Cameron’s possibly winning position
Since May 2010, when the general election coincided with the start of the euro crisis, most opinion polls, including our ComRes today, have suggested that the British people would vote to leave the European Union in a referendum.
Although it is notable that YouGov for The Sunday Times have asked the question drafted by the Conservative Party for what is now James Wharton’s Private Member’s Bill. This found just a nine-point lead for exiting:
“Do you think that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the European Union?” Yes: 36% No: 45%
And our ComRes survey also put this statement to people:
“If some EU powers are restored to the UK then I would vote in a referendum to stay in the EU.” Agree: 43% Disagree: 24%
The wording is pretty unspecific, but that is the point. It doesn’t take much to persuade people to agree to the opposite of what they otherwise say on one of the most important national questions. And the “don’t knows” are high, too: 34%.
The Eurosceptic turn in public opinion over the past three years might not be quite what it seems. Much of it, as Tom Doran says, “comes down to a vague feeling of discontent in need of a scapegoat”.
Public opinion is fickle and inconsistent – I mentioned in my article the 6 per cent who didn’t know if they had seen pictures of the Duchess of Cambridge topless. But Cameron’s position – renegotiate and stay in – is right in the middle of public opinion, the third way between the MSELs* who want to get out regardless and the Labour position of stay in regardless and ask for reform nicely.
The only question is whether the MSELs will let Ed Miliband in.
* Mad, swivel-eyed loons, whoever said it, and they were broadly right. (Well, they were broadly right in their analysis at the time, which was that it didn’t matter that Tory associations had gone Awol over gay marriage and frothy about getting out of the EU, because Cameron was in the centre of public opinion; but now that the phrase has gone viral, the analysis is now wrong, in that it matters very much what Tory associations think.)Tagged in: eu euroscepticism, opinion polls
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