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.

14 Responses to “Media hyperbole: Where is this ‘anti-EU’ vote they speak of?”

  1. 1 Bernard from Bucks 01/06/2014 at 7:17 pm

    Since the Euro results were made available on Monday last, I have been reading articles, blogs and goodness knows what, but all have been using the figures in various ways to enhance their own agenda. Some have included ‘a‘, some have excluded ’b’ but the biggest con is to involve the stay-at-homes. You just don’t know why they stayed at home. No one does.
    Many would not know a ballot paper if it hit them in the face! Many didn’t know the date of the election and many didn’t care. If they can’t be bothered to turn out – just ignore them.
    The 31.49%, are the ones that have an opinion and were prepared to make effort to register it.
    Listen to them and analyse the results. Forget the rest they don’t care. They don’t deserve to be considered.
    Spoilt papers carry more of a message.
    On my ballot paper here in the ‘South East Region’ of England there were twelve, fifteen, I don’t know, I didn’t count them, but if someone couldn’t find a ‘flavour’ to their taste they should have stayed at home. There were the ‘in’ parties, all the ‘out’ parties and even a blue ‘shake-them-all-about’ party, plenty of choice.
    There are messages in the data. I feel it, others feel it. Maybe Janet doesn’t?

  2. 2 Autonomous Mind 01/06/2014 at 7:26 pm

    It’s too simplistic to say ‘ignore the stay at homes’. For a lot of them it’s not about not being bothered, it’s a rejection of the politicians and the system. That’s important. Especially when their numbers keep increasing, because it calls the legitimacy of the ‘representatives’ into question – and with it the system of governance we have.

    What is the point of having plenty of choice when ultimately the election itself changes precisely nothing? How’s that for a message from the data?

  3. 3 cosmic 01/06/2014 at 8:59 pm

    “Listen to them and analyse the results. Forget the rest they don’t care. They don’t deserve to be considered.”

    One point is that the Euro elections have a low turnout, more or less across the EU, because people generally don’t identify with the candidates in the same way they do MPs, the EP and the EU are pretty remote and they really don’t see what this is going to change or particularly how it fits in with their traditional voting pattern. They’re not even voting to keep X out.

    A lot of these people who couldn’t be bothered to turn out for the Euro elections, especially when it was just a Euro election and with no local election at the same time, will turn out for a GE or a referendum on whether we leave the EU.

    The Euro elections are a bit strange. It’s hard to argue that they are of great importance because say we had 50 UKIP MEPs returned, it’s hard to see what they could change in the EP, or how that would get us closer to exit,

    They’re not unimportant either. The Conservatives are not cool with coming third. The near wipe-out of the LibDems in an election with some form of PR is saying something.

  4. 4 Bernard from Bucks 01/06/2014 at 9:16 pm

    I agree with you 100% about the legitimacy of the ‘representatives’. They in no way truly represent us. If you notice I did say “spoilt papers carry more of a message.” For a good thirty years I have been in the ‘none of the above’ camp by spoiling my paper because I cannot see any other way of peacefully delivering my message of rejection of the current system. Is there another way? Staying at home, I don’t think, is the answer unless 100% of the population do it and there is negligible chance of that.
    Since my small despoiling protest got me nowhere – OK I admit; I admit I voted UKIP. I just thought I’d try a different tack rather than give up and remain on the sofa watching ‘Britain’s (not) Got Talent’.

  5. 5 Dave_G 01/06/2014 at 9:25 pm

    There’s a world of difference between being anti-immigration and anti OPEN BORDERS immigration. The first implies a racist stance whilst the second (more accurate) implies a welcoming country but on legitimate grounds for entry.
    Your main post implies that the UKIP leaflet was the former and you therefore fall into the MSM category of ‘alarmist’.
    Since the only votes that count are those that are MADE your support for the ‘none of the above’ crowd is irrelevant and the voters (the people that count) DID vote on an anti-EU stance given the majority OF VOTERS picked UKIP.
    As is constantly made out – if you don’t vote you have no right to complain about the result.

  6. 6 Autonomous Mind 02/06/2014 at 8:47 am

    I’ve not complained about the result, I’ve commented on it. The media is trying to make out the vote was of massive importance, whereas I have shown how the vote was utterly meaningless.

    The UKIP campaign did not differentiate between your definitions of immigration. No one was hearing anything about the subtlety of open borders migration, they simply understood UKIP to be the only party to stop foreigners coming in. People who were voting UKIP because of immigration don’t want ANY immigrants coming here.

    Your argument that a majority of voters picked UKIP is just ludicrous. 27% is not a majority of anything. It is a minority as 73% voted another way. Out of 73 seats available UKIP picked up 24, meaning 49 went to other parties – all of which hold a pro-EU position.

  7. 7 Bernard from Bucks 02/06/2014 at 9:47 am

    Daniel Hannan pro-EU ? Just to name one of the 49!

  8. 8 cosmic 02/06/2014 at 11:19 am

    Dan Hannan talks a good game, but when it comes down to it he supports and, encourages others to support, the Conservatives. The Conservatives have always had a large eurosceptic contingency to keep sweet, which they’ve done with the idea that the EU can be reformed, while we quietly drift further in. Judged by their actions, they are determined we are to stay in so they are a europhile party, but they are devious about it.

    Hannan, Carswell, Redwood and others are in a strange position, they seem to be quite genuine in wanting to get out of the EU, but they support and are loyal members of a party, which has aims directly opposite to something they believe with apparent fervour.

  9. 9 Dave_G 02/06/2014 at 7:22 pm

    Quote “People who were voting UKIP because of immigration don’t want ANY immigrants coming here.” Unquote

    Thank you – not. You twist your words and make accusations that are objectionable – stating that I MYSELF am a voter who’s only concern is for immigration and nothing else – essentially calling ME a racist. This is EXACTLY how the MSM and BBC operated to undermine the UKIP vote and you yourself are showing the same tendencies.

    Sometime I wonder at your motives……

  10. 10 Steve 02/06/2014 at 9:43 pm

    It seems that you are very much part of the establishment. Can you too also not conceive that sensible people of many countries want a different relationship with the EU and the Euro?

  11. 11 Autonomous Mind 03/06/2014 at 10:05 am

    Dave, I did not say ALL people. But I have spoken to three people in the office who voted UKIP who did so for one single reason, namely that they don’t want ANY more immigrants. I didn’t call you a racist but if you want to turn yourself into one of those professional offence takers, go ahead.

    After the election results the first two voters interviewed on radio were asked why they voted UKIP. The first said ‘because there’s too many of them – immigrants’, the second said ‘no one would deal with all the immigrants but Farage would’. See the pattern? It tallies with conversations I’ve heard and had.

    Now you may find this hard to accept, you may not like it and it may not tally exactly with your view, but the reality is UKIP has harvested the best part of three quarters of a million of former BNP voters since 2009 – and a good many other folk – who do not want this country to accept immigrants. UKIP has deliberately courted such people as vote fodder and needs to accept the consequences of that.

    My motives are simple, I want this country to leave the EU. UKIP is doing sod all to make that happen. It is just another tribal dustbin for people who delude themselves that party politics will resolve this issue. UKIP doesn’t even have a plan for leaving the EU and is flirting with a new solution that effectively keeps this country IN the EU by remaining part of the customs union. I wonder what UKIP’s motives are…

  12. 12 Autonomous Mind 03/06/2014 at 10:09 am

    Steve, if your comment was directed at me, you are mistaken. Many people want a different relationship with the EU, but that doesn’t mean it is possible within the supranational structure that has been constructed and the direction it is taking. The EU was not constructed to follow the wishes of the people, it was constructed to remove the wishes of the people from the business of governance.

  13. 13 Steve 04/06/2014 at 12:51 am

    It was and I am not afraid to admit it, I was wrong! A little more reading is required, thank you for the motivation. Just a bit tetchy about immigration at the moment having recently been called a racist for debating multiculturalism. I was talking to someone about a study by Luton Council showing a declining white English population against an increasing immigrant population. Also included were stats showing that 36% of Asian demographic rely on benefits and 46% for the Somali group. Should I be concerned about the strain on services and the fabric of our society? It would seem prudent. Does it need discussing openly? Absolutely.
    I do have the genuine pleasure of working with immigrants from a variety of backgrounds. During conversations on this topic it is they that have suggested to me that we are ‘mad’ for not having tighter controls in place. The general consensus is that they ‘know’ what some of their own people are like and with some passion state that they do not want them here. My more liberal views on immigration have been altered over time by lots of in depth conversations with these hard working and immensely likable peoples. Their views are forthright and they are not embarrassed to discuss these difficult issues. I don’t trust UKIP’s motives either but I can see why people would vote UKIP, they have eyes and ears and must see and hear what I do even if they don’t reach the same conclusions. I’m not sure about very much anymore except that we all seem trapped by the current system of short term politics. Our so called leaders cannot plan their way out of a paper bag with this system let alone provide a long term solution towards peace and environmental stability on a planet with finite resources.
    It is truly scary.

  1. 1 That anti-EU vote, again… | Autonomous Mind Trackback on 03/06/2014 at 10:52 am
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