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Cathie Marsh Lecture - Statistics in the EU Referendum

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Social Statistics Section

Monday 14 November 2016, 05:30pm - 07:30pm

Location Royal Statistical Society, 12 Errol Street, London EC1Y 8LX

Jointly organised by the RSS Social Statistics Section and the Social Research Assocation

Both the EU Referendum, and now the US election, have led some commentators to question whether we are now living in a world of post-truth politics. Some of the biggest arguments that raged during and after the Referendum campaign concerned the claims made by the two sides, each quoting statistics that were criticized by the other. And those of us who consider ourselves experts in some field began to wonder if Michael Gove was right and no-one was interested in what we have to say anymore.

This has implications for both statistics and research, and so it is fitting that this year’s Cathie Marsh seminar has the aim of discussing the use of statistics in the campaign. We are very pleased to have secured participation from senior figures from the two campaigns, who will talk about their choice and presentation of statistics in the campaign. The aim of the evening is not to argue about who was right and who was wrong, but to understand just how statistics became such a key part of the campaign.

Public understanding of the numbers involved is of course crucial, and Ipsos MORI will present data from a survey conducted to measure how well-informed people are on some of the key issues like immigration.

While the campaigns were presenting their statistics, others outside the process were trying to hold each side to account. One of the most important of these was Full Fact, who will explain their role in the process.

The media also had a major role to play, especially the BBC, which has obligations in elections for both equal coverage and impartiality, and the final presentation will discuss how this role was fulfilled in the campaign.


Chair: Nick Moon, GfK UK

Suzanne Hall
Head of Qualitative Research, Ipsos MORI
Public understanding of statistics on the issues

Matthew Elliot
Chief Executive, Vote Leave Campaign
Statistics in the Leave campaign

James McGrory
Chief Campaign Spokesman, Strongerin
Statistics in the Remain campaign

Will Moy
Director, Full Fact
The role of the fact-checkers

David Jordan
BBC Director of editorial and policy standards
Reporting the statistical claims

Summarising speaker
What does it all mean for the worlds of research and statistics? – Jil Matheson, former National Statistician


Registration and tea/coffee will be from 5pm. Free to attend but please register your place in advance: 

We have now reached capacity - please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to be put on the waiting list


Follow the event on twitter using #EURefStats

Organiser Name Ian Brunton Smith

Email Address This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Organising Group(s) RSS Social Statistics Section & Social Research Assoication