Thursday, April 13, 2017

The New European is weakening the pro-European cause

I have never got further into Skegness than the town's railway station, but one day I will visit this Lincolnshire resort where the working class of Leicester used to go for its holidays.

Perhaps I will walk down to the nature reserve at Gibraltar point at gaze across the Wash to the more genteel North Norfolk coast.

The New European has also been to Skegness, coming up with this illustration.

If they were setting out to lend support to the idea that European cause was a cause for metropolitan types who laugh at the rest of us while eating their artisan quinoa, they could not have made a better job of it.

I can see that cultivating affluent pro-Europeans in and around London makes business sense for the New European. That is a market that is easy for them to identify and serve.

But if we want to build public pressure for a second referendum and then win it, this approach is deeply damaging.

If you want people to change their minds and support you, the very last thing you should do is ridicule them. I refer you to a post I wrote in February 2016:
If we want the forces of light to win the referendum on British membership of the European Union then we have to get away that it is a project of the elites.
But no one, particularly not Emma Thompson, listened.

Turning the European cause into a sort of grooming session where metropolitan liberals tell each other how noble they are and how ghastly everyone else is, would be a guarantee of failure and also show a remarkable lack of ambition.

Back in the 1975 referendum on whether Britain should remain a member of the European Economic Community, Lincolnshire voted Yes by almost 3:1 - the exact figure was 74.7 per cent to 25.3 per cent.

We should also worry about the many affluent constituencies in Southern England that voted No to the EU last year, but if we want to win the battle for Europe we shall have to change the minds of people who live in towns like Skegness.


Kiron Reid said...

I agree with your sentiment on this, but not with some of the words and the barbs. That New European Skegness frontpage is insulting, rude and damaging. This is like many of our own Liberator magazine covers and headlines have been in the past that cared more about insult and being provocative than conveying an intelligent or persuasive political idea. I reject your own stereotype about metropolitan, 'elite' and North London readers of the New European and EU supporters - the attack on stereotypes works every way. But that New European cover, and the fact they kept on being far too clever by half promoting it is definitely damaging to both the pro-EU cause and the cause of bringing people in Britain together in grown up political debate. To be fair, it was clever, a provocative cartoon - but too clever by half, just like many young political campaigners' ideas .. ah, just like your Fiona and Freddie Lord Bonkers column of 21 May. Which is all a shame as the article itself is a well written and fairly thoughtful article, one that no doubt could include more positives about Skegness if they were looked for, but seems fair and does include a great account of a community activist's work helping Polish newcomers learn English. A nice positive tale.

Kiron Reid said...

I think the New European may have learnt the lesson - even if they still tout that awful far too clever, cover. Their November article on Grimsby was political and critical but much more balanced and empathetic.