Brexiteers: hold your nerve

Robert Henderson

Recent polls are overall veering towards   but not decisively towards a remain  win in the referendum.  It is important that those wanting  leave the EU should not get downhearted. There are still the TV debates to come which will expose the often hypocritical and always vacuous positions those advocating  a vote to remain will of necessity have to put forward because  they have no hard facts to support their position and  can offer only a catalogue of ever more wondrously improbable disasters they claim will happen if Brexit occurs, everything from the collapse of the world economy to World War III  The only things they have  not predicted are a giant  meteorite hitting Earth and wiping out the  human race or, to entice the religious inclined vote, the coming of the end of days.

There are other signs which should hearten the leave camp. There appears little doubt that those who intend to vote to leave  will on average be more likely to turn out to vote than those who  want to remain.. This is partly because older voters  favour Brexit more than younger voters and older voters are much more likely to turn out and actually vote.  But there is also the question of what people are voting for.  Leaving  to become masters in our own house is a positive message. There is nothing  positive about the remain  side’s blandishments.  A positive message is always likely to energise people to act than a negative one. Moreover, what the remain side are saying directly or by implication is that at best they have no confidence in their own country and at worst they want Britain to be in the EU to ensure that it is emasculated as a nation state because they disapprove of nation states.  Such a stance will make even those tending towards voting to remain to perhaps either not vote or to switch to voting leave.

What should we make of the polls?

What should we make of the polls?  Leaving aside the question of how accurate they are, it is interesting that the polls which are showing strongest for a vote to remain are the telephone polls. Those conducted online tend to produce a close result, often half and half on either side.  Some have the Leave side ahead. On the face of things this is rather odd because traditional polling wisdom has it that online polls will tend to favour younger people for the obvious reason that the young are much more likely be comfortable living their lives online than  older people.  Even if online polls are chosen to represent a balanced sample including age composition the fact that older people are generally not so computer savvy means that any sample used with older people is unlikely to represent older generally whereas  the part of the polling audience which is young can be made to represent  the  younger part of the population  because  almost all of the young use digital technology without thinking.

It is likely that the older people who contribute to online polls are richer and  better educated on average than the old as a group. But that  brings its own problem for the remain side because another article of faith amongst pollsters is that the better educated and richer you are the more likely you are to vote to remain  in the EU.  Moreover, if the samples are properly selected for both online and  phone polls why should there be such a difference?   Frankly, I have my doubts about  samples being  properly selected because  there are severe practical problems when it comes to  identifying the people who will make a representative sample.  Polling companies also weight their  results which must at the least introduce an element of subjectivity. Then there is also the panel effect where pollsters use panels made up of people they have vetted and  decided are panel material.  Pollsters admit all these difficulties.  You can find the pollster YouGov’s  defence of such practices and how they supposedly overcome their  difficulties here.

The performance of pollsters in recent years has been underwhelming.  It could be that their polling on the referendum is  badly  wrong.  That could be down to the problems detailed in the previous paragraph, but it could also be how human beings respond to different forms of polling.  Pollsters have been caught out by the “silent Tory” phenomenon  whereby voters are unwilling to say they intend to vote Tory much more often than voters for other parties such  as Labour and the LibDems  are unwilling to admit they will be voting for those parties.   It could be that there  are “silent Brexiteer”  voters who  refuse to admit to wanting to vote  to leave the  EU,  while there are  no  or very few corresponding  “silent remain” voters.  This could explain why Internet polls show more Brexit voters than phone or face-to-face  polls.  If a voter is speaking to a pollster, especially if they are in the physical company of the pollster, the person will feel they are being judged by the person asking the questions.  If they think their way of voting is likely to be disapproved of by the questioner  because it is not the “right view”,   the person being questioned may well feel embarrassed if they say they are supporting  a view which goes against what  is promoted every day in the mainstream media as the “right view” .  The fact that the person asking the questions is also likely  to come from the same general class as those who dominate the mainstream media  heightens the likelihood of embarrassment on the part of those being questioned.

The “embarrassment factor”  is a phenomenon  which  can be seen in the polling on contentious subjects  generally. Take  immigration  as an example. People are terrified of being labelled as a racist. At the same time they are quite reasonably very anxious  about the effects of mass immigration.  They  try to square the circle of their real beliefs with their fear of being labelled a racist – and it takes precious little for the cry of racist to go up these days – by seizing  on reasons to object to mass immigration which they believe have been sanctioned as safe by those with power  and influence such  as saying that they are not  against immigrants but they  think that illegal immigrants should be sent home or that the numbers of immigrants should be much reduced because of the pressure on schools, jobs, hospitals and housing . What they dare not say is  that they object to immigration full stop because it changes the nature of their society.

There is an element of the fear of being called a racist  in Brexit because a main, probably the primary issue for  most of those wanting to vote to leave  in the referendum is the control of borders. This means that   saying you are for Brexit raises in the person’s mind a worry that this will be interpreted as racist at worst and “little Englanderish” at best.

There is a secondary reason why  those being interviewed are nervous. The poll they are contributing to will not be just a single question, such  as how do you intend to vote in the European referendum?  There will be  a range of questions which are designed to show things such as propensity to vote or which issues are the most important. Saying immigration control raises the problem of fear of being  classified as  racist, but there will be other issues which are nothing like as contentious on which the person being polled really does not have a coherent   opinion.  They will then feel a fear of being thought ignorant or stupid if they cannot explain lucidly why they feel this or that policy is important.

That leaves the question of why online polls show more for Brexit and phone or face-to-face-polls.  I suggest this. Answering a poll online is impersonal. There is no sense of being immediately judged by another.  The psychology is akin to going into a ballot booth  and voting.  This results in more honesty  about voting to leave.

The referendum  is just the beginning of the  war

Whatever the result of the referendum that will not be the end of matters. There is a gaping  hole in the referendum debate . There has been no commitment  by  any politician to what exactly  they would be asking for from  the EU if the vote is to leave and what they would definitely not accept.   Should that happen we must do our best ensure that those undertaking the negotiations on Britain’s behalf do not surreptitiously  attempt to subvert the vote by stitching Britain back into the EU by negotiating a treaty which obligates Britain to  such things as free movement of people  between Britain and the EU and a  hefty payment each year to the EU (a modern form of Danegeld).   A vote to leave must give Britain back her sovereignty  utterly  and that means Westminster being able to  pass any laws it wants  and that these   will supersede any  existing  obligations to foreign states and institutions, having absolute control of Britain’s borders, being able to protect strategic British  industries and giving preference to British companies where public contracts are offered to  private business.

It there is a  vote to remain  that does not mean the question of  Britain leaving is closed for a generation  any more than the vote of Scottish independence sealed the matter for twenty years or more.  For another referendum  to be ruled out for several decades would be both dangerous and profoundly undemocratic.

Imagine that Britain  having voted to remain the EU decides to push through legislation to bring about the United States of Europe which many of the most senior Eurocrats and pro-EU politicians have made no bones about wanting,  the EU  wants Turkey  to be given membership,  immigration from and via the EU continues to run out of hand  or  the EU adopts regulations for  financial services which gravely  damage the City of London.  Are we to honestly say that no future referendum cannot be held?

Of course on some issues such as the admission of new members  Britain still has a veto  but can we be certain that it would used to stop Turkey joining?  David Cameron has made it all too  clear that he supports  Turkey’s accession and the ongoing immigrant crisis in the Middle East has already wrung the considerable concession of visa-free travel in the Schengen Area from the EU without the Cameron government offering any complaint. Instead all that Cameron does is bleat that Britain still has border controls which allow Britain to refuse entry to and deport those from outside the EU and the European Economic Area.  However, this is the same government which has been reducing Britain’s border force and has deported by force very few people.

You may  think that if new members are admitted to the EU a referendum would automatically be held under the European Union Act of 2011. Not so, viz: .

4 Cases where treaty or Article 48(6) decision attracts a referendum

(4)A treaty or Article 48(6) decision does not fall within this section merely because it involves one or more of the following—

(a)the codification of practice under TEU or TFEU in relation to the previous exercise of an existing competence;

(b)the making of any provision that applies only to member States other than the United Kingdom;

(c)in the case of a treaty, the accession of a new member State.

In practice it would be up to the government of the day to decide whether a referendum should be held.  The  circumstances where the Act requires a referendum are to do with changes to the powers and duties of EU members. The simple  accession of a new member does not fall under those heads.Nor does the Act provide for a referendum where there is no change to existing EU treaties or massive changes are made  without a Treaty being involved, for example,  Britain has had no referendum on Turkey  being given visa free movement within  the Schengen Area.

Make sure you vote

Regardless of what the Polls say make sure you vote The bigger the victory for the OUT side the less the Europhiles will be able to do to subvert what happens after the vote.   If the vote is to stay  the closer it is the less traction it gives the -Europhiles .  Either way, the vote on the 23 June is merely the first battle in a war, not the end of the war.

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3 Responses to Brexiteers: hold your nerve

  1. Keith Thomas says:

    The arguments are now pretty well laid out.
    What will count on the day is the number of people who vote.
    It is one thing to have a view; it’s another to get down to the polling booth and cast your vote.
    There is also the issue of older people who may prefer to use a postal vote (or proxy vote), but have not got around to the trouble of organising it.
    If you know someone in this situation, give them a hand now. All these forms and processes must be in place by 7 June.

  2. Peter Brown says:

    This is not just a question of winning the referendum, it is also a question of winning the post Brexit negotiations. We have all seen how Cameron has used every dirty trick in the book in trying to persuade voters to the remain side.

    I started a petition back in March which started slowly until it started to become noticed in the Social Media and it quickly reached over 10,000 votes. Today, I received the Government response which took some 24 days. The Government were obviously at a loss how to answer it. The response actually came from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with nothing but the usual lies, platitudes and half truths. (http://www.theunituk.org.uk/2016/05/26/24-days-late-with-response-to-petition-verdict-the-expected-dud/)

    The fact that it was left to the FCO is not surprising as the FCO is full of completely Europhile Civil Servants who have been doing their best to sabotage the Leave Campaign along with Cameron.

    It is, I believe, imperative that Cameron is not allowed to continue his Treason if we should achieve Brexit. In the article linked above, is the text of the Government response without a mention of the petition itself.and also a link to the petition. I know there is a long way to go, but please, anyone that reads this, does their best to spread the word.

  3. Peter Brown says:

    Robert. Did my post go through? It has not appeared on this page.

    In case you weren’t aware of it, some of your blogs are featured in our ‘Guest Blog’ section

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