Friday, 23 August 2013

An inconvenient truth for fellow Europhobes

Something happened on the day James Wharton MP introduced his Referendum Bill.  A few scales fell from my eyes.  With just one or two exceptions, all of my friends on Social Media who were also Conservative activists were posting about "Let The People Decide" and dancing a jig that we had finally found the silver bullet which will win us the next election. But their was another story. About 50% of my social media friends are not Conservative members or activists, and something rather strange was happening. Not s single one of them was tweeting or posting about James Wharton or the EU. In fact, I doubt hardly any of them even knew, or cared, who James Wharton was. And if any of them had been privy to my newsfeeds, they would probably have wondered what was going on.

If you feel up to it, you can read my original post HERE

Now as you would expect, we are presently conducting a great deal of Voter ID work as we prepare for the forthcoming elections. Across West Kent we are inviting about 1,000 residents per week to share their views, on the doorsteps, by phone, email or post. As part of that process we ask "which three of the following issues will be most important in deciding how you will vote in 2015?"  They are then offered 17 issues to choose from. If we are face-to-face on the doorstep, we hand them a laminated show card. The top five issues are

  • National Health Service
  • Cost of Living
  • Care for the Elderly
  • Opportunities for the Next Generation
  • Britain's Deficit and Debt
Although the order of the these five vary, the same five issues come top of the list regardless of ward, demography or constituency.

And where is Europe on this list? 

Well, I am sorry to say it comes joint 15th !

I write "sorry to say" because I am sorry. There is nothing I would like more than to be able to report that Europe is the burning issue in every house in Kent. But it isn't.

Sharing this analysis with a campaign group recently, one disappointed chap told me the reason it rated so low was it was 13th on the list and people were clearly bored reading the options by the time the reached it. Another thought it was because I had referred to it as The EU and not Europe, and this confused respondents.

To reassure myself of the validity of the fieldwork, I rewrote the response forms and show cards, I changed The EU to European Union and moved it to the second item on the list.  And guess what happened?  Nothing! The percentages didn't change!

This doesn't mean that people don't care. When we asked 20,000 residents of C&A if Tracey Crouch's vote against increasing the EU Budget made them more likely or less likely to vote for her, 87% said more likely and only 2% less likely (even 81% Labour voters supported her on this issue).  So yes, people do care about Europe; by significant margins they support us on this issue. They want a better deal and they want a referendum. But they don't care about it as much as they do about the economy, health, cost of living, care for the elderly and opportunities for the next generation and almost everything else.

What is interesting, though, is the public's perception of our Party leaders.

Considering 56% of the respondents did not identify as Conservative, those figures should worry the Labour Party very much indeed.


  1. The results we are getting in a very marginal seat, far from Kent, pretty much bear out what you're getting.

  2. Could be that they are worried about the EU, but don't believe it's possible to fix it, or are worried about what would happen if we left. They need to be forced to consider the issue: referendum.

  3. I agree Tim. We need closure on this issue. As Dan Hannan says in his stump speech, "if the people decide our place is in the EU I will pack my bags, hang up my rosette and never darken your doorsteps again." I personally cannot see how DC could possibly extreme the type of concessions that would enable me to vote to remain in, but my post is about how little it actually matters to mainstream voters, and how we won't be going ourselves any favours if we allow our own obsession with the EU to define us.