As I write, it is polling day – at last.
It’s the end of a far too long referendum campaign and one is left with the impression that both sides are hauling themselves, exhausted, across the finishing line. I’m a lifelong political animal, a member of the Conservative Party since the mid-1980s and an enthusiastic Brexiteer. I’ve doubled up my hours here at Pagefield so I can help Vote Leave where I can – not least through my friends and colleagues at Communicators for Britain.
But really – even I’ve had enough.
Please let one of the outcomes of the EU referendum be no more referenda between now and 2020 and a statutory limit on campaigning of just six weeks. The Great British public deserves a rest from politics for a while.
So, where are we? I’m writing this halfway through the voting day and for the first time in 25 years on the campaign trail, I simply can’t – and therefore won’t – call it. I’ve canvassed opinion from my friends in broadcast news and they can’t either. I’ve not been able to get much sense out of my friends in the national press for at least a week now. The good people at Vote Leave aren’t in the know. And my friends working on the other side are like cats on a hot tin roof.
It is close. And that, to my mind, is the most important thing about this campaign. Regardless of the final result, it looks like a very large number of voters have ignored the leaders of every major political party, all those long lists of businesspeople, an alphabet soup of global organisations, the global political class (including the sainted Barack Obama), letters from their bosses, lobbying from their union leaders, the threat of World War Three – the lot. And they still think this: hang on a minute, are these people’s interests aligned with the interests of myself and my family? Nope.
Just how many think like this we’ll know any time from 12.30am tonight. But we already know that the fallout from this campaign will be far more treacherous for politicians, business leaders and marketers than the result of the campaign itself. This is going to be interesting.
Mark Gallagher is senior partner and founder at Pagefield and is pro-'leave'