Archive for June, 2014

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

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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.


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