The Ghost of Banquo- A Brexit Tale

Lord Banquo, Thane of Lochaber, is a character in William Shakespeare‘s 1606 play Macbeth.He is at first an ally to Macbeth but later, Macbeth in his lust for power sees Banquo as a real threat and has him murdered. The striking similarities to what has happened in the markets and also in both the Conservative and labour parties seems to mirror the foreboding apparition to Macbeth. The English populace and political system is still in a state of flux and uncertainty. Everyday a new narrative emerges and what was normal in the past is now obsolete in the present. Polls it seems are the new Banquo, a ghostly apparition that no sane mind should reason with, but like Macbeth we are somewhat drawn towards and listen to.

For several weeks leading up to the vote, the ghostly figure of Banquo was pointing to polls that were to close to call. That was until the tragic event of the murder of Jo Cox. Then all the polls became inclined to indicate a strong switch to the Remain camp. The bulk of evidence produced prior to the vote said that Remain would win by 52% to 48% with an individual margin of error of 2%.

Stock markets and betting firms believed Britain would vote to remain in the EU right up until the results were fully announced. Educated and well-informed organizations and people called it completely wrong and at great cost.

So how did the Polls get it so wrong?

  1. Like a very famous TV diagnostician would repeatedly say, “Everyone lies”. It seems a lot of people did in fact lie in polls. This may have been due to a common perception that a vote for Leave was a vote for racism.
  2. Young people talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk. Older people are a lot more likely to vote and voted for Leave.
  3. The leave campaign harnessed a deeper underlining problem in British society. A fear of the unknown and difference. Easier to believe the Empire is still strong and relevant. Than acknowledge its demise and the deep divisions of class, race and religion in the UK.
  4. The majority of exit polls are taken in cities. Majority of major cities tended to vote for Remain.
  5. Increased complexity of polling models. Still ongoing debate on the accuracy of these models and their validity.

So like Macbeth, how can we vanquish the ghost of Banquo- hopefully with a more positive and accurate outcome for polls in the future?


Article to follow- @eamonnolaighin


The views expressed on this site are my own and do not reflect those of my employer or its clients.


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