Friends v politicians: how viral posts are shaping the EU referendum
A small business owner whose Facebook post debunking the leave campaign’s immigration arguments has gone viral, highlighting how influential word-of-mouth advocacy may be for the remain campaign in the EU referendum.
Nick Carter-Lando, a self-described “massive politics geek” living in London, has become an unexpected social media star after on 6 June, urging them to vote for Britain to stay in the EU, was shared 21,000 times in 48 hours, and is now stands at almost 55,000 shares.
Carter-Lando said: “If you see something from a friend you’ll read it with a sympathetic ear; you’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, which you wouldn’t with an MP or some soundbite on television.”
His social media post is just one of many written by ordinary people urging their friends to engage in the EU referendum. One of Carter-Lando’s aims is to answer questions people have which he feels politicians have failed to address clearly.
“What about all that money we send the EU? Couldn’t we use that to improve public services,” he wrote, referencing one of the leave campaign’s key arguments. “Yes, but it wouldn’t go very far ... our net contribution to the EU was £8.5bn last year which works out at 36p per person per day. That is a drop in the ocean compared to our annual NHS budget of £116.4bn.
“The government would have between £20bn and £40bn less to spend on public services than if we remained in the EU. So our public services wouldn’t be better if we left the EU, they would be much worse.”
With 10 days to go until the referendum, recent polling shows . But a third of voters may change the way they vote or make up their minds in the final week, with half deciding on polling day, according to . The influence of friends and family on undecided voters must not be underestimated.
Remainer Grace Meltzer, 32, who liked Carter-Lando’s post on Facebook, said she was sick of what she saw as politicians’ scare tactics and sensationalising the facts. Despite being certain to vote remain, she is unmoved by politicians’ arguments and couldn’t see herself sharing a post from a news source.
“Voters are fed up with the remain politicians’ scaremongering which gets people’s backs up and prevents them from swinging. I wanted people who were on the fence or swinging to leave to read a sensible argument to remain,” she said.
Economist Nicholas Barr also took to the internet to post a – a summary of a much longer piece he wrote – explaining his reasons for voting to remain. John Savill, one of those who shared Barr’s post, said it was a reasoned argument that contained facts.
Meltzer says politicians, despite hammering home facts and statistics, have run out of time to persuade voters. She believes there has been a lack of succinct pieces outlining the facts anywhere else in the media and that Carter-Lando’s post is the only one she’s seen that makes a compelling case.
“I’ve purposely been missing the television debates as I don’t want to watch a tactical, point-scoring embarrassment of a discussion by David Cameron which will do nothing to endear people to the remain side,” she said.
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