John Harris writes: For the last five days I have been driving around England and Wales, filming scores of people as they talk about which way they’ll vote in the European Union referendum.
From ardent leavers in Merthyr Tydfil and undecided people on the English-Welsh borders to university students in Manchester who were 95% for remain, my Guardian colleague John Domokos and I have sampled just about every shade of opinion, and soaked up an atmosphere of often passionate political engagement. If a common journalistic pose is to roll one’s eyes and pronounce oneself impossibly bored with the whole thing, that is not where most people are at all.
Hardly anybody talks about the official campaigns, and the most a mention of the respective figureheads of each camp tends to elicit is a dismissive tut – but just about everyone agrees that this is a fantastically important moment, and a litmus test of the national mood.
What must David Cameron make of it all? This story is unfolding, let’s not forget, because of his ludicrous belief that a referendum might somehow definitively address the EU-related divisions in his own party and the public at large – as if a month or so of political knockabout under Queensberry rules could sort everything out, and the country could then go back to normal.
Fat chance, obviously: he now finds his Eurosceptic foes emboldened by a sense that many Conservative voters are on their side, while politicians of all parties – and Labour people in particular – are gripped by something that has been simmering away for the best part of a decade. To quote the opinion pollsters Populus: “Both socioeconomic groups C2 and DE disproportionately back the UK leaving the EU.” To be a little more dramatic about it, now that Scotland has been through its political reformation, England and Wales are in the midst of a working-class revolt. [Continue reading…]