Tuesday, May 31, 2016

We face serious problems - 2

There is no getting away from it: one has to look at the Brexit campaign and what is wrong with it and I suppose the fact that it has taken me this long to get to my second rant is indicative of some of the problems. We cannot just go on blaming everything on the fact that the other side has more money and is dishonest in using hyperbole as well as taxpayers' money. Which brings me to my first point: why exactly are we so surprised and so angry by the fact that from the Prime Minister down (or the Governor of the Bank of England down or the egregious Director of the IMF down) anyone who has a political vested interest in not rocking the EU boat too much and anyone who can be put under political pressure has been taking part in a somewhat dishonest campaign against Brexit? Did we not expect this? Why are so many of the Leave campaigners unprepared for the nastiness and do nothing but wring their hands or get furious with the other side doing exactly what they were expected to do?

There has been some criticism of my first posting on the subject, the first of which was a reminder that one complaint about the Brexit or Leave campaign is people spending more time attacking each other than attacking the enemy. Am I not doing the same thing?

My response to that is I do not propose to mount personal attacks. Nobody is going to be named and shamed (not now, anyway) but if things are going so badly wrong that we all have a duty to try to correct them as there are still four weeks to go till the Referendum, which we must win.

There are two tactical problems that I have been complaining about since before the campaign began to those who were organizing meetings to discuss the campaigns and to anyone else who would listen (as well as many who preferred not to). I am still complaining about them but to no avail and it is my opinion that these problems will lose us votes.

Firstly, the grave shortage of women speakers at events and women anywhere near the top of the campaign as a whole. Yes, yes, there are pretty girls handing out leaflets but almost every meeting one looks at has an all-male line-up some of whom ask plaintively how they might gain the female vote.

At a pre-campaign meeting I raised this subject (I was in the audience and the panel was all-male) and received no real answer. The chairman (no names, no pack drill) had already pronounced that it would be important to gain the female vote and "we" must thing how to do this but the simple solution of having at least one woman speaker and preferably two as this was quite a large panel had not occurred to him. To add insult to injury he subsequently smiled patronizingly at me and said "oh there is a lady who comes to all the meetings". Yes, dear readers, he escaped unharmed, which just shows that I can control myself.

I have raised this subject a few times since and my comments were either greeted with stony silence or with grumblings about how "we do not have positive discrimination". Two points need to be made in response to that: is it really impossible to find women who are knowledgeable and articulate without positive discrimination and are all the men who keep appearing on these platforms or are quoted on YouTube so wonderfully knowledgeable and articulate? To those questions I get no response at all.

Not only is it ridiculous to be fighting those battles in the twenty-first century but we must also remember that half the electorate are female. Naturally, women do not vote simply because there is a female speaker or not but appearances are important in politics. Consistently, Brexit line-ups look like pictures from 1950s political metings and not that many people want to go back to that decade. (I am prepared to argue that one in another posting if any reader is interested.)

My second tactical complaint is about that particular demographic group that is referred to as "the young" or "young people" who, according to both sides, are much too sophisticated and forward looking to vote for Brexit and are unhappy because a lot of old people might spoil their lives by doing just that.

What sort of ages are we talking about? There are the 18 to circa 23 year olds, many of whom are at college or university and are notoriously bad at registering or turning out to vote. Get Britain Out has been doing sterling work there as well as (indirectly) the various free market organizations but one must admit that most students, if they bother to think about it, tend to stay well within the safety zones.

Then again, neither they nor the next age group of, say, 23 to 30 enjoy being taken for granted or pontificated to. So, the Prime Minister's assumptions may not be all that popular.

My problem is with our campaign: why exactly do we accept without too much arguing the strange idea that "young people" are too outward looking for Brexit? Why do we not turn it round and say that "young people" are too outward looking to want to Remain? For them, unlike the generations of the fifties, sixties and seventies, Europe is not the most exciting place in the world. Europe is where you go for the week-end if you cannot think of anything better to do. Their gap years, working ambitions, ideas for studying or just holidays are spread all over the world: the Commonwealth, the Americas, the Far East. What's the EU to them?

Yes, dear readers, I did raise the point with those in charge of campaigning (once again, no names, no pack drill) and my point was comprehensively dismissed. Mind you, when I said this during a debate to Sir Simon Hughes, in response to him making just that point, he mumbled that "young people" are interested in both the EU and the non-EU. Well, fine, but how does that translate itself into votes?

[I was going to go on and tackle some of the arguments - well, one particular one - that seems to me to be a huge mistake but then I shall have to produce some ideas of my own. Therefore, I shall leave that for a third part.]

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