July 11, 2016
Bobby Duffy of the polling organisation IPSOS-MORI; Suella Fernandes MP for Fareham one of the rising stars of the 2015 Tory intake; Professor Matthew Goodwin co-author of Revolt on the Right (the widely acclaimed book on UKIP) and Professor Eric Kaufmann an expert on ethnicity and national identity, discuss what the Brexit referendum tells us about the fault lines in modern Britain and what politics can do to mend them.
David Goodhart, Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit chairs the discussion.
Introduction: David Goodhart (Head of Policy Exchange’s Demography, Immigration and Integration Unit)
Thank you everybody for coming at relatively short notice. We wanted to do a public event on the momentous referendum result of how long ago was it? A week? We summoned a short notice a good bunch of people to talk for six or seven minutes each about what’s happened. We want to look back and see what the referendum result reveals to us about our country, the regional and class value divides that have been exposed and we want to think about that. We also want to think about the future: how these two political tribes can be reunited in some form, whether we already have the basis for new political parties indeed amongst the remainers and leavers. Anyway we’ll get going. I won’t give long introductions but very briefly on my far left is Bobby Duffy who is going to start off. He’s one of the brainy analytical pollsters. He’s at IPSOS-MORI. To my left is Eric Kaufmann, Professor Kaufmann, who is a political scientist who studies ethnicity and national identity. He’s written very interestingly on white flight amongst other things. To my immediate right is Professor Matthew Goodwin of Kent University, who is the co-author of the book about UKIP. I don’t think you can really claim to have invented the phrase ‘left behinders’, it’s slightly too generic. Nonetheless I think you have sort of claimed it as your own over the last few years. On my far right is Suella Fernandes who is the Conservative MP for Fareham near Portsmouth and is a Brexiter herself, as was Fareham by 55 to 45 per cent. Everybody will speak for a few minutes and then speak amongst themselves for a few minutes and then we will have a public discussion. Bobby first please.
Bobby Duffy (IPSOS-MORI)
Thanks very much David. I’m not going to talk too much about the polls. We can get to that in the discussion. We’ll gloss over that for now. What I’m going to talk about instead is a little bit about the narrative about why we saw Remain lose. It’s as much as anything about the expectation that economic concerns would trump immigration and sovereignty. That’s mainly the reason behind the surprise at least. It’s not a main reason why we had the outcome we had but the argument about long term [3:05] was far from won by Remain. That’s one of the key things that the polling shows throughout: that that wasn’t the pattern we saw. For instance the economy over the next five years, if you ask people about that it’s true that half of people thought it would be worse over the next five years if Britain were to leave but 26 per cent thought it would be better, which is by no means a clear cut view that the economy would actually get worse with exit. Over the next 10-20 years, perhaps a slightly longer-term view potentially more people say that the economy would get better rather than worse, then the crucial one at the bottom: your own standard of living. True again that three in 10 people thought that their own standard of living would get worse but two in 10 thought it would get better so there was no clear cut sense in which that economic message landed among voters. More generally the Leave campaign messages were just more believed. That sense of risks in the status quo being as high as the risks in leaving was strong among people so people were much more likely to believe that we would end up paying billions of pounds to bailouts to banks if we stayed in the EU. Half of people believed that, [4:14] per cent didn’t believe it. The 350 million message was quite incredible, having incredible campaign reach. Eight in 10 people had seen that as a message at some point during the campaign and 47 per cent of people believed it, 38 per cent of people didn’t. 45 per cent of people thought that Turkey would be fast-tracked into the EU. It completely split the population. Then again at the bottom there if the vote was for Leave that we would lose £4,300 per year as individual households only 17 per cent of people believed that. 75 per cent of people thought that wasn’t true. No sense in which those types of messages that landed with people [4:54 IA]. That’s obviously what people are saying. People can post-rationalise what they say. We try to use different techniques to get at what underlying attitudes were and this is something called implicit reaction times where it doesn’t just ask people what they think, it measures how long they take to respond. This has been validated as a method in lots of different situations where your speed of response is a much better indication of how strongly you believe something. This puts something underneath the data that we had seen at the time. The key one with that was of course Remain voters believed or said that staying in was better for the economy and they also really believed it, they kind of owned that, but Leave voters were exactly the same. They owned it too so this wasn’t rationalising, it was a true belief, saying that leaving is just as good for the economy as staying in would be. It was more emotion than we thought maybe. Hugo Young wrote in This Blessed Plot in 1998 that our attitudes to Europe were – what was it? – ‘ignorant, half-hearted and changeable.’ Not true. I think it probably was true I guess. He wrote that in 1998 and since then our attitudes to Europe have been tied up with so many other things about being left behind, which Matthew will talk about, but also immigration in particular. It’s not half-hearted. Daniel Kahneman, the godfather of behavioural science, commented… Lots of people commented on the EU referendum, people came in with all kinds of views but Daniel Kahneman we should listen to. He was talking about this being about irritation and anger, that that may lead to Brexit where the emotional reaction in this is much more important. The major impression he got observing the debate was that the reasons for exit are clearly emotional. That sense of emotional but not necessarily irrational response I think very, very important. It’s part of two main deeper underlying trends that we’ve seen, which I’m sure other people will pick up on, and then repeating, my personal take is we shouldn’t expect buyer’s regret from this. These are deep held feelings among different sections of the population and we shouldn’t expect buyer’s regret. I think that was the initial reaction: people, once they realise what they’ve done with the exit vote are going to regret it. It’s very easy to find people travelling away on their holidays at airports to say they misunderstood, but that was not the underlying trend. We did this poll for Newsnight released on Friday where the population is still split on whether it was the right decision or the wrong decision. 44 per cent say it was the wrong decision, 43 per cent say it was the right decision. That was entirely split by how people had voted in the referendum: leave voters 9 out of 10 said it was the right decision, remain voters 9 out of 10 said it was the wrong decision. That says you’re not seeing this quick turnaround in buyer’s regret from this decision and that’s because it’s part of these broader trends, deep-seated broader trends. This is Pippa Norris talking about the situation in Western democracies generally, that authoritarian populism is rising across the West. All sorts of reasons for it. The economy and inequality is certainly part of that view but she’s saying that much more important than that is a backlash against too fast cultural change, that this is partly about that inequality, being left behind; there’s also that sense of cultural changes happening too quickly for people to be comfortable with, for a large proportion of the population to be comfortable with. In certain countries like the US and the UK that has a strong focus on immigration as the cause of that. Immigration is tied up with that sense of cultural change being too quick. You can see that from our analysis that we did. Our US colleagues did some analysis on what was driving Trump’s popularity in the primaries and they put it into all sorts of different models: standard regression models, these are Bayesian network models, and put all the different factors that you can think of that may be driving that economy, whether it’s the sense of the American dream, whether it’s you’re going to be worse off than your parents, the system is broken, [9:19 IA], lots of different types of issues but by far the biggest driver in all the different models that they’ve developed was a sense of nativism, a growing sense of nativism and anti-immigration within the US. That pre-dated, was bigger than any other of these drivers of support for Trump. A key aspect of the reaction to that as David said in his Times article does point to a very simple fact: that you need to deal with immigration in some sense, [9:51 IA] who want to deal with this as an issue. Control is important and David’s suggestion around a department that deals with this exclusively and greater resources for our border control even in the time between now and [10:04 IA]. Then crucially money for local impact. We did a massive review of attitudes to immigration a couple of years ago and what that showed was people were perfectly rational in their assessment of the economic impact of immigration because they may well accept that the net macroeconomic benefit of immigration was a net positive for the country as a whole but they don’t see that. People don’t see that. All they see is the increasing pressure in local services and in local job markets. That’s what they see, that’s what they experience. They don’t see the macro benefit. We’ve been very remiss at putting money to control the local impact. Then finally we’ve got this counter-trend among young people in particular. This is a generation analysis that we’ve done, a big generational theme that we’ve got running across lots of different issues. There is big differences between the generations on lots of different aspects. This is trust in the European Union. The line in red is generation Y, the current youngest generation, and it goes down generation after generation to the pre-war generation and the baby boomers in yellow and grey at the bottom. This is a pattern we see time and again: twice the level of trust in generation Y in the European than you see in baby boomers and the pre-war generation. They’re also twice as likely to have voted to remain as leave. They’ve half the level of concern about immigration. The key thing about looking about this generationally rather than by age is this is tracking them over time. This is a cohort moving through time and they’re steadily more open towards Europe over time. They’re quite old now, some of these gen Y, 35-year-olds at the end of this run here, but they’re keeping those attitudes with them. It’s not something that’s shifting as they age.
They’re responding to events as well aren’t they? They’re responding to the financial crisis.
Absolutely, but the gap between gen Y and gen X has stayed the same. Everyone changes. You’ve got period, cohort and life cycle effects that are going on here so everyone is changing. There’s a period effect around the crisis but then trust comes back but the gap, this is the thing you need to look at. They’re staying more trusting in the European Union so they’re going to keep that with them and that is a real issue for this ’cause this generation in red is growing 1.5 per cent of the population each year, they’re making up 1.5 per cent more of the population each year; those on the bottom are making up 1.5 per cent less of the population each year as they die out so we are having a shift, an inexorable shift towards this more open view. It’s going to be slow but it’s almost inevitable. The 48 per cent will slowly but inevitably grow. It feels very dangerous and uncomfortable right now but it’s going to get worse in some sense ’cause these are going to be bigger, things are going to change to compensate for the people who feel left behind but these people, this will be the population that we’re going to have to watch for the future. Thank you.
Professor Eric Kaufmann
The theme of this talk is Brexit is not the economy, stupid. Bobby did such a nuanced job that this is probably speaking to the narrative that’s emerged in the media. It’s focusing on haves versus have-nots, London versus provincial England as being the real divide. I want to suggest that those things are almost meaningless. Not totally meaningless but relatively meaningless when it comes to explaining the Brexit vote. Now you aren’t going to have to put up with any more census slides. I ask you to bear with me. Now these two are going to speak off the cuff but in any case I want to look at a lot of the data that I’m going to be looking at is from the British Election Study, which is a rolling [13:54 house] survey of about 24,000 people. This is from prior to the Brexit vote but the patterns that I’m going to show you have not changed very much. In fact if you look at the Ashcroft polling and the demographics they more or less match what we’ve got here so I think I’m speaking roughly the truth. I want to particularly emphasise personality. Now what have I done here? essentially I said let’s take maybe 1,000 people and we have to predict which way those people are going to vote. We have no information on whether they voted Brexit or otherwise. We just go with a guess. We’re going to get 50 per cent of those correctly classified. Just chance alone will give us 50 per cent because there’s only two options: in or out. Now if you add economic variables and we know people’s income and we know their class position that increases our score to about 55 per cent so it does give us something. Economics gives us a little bit but it doesn’t give us very much compared to chance. Similarly with region. If we know someone’s from London or from Wales or from Scotland it gives us a little bit but it’s pretty small in terms of differentiating whether someone’s a Brexiteer or whether they are in favour of Remain. That’s partly why I’m arguing that economic factors here are not particularly important, region is not particularly important, yet that’s what we’ve been hearing in the media a lot. London versus the provinces, the have-nots versus the haves. I know Matt, when he used the term left behind, didn’t mean economic left-behinds but that’s the way the media’s really spun this. I think they’ve distorted his message actually. Age and education are more important than income and class and they’re tied more to people’s identity. It’s really about identity and not about material interest. How old you are or how educated you are is tied much more closely to your identity. There we see that if we know people’s ages and educations we get to over 60 per cent correctly classified and that means this is a more important way of thinking about the drivers of Brexit. It’s still limited. Part of what I’m arguing is that group differences between age, education, even ethnicity, only take us that far. We’ve gotta start looking within group at the psychology, the values, the almost hardwired differences between, crudely put, open and closed types of personality. That conditions people’s attitudes on a whole range of things. If you know somebody’s position on a 10-point left-right scale you can get up to about 65 per cent correctly classified. If you know that they voted Ukip or Labour or Tories or whatever party they voted for you’re over 70 per cent. Similarly if you know their position, their attitude to immigration on a 10-point scale that also gives you a 70 per cent, over 70 per cent correct classification. Finally this question: ‘Do you think European unification has gone too far or it hasn’t gone far enough?’ If you know that answer you’re at almost 80 per cent, which is more or less a very similar question to the Brexit question if you throw in a bit of risk appetite. That suggests something which I think is quite interesting. Here’s a question on support for the death penalty. Now no one’s been out there campaigning to bring back the death penalty. This isn’t an issue of major political consciousness raising and yet even as important as immigration, as important as party support in determining stance on Brexit. Now what is this telling us? If you talk to social psychologists, Bobby alluded to this term authoritarianism, which I don’t think is a very good term because it’s very loaded and very normative but it refers to people who don’t like change, who like stability and order rather than novelty, difference, change. Those kinds of people are very much more likely to have voted Brexit. To give you another example of this, this again is from the British Election Study. The probability of voting to leave the EU was asked in 2015. ‘Will you vote to leave the EU?’ Down here we have, ‘Do you think the death penalty is appropriate? 1, no, to 5, yes, I agree strongly to the death penalty being appropriate. What you see is that for those who are very against the death penalty there’s only a 20 per cent probability that they will vote to leave. Amongst those who strongly agree with the death penalty it’s about 70 per cent. That’s a huge gap. It’s an enormous gap, as big as almost anything else we can find, whereas between low and high and middle income there’s nothing. It’s essentially nothing. So this idea that it’s about the haves and have-nots: it’s not. That’s gone. Almost nothing to do with what we see in the Brexit vote. Not only that, it is true that income is partly linked to this authoritarianism thing, which has to do with views on the death penalty, sentences for law-breakers, whether children should obey and all these kinds of attitudes but it actually doesn’t explain much about authoritarianism. It’s largely a personality dimension. It’s independent of those demographics. What I’m trying to say is we partly need to get away from the physical differences between groups such as the working class and students. Yes, that matters, but more important – about three times as important – are the invisible differences within groups between individuals who might be more authoritarian minded and perhaps less authoritarian minded. If you like it’s openness versus order, order versus openness. That kind of personality dimension is paramount in determining whether you support Brexit, whether you’re opposed to immigration, a whole series including voting for populist right parties. We’ve gotta get at that authoritarianism social psychological dimension. Similarly Islington, which you might recognise, you could sit there and say, ‘Well Islington, that’s a Remain community and Boston in Lincolnshire is a Leave community.’ The kind of differences I’m talking about really cut through not only communities but also between families. These are differences within, not differences between and I think those haven’t received anywhere near as much attention as they deserve. It’s the differences that divide communities. Boston, like London, is a divided community. Almost 40 per cent of London voted to leave so this idea that London is somehow Remain is, I think, a misnomer. It’s because our minds are tuned up to think in terms of the categories – region, age, education, class – but that can be misleading. The invisible differences within are very important. Now there’s a question on the British Values Survey which asks, ‘Should sex offenders be publicly whipped or worse?’
If you ask the question, ‘The EU has a very detrimental effect on society,’ those who strongly disagree that sex offenders should be whipped in public of course. On these results, [20:55 IA] almost none of them say the EU has had a very detrimental effect. Those who say they should be, very strong effect. Keeping that in your mind I want to move to… this comes from Pat Dade’s work with the British Values Survey. This question on, ‘Should sex criminals be whipped?’ lights up on this map because it’s very highly correlated with hardcore negative opposition to EU membership. You see a whole series of different personality, value dimensions which cluster in this broad region. This third quadrant here is characterised by people who don’t like change, who prefer order, stability, clarity, certainty, and that’s very different from these people here in particular who are characterised by openness, this big five personality dimension, who are very into novelty, adventure, stimulation and so forth and these people here who are about hedonism, visible success, achievement, [standard 21:57] et cetera. There are these quite important differences which tend to cluster. You see a similar map when you go to different countries. You see a similar map when it comes to immigration. The question then becomes: these people are almost hardwired to oppose change and so they’re not going to respond to building schools in areas where immigrants are. Those kinds of policy proposals are not going to do very much. My argument very much is in order to address their worries you have to address what’s really concerning them, which I would argue is to do with them as an ethnic group, the white British as an ethnic group and their anxiety about decline. Politicians need to connect with them and start to reassure the ethnic majority that their identities will continue over time. That then gets us into a discussion about should that be about cutting immigration? It can also be about reassuring them that assimilation is taking place in such a way that their traditions and their identity is not threatened.
Thank you Professor. I have a feeling there are a few people in the audience who are Brexiters who don’t think of themselves as whippers or death penalty advocates.
But we can hear from you a bit later. Over to you Professor Goodwin.
Professor Matthew Goodwin
Thank you very much for coming along. I did have slides. I was trying to prepare slides and then Nigel Farage resigned <laughter> and they exploded in my face so I’m going to think about that. What I wanted to say were just a few words about the result, what I think it means to British politics, what it tells us about European politics more generally and where we might be going from now onwards. It’s been a somewhat bizarre 10 days or so, week in British politics. The morning after the result a journalist from the Financial Times walked up to me and said, ‘It’s been a rather strange day. The Prime Minister resigning is only our third most important story after Brexit and the markets crashing. We’re not even talking about Cameron’s legacy yet though I’m sure we will do.’ The brief version of the story I want to tell starts about two years ago when we published a book called Revolt on the Right and we essentially argued that there are large sections of the British population who were growing increasingly resentful towards the political elite and who were either abandoning mainstream politics or turning to the UK Independence Party because of a cluster of reasons. Economically they were in a marginal position but they also held a very different set of values and primarily they were anxious about cultural factors, worried about the effect of immigration, Britain’s EU membership but more I think than that also worried about a lack of responsiveness or perceived responsiveness in Westminster. If you look at a very simple question that the British Social Attitudes survey asked and has asked for many years, ‘Do you feel represented by the government? Do you feel that politics essentially is representing you?’ the percentage of working class voters who now say, ‘Actually I don’t feel represented,’ is now at a record high. It hit that high shortly… basically coincided with the rise of Nigel Farage and Ukip. Like him or loathe him, Farage realised very early on that there was a significant degree of potential among those [former 26:12] Labour heartlands and the east coast of England, outer London and in more recent years in areas of Wales where of course we saw early this year the result of that strategy. In a way after [26:28]the result of the referendum should not have been a surprise and I’m surprised by the extent to which people are surprised. I keep getting calls from journalists and I talk to friends in the City and they say, ‘Surely this is shocking. We thought Remain was going to win.’ If you’d been watching British politics closely and you’d been seeing the general erosion of public support for the main parties and the creeping resonance of those cultural appeals then the events of 23 June should not at all have been a surprise, nor should the majority vote of well over 60 per cent for Brexit across a large swathe of Labour territory running from Merthyr Tydfil right up to Gateshead and Sunderland because we’ve long known that that voter angst was there. I think more than that we’ve known across Europe that essentially the underlying foundations of politics are changing. I’m going to push the limits of [27:33] and maybe take off my formal research hat and just speculate a bit before Eric jumps on me. It’s almost a cliché to say politics isn’t left and right any more but there is now a growing amount of evidence that suggests that the old left-right, labour-capital division is increasingly making way for a new division in politics that is between liberals and authoritarians or in more general terms is a new cultural cleavage between – I’m not making any value judgements – those who support things like EU integration and immigration and so on and those who feel uncomfortable with that. That cultural cleavage is primarily behind a lot of volatility that we see across most of western Europe. It’s behind the rise of Eurosceptic parties and anti-establishment parties that almost always pick up their votes from the same demographics, the same social groups in society: people who feel that they’re not adequately represented and in many cases they’re not, people who feel profoundly unsettled by rapid social change for good reason in some cases. The implication of that research evidence is essentially that this isn’t just about the referendum and this isn’t going away. In particular I think it carries resonance for centre left parties and social democrats who’ve profoundly misjudged that current and have failed to speak convincingly to those concerns over identity and culture. They’ve tried to speak to that instead in a language – as you’d expect from a social democracy point of view – that is intrinsically economic, that is resource based, that is about jobs and zero hours contracts and wages, which has completely not connected with… has not reflected the kind of conversation that these particular groups of voters want to have. That’s why Labour is in particular problems but why [Hollande 29:53] and many other socialists in other European states are also facing big problems: because their electorates are no longer coherent. They are divided very strongly and will be divided increasingly so between essentially a more economically prosperous middle class that is fairly comfortable with some of those social and economic changes and an economically disaffected working class, lower middle class and also self-employed workers who don’t feel connected. I struggle to see how social democrats will reconcile that tension going forward and it may be that they have to embark on wholesale change if they are to put together something viable over the longer term. Where are we going now post the referendum result? I think the Conservative party has a great opportunity to recast the right if you like or Conservative politics in a way that does speak clearly and compellingly to groups who have taken this one opportunity outside of first past the post, outside of a majoritarian system to have their views expressed. I think the Conservative party is well placed to speak to those groups provided that it does so in a conversation that perhaps is more about identity and belonging and less about transactional politics. I think coming direct today from the other side of that divide, from the Eurosceptic, Ukip side of that divide, I think the Conservative party will also have greater room for manoeuvre given the growing interest on the Ukip Eurosceptic fringe in Labour areas rather than Conservative areas. The conversations today among those who look to succeed Nigel Farage were completely dominated by discussions of Labour constituencies rather than Conservative constituencies and I think among that particular group in British politics there is a genuine sense of excitement about the potential for gains in areas like Wales and the North East and North West by offering something that is fairly narrowly focused around migration and trying to hold the government to account on the negotiations with Europe. It’s going to be very difficult for the Labour party to respond to that in the short term given that Jeremy Corbyn I think it’s fair to say is showing absolutely zero interest in relating or talking to those voters largely because of his personal politics. I don’t think he can speak to those voters who have moved increasingly to Ukip. It leaves British politics in a far more volatile, unpredictable place. I want to push back a little bit against Eric by saying that obviously personality factors and attitude is very important but there is a very clear map to the referendum result, very clear [divides 33:44] in that, and I’m intrigued to see the extent to which those can account for some of the personality differences within Britain. I would struggle to see all the authoritarians for example [in the… 34:02]
We’ll talk about that a bit later.
Professor Matthew Goodwin
Again, in general it’s I think a more volatile place, a more fragmented place, but none of this was a surprise. This was quite a long time coming.
Thanks very much. So, it’s a great opportunity.
Suella Fernandes MP
Yes, I echo. I think it is a great [opportunity 34:32] for the Conservative party and indeed the country. We are at a crossroads and I think it’s nothing short of a revolution which has occurred by Britain voting to leave the European Union, defying the pollsters, defying the markets. It really revealed a disconnect between London, the South, Westminster politicians and the rest of the country. I think there are three ways of looking at what lies ahead. I think there’s a response from the European Union to this decision by the UK to leave, there’s a response by the UK at macro level and then also at micro level and what it means for political parties and individuals. First of all I think there are three ways the European Union can respond to the UK’s decision. First of all it can either opt for its familiar response to general crises in the European Union, which is more Europe, further integration, accruing of more sovereignty and closer collaboration on governments and asylum and immigration. I personally think that in order for the EU to do that and opt for that response it needs to first of all acknowledge the scale of the crisis at the heart of the EU and develop a dynamic way to fight back against that crisis. What that simply means is that it needs to provide tangible solutions to a [failing 36:16] currency, to the migration crisis and to other problems of identity and disillusionment within millions of people within the European Union. I think it needs a new tone to acknowledge that malcontent and to accept that if it’s going to proceed down the line and a route of further integration that needs to be justified and the bar to overcome is higher. The other option for the European Union is to pause and in acceptance of this huge blow to the project accept that it needs to retreat from its direction of travel, which is closer and further European integration. I can foresee perhaps a situation where the Euro out countries – Poland and Hungary – will be treated slightly differently to the other countries which are part of the currency. Britain’s membership of the European Union provided a strong voice for those countries when it came to negotiating on various ways forward and I feel like there may well be a fracturing of the different types of countries who are participating. A third option is that the European Union could reflect on its lack of popularity and see that it needs to win over hearts and minds by focusing on what it does do well and minimising its role in the lives of people who are in the European Union. By that I mean that it should aspire to be a free trade zone solely without intervening in national budgets, in asylum policy, in legal affairs and fiscal transfers. That may well be one way to ensure its survival, by paring down its activity. I believe that one thing the European Union does need to do is take account of the effect of right-wing populism, which is spreading throughout the EU. We’ve already seen calls for a referendum in France. We’ve seen the rise of far right parties in Holland and Austria. I think that that is a consequence of the failings of the European Union but they will be ignored at the peril of the European Union. I think politicians in major EU countries and leading the European Union need to face an option: whether they dance to the tune of populists, i.e. talking about immigration and identity in a more stringent way, or whether they ignore that fear, which is widespread, and continue on regardless. I think this presents an existential dilemma for the European Union. Turning to the UK I believe that this is a great opportunity for the UK. This vote was I believe not just about membership of the European Union. I think it was a call for change more fundamentally and profoundly about society and about politics and about life chances to people. If we’re looking at the breakdown of the vote, where it’s low skilled, low paid areas, people in smaller economies in part of the country where there is high levels of deprivation, there were high turnouts for voting for leaving the European Union, again challenging this left-right notion and the traditional lines of how party political lines are drawn. I think though the UK on a macro level needs to make sure that the world knows it’s still open for business, that it’s not drawing up the bridge to foreign investment or people coming into this country, that it’s still pursuing a liberal economic policy. I think that cutting corporation tax is a very [confident 40:56] sign that it will be saying to foreign businesses that you are welcome here, there is a climate and a framework in which foreign business can flourish. I think that concerns about immigration do need to be tackled head-on so control of EU migration needs to be made explicit and clear. There needs to be a full and frank debate, we’ve heard during the referendum, that people need to engage with. I think there also needs to be a points-based system, which is being promoted by many of… all of the leadership candidates now as to how they will implement that control over migration. Leaving the European Union does not mean leaving Europe and I think we can make some very important starters which show that is the case, for example ensuring that we carry on our trade with countries in the European Union, supporting a NATO base in Poland for example and also ensuring that negotiations and trading links are reinforced. Turning to the micro and the impact on us as individuals and political parties I think what was astonishing about the referendum was that for individuals calling for this change, as I said, it goes deeper than just the question of our relationship with the European Union. People want more connection to those who are making decisions and ruling us. They want more opportunity, they want to feel more empowered and they want to feel like they have a chance at owning a home, at saving some money and having stability in their life as they go through it. I feel like there’s a division between those who are reaping the benefits of globalisation and those who are left behind, and that’s been reflected by the vote. The excesses at the top of big businesses, the sense that there are a minority of privileged people who are exploiting tax systems, the sense that there is a block to breaking through into markets and diversifying, starting a business, a sense also that our public sector, bloated and inefficient as it is, stifles passion and vocation. Teachers, people who work in hospitals feel weighed down by bureaucracy as if they are treading water and as if they cannot quite achieve what they set out to do. I think all of those factors make for unease and have contributed to the vote. Policymakers within the Conservative party and the government need to respond to that creatively. Lastly I would just say that I think for the Labour party again this division of left and right has broken down. Labour now faces a schism. We’ve seen the membership vote strongly to leave the European union in contrast to its leadership and other of its parliamentary representatives. I think that that lesson is one that the Conservatives can learn. What that takes me to is that for individuals I hope that this signals a renaissance in civic participation and devolution of power and activity by individuals. It does show how important and significant membership of a political party is and I hope that by showing that people can make a difference with their vote through registering and having a say in who is leading their party that this may well renew interest in what’s hitherto been seen as quite esoteric activity, something that is irrelevant or detached or doesn’t make a difference. I hope that this sees a new generation of people who do take back control literally and say, ‘I want to have a say about who’s running the country and who’s making the decision on my behalf.’
Thank you very much.
Before we [move 45:31] off everybody, I would be quite interested to explore this conflict between the values analysis and the social class analysis. It does seem on the face of it almost two thirds of Ds, C2s voted leave and nearly 60 per cent of ABs voted to remain. There’s a huge class element to it. I can’t believe that all of those C2s and Ds are whippers and floggers. Indeed perhaps one of the elements that’s missing in this analysis is that what we’ve experienced or many people feel they’ve experienced in the last generation or so is a kind of liberal overreach that they are reacting to; that there is a legitimate one might say liberal populist reaction against the liberal overreach in European integration, in immigration, whatever, and that there is a sensible, relatively liberal centre of people who decided to vote leave because they think that the people governing us, the rules of the system, have moved too far in a liberal direction. They are not authoritarians.
My response to that is I agree but I think that it’s the rise in diversity, the rise in ethnic diversity which has brought out this division more sharply. Somebody who doesn’t like change, likes stability and order, is going to be more affected by a society that becomes more diverse. Somebody who enjoys change, wants novelty and stimulation is going to move in a different direction. If you look at the US for example you can see that as you get a larger and larger share of Hispanics in a locality the gap between Republicans and Democrats on immigration is wider and wider. Diversity’s leading to this polarisation. I’d say the stimulus is the diversity.
That may be true but that’s a different argument. You can feel a little bit uneasy about rapid ethnic change and be quite liberal. Your values argument is a different.
[Bobby Duffy 47:58]
There is an interesting question about this referendum, which is how do you basically explain the extra 25 per cent of the leave vote that wasn’t from what you might consider to be a Ukip party, Eurosceptic element. That extra 20-odd per cent could be who you’re referring to as concerned liberals, could be a more free market type critique of the EU, the Daniel Hannam type argument, but the majority of the leave vote was without any doubt coming from voters who… Just look for example of the 20 local authorities [48:44] to leave. The average income of those authorities, the median income’s about £18,000. Overall average levels of education are very low, percentage of professional workers was below average, very white, struggling.
Were they Labour as well?
No, lots of Conservative areas as well. The place where I struggled with the argument that this was about personality is surely then everybody with those personality characteristics is concentrating in the same area, which I struggle to buy.
[Mark 49:32] at the back.
As somebody who voted for Brexit and is against coercive whipping <laughter> I’d like to make two brief points. The first was about the age factor. What is interesting, if you look at other European countries that have had referenda – remember there was the massive vote against the EU very recently in Holland, also Denmark 10 years ago, France and Holland – the youngest cohorts voted overwhelmingly against the EU. It seems only in Britain that Eurosceptics have this problem. I would suggest that is partly a legacy of Farage and the way in which Ukip have waged a weird cultural war and have not built a sufficiently broad cultural coalition against the EU, which has put off I think particularly an element of young middle class people. The second point I very briefly want to make is I totally disagree with this liberal versus authoritarian dichotomy. It seems to me this is just yet another manifestation of the way in which an element of the middle classes in this country are turning on the working classes, much as occurred at the time of the Great Reform Act. The working classes are being collectively labelled as authoritarians when in fact if you look at the opinion poll data I’ve seen a very large percentage of people who voted against the EU voted against the EU because they believed in democratic values and associated the EU not with liberal values because it’s by definition not a liberal system of government, it’s not a democratic system of government. This crude dichotomy I think needs to go. There are coalitions on both sides. I’m not saying you can’t be a liberal and pro the EU but equally you can be a liberal and against the EU. I don’t think this crude dichotomy works.
So Brexit is the last great act of the English working class? From Chartism to Brexit, that’s an interesting thesis.
Very quick comment. I think the young voting in Europe against the EU is more to do with [dysfunctional labour 52:00] markets. It’s a way that lots of young people essentially are locked out of employment. When you get 34 per cent unemployment in Spain and Italy among young people and they associate the system with the EU they [52:17] protest vote.
You’ve always had high youth unemployment in Spain for as long as I can remember. It’s just part of the system in Spain. [It’s not in every 52:25] part of the European Union. The lady…
Just to explore the youth vote in the UK a little bit further, do we have any ideas or any information about why the young in this country voted overwhelmingly for remain? I’ve got one or two ideas. They’re conservative with a small C. They’ don’t like change and they’ve only ever been used to being in the EU. In other words you have to be 55 at least to actually have any grown-up knowledge of being outside the EU. I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with it or whether you’ve got any data.
The guy at the front with darkish hair.
[Tim Hockley, LSE 53:13]
I’m Tim Hockley from the LSE. Another hypothesis to put forward. Bobby didn’t present one of the correlations which fascinated me over the past few days, which was between owning a passport and intention to vote leave or remain, which then set me thinking that maybe we’re talking about static populations and mobile populations. There’s a large chunk of the country that’s very static, has very strong social identities both in rural England and in provincial towns, who don’t dream of moving. Their social identity is where they live. We haven’t in social policy really talked to those people. In particularly Conservative policy it’s all about opportunity, basically opportunity to leave your identity, to go elsewhere Dick Whittington-wise and earn your fortune, travel et cetera. If policy doesn’t speak to the static populations they feel threatened by rapid change. They don’t feel that they have control over the world that they love that’s around them, which is different to someone who’s very mobile. I wonder if there is a mobility element to explain these conundrums in what we’re seeing.
One more up the front here. […chance… 54:32].
[William Sunderland 54:34]
William Sunderland. One of the interesting things is whenever I go to political meetings of the party that I belong to it’s always been those of us that are immigrants who have been very, very conscious of the very destructive effects of the multicultural programme that has been set in place for the last 40 years. I think we’re now living with the consequences of not allowing some degree of ethnocentricity, having equalities legislation saying that all cultures are equal. My family came here and were grateful not to have been burnt in an oven and were very respectful of the fact that we’d come to this country and respected the culture that we had come to, did not expect them to become like us. We adapted to some degree and kept our own culture at the same time. I think there’s been a massive failing by the extreme liberalism that is not prepared to accept that people have to be secure in their own culture to accept incomers. I think we destroyed that by having [positions taken 55:26] – having to listen to [some of the QCs 55:29] speaking who I know and they live in a different world. They don’t live in the day to day reality of people’s everyday lives. I wonder if the panel thinks we can reverse that to give people back the security of being who they are and then being more generous.
A quick response from… [pick up and answer the question… 55:49]
[Bobby Duffy 55:50]
Sure. From a [55:53] point of view ’cause that’s probably where we spent most of our time looking at a generational analysis across Europe actually, looking at a whole range of different attitudes and values, looking at cohorts, not just younger people. The good thing is you’ve got data that goes back all the way to the 1970s from Euromonitor and other stuff so you can see what has changed and what has always been the same for young people. You’re absolutely right that Britain stands out in terms of young people’s views being different and more open than most other European countries to a greater extent and it’s not quite the case that young people are more sceptical in all the different countries. More or less it’s in line. It’s the usual pattern that we see particularly with Greece and the southern states [there’s 56:41] no generational difference. It has a lot to do with postwar experience. You can imagine the gratitude of Europe [56:49] comes in line. We do have a different view and why that is – going to your point – I’m sure it’s because it’s a value and attitude that seems to be sticking with people that points to something that was important when your cultural norms were set so your point about that’s what they’ve known, that’s what they’ve grown up with is important. Going to the open and closed dichotomy you can see it across all sorts of attitudes among that young cohort being very different in their views of immigration in Britain compared to young people in other countries within Europe, a massive difference between Britain in terms of the youngest generation versus the oldest generation being much less concerned about immigration still, even now, than the young generation in other countries. There is something distinct about Britain and this particular young cohort to do with a more open attitude. Whether that’s if you took Jeremy Cliffe’s view about Britain’s cosmopolitan future, which looks less correct now, but there are some fundamental points in there about increasing number of graduates, increasing contact between people from different cultures. All of those types of things are creating that more open sense. We do need to not lose sight of that for the future. In the next few years we’re going to see that as a really important trend.
You might not see that if they continue to turn out at much lower levels than other generations. One of the remarkable things for me looking at the petition to have a second referendum, the number of signatures was highest in areas that had the lowest turnout for the actual referendum, Camden and Hackney being two of the top five. I do look at the millennial generation, look at the BES data on turnout and they’re not engaging to anywhere near the extent that they should be.
[Bobby Duffy 58:55]
Yeah, absolutely. A massive democratic deficit. When you look at the proportion of the population 65 plus who make up 22 per cent of the population but 29 per cent of the voting public and it’s exactly the reverse for the millennial group. They make up 29 per cent of the population but 22 per cent of the voting.
There is an important point actually because just prior to the referendum we had this big debate particularly on social media on what [59:21]turnout. Would this vote at the referendum be driven by age or would it be driven by class? What’s really interesting now looking at the results is you see very high levels of turnout in some of the areas that have been the most economically disadvantaged over the years, where you’ve got really high turnout. It’s almost as if that economically disaffected group took this one chance that they had to turn out at quite high levels, well over the average.
I think to be honest that is the story of the referendum in some ways. There was an extra two point something million voters if you’re looking at that election and it is overwhelmingly from those types of groups and not from other groups.
Surely these young people are going to change their views? What that expresses is a sort of shallow liberalism of youth culture. As soon as they get jobs and settle down they will change.
[Bobby Duffy 60:19]
No, I don’t think so. In some terms absolutely yes. You have period effects where everyone changes, you have life cycle effects where people change as they age and then you do have cohort effects where people are socialised in a different way and they keep those values for longer, throughout their lives. That’s the value of looking at these things as cohorts and not age groups: you can actually track that these are different and staying different. Just to be clear it’s still only 40-odd per cent of young people who say they trust the European Union, it’s not all young people. It’s just a much higher rate than the rest of the population. I’m not saying this cohort is uniform.
[Eric Kaufmann 60:59]
I remember when the young voters were [all coming out 61:00] nationalists and that was projected to be [61:03].
[Eric Kaufmann 61:11]
I didn’t mean to by the way… I think this idea about personality and authoritarian, we still saw the most hardcore supporters of capital punishment, still 30 per cent of them were favourable to the EU so it’s not everybody. I’m not making that point but I am suggesting that amongst the factors that predict whether somebody is going to go for leave or not that is the most important one. Now in terms of the maps and class I don’t doubt that it’s got some importance but within the data for BES if you look at working class and middle class there is a 15-point gap but that still means that 40 per cent of the middle class are for leave and there is a significant chunk of the working class that is for remain. It’s just not that powerful a differentiator as values. I’m not saying it’s not important. Maps are highly misleading in my view ’cause a lot of the things that differ across districts are the demographics but if you look individual to individual within districts there is variation that is more important so I would argue… But I very much agree with your point by the way. I think the big question is not what does it mean to be British, let’s say, but what does it mean to be white British in the future as society gets more diverse? That’s really the question that has to be addressed, absolutely the question, not what does it mean to be British.
Suella, do you want to come back?
Yes. On this point about multiculturalism it does [rather question 62:37] what it is to be British and also looking at the ethnic minority breakdown as well there was a significant proportion of people…
A third, right, of people of ethnic minority or black or Asian voting to leave the European Union so I think it’s not right to say that they would necessarily be motivated by immigration although immigrant would be a factor. The majority of people voting to me would have been motivated by democracy and sovereignty as the gentleman at the back was saying. I think it was only 30 per cent of people said that immigration was the main reason. The majority of people said that democracy and sovereignty and control was actually the motivating factor. I think again an interesting [emergence 63:32] is this breakdown of the ethnic minority vote. I don’t think that was anticipated. Again, whether that’s drawn along class and income lines and whether it’s more just related to geography, that may well be the case or whether it is about something about personality and values, about someone who comes to this country from another country and sets up their life and by definition that person has a different kind of personality making them more prone to Leave and in favour of corporal punishment I don’t really know.
I think I’m right in saying that the more successful groups – British Indians, British Chinese – tended to be more Brexit and less successful groups tended to be more Remain. Shall we take a quick final round as time is moving on? Two people at the front. Make them quick.
I’m interested in personality because there’s correlation but where’s the evidence for the causation?
The search for identity and allegiance goes much wider than the socially conservative. The problem for Europe is that it structurally cannot provide this and that’s why even the most fervent Remain advocate didn’t seriously try to sell the EU as something that people would give their allegiance to. That is a problem which they cannot overcome. The huge advantage of a nation state, self-governing society, over the EU is structural and will not be cured. The other problem is that the left in this country have more or less given up on economics and therefore gave in to the politics of gender and race and sexuality, which has had no resonance amongst the socially conservative so to that extent there is a correlation but the big problem is the search for identity and I think that remains unresolved.
Just a couple more. Two [65:34]
[Eric Kaufmann 65:40]
Firstly I believe in flogging and I voted remain.
Just kidding but I’m very interested in this 1.5 of people die and the old people basically voted Brexit and the young people… If you extrapolated that how long would it take for the young people to prevail if you also factored in the fact that young people vote less? It seems to me old people are [66:14] young people. My kids all voted to remain as did I. I think that what they want is the ability to know that they can live and work freely in Europe without hassle, which is what they’ve done in study. I think they feel – and one of them’s there now – that this is going to be a constraint on them in future in terms of opportunity. I’m just speaking for my children but I’m interested in… are we talking about three years or five years?
[66:49] We’ll have visa-free travel. They may need to have a work permit.
We can quite confidently predict that.
[Eric Kaufmann 67:02]
My business is not investing in the UK. We put a moratorium on investment in the UK until we figure out what the deal is. I urge every MP that thinks about this, whatever they’re going to do, to do it quickly.
I was fascinated by the authoritarian idea not least because my perception is exactly the opposite. An interesting point on the demographics. It seems that the cohort on the red line, the young cohort, is precisely delineated by people who were born after Margaret Thatcher was elected. They’ve grown up in a non-authoritarian economic environment which has nonetheless benefited from being able to sell its goods and services into the EU. My perception is precisely the opposite to yours Professor, with the greatest possible respect.
[One point. 67:58]
I have three quick questions. First of all, to what extent do you think that there’s a difference in alienation between Westminster and the devolved assemblies in terms of the public being unhappy with them? The next one is, to what extent looking at the results of the last election could we go through places and say there’s a fair chance that there’s going to be trouble there in this upcoming referendum [68:29]suggestion that there’s going to be trouble to come? The other thing which I’m quite intrigued by is the high turnout from alienated Labour voters. I didn’t do very much canvassing in this event but I was struck by no one felt I was on the door about to get something out of it. There were no candidates who were going to win so if you’re a hacked off elector who thinks they’re all in it for the money you’re not going to hold back because no one in that sense is getting anything out of you. I wonder if that played any part in electoral turnout.
The gentleman… No, you already had a go.
Just really to support what the gentleman over there said. I do think that historical experience of Europe has been undervalued by the panel in an attempt to explain one vote which happened last week rather than a series of incidents over time which explain people’s experience of the European Union as they’ve grown and as things have happened whether it’s the referendum itself back in 75, whether it’s Nigel Farage who said it was the creation of the Single European Act [69:37] gave him a narrative, whether it’s the Maastricht vote, whether it was the Euro campaign, whether it was even the opening of world trade with China coming on rather than just traditional Western and Eastern Europe divide. All of those issues are important and you can say that immigration is the top bit but it’s certainly not the whole lot.
The lady there, just very short, then half a minute from everybody up here.
Thanks very much. I’d be interested to hear from the panel on that other aspect of the debate before the referendum that was the dismissal of expertise, a kind of setting up of common sense against what the experts say in discussion and what that meant to predict or say about the tone and level of public discourse in this country.
A very quick second go from the gentleman in the blue shirt.
Do you think the shock of losing the referendum will change young people’s engagement in politics longer term?
OK, just to give everyone a minute to reply to what you want to reply to.
[Bobby Duffy 70:55]
So young people then. The thing about the vote is it was obviously very close. The shift in population that we need in order to switch it over from a majority view from that generational replacement is not very long. We could still be negotiating our way out of this and just through nothing else changing but through demographic replacement the view if taken again in the same circumstances would be different because of that, because people are dying and being replaced by people who have got such different views. In our figures it’s 70-odd per cent for remain, twice the level of remain among 65 pluses, among that group that’s growing into voting age now. That is a significant issue for the balance of it. I think the point about Margaret Thatcher, them growing up in that circumstance, I think that possibly with the massive changes in how young people live today driven by technology and connection to the rest of the world, that is the key driving factor in openness and connection and having a different view of identity that’s broader than local area, nation state and those other types of things. Look at the big trends. The big trends are economic and technological for those groups so they’re the things that are driving that very different worldview.
Back to the authoritarianism issue, again I think that’s a very unfortunate word. I think it’s about people who prefer stability and order. I think that’s in a way a poor choice of word and we need to [detangle 72:37] it. The other thing I think, to focus on this question of authoritarianism, is if you look at the Brexit side there are really two components. There is one that is more libertarian, sovereignty oriented, political nationalist component, which I think’s represented by figures such as maybe Theresa May, maybe Boris Johnson et cetera, maybe a more elite kind of libertarian rationale, and then there is the motivations of the mass vote, which I think are more about identity, immigration, and that is more closely connected to not wanting those big changes in your life. I think the word authoritarian is a red herring. I think it’s about simply being not oriented to change, oriented to stability and continuity so that’s [73:21].
It was you that used the word.
I only used it because that’s the [academic 73:28] terminology. I don’t like the word and it’s not a value judgement. I have to live with it.
[Matthew Goodwin 73:41]
Over the weekend I was reading David Butler’s book on the 1975 referendum, which is a really brilliant book, worth re-reading. David made the point in the introduction where he was reflecting on the result and said that even though the Brits had voted by a healthy margin to stay in the European Community there had been no girding of the loins when it came to public enthusiasm for the EU. In a way that set the stage for the British response to the EU over the four decades that followed. You can see it consistently in every survey. We were always less enthusiastic than our neighbours about EU membership so I’m not at all dismissing the importance of that longer term experience with Europe and that socialisation experience: going through Maastricht and then going through free movement, going through all those debates. It’s very important. It makes me wonder about the importance of the referendum itself ’cause we know from research that expressive voting is far more prominent at referendums. When voters go into the ballot box under first past the post they’re making strategic calculations but we know from the research and referendums elsewhere in Europe voters go into the polling booths in referendums and they’re free of the electoral system. They make a truly expressive, truly sincere vote and they don’t just think about tactics and who’s going to win this constituency. That’s where I think this referendum takes on a new level of importance because it has delivered a very unequivocal vote. This is what remainers I do think forget. This was not close. In England this was a seven-point difference. If you looked at my colleague Chris[Ambretti 75:35] has done, going back to your point about constituencies, he’s now calculated the local authority vote shares to constituency level and found that Brexit was the majority view in 521 seats. This is a real landslide for one side. That in turn is going to impact on how we navigate through 2020 and beyond because you now have a large number of MPs who are not connected as such with that local popular view but carrying on in all manner of ways. I was running the numbers last night. There are six cabinet ministers who are now out of touch with their local view. You’re in touch <laughter> but [some of your colleagues of course 76:19] are now out of touch including Matthew Hancock.
Point the way through [76:28] future Suella.
I think looking at our history and the history of our relationship with the EU it’s astonishing that we were a member for such a long time. We had a troubled entry and British exceptionalism has always been part of the psyche of this country, which has always tainted and made our relationship difficult. As you say there have been a chronicle of troubles leading up to our exit now. Actually I think that we are returning to our instinctive and more honest way of being as a country. In Parliament the Brexit and the remainer MPs were divided as the romantics and the pragmatists, Brexiteers being the romantics, and I’m quite glad I’m in that camp. I think it probably is a yearning for libertarianism, a purist view of how people should be in charge of their own destiny, devolution of power, the small, the bespoke, the digital, which is really at odds with what is looking more and more like an anachronistic institution that is the EU. I think this has been a vote against the establishment, it’s been against the institutions and it’s been about the small man against government in protest.
Although 1066 and all that was romantic but wrong.
Anyway, thank you all very much.