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That’s all folks

Dear reader,

A while ago I quit blogging, and within a week I found I could not stay away.  Today sees the final Autonomous Mind posting and there will be no change of mind.

The simple fact is that, having fallen out of love with politics some time ago, I have now decided that I no longer wish to continue my stand for the things I believe in.  This isn’t because of any change of view on my part; rather it is because too many people who claim to share my objectives exhibit staggering ignorance of history and facts, incredible stupidity, intolerance of others and unswerving belief in conspiracy theories that do not stand up to even basic factual scrutiny.

I fear that despite the best efforts of some great people, those I have referred to above will undermine any chance of us achieving British independence from the EU or the implementation of real democracy for the British people.  I hope they do not hobble the efforts of good people to change this country for the better, but the risk is significant.

A visit to Twitter, the comment threads of the Telegraph, or on Breitbart London, reveals a particularly vicious, xenophobic and deluded collection of people who not only repel the very people the anti EU side needs to win over, but has now repelled me too.  I just don’t want to be associated with such people.  I don’t want to have to engage with them, or even challenge what they say.  They nauseate me and now I just can’t be bothered.  There are plenty of other things I can devote my time to where I don’t have to come into contact with their unique brand of bile and false assertions which mark them out as effectively nasty and unhinged individuals.

Thank you to all my readers, commenters and correspondents. I hope the blog was of interest and use over the years.

All the best,

AM

UKIP: Where is that surge?

After the European Elections we saw some pollsters, notably Survation, claim that their predicted share of the vote would have been correct if only people hadn’t mistakenly voted for Mike Nattrass grouping, ‘An Independence from Europe’.

A number of UKIP’s outriders on various forums and newspaper comment threads suggested that UKIP would have done even better in the election but for the media’s smear campaign against Nigel Farage and the party – this despite saying for weeks that the smear campaign would only serve to increase UKIP’s support and vote.

We also heard that polling was showing anything between 60-75% of UKIP voters would stick with the party at the General Election ensuring the party a record vote – fuelling claims from the Faragistas that UKIP could hold the balance of power in Westminster in May 2015 on the back of this ‘surge’.

So, what to make of two separate polls this week that show a uniform pattern?

This week’s general election poll for Lord Ashcroft shows UKIP down another two points, which is a repeat of last week, meaning UKIP has dropped four points in a fortnight.

Meanwhile, the regular poll for ComRes, showing the favourability rating of the party leaders, shows Nigel Farage has dropped six points on the index overall since April.

This isn’t a gloat.  This is merely confirmation of what we have been saying for some time.  There is no surge.

The European Elections were the outlet, for those who could be bothered to vote, to either stick by their party or register a protest safe in the knowledge the result is utterly meaningless.  This country could have sent 73 Monster Raving Loony MEPs to Brussels and it would not have changed a thing.

For too many people UKIP has become a religion.  Too many are setting aside reality and pushing arguments based on emotion and faith, they seem to have a need to demonstrate belief.  The problem is their faith is in a party which has missed open goals time and again and a man who has demonstrated his pledges are no more ‘cast iron’ than those of David Cameron.  The party is ignoring its core proposition and jumping on any issue where it thinks it can get votes.

The subject of leaving the EU is less important to the party’s supporters than stopping immigration – something UKIP cannot deliver because it has no plan and plainly does not understand the governance of immigration in the modern world.  Farage dived onto immigration simply to hoover up the votes of those who are vehemently against it.  As such the focus on leaving the EU is diluting month on month.

The current polling suggests that UKIP will be holding a bad hand in May 2015. It will not have a chip in the big game or be able to influence what happens in Westminster.  The only impact the party will have is to deprive some Conservatives from winning seats.  While that might make UKIP followers pleased as punch, it will do nothing to advance the cause of leaving the EU and will be followed by a slow decline as people peel away from the party, realising that supporting it is not making any difference.

These are not good times for the anti-EU side.

Scottish campaign interventions show us more of what an EU Referendum will look like

The Scottish independence campaign has, in the last two weeks in particular, shown us the extent to which prestige will be amalgamated with fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD) in the effort to influence and persude voters to back the political class’ preferred outcome.

Despite the President of the United States having previously pledged to stay out of the Scottish independence debate, he could not resist chipping in with his comment that the US has a deep interest in making sure one of the closest allies the country has remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner. To what extent the US will work to ‘make sure’ the Kingdom stays united remains to be seen.

Now His Holiness Pope Francis has passed opinion, reported in the Telegraph, with regard to the independence movements in Catalonia and Scotland, suggesting the case for independence in Scotland is not clear and may not be just:

Obviously, there are nations with cultures so different that couldn’t even be stuck together with glue. The Yugoslavian case is very clear, but I ask myself if it is so clear in other cases. Scotland, Padania, Catalunya.

There will be cases that will be just and cases that will not be just, but the secession of a nation without an antecedent of mandatory unity, one has to take it with a lot of grains of salt and analyse it case by case.

If His Holiness has a desire for unity, he should stick to matters ecumenical.  The Scots people were never asked to vote on union.  Their voice on union or independence has never been heard.  Yet outsiders are trying to push them in a particular direction – and not because it would be in the interest of Scots themselves.

The independence debate in Scotland is a matter for Scots, not for American Presidents, their Secretaries of State, the Vicar of Rome or the Swedish Foreign Minister. It is about a country’s people deciding, to an extent, the nature of their governance and how their country will be organised. It is a matter of democracy, such as it exists.

If the ‘yes’ campaign wins the referendum, what the Scots do with their restored national self determination is up to them.  If they choose to retain that self determination and represent themselves in the world, using their own voice and promoting their own interests, that is for them to establish.  If they regain ultimate decision making authority over their country, yet then choose to give it away again to the European Union, that too is a matter for them.  It is wrong for politicians and religious leaders from elsewhere in the world to seek to exert influence over the Scots’ decision.

This interference gives us a flavour of what we should expect if the Conservatives win the general election next year and a referendum on our membership of the EU is held in 2017.

Leaders of EU countries and the US in particular will be joined by religious figures and politically motivated industrialists from a variety of corporations and nations to spread FUD about what they believe about the implications for our economy if British independence is restored.  They will be joined by media cronies doing the bidding of their owners, who are in bed with the political class.

There will be no fair or impartial hearing for the ‘out’ side.  Only the most extreme, divisive or deluded figures will be invited to speak, so they push voters to the ‘in’ side due to their conspiratorial or frankly idiotic views, or lightweight claims that fall apart under the most cursory scrutiny and examination.

To win a referendum campaign the ‘out’ side must not rely on the normal channels, such as the media.  The message that a referendum is exclusively about who should run Britain, needs to be spread face to face directly to voters in cities, towns and villages throughout the country.  It is only then that the positive vision for a successful and independent Britain – as set out in FLEXCIT – can be heard and explained to counter the FUD which will flood the airwaves and print media to paint a false picture of economic armageddon should we free ourselves from the EU.

The ‘out’ side can win the referendum in the face of overwhelming dishonesty and misrepresentation, but it will need to unite around common strategy so the electorate receives a consistent and clear message.  Witterings from Witney has already started putting out feelers, with limited success.  The problem though is that some entities – which despite being nominally against EU membership have done nothing to develop or promote a strategy for getting out – will use the referendum campaign as a career move, with one eye firmly on individual prospects to become MPs or prominent figures in political circles.

There is still time to address this. But whether the individuals involved will set aside their own personal agendas, in order to help secure the exit from the EU they claim to want, remains to be seen.

Opinion pollster ‘house effects’ revealed in report

As party political attention focuses on the General Election – albeit with the likelihood of a by-election in Cambridgeshire South when Andrew Lansley is packed off to Brussels to be the UK’s contribution to the Commissioner Corps -the opinion polls will become increasingly important in telling us the possible outcome for May 2015.

The Political Betting blog reports that  the “Polling Observatory” at Manchester University have released their latest report in which they seek to estimate current electoral sentiment by pooling all the currently available polling data, while taking into account the estimated biases of the individual pollsters (“house effects”).  This allows them to assess whether the reported vote intention for a given pollster is above or below the industry average.

This is interesting as party supporters have their favourite pollsters, who they rate more highly than the others. For example, UKIP supporters love talking up Survation polls and many reject You Gov polls because Peter Kellner is married to the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Baroness Catherine Ashton. Tories on the other hand prefer the results that Populus publish, while contending that Survation always understates the true level of Tory electoral support; and so on.

While the results are on the Manchester Uni page linked above, Political Betting’s love of Datawrapper has seen them plot the results on a party by party basis.  Makes interesting reading….

This becomes even more interesting when you look at these ‘house effects’ with the European Elections in mind, where we have already covered the accuracy of pollsters in light of the election results.

The issues seem to have their basis in both polling method (phone or internet) and adjustment methodology (how they deal with undecideds and those who won’t say who they plan to vote for).

Newark by-election: what it tells us

The result of the Newark by-election is in and the media’s talking heads and the analysts in the parties are scurrying around trying to draw conclusions and pointers from it.

While there is much talk of halved majorities and the UKIP ‘surge’, it would actually appear, going deeper than the superficial glance  some normalcy is returning to Newark and the overall result is noteworthy for slightly different reasons.

All the analysis and reporting focuses on comparions between this by-election and the 2010 General Election.  But this ignores the exceptional circumstances of 2010 – where the least popular government in modern history hemorrhaged votes and seats, everyone in the bubble seemed to agree with Nick which boosted the Lib Dem share of the vote and despite the Tories being hot favourites to win, they had already conspired to underperform due to late policy reversals by Cast Iron Dave.

It would seem far more realistic, with the Tory-led coalition being unpopular and Labour doing OK in the polls, to look back at previous elections in the constituency to give a more ‘business as usual’ look.  Combining the elections in 2001 and 2005 gives us an average vote for the parties (main parties only) when the polls looked much as they do now.  In Newark the averages look like this…

While the media rightly points out UKIP’s performance as noteworthy in Newark having increased their vote there by 413% from 2010, are they really right to suggest the UKIP effect halved the Tory majority?  UKIP have apparently already fallen back a little from the European Elections performance in the constituency. But surely the bigger news is what the result tells us about the performances of Labour and the Lib Dems…

We can see that with this being a by-election the votes cast for main parties and the turnout are down as expected from 2010.  But look at the votes and vote shares compared to the 2001 & 2005 combined average.  Labour has gone from 36% vote share to 19% and the Lib Dems from 14% to 2%.

Labour might content itself issuing its current line that Newark is not its kind of territory.  But their share of the vote, for an opposition party seeking to form the next government, with their track record in the constituency in 2001 and 2005, is staggering.

In contrast, the unpopular Tories, whose MP had lost the whip in disgrace before resigning from Parliament, expected to get some punishment from voters but in fact despite this being a by-election ripe for a protest vote and a kicking at the hands of fed up voters, their share of the vote was actually higher than in 2001 and 2005.

No doubt many Labour voters stayed at home or voted tactically with UKIP. UKIP maximised its vote in its effort to score a major upset.  The Lib Dem collapse contiued to exhibit itself in amazing fashion. Some Tories stayed away to make their point or even flirted with UKIP. But even so, the election stats are remarkable for different reasons than the media would have you think.

More interference from the Washington Waffler

Having not watched President Obama speaking to the media at the G7 meeting in Brussels, the comments below as reported in the Barclay Beano may not be a completely accurate or contiguous transcript.  Nevertheless, the sentiment is clear:

With respect to the future of the United Kingdom, obviously ultimately this is up to the people of Great Britain.

In the case of Scotland, there is a referendum process in place and it’s up to the people of Scotland.

But I would to say the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well.

We obviously have a deep interest in making sure one of the closest allies we will ever remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner.

One wonders if the President, when he has met with the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland – Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness – has shared similar sentiments regarding the United States’ interest in the UK remaining robust, united and effective, or if it’s only Scots who are encouraged to stay put.

Yet again we have the Obama administration attempting to use its popularity overseas to influence the thinking of the British people.  Again we see the ‘encouragement’ for the UK to remain stuck in the anti-democratic, sub regional entity that is the EU, when in contrast any attempt to foist a similar settlement on the American people – with foreigners determining America’s foreign policy, trade, agriculture and fisheries etc – most likely being met with… how best to describe it…  an uncompromising and robust response from the citizenry.

I don’t have a strong view either way on the Scottish referendum.  I would be as content for the union to endure as I would for the Scots people to decide to take full control of their own affairs – although feel it is ridiculous that should they gain such cherished control and self determination, they intend to fall over themselves to hand it back to Brussels.  But following Obama’s comments there would be a particular satisfaction in seeing the independence campaign win, just to stick two fingers up at the White House and the interfering teleprompter queen who inhabits it.

A poll finding that should concern all who want to leave the EU

Ask voters which party they most associate with wanting the UK to leave the EU and they will reply UKIP.  This is despite the declining importance of the EU question that has become evident among UKIP supporters.

So You Gov’s poll findings that voters feel a lot more negative and less positive about UKIP  than they did five years ago, as covered on Political Betting, should be a concern to all people on the anti-EU side.

To howls of derision, copious amounts of abuse, occasional smears and some more measured and polite dismissals by UKIP supporters, this blog has tried over many months to explain that the approach of UKIP’s leadership (in particular Nigel Farage, as he sets the direction in autocratic fashion) was actually setting the party up to fail at a time when everyone has been pointing at higher polling, membership and votes in elections.

This You Gov poll puts meat on the bones of my many blog posts on the subject.  UKIP is hitting a glass ceiling where its support is at its maximum.

While it might have formed a hard core of committed, fervent, extremely vocal, almost evangelical supporters – many of whom use social media and newspaper comment threads as echo chambers to increase mention of the party, encourage each other, and aggressively gang up on anyone with a criticism – they are gradually alienating an increasing number of middle of the road voters they need to attract if they are to make a political breakthrough of any substance.

Ordinary voters who share many of UKIP’s concerns, particularly rejection of the UK remaining in the EU, are increasingly choosing not to support the party because of the unrefined and hollow rhetoric on immigration, the behaviour of supporters on the internet, and the vacuous, policy-lite hotch potch of ‘aspirations’.  But as they turn away from UKIP, many will also turn away from the anti-EU side of the EU membership argument just as it looks possible a referendum could finally be held.

This blog has long considered itself a critical friend to UKIP, despite the attacks by those who consider themselves virtuous defenders of the cause.  But if UKIP looks set to hamstring the prospects of the anti-EU side by acting as a repellant rather than a recruiter, then the friendship has to end and UKIP has to be taken on and defeated.

I wish there was an alternative to this.  But there’s far more at stake in a referendum than there is in preserving the ambitions of Nigel Farage.  UKIP’s failings must not be allowed to drag down the chances of the anti-EU side of winning a referendum.

I am often asked just what my agenda is as people cannot believe I want to leave the EU, but remain critical of UKIP.  It is very simple. We need UKIP to sort itself out and shape up, or we need to get it out of the way so we can take on and defeat the Europhiles.

That anti-EU vote, again…

Following on from the previous post, asking where the anti-EU vote the media keeps talking about is, ComRes has published the findings of a poll of UKIP voters at the European Elections asking them to prioritise the issues that determined why they voted for the party.

The details, published on Political Betting, show that leaving the EU trailing a long way behind controlling immigration in the priorities of those who voted UKIP.

So even though this a ComRes poll, we are once again left to ask where this huge anti-EU vote – which the legacy parties and media are determined to use as an explanation for the UKIP vote and justification for the fantasy EU reform agenda – is.

In years gone by UKIP members would have ranked leaving the EU as their number one issue by a very long way.  But that is clearly no longer the case.  Immigration has become the big issue, despite UKIP having no understanding of the global dimensions of immigration rules and no policy to address them, and it is that subject which has seen support for the party increase.  The anti-EU cause is being diluted and eroded.

This is leading to the other parties and media applying an outdated and inaccurate interpretation that they wish the metrics would underpin, rather than an interpretation of what the metrics actually show.

Media hyperbole: Where is this ‘anti-EU’ vote they speak of?

This time it seems it is the turn of Janet Daley, writing in the Barclay Beano, to offer her penetrating analysis into the European Election result and what it means.

But where is this anti-EU vote she is speaking of?  It’s all well and good for Daley to criticise (rather succinctly) the ‘codswallop’ responses of the main parties to their showings in the elections, and ridicule their claims that they have heard the people, or that messages have been received and understood, but the very foundation of her piece – that there was an anti-EU vote last week – is frankly rubbish.  Consider this extract:

I am not one of those delusional commentators who believe (or claim to believe) that nothing much of any significance has happened and that all this excitement is just overblown media froth. On the contrary, my reason for insisting that none of the things that are assumed to be self-evidently true about the post-elections world will actually prove correct, is that the results were too important – so devastating, so cataclysmically mind-altering that they cannot be assimilated. There is no way that the European Union – which is to say, those who run it, think entirely within its conceptual parameters, have their political and personal futures invested in it and can conceive of no reality outside of it – can come to terms with the consequences of these elections.

So the election results were too important? They were devastating? They were so cataclysmically mind-altering they cannot be assimilated?

Across the whole of the UK last week (using the vote tally on this BBC page – all these figures are provisional and subject to final confirmation by the Electoral Commission in the Autumn) there were 16,454,950 votes cast in the European Election, a reported turnout of 34.19% which means the current UK electorate stands at around 48,127,962 (** see end of post).  Therefore some 31,673,000 people who were entitled to vote stayed at home  The total number of votes for parties whose manifesto includes withdrawal from the EU was 4,999,885 – and 12.46% of that vote wasn’t even for UKIP:

But then, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that many UKIP supporters backed the party not because of its anti-EU position, but purely because of its saturation message opposing immigration. That is no surprise when UKIP issued a follow up A5 sized leaflet in many areas that contained no other message than an anti-immigration one.

This actually points to the anti-EU vote itself being ‘soft’ and much of grounded in other issues.  So back the data that has evidently been completely ignored by La Daley. Of those who voted in the European Election, 30.38% voted for anti-EU parties, just 9 in every 30 who turned out.  Of all eligible voters therefore, those who cast a ballot for anti-EU parties was just 10.38%.  While I have not found this kind of breakdown in the media, you can be certain the parties and the EU mandarins will have crunched these numbers in far greater depth than me.  They will be asking the same question as me, where is this anti-EU earthquake, this mass rejection of the political union?

So when Daley, in her hyperbolic fit, declares…

The facts do not compute. They are incomprehensible. Therefore they must be dismissed as some irrational, contemptible spasm to which the masses are occasionally susceptible and which the enlightened institutions of the EU were specifically designed to over-rule.

she may wish to reconsider exactly which facts do not compute or are incomprehensible. The only irrational, contemptible spasm on show is her witless article.  It is laugh-out-loud rubbish written without any attempt to look at what really happened on that Thursday just over a week ago.

Putting things into further context, consider the most recent in the series of polls by YouGov that shows how voters currently divide if asked in a referendum whether the UK should remain in the EU or leave.

With all this in mind, how does Janet Daley’s conclusion bear any relation to reality?

It has become received wisdom that the reason for that massive electoral rebellion against the EU was that the people were throwing a harmless tantrum: they were just letting off steam because they knew that their votes in this election did not matter. And what do people do next when they realise that their votes don’t matter?

I don’t know what world Daley and her ilk inhabit, but it’s certainly not the one the rest of us live in.

There are messages in the data.  The anti-EU side is not getting its message across.  The anti-EU side has not countered the blatant lie regarding 3 million jobs being dependent on EU membership, the crass distortion that 50% of our trade is with the EU (wilfully ignoring that a significant percentage of this goes to final destinations outside the EU), or that our place in the world is enhanced by EU membership – when it actually excludes us from influencing global negotiations and decision making regarding the laws and regulations we must observe in the globalised world.  People have heard these messages time and again and the likes of UKIP have done nothing to challenge and correct them with the truth.

In 12 months time we will know if there is to be an in-out EU Referendum.  But we should not wait until then.  All anti-EU groups, regardless of the career aspirations of their directors and staff, need to agree common lines to take and push them at every opportunity, in the same way the pro-EU groups already do. Otherwise a possible 2017 referendum will just be a re-run of 1975 and we will be stuck in this damaging union for generations to come.

———–

** The 48,127,962 electorate figure is not official – it has been calculated by taking the total number of votes cast in the BBC table and accepting they make up 34.19% of the eligible electorate (for European elections) which we are told voted.  If this figure is accurate it is astonishing. Please note therefore the use of this figure comes with a significant health warning.

In the 2009 European Election the electorate was 45,315,669.  That means the electorate could well have grown by 2.81 million in just five years, or to put it another way, an extra 562,458 voters would have joined the electoral roll each year on average since 2009.

To put that in context, between the 2004 election and 2009 election the official electorate as reported in the BBC elections coverage grew by 1,197,216, or 239,443 per year on average. So if the assumed 2014 electorate figure is correct, the average annual increase of new voters to the roll from 2009-2014 is more than 134% greater than the average annual increase between 2004-2009.

Added to this we keep being told that the number of people absenting themselves from the electoral roll for a variety of reasons, which hints at population growth well in excess of official estimates.  This is very interesting indeed.

The arguments that will decide an EU referendum

If you want to defeat your opponent it is essential that you watch him, listen to him, learn about him, understand how he thinks and how he will react. That way you can devise the approach to take to beat him when you engage.  This is the space where anti-EU heads need to be right now.

Ken Clarke is one of the leading lights of the pro-EU side.  He is connected, knowledgable and always engaging with like minded people throughout the EU. When he speaks, EU sceptics should listen carefully because it will provide a wealth of information about the battle grounds the Europhiles will pick and the tactics they will employ.

Clarke gave a timely interview on the Today programme yesterday morning that provides us with an insight into where Europhile thinking is, and the arguments we will be faced with in a referendum campaign. You can listen to the interview below:

We can see from Clarke’s comments that the Europhiles do not see the election results as a setback. For all the media hoohaa, they are making a cold assessment of the facts and contenting themselves that the factors which brought about the result are not a rejection of the EU, but a combination of other gripes.

The Europhiles are reassured that UKIP’s performance, while seemingly barnstorming, really only amounted to one third of a third of the electorate supporting them, less than 1 in 10 voters.  The performance of the Lib Dems is not considered to be a reflection of anti-EU sentiment, rather a combination of the loss of protest vote status, the loss of tactical voters who have returned to Labour and that most pro-EU voters stayed at home last Thursday.

The battleground they will fight on will not be a surprise – but it will require some tightly targeted arguments to counter and defeat the lines the Europhiles will take, namely:

  • Prosperity (the 3 million jobs meme, further opening of single market, access to other markets on better trade terms etc)
  • Political security (stability since WWII, deep and peaceful cooperation etc)
  • Role in the World (more clout as a group, more involvement in world events, increased capabilities etc)
  • Immigration (a feature for all western democracies, need businessmen, students, skilled workers and ability to fill unskilled labour gaps etc)

Counter arguments to many of these points have long been uncoordinated, piecemeal, often badly informed or erroneous – making it possible for the Europhiles to discredit, undermine confidence in and defeat the anti-EU side.  But a roadmap for leaving the EU that provides robust, effective, accurate and attractive alternatives to the Europhile vision now exists with FLexCit. Click on the link below for the latest edition:


Having such a roadmap enables the anti-EU side to reassure voters that the UK can leave the EU and rid ourselves of the political straitjacket, without suffering the economic consequences that are often used to justify remaining in the  union. Having the well informed details to hand will enable the anti-EU side to counter, discredit and undermine confidence in the scare tactics and fatuous claims that the Europhiles will make.

You may be asking yourself, do we really need to be doing this now?  Absolutely.

The local and European election results showed that the Conservatives are actually stronger than supposed and Labour somewhat weaker.  There is a lot that can and will happen between now and May 2015, but as things stand the Conservatives have a better chance of beating Labour than many had previously supposed.

If the Conservatives win, David Cameron has boxed himself into holding an in-out referendum in 2017.  Any attempt to not honour that commitment will result in a backbench assault that would finish his leadership.  Therefore, the anti-EU side needs to prepare for a make or break vote in 2017.

While there are a number of different ‘sceptic’ groups, only by agreeing common ground and working together to achieve a shared objective will we win a referendum against the full might of the political class and their media helpers. The current state of the political landscape shows we need to begin the process now.

If you want to the UK to free itself from the EU, please spread the word.

So what has the European election changed?

Despite a disparate, disconnected and contradictory smorgasbord of ‘sceptic’ parties having made gains in the European Parliament this week, the answer to that question is ‘nothing’.  As Nigel Farage explained yesterday after his return to Brussels:

There is a big dissident voice now in this parliament. And yet, I just sat in a meeting where you wouldn’t think that anything happened at all.

If anything underlines how meaningless the European Elections are, this is it.

For all the huff and puff, the acres of media coverage and the stream of analysis of ‘political earthquakes’ by the well paid talking heads, the 73 MEPs from the UK have arrived on the continent to find it is business as usual.  The same discussions, the same agendas, the same intrigues… for all the talk of ‘reform’ the EU continues on its journey to political union and the voices of the people still fall on deaf ears.

 

EU Reform: The fantasies and distractions continue

It was never going to take long.  As soon as polls showed recently that UKIP was on course to get the most votes in the European Elections, the lamestream media editorial writers and the party communications teams at Labour, Tory and Lib Dem HQs were preparing pieces like this:

The same old pledges and platitudes are being rolled out, from Sadiq Khan’s apology in an open letter to UKIP supporters, which then outlines policies designed to entice former Labour voters back to Labour; to David Cameron’s ‘understood and received the message’ soundbite before he went on to proclaim what voters want – with neither party actually asking anyone outside the Westminster bubble why 4.3 million voters put their ‘X’ next to UKIP on the ballot paper

A common thread among the legacy parties is that the EU has to ‘change’.  Having pushed this line for many months, they now use it as a crutch to declare that this is what voters want, and they all declare that if only we vote for them they will bring about the reforms we apparently want.

It is, of course, one huge steaming pile of freshly laid bullshit.

Snake oil isn’t close to the product these people are trying to sell.  Rather they are pushing a product that makes the fictional element ‘Unobtanium’ in the film Avatar, or the dragons storyline in the TV series Game of Thrones look real in comparison.

Whatever ‘reform’ the EU might be persuaded to adopt, it will be trivial and will not result in the return of any powers to the UK that reduce Brussels’ control over the free movement of people, control over the free flow of money to different tax jurisdictions within the bloc, control over the movement of goods and services and the tariffs applied to them.

But despite these facts and despite the legion of Eurocrats, Commissioners and MEPs who have stepped forward to point out these facts and explain that the principles of the EU that underpin it are non-negotiable, our politicians and media continue to talk about EU reform as if it is just a negotiation away – and groups claiming to be Eurosceptic continue to make public demands that renegotation is undertaken.

So it is that a significant proportion of those people who say they want the UK to remain inside the EU do so because they have been fooled into believing reform is possible.

They are being taken in by fantasies and distracted from reality – therefore allowing the politicians to avoid the reality that only invoking Article 50 of the EU Treaty (Lisbon) will result in a renegotiation of the substantive issues and only by leaving the EU will the UK be able to take control of the areas where people want to see change.

We can be in, or we can be out. But we can’t be a bit in between.

Survation and ComRes least accurate pollsters for European Election

There is some justified crowing going on over at You Gov following the European Election results. The pollster highlights that:

YouGov was the only company to get the top two, UKIP and Labour, right to within 1 point; YouGov was the only company to get all parties right to within 2 points; YouGov was the only company to rank all five parties in the right order (with Greens coming 4th and Lib Dems coming 5th).

It appears You Gov is setting the standard with the way it handles the data in order to generate the most accurate prediction of voting intentions.  Survation and ComRes gave the least accurate predictions as can be seen from the graph below:

In fairness to Survation and ComRes, they at least both correctly identified UKIP as the election ‘winner’. ICM on the other hand understated UKIP’s vote and overstated Labour’s by four points in calling the election for Labour.

We won’t go as far as to suggest Alan Bown should consider getting his money back for Survation’s polling for UKIP in marginal constituencies. But perhaps UKIP should be careful to note the performance of all the pollsters and their handling of responses where voters refuse to say who they plan to support, or say they are undecided about who they will support, before deciding which constituencies the party ‘throws the kitchen sink at’ in 2015.

An additional factor to bear in mind is that the results above were generated using larger sample sizes than the ones in the constituencies that have been carried out for the parties, and therefore the scope for error is likely to be even larger in those very targeted polls.

When looking ahead to the 2015 elections, observers can clearly do worse than treating You Gov’s polling outputs as the most likely indicator of voter intentions.

Euro elections 2014 – UKIP ‘wins’, Lib Dems crushed, BNP all but buried, but most pollsters red faced

The results are almost in for Great Britain, with just Scotland to report its final figures once the Western Isles have completed their count.

Round up

As most of the opinion polls over the last 10 days predicted, UKIP has won the largest share of the popular vote for the first time, adding 10 MEPs to its complement so far with another possible in Scotland.  The increase in UKIP’s vote from 2009 so far is 74%.  But back to this in a moment.

The Liberal Democrats have been utterly crushed with a vote share lower than the Greens and just one MEP of their previous 10 scraping back in the South East.  The Lib Dem vote was more than halved. Nick Clegg’s ‘Party of In’ strategy has completely failed and his future as leader is now surely in doubt ahead of the general election.

The most pleasing moment of the night was seeing the burial of the BNP as a political force. 764,000 voters from 2009 have deserted the party – most likely for UKIP and its anti immigration message – its two MEPs have been removed from office and its local organisation is in ruins. Then BNP is now a paper party.

Labour performed a little less well than predicted while the Conservatives performed a little better than expected. Neither will be happy with the outcome of the Euro poll, but neither will be panicking yet.  Domestic factors are at play and will increase in importance in the coming months. For both parties there is everything to play for.  Cameron’s position seems secure, but Labour ranks are breaking regarding Miliband and his team. This is personality politics writ large and in that race, Miliband has a big problem.

Opinion pollsters

But there is something of a wake up call this morning for most pollsters who published polls over the last 10 days.  Only one pollster, You Gov, came close to correctly projecting the vote shares.  Their methodology in their poll conducted between 20-21 May most accurately reflected the actual voting percentages within the usual margin of error:

You Gov / (Actual)

UKIP – 27 / (27.5)
Lab – 26 / (25.4)
Con – 22 / (23.9)
Lib – 9 / (6.8)

For UKIP, Survation (32), Opinium (32), TNS (31)  and ComRes (33) were way off the mark.  ICM was even further out having Labour winning with 29 and UKIP in second on 25.

A recent exchange on Twitter between me and the CEO of Survation, who aggressively defended his research and methodology when I argued their handling of non responders and undecideds was overstating UKIP’s likely support, seems to confirm my argument. That Survation research specifically concerned the Eastleigh parliamentary constituency, but as we saw in the local election results Survation’s adjusted findings of 32% for UKIP was nowhere close to borne out in the 15 seats contested, with the Lib Dems comfortably holding all their seats and gaining one from an independent, and the Conservatives holding their seats.

It is always possible that in the last few days before the elections UKIP’s support softened, but YouGov has been consistently the most accurate pollster and their polling seems to best reflect voter opinion.  The other pollsters have some thinking to do. Ascribing voting intentions to people who say they don’t know how they will vote in a forthcoming election, in the way Survation and others have been doing, might make for big headlines, but it is generating numbers that are wrong by more than the margin of error.

UKIP

The way people voted is very interesting indeed. It looks like reading into the Euro Election results as a guide to the general election in 2015 would be a hazardous thing to do.  We have known there is a substantial protest vote in Euro Elections and this seems to have been exhibited here too.

In the European poll UKIP has received 27.5% of the vote, dwarfing their previous share in 2009.  With Scotland to provide its finall tally, UKIP has increased its vote from 2,498,226 to more than 4,350,000, over 2 million more votes.  Almost certainly 750,000 of those have come from former BNP supporters, but that still means they have harvested another 1.2 million voters from the Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems and previous non voters.

Yet where council elections took place, UKIP took just 17% of the votes.  This suggests that where council elections were taking place, many people segmented their vote. When choosing their councillors they largely voted for their preferred party, but on the European ballot paper many were happy to stick it to the main parties to show their dissatisfaction. The conclusion that can be drawn is that as the Euro Election is meaningless many voters were happy to give their vote to UKIP – but cannot be relied upon to do the same at the general election.

Turnout

Although Nigel Farage predicted this election would see a record turnout, at 34.1%  it is slightly down from 2009 (34.4%), which itself was lower than the 38.2% in 2004.   In 1999 the turnout across the whole UK (which includes Northern Ireland) was just 23%. In respect of absolute numbers of voters he might yet be correct, as population increase has seen the size of the electorate grow. We will find out later.

Regardless, whereas about 7 in 20 eligible voters turned out this week and next year it is likely to be about 13 in every 20, there is an increasingly dogged section of the electorate, around one third, that simply will not participate in the political process. For all of UKIP’s proclaimed insurgency providing a voice for those who don’t feel represented, legitimacy of the system is increasingly in question.

General Election

The additional 6 in 20 voters that will turn out to vote in May 2015 are very unlikely to vote UKIP.  We know UKIP’s core voters were utterly motivated and turned out this week.  We also know UKIP were loaned votes to make a point to the other three main parties, so this is their high watermark.  While UKIP’s general election vote will be higher than 2010, their total number of votes will be less than this week.  This will mean their share of the vote and their vote concentration in areas where they appear strong this week, will be diluted. The recent You Gov nationwide polling for the general election has UKIP sitting around 13%, which seems to be an excellent reflection of what will come to pass.

Ahead of the general election we can expect to see more scrutiny of UKIP, but most probably a change of tack. Rather than focusing on the characters in the party, the other three parties will likely start applying pressure regarding the absence of coherent polices that the media will happily run with.  This has implications for any subsequent referendum as time and again we will hear that UKIP wants the UK to leave the EU, but has no plan about how this can be done cleanly or painlessly.

Conversely we can expect to see an onslaught against Ed Miliband as voters are asked to contemplate the idea of him being Prime Minister. It’s not an attractive vision and it has the capacity to drive more people towards the Conservatives.  If this begins to happen, Lord Ashcrofts polls in the marginal constituencies will start to see the gap between Labour and the Tories narrowing.  That is what watchers need to look out for.  If that happens, as it permeates the consciousness of those floating voters, we can expect to see a classic two party squeeze in 2015.  The Lib Dems will have retreated to their existing constituencies to try to retain them as part of this squeeze and their scope for causing upsets elsewhere has largely been neutralised.

Things are therefore all set for another two horse race where UKIP’s involvement will be limited to that of spoiler rather than contender.  The extent of the spoiling will depend on UKIP’s credibility under further scrutiny.  The next six months could tell us a great deal.

Tory attempt to steal the general election exposed

Following the local election results and the media’s coverage of UKIP’s resounding victory this week, it has emerged the Tories have made a formal application to the Electoral Commission to exclude all 2015 general election results from central London when determining the seat tally and which party will be invited to form the next government.

Conservative Party spokesman, Crispian Keswick-Grantham explained the move:

We have learned the lessons of this election. UKIP’s stunning win, congratulations to them, has taught us that London really has no part to play in elections.

We are a one nation party and we are listening to the people of this nation. It has become clear that educated, cultural and media savvy voters are not really part of this nation and have no understanding of what is important to the country outside the M25. Therefore their votes should not be included in May 2015.  We are at one with UKIP and the media on this, including London votes makes no sense.

Keswick-Grantham rejected claims this was just a cyncial ploy driven by Labour’s substantial support in the capital and the Tories’ lack of popularity, and an effort to prevent Labour MPs being returned to Parliament – thereby ensuring the media declares the Conservatives the election winners regardless of their actual vote and seat tally.

That is a baseless and laughable accusation, but one we considered might be made by Labour sympathisers.  To demonstrate there is no such attempt on our part and that we are taking an even handed approach to this idea, we have extended the scope of the exclusion in our application to cover Scotland too.

We attempted to ask Nigel Farage for his reaction to this breaking story, but were informed by a UKIP spokesman that it was already past opening time and he would have to get back to us.

Elections 2014

23:15

With 150 of 161 councils having completed their counts we now have a clearer picture.

Vote share / Seat share:

Labour – 31% votes / 49.0% seats
Conservative – 29% votes / 32.6% seats
UKIP – 17% votes / 4.0% seats
Lib Dem – 13% votes / 10.4% seats

Labour has had a reasonable but not great election. It has made gains, but not as many as an opposition aspiring to win a general election in 12 months should be. Its vote share reflects the opinion polls and shows the lead over the Tories is narrowing.

The Conservatives lost 18% of the seats they held in this part of the election cycle.  Their vote share is under 30%. But they are gaining ground on Labour as economic factors continue to confound every one of Labour’s chosen battleground issues.

The Lib Dems are fighting a rearguard action. The general election will see them posting even greater numbers of paper candidates and pulling what activists they have left into a few dozen constituencies in a desperate effort to maintain their Westminster seats. For them the aim is having enough seats to negotiate another coalition. Anything less and they will be an irrelevance.

The media, having hyped the UKIP challenge for weeks, has had to follow through by justifying the hype with stories of this election being a huge result for the party – or the first tremors of the promised political earthquake. But the hyperbole has had to be toned down as it became clear that UKIP’s both vote share and percentage of seats won have fallen from last year’s result. Last year UKIP got 20% of the vote and 6.1% of the seats.  This blog has been saying for some time the polls show UKIP has fallen back from their high point last year, and now the evidence is incontrovertible. Which makes the headlines look ridiculous and Farage’s ‘victory parade’ in Essex surreal.  Securing just 17% of a low turnout, having got out the enthusiastic UKIP vote, underlines the glass ceiling effect Farage’s approach is having with voters.

To counter this inconvenient reality the media have come up with a ludicrous wheeze. They are arguing that UKIP has done brilliantly – so long as you pretend London does not exist. This is the same as them saying at the last general election Labour actually won, so long as you ignore the south east and much of the midlands. It’s ludicrous. You can’t just exclude a huge part of the electorate in this way to fit in with a prepared narrative, because they will have the vote next May. What then? An appeal to the Election Commission to disregard any votes cast inside the M25?

The big story that is being completely ignored concerns turnout. The record turnout predicted by Farage didn’t materialise.  It seems 64% of those eligible to vote have not bothered. Given the opportunity to protest against the three legacy parties and the political class in general by supporting Farage’s ‘People’s Army’, the outlet provided by UKIP did not appeal.  That should be food for thought.

Now we wait for Sunday night to see how the European results stack up.

 

14:30

With more than half the councils having declared their results, the UKIP earthquake has hit 4.7 on the political richter scale.

This earthquake has prompted Nigel Farage to carry out a victory parade (no, really) in Essex (without a steel band) where UKIP now controls no councils.

So here are the numbers… 2401 seats confirmed at this time and UKIP have won 113. That is 4.7% of the seats available so far. This compares to the 6.1% of available seats UKIP won in 2013.

But in this media event, the journos would have it that this is a shattering result, evidence of a UKIP surge and of course, a political earthquake. Short memories or short of headlines to pitch in excited tones? Curious.

 

11:05

There’s been a fair bit of excited chatter on the BBC about UKIP and particularly their result in Sunderland. As Nick Robinson wrote:

From the very first result – a council ward in safe Labour Sunderland – the tremors could be felt. UKIP secured 30% of the vote in an area where it hadn’t even run before. [...]

[...]  The Farage factor has cut Tory support the most – Essex man has shown signs of becoming UKIP man.

It has, though, also damaged Labour – challenging them in their northern heartlands and undermining Ed Miliband’s hopes of winning in key election battlegrounds in the Midlands.

This is overstating things. The ‘north’ is not a single entity. Factors influencing UKIP’s support in Sunderland do not necessarily resonate in Wythenshawe.  UKIP might shine in Rotherham, but fail to flicker in other parts of Yorkshire.

We are not seeing a national rise across the board of the type the SDP experienced in the early 1980s. There are pockets of particular disaffection – particularly if immigration is a big issue – where UKIP’s message plays well. But in neighbouring towns they fail to make any headway.

What is being consistently overlooked by the political talking heads and the media is the turnout. At a projected 36% this election is another landslide for the Apathetic and Disengaged Party.  UKIP said they were pulling in lots of people who had given up voting.  But the effect of this has not driven up the turnout.

So it is clear even UKIP’s brand of anti politics is being largely ignored, and around only 1 in 10 eligible voters are voting for them.  To call this an earthquake when looking at the facts in context, seems a bit daft.

 

09:59

Morning all. What we know so far is that with the results coming in for the local elections, UKIP has currently held one council seat and added 89. The figure will continue to rise, particularly outside London, but any gains in the capital will be small in number.

With the motivating factor of the European Elections, wherever there were council seats up for election outside London it was clear UKIP would do well, as the overwhelming majority of its support base would turnout to vote. This therefore is a almost certainly the UKIP high watermark.

Labour gains are far fewer than they would have hoped and much lower than an opposition party at this stage of the parliament should be winning.  These are anxious times for Team Miliband.

The Lib Dems could not have done more to play down expectations with their national vote share down so much.  But as always they have played their tactical game – one that Farage after many years has finally woken up to – of pouring what resources they have into carefully selected areas to maximise their councillor tally.

The Tories have lost control of seven local authorities, all but one to no overall control.  They expected to do a lot worse than this, although later London results could increase the pain.  What this shows is the Tories are somewhat stronger than many thought, even with a lot of theirs and Labour’s vote staying home.

The big point to take on is that the turnout seems set to be around 36%.  This is up slightly from the Euro Elections in 2009, but lower than in 2004.  Nigel Farage’s prediction of a record turnout therefore appears at this stage to have been scuppered.

UKIP’s new secret electoral weapon – their own fantasy third way

Suddenly it all starts to become clear.

When The Boiling Frog wrote earlier this week about how UKIP threatens to lose any in-out referendum for the anti-EU side, he reminded readers that UKIP still does not have any plan for leaving the EU.

On the Sunday Politics, UKIP Councillor Suzanne Evans, even said to Andrew Neil in response to his question about whether the party had a roadmap to leave the EU in the event of an ‘out’ vote, ‘wouldn’t that be great?’.

But an article today in the Financial News (£) might just explain why there is no exit plan for leaving the EU… UKIP is apparently developing a carefully crafted secret weapon that would see the UK stay inside the Customs Union!  Not inside the internal market, but inside the Customs Union and negotiating its own trade agreements:

So what has changed? Why are the money-men and women being lured to the “bloke in the pub” with his Brexit rants and no policies? They are heavyweights too: Crispin Odey, who has in the past hedged his bets by giving money to Ukip and the Tories; Andrew Perloff of Panther Securities and Christopher Mills’ Harwood Capital are also donors; while Andy Brough of Schroders has signed up.

This is why – they are being persuaded that “the man in the pub” is developing a carefully crafted secret weapon to the crude In or Out stance. It is for the UK to stay within the EU’s Customs Union by negotiating its own trade agreements. Under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, any country wanting to exit has two years in which to negotiate new arrangements with the Customs Union. To date, Farage has only hinted at joining a customs union. But Anglo-Sino’s [Stephen] Hill, who privately funds Tim Aker, Ukip policymaker and an MEP candidate, reckons Farage could win this election outright – and many seats at the next election – if he were to reveal that more elegant solutions are under review other than the emotive In-Out one.

If ever there was a moment that confirmed the people around Farage in the upper echelons of UKIP have absolutely no bloody idea what they are talking about, this is it. In spades. Writ large. Ignorance and incompetence on a galactic scale.

For what has been explained above by Margreta Pagano is even more of a fantasy than David Cameron’s renegotiation of powers from Brussels.  It is political and economic Neverland, demonstrating UKIP’s ‘thought leaders’ don’t even understand what a Customs Union is.  This is underlined by the rationale that is given:

Such a move, says Hill, would counter much of the nonsensical scaremongering from LibDems and Labour that pulling out would lead to the loss of millions of jobs. He has a point: if the UK were to exit but negotiate to stay in the Customs Union, UK plc would be allowed to vote on all trade matters but on an intra-governmental basis, not supranational one.

The beauty of this approach is that by staying in the Customs Union – rather than joining Efta for example – manufacturers can trade duty-free within the Customs Union area: Turkey and Monaco have Customs Union agreements. And the UK has a strong hand to play: the EU exports twice as much in finished goods to the UK as we do to the EU – mainly Germany’s car giants, BMW and Mercedes.

This is utter dreamland.  This is a fantasy third way, supposedly not in, supposedly out, but still completely under EU control as today.  If the UK exits the EU, it leaves the Customs Union.  If it negotiates to stay in the Customs Union then it is by default in the EU. Anything votes on trade matters on an ‘intra-governmental’ basis means internal… to the EU.  This Tim Aker plan is cream cheese moon stuff.  It is the world of barking cats.

A Customs Union is by definition a supranational entity because decion making is centralised and the ability of member states to strike independent trade deals is removed.  One only needs to look at Turkey – out of the EU but in the Customs Union, where the decisions on trade agreements and tariffs are made in Brussels and handed down to Ankara to implement.  That is not independence.  In the Customs Union the trade deals and common tariffs are negotiated and struck by the EU on behalf of all member states and all member states have to apply them.  That is where we already are today.

Vote UKIP for a brighter new yesterday is a phrase that becomes more accurate by the day.

There is no way a member state can go off and sign its own deals because all other member states in the Customs Union have to agree with it and adopt it.  Anything else would mean there is no Customs Union at all – in effect the EU would be bringing itself to an end.  Like that’s going to happen.  Any legal matters in the Customs Union get resolved at the European level in Luxembourg, and under this staggeringly idiotic plan that would have to remain the same, which means the UK courts would not become supreme.

Following this plan, UKIP would be contradicting its own long stated aim for the UK to be outward looking and able to strike its own trade deals with other countries around the world on our own terms. It would be tearing up the notion of UK courts being the sole arbeiter of UK related matters.  Its promises on immigration, to stop the free movement of people, could never be delivered.  It would consign the UK to maintaining the status quo of trade agreements and tariffs being set for us rather than by us.

In short, if UKIP were to adopt this as policy then forget Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats, UKIP would be the party of in.  Their fantasy third way is delusional rubbish.  And to think, UKIPpers look up to these idiots, laud them and declare I should be supporting and assisting them.

Nigel Farage told John Humphrys on Radio 4’s Today programme that he would do a deal with the devil to get an EU referendum. Why bother when UKIP is considering a plan that keeps the UK in the EU while only pretending to be independent?  This isn’t a case of good ol’ Nige not doing some detail, this is a case of failing to understand the basics.

A policy of ‘out’ that really means ‘in’ should defy belief.  But this is UKIP and no amount of crass stupidity should surprise anyone any longer.  If you plan to vote UKIP because you want to leave the EU, you may want to think again.

One political earthquake looks likely to be replaced by another

National polling over the last few days has caused some ripples among political anoraks.

As Political Betting has highlighted, Labour and Conservatives are now level pegging on 34% according to You Gov.  The last time that Labour was that low with the firm was in June 2010 only weeks after the party’s GE2010 defeat.   With four pollsters in two days showing the same broad picture the trend is becoming clearer Labour is down.

Miliband effect kicking in?

It seems no one has quite ‘got’ why this has happened yet. Most people are not political anoraks and therefore take little or no interest in politics until the week before they are going to vote.  Now there is a nationwide election due and we are less than a year from the General Election, so more people are inevitably taking a look at politics, whether they will vote and if so who they will vote for.

This is forcing people to look at Ed Miliband for the first time in a while and consider whether they seem him as this country’s next Prime Minister.  It seems they are concluding that he is not Prime Minster material and slowly turning away from Labour.

Where’s the UKIP bounce?

What is interesting is that there does not seem to be any rise in UKIP support, as the national polling for 2015 still shows the party rooted firmly in the 15% range.  UKIP has made much of its belief that more of its voters in the forthcoming European Elections will stick with the party in May 2015, and that a political earthquake will result.

What this assessment seems to ignore is that only around 30% of the electorate will bother to vote in the Euros, with UKIP mobilising just about all its support.  Most Labour and Tory voters and a good many Lib Dems will stay at home.  In May next year around 65-70% of the electorate will turn out for the personality politics vanity contest.  UKIP’s current vote will be significantly diluted.

Make no mistake, UKIP has the capacity to hurt the Tories next year.  But if  Labour support continues to fall back and the UKIP polling share doesn’t advance then the Tories may mitigate a lot of the damage.  UKIP’s political earthquake would then only have power comparable to a fart on a waterbed as the classic two party squeeze returns.

A lot can change between now and next May.  But as things stand it’s hard to see people’s perception of Miliband changing, particularly as the economy continues to improve.  Similarly it’s hard to see where UKIP will make any new breakthroughs, particularly as its immigration strategy is permanently alienating many more potential supporters than it is attracting.

One earthquake fails to materialise, but another might loom

Cameron could well be on course for a second term in Downing Street.  It’s not a prospect that fills me with joy, but as a result of that the UK would be on course for an in/out EU referendum in 2017.

This could be the best opportunity for the ‘out’ side to secure a Brexit from the EU. That would be an earthquake right at the top end of the political richter scale.

2017 is a date well before a point by which Cameron could ever hope to deliver on his renegotiation pledges.  There is no prospect of treaty change, which Cameron acknowledges some of his pledges require if they are to be delivered.  Four years after promising reforms he would have achieved nothing and would fight a referendum on a platform of promises that he can deliver, eventually.

People would see the reality that repatriation of meaningful powers to nation states just will not be allowed to happen.  Just like that crushing moment when a child discovers Father Christmas is not real, many pro-reformers will finally see their fantasy for what it is and admit at last the only options are in or out.

At least that is what will happen, if UKIP don’t secure enough votes in 2015 to deprive the Conservatives of some seats they currently hold in Parliament.  UKIP supporters face a paradox:

  • fight the Tories and do enough damage to prevent them winning the 2015 election, handing Downing Street to Miliband and thus losing any hope of bringing about a winnable in/out referendum.  Or,
  • don’t fight the Tories in the hope that they win the election and present EUsceptics with the golden opportunity they have craved for decades, to have and fight a winnable referendum and take Britain out of the EU

Welcome to the often soul destroying world of realpolitik.  After more than 20 years of campaigning to get the UK out of the EU, UKIP may find itself in a position where putting party first actually deprives voters of the chance to escape from the control of Brussels.

Fraser Nelson on Ukraine: So right, then so very wrong

Like a dog returning to its vomit, I cannot help but return occasionally to the comment section of the Barclay Brother Beano.  The reason being I have challenged myself to uncover at least one vaguely sensible or remotely valuable contribution amidst the sea of drivel that passes for articles and comments.

It is there we find today a piece by media’s favourite nominal conservative and Cameroon cheerleader, Fraser Nelson, who, presumably having read Bravo Two Zero, now seems to fancy himself as a defence expert.  His article is one of those that boasts a welcome, if surprising, nod to reality, but then falls into ruin due to morale sapping ignorance that completely devalues his contribution.

Where Nelson gets it right is in calling William Hague for his ludicrous reassurance that he would stop any “strategic shrinkage” – as Nelson explains, to make sure that Britain’s standing on the world stage would not be diminished because there were cuts going on at home.

Hague’s failure there is only eclipsed by the other failures Nelson reminds readers about.  Firstly, that UK forces in Iraq occupied Basra after the invasion only to be forced out by Iranian-backed militias, after which an inquiry was commissioned to ask why we fought, rather than why we lost.  Not many media types recognise this reality, instead preferring to retail the laughable MoD line that our forces completed their mission successfully and withdrew.

Secondly, the current debacle that sees UK forces – after the disgraceful loss of over 400 lives, and wasted expenditure of billions of pounds – about to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban, effectively ensuring that all that blood and treasure has been sacrificed for nothing.  Again, that’s not the MoD line but it accurately reflects reality.  Due praise to Nelson for that.

However, it is when Nelson turns his attention to the Ukraine crisis – in order to underline his argument that our defence capability has been eroded too far – that he falls in with the official line and misrepresents what brought this crisis about.

Nelson explains that because of the defeats outlined above, and our tepid and badly judged misadventure into Libyan affairs, to the outside world Britain looks like it is shrinking fairly quickly – along with other indebted, war-weary Western powers. Our commitment looks shaky, our judgment even worse.  That’s fair enough. But what follows is where he goes native…

And this, of course, is what has fuelled the Ukraine crisis. Vladimir Putin saw how things were changing, and decided to give the Caucasus a prod; then to see what would happen if he annexed Crimea. The answer, as he suspected, was not very much. Now, his unbadged militants are at work in the east of Ukraine with dozens dead. Still no reaction. This sent out a clear message to Moscow and beyond: the West has grown tired of policing the world. And now, as a century ago, things are up for grabs.

That is utter rubbish.

What fuelled the Ukraine crisis was the European Union’s expansionist ambitions. A complete disregard for the promises made by NATO to the Russians that the west would not encroach one more inch eastwards, saw the Association Agreement tabled to Kiev, with the plan being the eventual assimilation into the EU.  Despite this there is not a single mention of the European Union/EU anywhere in his piece.

For reasons historical, strategic and those relating to a nation’s pride, Ukraine was a line in the sand.  Home to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea fleet in Crimea, the EU’s efforts were provocative and smacked of arrogance.

The United States also has skin in the game.  It encouraged the EU’s move as it would greatly appreciate the Russians being contained in that part of the world so Washington can retask its resources to its efforts to front up to China from the Pacific.

Putin’s actions were a response to the EU’s efforts to begin the process of taking over Ukraine, not the cause of what is happening in Ukraine today.  In no way was what we are seeing today driven by a Kremlin assessment of our degraded military capability.

It would probably be fair to say that a calculation of NATO’s effectiveness and willingness to adopt a military posture has dictated the nature of the Russian response.  The assessment of how far NATO would go, to support that part of Ukraine’s population that rejected a brokered deal for elections, where the EU Association Agreement could form part of the proposition put before the electorate, has been purely reactive.

The British public is being fed yet another spoonful of lies from the government, as it was during Iraq and Afghanistan.  While Fraser Nelson was happy to tell it the way it was over those two campaigns, he is clearly loathe to admit the truth about the EU origins of the Ukraine crisis. One wonders if this is because the EU is a construct he approves of and has repeatedly argued the UK should remain a part of?

Nick Clegg, the antithesis of honesty; and the EU, the David Brent of the global governance structure

When politicians whine about the sharply declining trust in them and politics generally they have only themselves to blame. Another case in point underlining this has emerged today.

Those who watched or read reports of the EU membership debates, between Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage, will be well versed with Clegg’s claim in the first debate that only 7% of UK laws originated from the EU.

Before the second debate, the factcheckers were rushing forth to explain that Clegg had misrepresented the detail taken from a House of Commons publication by only using the figure for Primary legislation.  It was not so much a sleight of hand as an outright attempt to deceive the audience.  He had ignored all secondary legislation and various regulations and other instruments arriving here from Brussels for implementation, that all add to the laws we are bound by.

In the second debate Clegg again used the 7% figure, this time in context explaining it related to ‘Primary’ legislation.  However he played down the secondary legislation and other instruments to give the impression the amount of it was so trivial as to be negligible.  He wanted to convey a false impression that the EU barely impacts laws enacted in the UK, because it suited his purpose in the debate.

If trust in Clegg was shaken among those simple souls who had any in him in the first place, it must surely be laid to utter waste today if they see what has been dug up by EU Referendum.

There we see an article written by Clegg for the Guardian in 2003 when he was an MEP, riding the EU gravy train and indulging his rampant pro-EU obsessions.  In it he tells the readers this (emphasis mine):

MEPs are parliamentary giants. Don’t snigger. There are many legitimate criticisms to be made of the European parliament, but irrelevance or lack of importance, the stock accusations, are laughably wide of the mark.  Probably half of all new legislation now enacted in the UK begins in Brussels. The European parliament has extensive powers to amend or strike down laws in almost every conceivable area of public life.

How curious that in 2003, when Clegg wanted to talk up his importance as an MEP, he was saying that over 50% of legislation enacted in the UK is handed to us from Brussels.  Yet in the debate with Farage in 2014, he wanted voters to think it is a mere 7%.  Well actually it isn’t curious at all.

It is just another example of the contempt with which voters are treated by dishonest politicians who lie to serve their own interests at the expense of ours.

Global Governance – the new elephant in the room?

As Richard points out in the EU Referendum piece, on both occasions Clegg’s claims still misrepresent the truth.

In reality the EU is not the origin of all the >50% of legislation enacted here.  The reality is a substantial amount of law that is enacted in the UK originates above the EU in the global governance pecking order.  Little Europe is just an extra in the cast of the Game of Governance.

The fact is the EU is a sub-regional entity. Perhaps it should be accurately described as the EUSRE.

It is locked in an outdated mindset, based on a structure of centralised control that is only made almost bearable for some because of its internal market.  Setting aside the unnecessary, anti democratic and stifling political control, even the membership benefits of that market may be overstated.

The EU is not a global power, it is a mere middle manager, the David Brent of the global governance business.  Full of its own self importance it passes on orders, churns out demands and instructions, tries to make itself liked by buying cheap coffee for the kitchen and secures the favour of suck ups desperate to have a similar sense of importance.

Although it convinces itself of its essential necessity, if it wasn’t there it wouldn’t be missed. There would just be one less substantial salary and significantly less bureaucracy.  Increasingly the decision making happens above the EU’s head.  More and more with each passing year, the EU’s role is cemented as that of errand boy.

The EU’s member states are thus deprived of a seat at the real ‘top table’ where negotiations take place and decisions are made, at the global level.  Only through independence will EU member states ever be able to speak with their own voice and stand up for their national interests in the globalised world.  This is what the UK should aspire to.  Being in the EU is not, as the likes of Cameron, Miliband and Clegg have it, in Britain’s interest. It is a hindrance. It holds our country back.

Instead of the UK talking with the directors and playing a role in formulating the rules, membership of the EU condemns us to a low-brow life as a minion in David Brent’s reporting line.  It’s time our politicians recognised and admitted that, our media grasped and explained it and voters took a stand to resolve it.


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