Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does

Taking a look at four issues - economy, unemployment, immigration/ race relations and Europe, we can see that while over a third of those surveyed identified the economy, and both immigration /race relations score around ten per cent, the number of respondents who answer Europe is statistically insignificant.

While the Conservatives get themselves in a tizzy over the vote on whether there should be an in/out referendum on Europe, it is hard to overstate how irrelevant the vast majority of voters find the issue to their lives.

Over at Political Betting, Mike Smithson’s post on recent YouGov data shows that there are very few new votes for the Tories on the issue. Furthermore, looking at the Ipsos-Mori issues tracker data, it is clear that the general public simply don’t care about Europe.

As Smithson regularly points out, Ipsos-Mori provides particularly useful data, because it goes back decades, and respondents are asked “What would you say is the most important issue facing Britain today?” – without categories being provided. There is no ‘push to a given answer’.

Taking a look at four issues –  economy, unemployment, race relations/immigration and Europe, we can see that while over a third of those surveyed identified the economy, and both race relations/immigration score around ten per cent, the number of respondents who answer Europe is statistically insignificant:


It’s been that way for months:

What-would-you-say-is-the-most-important-issue-facing-Britain-today-Jan-2011-Sep-2011
There are good constitutional reasons for an in-out referendum on the EU: It is more than 30 years since the last one, the EU represents a significant transfer of power from Westminster and the situation is, everyone agrees, markedly different from that outlined in 1975.

However, as the Conservatives engage in turtuous internal wrangling over the issue, they may well just appear completely out of touch with what is worrying most people. Insisting all politics and policy lead back to Brussels – immigration and unemployment for example – will just make them look even more weird.

See also:

How to create a Telegraph migration scare storyMatt Cavanagh, September 9th 2011

Britain: Euroconfused not EuroscepticJoe Litobarski, March 17th 2011

Labour policy review will consider case for an ‘in or out’ Europe referendumSunder Katwala, February 11th 2011

Cameron misinformed on EU bailouts says top ToryChris Tarquini, December 17th 2010

EU’s €3.4bn for diplomacy is value for moneyJon Worth, September 6th 2009

38 Responses to “Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does”

  1. DanielPoxton

    Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does l Left Foot Forward – //t.co/DcCApcQM

  2. danielelton

    @wjdstraw @dlknowles @johnmcternan: why talking Europe is such a death spiral for Tories: //t.co/xayUHKmG on @leftfootForward

  3. danielelton

    Hey @anthonypainter, it's not just the left that don't understand the country it's in: //t.co/xayUHKmG (also at @lisaansell)

  4. danielelton

    @johnmcdonnellMP @jeremycorbyn: we bombed Libya, now Tory wants Libya to pay for it: //t.co/upu7Um4j on @leftfootfwd

  5. danielelton

    @cateysmith @benfolley @CNDuk : we bombed Libya, now Tory wants Libya to pay for it: //t.co/upu7Um4j on @leftfootfwd

  6. dlknowles

    People simply don't care about Europe: //t.co/8jlsmm42 (via @danielelton

  7. Alex Belardinelli

    RT @dlknowles: People simply don't care about Europe: //t.co/Y78Ekf9E (via @danielelton) > #economystupid (or is that on #bannedlist?)

  8. Jon Bradfield

    @adywilsn one for you kitten RT @dlknowles: People simply don't care about Europe: //t.co/86nQSKKE

  9. jeremy warner

    People simply don't care about Europe: //t.co/8jlsmm42 (via @danielelton

  10. Ed's Talking Balls

    What the polls show is that Europe isn’t anyone’s top priority. They certainly don’t show that no-one cares about Europe as an issue. That’s nonsense and a very poor interpretation of the polls.

    And while you’re right that Europe is a long-standing thorn in the Tory side, it’s not entirely true to say that only Conservatives care about the issue. I’m pretty sure that there are member of Labour who object to Brussels diktats; at least, I would hope so, given that polling does suggest that the British people see problems in our relationship with the EU. Politicians are supposed to address the electorate’s concerns, not simply pretend they don’t exist.

  11. Jim

    Muddling (or is it muddying) race relations and immigration here. For most activists, I’ve spoken with, who have a pro ‘British’ agenda there are two issues: A liveable wage and a job with prospects, and loss of community identity through cultural pressures. Its a subtle but interesting shift as it no longer relates to ‘race’ and ‘immigrants’ as such but the impression that ‘outsiders’ are ‘damaging’. These outsiders can be Eastern European, from another part of the UK or even just another class (gentrification of a working class estate through BTL or social housing in a new-build upper class block). The only option I have seen that does work is giving the capacity to the individual to make an informed decision as to work, home and lifestyle – very difficult during a recession etc.

  12. Leon Wolfson

    No, they’re supposed to rule the country, not get sidetracked into diversions which ignore the far more urgent issues going on like the collapsing economy.

  13. Mika I

    RT @leftfootfwd: Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does //t.co/r1iRdWPR

  14. Ed's Talking Balls

    Parliament never has dealt, and never will deal, with one issue at a time, thank goodness. Were it to do that, we’d never get anything done.

    The fact of the matter is that the requisite number of signatures have been collected and the debate should take place. Cameron shows serious weakness when he seeks to thwart the purpose of an initiative he himself put forward. All the party leaders are subverting the idea of these backbench debates by whipping the vote into oblivion.

    There are many MPs from all parties who have serious misgivings about our subservient relationship with Europe and there are a great many members of the public who are concerned and have been for years. Politicians shouldn’t ignore them, arrogantly telling the “little people” thay they should be seen but not heard.

    Instinctively, I feel we are better off in Europe but with a stronger voice. I agree with what the government is saying, i.e. that this debate can wait and that renegotiation is better than stand-off. The problem is that after so many broken promises on Europe from all politicians, I simply don’t believe a word they say. They’re merely trying to kick this into the long grass for the umpteenth time and they shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it again.

  15. Frederick Cowell

    its like 1993 all over again! @leftfootfwd: Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does //t.co/jaFHbEEA

  16. Jo

    Are the public as obsessed with Europe as the Tories? Computer says no… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  17. Rep in the Region

    Are the public as obsessed with Europe as the Tories? Computer says no… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  18. Stewart Lochhead

    RT @leftfootfwd: R the public as obsessed w/ Europe as the Tories? cmputr says no… //t.co/Q5YL64CF

  19. Dr John Lever

    Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does //t.co/qiPBQ7Jn

  20. Samantha Johnston

    Are the public as obsessed with Europe as the Tories? Computer says no… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  21. Natan Doron

    Extraordinary for party of govt to fall-out over an issue of very little current concern to public. Tories are strange //t.co/Lo6X6rPD

  22. Dan

    Are the public as obsessed with Europe as the Tories? Computer says no… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  23. Nick D

    @RtHonJon Polls also indicate that having a referendum on EU is not a priority //t.co/52HboSvk In/Out is too simple a question.

  24. malcolm

    Are the public as obsessed with Europe as the Tories? Computer says no… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  25. Europe in or out – does the public really care? | Left Foot Forward

    […] also: • Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does – Daniel Elton, October 21st […]

  26. Paul Evans

    The Tories are oddly obsessed with the EU //t.co/4QwRiCOw but 'good constitutional reasons for a referendum'? Er… what are they?

  27. Ingrid Wolfe

    @martinmckee maybe not as many as it seems //t.co/FSj6AGiV

  28. Louise Sian Gibbard

    As the Tories obsess over the EU referendum, guess how many of the public care. It's impossible to guess too low… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  29. Ingrid Wolfe

    @drphilhammond Pls retweet Child health and the NHS Bill //t.co/FSj6AGiV

  30. Catherine Brunton

    As the Tories obsess over the EU referendum, guess how many of the public care. It's impossible to guess too low… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  31. kim holt

    @drphilhammond Pls retweet Child health and the NHS Bill //t.co/FSj6AGiV

  32. Robert CP

    As the Tories obsess over the EU referendum, guess how many of the public care. It's impossible to guess too low… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  33. Dee Speers

    @drphilhammond Pls retweet Child health and the NHS Bill //t.co/FSj6AGiV

  34. Alice in Blunderland

    @drphilhammond Pls retweet Child health and the NHS Bill //t.co/FSj6AGiV

  35. Jackie

    As the Tories obsess over the EU referendum, guess how many of the public care. It's impossible to guess too low… //t.co/ygibHj5R

  36. Trouble ahead for Cameron: Majority of Euro rebels were from class of 2010 | Left Foot Forward

    […] Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does – Daniel Elton, October 21st […]

  37. Five reasons why Commons Euro vote is not Cameron’s Clause IV moment | Left Foot Forward

    […] Tories may care deeply about Europe, but no one else does – Daniel Elton, October 21st […]

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