Why the Remain campaign is going wrong

I’m going to set aside my views about the rights and wrongs of Britain staying in the EU for a moment, and instead focus on the way the Remain campaign is trying to make its case. This is especially relevant today after the Dutch expressed their vague frustration towards the EU in their Ukraine referendum yesterday.

So here are a few, short observations.

  1. The Remain campaign is too focused on David Cameron. Yes, his role is important to undecided voters, but he can’t do it on his own. He needs help, urgently, and especially from the centre left, rather than from his few and rather dalek like pro-EU ministers. Steel and the panama papers are also damaging him currently.
  2. A eurosceptic to be pro-EU message is a really weird thing to try to communicate – what does this mean?
    Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 13.32.18
    Putting it another way, do you want wishy-washy sceptics for Remain (Cameron), or the real ones?
  3. Putting everything under the Stronger In banner, and aiming to achieve unity of message above all, makes the Remain message very unappealing and vague. That means when the government decides to send out a leaflet to all households it ends up contorted and unappealing.
  4. The Brexit side may be somewhere between inconsistent and downright deceitful, and it most definitely is not united, but Brexit advocates speak from the heart and with gusto. No-one speaks with any passion on the Remain side.
  5. Trying to scare people into voting Remain means failing to reach groups of voters who actually might appreciate a more positive message – as Chris Rose outlines here. The Remain campaign also tries to appeal to Brits as Brits, not Brits as individuals – presumably because the politicians running it think patriotism is inevitably a turn-on.
  6. We do not really fully understand what is happening in the polls (summary here), and polling at the UK general election 2015 proved very ineffective. We broadly know three things: the referendum will be close, there are still plenty of undecided voters, and turnout is going to be crucial.
  7. Talking about economics all the time is not adequate. Yes, X million jobs might depend on the EU, but how can I know that’s my job? Also the Brexit side has pumped out so much information about how they reckon the UK economy would thrive outside the EU that even the economic case does not look clear cut.
  8. The Remain campaign has no real attack dog. When Vote Leave sends out a twisted leaflet there’s barely a ripple. When the government decides to send a leaflet to households about Remain even the BBC leads with questions about whether its legitimate. Who on the Remain side is the counterbalance to Owen Paterson or Liam Fox? There isn’t really one.
  9. Get some people in the Remain campaign who understand the EU, and understand UK politics. It is the government’s job to defend its positions and communicate them. Someone, somewhere on the internet will take apart your communications, so make sure you know what you’re on about before you open your mouth or write something in the name of the campaign.

That’s the quick summary of the issues as I see them. Am I wrong? Something to add? Then the comments field is below.

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  1. Eurosphere agenda: “Dutch say no to EU-Ukraine agreement… « Erkan's Field Diary

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