On the referendum #22: Some numbers for the Vote Leave campaign

This blog is a PDF as it is takes too much time to cut and past the text and fix the formatting of charts.


Please leave comments.

8 thoughts on “On the referendum #22: Some numbers for the Vote Leave campaign

  1. You said on page 14 – ‘ (NB. something odd happened on the last day,
    spending reduced but impressions rose by many millions so our cost per impression fell to a third of the cost on 22/6 which is not what one would expect and we never bothered going back to Facebook to ask what happened.)

    Reckon Leave.eu ran out of money or stopped competing with you for ad placement – thus the price fell and your impressions increased.


  2. Once again, a very interesting article. I would be interested to know if you could expand upon

    “We partly, but only partly, got around this problem by developing some new polling methods that operate on completely different principles, including different maths to the basic statistics used in standard polling since the 1930s, which also allowed much better social media targeting than normal polling.”

    Or could point me in the direction of something which could, as it pertains to your campaign.


  3. Re an activist tracking app. You would find it VERY hard to get volunteers to agree to install such an app. It was a tough sell getting more than a few of them to install the Vote Leave app that eventually came out, if they knew it was for monitoring purposes they would likely refuse. It was hard getting decent information out of many of the activists – ultimately there had to be a lot of trust and guesswork.

    Given they are putting their precious spare time in, for free, we needed to build a trusting and nurturing relationship with our best activists – lest they bugger off to GO or sit out the campaign altogether out of frustration (it is frustrating work no matter what level they worked at, especially given most of the sensible ones expected we’d end up losing). It’s not like an employer-employee relationship where you can tell people what to do and expect them to do it, as you acknowledge, we could only give them a lot of strong guidance with ultimate freedom to do things in their own way (if only political parties understood this) and I think putting a tracker on them would erode the ‘trust’ element of that relationship.

    And thank you very much for the shout-out, quite undeserved as any of my achievements were only built on the hard work of a multitude of exceptional volunteers (some of whom so deep within the network I never saw what they actually put in). Particular credit to skilled volunteer organisers Jane James, Peter Garland, Molly Giles, Adam Higgs and Josh O’Nyons – all of whom went above and beyond for the campaign.


  4. Really interesting. I think what stands out most to me, aside from all the numerical stuff I don’t understand, is the way your campaign did not focus on what you had identified as the reasons you wanted to Leave, as adumbrated in the Spectator piece if I recall correctly, as to insulate the UK from future EU catastrophes, prod Europe to change course, require government fundamentally and improve the chances of better systems for international cooperation. Or thereabouts. But Turkey/NHS/£350m was, as I think Shipman quotes you, the baseball bat with which the 35-55 non-London or Scot you identify could be exercised by. Campaigns are actually speaking to a very small number of people aren’t they. Even moreso I suppose in General Elections where only a few dozen seats actually matter. For a Campaign Director to think with such humility about the limited extent to which his own campaign will make a shred of difference deserves praise and recognition.

    I do not see, having read Shipman’s book, that Remain got this at all. They were not prepared to counter simple messages, whereas they’d have won all day long if the Paleosceptics had been given the opportunity to fart on about esoteric EU marginalia incapable not only of persuading undecideds, but also of mobilising Leavers who mightn’t bother to turn out. No-one has ever had their mind changed by Bill Cash.


  5. Sorry, two questions if it’s not too cheeky to ask… One – Leave got 38% in Scotland despite as you say basically no VL campaigning, all of its 59 MPs and, I think (could be wrong but not by much), all 129 MSPs declaring for Remain. 38% seems a hell of a performance under the circs*.

    Let’s say you’d have concluded that the Scottish vote might actually be of fundamental importance and you had to mobilise it. How might you have gone about doing so given the different dynamic up there? For instance Moray, with its ruined fishing industries, voted 50-50, border areas where there are loads of English, big family links with England, strongly anti-independence etc, voted about 53-47 I think, which is what Remain in England were meant to win by. It seems that about a third of SNP voters voted Leave. How might these things have played out had Scotland required major VL focus, apart from locking Nigel Griffiths in a cupboard?

    Two – I’m amazed at how few Paleosceptics were prepared to bother their arses to actually campaign or in fact do anything useful. To what do you attribute this? Tory party stuff? Couldn’t be arsed? Didn’t in fact want to win? Had already decided they wouldn’t win?

    * A favourite moment of the BBC coverage of mine was when after only a few results had been declared John Mann told Dimbleby that he couldn’t understand why it hadn’t already been declared for Leave. His reasoning was that if Dundee had voted only 60-40 to stay then Remain was clearly buggered elsewhere.


    • Dunno what we’d have done in Scotland sensible IF it had seemed like a serious campaign could have been launched there but it was clear from the start that a) almost nobody with any firepower would help us, b) raising any serious ground army there would be impossible in the time given (a) (if 2017 then cd have been different), and c) discussing Scotland was largely a time sink with Tory MPs babbling about the same five people who might have a dinner party at some grand estate with great stag hunting…


  6. With regard to the winning £350m/NHS/Turkey message I have always had reservations about use of the gross contribution figure rather than the net. The net figure of £180m (or whatever is) is still large and I doubt if using this lower figure would have made much difference in terms of effectiveness of the message. To me the problem with using the £350 figure was that it gave the Remain camp ammunition to challenge Leave’s figures and intentions and it is still being used by the Remoaners for the same purpose.
    I would be interested to know the thinking behind the decision to use the gross rather than net figure.


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