Saturday, 25 June 2016

How Remain Lost

Thinking more* about how Remain lost the referendum, I believe it was very clearly a battle that was won by triers and lost by the weaker fighters. Obviously I believe the Remain cause was just, and backed up by facts, but that's not the point. The Leave Campaign had two campaigns for starters - a Pincer Movement if you will - with  Boris & Gove's team reaching one constituency who overlapped in a Venn diagram with the group reached by Farage's attack from the other flank. 

           So there was already twice the work being done by the Leave side, compared to Remain's defence which lacked a figurehead, a champion, and an "angle." All it had were the facts.   
           And do you know who knows how feeble facts alone are? Journalists. And who were the leaders of the Leave campaign? Two journalists. Gove and Boris are both journalists. They both know how a story works, how to construct a headline, and how a soundbite - even one that's proved wrong every time it's said - becomes the thing you believe if it's repeated often enough.  

           Gove & Boris, and Farage, got out there. In person. In a big red bus with a memorable headline on the side. (No point arguing that it was factually incorrect - "Print the legend"). They went into peoples territories, giving people the real impression they were being listened to. And, most importantly, they had friends - their fellow journalists - who could ensure everyone was singing from the same songsheet.

            What did Remain have? Cameron, who was already the natural enemy of half the electorate, and...? Well Jeremy Corbyn was despicably conspicuous by his absence. And one of the few interviews I saw him make about the referendum was The Last Leg where he was avowedly disinterested in the whole thing. He was needed, and he let the side down big time. 
            There were other good campaigners for Remain, from the Greens to the luvvies. But whether they were denied access to the TV, by broadcasters who find Farage more camera-friendly than  Cumberbatch and Beckham, or just weren't sharp-elbowed enough, one thing was sure, they weren't united. And there was no clear message.

        Leave had: I want my country back. 
        Remain only had: You already have your country, what do you mean?
        Leave had: £350m a week goes to Brussels
        Remain only had: No it doesn't, what are you talking about?
        Leave had: No more immigrants
        Remain only had: I say, wait a minute, you can't say that...

In short, it was an offensive game with a pitiful defence, and now it needs those of us on both left and centre to get our act together to stop the winners doing the things they might get away with if we continue being so ineffective.

*(I drove for 10 hours yesterday and 6 hours today, I've had a lot of thinking time)

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