That Blessed Referendum . . .

By | July 15


EU Referendum Result

EU Referendum Result

I am not very expert (ie : I am a total novice) with the art of spreadsheets, but I have managed to concoct the above to show the result, as I see it of the June 2016 referendum on membership of the European Union.

The actual figures culled from the Electoral Commission web site are :

To Leave : 37.5%

To Remain : 34.7%

Abstain : 27.8%

I confess to not being an expert on referendums, but in all the media articles and remarks by bloggers and commentators that I have read (except one) it has become the received opinion that 52% of the UK voted to leave and that 48% voted to remain. Now the population of the UK, according to Wikipedia, is 63,182,000 as of 2013. And according to the Electoral Commission the turn out in the referendum was 33,551,983, and the total electorate was 46,500,001. So it is obvious that the leave vote (17,410,742) and the remain vote (16,141,241) are nothing like half the UK population.

Nobody can pass an opinion about the thoughts of the whole of the UK because there is at present no way of finding them out. Most commentators do not distinguish between :

the total population – “of the UK”, “all of us” etc

the people registered to vote – the electorate

the actual voters.

My little pie chart does, I hope, show that (in very round figures) about a third of the electorate voted to leave, and two thirds didn’t. But the impression now created is that over half of the UK population (the 52%) want out. ¬†Whether or not this will be taken into account in any parliamentary debate I do not know, but on present evidence it looks unlikely. Our new Prime Minister seems to be assuming that ” out” is the verdict, but I suspect the historians of the future will look at these last few weeks with raised eyebrows, and will write earnest essays about popularism versus reasoned examination of facts. But by then I shall be dead, and so might you dear reader.

When I have endeavoured to put forward this point of view on social media I usually get disobliging remarks about the unworthiness of those who did not vote. The readiness to attribute motives (or lack of them) to people totally unknown to the person commenting is one of the worst things about social media, and this referendum has brought that into a sharp and unpleasant focus.

I confess that I considered not voting in the referendum because once the awful and destructive campaigning had begun I realised that the campaigners’ European Union and my European Union were/are two different organisations with totally different objectives. After a time however I bethought me of my visits to the EU Parliament and the Commission in Brussels, and my attempts to learn about the EU from the EU websites, and decided I would vote, and that I would vote to remain in the EU that I knew about, and not the euromythical EU of the campaigners. My point being that had I become one of those non-voters it would have been on principle, and not on laziness or apathy as judged by social media commenters.