diamond geezer

 Saturday, February 06, 2016

For news channels reporting on the PM's EU deal, there appear to be only two main viewpoints at the moment, and they're these.

The PM's EU deal
is good enough
so I'll vote
The PM's EU deal
isn't good enough
so I'll vote

Public opinion, it seems, hinges around David Cameron's diplomatic mission to persuade European politicians to let Britain off the hook on a few things. A few significant things. Or nothing of any importance.

These two opinions are what everybody is thinking, we're told, and will have the greatest influence on the outcome of the upcoming referendum.

But a lot of people out there are surely thinking this.

The PM's EU deal
is irrelevant,
I'm still voting
The PM's EU deal
is irrelevant,
I'm still voting

Many people must be thinking the former. The PM's EU deal is a pointless sideshow that merely pisses off the rest of Europe, demanding all the good things about membership and none of the bad, like a child throwing a tantrum.

Many other people are similarly unimpressed, but to them it doesn't matter what the PM's deal is, the EU is an evil bureaucratic demon that does terrible things, and any excuse to leave it would be welcomed.

A lot of the population chime with one of those two opinions, I'd say. But there's also these.

I don't know any bad things about Europe, so I'll vote REMAINI know one bad thing about Europe, so I'll vote LEAVE

I'm unconvinced that many people fall into the former category. And that's because the latter category is so damned strong. For many Britons all it takes is one bad opinion about one bad EU thing and that's it, Europe is lost to them. It could be a trade law, it could be some health and safety regulation, it could be migrants, it could be benefits, it could be something entirely fictional about how bendy bananas are allowed to be, but that one thing swings the entire argument for them. These people don't see any of the good things the EU might do in other fields, or indeed the many good things the EU may do across several fields, they focus only on the bad thing and this colours their entire opinion.

If the Remain campaign wants to get the public onside, it needs to drive home all the good things Europe does like freedom of travel and funding for projects in poor areas and consumer rights legislation the government can't water down and smoothing trade deals with our nearest neighbours and boosting Britain's global influence, and then maybe people will see why the EU is a good thing. Whereas if the Leave campaign wants to get the public onside, all it has to do is point at one terrible thing the EU does and how terribly unfair it is, and leave fear and ignorance to do the rest.

I have no issue with UK citizens intending to cast their referendum vote for Remain or Leave based on a broad consideration of the issues. But when a sizeable proportion of the population seem willing to cast their vote based on a single blinkered issue, possibly even fictional, that's a much less comfortable way to decide the future. Indeed many Britons appear unwilling or unable to view the wider picture, and hence are more likely to be swayed by a single overwhelmingly negative issue.

Which means the people we might be most concerned about are this lot.

Foreigners have always made me nervous, because, you know.I'm letting my newspaper make my mind up for me, thanks.

Whichever way this once-in-a-generation referendum goes, we mustn't let the ignorant swing it.

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