Welcome to a (realistic/negative, depending on your point of view) roundup of another week's developments in politics, especially as regards the General Election.
A quick reminder to everybody that if I leave you feeling downbeat and depressed, and if you have the right to vote, please register to vote
before May 22nd. As we have learnt from the Referendum, not voting is tantamount to agreeing with the majority verdict, even if it is something you detest.
And turn up to vote. Frank Luntz, an American pollster, has predicted, on today's Political Thinking on BBC Radio 4
, that this election would see one of the lowest turnouts, if not the lowest ever, in UK electoral history. That means that your vote will have a bigger impact than usual in a General Election.
If you like it, you should have put a cross against it (with apologies to Beyoncé).
Why it may be too late to reverse Brexit
Lord Ashcroft, who has reinvented himself as a pollster, has published the results of an opinion poll that is wider (40,000 participants spread out geographically across the country vs the more usual polls of only 1000-2000 people) than usual opinion polls and hence less likely to be inaccurate. The results
likely do not make pleasant reading for anybody who is anti-Tory.
by him suggests that the Lib-Dems may regret positioning themselves exclusively as the party for Remainers. It suggests that as many as 40% of Remainers accept Brexit as the outcome of the Referendum and are willing to go along with it.
Another poll (which I can't locate, but I believe that it was by the Economist) also suggested that "Pragmatic Remainers", who voted for Remain not out of ideological bias but on practical grounds, are likely to now vote for the party that is likely to get the best Brexit vote for the UK (most likely the Conservatives).
Remainers may also not have factored in the quintessentially British concept of fair play, part of which is that the loser accepts the results of the contest, even though it went against them. Although there is always a period of anger, grief and disappointment on losing, the loser is expected to accept the results for the greater good. Some of the persistent loud noises on the Remain side are seen as 'sore losers' and that itself makes that side unpopular.
This is not helped by the hostile noises coming out of the EU. Quite apart from the leaked details of the May-Juncker private dinner appearing in a German newspaper in extraordinary detail, the EU seems to already be working on the basis that the UK has left
My opinion is that the EU still hoped that the UK would reverse its decision (as all other EU countries had done after a referendum that the EU disagreed with) until the Article 50 letter was actually sent. The letter was such a visible/obvious sign that the decision was going to be implemented that they are going through their own anger, grief and disappointment cycle. Hopefully in another six to nine months, they will have worked their way to acceptance of the decision with equanimity.
Another opinion expressed by others on these forums and other places is that old people dying would lead to a Remain majority by 2019
. And yet, there is cause not to be too sanguine about such an expectation. A recent Yougov poll across Europe for the German TUI foundation suggests that 80% of EU (including UK) youngsters consider the EU as a trading bloc, not as one based on shared culture or values
. Only just over half see democracy as the best form of governance
, thus suggesting that youth is not a safeguard from populism. And 44% of UK youth are Leavers. Even young UK Remainers are more Euro-sceptic than those of other EU countries
In other news
Why British citizens living in the EU will be affected much more negatively by Brexit than EEA citizens living in UK
There was an interesting debate on Twitter
about heritage & culture vs contribution when it comes to UK immigration. Alternatively, should immigration to the UK be defined in terms of shared history or geographic proximity? Given that both sides of the argument are here on these forums, I would encourage contributions to that thread on Twitter.
A related debate, not on immigration but multiculturalism, is taking place in that liberal bastion, Germany.
‘We Are Not Burqa’: What Does German Culture Even Mean?
Switzerland to limit Romanian, Bulgarian workers
- The Swiss are not a part of the EU, but have a set of bilateral treaties with the EU that allow it to operate as if (quasi) EU. But those treaties have provisions for the Swiss to temporarily block immigration from some countries for periods of time. This was essentially the emergency brake that David Cameron had tried to get out of the EU, but failed. It has been suggested
that the Swiss model may be an alternative to full Brexit.
It is possible that Austria's government will fall soon
, possibly triggering an early election. That is of course the country where the far-right got 46% of the presidential vote less than six months ago. They lost that election, and are unlikely to form a government because the other parties consider them a pariah. But 46% of the vote does mean that they set a lot of the tone for the public debate.
On a lighter note, for those of you who want to understand your own political views, have a go at the quiz on 8 values
. To nobody's surprise, I was a centrist, being between 40% & 60%, in all four categories. Indeed, in two categories, I was 52-48, making me an embodiment of the UK.
I am not a lawyer or immigration advisor. My statements/comments do not constitute legal advice. E&OE. Please do not PM me for advice.