EU Referendum: Start worrying about the polls – get out there and speak to people

Last night I sat at the top of a stationary bus drinking overpriced drinks and, with my mates, conducted a terrible piece of polling about the EU referendum. The good news is that two thirds of the (three) barstaff we quizzed are voting for Remain. The bad news is that this doesn’t mean anything, at all.

Before climbing aboard the stationary bus I’d been outside at Waterloo station as part of a big group talking to people as they made their way out for the night or rushed to catch the train home. The response was mixed and, probably, about right in terms of the polling of Londoners: a majority of people who knew how they were voting said they’re for staying in the EU.

But what struck me most was the amount of people who hadn’t made up their minds – many of them young people. Even more surprising was the amount of busy people who wanted to chat about it. When I asked one woman if she’d decided which way to vote she said ‘No – but i’m looking for my date who I haven’t met before so I can’t talk now’. About ten seconds later she came back and said: ‘Actually give me your one minute pitch.’ Now either she really didn’t like the look of her potential company for the evening, or perhaps, she really did feel that the EU referendum deserved her time over something far more interesting!

I was amazed by how many people’s first reactions was ‘I don’t trust any of the bastards’ or something to that effect. My response was always the same: ‘and so you shouldn’t’. But in every conversation I tried to do two things: 1) Spell out why The Green Party (who, let’s be honest simply aren’t part of an establishment stitch up) want to be in the EU and 2) Give a couple of my own personal reasons for staying in. People challenged me – especially about immigration and the strain on the NHS, but they were up for discussion and many changed their mind. The level of distrust of politicians was overwhelming – making normal conversations so exceedingly valuable.

It was, and I know i’m a weird person who enjoys this kind of thing, an invigorating experience. I’ve never had so many people stop and have proper conversations with me about politics.

And then I woke up and read this poll and it made me more convinced than ever about the need to hit the streets in this referendum. This needs to be a conversation in the pub (which is convenient because a lot of us will be spending a lot of time in the pub watching the football in the coming days). It needs to be talked about on buses, trains and across the dinner table at home. Remain voters need to become remain campaigners; posters need to go up – and we need to inject enthusiasm into the campaign. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Leave campaign has the momentum at the moment, but i’m also more convinced than ever of the fact that every conversation we can have about the EU referendum between now and June 23rd makes a difference. If we aim simply to convince young people to turnout to vote, and aim to dispel just some of the most outrageous myths of the Leave campaign, then we can make a difference.

Of course I might be wrong. Maybe none of it makes a difference. But either way think how stupid we’ll all feel on June 24th if we vote to leave the EU, and think about what that says about our country.

So. Get involved. And do it now:

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