Thursday could end up becoming a referendum on Nigel Farage

Thursday could end up becoming a referendum on Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage unveils new  racist  Brexit campaign poster   YouTube

If it does is that good or bad for BREXIT?

I’ve just returned from three weeks in Spain – a holiday that was fixed well before the referendum date was announced and TSE, as usual, has been in charge of the site during my absence. Although I’ve continued to be very active on Twitter I have been viewing things from afar.

    What has struck me on my return is how the total dominant feature of the campaign has become that featured in the controversial poster above and the focus on UKIP leader himself, Mr. Farage.

The Survation finding in its Mail on Sunday poll yesterday that 43% found the poster inflammatory against 28% who said it was fair is perhaps a pointer to the split on what could be the iconic image of the whole campaign.

What’s interesting is how the other side of the LEAVE campaigns have been trying even more to distance themselves from the poster and Farage. Chris Grayling in his Sky interview went to great lengths on this yesterday suggesting that the official OUT campaign recognises the danger.

It is always said that referendums end up being about something other than that which features in the question on the ballot paper. It was beginning to look as though this would be about Cameron but my sense now is that he is much less of an issue and that it centring around Farage – a Marmite politician who totally polarises opinion.

YouGov’s next tracker on which politicians voters most trust on the referendum could be highly illuminating.

Today’s news cycle has started with ex-CON chairman Baroness Warsi quitting VOTE leave and will then turn to the special sitting of the Commons on Jo Cox. Both of these have the potential to reinforce the focus on Farage and his unequivocal positions which resonate very strongly with many but which are also alienating to others.

The question is the extent to which this will drive turnout on Thursday. What we do know is that many in the older age groups who are more likely to vote are very supportive of the UKIP leader. But will that be countered by those who are opposed, making an extra effort to vote? I don’t know.

Before I left for my vacation at the end of May the widespread consensus was that if we were talking about immigration in the final week then REMAIN would win. I’m not sure that that perception still holds.

The one hard bit of information is that turnout amongst those registered to vote by post looks set to be higher than general election levels which, probably points to overall turnout levels on Thursday exceeding the 66% of GE2015.

Mike Smithson

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