Friday, April 06, 2012

This tells us precisely what?

The People's Furniture Polish campaign are parading a victory in their private referendum in Thurrock. Nearly ninety percent (89.9 percent) of the people who were issued with ballot papers cast a vote calling for a referendum on withdrawal from the EU, with an overall turnout of 30.39 percent of the 47,995 polled (out of 77,667 on the electoral roll).

That means that, on this day, less than thirty percent of the electorate in the area said they wanted a referendum – without actually expressing their preference as to whether they want the UK to remain a member of the EU.

So, as to how many people would vote for withdrawal from the EU, after a longer, more public campaign, in which would probably be a much larger turnout, we are no better informed. All we do now know is that a self-selecting group, given an opportunity for vote for a referendum, will deliver a 27 percent minority in favour of a referendum.

Given that there is probably an inherent bias, with people in favour of having a referendum more likely to vote, the result is likely to inflate the support for a referendum. – and that is without taking into account that there may be a selection bias in those issued ballot papers.

On balance, therefore, this exercise tells us very little indeed, and is very far from proving anything. It certainly does not support the organisers' view that the political parties at Westminster "are going to have to rethink their attitude to a national referendum on the EU".

And strangely, Your Freedom and Ours isn't terribly impressed either.