Still undecided about how to vote in tomorrow’s EU Referendum? Don’t know who to believe? How about taking a step back and getting a dispassionate, independent view?
Inside Croydon asked three American academics, in London to observe the process, JOHN SHIVELY, JACK VAN DAM and Dr MARK PETERSON, for their take on tomorrow’s generational decision
This year may be one of those “inflection points” social pundits blather about, we Americans living through the explosion of Donald Trump decided to examine whether Brexit will create a similar inflection point here in Britain with tomorrow’s Referendum over the UK’s European Union membership.
Here’s what we knew before we arrived:
In January 2013 Prime Minister David Cameron made the unexpected announcement of a referendum on the EU question in reaction to a dissident element of the Conservative Party, rising UKIP popularity, and the Scottish separatist threat.
It would be hard to imagine an American politician winning by such a large margin, as David Cameron did in 2015 and then following through on such a risky commitment.
However, British political rules are different. It appears that David Cameron violated the Chinese proverb, “Be careful what you wish for, you may get it”.
We had been in Britain in 2015 for the General Election campaign, and the 2016 situation was too good to pass up and so we returned to Croydon to observe the events unfolding.
The arguments as we see them:
The Leave side’s position is supported by an alliance of UKIP, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove-led Tories, and disheartened Labour voters that aren’t supporting Jeremy Corbyn’s lukewarm “Remain” position. Leave urges: remaining in the EU costs Britain too much; it over-regulates British agriculture and industry; is too immigrant-friendly; and it reduces British sovereignty.
The Remain side supports staying in the EU because of perceived financial advantages; open access to the huge European economy; the idea that negotiating among the European states is preferable to conflict; and that the free exchange of talent and opportunity among the peoples of Europe improves the United Kingdom’s prospects better than going it alone.
Impressions since we arrived:
Since we came back to Britain, we contacted our friend, Croydon Councilor Andrew Pelling. On Monday, we went out on Waddon’s doorsteps with Pelling to take the public pulse. We found that unlike last year, there was no real strong party message for voters to follow, except from the dissident Conservatives and UKIP.
With diverse and muddled messaging things became opaque. This in turn has led to the rise of large numbers of uninvolved and undecided electors.
International finance has come to dominate London and by default the whole of Britain. The possibility of leaving the EU has created an air of uneasiness and fear. The greatest fears seem to be economic recession and a possibility of an extreme devaluation of Sterling. Leave’s advocates’ allegations of domination by bureaucrats in Brussels and waves of Schengen refugees swimming across the English Channel seem to be extremely improbable. Who can possibly believe the Leave campaign’s key slogan, that the EU is costing Britain £350 million a week?
With just days to go:
Experts we have spoken to suggest that the undecideds, currently tallied at 10 per cent, will in all likelihood vote Remain or stay home. It appears the Labour is most problematic since historically committed supporters are showing signs of disaffection with the party’s endorsement of the Remain position. Older Labour identifiers seem to be most prone to this trend. Some we have talked with suggest these individuals are sympathetic to UKIP’s Leave message.
Meanwhile, young potential voters seem to be disinterested or unmotivated to take part in the Referendum.
If the expert information about the undecided voters’ intentions is correct, Remain should win. The only question is by how much?
A wide margin should settle the doubts of the nation, but stability in Tory Party leadership and the future of Labour’s presently large role in national politics will remain in question.
This does indeed appear to be an inflection point.
- John Shively and Jack Van Dam are students in the political science department at Washburn University in Kansas and have studied UK politics for two years. Dr Mark Peterson is the chair of the political science department at Washburn University. All three are in Britain to study the EU Referendum as part of ongoing research into British elections that Washburn has been conducting since 2005
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