On 19th August last year I posted on a debate held in Westminster Hall, said debate about the need to renegotiate a new relationship for the UK with the EU. In that post I highlighted a comment made by Peter Lilley that where there is opinion poll data, it shows that on average there is a 17% swing back in favour of the status quo, which means it is necessary to start with a 34% lead for change to have a 50% chance of winning.
Just three days ago I posted extracts from a transcript of the BBC Radio 4 programme, transmitted at 8.00 pm, Thursday 3rd February 2000, entitled “Document: A Letter to the Times”. The Boiling Frog has managed to find the original source from which Eurofacts quoted, this source being a newsletter from 2000 issued by the Economic Research Council. From this comes an interesting statistic and one which bears out Lilley’s assertion:
“Looking at all the polls taken by Gallup, NOP and Harris, figures during 1970 range between 20 and 24% ‘for’ membership of the EEC and between 55 and 64% ‘against’. The mid-year (and average) is 22% ‘for’ and 60% ‘against’ – 82% of voters having an opinion with the rest ‘don’t knows’. In 1972 the figures range between 36 and 42% ‘for’ and 41 to 46%‘against’. The furthest opinion swung towards membership was in August when Gallup reported 40% ‘for’ and 42% ‘against’. Coincidentally this also meant-that 82% of voters had an opinion and the number of ‘don’t knows’ remained the same as in 1970. One can therefore say that between mid 1970 and mid 1972 (when Parliament voted for membership) 18% of voters changed their minds from being ‘against’ to being ‘for’. On reflection, 18% was no great achievement. With enough money, broadcasting clout and spin skills and faced with only a voluntary and deliberately ill-informed opposition, it was inevitable that the less well informed voters would succumb.”
It is worth noting that not much has changed since 1972, with probably one exception. Those presently campaigning to prevent an exit by the UK still have enough money. still have broadcasting clout and spin skills – and are still faced with a voluntary and, dare one say, deliberately ill-informed opposition. The one exception to which I referred is the fact that those presently campaigning against an exit by the UK are bigger liars than was Edward Heath.