A clear case for ‘Remain’ in the EU referendum vote

Updated on June 19, 2016

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The simple cartoon above by Will Dawburn sums up many people’s feelings about political campaigning on the EU Referendum that we’ll be voting on in four days’ time, on Thursday June 23.

For me, most communication by the Stronger In and Vote Leave campaigns, by other campaigners, by (a biased) mainstream media, by many politicians, by individuals with strong opinions across the social web, has been characterized by ugliness, lack of thought-leadership, relentless doses of FUD, half-arsed publicity stunts, and more, all of which deadens the senses, polarizes opinion and does little to help anyone grasp the issues and significance of them that might offer some insights into arriving at a decision on what to vote for on June 23.

One of the great things about our democracy is enabling anyone to voice their opinion that, ideally, enriches overall discussion and presents you with perspectives that you might wish to consider. And it gives you an opportunity to add to the debate with your views and, ultimately, express your informed opinion via the ballot box.

But all this? Pathetic. All the communicators involved should be ashamed, in my view.

Some weeks ago, I tuned everything out except for some specific points of view that strongly resonated with me – John Major’s speech at the Oxford Union, Gordon Brown walking through the ruins of Coventry cathedral, Alan Sugar’s plain-speaking.

You’ll notice a pattern there. Each of those speeches sets out a strong case for why we should continue our membership of the European Union. That reflects my long-time opinion that we should be part of this Union, so it kind of speaks to the choir. Yet I was willing to listen to balanced and compelling opinion on the opposite viewpoint from someone. Anyone. Even Nigel Farage.

I found a video produced by the Leave campaign – Brexit The Movie – very good indeed. Well made, absorbing watching even if I don’t trust some of the metrics it includes. So it didn’t sway me at all to change my mind and vote ‘leave.’

The thing is, the EU isn’t a perfect state. Not everything about being part of this Union goes our way. It costs money and other things to be part of it. We do have to compromise on some things that many people hold dear in order to derive many of the benefits we do gain. An d there’s more to being in the EU than purely the economics of it. As Gordon Brown noted so clearly, we should lead the debate, take a leading role on defining and deciding the future, be part of the system in order to re-invent it to the advantage and benefit of every member in it.

This is the Britain I’m proud of, not the alternative one I see being peddled that is all about exclusion.

In coming to a decision about which way to vote, I’ve broadly applied a view that I need to have a confidence factor of at least 80% to make a decision. In most things, you’ll find it hard to be at 100%. So I believe at least 80% is just fine.

86% is even better. Thanks, FT. So I’m now pretty clear in which box I’ll write ‘X’ on June 23.

I wish us all good luck on that day. The best of British, as we say.

Edit 19/6/16: After I published this post, two friends asked me why I would be voting to leave the EU. They’d assumed ‘Yes’ meant ‘leave’: the original title of this post was “A clear case for ‘Yes’ in the EU referendum vote.”

Ambiguity I’d not expected but on reflection, that title was ambiguous. So I’ve changed it to make my intent crystal clear – Remain in the EU.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

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