Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Why Remain lost the European referendum

I came across an article today by Warren Hatter that looks at the reasons the Remain campaign lost the referendum.

I'm not sure quite which body of theory or knowledge it draws on, but it certainly sounds convincing:
It’s not hard to make a case that the main flaw of the Remain campaign was in allowing the debate to be framed by the Leave camp. Framing isn’t a behavioural effect as such, but how something is framed provides the context for decision-making – and biases – to play. 
Taking just one example, the Leave side managed to get ‘freedom of movement’ spoken about as though it’s a one-way street. And this is still true; listen to news pieces even today about the issue, and it’s all about EU citizens’ right to move to the UK, not about UK citizens being able to live in any of 28 countries, as a result of being EU citizens. 
How could the campaign have been run to reframe this? I’ll offer just one example: loss aversion is good to tap into. For UK citizens like me and my family, the Leave campaign was about removing our right to live in 27 of those 28 countries. Expressing it more vividly, they want to take 95% of my/your passport away.


Unknown said...

One possible reason for remain loosing was that the 'lower paid' were having their jobs taken away from them? These jobs were replaced by EU workers Would British low paid workers be able to live and work in the EU or want to. Merkel invited migrants in, these will take the low paid jobs, no vacancies for Brits.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for that example of "framing" - that implicit vision of sturdy English yeomen being sacked to be replaced by shuffling foreigners who can't speak the language but somehow are able to live on less pay (while simultaneously claiming unemployment benefit while probably remitting half of it to an extended family of idlers in some horse-drawn village in the High Tatras).

An appealingly simple story of job-stealing, isolated from geographical or chronological details, readily susceptible to being "sexed up" (as they used to say) with a full range of tabloid angles.

A simple story that saved everyone from having to consider other factors: an economy based on low pay, the baleful influence of supermarkets on the agricultural sector, the baroque complexity of the benefits system that struggled to alleviate poverty while not harmonising with the employment market, an education system that delivered a stream of young adults ready only for the unskilled jobs that had evaporated years previously, ... all the way down to New Labour's failure to use the damping mechanisms that the EU had sanctioned