Who ever thought that this would be a straightforward referendum campaign? On the contrary, it has been a low brow, mud slinging campaign held almost exclusively within the Conservative Party. And, it is therefore, no surprise that the vast majority of the public has lost interest and switched off.
Both sides have spent the last six months trying to educate about what appears to be the hugely exaggerated effects of leaving or remaining. I do not know a single person who has been inspired by the remain campaign or understands the consequences of leaving. A key message of ‘leaving is a risk’ is in fact a huge incentive to vote Leave for a generation who have been brought up on risk and reward.
The Sun, Britain’s most read newspaper, has backed Brexit. Six months ago when the remain campaign had a six point lead in the polls, the Sun was firmly behind them. Now they are behind the leave campaign. The Sun backs winners. Fact.
Loosing Boris didn’t help. For the more politically aware, when Michael Gove became Leader of the House of Commons prior to the General Election, we were told that this was because he was crucial to forming policy. Less than a year later, why shouldn’t Conservative voters believe him when he says it makes sense to leave?
That’s not to say that the Leave campaign have been making a coherent case. They haven’t. Who knows how leaving will effect education, agriculture or transport. Much of this legislation currently sits in the EU, but I can’t remember being told how it will improve or even change.
The notion that extremists on the far right of the Leave campaign think it’s ok to attack other campaigners in the street is shocking. How can the public be expected to look at a campaign that includes the far right and think that it is sending out a relatable and positive message. It is not. But if history repeats itself and The Sun wins again, these people will be claiming public support.
I, like everybody else, will be happy when this is all over and we can start to look to politics returning to something like normal (maybe with a new Prime Minister). But I think everyone within the PR industry should be asking ourselves why these campaigns have been so negative? When so much is at stake, why are political editors talking about how boring hustings are? Perhaps this will enable us to move to more positive campaigns that really engage the public.
Maybe that will be the big lesson of this referendum.
By Aaron Bass, Account Manager