Here’s just a quick reflection on today’s escapade. It was Magna Carta Day in the small Surrey town of Egham. This is an annual event that has been going since the 1990s. Last year, at this time, there was the Magna Carta 800th anniversary commemorations. So, here we are having a fundamental referendum on our relationship with Europe in the 801th year since the signing of the Magna Carta.
One of this Surrey town’s more notable establishments is the Royal Holloway, University of London. Fortunately, Royal Holloway and its students had stepped in at the last moment and organised a street stall. Sue and I, and a few of our local Liberal Democrat colleagues joined the Stronger IN stall in the High Street. This was nicely decked with union jack flags and one big blue European flag. It was a great to be working with the enthusiastic young students on the stall.
Much literature was given away and the vast majority of people we met as they passed by were pleased to see us. Even a couple of mild mannered leave supporters said they were glad both sides of the referendum debate were represented.
The most rewarding part of the day was talking to the diverse range of undecided voters. In conversation, that’s when the personal touch really does make a big difference. A few well-chosen words can swing an outcome towards REMAIN. One woman told me her partner was away and he was a signed-up Kipper but she wasn’t going for the leave camp. Oh the beauty of a secret ballot.
Polling speculation that younger people tend to lean towards Vote REMAIN seemed to be borne out by our chats to one and all. It was evident to me that the more open minded people were the more they valued Britain’s membership of the EU.
I had a discussion with a retired British Airways pilot about the differences between Boeing and AIRBUS aircraft. He had flown Boeing aircraft but commented that his daughter was flying AIRBUS.
I chatted about the Cross of Nails representing reconciliation in Coventry Cathedral to one woman. Briefly talked to a French mathematics student who was enjoying a short stay working in Egham. We compared the problems in France with the problems in Britain.
Not too much xenophobia came our way but one or two people made a point of telling us who they hated. One strange man objected to the union jack flags and European flag being together.
Disappointingly, Runnymede borough’s mayor, who kicked-off the town’s event carefully avoided our stall for the whole day.
One guy wearing a little red leave badge came up to me and started a rant that sounded like he was reading the cover story from the Daily Mail to my face. I smiled with a vaguely disinterested look. He got bored and went away. Engagement is not a good idea when someone is so monochrome.
Rain didn’t dampen our spirits.
Overall there was a good positive reception for REMAIN. I’d like to estimate that the overall experience indicated a better than 50/50 outcome is on the cards. However, in Egham town the older demographic probably favours Vote Leave.