Drop Project Fear and embrace a joyful, demanding, confident message about EU membership, say New European readers – that’s how we’ll reboot Remain and fight Brexit.
At the top of the letters page in TNE #152 was a red bus with a doom-laden message (“UK regions face losing £8.4 billion …”). Do you really think that will win you the next referendum? It’s doleful stuff, Project Fear all over again, and the voters don’t want to hear it – don’t even believe it. (How much is £8.4bn anyway? Peanuts probably …)
But many Leave voters are secretly uneasy – it wouldn’t take much to change their minds. What they desperately want to hear is someone talking with real enthusiasm for the EU as a force for good in the world; someone showing a determination with our huge political and economic power to help make it an even better institution; and in the process to make the UK a happier place. They want to hear a good story – and dynamic leadership.
What polls say now will mean little once the furious, unscrupulous campaigning of the second referendum begins. Farage and Johnson are brilliant campaigners; people are very easily swayed by their energy and optimism. To beat them calls for even more energy, optimism, confidence in our nation, longing for action, than they are offering. If this sort of approach wins, it might even help unite the country (your Project Fear only divides us more). If it doesn’t (as is quite likely), at least you have a principled, inspiring basis for continuing the fight. It may take a 30-year campaign to turn the country round.
There was a call on your letters page (TNE #152) for one simple message and from John Kampfner for re-thinking the challenge to Brexit. Here are some metaphors to support the pro-European message.
We already have a wonderful flag. Our ring of golden stars in a blue sky is more inspiring than the stars and stripes. Our flag speaks of clear skies, openness, sunshine; gold is incorruptible, stars in a circle tell of co-operation, as does the ring of clasped hands, the hands of the heads of state joining in an equal greeting.
We already have a wonderful anthem, the Ode to Joy, with a splendid memorable tune. It includes all humans, under a starry canopy, and calls for the whole world to be reconciled. Idealistic it may be, romantic, composed when the French Revolution was just about to happen; Wordsworth also felt it bliss to be alive then. Schiller realises the difficulties of attaining such a vision, calling for his brother to run his race and endure for a better world.
This ideal, freedom from the tyrant’s chains, must be protected by good laws. Laws written in the European Union are not imposed upon the member states, but freely adopted by them, because all the nations of the EU take part as equals in debate. Bureaucracy is not perfect, we all know, but we can make it work.
We, the nations of the EU, are like a football team, working together to achieve a goal, and Britain has been one of the forwards. Let’s rejoin Team Europe.
Newcastle upon Tyne
The reason our side have failed so miserably is: 1) lack of leadership with an instantly recognisable face (the Europhobes have Farage. We have nobody); 2) the lack of a clear message.
Instead of calling for a ‘People’s Vote’ or a ‘March for Change’ (what, exactly, do those mean?), we should come out and demand exactly what we really want: to Remain in Europe.We should not be afraid of demanding that. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Not passively asking to ‘Let us be heard’. Demanding that we Remain. Big difference.
The other side don’t ‘ask’ for anything. They demand we Leave.
Farage famously said he’d consider a 52/48% Remain win “just the beginning”. Why haven’t we said exactly the same? And carried through with it?The Remain movement comes off as being weak. Maybe slightly ashamed of what we want. I don’t see any way out of this catastrophe unless our side employs the same level of organisation and intensity that theirs does.