Monday, 29 June 2015

Left-wing euroscepticism in the UK

YouGov recently carried out a poll on the upcoming EU referendum in which respondents were asked to identify with one of the following four positions (unless they had not yet formed an opinion): "strongly in", "leaning in", "leaning out" or "strongly out". Respondents were then asked to give the names of politicians they liked, which allowed YouGov to compile a list of the most well-liked politicians among respondents in each of the four groups (shown below). All the most well-liked politicians in the "strongly in" group are, with the exception of the speaker John Bercow, from Labour, the Greens or the SNP; by contrast, all the most well-liked politicians in the "strongly out" group are from the Tories or UKIP. 

Whilst these results fit with the conventional wisdom that those on the left are less nationalistic and more supportive of immigration, it is not entirely unremarkable that Caroline Lucas––the only MP from the most left-wing environmentalist party in Europe––should be the most well-liked politician among Brits who identify with "strongly in". After all, such "neoliberal" newspapers as The Financial Times and The Economist have editorialised in favour of staying in; big businesses generally favour staying in (while small businesses generally favour getting out); large investment banks, such as Goldman Sachs, have argued in favour of staying in (though some hedge funds would reportedly prefer to leave); and many of the EU's strongest proponents, such as Ken Clarke, Michael Heseltine, and the late Ted Heath, have come from the Conservative Party. 

Consistent with the notion that there is a left-wing strain of euroscepticisim in the UK as well as a right-wing one, I identified all the following leftist individuals and organisations as being either somewhat or very eurosceptic: the late Michael Foot, the late Tony Benn, the late Bob Crow, Lord Glasman, Alan Sked, Costas Lapavistas, Mark Wallace, Mehdi Hasan, John King, Kate Hoey, Owen Jones, John Gray, Scott Dickinson, Chris Bambery, the RMT, the AGS, the Communist Party, the Socialist Party, the Liberal PartySocialist Resistance, and Solidarity.

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