A tweet by Alexander Clarkson caught my eye this morning:

Once in a while you read something that crystallises your thinking, articulates something that has been nagging at you but you have not been able to state. So it was with Alexander’s tweet.

These terms that anti-Brexit people often wear as badges of honour – Remoaners, Saboteurs, Citizens of Nowhere, We Are The 48% – were perhaps useful for group formation in the months after the Brexit referendum, for an initial feeling of not being alone. But now they urgently need to be ditched.

Why?

Because the frame that they continue to emphasise is the negative, defensive nature of resistance to Brexit. That the Remain side lost. That the Remain side moans. That they are a minority. That they have no identity.

Enough of that rubbish.

No. Resistance to Brexit is vital. It’s imperative. It’s important. It’s to stop the UK going off a cliff. It’s to defend real people’s lives and livelihoods.

What we now know about Brexit – the economic damage it will cause, the almighty mess it will cause in Ireland, the nature of connections between pro-Leave Campaigns and the alt-right and Russia, that there will be no £350m a week for the NHS – means it is time to move on from re-fighting the referendum, and making a case for what happens next.

How that is to be done is going to need to be pluralistic and differentiated. This tweet by Mike Hind illustrates the point:

You are never going to get me describing myself as a patriot. That word is for me a complete turn off. But people like Mike and I ultimately share more in common than separates us.

Alexander also makes a link between Brexit and regionalist movements:

My sympathy for Scottish independence was not borne out of nationalism, but out of civic decentralisation. But there were nationalists and patriots on the Yes side too. So it must be for Brexit – if someone wants to make a patriotic case for the Brexit resistance (Best for Britain‘s whole branding does precisely this for example) then by all means. But there are other ways too. Emphasise what matters to you and to people like you, and look forward with confidence and determination.

Want to know how and why? Get yourself a copy of Lakoff’s “Don’t Think of an Elephant!”, learn the lessons from “The Debunking Handbook“, and then rename your Twitter accounts, websites and Facebook pages, and look forward to the next stage of the Brexit battle, rather than defensively looking backwards at previous fights and using the frames of your opponents.

7 Comments

  1. Robert Archell

    The unifying issue should be to win back our democracy. Whether you voted Leave or Remain if you value the last 400 years of progress in our democratic rights, you must rail against this attempt to use the referendum as “the decision to leave.

    I voted Remain and I am convinced we are better in Europe than out of it. That doesn’t mean I am a sycophant to its current situation.

    It must reform.

    So the unifying points for me are:

    We need to support our democratic system and accept the result. That result has not been taken at the moment.

    If we decide to stay in the EU we must work to reform it.

    But if our Parlimentiary Process decides we should leave, we should do so in the least destructive way possible for both sides, and this means withdrawing from the current A50 timetable and setting about planning for a structured departure when the conditions and timing suits us.

  2. Douglas Seaton

    The referendum was an oversimplified snapshot of public opinion conceived of political expediency. Our wary politicians are performing indelicate balancing acts motivated by self-preservation. They will probably only shift their positions when the hard consequences of Brexit start to bite voters through their wallets. With luck public opinion may shift before then if our negotiators continue to exhibit sufficient incompetence and that incompetence gets the publicity it deserves. Meanwhile strength to the arm of Britain in Europe.

  3. Nick Crosby

    Second thought– I agree the initial labels need shaking. So what frame/ words or images do we adopt?
    Resistance I like and recognise this might be too martial for some.
    Ideas??

    • I think at the very least a kind of lexicon would be handy – what terms in the current debate should and should not be used. Then we need to move to some of the Three Worlds stuff. BUT the issue is of course who are WE in this? We can of course do some things individually, but we are not really organised.

  4. Nick Crosby

    Jon
    Agree wholeheartedly

    To folks, I would add Chris Rose’s material and thinking on values from which we can find many common themes on the Resistance Remain side. Amongst the three worlds Chris describes are sub groups/values to which different messages and values can be nurtured and tuned…
    http://threeworlds.campaignstrategy.org/

  5. Ruth Waterton

    This is exactly the tone that makes me uncomfortable with The New European and A C Grayling in particular. You don’t win people over by patronising them when alienation fuelled their original voting decision.

  6. Nice blog

    You are correct in that the debate has been framed as them and us over and over , EU vs UK Leavers Vs remainers Etc We need to reframe the debate

    We need alignment, organisation and a number of parallel transparent processes to reverse A50

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