Saturday 10 December 2016

Sneering at No voters could lose referendum

Government, the media and tech companies telling people how to vote could end up with a surprise like the UK election, writes Brendan O'Connor

Published 10/05/2015 | 02:30

STATING THEIR CASE: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Arlene Clarke and Tara Heverin, who were among the crowd in Ballina meeting the Yes Equality Bus on its route around Mayo yesterday as part of its nationwide tour promoting a Yes vote in the marraige equality referendum on May 22
STATING THEIR CASE: Taoiseach Enda Kenny with Arlene Clarke and Tara Heverin, who were among the crowd in Ballina meeting the Yes Equality Bus on its route around Mayo yesterday as part of its nationwide tour promoting a Yes vote in the marraige equality referendum on May 22

The Yes campaign must be very nervous looking at what just happened in the UK. Everybody knew what the result in the UK election was going to be. Every poll was in agreement. Neck and neck. Hung parliament. Weeks of manoeuvring to try and create a Government. Everybody agreed. And, as usual, when everyone agrees so wholeheartedly on something, they were all wrong. The media was wrong, the polls were wrong; the whole establishment got it wrong.

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The Yes side must be wondering this weekend if the same could be true here. What if the polls are wrong? What if the media is wrong? What if the whole political establishment has got this one wrong? On Friday morning, Antony Worrall Thomson, of all people, pointed out that a lot of Tory voters are his age and they tend not to admit their intentions in advance, saving the truth instead for the privacy of the ballot box. And lets face it, being a No voter in this country is even more shameful that being a Tory in the UK. So the likelihood is a lot more people are lying about their voting intentions in the upcoming referendum. And who could blame them?

I am not at liberty at this time to express my voting intentions in the upcoming referendum, but let's say for example I was a No voter. Would I admit it? Even to a pollster? Probably not. Because in this country right now it is essentially forbidden to have doubts about gay marriage. All right-thinking people are in favour of gay marriage. All the media are largely in favour of it, apart from the odd columnist, who tend to be regarded by their liberal colleagues as pet cranks that newspapers keep in their arsenal to irritate people. All the political parties are for it, obviously, because it is, after all, the most important civil rights issue of this generation. And now, even the IDA and the tech firms are for it. You could forgive people for thinking that every day, in every way, they are being told by their betters how to think on this, and that there is only one correct opinion to have.

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