Daily catch-up: How much difference does the wording of a referendum question make?

Plus late additions to places that sound like people and other lists

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The Independent Online

ComRes found that changing the EU question from Yes/No to the format forced on David Cameron by the Electoral Commission cut a 27-point lead for Yes to an 18-point lead for Stay In.

(The Electoral Commission proposal, which Cameron has accepted, is Remain rather than Stay In, but I assume that the effect would be similar.)

It may be that this finding suggests that attitudes to the EU are soft. One effect of the change of wording is to increase the number of don’t knows.

But I am surprised by the Electoral Commission’s decision. It allowed a Yes/No answer to the Scottish referendum. Its policy would seem to be that it is all right to bias the question in favour of the side that is expected to lose, so that they can’t complain afterwards. That seems to be the implication here:

“These views raise concerns about the potential legitimacy, in the eyes of those campaigning to leave and some members of the public, of the referendum result – particularly if there was a vote to remain a member of the European Union.”

It is not an approach that worked well in Scotland.

• Many thanks to Alan Robertson, who supplied some late nominations for recent Top 10s in the Independent on Sunday magazine.

I did Top 10 Double-Barrelled Villages Which Sound Like Members of a Jazz Band the other day. He drew my attention to a Scottish ensemble led by Blair Atholl, and featuring Fowlis Wester, Brig O’Turk, Logie Coldstone and the brilliant Yetts O’Muckhart, inevitably on drums. Apparently they were joined at a recent concert by Rumbling Bridge, the famous blues artist.

To my Top 10 Zeugmas (a figure of speech in which a word applies to two others in different senses) he adds this from Groucho Marx: “Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”

And I am still collecting for my Top 10 Misleading Definitions. He suggests: “Overalls: a collection of conclusions.”

For future Top 10s he suggests Unanswered Questions In Songs, such as, “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?” More nominations welcome. 

• And finally, thanks to Ally Houston for this, from the Edinburgh Fringe:

“Let me tell you a little about myself. It’s a reflexive pronoun that means ‘me’.”

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