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The People's Vote - is it now ours to lose?
20 Dec, 2018

The People's Vote - ours to lose?

‘It is ours to lose’ sounds like the Democrats in the US at the last election - but they did finally pull it off to some extent (by pulling together) in the recent mid-terms.

I want to have a second vote that will enable us to stay in Europe, but I am concerned that unless Remainers can really turn the tide of ‘emotions’ of those who voted to Leave, we will end up with another defeat and we will fall off the cliff. What should we do this time to avoid this happening?

We are better organised, we have better arguments, we have a better strategy, we can target key elements of the voting population. The demographics of the voting population has shifted in our favour. Perhaps the Leave voters will be less motivated? But none of this will be enough without a coherent strategy to win the arguments.

Paralysis through Analysis

As Remainers, we believe - and have found - that thinking people are not necessarily good at action and campaigning. We believe that the arguments must speak for themselves - that everyone is capable of thinking rationally. Thinking people also tend to ‘talk’ between themselves - ‘paralysis through analysis’ (This email is possibly a good example!)

But as we know, people make decisions emotionally and then rationalise. So a campaign has first to appeal to the emotions. In June 2016, Leavers had an advantage here, as they could appeal to very basic instincts (xenophobia, Project Fear, the NHS, the desire to ‘win’ at the expense of ‘the losers’).

Project Fear

Leavers accused Remainers of launching a campaign of fear. which was a clever tactic - to turn every expert opinion into ‘fear mongering’. By putting so much emphasis on fear, Leavers actually engendered that emotion. But the antidote to ‘fear’ is fight or flight. We seem to have done both. We fled the union and are now fighting our allies for the final deal.

A second vote may appeal to other fears - for example, fears of losing jobs if we leave without a deal. The problem is that in some people's minds, we have now portrayed the EU as our adversary in the deal making. To Remain, in some minds, would be to concede to a stronger power and let the ‘others’ win. This must be countered.

The Power of Remain

In advertising, if you tell people to do something rather than not to do it and then explain why - that is more powerful than ‘do nots’. For example, ‘please pick up your litter as it is harmful to the animals’.

‘Do vote to remain now because.....

This time, Remainers need to emphasise the Power of having a seat at the table in the EU, the Power of having close neighbours as allies, the Power that EU membership gives us with nations outside the EU as a gateway nation (see Obama’s speech at the time of the referendum).

We will need lots of TV coverage of EU citizens saying how we are friends, perhaps showing the opportunities for our young people in Europe.

Common Enemies

The ‘liberal democracies’ on the planet are a small, fragile bunch of nations, but they represent all that the British traditionally hold dear in terms of values - this should be emphasised. Standing against overbearing and illiberal nations - which now some say would include the USA under Trump and his family - Europe has common enemies and common problems. Since the second world war we have created a peaceful history together and achieved great things. There are plenty of wars and conflicts going on around the world just now.

Most importantly, those who trade as one tend not to make war with each other. At the age of 64, I was brought up by grandparents who lived through two wars and parents who lived through one- all too close for comfort.

The scientists of Europe have created strong ties, with the result that UK scientists have been able to develop their knowledge and make a greater contribution to the world - with the help of EU money. It is said that scientists collaborating across international borders are 40% more effective.

Another common enemy is climate change and environmental degradation. Predicted changes in global warming and air flow make reliance on long haul flights increasingly precarious. These make it ill-advised to rely increasingly on trade with distant lands.

Other than air miles, there are other environmental implications of doing trade deals with the USA at the moment - lower standards, genetic modification (GM), chlorination. I know first hand a good deal about the problems with commercially grown food in the USA: we are much better off here in Europe, with food production respecting the protection and enrichment of the soil.

Despite very successful campaigns to eat locally grown food, not everyone knows that here in the UK, we are not self-sufficient in food. Why would we want to import food from Africa and America when we have Europe?

Managing Leavers' Expectations

Leavers can now see how that those who encouraged them to Vote Leave have not only told them facts that have proven to be false, but they themselves have largely left you, (eg Farage), leaving the people to face the consequences of their lack of vision and their lack of a planned alternative to remaining’.

Pictures of Farage in Trump Tower may help to discredit the man. Photo coverage of reasonable British MEPS in action may also help. No one here in the UK knows what their MEPs do. We need to build a ‘connection’ with Europe before the next vote if there is to be one. 

We will need advertising that gives anyone who changes their minds this time a sense of ‘self-respect’ - not that they were stupid to vote leave before, not that they were ‘duped’ entirely - but that they were not given sufficient information to make an informed vote. We need to appeal to their emotions but then give them rational arguments they can use for themselves and others as to why they have changed their minds.

  • Norman Hurtile is a professional business consultant with a background in education and psychology - and a close connection with the NHS and the scientific community.

Articles on this page reflect the views of the author and not necessarily those of London4Europe