Yesterday the official campaign for the EU referendum began. The ‘phoney-war’ has been going on for weeks, but after the two official organisations campaigning for YES and NO (Britain Stronger In and Vote Leave) were officially recognised by the electoral commission, the campaign proper began.
I am honestly torn. At the moment I could see myself voting one way or the other. The Vote Leave campaign, to me, resonates with the SNP campaign for the Scottish referendum. It seems more positive and outwardly looking than the remain camp which appears to look to want to scare people into voting to stay rather than persuading them with a positive argument for membership of the EU. To me fear is not persuasive and actually may persuade me towards a Leave vote.
There is something that disconcerts me and will disconcert a significant proportion of the population the Leave campaign NEEDS to persuade if it is to win the referendum. Whilst there are MPs like Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey and Frank Field in the mainstream of the Leave campaign, if you ask people who is fronting the leave campaign you will get Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Iain Duncan-Smith and Nigel Farage (even though he isn’t actually – at least at the moment – connected with Vote Leave). All of these could never be described as centrist politicians and in many ways could be described as marmite politicians. I certainly have little time for all these politicians, especially Boris Johnson, who is clearly agitating for becoming Prime Minister – maybe shortly after June 23rd?
For Leave to win they need to win over people like me – centrist, moderate and liberal in their general outlook. People who rather than being sold by the immigration arguments peddled by some of the less salubrious are actually turned off by oddballs and bigots that spout these arguments. I believe I’m typical of the vast majority in this country and for the leave campaign to win it must persuade a significant proportion of these people to its cause. The concern is that those fronting the campaign are going to turn away people like me, not because of the arguments but because of the personalities. Even though the remain camp is clearly being fronted by David Cameron and George Osborne (a politician I dislike just as much as Boris Johnson) I fear the referendum is going to be seen as a right/left campaign rather than out/in. If the leave campaign is going to win it MUST start using people like me to front campaigns (I’m not volunteering by the way, just using myself as an example) to persuade the rational, sensible majority. If they can do that I could most definitely be persuaded to vote to Leave and I believe a significant proportion of the sane majority of this country could also and they would then win the referendum.