While Young Dave continues to negotiate his way through another of those little local difficulties with several of his jolly good colleagues on the Europe question, very few pundits are taking the time to stop and think whether all the Brussels bashing is having any effect. And the answer to that one, for those prepared to read the occasional opinion poll, is that it’s having very little effect at all.
How can I be so sure? Well, buried among all the voting intentions in the latest ICM poll for the deeply subversive Guardian is an item on how those voters would answer the referendum question. And this is bad news for the anti-EU brigade: the percentage of those who will definitely vote to leave, combined with those who will probably vote to leave, has fallen – by eight points.
I kid you not: both categories have seen a four point fall. Moreover, the percentage intending to definitely vote to remain in the EU, together with that which would probably vote that way, is unchanged. The outcome? A total of 40% to stay in, and 43% - down from 51% - to leave. And that is after an unprecedented – even by the usual UK standards – barrage of hostile press coverage.
Typical of those dealing in blatant Euro-kicking has been the once great Express, now reduced to being cobbled together from yesterday’s stories, press releases and PR puff pieces, and trawling social media sites. “You Will Get Vote To Quit The EU” it declared today, after making the preposterous claim “Victory for the Daily Express”, after the Government offered, er, precisely nothing to them.
The Express is not alone in expending newsprint on a subject voters do not prioritise very highly: at the Telegraph, Dan Dan The Oratory Man is rejoicing at the supposed referendum news. Benedict Brogan is talking of trouble ahead for Cameron, on the EU and elsewhere. Damian Thompson is talking of Young Dave “split[ing] the Eurosceptic Tories”.
But too much talk about the EU might not serve their cause particularly well: the Mail, not exactly a hotbed of pro-European sentiment, had led today on a raid on oil giants Shell and BP over alleged petrol price fixing. A previous investigation by the Office of Fair Trading is lambasted as “limp-wristed”, and if there is one thing the Mail knows, it is that ordinary people getting ripped off is A Very Bad Thing.
So who is leading the new investigation? The European Commission, that’s who. Yes, this is an EU initiative, taking on big business where our own supposed regulators have failed. That is the problem with the relentless obsessing over the EU: sooner or later all those voters are bound to discover that not everything about it is as bad as all those pundits keep telling them.
Not that they’ll be admitting that any time soon. No change there, then.