Last week the first of a series of debates on the UK’s membership of the European Union took place in Glasgow. This debate was to focus on the concerns of young people, but it maybe didn’t get off to a wondrous start. The panel, with its mean age of almost 60, is maybe not the best to really understand the concerns of today’s youth. The debate itself very aptly summed up the referendum debate so far – scaremongering, with little regard for facts as the dominant narrative. This is doing nothing to rebuild the public’s trust in politicians, especially as both sides contradict the other sides’ arguments on a continuing basis. With less than a month to go, it is time for a reboot of the debate on Europe.
So who won? Neither side. The debate was quickly reduced to a shouting match, filled with petty arguments. Diane James MEP from UKIP seemed to struggle the entire debate, always returning to immigration as the source of most evils. It was quite sad to see such a skilled public speaker as Liam Fox MP to be chained to such a sink. Dr Fox, and to a degree Alex Salmond MP, should be applauded for efforts to present the positive case of their respective campaigns. Both Britain Stronger In Europe and Vote Leave need to abandon the fear centred approach the campaigns are currently buy tetracycline capsules suffering from, as it is alienating and insulting voters, regardless of background or political persuasion.
Mistrust in the political system and general voter apathy are issues that pose significant, and fundamental, threats to democracy itself. Whilst trying to discredit one’s political opponents is a trick as old as politics itself, we find ourselves in a world where the opinions on all issues are as unending as the universe itself. The positive impacts of this aside, it creates an environment where it becomes very difficult for the general public to know what is fact, what is spin, and what is an outright lie?
Britain’s future will be bright, both inside and outside the European Union. We stand a crossroad with two salesmen, trying to persuade us which way to go. Both, however, are trying to ‘outscare’ the other one, forcing us down the other path in fear of the alternative. This only creates division. The two campaigns have different messages of hope and positivity, sometimes Europe is part of it, sometimes it is not. Regardless, they should look at the Scottish Independence Referendum and see how Better Together almost lost the referendum against a message of hope offered by the Yes Campaign. Plenty of lessons that can, and should, be learned. The campaign that masters the message of hope is placed in a good stead come 23rd June.