The Blog

He Correctly Predicted the Results of the Scottish Referendum and The General Election - Now He's on for a Hat-Trick With the Brexit Referendum!

AS one of the few political pundits who predicted the results of not just the Scottish referendum but also the last General Election, I find it astonishing how much credence is still given to the blizzard of referendum polls.

AS one of the few political pundits who predicted the results of not just the Scottish referendum but also the last General Election, I find it astonishing how much credence is still given to the blizzard of referendum polls.

According to all the latest polls, we are on the very verge of Brexit. Day after day, news outlets are reporting that Brexit hangs by a thread.

Aren't the goose-bumps just rippling up your spine as this Brexit bogeyman creeps ever closer? Isn't it exciting? Think of the big brush that will soon be sweeping through the UK!

Not - of course - that our news outlets are reporting anything other than the truth. They're just spinning what the polls are saying.

However... as a former political correspondent, I do know that scare stories can sell a fair few papers. Who's going to buy a paper which splashes on, "Nothing to worry about folks - we're in for more of the same"?

I'll soon be coming to my oh-so lofty predictions for the Brexit referendum.

But first of all I'll reveal my workings. (And just by the by - I have no axe to grind. I am merely a pundit, sitting cheerily on the fence as I lob grenades at both sides. But how people hate to hear predictions that aren't what they want to hear! You should have heard the howls of outrage at the last General Election when I said that Ed Miliband was a walking disaster.)

My starting premise is, as always, that the polls are utter bollocks. In principle, the polls should work brilliantly. They should be a taster of the entire country. You take a small sip out of a whisky vat and you know how the whole vat will taste.

And that's how it ought to be with a poll.

But you better make pretty certain that your tiny taster is a representative sample.

One of the trickiest areas for the pollsters is those thoughtless swine who consistently refuse to reveal how they're going to vote. They just keep saying, "I don't know!"

And the big question for polling firms is how they then label all these "Don't knows". Do you exclude them from the poll? Do you put them down as, say, half one way and half the other?

But there are a lot of "Don't knows" out there who do know - but who're damned if they're going to reveal their voting intentions to a pollster.

The pollsters had an even tougher time of things during the general election in May 2015. What happened then was that a lot of diehard Labour voters changed their minds when they were actually in the polling booth.

Anyway - onto Brexit. Can I ask one small question. What the hell was David Cameron thinking of?

He must be potty!

Cameron should have been cruising by now - enjoying life as Prime Minister, having lovely weekends at Chequers, making statesmanlike speeches, all that good stuff.

And instead, Cameron - and Cameron alone - has contrived to not only dig this massive elephant trap but to then walk straight into it.

When he pledged to hold a referendum, he thought that he would finally be lancing the boil of Ukip and the Tory Right. He's done anything but. All he's done is give them much more credibility and much more of a voice than they've ever had before.

And far from lancing the boil, all it will do is fester.

Just look at what's happened in Scotland with the Scottish referendum. David Cameron thought he would well and truly cut the SNP's cackle by having a referendum.

And the result? The Union wins the referendum - and the SNP are noisier than ever! They'll keep on wanting referendums until they get the one win they need.

I presume that Cameron only called these two referendums because he was pretty certain he'd win.

Bet he never dreamed it would be so tight.

But the problem with a two horse race is that there are only, well, two horses! And the losing horse, even it's being beaten out of sight, gets a new legitimacy. It also gets a new voice. Just for a kicker, all the TV and radio stations have to give them as much air time as the front-runner.

Over the weekend, it was funny to hear David Cameron saying that this referendum was not about him. Well David - yes and no. This referendum may not be about you. But it will certainly be your legacy - going down as the Prime Minister who nearly did for himself with two entirely self-inflicted referendums.

So: onto my soothsayer-like predictions for the Brexit referendum.

Sorry Brexiteers! We're staying in the EU! I reckon it'll be at least 55-45, probably more.

This is mainly because most people prefer the devil they know.

Secondly, the leading Brexiteers are not exactly top-table - Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, Priti Patel and Chris Grayling. They do not inspire confidence.

Lastly, I think that two out of three "Don't knows" will be voting to stay in the EU.

There you have it - we'll be staying in the EU, the Brussels bureaucrats will continue to drink their fine wines and brandies at our expense, and the Scottish National Party will have to re-think their strategy on how to rid themselves of England.

More interesting though is what David Cameron will do with Boris and Gove and Grayling. There's talk that they'll all be given nice posts in the cabinet as some sort of sop to the Tory Right Wing.

Not me though. If I'd been put through this merry hell by Boris et al, I would be holding my own very special Night of the Long Knives, and would be kicking the whole lot of them out to the furthest reaches of the Back-Benches, where they can plot and scheme to their hearts' content, like old Ted Heath used to do, but where they will not have a single sniff of power.

But I don't think Cameron will do that though. He lacks the necessary steel to kick a man when he's down.