Thursday, October 29, 2015

Pro-Europeans need to find some positive arguments

Nick Clegg has an article in the Independent today:
The Outers want us to believe we can have our cake and eat it, effortlessly freeing ourselves from the shackles of Brussels while continuing to trade on equal terms with our neighbours across the Channel. 
They argue that Britain can simultaneously abandon the EU, end free movement of people, end all EU budget contributions, repatriate control over employment regulations and retain full access to the European single market. It sounds lovely, but it’s a deception. 
And that last point is the most deceptive of all. There is no access to the single market without adherence to its rules and regulations.
This is all true, but I find the tone, which is typical of pro-European Union articles, problematic.

We voters are being told, in effect, that we have no choice. We must vote to stay in the EU or bad things will happen to us.

Yet we live in an age where being told what to do by those in authority goes down very badly.

I fear for the referendum result if the pro-EU side cannot find some positive arguments for our membership.

Back in 1973 we greeted our membership of the Common Market with a celebratory football match.

We need some of that spirit - a touch of Ode to Joy - if the forces of light are going to win.


The Singing Organ-Grinder said...

BSE could definitely do with an endorsement from UEFA.

Phil Beesley said...

Analysis of the Scottish Independence Referendum suggests that (allegedly) quantifiable economic arguments don't convince voters. See the two links at the bottom of this comment.

"Tax and Public Spending" and "Jobs" were ranked more or less equally important by Yes and No voters according to the Ashcroft poll. They believed and disbelieved claims about "cost of independence" to the same extent. The clincher for No voters was "Disaffection with Westminster politics" which correlates with high No votes in poorer areas. Yes won on conservative considerations such as "The pound" and "Pensions".

The indy referendum was determined by feel good and feel bad factors. We should assume the same for an EU referendum. What should be the feel good arguments? Can Cameron win a few friends?

And it is worth thinking about turnout effects at an EU referendum. Technocratic arguments might reduce turnout because they are tedious. "So what?" abstainers could outnumber Yes and No voters.