Prediction: A Week Out, And Thoughts on a Murder.

My track record is good: I nailed the Scottish referendum, and the 2015 General election. The polling average at time of writing is a 4-point lead for the leave campaign. I still think (70% confidence interval) Remain will win. Here’s why.

The polls suffer from a 6% response rate, and unlike the Scots Indy referendums, there’s very little to calibrate them against, as Leave/Remain cuts across party lines, and there have been no recent referendums on the subject. A lot of IPSOS MORI’s swing is methodology changes, reminiscent of the last election. The pollsters have been tweaking their methodologies to give similar results (so-called “herding”). There is a better than outside chance of another polling catastrophe.

Given the extraordinarily low response rate, there is a good chance the highly excited leave supporters in every demographic by which Pollsters weight their samples: age, education, socioeconomic class, party affiliation etc, are significantly more likely to respond. The Be.Leavers are enjoying this referendum. The Bremainers are thoroughly sick of the whole referendum and cannot wait until it’s over. I cannot see how this can be captured in their methodologies.

Basically, I think there’s a good chance the polls are at least as wrong as the General election, which would be nearly enough to get Remain over the winning post.

There are 13% undecided in the last Survation poll. These people will break for the status quo, as they have in most referendums in the past.

The ground game: where one side has access to all the party machines, and the other, leave has access to UKIP’s chaotic machine alone, and no national footprint or experience in national ‘Get Out The Vote’ operations.

This is all said with due respect to the view that shouting “The Polls are wrong” is the hallmark of the side that’s going to lose.

I was just about to hit publish.

And As I was writing this yesterday, an MP was murdered. A bleak day for her family, Labour, Parliament, and the country. She was apparently shot and stabbed by a man with mental health issues, and an association with the far-right, who may, or may not have shouted “put Britain first” as he committed his murder. Jo Cox was the MP for Batley & Spen who was first elected in 2015, and was holding a constituency surgery, as MPs up and down the land do weekly. They are unprotected, yet attract some of the worst and most disturbed people in the land. She leaves 2 young children and a devastated husband. We in the UK are lucky to have such dedicated, humble, honest and decent MPs, of whom Mrs Cox was not out of the ordinary. MPs aren’t “in it for themselves” nor are they part of “the elite”. They’re just like us, really.

Whether Thomas Mair, the chief suspect, was, or was not motivated in part by the Referendum campaign is not the issue, as an untruth can get halfway round the world before the truth has got its boots on. In this case, it’s a still-plausible, not-yet an untruth bit of speculation. A motivation from far-right beliefs and influenced by the referendum campaign remains the most likely explanation for Mair’s actions. And for the leave campaign who’re busy suggesting an EU army is likely, and Turkey’s about to join the EU, to complain about people suggesting this is so, is a bit rum, really. As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

I’m making a prediction, not arguing what should happen, and while I wish it were not so, this appalling event will affect the outcome.

What will people take from this senseless murder? That the referendum has poisoned politics? That perhaps we should pause for breath in this febrile atmosphere of anti-politics to reflect on the huge decision we’re about to make? That perhaps the anti-politics, anti-expert mood has gone a bit far? Perhaps the politicians, our allies, the economists and international organisations who say Brexit will make Britain poorer, weaker, less influential and will harm the western alliance all have a point? Anything that makes people stop and think isn’t going to be good for the ‘leave’ camp who for weeks have been doubling down on the sullen, nihilist anti-expert, anit-politics anti-immigrant hysteria sweeping western democracies. Events like this have a habit of being the moment the narrative changes.

Farage’s disgusting poster unveiled yesterday, with its clear echoes of Nazi propaganda will be received differently in the light of this tragedy.

8 replies
  1. Malcolm Bracken
    Malcolm Bracken says:

    To mention the nazis when appropriate isn't a Godwinian event.

    Furthermore, they hid the prominent white bloke from the image.

    Not even a dog-whistle. It's openly saying "vote leave, or you'll have a Muslim for a neighbour".

  2. Simon Jester
    Simon Jester says:

    This one isn't appropriate.

    Congratulations to the New Statesmen and HuffPo on picking up a tweet where someone managed to find a vaguely similar image in a BBC documentary from 2005. Interesting that these are your preferred sources of news.

    The white bloke cited looks a similar colour to the other people in the queue (for example, the tall bloke with a beard to the immediate right of Farage); the top of his head is visible in the UKIP poster.

  3. Malcolm Bracken
    Malcolm Bracken says:

    No, but I do find the tone 'Leave', having lost the economic argument by knockout in the first round, to be utterly disgusting. If you think that poster reminds you of the Saachi dole queue and not "vote remain or get a muslim for a neighbour", then you're just being willfully blind. Leave have been hateful, shamefully dishonest, and utterly vile. I find myself standing alongside Labour moderates in staring open mouthed in disgust at the Rancid nativist chauvinism on display from Farage's merry band of bigots.

  4. Longrider
    Longrider says:

    I suspect you are correct in your prediction. I've been saying as much for a while now – a narrow remain victory. The status quo effect is hard to overcome.

  5. david morris
    david morris says:

    The poster is a real image portraying the mass movement of illegal economic migrants across the border from Croatia into Slovenia. The image appeared in the Graun last year & caused hardly a ripple in the twatterati. Compare (& contrast) this poster with the one obviously invented and put about by the same people who whinge about the the Leave campaign. This depicts a white British man threatening an ethnic minority lady. It is an invention but it also insinuates racism and intolerance. So, we have arrived at the point where the same people who are feigning “racist” outrage over a poster showing a real event are also producing a poster with imagined racism at its core. Such is the fever swamp of virtue signalling Europhiles in 2016.

  6. Anonymous
    Anonymous says:

    Jo Cox reaped what she sowed. An alleged 'women's champion' who kept quite when white girls were being gang raped by Pakistani men in her own backyard.

    Of course the mass rape of English girls is just collateral for our MPs, let alone the Labour ones.


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