What people think

I have been hearing about what the polls say. This matters, as polls help drive the attitude of politcal parties. They are one of the main ways politicians in their party groupings try to stay in touch and to understand the public mood. I personally tend to rely more on the emails, letters, doorstep conversations, web comments and the rest that I receive. The polls can provide some useful additional information, if the right questions are asked and the quantitative work is done professionally.

The polls confirm that the economy is the overriding issue to most people. The rising cost of living and unemployment dominate as concerns. People have been very worried about the price of fuel and energy, fares and Council tax, all items that goverment has considerable influence over through the tax and regulatory systems.

Immigration is the next biggest concern. People are very critical of the open borders policy of the previous government. They accept that the Coalition government is seeking to do something about it, but they want more progress and more results more quickly from the changes. There is very substantial support for cutting the deficit as a necessary precondition for economic improvement, and very strong support for moves to limit the welfare bills in an attempt to end the “something for nothing culture” which people think grew up on the fringes of the welfare system under the previous government.

The EU does not poll as a top concern. Attitudes to the EU are heavily sceptical, with only around one fifth in favour of all the powers and policies of the current EU. It is not clear, however, that there is a majority for simple withdrawal. Many want a common market type relationship, falling short of complete exit.


  1. Single Acts
    June 29, 2012

    Did you see Paxman devour poor old Chloe Smith who was put up to defend the latest U-turn, this time on fuel duty. It is not often I feel sorry for government ministers of any stripe but by the end of it, you were rather wishing for the referee to proverbially ‘stop the fight’

    I am sure she is a very pleasant person, but competence wise you would have thought her a lib-dem.

    1. lifelogic
      June 29, 2012

      Cameron seems like a Libdem too to me. Just with a bit more PR polish and slight of foot. So hardly surprising that his government members seem Libdem fools too.

      Give me someone with the right direction and no PR polish at all. It would be far better for all. Leading people over the cliff with charm and PR polish is not helpful.

      1. wonderfulforhisage
        June 29, 2012

        David Davis?

    2. Gewyne
      June 29, 2012

      She was obviously briefed not to say when the policy was decided or she was told (presumably so it would not look like bowing to Labour pressure) so she was put into a no win situation. It was a sudden change of policy and is unfunded to boot – no wonder Osborne or his No 2 at the treasury Danny Alexander did not want to appear on TV. But hey, that’s what junior ministers are for, throwing under buses.

    3. uanime5
      June 29, 2012

      I’m sure Paxman was just annoyed that a minister or the chancellor didn’t have the guts to come and defend their policy, and instead sent someone who didn’t know anything.

    4. Bazman
      June 29, 2012

      I wasn’t. The only thing thing wrong was that Gideon had sent his fag for the whipping.

  2. Adam5x5
    June 29, 2012

    …worried about the price of fuel and energy, fares and Council tax, all items that government has considerable influence over through the tax …

    Nail. Head.
    I and others have been saying this for a while – cut the tax on fuel and energy a lot and cut tax in general. When the majority of an essential (i.e. non-luxury) product’s price is tax, something has gone wrong.

    Many want a common market type relationship, falling short of complete exit.
    But failing that, most people would want out of the EU. Do you really think the EU would accept a partial withdrawal, with the mantra of ever closer union.

    1. lifelogic
      June 29, 2012

      How long does an average person have to work to buy a tank of fuel to get to work – with all the taxes about 12 hours without about 2 hours. So six times as long to pay the NI, income tax, fuel duty, and VAT. Not to mention the VED, vat on the repair and purchase, and the insurance premium taxes.

      BBC types still want more taxes though.

      1. lifelogic
        June 29, 2012

        Endless taxes are needed to feed all those PIGIS, build those wind turbines, pay those gold plated wages and pensions and encourage fecklessness all over the place.

      2. Gewyne
        June 29, 2012

        What is it

        15% NI paid by your employer
        11% NI paid by you (less allowances)
        20% tax (less allowance)

        What is left is then subject to

        £1000 Council Tax
        £135 Car Tax

        and the little you have left and spend is subject to –

        20% (or more due to levies on Alcohol, Cigarettes, Petrol) more tax

        If you earn £20,000 easily £12,000 – £13,00 of that is stolen by the Government, leaving you working for £7,000 pa

        1. alan jutson
          June 30, 2012


          Sounds about right.

          But if you are on Benefits its ALL tax free.and the more kids you have the more money you get.

          Oh nearly forgot, its going to be £26,000 max sometime soon.

          So thats alright then a Benefits freeze at more than the average wage.

          So the more your tax has to rise.

          Some incentive to get off your backside.

  3. matthu
    June 29, 2012

    The banks probably did not poll very highly either – but I bet they do now.

    The EU won’t poll as a big concern until the cool light of day is shone into every crevice. There is so much corruptiona and collusion going on in the EU that the odd LIBOR manipulation pales into insignificance.

    Ans when the electorate have it properly explained to them how much this is all costing them – in terms they can understand … opinions can change very quickly.

    1. matthu
      June 29, 2012

      I wrote the above before reading this:

      “Günther Verheugen, who was a Vice-President of the Commission and held the portfolio for industry and enterprise, estimated the total cost of regulation across the EU at 6% of GDP.

      So how much of the 6% comes from Brussels?

      Fortunately Open Europe comes to our aid. Their study shows that while around 50% of regulations come from Brussels, the EU represents 72% of the cumulative cost of regulation. Just to put it in perspective, that’s over £100 billion.”


      1. lifelogic
        June 29, 2012

        I think even that is an under estimate – also the regulation pushes much business overseas with consequential loss of jobs in the EU.

      2. uanime5
        June 29, 2012

        Regarding the cost of regulations the Open Europe report says “72 percent, had its origin in the EU”. However as this report fails to distinguish between laws that were direct translations of EU directives and UK laws that were modified versions of EU directives it’s impossible to determine how much of this cost is due to the UK Government and how much is due to the EU.

        For example let’s suppose an EU directive said that someone who was employed for more than 1 year was entitled to 2 months pay if made redundant and Parliament made a law which gave someone 3 months pay if they were made redundant. By Open Europe’s standards the entire cost would be attributed to the EU because this law had its origins in the EU, even though 1 third of this cost is due to the UK Government. So the 72% figure can be considered a maximum figure but the actual cost of EU regulations on the UK is likely to be much lower.

        1. matthu
          June 29, 2012

          And you can seriously think of numerous examples of laws where the UK government has imposed even greater regulatory cost than would have been imposed by the EU? Please list them: that would surely be the final nail in the coffin for the government.

        2. Lindsay McDougall
          July 1, 2012

          You as usual miss the key point. UK politicians and civil servants are ‘bastards of own begetting’. EU politicians and civil servants are not.

  4. Tim
    June 29, 2012

    The economy is heavily influenced by the EU. It’s rules and regulations stifle growth to say nothing of the billions it costs directly each year. Every household pays roughly double in food prices because of our membership and the massive protectionist racket that is the CAP.

    And on immigration, how can we control our borders when under our EU obligations we must have an open door policy including right of entry to any sham marriage from anyone in the world to an EU citizen.

    It is disingenuous to try to pretend that the Europe question is in some way separate from the two greatest concerns of the British people.

  5. Brian Taylor
    June 29, 2012

    All very relevant,energy we know the cost is increased due to renewable obligation payments but because it linked to CO2 reduction everyone is afraid to do anything.
    BBC question time last night on Lords reform,much talk about those who make our Lawes we should have a chance to vote for BUT no mention of Lawes from Brussels that are passed by a Scrutiny committee,it’s another Elephant in the room just like Climate Change.
    Grant Shapps is right to say that ministers should Tweet And Blog to get facts out there.
    We had to wait almost 8 years for Labour to admit the voters were ahead of them on Immigration, let’s hope we don’t have to wait as long on Climate Change and the EU.

  6. colliemum
    June 29, 2012

    Hopefully I understood this correctly: while the polls show that the EU is not a top concern, do you find from your personal contacts that four fifths of people do want a change to the way this country is tied to the EU?

    It would be interesting to ask that question again, now that the summit has decided the EU financial institutions – funded by all, If I got that right – will give money directly to ailing banks in Spain and Italy, and that the summit decided to go for tighter banking union and political union in future.

    Just as here in the UK, many people in Germany now think a return to what was a commercial and trade union would be desirable.

    Reply: I find from my emails and conversations that Conservative members and UKIP supporters see the importance of the EU and want change. I do not get that from most of the rest of the electorate, who concentrate on the matters in their daily lives that need improvement without apportioning blame between EU and national government.

    1. Bob
      June 29, 2012

      @Mr. Redwood
      Do you ever get the impression that the people you speak to on the doorstep would much rather discuss football or Eastenders?

      1. Bob
        June 29, 2012

        @Mr. Redwood
        Do you ever ask people on the doorstep if they know the difference between debt and deficit?

        Labour Party MP and economist Rachel Reeves was asked on Martin Durkin’s C4 documentary “how much is our national debt?”. The figure she gave was the deficit figure. Liz Truss did the same.

        Is it any wonder we’re in a mess if our elected leaders cannot even grasp such simple but important facts?

        1. Bob
          June 29, 2012

          Her’s a link to the documentary:


          You’ll need to register your email address if you want access to the C4 archive, but it’s quick and simple to do.

    2. Edward.
      June 29, 2012

      The great subterfuge.

      For forty years, there has been a great political collusion, between all the main political parties and up and down the land – in councils and government offices and in all corners of the HMG administration: a collusion in a shameful and purposeful deceit.

      The British electorate and public has never been enlightened, nor able to comprehend just how much influence is wielded by their EU rulers in Brussels. For the ‘powers that be’ or the ‘establishment, did not and do not and under any circumstances desire that at all.

      Hence, the ‘ordinary’ British public have been hoodwinked, lied to and led up the garden path in all matters pertaining to the EU.

      If, the great British public were fully apprised of just how deeply the EU affects and influences every facet of their daily lives, then, then they would prioritise the EU as their main enemy and bane.

      1. APL
        June 30, 2012

        Edward: “For forty years, there has been a great political collusion, between all the main political parties and up and down the land ”

        How could that possibly be true? We live in a democracy, our politicians are drawn from our very ranks, they represent us.

        After all, various prominent politicians tell us continually, not only does the EU not have much influence on policy, but people in the street are not interested in the EU dimension.

        So it must be true.

  7. norman
    June 29, 2012

    Those things have always been and always will be top of people’s lists. Goes without saying.

    What happens in Rome or Brussels doesn’t bother me other than academically. Oh, Eurobonds aren’t happening now. The president of the ECB said this that or the other. Who cares? Only slightly more interesting than Lords reform. I care about the weekly shopping bill is, job security, how much I’m paying to fill the car up, what I’ll find when the electric & gas bill plops on to the doormat, how long do I have to wait to see a doctor / get an operation, etc.

    The question is ‘how can government act – or not act – to improve my life in those areas?’ and if the answer is that government action is constrained by directives coming from the EU (renewable targets, business regulations, dictating what must be VAT-table items, giving all EU citizens equal access to the NHS, etc.) then the EU comes into focus.

    Realise it’s not good politics to make everything about the EU but the sad fact is that more and more of these matters is about the EU.

    1. matthu
      June 29, 2012

      norman – you make a number of fine points and connect them well to the EU.

      Did you also see that very fine poster “The EU. It’ll have the shirt off your back?”


      We mist tirelessly direct people’s attention at the consequences of being part of the EU. Unfortunately their attention span is short – so it always bears repeating.

  8. lifelogic
    June 29, 2012

    Cameron types look at the polls to work out how to win elections then ditch any (carefully worded) promises they later find inconvenient. One wonders what a poll asking “would you trust any of Cameron’s promises at the next election” would say. It was reported yesterday that he is going to put another billion down the EURO dustbin I wonder what a poll on that might say?

    The problem with polls is that if you ask, for example, do you think rents should be controlled by law or do you think everyone should get five additional bank holidays, do you want lower taxes and better services or do you think all employers should have to pay you a pension of 70% of your wage and at 60 and rises every year of 5% minimum then you get rather predictable answers. Things that in practice would make employment far worse.

    Ask people if they want an “integrated transport system” they will all say yes even without having a clue what “integrated” is.

    Ask for example the average occupancy of a bus and if think they reduce congestion and save energy compared to cars overall? They will say perhaps 35 and yes. In fact the truth is more like 10 (depot to depot) and usually not energy saving after taking into account the driver, everything else and the indirect start stop routes.

    Do you want all our energy to be clean, renewable and last for ever? – of course they do even if it is impossible without changing the laws of physics?

    Many of the answers come straight from how the BBC has told them to think. The 50% of our trade nonsense for example on the EU.

    Civil servants and politicians have then used these answers to justify pointless jobs and activity all over the place to impoverish us all. Things like the renewable nonsense and silly HS2 and mad tram systems.

    Still I read that Heathwick a hub airport with 5 runways may come off after all, so not all is bad (unless you live too close to them).

    1. Bob
      June 29, 2012


      Very good points – well articulated.

      Any response Mr. Redwood? (particularly relating to the lack of realistic analysis of the issues by Joe Public on the doorstep (having been dragged away from watching Big Brother, Eastenders or Sky Sports)?

    2. Bazman
      June 29, 2012

      Do you want a liveable pension before you die? Clean affordable energy. A reliable and affordable transport system and not just based on cars? Liveable accommodation without being ripped off by landlords or mortgage companies? Do you think there should be legal minimum wages, conditions and holidays for employees?
      Do you think minimum living standards in this country undermine business and cost the state to much money and should be abandoned?
      Do you think parts of society should just get what life gives them and no more?
      Do you think this is all they deserve?
      Should bankers get more money or go to prison for their sterling work and wealth creation for the country?
      Are politicians to blame for letting them do what they want or are bankers to blame for doing it?
      Should the blame lie with six quid an hour employees and other feckless peole such as those who do not want to work for six quid?
      Should bankers have to live on less than 100k a year? Or should they strike?
      I think we can also see your silly right wing propaganda too lifelogic. Apologetic ranting for elitist polices in the laughable belief this will drag us all up. Like third world dictatorships do for the rest of their populations?

  9. Tad Davison
    June 29, 2012

    I am a little bemused. Most, if not all of the ligitimate subjects that rightly concern people, are in some way influenced by, and are associated with, Britain’s membership of the EU. And it seems Britain cannot have self-determination, and thus administer an antidote to these ills, unless we leave it.

    I have said that I could live with belonging to an area of free-trade, as was first voted for all those years ago, as it was the only position arrived at democratically, even if some of the worst and most dangerous aspects of the initial Treaty of Rome weren ‘t made clear at the time.

    However, trade is a two-way street. It looks now as though it will be a long time before most of the indebted nations will be able to buy British goods and services in quantity. We therefore face a trade imbalance for the foreseeable future, and I doubt if our economy could withstand that indefinately. We’d be dragged into the mire along with them, so an entirely different arrangement from the one we presently have, makes sense.

    Surely it is better for Britain to seek out new markets and trade with new partners that CAN pay. The continued membership of the EU is an inhibiting factor. As more and yet more people realise this, I expect they will see the sense of withdrawal. To me, the EU makes no sense at all, and it’s proponents are finding it difficult to argue the case for staying in.

    Yet unless we have a debate, this matter will not be resolved, and we just can’t go on like this. Now where have I heard that before?

    Tad Davison


  10. Duyfken
    June 29, 2012

    Should not these three: economy, immigration and the EU, be seen as inter-related issues almost to the extent they are one? An analogy is that it is useless to try to fill a bucket, the economy, whilst there are holes in the bottom with money swishing away through welfare payments and the like and to the Brussels mob.

    1. Electro-Kevin
      June 29, 2012

      I agree with Duyfken.

      The real Tories lost control of the the very language of these debates a long time ago. The control of language extends to how the polling questions are put and the delineation of issues which are intertwined.

      Clearly (from various public appointments of Leftists to the BBC and EU) David Cameron truly is heir to Blair and speaks that language.

      Mr Redwood – are you sure there is any point in trying to influence the Tory party from within ?

      Please bear in mind that your party is likely to face annihilation at the next General Election and will be out of office for a very long time.

    2. JimF
      June 29, 2012

      Yes this is correct, they are interwoven.

      The nirvana would be
      -a United Kingdom with one Parliament, in a free-trading relationship with the rest of Europe and North America
      -an education and apprenticeship system which provided for people until age 21-23, pretty well free of charge, but after that it was down to them, except for a pretty low slung safety net.
      -an hypothecated insurance-based NHS where there was a genuine choice over provider (you have to pay but you have a say)
      -immigration controls which allowed in only those who would economically benefit the UK
      -a banking system which was competitive and where participants could go bust.
      -a business environment where workers would price themselves into jobs rather than be left out on benefits but equally having paid a lower tax rate they could, if desired, take time out with cash saved
      -a government which got off people’s backs, because there weren’t enough jobsworths employed to get on people’s backs in the first place

      It seems to me that to begin this virtuous spiral you need a government which takes some tough decisions to lower spending and lower taxes, quite dramatically, which is the opposite of what this and the last government has done. We also need to renegotiate our EU membership terms to allow us the freedom to compete and control our borders.

      I don’t intend my vote to give either of these parties another chance.

      1. Mike Stallard
        June 30, 2012

        Jim, in that case, I’m a Buddhist too!

  11. matthu
    June 29, 2012

    This extract from John Baron MP’s letter to David Cameron (full text published today on order-order.com):

    The case for a referendum is growing by the day, and in particular is justified on thefollowing grounds:-
     We suggest there is a consistent majority in this country who believe that the European Union meddles too much in our everyday lives, that the weight of regulation on our businesses is too burdensome, and that the cost of membership is far too high.
     The EU is constantly evolving and is very different to the European Economic Community we joined in 1973.
     No-one in this country under the age of 55 has had the opportunity to express their view on this signally important matter.

    JR: I trust the letter has your signature appended to it?!

  12. matthu
    June 29, 2012

    Also on order-order.com, Guido has a story about Lord Sugar’s relationship with Gordon Brown and EU red tape:

    “Lord Sugar revealed all about his ill-fated spell as Gordon Brown’s enterprise champion during a speech to the Industry and Parliament Trust at Portcullis House last night. The Labour peer recalled how their conversations on boosting business achieved nothing as Gordon would regularly lose the plot:

    “It was frustrating. Gordon wanted me to give him ideas on how to make British business great again but everything I said fell on deaf ears. It would always just end with him shouting me down.”

    Sugar went on to accuse Brown’s “British jobs for British workers” pledge of being an empty promise, describing his annoyance at the Prime Mentalist’s lack of desire to fight EU red tape.”

    (He wouldn’t have had any more joy with the current government then.)

  13. alan jutson
    June 29, 2012


    I think your list today is probably right, for the simple reason that those who are not interested in politics (probably the majority) do not get the connection with many of our problems and the EU.

    Those who are not in business or self employed do not really understand the problems of increasing regulation, red tape, business rates, employment law, health and safety.

    Even Mr Osbourne in his Budget speeches has mentioned he cannot do this, he cannot do that, because of EU rules.

    The sad fact is that many voters will vote for the same old Party, no matter how terrible they perform, and that is what is holding up the traditional Party vote numbers, the core by and large seems to remain, even if they are gradually falling in number as they die off.

  14. SteveS
    June 29, 2012

    I suspect that the EU would be further up the poll if politicians were forced to declare the particular bits of our law that have been forced on us from Brussels. The public just aren’t sufficiently made aware of how little democratic control they have over the laws they are forced to live by.

    If you started putting a ‘Made in Brussels’ sticker on every bit of legislation and published the totals accurately, then I suspect there would be even more concern about the EU project – which is why it doesn’t already happen.

  15. John Eustace
    June 29, 2012

    This person is appalled by the LIBOR fixing racket and cannot imagine how Bob Diamond can stay in post. If not this, then what would make him go?
    And who decided criminal actions were not possible? That is a highly dubious outcome.
    The government needs to take really tough actions to defend London’s reputation assuming it isn’t already too late

  16. oldtimer
    June 29, 2012

    When money is tight it will always come to the top of the pile of issues people worry about. If it is then linked with a specific cause of the problem, that too will rise in the list of polling concerns. All the salient issues you mentioned are, directly or indirectly, linked to the cost of living and the problem of making ends meet. The influence of the EU does not possess this link so clearly.

    Given this situation, how do the pollsters explain the upward blip in the polls for the Conservatives after Cameron exercised his EU “veto” a few months ago? I know it did not last very long, but it does appear to have been real enough while it lasted.

    You point out that many items you list are affected by the tax and regulatory system. Some of these make no sense at all. The most notable are the charges on energy costs to reduce carbon usage even though they have no meaningful relevance to the problem we were told they were there to solve. Why does the government persist with such measures whose only impact is to reduce economic activity, such as closing factories, putting people out of work and raising the cost of living for the rest of us?

  17. Old Albion
    June 29, 2012

    “I personally tend to rely more on the emails, letters, doorstep conversations, web comments and the rest that I receive”

    Here’s some more web comments for you then John;

    In order, I wish to see;
    An ‘In or Out’ referendum on our membership of the EU.
    The creation of an English Parliament. Leading to a Federal Union.
    A strong government that deals with the financial crisis. But not by taxing those at the bottom even more. Though i’m in agreement with an overhaul of ‘welfare’
    Re-nationalise the Gas, Electricity and Water industries in England.

  18. Sue
    June 29, 2012

    Of course the overriding worry is the cost of living. That is what actually affects people. I take my grandchildren to school every morning and chat with the young parents there. The reasons that the EU does not sit high on their lists are twofold.

    Firstly, the EU is something they just hear about on the TV once in a while. The Eurocrisis is someone else’s problem. Every now again, a story will emerge from the ECHR which irks most of them. They are detached from the EU and don’t realise (unless they have their own businesses) how much we are affected by the whole shambles.

    The MSM are mainly to blame for their ignorance. They have adopted a format which is very damaging. Once a story has broken (Murdoch, bankers bonuses, Jubilee etc.), they gnaw at it like a dog with a bone, regardless of what else is happening. The BBC only seem report on the Arab Spring (which nobody gives a fig about) and poverty in the third world (which people are fed up with hearing about). The riots in Europe are seldom shown.

    It’s a disgrace that our news channels have stopped giving us news and that the BBC continues to be pro-EU rather than unbiased. Of course it would be helpful if the quality of journalism all round was improved. Many of them are just unable to grasp what is actually happening and once a story breaks, they all take the lead and report the same thing even if it’s inaccurate.

    You politicians don’t help matters. You know very well that “re-negotiation” is not an option. You also know that we have had many opportunities to “opt out” of a competence and you have chosen not to, and then found out that it’s too late to take back control. You know very well that we would have to leave the EU altogether and then negotiate a trade deal. You have to stop lying to people and you might get some accurate poll results!

    Secondly, they feel they have no control anyway. It’s pretty obvious that most of them are not happy with our relationship with Brussels. It is also evident, at this present time, that Cameron doesn’t care what they think. As far as they are concerned, he’s a millionaire and hasn’t a clue what it’s like to live in the middle of a council estate that in some cases ceases to resemble England.

    Many of them don’t realise that non-EU immigration is largely an EU competence (shared responsibility).

    “Brussels has drawn up a secret diktat which could force Britain to admit 12,000 workers from India despite soaring unemployment at home. The order is part of an EU-wide plan to boost trade with India”.


    We are obliged to take in a certain quota and expelling illegal immigrants is virtually impossible. You only have to watch the UK customs programmes on TV to get an idea of how much of a waste of time this has become. Immigration officers must feel like they are doing a thankless job. No sooner do they catch a whole bunch of people working illegally and the next minute they’re letting them go on license. Of course, most of them disappear back into the system again.

    Out of curiosity, how many of the employers actually cough up £10,000 per illegal worker? If that were collected, the government stands to make a huge amount of money.

    They are not happy with being swamped by East Europeans who are seen as a threat to jobs that should be going to Britons.

    The council estate where my daughter lives is typically where many of these newcomers end up. I’ve found it causes alot of tension and that the different groups of parents tend to cluster together while we wait for the doors to open in the morning and evening (mainly Africans and East Europeans). They do not readily mix and are quite hostile in their mannerisms and attitudes. It’s not racism on our part. Parents from India and the Caribbean mix with the other parents quite happily and the children get on famously.

    You will never get accurate answers from people, either on the doorstep or with polls unless you tell people the truth to start with. Then again, we’ve been lied to constantly about the EU since 1972 when they neglected to tell those voting or the politicians that we would be giving up much of our sovereignty.


  19. Sebastian Weetabix
    June 29, 2012

    I am not surprised most ordinary people do not list the EU as being very high on their list of concerns. They might vaguely disapprove of it if they have an opinion at all, but most are largely not aware how much of our legislation is EU-driven. This is not helped by the fact that front bench politicians of all parties, the BBC and the major newspapers conspire to behave as though the opinions of Westminster matter . The recent discussions about employment regulations is a classic example. This is a ‘reserved’ area of competence where Brussels makes the rules. It’s the same for agriculture, for fisheries and so on and on. Instead of recognising this most people just think three things; firstly the rules are stupid (eg fish quotas resulting in tonnes of perfectly good -dead- fish being thrown back into the sea), secondly it doesn’t matter who we vote for since nothing seems to change and thirdly that the government is incompetent.

    They are certainly right about the third part. Osborne is a joke. Young Ms Smith, whom he sent out as a human shield in front of Paxman the other night, looks like she shoud be excused boots. If this is representative of the intellectual firepower in the government then God help us all. This crop of callow incompetents are a sorry disappointment to those of us who would sooner vote Tory than not. They make all the right noise about cutting the deficit but they don’t do anything. But when it comes to annoying the silent majority over cultural matters like gay marriage there’s no stopping them. Are they Gramscian Marxists in disguise?

  20. waramess
    June 29, 2012

    Maybe the overiding issue is not the EU however the matter is one of legitimacy. The people have no option open to them other than voting UKIP or a referendum. How can the politicians retain any form of credibility when all they do is without consent.

    Nobody is asking for a commitment to leave the EU; just the view of the British people on the matter. Few are interested in the Lords reform but it looks as if we will end up with a referendum.

    Politicians are famed for saying the people are not sufficiently familiar with the legislation to make an informed decision but this is just a cop out. People smell a rat when it is rotting far better than politicians.

    What is there to fear; that you might end up with the “wrong” decision?

  21. Cliff. Wokingham.
    June 29, 2012

    Dear John,

    I think people will tell the polls and therefore the government, what they are manipulated into saying. As others have stated; if you ask the right question, you can get the answer you want, hence why the debate over the eventual question to be asked in Scotland in their referendum. The media and our education/indoctrination system also influences how people will answer by controlling what information people get and therefore manipulating the likely results.

    Regarding welfare; how much of the total welfare spend is given to working people? Many people I know receive one kind of benefit or another to boost their pay up to a living wage. This may be housing benefit, council tax benefit, child benefit or working tax credit etc.

    Our PM, likely guided by polls, has mooted regional benefit levels; perhaps a good idea. As I understand it, benefits are set at a rate that the law says someone needs in order to live. Will the basic current rate apply to those in “cheaper areas” and an increase be given to those in say London and The South East?
    Will the government consider regional minimum wage levels; a national minimum wage must have similar failings to a national level of benefits. Would a regional living wage be a better idea?

    John, what is your view on this;
    If we have too few jobs in our economy for full employment and companies keep wages low, because so many people are chasing so few jobs and different people will effectively undercut each other, are we, in effect, by making up people’s wages to a living wage through the benefit system, subsidising private companies?

    In your opinion John, has the national minimum wage been a good thing or a bad thing for those doing lower paid work? Is the advantage/disadvantage of the NMW a regional thing too in so far as it may be advantagous to one area of the country, but put those in a different area at a disadvantage?

    Is Mr Cameron’s notion of making some things regional, playing into the EUSSR’s agenda of balkanizing the UK?

  22. APL
    June 29, 2012

    JR: “The EU does not poll as a top concern.”

    And all three heads of the party intend to keep it that way!

    It would be nice to have a prominent EUrosceptical person, point out the pervasive nature of the EU at every opportunity, but it looks like such people just want to toe the party line.

  23. Graham
    June 29, 2012

    Asking a question about the ‘EU’ is a naive and abstract concept and will give you the answer you have and which would be forcefully pushed by all politicians in any referendum.

    The question ought to be ‘do you realise the impact of the EU on’

    (you can then list the topics to your hearts content)

    climate costs – fuel/landfill tax/passenger tax
    health & safety & regulation
    welfare benefits
    Human Rights and terrorists

    I suspect the answers might be different if people could relate directly to the source of much of their misery.

  24. Lindsay McDougall
    June 29, 2012

    “It not clear, however, that there is a majority for simple withdrawal. Many want a common market type relationship, falling short of complete exit.”

    Quite. So it is silly for Eurosceptics to put all of their trust in a simple IN OUT referendum. If we lose it, it’s curtains. On the other hand, a common market type relationship can be won if the Conservative Party puts forward the correct policy in its 2015 manifesto (it would be a good idea to do a trial run in the 2014 European elections). It will, however, be necessary to purge Europhile candidates from the Conservative list. I want blood.

    1. Bob
      June 30, 2012

      There will be no purge of EUphiles from the Tory Party and there will be no renegotiation of our terms of membership with the EU while we remain a member.

      We need to withdraw from the EU and renegotiate a free market arrangement with it, and the way to achieve this is to throw our support behind UKIP.

      1. Lindsay McDougall
        July 1, 2012

        Do you seriously suppose that the entire 31% of the electorate that currently support the Conservative Party will ALL transfer their allegiance to UKIP at the next General Election? It would be far simpler for the Conservative Party to adopt a Eurosceptic policy and attract most of the 9% that currently vote for UKIP, not to mention the patriotic vote that is sleeping within the Labour Party.

  25. sm
    June 29, 2012

    What the people think?

    Unfortunately most people are switching off from politics. Why is that? If the EU and ‘our’ parliament party systems have contempt for democracy why should we pretend it is nothing more than a gerrymanded dictatorship.

    There is no way to effect this other than voting for a non mainstream party.Inertia and FPTP is a barrier, waiting to be breached.

    Well we could just issue legally binding manifesto’s and find out? We could try representative democracy v what seems a majority of whipped placemen as MP’s.

    We could have the right of recall to remove MP’s which vote against the wishes of their local electorates throughout a period of government. This does not require a general election unless a working majority is lost.

    No mention of Human rights? National security.Foreign wars. Anti- English legislation from a UK parliament. Outsourcing and mass immigration of Labour to enable competition but manipulation to keep essential living costs up.

    Aggressive tax avoidance apparently unintentionally allowed by parliament. (Yeah right).

    We have capitalism and taxes for the little people/low paye earners who have little control of their contracts. Then we have the rich who can control the legal form of their contracts. They can use offshore secrecy,trusts,discriminatory domicile laws, poorly drafted legislation which ALWAYS seems to leave room unintentionally of-course for some to pay taxes of sometimes less than 1%.

    I am also surprised you haven’t heard a few murmurs of discontent about our bankster class. Our senior public sector super entitled class with unrealistic defined benefits, inflation no problem we are all indexed linked.

    Collapse is inevitable , unless you introduce sunlight, transparency, competition and a level playing field at the top throughout. No more bailouts for the master of the universe – losers.

    I dream on.

  26. Max Dunbar
    June 29, 2012

    Not surprising results as everyone is affected by the economy and cost of living no matter where they live in the UK.
    Immigration comes next but only a proportion of the population are directly affected by this at present although we are all subjected to multi-culture propaganda and coercion on a daily basis wherever we live and work.
    The EU is a subject that really only excites the politically aware who write on this diary for example. Most regard the EU with a mixture of indifference and incomprehension. Its something that happens in Europe across the Channel which is also somewhat removed from daily life here.

    Of the above three subjects, immigration is the only one which would appear to be intractable and impossible to reverse. We are still being flooded with hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year and to blame the European Union is to use a scapegoat. Other European countries, particularly in the east, seem to be quite capable of preventing their countries from being overrun. Mass immigration to Britain goes back well beyond EU membership. The current government is not prepared to do what is needed to stop the flow and, in fact, reverse it.
    If Scotland gains “independence” and goes off the rails then you can expect to have more immigration, as an “open doors” policy will be encouraged here by the far-left administration. However, few economic migrants will wish to stay in Scotland. That means that you could end up with a rogue state or worse on the English doorstep.

  27. Chris
    June 29, 2012

    In practice there is no way that a looser trade arrangement can be negotiated without withdrawing from the EU first and then drawing up a fresh agreement. Simple renegotiation would never be approved by the other member states, owing to the way in which decision making is now being crafted, and the negotiations would end up being protracted/kicked into the long grass. The only way to approach the EU question is from a position of power, nd the only thing that affords us that is the “weapon” of actually saying that we are going to leave the EU (something that the eurocracy does not want).
    Also from a practical point of view, one of the main reasons to free the UK from the bureaucracy of the EU, much of which is stifling to any growth or plain nonsensical

  28. Chris
    June 29, 2012

    Continuation of above comment:
    Also from a practical point of view, one of the main reasons to withdraw first and then negotiate a new trading agreement would be to free the UK from the bureaucracy of the EU, much of which is stifling to any growth or plain nonsensical.

  29. Gewyne
    June 29, 2012

    I think it may have been John who linked the book the EU in a Nutshell the other day (http://tinyurl.com/bvk46pt)

    I ordered it, but just reading some of the authors pre-amble makes you wonder & understand why simple things are so damned hard for Governments to do.

    “”There are 70 words in the Lord’s Prayer. 271 in the Gettysburg Address. 313 in the Ten Commandments. And 2,509 words from the European Commission ((EC) No 1284/2002), on the marketing size for hazelnuts (in shell)”

    “The Government has announced it intends to revisit the format of the British driving licence, so that as well as the EU flag a UK symbol goes prominently on it as well.

    The minister responsible is the excellent Mike Penning. But it might fascinate readers to learn that Mr Penning and I were responsible for flagging up the issue to an outraged national media when it first emerged, when both of us were working in Parliament for backbenchers.

    That was in 1996. It has taken sixteen years for a flag to get on a piece of plastic. And that’s in an area that’s basically under domestic control.

    No wonder the going rate for changing the size of a piece of mesh under the Common Fisheries Policy is ten years, and that it’s taken decades to even get the Commission to acknowledge that throwing dead fish back rather than landing them is a moral outrage. It will still take aeons and kalpa for anyone to do anything serious about it.”

  30. Neil Craig
    June 29, 2012

    If we had uncensored media, particularly TV, where most people get most of their news, we would see considerable movement in opinion away from the positions the BBC/C4 state broadcasters hold.

    This obviously applies to the EU where the case for withdrawl is overwhelming in economic terms and almost wholly censored by the BBC.

    On immigration the unmentioned fact is that we do not have the power to stop immigration from within the EU. While it is now widely known, except by those who get all their news from the state broadcasters that Labour deliberately promoted mass immigration the fact that Cameron’s promise to cut it back to “thousands” was wholly dishonest as long as we remain in the EU is not so widely appreciated.

    That throughout the “world recession” world growth has been 5% & that we could get out of recession in days if the political class were not deliberately keeping us in it is never mentioned by the lamestream media and therefore not widely known.

  31. Mike Stallard
    June 29, 2012

    My wife is a really good example of a perfectly normal English person.
    She would heartily concur with your analysis and so would her friends too, I suspect. Economy and immigration together at the top and then a sort of tolerant malaise over the rest. She is completely blind to the EU.
    I bet if you asked a lot of the other commentators they would have to admit the same.

    1. wab
      June 29, 2012

      The economy is easily the most important issue. The current government unfortunately seems to be even more incapable than the last one on the economy, which is no mean feat.

      Where I live a large fraction of people are immigrants (especially if you are willing to extend the definition to anyone who was not born in the local area). Britain would become an international backwater if the Little Englanders managed to keep most immigrants out.

      On the EU, it is obvious that most of the people who comment on this blog think that the UK would be an economic powerhouse if only the EU shackles could be removed. But the UK has been on a generally one-way trip downhill on the economic front, compared with the rest of the world, since the Great War, so long before the EU even existed. Germany seems to do perfectly well inside the EU shackles, which would tend to indicate it is not the EU that is causing the problem but the people of the UK themselves, especially the (generally useless) ruling elite. Of course it’s always easy to blame foreigners (immigrants and eurocrats) for all the ills of the country.

  32. AJAX
    June 29, 2012

    Admirably candid insight into the professional political mind

    I was talking about this v. issue last night with some1, i.e. to be a successful in politics, do you lead the public mood so as to make a difference, or merely follow it parasitically in order to survive in office, & regard that as success in itself?

    Pop quiz: It’s 1939, Adolf Hitler has just taken France & Europe’s West is now his, having sent an English Army Group packing in rout back across the Channel with minimal casualties.

    He – as he did – stops his forces & sends a continual stream of messages via the international media to England & thru diplomatic channels announcing:

    ‘I don’t want war with England – I will do almost anything to avoid it – this was purely a matter between Germany & France which is now at a mercifully swift end – once a peace has been established between us & the French government I intend to withdraw my forces from France, Holland & Belgium – all this was about was protecting Germany from French aggression – this matter is now concluded – as a fellow Aryan nation I will not prosecute any war with England as long as I am German Fuhrer – I remember the dreadful destruction (much of which I personally witnessed) of the Ypres salient, the Somme, Arras, when English & German youth were compelled to destory 1 another, this must not happen again! – if I can secure a peace treaty which guarantees England & German security I will withdraw my forces from the West now that the threat that lay there to my nation has been removed – please do not let the war-mongering element in Westminster plunge both our kindred peoples once more into a disastrous conflict that can only lead to the destruction of 1 by the other when there is no need for it.’

    Viscount Halifax makes a move on Churchill in Westminster & gets the war party into a corner, he puts arguments forward that don’t quite carry the day, but the war party doesn’t carry it either & there is division & unrest there & no clear upper hand for either side.

    Halifax comes up with a compromise position: “Let’s put the issue to the people in a referendum, do we declare war on Germany or not” …

    What do you think the result of that vote would be?

    My guess as to the outcome would have been: Peace in our time gets a majority vote, the Nazis withdraw from Europe’s West having wrecked its capacity of military threat to their rear, they then go full on into Russia – having staged an event for justification if necessary – unrestrained by overstretch (would the English vox pop then support going to war of that scale to help the Monster of Moscow?) with the extra weight now free in the attack they over-run Russia before they can organise their mass, they spend 20 years (maybe less) ingesting its strength into their military-industrial complex, then, with Germany many times more powerful than she had been in 1939, & with no serious opposition left in the continent, maps are on tables in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, late in the night showing the British Empire around the world & what’s on offer at the mere changing of an Imperial guard, & beyond it – other than the USA, locked away in isolation behind the 2 shining seas -a defenceless world …. & to obtain it requires a short hop across 22 miles of water a few days’ march away.

    The moral of this (somewhat dramatic) hypothesis?

    Politicians need to provide leadership to the public as well as following it, at that point they cease to be politicians & become statesmen.

    There’s another debate to be had beyond this about political tactics of how to get into office in less dramatic times, where it might make sense to hide 1’s light under a bushel to “get in”, Margaret Thatcher’s original passage to Downing Street & Gordon Brown (as the New Labour power behind the throne concealing itself behind the Blair & Mandelson sales team) are exemplars of this in recent electoral history, but one needs to be careful here that in pursuing this course (which seems to work electorally despite its disagreeable cynicism) that the light itself isn’t doused in the process, lest you end up “In office but not in power”, as a Scotsman once said.

  33. Jon Burgess
    June 29, 2012

    Anyone with an ounce of sense understands that the economy, immigration and the deficit, and the Governments ability to do anything about any of these issues, is inextricably linked to the EU.

    Stay in the EU and Brussels will continue to make the rules in the interest of the EU and we are powerless to get rid of them regardless of the mess they get us into.

    Leave the EU and our sovereign parliament would make the rules in the interests of the British electorate and those elected face the sack if they make a mess of things.

    I know which of these two options I prefer.

    Please stop pussy footing around on this Mr Redwood; there is only one option that gives us what we want – Leave the EU!

  34. REPay
    June 29, 2012

    Polls do matter. However, peoples’ opinions are a poor guide to what we should do to extricate ourselves from the current crisis. Most people want things how they were, for governments to spend, (future generations) and for everything to be alright. When our politicians speak truth to fantasy and the debate is more real peoples’ opinions will matter more!

  35. Sue
    June 29, 2012

    Easy just ignore the simple fact that we’ve been inundated with immigrants to the point of embarrassment isn’t it Mr Redwood? Easier to pretend everything is hunky dory when you live in a grassy avenue in suburbia where you don’t have to witness quite how many foreigners there are here. Even easier to pretend you’re one of the righteous and not step out of line just in case you get accused of being a racist.

    Not so easy to live with though, I can attest to that. No wonder Nationalism is on the rise. Britons will use any excuse to wear or display the Union Jack. They’re all around here because of the Jubilee… they will stay up though, because we feel like we are (in a country with-ed)foreigners and we feel the need to stake our claim to our own country!

    Fact is, we have been overrun and YOU CONSERVATIVES ARE STILL NOT DOING ANYTHING!

    “Number of immigrants in some UK ‘hot spots’ has doubled, according to revised figures. London’s immigrant community is 16 per cent higher than thought – at almost one million”…
    Etc etc

    1. Bazman
      June 30, 2012

      Interesting that you do not mention what your particular gripe with foreigners is? They take jobs? Eat funny food? Speak funny languages? Have strange wives/husbands? The rights of every Englishman to do all these things So what is it Sue? Do crawl out from under your stone and explain WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE CONSERVATIVES TO DO! Or any other political party.

  36. Sue
    June 29, 2012

    PS Read the comments on the Daily Mail piece and you will get the idea.

    1. Bazman
      June 30, 2012

      That unbiased source of information on Nazi gold and UFO’s.

  37. zorro
    June 29, 2012

    The EU is an umbrella issuer….it covers all/accentuates the other problems which concern voters – Economy/unemployment, immigration, overbearing, anti-competitive regulation, somthing for nothing culture, excessive ‘human rights’ considerations….

    What politicians need to do is show these clear links and show the public that none of these issues will be anywhere near solved until we have a different relationship with the EU and wider exposure to growing world markets/economies.


  38. lojolondon
    June 29, 2012

    John, I hear you and understand what you say, but I cannot understand the figures.

    Everyone is concerned about the economy.
    Everyone knows that the EU sucks £15Billion a year out of our finances and hamstrings our businesses with restrictive laws and regulations.
    We have seen previous polls showing 80% of Britions want to leave the EU.

    So why are the figures so low now, and why would people who are concerned about the economy not want to prioritise leaving the EU??

    Something very strange there, perhaps the opinion poll was ‘managed’ to give the figures that were desired?

    Along the same lines I have been reading how the Tories are u-turning because they are driven by opinion polls. But if that was the case, then Cameron would give us a referendum tomorrow, as he knows that would be a massive vote-catcher. So what are we missing?

    1. Bazman
      June 30, 2012

      Now the EU as an idea is not one I would be a great supporter of, but 80% of people in my made up survey do not want little Englanders and daily mail readers running the country either.
      15 billion is less than what is taken in cigarette revenue, so don’t use that red herring.
      Restrictive laws and regulations? Specifically which laws? I suspect anything that improves workers right and pay being the main one. The removing of these rights having little effect on you and your middle class lifestyle. Ram it.

  39. zorro
    June 29, 2012

    Interesting article by Fraser Nelson which outlines Cameron’s lack of direction (compass), and relaiance on PR polling for strategic direction…..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9362656/U-turns-make-even-David-Cameron-wonder-what-this-Government-is-for.html

    ‘Each U-turn may be trivial in itself, but there is a cumulative effect. They serve to devalue the word of the Prime Minister and, worse, the credibility of the Chancellor.’…..I seem to remember that you intimated as much in this blog some time ago….well they are up to 30 odd u-turns now so they have travelled a long way down that road….I guess that it’s probably terminal.


  40. John Orchard
    June 30, 2012

    As a pensioner I’ll tell you what I think. Having worked from the age of fifteen and retiring two years ago at sixty five why like millions of other pensioners who have paid our dues why do we having paid into the pot via tax and national insurance get a derisory pension of £6240 a year while lazy cretins who have never contributed to anything get £25000 ( worth £36000 allowing for tax and N/I ). Also why does Cameron and that other waste of space Mitchell feel that we have to give away billions every year to the likes of Pakistan who have proven to support the Taliban and kept secret Osama Bin Ladin’s house just up the road from a Military Barracks.
    We need people like you John and Bill Cash even Priti Patel from the latest entry MP’s in Government not these useless ex Public School Boys who have never done a decent days work in their lives.Good at promises useless at providing.

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