Referendums

“The Brits would be happier outside. But we don’t want them to leave”: Berlin and Paris

Berlin

By Lord Ashcroft

Last week the focus group trail led the Lord Ashcroft Polls team to the cities British sceptics regard as the heart of the Euro-conspiracy: Berlin and Paris. Again, we assembled groups of men and women with a range of social backgrounds and political leanings, and enlisted the services of a simultaneous translator. How would views in the core of Old Europe compare to what we heard last week in Poland and Bulgaria, particularly when it comes to Britain’s part in things?
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Brexit? A view from “New Europe”

Sofia airport

By Lord Ashcroft

Earlier this month I published my latest research on how British voters are coming to terms with the issues in the EU referendum. There will be plenty more of that to follow. But to add an extra dimension, we decided to peer through the other end of the telescope and find out how our debate looks from elsewhere in Europe – how people in other member states see Britain’s attitude to the EU, what they think about some of the questions British voters are grappling with, what they make of David Cameron’s negotiating demands and, frankly, whether they care if we stay or go. (more…)

Leave to Remain: Public opinion and the EU referendum

1-100 scale

By Lord Ashcroft

Within two years, the UK will have decided whether or not it wishes to remain a member of the European Union. Indeed, two years is the outer limit: the issue could be settled within a matter of months. Yet it is only in the chronological sense that the nation is any closer to making up its mind.

Recent polls suggest the country is closely divided on the referendum question. In this research we have tried to understand the spread of opinion – from Leave to Remain, and the many shades of indecision in between. We have explored what people think is at stake in the referendum, whether and why those things matter, and what could end up shifting opinion in one direction or another. (more…)

Electoral Commission rejects SNP’s biased referendum question

Saltire

By Lord Ashcroft

A year ago I wrote that no self-respecting pollster would ask the question that Alex Salmond planned to put before the people of Scotland in his referendum. The Electoral Commission has come to the same conclusion, rejecting the SNP’s proposed formulation – “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” – and ruling that more neutral wording must be used.

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Is Alex Salmond’s referendum question biased?

Saltire

By Lord Ashcroft

“Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” No self-respecting pollster would ask the question that Alex Salmond proposes to put on the ballot paper in his referendum. As Professor Robert Cialdini, the author of Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion told the Today programme last week, the question Mr Salmond wants to use is “loaded and biased”, because it “sends people down a particular cognitive chute designed to locate agreements rather than disagreements”. My latest poll suggests Cialdini is right.

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‘Fairer votes’? Remember Tiger Hewson!

By Lord Ashcroft

The campaign to change the electoral system likes to call itself “Yes To Fairer Votes”. Under the Alternative Vote, they say, “your next MP would have to aim to get more than 50% of the vote to be sure of winning. At present they can be handed power with just one vote in three”. One vote in three. That doesn’t sound very democratic, does it? Yet those who want to change our voting system to make it fairer should be careful what they wish for, and would do well to reflect on history. In particular they should heed the case of “Tiger” Hewson.

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