Voters want double Euro referendum – Times poll

by Stephen Tall on March 11, 2008

It’s not that Lib Dem Voice doesn’t do polls… we’re just quite suspicious of those who want to treat each and every one with undue reverence. In particular, we try not to get excited by individual polls showing a sudden rise/fall in support for any political party. Chances are it’s a blip which tells you nothing about the next general election.

Still, there are some issues where opinion polls are all we have to go on in terms of judging wider public attitudes. So it’s interesting to note this paragraph from today’s Times poll asking about Europe:

The vast majority of voters (70 per cent) favour some sort of referendum on Europe, with just 19 per cent disagreeing. But there are big variations in preferences: 18 per cent want one just on the Lisbon treaty; 16 per cent one on whether Britain should stay in the EU, but not on the treaty; and 36 per cent a referendum on both in and out of the EU and on the treaty. Just 19 per cent do not believe there is a need for any referendum on the EU at present. Professionals and managers (28 per cent) and Labour voters (28 per cent) are the most likely to believe there is no need for a referendum. Only 15 per cent of Lib Dem voters back Mr Clegg’s position of just an in/out treaty.

Despite all the fuss last week – and the pillorying the Lib Dems took for their position – it seems the ‘in/out’ option (with 16%) is pretty much as popular as the Tories’ preferred option of a referendum solely on the Lisbon Treaty (18%). The runaway winner with 36% is the combination referendum, asking both about the Lisbon Treaty and the ‘in/out’ option.

It’s interesting to note that the Lib Dem policy of an ‘in/out’ referendum is less popular with Lib Dem voters than the public as a whole. I imagine this is because our voters are most likely to be pro-European, and so would regard a referendum on the UK’s membership to be driven by euroscepticism. I wonder if the pollsters told those they were questioning which party advocated which policy before they asked the question? It would, I suspect, make a difference.