Only one in four 'feel well informed' on EU referendum

By agency reporter
June 7, 2016

Only 24 per cent of voters say they feel ‘well’ or ‘very well’ informed about the EU referendum, according to new BMG Research polling released today (7 June 2016) by the Electoral Reform Society.

The polling, released on the day of the deadline to register to vote, shows the number of people who feel well informed about the referendum has hardly changed since February, when 16 per cent reported feeling well or very well informed about the vote, despite months of campaigning, suggesting the campaign has ‘left voters in the dark’. Now, just six per cent say they feel ‘very well informed’ while a further 18 per cent say they feel simply ‘well informed’ about the referendum.

The BMG Research] polling also shows that 22 per cent of people still have not had any contact at all about the vote – despite the government’s pro-EU mail-out to every household in April and an Electoral Commission leaflet in May. The 22 per cent mark is however significantly down on 76 per cent in February, suggesting the leaflets did reach most potential voters. Just two per cent of people have had a campaign visit to their home, while a negligible one per cent have received a campaign telephone call and just six per cent have been approached in the street. 

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 "party spat-dominated debate" so far. The ERS want to see a ‘positive push’ in the final three weeks until June 23rd, and have created an new online toolkit, Better Referendum, to help inform groups of voters on the issues.

Darren Hughes, Deputy Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said: “The fact that under a quarter of the public feel well informed about this referendum – despite months of campaigning - is deeply worrying news. Over one in five people still haven’t had any contact at all about the referendum: the real debate just isn’t getting through.

“Voters have been completely left in the dark on what the real issues at stake are in this referendum – instead they’ve had a debate dominated by personality politics, party spats, and name-calling. The tone of the debate has been overwhelmingly negative, turning voters off from the conversation. The public want to hear about the issues and policies that affect them, but instead have been subjected to a Westminster parlour game.

“We need to have a grown-up, positive referendum debate in these final weeks that really speaks to voters – and inspires them with a vision of what Britain would be like remaining or leaving the EU. As things stand, with voters left out in the cold, the prospects for a strong and decisive turnout and an informed decision on 23 June aren’t bleak. Our new online toolkit, Better Referendum, hopes to deal with that, but the campaigns and media need to pull out the stops in this last stretch to give the public the high-quality referendum debate they deserve. More than that, we need a grassroots debate in every community to take this conversation outside the Westminster bubble.”

* Better Referendum tool here

* Electoral Reform Society http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/

Further resources from Ekklesia on the EU referendum: *What kind of European future? (Ekklesia, 13 June 2016) – http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23160
* Assessing Christian contributions to the EU referendum debate (Ekklesia, 20 June 2016) – http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23188* Ten principles to guide voting in the EU referendum and beyond (Ekklesia, 21 June 2016) - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/23194
* Ekklesia’s EU referendum briefing and commentary: http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/eureferendum

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