Bored of the EU coverage yet? Even we’re starting to flag. But after reading the results of our referendum poll, with 412 Durham students voting, it reminded us of genuine concerns outside of the scaremongering of the official and unofficial campaigns.
As expected there were some results which seemed expected: the majority of participants were from London and the South East for one. Yet there were a few surprising finds. Firstly, the fact that the undecided voters only made up 3% of the responses is impressive given the swathes of dodgy and contradictory facts the public has been fed.
Yet this low undecided score was not replicated in political party support with 10% more people supporting no political party than the highest supported party – Labour. In addition to this the highest result for figures trusted on the EU Referendum was ‘none of them’ (49%) with Jeremy Corbyn coming a distant 2nd to apathy. Combine this with how only 20% of recipients thought neither campaign used unreasonable means to win votes, this seems to speak volumes on student engagement with politics – engaged on issues but not the process as a whole.
A quick look at the Labour/ Tory split within their voters shows unsurprisingly a Tory party divided on the issue but more surprisingly a far more united Labour party – not what the rest of the media has been pedalling.
Of the international students who responded to Palatinate’s poll, only four stated that they wanted the UK to leave the European Union. Given Lord Ashcroft’s recent poll, which revealed that people globally overwhelmingly support the UK’s EU membership, this perhaps is not a surprise. Moreover, many of these students have themselves come from EU member states where pro-EU sentiment may be the norm. The 85% of international students who support Britain’s EU membership cite economic factors as well as the cultural benefits of the European Union as the reason for their decision.
Lots of our international respondents explained that they had benefited from the Erasmus programme, which relied on European Union funding. If the UK were to leave the EU the future of the scheme is uncertain, which may also help to explain why international students are so pro-EU. Conversely, some did express worry about the European Union and Britain’s place within it; a small minority suggested that British fears about the functioning of the EU could be put to rest if we vote to leave. On the whole however, most echoed the responses of British students who support EU membership.
The responses we received also revealed an interesting trend in terms of gender and support for the EU. Whilst around 70% of men said they supported continuing EU membership and around 30% said they opposed it, only about 10% of the women who responded said that they supported leaving the EU compared to the masses in comparison that said they wanted to remain.
These findings point to a more extreme version of a national trend. Women tend to be more supportive of the European Union than men, with some commentators suggesting that women have more to benefit from continuing EU membership. Others have claimed women are more likely to base their decision based on arguments surrounding human rights and culture and men are more concerned with democracy and economic independence.
Green MP Caroline Lucas called for undecided women to vote remain in order to protect their ‘hard won rights’. Whether or not this type of campaigning will be a success is unclear; but the data collected in Palatinate’s EU Polls suggests that in Durham men are much more likely to support leaving the EU than women.
The results of Palatinate’s poll suggest that most Durham students will be voting to remain in the European Union on June 23rd. Many responses described the EU as a source of peace and cohesion. A St John’s first year explained their view. ‘I have no love for the EU, it’s neo-liberal policies, or its lack of democracy’ they reported, but I’d rather live in a safe Europe, than one rife with little-nationalists and far-right neo-fascists’.
A University College graduate claimed that the EU ‘is not about people dictating to countries but rather nations coming together and mutually agreeing on what is important. I hope never to experience a world war, and a union such as the EU is a great example of people of different nationalities being able to co-exist.’ Others emphasised the EU’s role in defending worker’s rights. A Chad’s finalist claimed that it is ‘essential to ensure our current and future governments can’t negatively impact on workers’ rights, human rights and the environment’.
The economic consequences of leaving the EU also featured frequently in the responses. A final year student at Van Mildert College said ‘I have not heard one coherent argument for leaving the EU. Why risk economic stability? We stand to lose far more than we might gain.’
Nonetheless, the ‘Remain’ camp has not convinced everyone. The most common concerns among the anti-EU responses were inefficiency and lack of democracy. Some emphasised a wish to have the UK govern itself, and as a St. Mary’s postgraduate explains, ‘to re-establish the legal primacy of UK laws in Britain’. A Van Milder graduate claimed ‘the EU is failing us and not fit for purpose’. A second year student at St Mary’s suggested that ‘the EU is corrupt, remote from voters, undemocratic and a gravy train for politicians. Britons should have the power to elect who governs us’ they claim, ‘but the real power is held in Brussels and the power there is held by unelected and unaccountable commissioners’.
Data and poll parameters are available upon request, please email email@example.com.