Is Brexit to take back control or a revolt against change?

The central Leave aim in the EU referendum is to “take back control over our country”, a powerful, emotional appeal to the dispossessed and disempowered. The Remain warnings fall on deaf ears and the Leave cause now leads in the polls. Despite Cameron’s best efforts Gove and Johnson look likely to triumph. Reasonable, liberal, mild-mannered, educated people ask, “What’s going on? How can this be?” The campaign has all the hallmarks of a revolt against change. Despite well-argued rational campaigning, an emotional revolt against the liberal Establishment consensus is under way, an anger stirred by decades of income stagnation, loss of well-paid jobs, economic insecurity, a crumbling NHS, limited choice of schooling and lack of affordable housing. The targets are immigrants and the remote, bureaucratic and authoritarian Brussels elite, arguably scapegoats for economic recession, marginalisation and globalisation. The alliance that … Read more

The EU referendum and opinion polls: “It’s the economy, stupid”

To add to the uncertainty, it seems that 30% of people haven’t yet made up their mind which way to vote in the forthcoming EU referendum. Given that polling has shown that the result is on a knife-edge, it still leaves both sides with everything to play for. It is worth bearing in mind that research has shown that 80% of referendums tend to favour the status quo. People tend to vote against change. The two UK-wide referendums that we have had, in 1975 on whether to stay in the EU (sic), or in 2011 on the Alternative Vote attempt on electoral reform, both vote against change. In Scotland the status quo prevailed over the SNP campaign for independence by a 10% margin. Northern Ireland voted against union with the South in 1973. Similar patterns have been observed in other … Read more

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