I have been driving a London taxi for over 25 years and, of course, in the true tradition of a cab driver, I have engaged my customers in conversation on every subject under the sun.
Six weeks or so ago I turned my attention to the Great Brexit Debate and decided to start polling those eligible to vote in the referendum to canvass opinion and get a feel for the mood of the nation.
What started out as a bit of fun has snowballed into a substantial sample of 701 people so far and nearly four weeks still to go. In, out or undecided is all I asked. I’ve had lessons in history, economics, the pros and cons of migration, immigration, free trade the T.T.I.P treaty, fiscal and political integration, the importance of time zones and yes you’ve guessed- straight bananas.
The standings to date are thus: 53% in, 23% out, and 24% undecided. So, overwhelmingly a vote to remain, particularly as most of those undecided, if they vote will probably vote for the safer option of in. These numbers have been consistent from day one. A breakdown goes something like this: under 30 you’re in, over 60 you’re out. Rural you’re out except in the SW where you might be in or out, ditto in Northern Ireland.
A breakdown goes something like this: under 30 you’re in, over 60 you’re out.
In Scotland you’re in and if you’re metropolitan you’re in and finally if you’re in business 85% wish to remain in. Some have tried to discredit my poll saying those who can afford a taxi are not representative of the nation, but in my defence I argue that because they can afford it, they are more likely to have a job and be in business, therefore a higher proportion will actually vote.
The major concerns are the same for almost all those polled. Immigration, security, red tape, excessive legislation and the sense of being told what to do by unelected bureaucrats. The 53 million pounds a day contribution, the EU gravy train, wage depression and lack of transparency. Real or perceived these are the worries in the minds of the voters.
Migration or immigration, I’m not sure anyone knows the difference these days, remains the most contentious issue outside the metropolitan areas. Those in smaller towns, claim they are swamped with immigrants, for them the change to their towns is rapid and overwhelming bringing pressure on services such as hospitals and schools. Some people think by voting to leave we could establish more control over the numbers of those wishing to come here.
Both sides of the campaign are building up a head of steam, the Brexiteers on a charge led by Boris Johnson riding around the country in his German made bus with Churchillian cries of liberty, freedom and how Britain, unshackled from red tape will rise to new economic heights and prosperity for all will prevail. The government on the other hand talk of a plague of financial disaster, the pound will plummet in value, interest rates will rise, house prices will fall, food prices up and war will ravage Europe.
Fear works in politics. I don’t get the impression from customers they believe the extreme claims by either side but most are naturally conservative and I think will vote accordingly. The uncertainty will be too much to bear, so barring some major catastrophe between now and the 23rd of June it’ll be better the devil you know. We will know then, just how representative Cabpoll was. If correct, the poll suggests divorce is unlikely and our sometimes rocky marriage with the continent is set to continue.