Brexit – the latest battle in the values war (Part 1)

Evidence on attitudes to UK membership of the EU show there is a clear and sharp differentiation between who would vote to remain or to leave. These positions can and should be seen as a manifestation of a larger and longer-lasting values war being fought in the UK and around the world.

In PART 2 of this series on Brexit, we presented our findings showing the 'starting position' on British adult opinions relating to the effect (beneficial or detrimental) of EU membership on UK society.

These next two short essays will take a look inside the minds of British people holding one or other of these polarised opinions and offer an analysis of what you should look for in the planks and platforms of the different campaigns urging the electorate to vote on the referendum in June 2016.

As a reminder, ther question the analysis is based on is not about voting intention but is a measurement of preference on a sliding scale between two statements.

a) On balance, the UK’s membership of the EU is of
    benefit to society.

b) On balance, the UK’s membership of the EU is of
    detriment to society.

Let’s take a deeper look at the mind-set of those who would potentially support a 'remain' campaign - those whose preference was towards the first statement.

43% of the population chose one of the three 'agree' positions. They are the people who are more likely than not to cast their vote, if they cast one at all, for the Remain campaign. Breaking this out into more detail, the data shows:

High level of agreement
Middle level of agreement
Slight level of agreement


Within each level the Maslow Group values orientations throw a spotlight on the nature of each category.

High level of agreement
Middle level of agreement
Slight level of agreement





Quite clearly, those who have a favourable view of the EU to some extent or another are more likely to be Pioneers than they are to be Prospector or Settler. Pioneers are 45% more likely have high levels of agreement and 44% more likely to have middle levels of agreement.

As previous posts have illustrated, one of the prime objectives of any election campaign is to organize and mobilize opinion into voting behaviour. To organize and mobilize support for a Remain campaign one of the key objectives needs to be to retain this base of prospective voters during a time when the rival campaign will be attempting to retain their own base. Also, as previously noted, the Remain campaign has the added challenge of picking up at least 12% of the Leave campaign supporters – whose values are diametrically opposite. Attempts by the Remain campaign to shore up their support base, while attempting to attract support from a small proportion of the Leave campaign, presents their campaign with a steeper challenge than their opponents.

Or does it?

Let’s look at some data in another way. Here we show Contour Maps, which combine the CDSM Attribute Maps and the Terrain Maps (shown in other essays). These will provide more insight into the nature of support for those who agree that the EU is on balance a benefit to UK society.

First, those that most highly agree, the 'Hard Core'.


HARD CORE positive about EU membership.

The Terrain Map shows the mostly highly indexed areas on this response. Pioneer Transcenders are two-and-quarter times more likely to have this belief, while the Pioneer Concerned Ethicals are 48% more likely and Prospector Now People are 33% more likely.

Going even deeper, the Top 5 indexed Attributes - POVERTY AWARE, JUSTICE, GREEN INTENT, ADAPTABLE and GLOBAL - suggest that these should be a part of any strategic thinking about how to develop campaigns and decide the nature of the tactics to be deployed to take the Hard Core from 'low engagement' opinion to a 'high engagement' commitment to vote.

The Hard Core are those that can be used to leverage influence over others as noted in other essays. The people they are most likely to influence are those who are in the middle range of agreement – the 'Fair Weather Friends'. Let’s see if their values are close to the Hard Core or if they are in conflict.

FAIR WEATHER FRIENDS (but positive about) EU membership.

A Values Mode over-indexing profile emerges that is very similar to the Hard Core – Pioneer Transcender highest, Pioneer Concerned Ethical second highest and the Prospector Now People also over-indexing but not quite so much. The signs look good that these two 'agree' groups may be similarly responsive to messages and behaviour options that have resonance with their overall values.

The Top 5 indexed Attributes - GLOBAL, JUSTICE, POSITIVE GREEN, POVERTY AWARE, TAO - look very similar to those of the Hard Core, if in a slightly different order. The only significant difference is the replacement of ADAPTABLE by TAO, which measures a very similar aspect of the human psyche.

Together, the Hard Core and the Fair Weather Friends comprise just under 30% of the British population and over two thirds of the 'agree' segment. They are very similar in values and the Pioneer and Prospector Values Modes are contiguous, or closely related to each other. Good news for campaign planners.

The last 'agree' segment, those who agree, but to the least degree, appear to be part of the 40% in the UK who couldn’t actually care less about the issue. An old Catherine Tate meme probably best describes their attitude to the issue and the question posed – "Am I bovvered?" – with the answer being a resounding, "kinda, maybe, don’t know".

AM I BOVVERED? (but still positive about) EU membership.

They agree that EU membership is more of a benefit than a detriment, but are likely to be difficult to organize and even more difficult to mobilize to vote.

Their Top 5 indexed Attributes are COMPLACENT, BUZZ, IMPULSIVE, FANTASY and FORCE.

Their values are different from the more positively-agreeing segments and cannot be assumed to react in similar fashion to the more 'positive' groups when exposed to the same campaigns and mobilizations.

This the weakness at the heart of the 43% who do favourably view the UK/EU relationship.

Engaging and mobilizing these people in a political campaign is almost impossible, the combination of COMPLACENT and IMPULSIVE is a death knell to any project that depends on coherent behaviour.

However, engaging them in short term events, with a high degree of fun and little or no long-term relevance in terms of political movements, is one key aspect of understanding them - and how to link the political aspirations of campaigners with the values of these people.

Roman emperors understood the needs of this segment for 'bread and circuses'. Supply the 2016 equivalent and they will come out to vote for whoever provides them. They are not deeply committed to anything but are willing to join anyone for the greatest short term profit to them. They do have higher than average needs for 'something new in my life'. They will turn out for an event - but probably not turn out for the same event again.

If the referendum transcends political arguments and becomes a cultural event – with voting day becoming the centre of attention – these people will come out. The Remain campaign needs to ensure they attract these people to secure a chance of succeeding in the referendum.

  • 43% of the UK population agrees to some extent that the EU is of benefit to UK society.

  • Pioneers are more likely to form the Hard Core and Fair Weather Friends in this group. They form about 52% of the total support.

  • 13% of the British population only ‘slightly’ supports this view but they make up about 30% of the 43% positive towards the EU, which weakens the potential vote for the Remain campaign.

  • The values of the key "Am I bovvered?" group leads them to respond to a ‘bread and circuses’ orientation regardless of campaign. They are apolitical but can be a significant factor in close elections as they can turn out to participate in 'fun' cultural events. They need different strategic and tactical missions to reach them and gain their vote in a one-time election.