It’s neatly summed up by the quote from Robert Reich which Ed Maxfield and I used to head up Chapter 4 of the newly updated and expanded 101 Ways To Win An Election:
The emotions invoked by talking about sending money overseas rather than spending it on public services at home, for example, completely trumped counter-arguments about how those numbers were not really as big as claimed.
Those counter-arguments also had the problem that they effectively conceded the case being made by Leavers – that yes, we do send move to European colleagues – and then descended into mathematics rather than justifying the key point. Such as how much more sensible it is to spend money trying to tackle refugee problems at source rather than only waiting for people to come to Britain and then spend money on the issue.
Saying ‘yeah but we don’t really send as much money overseas as you say’ was a far worse response than ‘spending this money directly helps us’ first, only then followed by the attack on the credibility of those who used such dodgy numbers that they’ve spent so much of their time since trying to disassociate themselves from them. That latter may be the more satisfying lead response, but it wasn’t the politically effective one.
Our book is available from Amazon (paperback and Kindle editions), the Guardian Bookshop or Biteback. 101 Ways To Win An Election is also available as a Kobo ebook and as an iBook via iTunes. For more on the referendum result, see the detailed BBC analysis of ward-by-ward data.