While finance, insurance and property have grown, the number of jobs they provide has not
The Brexit deadline is fast approaching and with a second referendum still a possibility, the Remain campaign needs to learn from the last referendum.
For Remain to have a chance at winning a second referendum they need to empathise with the issues that people are facing and produce a campaign that provides solutions.
In the last campaign, when armies of clean-cut experts descended from their sky-line London offices to talk about how the UK’s economy had prospered in the EU. They failed as 52% voted to Leave.
The reasons for leaving were dissected in countless surveys, studies and articles. Narratives were spun, with issues over immigration and the UK’s political freedom from Europe quickly becoming the favoured hypotheses.
So why did the economic argument fail to persuade the 52%?
At face value, the economic argument is persuasive. The size of the UK’s economy has doubled over the last four decades. However, economic progress has not been enjoyed equally amongst the population.
The economic growth over the last fourty years was fuelled primarily by the growth of the UK’s service industry. Today, the service sector is worth 80% of the U.K’s GDP and employs 80% of the workforce.
Services is a catch-all term for a wide range of occupations, from the financial industry to health and social care.
Two parts of the service sector which have enjoyed great success in the last fourty years have been the ‘financial and insurance’ and ‘business service’ sectors. And ‘real estate’, a sub sector of the ‘business service’ sector, is the largest sector in the UK’s economy.
This success, however, has not meant an increase in jobs. The % of total UK jobs has stayed consistently at 4% for ‘financial and insurance’ activities and 1% for ‘real estate’.
Compare this with sectors like the ‘automotive’ and ‘manufacturing’ sectors. Together, those two account for 24% of the populations’ employment.
Over the last four decades, the manufacturing sector has stagnated, while the automotive sector has seen a slight decrease in vehicle production since its peak in 1972.
The sectors of the economy which are growing are not those which provide a lot of jobs.
By focusing on the economic message, the Remain campaign alienated people who worked in sectors like, manufacturing and automotive, which have not shared in the success of other sectors.
According to a study by Warwick university, local authority areas which voted Leave had low pay and high unemployment; lower education and a tradition of manufacturing employment.
While Eastern European immigration does have a connection to the Leave vote, it is not as strong as these other factors.
This was backed up by a Channel4 brexit survey which revealed those who earned less than £40,000 a year, are more likely to vote leave. 80% of the population earn less than £40,000.
The economic message failed to convince these leave voters because the success story did not reflect their lives.
Hamzah Shami – Husband, Tea maker and occasional dabbler in analysis, for the NHS
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