Monday, March 28, 2016

An Easter wish

I have an Easter wish for both sides in the EU referendum debate.

And if anyone reading this is a member of either of those campaigns and is thinking, "Yes, the other side should stop doing that but we aren't"  I have to tell you, both sides to differing degrees are failing on all these points.

I would be really pleased if the people involved in and running both campaigns could

1) Pay more attention to putting forward a detailed positive vision.

Both sides have concentrated almost entirely on negative campaigning, some of it justified but all of it incredibly depressing.

The rival "Leave " campaigns have been putting out material based largely on criticisms of the existing EU (many of them justified) and scaremongers about what might happen if Britain remains a member (most of them complete and utter rubbish.)

What they have utterly failed to do is come close to a consensus on what "Leave" looks like which would permit a rational debate on whether that is better or worse than what we have not to start.

The "Remain" campaign has run a campaign based almost entirely on negatives about what might happen if Britain leaves the EU - most of these are legitimate concerns given the failure of the Leave side collectively to put forward a clear and detailed exit plan against which such arguments could be assessed.

What they have almost entirely failed to do is put forward the positive reasons to remain in the EU - there are some and we ought to be hearing them.

Of course, if "Remain" ever do get their act together and put forward an exit strategy, any specific plan, be it a "WTO Plus" strategy like the one advocated by David Campbell-Bannerman or a Norway Plus Flexcit approach like this, will invalidate many of the specific concerns put by Remain but confirm others. The trouble is, until we know what sort of "leave" approach people want we cannot identify which.

2) Employ less negativity, but also less incessant accusing the other side of scaremongering

Since BSE, Vote.Leave, Leave.EU and GO have each and every one of them done a massive amount of negative, fear-based campaigning, it is complete hypocrisy for any of them to accuse the other side of scaremongering. And some of the negative points made on each side have been justified.

Yes, both sides have deployed "Project Fear" tactics, and we'd like to see more positive arguments from both: let's accept that, move on, and try judging each set of arguments on its' merits. It's time to retire the Scaremonger card, and in that I include the view that it's time to stop automatically accusing everything the other side says as being a scaremonger.

3) Play the ball, not the man.

It's possible to have a vigorous, frank exchange of views about someone's position on the EU without attacking him or her personally.

I've heard some people on both sides manage to do this - for example, there was an excellent and very constructive debate at the Cumbria Conservative Conference the other week between Sajjad Karim MEP and Lord Hugh Cavendish.

If you want to challenge someone, far better to model your criticisms on Andrew Tyrie's demolition of Boris Johnson's comments and not on Matthew Parris's character assassination against him.

That is particularly important if you and the person you are disagreeing with are both Conservatives, because the Conservatives will have to work together to run the government until at least 2020, and it would be a good idea not to get on such bad terms that the country becomes ungovernable.

 I emphasise, I am not asking people not to supress honestly-held views about whether we should be in or out of the EU, just put them in a polite, friendly and constructive way and avoid personal attacks. Especially Blue on Blue attacks.


Jim said...

Point 1 - Pay more attention to a positive vision.

prey tell, when have the Leave Alliance not done so, we presented our exit plan as we see it, now true its not a rose coloured plan that will lead to sugar candy mountain, but that is because we limited it to actually being honest, and do-able (I know what a stupid concept) but we did.

Point 2 - Employ less negativity, but also less incessant accusing the other side of scaremongering

well we may have done some of that, but what we have stated was true, oddly though we have done this consistently to Both sides of the argument. The way we see things, if our "own" side are dragging down our message then we wont hold fire.

Point 3 - Play the ball, not the man.

erm, well, we are not interested in playing balls or men, we are more interested in presenting facts as we see them, if people want to debate on Flexcit we are more than willing to listen, we are more than willing to even incorporate their ideas into Flexcit if they are good ideas put forth for the right reasons.

We never wanted this to go to a biff-baff personality contest, just so the legacy media feel at home with it. We wanted an honest and open debate about the future of our nation, and our children and grand childrens future. we wanted a constructive debate, we wanted to talk about issues, and we presented a workable plan to do just that.

Its just a sad state of affairs when we can't because it did not come from the SW1 bubble, and it actually means the legacy media hacks may be forced to do some real research for once, that its perceived it does not exist.

Well, at least I can sleep easily at night when we lose this referendum, because at least I can honestly look my self in the mirror and say, well, at least we tried.

Jim said...

^ also should have said, we would have been happy to lose to a "remain" campaign with a plan stronger than Flexcit, we would have been a good loser. We see things as to lose to a better plan is not a defeat, its the right course of action.

sadly that is not how things seem to work these days.

But like I said, we tried, and we tried hard. The worst part is, it is pretty much "friendly fire" that is killing us, had it been Leave alliance Vs BSE we would have wiped the floor, I am pretty convinced of that.

Chris Whiteside said...

For the avoidance of doubt, the comments I made in sections 1) and 3) of the post as well as 2) in which I said this explicitly, were aimed at BSE, Vote.Leave, Leave.EU and Go.

I was not aiming any of them at the Leave Alliance or at all individuals who support Remain or Leave.