A positive narrative which combines economics and emotion is neededby Peter Kellner / December 18, 2015 / Leave a comment
As David Cameron wrestles with the politically huge but economically trivial issue of in-work benefits for new immigrants, Lord Ashcroft has performed a signal service by publishing the results of a huge (20,000 sample) and detailed survey of British attitudes to the European Union. As this is a subject I have analysed before and will doubtless do again, this blog will concentrate on a particular but, I believe, vital aspect of the debate.
Ashcroft asked a number of questions that broadly divide the public between optimists and pessimists. Two broad themes emerge:
1. Pessimists generally outnumber optimists. By 53-47 per cent, we think Britain is on the wrong track rather than heading in the right direction. By a much larger margin, 62-38 per cent, we think Britain will be a worse country for most people than it is today. And by an alarming 71-29 per cent we think that, “with the way economy and society are changing”, there will be more “threats” than “opportunities” to improve our standards of living.
2. There is a link between these attitudes and our stance on the EU. The more optimistic we are, the keener we are on British membership. The link is not absolute: there are fair numbers of…