Thursday, June 09, 2016

After the debate: republishing a set of rules to conduct a referendum with dignity and respect

After tonight's debate, which was marked by more personal insults than I liked and followed by a torrent of kindergarten name calling on social media afterwards - from right, left and both sides, and including quite a lot of comments where I would really have expected better from the people concerned - I am republishing my list of twelve commandments, originally put forward here  and here, on how to conduct a referendum campaign with dignity and respect.

1) Thou shalt not accuse all Remain supporters of being unpatriotic

2) Thou shalt not accuse all Leave supporters of being racists

3) Thou shalt not accuse everyone on the other side of being stupid

4) Thou shalt not accuse everyone who changes their mind of having no principles

5) Thou shalt not compare the EU to Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany

6) Thou shalt bear in mind how the press distorts what people said

7) Thou shalt at least try to get thy facts right

8) No matter how badly you think your opponents have broken the seventh commandment above, thou shalt not use the "L" word

9) Thou shalt not claim that there are no valid arguments for the other side.

10) Thou shalt try to keep thy sense of humour

11) Thou shall not drag dead people into the argument based  on a guess of how they would vote or on misleading quotes.

12) If someone is campaigning hard for one side, thou shalt not make silly allegations that they really support the other.


Jim said...

Challenge on Commandment 9 : name one, Name one advantage on being in the political EU.

Chris Whiteside said...

The claim that there are not valid points for the other side is regularly put by people on each side, and I'm sure that they both believe it, but I do see arguments for both sides which I think are valid. When someone really strongly believes in something it an become extremely difficult to accept the validity of an argument in the other direction. I'm not accusing you of confirmation bias, Jim - where whatever evidence is presented becomes confirmation of what you already believe - bur I think there are a fair number of people on both sides in this referendum who are suffering from it

I could give half a dozen arguments which I think are valid for either side off the top of my head: here are the first three to come to mind for Remain.

1) Full access to, and a vote on setting the rules of, a single market of 500 million people

2) Full membership of a programme to support science which the overwhelming majority of British scientists think is excellent, want to remain part of and very strongly support

3) In the moderate form in which he actually stated it (and not in the extreme "Brexit will mean World War III" form wrongly attributed to him by the press), I agree with David Cameron that the EU has improved relations between its' members, making peaceful negotiation seem more natural and normal, and has thereby contributed to the development of an atmosphere in which war is less likely.