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The polls Don’t Know, but here’s an insight into why Farage will blow the opportunity. (And a brief tribute to Gay Byrne)

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There are times when I wonder if even my former colleagues in the market research trade have mislaid their marbles to a degree similar to that apparent among Fluffies, Peeceebies, and Momentumites.

A poll conducted by Britain Elects during the three days from October 30 up to November 1 showed the Conservatives on 39%, followed by Labour on 27% and the Liberal Democrats on 16%. The Brexit Party was stuck in single figures at 7%. As I suggested last week, Labour’s support is solid…those who were defecting in one direction to All Out Remain aka the Liberal Democrats aka the Illiberal Demagogues – or The Brexit Party in the other have already left the theatre.

Hot on its heels came Deltapoll – conducted for the Mail on Sunday between October 31 and November 2 – which suggested that 40% would vote Conservative, 28% Labour and 14% Liberal Democrat. TBP were on 11%.

A new poll that took over where BE left off – by ICM between 1st November and yesterday – shows the Tories on 38% (given margins of error, the same as BE’s estimate), Labour up by 4%, LibDems down but solid on 15%….and TBP still in single figures at 9%.

But ICM offered this analysis:

 ‘….11 per cent of those voting Conservative at the last election in 2017 are now planning to vote for the Brexit Party, while 12 per cent of those who backed Labour in 2017 intend to vote for the Liberal Democrats….’

Um, computer sez noooo. None of these gains and losses are reflected in the numbers. If 12% have left for the LibDems, why is their projected vote slightly down?

Similarly, if 1 in 9 Tory voters – 4% of the population – have defected to TBP….and TBP have effectively wiped out UKIP (which when it last campaigned hard in a national election got 14% of the votes cast) why is the Faragista movement still in single figures?

And what of the Northern English defections from Labour to The Brexit Party? In the 2017 general election, Labour got 42% of the vote. As of yesterday, it is on 31%. If even half of all that defection had gone to TBP, it would now (all up) be polling 14%.

But it’s nowhere near that.

As we psephologists are wont to ask after a few pints of Oak-Aged Hopalongacamra, “WhatTF is going on here?”

***

I have given this a lot of thought since last Sunday’s poll, and drilled into the data tabs available. The answers, I suspect, are remarkably simple…..but you won’t see them discussed in the MSM “reports” of poll results:

  • 17% of the electorate haven’t made their minds up yet
  • Around 3% refuse to answer the voting intention question
  • Only 8-10% say they won’t vote.

These really boil down into two numbers, and one problem. The problem is that some people lie.

The highest turnout for any election we’ve seen in recent years was the 72.2% recorded for the referendum in 2016. In short, if 10% say they won’t vote, it’s out by a factor of 3. At the very least, 15% of those giving answers in poll surveys have a voting intention they are not going to keep. That’s around 1 in 7.

3% giving no answer can mean all kinds of things, but again it’s 3% we can’t rely upon. And 17% still deciding means the same thing. Together, that’s 1 in 5 people.

In short, 35% of respondents are either uttering a falsehood, or offering no guidance, to poll researchers.

In 2016, the UK Establishment didn’t get the mood of The People wrong, they grossly underestimated the strength of feeling. One of the key Remain strategists was our old friend Oliver Letwin, and he was a decisive influence on the élite assumption that turnout would be low: as he told me in 2008, “Nobody in Britain really cares that much about EU membership either way”.

Yoof, on the other hand, arrogantly assumed that Leavers largely consisted of dying racists in Littlehampton, because the Libleft media they read or watch told them so…and thus didn’t bother to turn up.

To repeat myself, most Labour deserters have already gone either LibDem or Brexit Party.

Were I a betting man, I’d say that Don’t Knows are wavering between Boris and Farage. Hence the lack of movement in the TBP score. Labour’s vote is pretty solid – and being joined by desperates at the bottom of the food chain – but as always, weather will determine whether their supporters turn up.

A clear and persistent focus (on the apron strings and elephant traps in BoJo’s WA2) by Nigel Farage could change everything. I don’t think it will. First, the MSM won’t print or broadcast it. Second, the Party lacks advertising funds to ram home the message. I think Brexbox (its online channel and presenter) is not half bad, but apart from Programme 11 there has been little substantive easy-to-follow nailing of WA2 to the Cross.

Third, the Lad Hisself lacks the attention span (or figures equal to his stature) to do it. And finally, he isn’t going to stand for Parliament in the Election.

This last was a puzzling decision rather than a surprising one. I have reached the point with Nige where I fully expect him to take the wrong turn at every junction: misreading the Bercow by election campaign, standing aside for May in 2017, swanning off to the Antipodes afterwards, alienating allies on his return, choosing candidates on the basis of fame rather than political skills, and then staying in his lead-lined bunker while the troops fire arrows at the falling H-bombs.

Mr Farage, I’m afraid, thinks consensus is something you have to clearly establish before having a shag.

Harsh? Not really: if he isn’t going to stand – but TBP gets 30 seats at Westminster – who will the leader be? Will somebody tell us before the big day?

I’m sorry, but this is amateur night down the Camel & Listerine. 

Look, I won’t turn The Slog into a propaganda sheet: IABATO is IABATO* whatever its colour. Yes, I believe Britain would be better off independent of US and EU neocon foreign policy. No, I won’t pretend that a clown is a neuroscientist in order to achieve that result: no “cause” is “good” enough to go on the Game for.

I know I will get stick from the Farage Water-Walkers for this. Stick is not something unfamiliar to me: it goes with the territory.

***

I can’t let this day end without recording the death of Gay Byrne. As a lad from t’North, I treasure the moments Gay gave all of us in the Granada TV region on shows like Scene at 6.30 on early-evening television in the gentler age that was, for all its brash bollocks, the 1960s.

Byrne never played the role of the professional Irishman; the lilt was there, but it was only ever used to give talented musicians, comics or actors the elegant straight-man intro they required to entertain.

One example from 1963 will suffice: he had both Ken Dodd and the Beatles on the show one Friday night. The following exchange took place:

Gay: So Ken, do you find that audiences vary in their reactions to your material by region?

Ken: Oh yes of course….I mean, you tell a joke and get big laugh in Liverpool, but they don’t get it in London.

Gay: And why is that do you think?

Ken: Well, they can’t hear it yer see.

Gay Byrne was a traditionalist who made you feel that there was a God in Heaven….but if there wasn’t, he’d get an interview with someone who could explain why, and make it funny.

He was a lovely man.

*IABATO – It’s all bollocks and that’s official.