Prediction for Watford Result: A week ago I wrote: “It will be very, very close. I’m calling the result in Watford District as 51:49 for Leave on the day. If I’m right Britain is headed out of the EU…”.
CW Now: Total Votes Cast: 46,635. LEAVE 23,419 (50.2%) – REMAIN 23,167 (49.6%). LEAVE majority 252. Turnout 71.69%
++Key Experience 1. A week ago I wrote: “The Remainians have been trying to turn the tide on the effectiveness of the views of so-called ‘Experts’… The extent to which they are successful in this as the campaign ends will determine the outcome.”
CW Today: Clear that Government overplayed its hand when it controlled state communication machinery before the Purdah period. Vote Leave side was successfully able to make #ProjectFear tag stick all the way to the end.
++Key Experience 2. A week ago I wrote: "In fact, as a digital strategist I regret to say that social media buzz is a side show or an irrelevance to many working people."
CW Today: Got a lot of criticism from friends particularly those who do social media for FMCG about this comment. Admit it was too sweeping. Of course, young people are influenced by social media. But a lot of people I met who normally never vote but said they would in this plebiscite were not, in my opinion, heavy SM consumers.
++Key Experience 3. A week ago I wrote: "Since Watford is one of the most densely populated and diverse Districts outside of inner-City London, immigration is an important issue here."
CW Today: This important point still stands. Like many, I want to see an Australian-style points based system for UK immigration. If our EU trading partners don’t understand that we don’t accept the Free Movement of People principle, then both sides need to be prepared for tariffs on trade which will hurt European industry more than us in nominal terms (because we have a whopping trade deficit with them) but is counter intuitive, regrettable and will be a petulant move by the EU. Think this is unlikely but... Bottom Line: Free Movement of People must go.
++Key Experience 4. A week ago I wrote: "From the start it was obvious that there was strong support for Brexit in the Asian community in Watford."
CW Today: Stand by this as it is doubtful Leave would have won here without Asian support. Though whether a majority of this Watford community voted Leave is hard to tell.
++Key Experience 5. A week ago I wrote: "[The]…motivation of this [Young People] demographic to actually turn out and choose in this (to them) complex debate is questionable."
CW Today: ‘Nuff said:
++Key Experience 6. A week ago I wrote: "The determination of those who will definitely @Vote_Leave is remarkable. A plague of locusts could descend on Watford District tomorrow and Leave voters will fight their way through to the polling station. Thunderstorms are predicted Referendum day in this Town. Will that make even a marginal difference?"
CW Today: Thunderstorms afflicted Watford Voting District all afternoon on Referendum Day. When you win a campaign by 252 votes in a contest of tens of thousands the degree to which your supporters are motivated makes all the difference. So did the weather in Watford.
++Key Experience 7. A week ago I wrote: "Remain or Leave this event in Watford and nationally will have some serious structural implications for UK politics in terms of the futures of all the main political parties."
CW Today: Watch the news!
++Key 8. A week ago I wrote: "I have been involved in politics for many years and the people who say they ‘Don’t Care’ about voting this time around is the lowest I have ever seen in any plebiscite in my adult life… more people are thinking about the issues at least than for any campaign I have experienced including general elections."
CW Today: Record turnout. People who normally opt out of voting in party political elections made a critical difference in Watford. Despite what all the talking heads in the Westminster bubble and on TV tell us this really was a great exercise in democracy. People were discussing #EURef issues in the streets, in their homes, in places of work. Amazing. Those who say that people weren’t informed are dead wrong. I can’t think of an issue in my lifetime that got more public discussion. Hell, we went to War in Iraq with less public discussion. The worse criticism is those who say that the general public is too stupid to decide such things. This is woefully patronising and ridiculous. And Yes, I would have said this if the Remainians had won. Although I admit it would have been easier for the Leave side to accept the result since the European Union as a political project would have been doomed regardless of the result of UK #EURef. Brexit has given those countries in the East a chance to speak up against ever closer Union and take on the French-German Closer Union Axis.
Final Big Learning For Me: Think you can understand the mood of the British people by sitting on your backside and viewing things through the Internet and accepting a lot of the pap that the global corporatist mass media outlets pump out? Forget it. On important decisions, particularly binary existential ones like the #EURef, hitting the streets and discussing things with people from all walks of life who you live with in your community can't be beat!
Click here to read Gary’s article on “Why UK Watford is one of the most industrious places on earth”