Richard North, 16/04/2016  
 


The least important people in this referendum campaign are those of us who have already made up their minds which way they are going to vote, and will not change their minds under any circumstances - people like the ones in the picture above.

Those who matter are the people who are undecided or who think they have a position but are genuinely open to persuasion. Those are the people who will decide the referendum.

Whether they will have been impressed with the shenanigans of the first day of this campaign, I don't know – and have means of knowing. But what I do suspect is that the sort of ra-ra meeting that we saw in Manchester yesterday had less to do with trying to bring converts to the cause, and much more to do with rallying the faithful.

It may just be that this sort of enthusiasm does also draw in converts, but there doesn't seem to be any deliberate plan to rope them in. That would be an added extra - an accident more than design.

What is unlikely to impress, to any one who has the first idea of the issues, is the sort of slogan shown above – the £350 million claim. Vote Leave know it isn't true. That makes it a lie. Why they go ahead with a deliberate lie, one that has been so comprehensibly debunked, I don't know. They must think there is some advantage to it, although I'm struggling to see what it is. Many of us are struggling.

Personally, I find the lie offensive. But then the other side is lying as well. I also find that offensive, but it doesn't worry me. In fact, I welcome it. It shows weakness, reduces their credibility and gives us leverage. It does worry me when our own side lies – for exactly the same reasons: it shows weakness, reduces our credibility and it gives the other side leverage.

Throughout my campaigning career, I've made a point of seeking accuracy – as best I can. For the very opposite reasons that the lie is a bad idea. It shows strength, it increases our credibility and it denies the other side leverage.

In other words, accuracy is the embodiment of good campaigning. The lie is the opposite. That matters. We don't. We need people to grow up and realise that. There is far too much at stake for us to be playing these silly games.






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