were the descendants of the Whigs, but they were eclipsed by Labour in the 20th Century. Meanwhile the Tories have remained in the 18th Century in spirit.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Apr 15th, 2019 at 05:00:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The most depressing thing about Brexit has been realising just how many utter idiots live in the UK. These people might as well be cognitively handicapped. They simply cannot understand how the world around them works, how causes lead to effects, or how being British doesn't mean they can't get whatever they want just because they want it.

Succinct statement of the dynamic of Fascism being the failure mode of liberal democracy.  There's always some Social Dominant running around using this as the basis to claw into power.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Apr 15th, 2019 at 04:33:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]


by das monde on Mon Apr 15th, 2019 at 07:02:40 AM EST
A week old but still relevant:

Ms Pelosi said she and her fellow delegates made it clear in all their meetings in London that there would be "no chance whatsoever" of a US-UK trade deal if Brexit weakened the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

"A number of the ERG members were not exactly pleased with what they heard from the US side," he said.

The Philadelphia politician, the only House member with an Irish-born parent, noted the positive role played by the US in the peace process and how this was ultimately applauded by the UK.

"The idea that some folks in London, Dublin, Brussels and Washington DC are all acting together as part of some grand conspiracy in making up our concerns for a re-establishment of a hard border is a world view that is extremely difficult for me to understand," said Mr Boyle.

by Bernard on Fri Apr 26th, 2019 at 02:41:16 PM EST
'Brexiteer Jacob Rees Mogg admitted to me he didn't know what the Irish border was' - Bertie Ahern - Independent.ie
Referring to Tory arch Brexiteer, and leader of the party's European Research Group, Mr Ahern described Jacob Rees Mogg as a "lovely fella when he's asleep".

When asked by Mairead McGuinness "how do you know?", he replied: "When he's awake, he definitely is a strange fish I tell you, in and out of the water."

"But the reality is he admitted to me he had no idea of what the border was. I think a lot of British politicians thought the border was something up around Dundalk or Newry, and that there was a gate on it.

"I mean the idea that it was 460 kilometres across the island and that you could criss cross it to farms and houses, they just didn't know it.

"And regards to the fact that lot of these guys went to Oxford, Cambridge and Eton, they're not very bright. This is the problem."

by Bernard on Mon Apr 29th, 2019 at 08:30:52 PM EST
Smart doesn't count for much in the US and UK.  That's why they're not meritocracies but kakistocracies.
by rifek on Tue Apr 30th, 2019 at 01:12:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]

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