Migration, TV debates, our “special status”, and the Money Saving Expert: my referendum focus groups in Cardiff

My penultimate round of focus groups with undecided voters took place in Cardiff, where many people’s perplexity over the decision at hand was not turning not into enlightenment but exasperation. Among the many words people used to describe the contest so far (“unreliable”, “unrealistic”, “uninformative”, “not that interesting”, “unnecessary”, “a quagmire”, “a lot of bullsh*t”), by far the most common was “confusing”.

The campaign “is not helping one bit. It’s just, ‘this is going to happen’, ‘no it’s not’.” Though practiced in taking politicians’ words with “a pinch of salt”, there seemed to be no firm basis on which to work things out. “How come you get so much difference in the sums they talk about?” “You see the same figures but you hear different facts about them. They’ve got this £350 million figure but remain say it’s nowhere near that. So who do you believe?” “There’s nothing you can hang your hat on.”

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