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ERS Cymru react to referendum result: ‘Wales must be involved in Brexit talks’

24th June 2016
24 Jun 2016

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Statement from ERS Cymru for immediate release, 8:45am, 24th June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Steve Brooks, Director of Electoral Reform Society Cymru, on 07525619622, Stephen.Brooks@electoral-reform.org.uk


Responding to the European Union referendum result and the announcement by David Cameron of his resignation as Prime Minister, Steve Brooks director of the Electoral Reform Society Cymru said:

“This is a political earthquake, the aftershocks of which will be felt by Wales for many months and possibly years to come.  The overall result across the UK, with London and the Southeast, Scotland and Northern Ireland voting Remain while Wales and the rest of England voting Leave shows a nation divided. 

“We welcome the outgoing Prime Minister’s commitment that the Welsh Government will be involved in Brexit arrangements.  That promise must be honoured by the next prime minister.  But more than that, this cannot and should not be a conversation between two governments at either end of the M4. The people of Wales, civil society and business must also be included in that conversation.”

ENDS

‘Divided nations’ show need for public involvement to build bridges after Leave win

24th June 2016
24 Jun 2016

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Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 09:00, 24th June 2016

 

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

 

Commenting on the result of the referendum, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society [1], said:

“This is a monumental shift and arguably the biggest constitutional change Britain has seen for a generation. We are in uncharted waters and must think very carefully about what happens next.

“We need a national conversation about where Britain goes from here and how our democracy should take shape as the process of leaving the EU takes hold.

“In his resignation speech, David Cameron said that there should be ‘full engagement’ of the governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. We welcome this – but if the referendum has shown anything it is that the public must be involved as well.

“The high turnout of 72% has shown yet again that there’s a huge appetite for thinking about constitutional issues – something we saw with the Scottish referendum. This should be the beginning rather than the end of public involvement.

“But there are stark divisions in the UK that have been laid bare by this referendum – between nations and regions, and between different demographics. Scotland, Northern Ireland and London very strongly voted to stay in the EU, while England and Wales voted to leave. With two nations voting to Leave and two voting to Remain, we’re at risk of constitutional chaos and are witnessing a widening chasm between the countries of the UK. Every effort now needs to be made to build bridges given the closeness of the result – this 52-48 split reflects a divided and fragmented politics in Britain.

“Leave campaigners talked a lot about democracy during the campaign. Let’s put those words into action and reform our democracy at home. Now that the big question about membership of the EU has been answered, the next step should be democratic reform of the UK – including a proportional voting system and an elected House of Lords, which Nigel Farage says should be a top priority.

“What made this referendum different to a General Election is that every vote counted – wherever you were in the country. People felt like their vote had real power – with no safe seats, electoral wastelands or tactical voting - and that seems to have fed through to a high turnout.

“The government will now be negotiating the nuts and bolts - our terms of departure, a future trade deal and how to fill the legislative and constitutional gap that will appear once we’ve fully exited the EU. The public need to have a say in the negotiations that follow this vote. These talks and decisions mustn’t be taken behind closed doors - the devil is in the detail, so they must be open for scrutiny.

“The country is still divided over this – and will be for some time to come - so big efforts will have to be made to bring the country together, and to involve voters in what could be a long process.  

“Either way, we need a way to unite a fragmented country in the aftermath of this result and to involve everyone in the big constitutional changes to come.” 

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/constitutional-convention and http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/sites/default/files/How%20to%20do%20a%20Convention%20Mar%202016.pdf

[2] See the ERS’ and leading universities’ Citizens’ Assemblies on devolution - http://citizensassembly.co.uk/ and http://electoral-reform.org.uk/press-release/academics-and-campaigners-launch-%E2%80%98citizens%E2%80%99-assemblies%E2%80%99-debate-uk%E2%80%99s-constitutional

Electoral Reform Society Scotland Calls For Constitutional Convention As Referendum Shows 'Nations Divided'

24th June 2016
24 Jun 2016
Tags: 
ERS Scotland
EU referendum
Brexit
EU
referendum

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Electoral Reform Society Calls For Constitutional Convention As Referendum Shows 'Nations Divided'

  • ERS Scotland warns of “constitutional chaos” as Scotland, Northern Ireland and London vote remain despite overall ‘leave’ result
  • Scottish independence back on agenda as Salmond predicts second independence referendum and Greens launch petition to keep Scotland in EU
  • Campaigners criticise “piecemeal and ad hoc” approach to previous constitutional change, and calls for “joined-up deliberation” which “lets the public in”

Statement from Electoral Reform Society Scotland for immediate release, June 24th, 2016

For media enquiries, contact: Rory Scothorne, ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser (Policy), on rory.scothorne@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07988157783, or Katie Gallogly-Swan, ERS Scotland Campaigns Organiser, on Katie.galloglyswan@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07930862497

The Electoral Reform Society Scotland has called for a constitutional convention to avoid “constitutional chaos” after the UK voted to leave the European Union - despite Scotland, London and Northern Ireland voting to remain.

ERS Scotland criticised the “piecemeal and ad hoc” approach to previous constitutional change and are calling for future change to involve "joined-up deliberation" to “let the public in” following the conflicted result.

Scotland voted to remain in the EU by 62% to 38%, with every local authority voting for remain, but 52% of the UK as a whole voted to leave. The result has led to renewed calls for Scotland to find a way of staying in the EU despite the UK-wide result, with the Scottish Green Party launching a petition called “keep Scotland in Europe” which asks Holyrood’s politicians to “examine and exhaust every option for continuing Scotland’s close ties with Europe.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has previously said that if Scotland voted to remain while the UK as a whole voted to leave, it could constitute a sufficient “material change” to justify another referendum on Scottish independence from the UK. Former SNP leader Alex Salmond has predicted that Sturgeon would now “implement the SNP manifesto” which proposed a second referendum under such circumstances.

Spokesperson for ERS Scotland Rory Scothorne said:

“We are clearly in uncharted political waters here. The governments of the UK should very quickly issue a joint holding statement on how they might plot a course through this turbulent constitutional time. This vote poses big questions about the constitution of the UK as a political entity going forward, with the UK’s nations divided. Without action now we risk descending into constitutional chaos, and it’s vital that the public are involved in the discussions that lie ahead about the ramifications of this split vote.  

"Despite an unremittingly negative campaign, people took their democratic duty seriously and turned out in higher than expected numbers. The public's appetite to engage in constitutional issues, seen first in the independence referendum and reflected in yesterday’s turnout – higher than the recent Holyrood election – is clear. The referendum should mark the beginning not the end of involving the public in shaping future democracy in Scotland and the UK.

“It’s more clear than ever that we need a citizen-led constitutional convention to bring citizens and politicians together to seriously discuss the democratic future of the UK. The constitutional changes we’ve seen in recent years have been piecemeal and ad hoc – it’s time for some joined-up deliberation and to let the public in. All parties across the UK should now come together to discuss how best to start this essential process.”  

ENDS

Under a third of voters feel well-informed about EU referendum

23rd June 2016
23 Jun 2016

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Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 21st June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


A new BMG Research poll for the Electoral Reform Society [1] shows only 31% of people feel well or very well informed about their EU vote. 

While up from the February result of 16%, the poll is a stark indication of the state of the debate, say the ERS, with millions of voters ‘still left in the dark’.

Since last month’s data in the tracker series, the number of people who feel well-informed or very well-informed has increased slightly (from 24% in May to 33% in June [2]).

The Electoral Reform Society has argued that the debate has been a ‘top-down, Westminster-dominated affair’ that failed to reach voters or create a genuine dialogue, and launched an online tool, Better Referendum [3], to help inform voters – featuring both official campaigns.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Despite some progress since the start of the campaign, many people will be going into their polling stations feeling left in the dark by a campaign which has too often seemed like a Westminster parlour game, rather than the crucial constitutional decision that it is.

“That under a third of the public feel well informed about the referendum is a damning indictment on the fact that this debate has been largely confined to personality politics and party spats rather than a genuinely national conversation. The lack of a decent public information campaign also has had an impact as has the short amount of time available for people to get to grips with the issues for themselves.

“After this referendum, we need to learn every single lesson from not only this referendum but the vote on Scottish independence and the Alternative Vote referendum to make sure we don’t repeat the mistakes and to draw on what’s worked. We need a root and branch review of when, why and how we conduct referendums in the UK – and the public need to be involved in this conversation.

“Referendums are one-off events and with this one over, now we need to find sustainable ways to keep people connected with politics in their everyday lives.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

 

Feb-24

Mar-31

Apr-26

May-25

Jun-16

 

Total

Total

Total

Total

Total

Very well informed

4%

7%

5%

6%

9%

Well informed

12%

16%

16%

16%

24%

About average

39%

39%

42%

42%

39%

Poorly informed

32%

26%

28%

24%

20%

Very poorly informed

14%

13%

10%

10%

8%

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1638 UK adults, conducted online between 10th and 16th June. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] BetterReferendum.org.uk (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) was launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

Poll: 67% say they’re definitely voting today

23rd June 2016
23 Jun 2016

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But ERS warns of potentially lower turnout and ‘stark demographic divides’

For immediate release, 14:30, 23rd June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Turnout in today’s EU referendum could be similar to last year’s General Election, as a BMG Research poll for the Electoral Reform Society shows that 67% of people say they’ll definitely vote.

The BMG Research polling [2] shows that another 12% say they’ll ‘probably vote’, and is up slightly from the 62% who said they’d definitely vote in the same poll last month.

66% of people voted in last year’s General Election. However, people generally overstate their own likelihood to vote.

The polling, conducted between 10th-16th June, also points to a significant ‘demographic divide’ – with just 54% of 18-24 year olds saying they’d definitely vote today, compared to 79% of over 65s. While up on last month’s 47% for 18-24 year olds, it is still a ‘stark gap’, says the ERS.

71% of ABC1 individuals say they’ll definitely vote, compared to just 62% of those from poorer C2DE backgrounds.

The findings are compounded by the new polling which shows that just 31% of people feel ‘well’ or ‘very well’ informed about the referendum. There is a clear link between how well informed people feel and their likelihood to vote, leading the ERS and leading universities to set up an online ‘toolkit’ featuring both official campaigns and experts, Better Referendum [3], to help groups of voters ‘clue themselves up’ ahead of the 23rd.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“Considering the fact that this is a once in a generation vote, the fact that turnout could be similar or lower than last year’s General Election is a shame if true. This referendum is arguably more important than a General Election as every votes counts and the result will affect the UK for decades to come. 

“While it’s positive that this is up on the last poll – when 62% said they’d definitely vote, these findings are still concerning, and we hope everyone uses the time left to exercise their right on this crucial issue. This matters because a poor turnout risks people viewing this issue as unclosed, and we could see calls for further referendums or questioning of the validity of the result from either side.

“The outcome of this vote should be decided by the vast majority of Brits – nobody wants a result based on a small minority of registered voters. Instead this is an opportunity to have a decisive result, so we hope everyone gets out to vote before the 10pm deadline.

“The demographic gap is worrying – with 71% of wealthier Brits saying they’ll vote compared to just 62% of those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds, and with only half of 18-24 year olds saying they’ll vote. This referendum can’t be decided by one demographic on behalf of another – it needs to be the result of a great national conversation involving everyone.

“One of the main reasons appears to be that voters feel completely left in the dark about this debate, with only 31% feeling well informed. The public are switched off from this vital debate – and it’s no surprise given the Westminster parlour games and party spats that have dominated that campaign.

“There’s still some time to get out there and vote – so we urge everyone to turn up and have their say.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1638 UK adults, conducted online between 20th-25th May. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] BetterReferendum.org.uk (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) has being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

Poll: BBC has been most important source of info on EU referendum

22nd June 2016
22 Jun 2016
Tags: 
EU referendum
EU
BBC
Better Referendum

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Poll finds newspapers are second most important info source, at 20%

Statement from the Electoral Reform Society for immediate release, 21st June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


34% of the public say the BBC is their most important source of information about the EU referendum, with a fifth saying newspapers are most important in helping them make their decision, according to new BMG Research polling for the Electoral Reform Society released today.

Almost the same proportion of people who view newspapers as most important to their decision rank family as the top factor, at 18%.

The poll also shows that social media is playing a significant role in this campaign, with 16% of people viewing it as their most important referendum information source, the same as the proportion who view friends as the most important when it comes to Thursday’s vote.

However, there are stark demographic divides within Britain when it comes to who voters count on for their EU knowledge.

When asked to pick three, only 24% of 18-24 year olds view the BBC as one of their most important sources of information about the referendum – compared to 41% of over 65s. Almost double the proportion of over 65s say newspapers are their most important source of information – 29% to 18-24 year olds’ 16%. Meanwhile, 25% of over 65s view the Leave campaign as their most important source of information – to only 13% of 18-24 year olds.

33% of 18-24 year olds view social media as one of their most important source of EU info – yet the figure falls to just 8% for over 65s.

There’s also a clear gender gap, with women being far more likely to trust family on the EU - 23% of women view family as a crucial port of call about the referendum, compared to just 13% of men. The proportion rises to 27% among 18-24 year olds, but is just 15% for over 65s. Over 65s count on friends much less regarding the EU, with just 12% viewing them as a ‘most trusted’ decision-making helper, compared to 23% of 18-24s. 

On party backgrounds, Conservatives are more likely to rely on newspapers – 25% of Conservative supporters to 20% of Labour backers, while Labour supporters rely much more on social media – 23% to the Tories’ 13%. Just 25% of UKIP supporters trust the BBC most for their EU information, and only 4% see the government as most important for their decision-making. A startling half – 48% - of UKIP backers say the Leave campaign itself is their most important source of information on the EU referendum.

The Electoral Reform Society argue it’s more essential than ever, given the huge demographic divides and the differing trustworthiness of different information sources, for all voters to access comprehensive, independent resources on the referendum. The ERS are calling for the public to use Better Referendum - an impartial online toolkit on the vote,, featuring both official campaigns and independent experts discussing a variety of central issues.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“While it’s great that people are getting their information about the EU from a variety of sources, in these last couple of days it’s crucial that voters get the facts and opinions from both sides to help them reach an informed decision. The debate has been incredibly negative and left many still searching for answers to fundamental questions about the UK’s relationship with the EU.

“The big demographic divides in how people are getting their information shows that we need to do all we can to create a level playing field in this last couple of days, in order to ensure we’ve had a genuinely balanced debate with equal access to the views and facts. There’s a real concern that some voters will just be getting their views from whichever ‘echo chambers’ they are part of – and that we could have a decision based on one-sided information sources.

“Our Better Referendum tool aims to bring all the arguments and the facts on the big issues together and in one place. In this last couple of days, it’s vital that the public have all the resources they can to make a truly informed decision this Thursday.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1638 UK adults, conducted online between 10th and 16th June. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] BetterReferendum.org.uk (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) has being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

One in six still haven’t been contacted about EU referendum

21st June 2016
21 Jun 2016

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For immediate release, 21st June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


With just a few days to go before the referendum, new polling for the Electoral Reform Society by BMG Research [1] shows that 16% of people say they haven’t been contacted about the EU referendum.

The vast majority – 72% - say they have however had a leaflet, while 14% have received an email about the referendum, according to the BMG polling [2]. Yet just 3% have had a phone call by one of the campaigns, while an even smaller 2% have had a visit to their home, and 8% have been approached in the street – suggesting the ground campaign hasn’t been as far-reaching as the media war, or advertising and leaflets, leaving many voters in the dark. Last week the ERS revealed a ‘gaping demographic gap’ in the referendum debate, with just 55% of C2DE Brits saying they will vote compared to 67% of wealthier ABC1 individuals.

The ERS believe the findings suggest the debate has been a ‘top-down, Westminster-dominated affair’ that isn’t getting to voters in person or creating a real dialogue – a view compounded by the fact that just 22% of people feel well-informed about the referendum.

Given the fact that the referendum campaigns are still failing to reach many people and that so few feel well-informed, the ERS are urging voters to use a new online ‘toolkit’ featuring both official campaigns and experts, A Better Referendum [3], to help inform groups of voters ahead of the 23rd. The Electoral Reform Society are calling for a lively grassroots debate on the ‘politics, rather than the party spats’, for the final days of the campaign to replace what has so far been ‘negative and personality-dominated debate’.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“That one in six people have had zero contact about the referendum – with just a few days to go – is a stark sign that, outside of Westminster, this conversation clearly isn’t reaching everyone.

“While the vast majority of people have received a leaflet, just a tiny fraction of people have had any in-person discussion or dialogue when it comes to contact about the referendum. For the public, the campaigns appear to have been confined to the airwaves and mail-drops rather than real engagement or informed debate.

“For this to be a truly national conversation and a decisive result, everyone needs to have had some contact about the referendum, and the campaigns should leave no stone unturned in this last few days to get the message out there to where they haven’t yet reached.

“Voters need the arguments from both sides, as well as impartial information from the experts, which is why we’ve launched A Better Referendum – our online toolkit featuring both official campaigns as well as independent academics. We’ve got the facts in one place so that voters can educate themselves ahead of Thursday. If the campaigns aren’t doing it, voters will have to do it themselves.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

The ERS are putting out more polling over the coming days. Contact Josiah Mortimer to discuss exclusives on:

·        How well informed voters feel

·        How voters perceive the ‘big beasts’ of the debate – whether the main politicians have changed voters’ minds

·        The most trusted sources of information for voters about the referendum

·        How positive/negative voters view each of the campaigns

·        How voters perceive different interest groups donating to the campaigns

Notes

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1468 UK adults, conducted online between 10th and 16th June. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] BetterReferendum.org.uk (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) is a project by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

Operations note: Electoral Reform Society spokespeople available for comment/interviews over referendum period

20th June 2016
20 Jun 2016

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Operations note: Electoral Reform Society spokespeople available for comment/interviews over referendum period

20th June 2016. For bookings or for more information contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on Josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07717211630.

Spokespeople from the Electoral Reform Society will be available for comment and interviews over the referendum period – including the day of the referendum and throughout Thursday night.

ERS spokespeople will be able to provide comment and interviews on:

  • General referendum commentary – including the referendum process itself
  • Comparisons to the 2011 referendum on the Alternative Vote, which the ERS played a key role in. ERS Chief Executive Katie Ghose was Chair of the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign
  • Comparisons to the Scottish referendum, including difference in levels of engagement/awareness
  • Turnout – both likely and final, and analysis of potential reasons for high/low turnout.
  • The state of the referendum debate and nature/tone of the campaign
  • Overall interest in the referendum
  • Specific national commentary for Scotland and Wales

Spokespeople and availability

  • Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society and Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society will be available for TV, radio and phone interviews from London and the Manchester count on Thursday (including throughout the night), as well as on Friday in the day. Contact Josiah Mortimer (details at the top) to arrange an interview.
  • ERS Cymru Director Steve Brooks will be available for radio/TV and phone interviews on Thursday (including throughout the night) and Friday from Cardiff. Contact Stephen.Brooks@electoral-reform.org.uk to arrange an interview.
  • ERS Scotland spokespeople Katie Gallogly-Swan and Rory Scothorne will be available for radio/TV and phone interviews throughout Thursday and Friday from Edinburgh and Glasgow. Contact Katie.GalloglySwan@electoral-reform.org.uk or Rory.Scothorne@electoral-reform.org.uk to arrange an interview.

The Electoral Reform Society is a key commentator on the referendum and issues surrounding it, and can offer high-quality insight from a neutral point of view, as well as on what the organisation would like to see happen following the different results.

The ERS is Britain’s longest-standing and most prominent organisation campaigning for a better democracy in the UK. For more information see here: www.electoral-reform.org.uk and follow us during the referendum period on Twitter.

To arrange an interview with one of the spokespeople listed above, or for more information contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on Josiah.mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk or 07717211630.

Low turnout feared as only 62% say they’ll definitely vote in #EUref

16th June 2016
16 Jun 2016

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For immediate release, 16th June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


Campaigners are warning of a low turnout and a ‘worrying demographic divide’ in the EU referendum - which alongside a close result could lead to the perception that the result on June 23rd will be ‘inconclusive’.

The poll by BMG Research [1] commissioned by the Electoral Reform Society points to a significant ‘demographic divide’ in that 67% of wealthier ABC1 individuals say they’ll definitely vote, compared to just 55% of those from poorer C2DE backgrounds. This is alongside the fact that just 62% of people say they’ll definitely vote in next week’s referendum. Moreover, BMG Research revealed a worrying age gap recently, with just 47% of 18-24 year olds saying they’ll definitely vote, compared to 80% of those aged 65 or older.

The BMG Research polling [2] shows that another 14% say they’ll ‘probably’ vote - but voters tend to overstate their own likelihood to vote in polls, meaning that the actual result could be even lower.

The findings released today are compounded by the fact that just 22% of people feel ‘well’ or ‘very well’ informed about the referendum, up just six percentage points from February. There is a clear link between how well informed people feel and their likelihood to vote.

To deal with the fact that so few voters feel well informed about the referendum issues, the Electoral Reform Society are calling for a lively grassroots debate on the ‘politics, rather than the personalities’, in the midst of what they argue has been a Westminster-dominated affair so far. The ERS and leading universities have created a new online ‘toolkit’ featuring both official campaigns and experts, Better Referendum [3], to help inform groups of voters ahead of the 23rd.

Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“These findings are deeply concerning, and show there is a real risk of a low turnout and a demographic divide when voters go to the ballot box on June 23rd. A poor turnout alongside a close result poses the risk that people will view the decision as inconclusive, and we could see calls for further referendums or questioning of the validity of the result from either side.

“The last thing anyone wants to see is a contested and challenged outcome. Instead this is an opportunity to have a decisive result, so the campaigns should be doing everything they can do boost turnout, particularly among those groups that are most ‘switched off’ from the debate so far. Millions applied to register to vote in the month and few days before the registration deadline, a real opportunity to engage more people and from more backgrounds.

“However, the demographic gap is worrying – with 67% of wealthier Brits saying they’ll vote compared to just 55% of those from poorer socioeconomic backgrounds, and under half of 18-24 year olds saying they’ll vote. This referendum can’t be decided by one demographic on behalf of another – it should be the result of a great national conversation involving everyone.

“One of the main reasons appears to be that voters feel completely left in the dark about this debate, with only 22% feeling well informed. The public are switched off from this vital debate – and it’s no surprise given the Westminster parlour games and party spats that have dominated that campaign.

“It doesn’t have to be like this however. With a week to go until the referendum, voters have a small window of opportunity to get clued up, away from the personality politics of the campaign and stat-hurling of the campaign so far. Our Better Referendum online tool is a chance to do just that and we hope potential voters make use of it in this crucial last week.”

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

Notes

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1638 UK adults, conducted online at the end of May. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] BetterReferendum.org.uk (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) has being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).

 

Public switched off by ‘big names’ wading into EU referendum debate

10th June 2016
10 Jun 2016

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For immediate release, 10th June 2016

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk


New polling for the Electoral Reform Society by BMG Research shows that ‘big names’ wading into the referendum debate has in almost all cases had the opposite effect to the one intended on how people will vote, or had no impact at all.

The ERS commissioned BMG Research to ask voters how the interventions of major politicians into the EU referendum debate has affected how they will vote on June 23rd.

Analysing the results, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:

“These surprising findings show that the public are completely switched off by the ‘big names’ of the EU referendum debate. Voters are tired of personality politics and it’s driving them away from engaging with the referendum, with the public seeing it as a battle within parties and Westminster rather than the crucial decision for Britain’s future that it is.

“Almost all interventions from heavy-hitting Leave and Remain figures have made people more likely to vote to Leave or had no impact, perhaps an indication in a campaign largely perceived as top-down and Westminster-dominated people are viewing Leave as the anti-establishment ‘option’. Hearing only from polarising or controversial figures could be making voters turn away from the arguments they are hearing, which strengthens the need for the public to have their own mediated debates in communities across the UK, something the ERS and university partners are enabling through our Better Referendum initiative. [3].

“Party cues are important in referendum campaigns - in complex constitutional matters voters look for guidance from political figures they respect – and party loyalties matter. But interventions from the ‘big beasts’ should go hand in hand with a mature, issues-based and positive debate, alongside grassroots conversations in every part of the UK – the kind of lively discussions we saw with the Scottish referendum. Referendums only work when accompanied by the opportunity for the public to grasp the agenda for themselves.

“The interesting feature of this referendum is that party cues are mixed, with the Conservative party divided and many Labour supporters unsure of Labour’s official position to support Remain. That makes good arguments and the quality of information more important, yet the personality focus and parlour games means people aren’t getting what they are looking for and are ending up more confused. In these last few weeks, it’s time to pull out all the stops and stimulate lively, grassroots conversation the public deserves.”

The research shows that:

  • Boris Johnson’s contribution to the debate has made 20% of people more likely to vote to Remainonly five percentage points less than those it made more likely to Leave. 21% of 25-34 year olds said his contribution has made them more likely to vote to Remain, compared to 14% for Leave. 34% of Labour voters say it has made them more likely to vote Remain, to just 14% Leave, suggesting they are following party cues, while it had no impact on 55% of voters.
  • David Cameron’s contribution to the campaign has made 29% of people say they’re more likely to vote Leave, compared to 15% for whom it has made more likely to vote Remain. 33% of Conservatives say it’s made them more likely to vote Leave, alongside 26% of Labour voters. The ERS believe this is a reflection of party cues being split at senior levels between Leave and Remain. 56% of people say Cameron’s interventions have had no impact on their vote.
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s interventions have had no impact on 68% of the public, while it has made 19% more likely to vote Leave – compared to just 13% it’s made more likely to stay. However, it has had some impact on young people, making 17% (to 12% against) of 18-24 year olds more likely to Remain. For over 65s, it has made 29% more likely to vote Leave. It has had an impact on Labour voters, making 31% (to 8%) more likely to vote to Remain, but has mobilised Conservatives against Remain by 2:1 (21% to 10%), again consistent with the analysis above.
  • Nigel Farage’s interventions have had the intended impact, making 22% more likely to vote to Leave, compared to 17% he’s made more likely to vote Remain. However, it has had no impact on 61% of voters, while making 25% of 18-25 year olds more likely to get out and vote Remain. He has encouraged more Conservative voters to opt to Leave (19% to 15%)…while by a factor of 2:1 encouraging more Labour members to vote Remain (32% to 14%). Again, we are seeing a controversial figure galvanise as many to oppose as to support his views.
  • Nicola Sturgeon has made 15% of people across the UK more likely to vote Leave, to 9% who’ll now be more likely to vote Remain – while 75% of people say her contribution has had no impact on their decision. Although the sample is small, 24% of those in Scotland say her intervention means they’re more likely to vote Leave, to 18% Remain.
  • Alan Johnson’s intervention has had no impact on 83% of voters, making 10% more likely to vote Leave and 7% more likely to vote Remain, within the margin of error.
  • Barack Obama’s entry into the campaign made 24% more likely to vote Leave, compared to 16% more likely to stay, although 31% of 18-24 year olds said it made them more likely to vote to Remain.    
  • Finally, Donald Trump’s intervention has had the desired impact, with his call for Britain to Leave making 19% more likely to Leave, compared to 10% it’s made more likely to stay. 70% of people say he’s had no impact on their decision.

 

The ERS and leading universities around the UK have set up an online toolkit for the EU referendum called Better Referendum, to take groups of voters through the issues and encourage them to organise their own debates [3]

ENDS

For more information, quotes or to arrange an interview, contact Josiah Mortimer, ERS Communications Officer, on 07717211630 or Josiah.Mortimer@electoral-reform.org.uk

 

Notes

 

The ERS’ logo is available here:https://www.dropbox.com/s/beno8jb5foind7k/ERS%20Logo%20colour%20on%20white%20copy.jpg?dl=0A photo of Katie Ghose is available here:https://www.dropbox.com/s/yrtpmyci4vmggcf/Katie%20Ghose%20-%20Credit%20Gus%20Palmer.jpg?dl=0

[1] http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/

[2] Representative poll of 1638 UK adults, conducted online between 20th-25th May. For full cross-tabs contact Josiah Mortimer (details above).

[3] Better Referendum (contact Josiah Mortimer for more information) has being launched by Democracy Matters, a collaboration between the Electoral Reform Society, the Crick Centre for the Understanding of Politics (University of Sheffield), Centre of the Study of Democracy (University of Westminster), and the Centre for Citizenship, Globalisation and Governance (University of Southampton).