Winner of the New Statesman SPERI Prize in Political Economy 2016

Friday, 3 June 2016

The Media and Brexit redux

In this post I complained about how little attention the visual media gave to the fact that the overwhelming majority of economists thought that Brexit would involve significant long term costs. All I have now is more evidence to back up the argument in that post.

First, I was not alone in these thoughts. Here is Andrew Scott talking about his foreboding concerning the Brexit debate: “I just really wasn’t looking forward to the debate because I knew that it would stifle what are the really important issues, it would become partisan rather than insightful and that the economic voice and argument was vulnerable to being politically sidelined.” [1]

Second, the argument that there will be long term costs with Brexit has not, as yet, convinced most voters. In this poll, which is not unique, only 22% of voters thought they would be worse off as a result of Brexit. It seems unlikely that voters are unaware that David Cameron and George Osborne have claimed they will be worse off, but quite rightly they may be very distrustful of what politicians say. Virtually no voters will have examined the economic arguments on both sides and made up their own minds. Crucially, unless they read one of the broadsheets, they will have no idea that there is such an overwhelming consensus among economists. 

Third, we now have more evidence besides letters that there is indeed an overwhelming consensus among economists, thanks to the Observer. True, not quite as overwhelming as I had imagined, but 9/10 counts as a consensus for economists.

Fourth, there is polling evidence that the public do have a high level of trust in what academics say. Here is the relevant data (source):