Beware Remainers bearing polls

Beware Remainers bearing polls

Best for Britain and their astro-turf youth group, Our Future Our Choice, have commissioned a poll around Northern Ireland and support for Irish Unification.  If I may paraphrase Blackadder, the results are as dodgy as a conman who’s just been appointed Professor of Con Tricks at Oxford University.

Its results show probably the largest recorded support for Irish unification in an opinion poll ever. Anyone faced with a poll making such claims should have proceeded at least cautiously, at best with a long barge pole – especially considering who commissioned it – but the media have of course jumped on it. So what is wrong with it?

  1. As stated, it produces results vastly different from any other poll ever taken in Northern Ireland – even those that have shown some growth in support for Irish unification. It’s at best a rogue, at worst fantasy.
  2. Its original sample was massively pro-Remain. The EU referendum in Northern Ireland was 44.2% Leave and 55.8% Remain, a 9:11 ratio. This poll’s sample had 292 Leave voters to 824 Remain voters, not far off a ratio of 1:3. It had about a quarter of the proportion of Leave voters it should have had.
  3. Its original sample was significantly non-Unionist. Below is the ranking and voter share each of the five main parties received at the 2017 Westminster election compared with the sample of the survey.
2017 election Poll Sample
1. DUP – 36.0% 1. Sinn Fein – 26.9%
2. SF – 29.4% 2. Alliance – 26.7%
3. SDLP – 11.7% 3. DUP – 14.4%
4. UUP – 10.3% 4. SDLP – 10.7%
5. Alliance – 7.9% 5. UUP – 9.0%

There should have been closer to four times more DUP voters than Alliance. There were more Alliance voters sampled than DUP and UUP voters combined. It had barely half of the proportion of Unionist voters it should have had in its sample.

Why are these factors important? It is estimated between 75%-80% of the Leave vote in Northern Ireland was from Unionists. So when you significantly under-sample both Leave voters and under-sample Unionists, it is guaranteed you will get significantly less pro-Leave and pro-Union results.

So why does this junk appeal?

First, with no real protections against bias after the referendum, most within the likes of the BBC can give their pro-Remain leanings much freer reign. Most polls haven’t supported Remainer claims about the break-up of the UK, so they had to commission one of their own to get the headlines they wanted. The broad media sympathy for Irish nationalism (as the mainland hysteria to the confidence and supply agreement demonstrated) adds to the predisposed biases.

Second, the media have always fallen for Irish nationalism’s historical determinism – Irish unification is inevitable and fortuitous events will make it happen. Brexit is simply the latest in a long line of supposed game-changers. Neither are they even required to be consistent: there was once a time Irish nationalism thought being in the EU would deliver Irish unity.

However, the degree of historic gullibility around all this is stunning. If Irish nationalist predictions of imminent unification had proven to be true then neither my son, I, my father nor my grandfather would have been born in the UK, yet all four generations were. Northern Ireland is fast approaching its centenary yet wasn’t expected to last at all. The political reality of the last century is nationalism using every political tactic, legal and illegal, to achieve unification – and it has failed, consistently.

It just demonstrates how deep many in the Remain movement has abandoned any attachment to the UK that they are willing to act as their cheerleaders with dodgy polls.