Farage and the Future of England

1punishBy Jim and Margaret Cuthbert

In this week when the unionist parties are stumbling over themselves to promise better things for Scotland if we vote “no”, it is worth remembering the “Future of England” survey which was carried out last April. But more specifically, the information the survey reveals about UKip voters shows the near impossibility of Nigel Farage’s task when he visits Scotland on 12th September. How can he convince the Scots that the union is the best place for them, given the survey results that we record below?

The “Future of England” survey polled 3,700 adults living in England, and was carried out in April 2014 by YouGov for the University of Cardiff and the University of Edinburgh. It is part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Future of the UK and Scotland work, which is intended to inform the debate about constitutional change: (more on this later).

The results attracted a good deal of publicity when they were published in August, particularly for the hostility towards Scotland revealed by the responses. Let’s look at the overall results first of all. On the basis of the weighted results of the survey, 59% were opposed to Scottish independence. If Scotland votes “yes” to independence, then more than twice as many respondents felt that Scotland should not be able to use the pound (53%) as felt it should (23%) – (the balance being don’t knows, or neither agreeing or disagreeing). Again, when asked, in the event that Scotland voted “yes”, whether the rest of the UK should support Scotland in applying to join international organisations like the EU and NATO, 36% of respondents disagreed: while only 26% felt the rest of the UK should support Scotland.

If Scotland were to vote “no”, then there was clearly a strong feeling among English voters that Scotland should still be punished. For example, 56% agreed that levels of public expenditure in Scotland should be reduced to the levels in the rest of the UK, compared with only 9% who disagreed. And 62% agreed with the statement “Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on laws that applied only to England”, compared to 12% who disagreed.

The Guardian, (20th August), put its finger on the resulting problem when they said that the findings of the survey “contradict some of the key proposals put forward by the pro-union parties to offer Scotland further powers if independence is rejected”.

It is worth remembering these “Future of England” key results when the unionist parties try to convince us, this week, that they can actually deliver for Scotland in the event of a “no” vote. And if anything, the problem of delivering on any promises, or half promises, is likely to be even greater now, given that English voter attitudes will almost certainly have hardened further in the light of the recent YouGov poll showing a majority for “yes”.

Now let’s look at the more detailed results in the survey, particularly those relevant to Nigel Farage’s mission to Scotland to persuade us to stay in the union.

The survey asked respondents for their voting intention at the next UK general election. (The survey picked up a large number of UKip intended voters – the number was 415 out of the unweighted sample). What the results tell us about the views of intended UKip voters is particularly interesting. For example, in the event of a “yes” in the referendum, 30% of UKip intended voters felt that “the UK’s standing in the world would be diminished”: this is materially less than the corresponding percentages for voters intending to vote for the other parties – Conservative (41%), Labour (40%), and LibDem (50%). This is consistent with the view that UKip voters regard the standing of the UK as intrinsically relating to England, rather than to the sum of the different parts of the UK.  Such an attitude could also partly account for the at first sight paradoxical result that UKip intended voters were somewhat less hostile to Scotland being independent – 52% of UKip intended voters felt that Scotland should not be an independent country, compared with 68% Conservative, 62% Labour, and 68% LibDem.

What is quite clear is that UKip intended voters are intent on punishing Scotland, whether Scotland votes “yes” or “no”. If Scotland votes “yes”, they are only slightly behind Conservative intended voters in feeling that Scotland should not be able to use the pound – UKip 64%, Conservatives 69%, Labour 46%, and LibDem 49%. And, again in the event of a “yes” vote, they, like the Conservatives, disagree that the rest of the UK should support Scotland in joining the EU or NATO: UKip 51%, Conservatives 52%, Labour 29%, and LibDem 31%.

If Scotland votes “no”, then UKip intended voters, again like the Conservatives, are strong in their intent to reduce public expenditure in Scotland to the levels in the rest of the UK: UKip 70%, Conservatives 69%, Labour 50%, LibDem 54%. And UKip intended voters are particularly strong in feeling that Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on laws that apply only to England: UKip 81%, Conservatives 73%, Labour 52%, and LibDem 67%.

Professor Charlie Jeffery of Edinburgh University, (one of the academics behind the survey), summed up the position on UKip when he said, “As their party matures, UKIP supporters look less and less like supporters of the UK’s independence and more and more like England’s national party”: (quoted on Future of UK and Scotland website, 19 August 2014.)

Given this, and given the particular desire of UKip intended voters to punish Scotland in the event of a “no” vote, then Nigel Farage has a hard sell when he visits Scotland on the 12th. It is difficult, if not impossible, to see how he can resolve the fundamentally conflicting aims of offering a package to the Scots which would tempt them to stay in: while at the same time keeping his supporters happy. In the light of this conflict, any promises made by Farage should be treated with outright scepticism, rather than just caution.

An afterthought

There is one other important aspect of the survey which should be mentioned: namely, the questions it raises about the role of our universities in the political process. The Future of England survey actually appears to be a very crude instrument. If you confront an English voter with the bald statement “levels of public expenditure in Scotland should be reduced to the levels in the rest of the UK”, and ask their opinion on this statement, without raising the issue of relative need, or explaining that Scotland has subsidised the rest of the UK by around £150 billion over the past thirty odd years, then you are going to get a fairly crude and predictable answer. When you dress that answer up with the authority of institutions like Cardiff University and Edinburgh University, then academia has crossed over a line, and is actually playing a significant, and fairly ham-fisted, role in influencing the political process itself. From a “yes” perspective, the results of this have probably turned out fairly well. But the point remains that the survey has moved from “informing” the debate, as is the ESRC’s stated mission, to crudely influencing the debate: and we should not be funding our universities to act like this.



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29 replies

  1. “England’s national party” – I’d have agreed with that before the Euro elections in May. Not sure how it squares with UKIP getting an MEP elected here – one who’s a complete clown, at that.

    UKIP is largely a creation of the BBC. What really intrigues me is what the BBC is seeking to achieve, and why.

    • Have you looked at the numbers (not reported %s)? People do not necessarily change their politics when they move house. In fact, in my experience, people who have a problem with ‘immigrants’ rarely have a problem migrating. (We’ll find out 2015: anything over 4% and I’ll take the point. But the combined performance of UKIP/BF/BNP/NO2EU in 2014 was up just 70,000 voters on 2009, in an increased turnout of 240,000. Motives for suggesting it as a 10% swing nevertheless, were clear.)

      I think the media’s interest is fairly transparent: a party one creates is beholden. And being able to (largely) create a party demonstrates power and (perhaps more importantly for the BBC) political influence. Plus, like polls, UKIP are ‘news’ to be reported, not politics to be ‘impartial’.about.

    • Would he have been elected if the SDA had been able field candidates?

    • The sad thing is that whoever is responsible (the BBC and MSM?) the English have been deliberately wound up into a wholly synthetic rage against Scotland, in fact an inchoate rejection of neoliberalism based on Scotland’s perceived advantages. If the government hopes to sort the situation by reforming UK and moving to a federated structure, this is unlikely to play well with this hyperventilating electorate, which will see this unquestioned advance as the opposite of “punishing” Scotland.

      Only voting yes by a good margin can defuse some of this.

  2. The BBC exists to protect and preserve the establishment – that’s the ‘old’ establishment of inherited privilege, spearheaded by the monarchy, and the ‘new’ privilege of those who have become rich from playing roulette with cheap money (except that roulette doesn’t pay you back if you lose). Lord Reith apparently said or wrote: “They [the establishment] know they can trust us not to be really impartial”.

  3. My Lord Prescott has had a wizard idea! As reported by BBC

    ‘Lord Prescott also suggested a combined England and Scotland football team. “Perhaps if England and Scotland together had one team, we could at last beat the Germans – who knows?” he said.’

    Is this one of the SuperDuperMax powers we’ve been promised – a joint Anglo-Scottish German-beating football team?

  4. so if we are punished, what will be our response? do what many have done before grumble, pack up and leave or fight back?

    • What to you mean? Do you mean in the event of a No vote?

      • Of course he does.

        Because if we’re independent then we can go “Fine, you want to throw a tantrum? Say goodbye to your foreign aid payments, enjoy your debt, and we’ll move away from the pound in the next ten years or so. Have fun failing to be important.”

      • I am not really sure what we can do in the event of a No vote. Anybody with anything about themselves knows that the more powers line is utter bullshit. If you believe that we are going to be rewarded for voting No, then you are either incredibly naïve about power politics, or you have been taken in completely by the MSM (which is related to naivety I suppose), or you are a diehard Brit nat in Scotland, who does not give a shit what happens to Scotland anyway.

        A No vote will mean the people of Scotland will get shafted. There is nothing that we can do either about it. This is because we will have locked ourselves into the British state for another generation, and one which we know will be one of continuing austerity and extreme suffering for the poorest and most vulnerable in particular. This is a once in a generation chance to use our own resources to build a better society, and hopefully to weaken big and small political Conservatism in the rest of the UK.

      • Well, that’s not entirely true.

        If Westminster somehow scrapes a no vote (box-stuffing with postal votes is my guess for how they’ll do that, Labour have plenty of experience doing that), then we’ve only got the American option left.

      • Either way it doesn’t matter. The system has been “damaged”, we shall not be forgiven. The true nature of the much vaunted “family of nations” is emerging. We are threatened, intimidated, “roughly wooed” and subjected to what amounts to state sponsored psychological terrorism. The British state will lose face internationally, it will even have to re-name itself and we, “that pimple on England’s arse” will be responsible for all the pain. Having set our sights on independence we ought to be prepared for the negative and vengeful reaction.

      • The 21 century equivalent of the aftermath of the ’45.

    • This *is* a once in a generation chance to use our own resources to build a better society. And there is no other proactive option.

      However, it is also worth remembering that Scotland’s lack of electoral influence at Westminster has been largely voluntary, and based on ‘playing by the rules’ in voting for UK parties. Given recent UK electoral trends (which make it increasingly unlikely that any party can form a majority government) that is no longer the only option. There is a real prospect that the SNP could be the UK’s third party in 2015, which would be radical change…

  5. Cameron may have swung some undecideds to vote YES by reminding them that this is a chance to give the effing Tories a good kicking.

    • “They all swear up there” and are rather crude – I must try and bond with them using some “street talk”.
      I was swearing as the patronising b…….. who tried to fake emotion.

      What about some caring for those having to use foodbanks, or having benefit cut for missing a meeting. What about those families saddled with the bedroom tax.

      As for the family connections – I would not have drawn attention to land ownership. I don’t think his / connections ancestors were raised in Maryhill or Govan. Perhaps Greenock given the neck.
      The basic outline arguement appears to be :-

      A YES vote will mean that we may all face uncertainty and the Richest in society may lose some money.
      A NO vote will mean that ONLY Scotland will suffer as usual.

      WE (The elite) are better together. Sharing and pooling (North to South)

  6. I’m sure most English would prefer English funding increased to the levels of Scotland, NI or indeed London. Rather than the Scots being punished. Anyway it doesn’t matter what the English think as we never get asked. A yes vote will be the best news for England in >300 years – you can do it.

  7. Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    If Scotland were to vote “no”, then there was clearly a strong feeling among English voters that Scotland should still be punished. For example, 56% agreed that levels of public expenditure in Scotland should be reduced to the levels in the rest of the UK, compared with only 9% who disagreed. And 62% agreed with the statement “Scottish MPs should be prevented from voting on laws that applied only to England”, compared to 12% who disagreed.

  8. Jim and Margaret, why would you treat only Farage’s offer with outright scepticism, rather than just caution”? i can’t see any reason for not treating any offers from the three wise monkeys and the clunking fist with the same degree of ‘outright scepticism’.

  9. I am firmly Yes.

    But the Tories and UKIP, and to a lesser extent Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters in England are perfectly reasonable in their view that Scottish spending should be cut to English levels.

    We have a very clear choice:

    Vote Yes to be a normal, independent nation like about 200 others in the world and manage with our (vast) resources for our own use as we see fit;

    or

    Vote No to be outvoted 10:1 on everything by Westminster.

    Either we are out of the union for good or we remain in and accept majority rule. If we vote No, we cannot be justified in complaining about Tory rule with one Tory MP – we voted to accept that system (as the biggest cowards in the whole world).

    The middle way will not work and will not be allowed to work. It was never supposed to work in the first place. Any loopholes that allowed 2011 to happen will be closed very fast.

    • “England are perfectly reasonable in their view that Scottish spending should be cut to English levels.”

      Only if they also want London spending cut to (rest of) English levels.

      • London spending will never be cut because the robots that are Labour MPs from northern English and North British constituencies simply follow the party line.

        The media have already turned the English against the Scots and will do so even more after a No vote.

        We never voted for the union but if we do on 18th September, we have to do exactly what Westminster MPs decide. And that for sure will not be in Scotland’s best interests and it has never been. We will deserve everything we get from Westminster.

  10. In fact, ‘outright scepticism’ is too mild. It’s all lies, plain and simple. I really hope not too many people fall for it. Scotland has to win this referendum. There is simply no alternative.

  11. Until recently, UKIP was largely seen as a political expression of traditional Tory Right ‘Little Englanderism’. This had been largely marginalised within the Conservative Party, after the Cameron leadership tried to project a social liberal image, and accept the ‘New Unionist’ settlement – Scotland and Wales included – which the Conservatives had previously opposed.

    UKIP has now managed to become the first party to project itself and win political representation in all four units of the UK state – not only England, but Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It has an MP in England, the majority of MEPs in England, an MEP each in Wales and Scotland, and councillors in England and Northern Ireland. It has done this by adopting a particular form of Britishness in each of these places. These draw their sustenance from the most reactionary aspects of the UK state – British unionism, the monarchy, a Protestant establishment and the promotion of cultural divide-and-rule.

    UKIP’s three new councillors in Northern Ireland have strong Orange Order backgrounds. They give their political support to those trying to unwind the Good Friday Agreement. Northern Ireland provides a launch for UKIP’s anti-‘New Unionist’ politics. In Scotland UKIP is trying link up with Loyalism, making their greatest headway in the recent EU election in those areas of Scotland that have an Orange Order presence. In Wales, they have opposed the existence of a Welsh Assembly although, as in Scotland, they could modify this anti-devolution policy to sabotage it from within, and play on the English and Welsh language speaker divide.

    UKIP have taken note of the stalling tactics of the UUP and DUP. Sammy Wilson, DUP former Stormont Finance Minister has attacked Salmond for “sticking two fingers up at Westminster”. Strongly supporting the Union, Wilson has gone on to attack “any kind of extended devolution of powers”. This would be a “disaster” (http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/no-vote-will-spell-disaster-for-stormont-power-sharing.25113826). The DUP holds the most Northern Ireland seats at Westminster. Beyond the DUP and UUP lies Traditional Unionist Voice and the Progressive Unionist Party, which fronted the former Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) paramilitaries. Their aim is to restore Unionist supremacy. The UVF has publicly backed the Loyalist Union-Jack bedecked street protests. The Unionist parties have provided the apologetics.

    UKIP is trying to create a wide enough political and geographical base to be taken seriously, either as a political force in its own right, or as part of an attempt to move in on the Conservative/Tory Party. This would mean forging an alliance with the Tory Right to ditch the social liberal policies that Cameron took on board. These new policies are greatly resented by the Tory Right. In Scotland, they also have to suffer the ‘indignity’ of having Ruth Davidson as the Conservative Party’s openly lesbian Scottish leader.

    To break out of their more limited anti-EU ghetto, the Right needs to win the support of a significant section of large scale capital. This does not look like coming from the CBI, given British industries’ needs for European markets. However, the City of London has strongly opposed Angela CatalunyaMerkel’s mildly reforming EU banking proposals. The City of London has already been able to carve out ‘offshore status’ for itself, beyond any UK government regulation.

    If being outside the EU enabled the City of London to protect itself from any European threats (either from the European Central bank, or from individual state banks operating under EU auspices) then important sections could well consider backing the UKIP/Tory Right anti-EU project. The City shows little concern for the maintenance of an industrial base in the UK. Its profits here are made from its banking role, massively underwritten by governments both Labour and Conservative/Lib-Dem. These parties remain committed to imposing whatever level of austerity is required to service the City’s needs.

    UKIP and the Tory Right’s rampant anti-immigrant, anti-welfare dependant politics would also prove useful as the necessary scapegoating for a stepped-up austerity offensive. Both Conservatives and Labour have conceded a great deal of ground to UKIP. Social liberal, official, ‘multicultural Britain’ is already looking increasingly beleaguered as anti-migrant, anti-‘terrorist’ measures become everyday government practice, supported by the Labour ‘opposition’.

    Social liberal welfare provision has long been under attack. Whilst such thinking has had a majority base of support amongst the Conservatives since Thatcher, Labour has also abandoned ‘universal provision’ to concentrate on “hard-working families”. Somewhat inconveniently, they are just as likely to need welfare top-ups to their minimum or near minimum wages, initially set by New Labour at poverty levels. Those on low wage and zero or limited hours contracts are forming an increasing percentage of the workforce in the current economic ‘recovery’.

    Blue Labour, which can be considered UKIP-Lite for the working class, now has a lot more influence than the Left within the Labour Party. The socialist, John McDonnell, MP for Hayes and Harlington, could not get enough nominations in his bids for Labour Party leadership in 2007 or 2010.

    In Scotland, where the Labour Party is even more right wing, the 2011 Scottish Labour leadership election was confined to Miliband-approved Johann Lamont, the ultra-Blairite, Ken Macintosh and the UKIP-Lite, Tom Harris. There was no Left challenger. A smaller proportion of Scottish Labour MPs at Westminster, 2 out of 41, voted against Osborne’s new welfare cap than English Labour MPs – 11 out of 191, with none of the 26 Welsh Labour MPs so voting.

    Somewhat inconveniently for Cameron and the ‘Better Together’ campaign, neither UKIP nor the Tory Right have hidden their contempt for any ‘promises’ the current government or Labour ‘opposition’ have made to Scotland in the event of a ‘No’ vote. These people want to take the current ‘New Unionist’ settlement apart.
    As they have shown in Northern Ireland and Scotland, they are prepared to get the support of some very reactionary forces. It is no accident that UKIP’s Scottish chair, Jake Thackeray, has brought Nigel Farage up to a UKIP ‘Save the Union’ rally in Glasgow on September 12th, the day before the Orange Order’s pro-Union march in Edinburgh. The nature of Thackeray’s politics was revealed when he attacked Glasgow City Council as standing for “Gays, Catholics and Communists”! (http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/home-news/ukip-chair-claims-glasgow-council-for-gays-catholics-communists-in-online-rant.23212831)

    Meanwhile, on the Tory Right, Boris Johnson has made it known that he expects the Conservative-led government to impose retribution on Scotland, in the event of a ‘No’ vote. The prospect of Scottish self-determination should never even have been allowed. The refusal to implement even the most minimal ‘Devo-Plus’ measures and the scrapping of the Barnett Formula, would probably figure prominently in his designs.
    Johnson is also angling to get closer to a Conservative Party leadership challenge, by looking for a safe Westminster seat to contest. There is even a prospect of a Tory Right coup, should there be any further defections to UKIP. The aim of this would be to augment the party with the addition of the now quite significant UKIP support. If further Tory defections create enough panic in the party, this possibility can not be ruled out, even before the 2015 Westminster election. However, in the absence of a couple of by-elections, neither Johnson nor Farage would have the seats needed to assume leadership positions within such a realigned Right Tory party.

    Back in 1979, there were some on the left who argued against the Labour government’s Scottish devolution proposals, saying ‘No to Devolution – Yes to Revolution’. Well they got their ‘No to Devolution’, but instead of revolution they got Thatcher! Today, we have those who say, in effect, ‘No to Independence – Yes to Miliband’ (OK not as snappy as the 1979 slogan!) . It would be a very salutary experience, if they indeed got their ‘No to independence’, but ended up instead with Boris and Nigel!

    Whether or not the Tory Right, in collusion with UKIP, can bring about their desired coup in the Conservative Party, they would still be a much greater pressure on Cameron than Scottish Labour, after any ‘No’ vote. It is not only Cameron’s remaining social liberal policies that would be under threat, but also the current ‘New Unionist’ settlement. This has failed to end the demands for greater self-determination in Scotland and Wales, for which it was largely designed.

    And just as in the case of their tail-ending UKIP over immigration and welfare dependents, when it comes to seeking vengeance on Scotland, Labour also has its advocates in Ian Davidson and Jim Hood, two very pro-UK British Scots. Their Westminster careers would be ended in the event of a ‘Yes’ vote, which perhaps explains their desperation!

    An extract from Up To And Beyond the September 18th Referendum

    http://republicancommunist.org/blog/2014/09/03/up-to-and-beyond-the-september-18th-independence-referendum-a-socialist-republican-perspective/#more-7496

  12. When you say UKIP has an MP in England, you forgot to say that he put in place the process for a by-election when he defected from the Tories to UKIP, so we’ll have to wait and see who holds the seat fro the last few months of this parliament. Personally, I think there should always be a by-election when an MP defects from one party to another or becomes an independent.

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