Category Archives: Communication

The ECONOMY, stupid!

If the now established EU Referendum communication pattern of competing claims and counterclaims continues, then Vote Leave will lose the referendum on 23 June.

In an environment of chaos and uncertainty, undecided voters are likely to lack the courage to vote for fundamental change – and it appears that the Remain campaign is well aware of this. The latest HM Treasury report this week that simply omitted the best case scenario for a Brexit is yet another example of the Remain campaign’s basic approach – tell the electorate loudly enough and often enough that a vote to leave will hit their wallets and they will accept it as true. The fact that the Treasury’s assumptions in its modelling are highly questionable simply gets lost in the noise and the confusion.

To win this referendum, Vote Leave has to make the economic case for Brexit. Its economic message so far has been fragmented, unfocussed and delivered by the wrong people at the wrong time. The proposition that there will be an economic shock following a vote to leave is becoming an established truth, even though there is scant evidence to support the proposition.

Vote Leave’s slogan, “If you want to save the NHS – Vote Leave” is weak. It is weak because it is not true, it doesn’t address the economic case that Remain has made and public services are not the main issue of concern for voters. In producing this slogan, Vote Leave seems to have forgotten that the Labour Party has just lost a General Election after focusing on the NHS in the face of a Conservative Party onslaught on economic competence and issues of governance.

Vote Leave has about a week to sort its economic message out. If it applies its mind to the problem, it will discover that the Remain campaign is vulnerable on the economic question because its message has already been partially discounted – though not rejected – by voters. Rather than ramping up the rhetoric about the NHS, Vote Leave needs to challenge the basic assumptions that staying in the EU with its malfunctioning Eurozone and uncompetitive single market is the risk free option.

It is long past time for Vote Leave to get its economic heavy-weights into the ring to challenge this basic assumption.

Is the Remain Campaign in trouble?

With six weeks to go before the vote, the opinion polls are too close to call. After an initial strong showing by the Remain campaign’s “shock and awe” approach (its so-called “Project Fear”), it now seems to be losing some traction.

The Remain Campaign’s early attempt to define the referendum as a purely economic decision, rather than a more complex democratic, cultural and economic choice initially met with success. Its well-organised and well-coordinated campaign of dire warnings from the political, economic and business elite really hit home with electors.

The problem that has now emerged for the Remain Campaign is that in seeking to create shock and awe, it has also parted company with any sense of balance. When David Cameron tells us that a vote to leave the EU risks a return to conflict in Europe, the claim seems outlandish, if not a touch hysterical.

The facts on this matter are clear: it is America’s military might and vast nuclear arsenal – directed through NATO rather than the EU – that has kept the peace in Europe and no balanced view of the matter could truly argue otherwise. Yet this pro-EU argument is the one that David Cameron chooses to make.

Making a weak argument weakens every argument – this is a basic principle of adversarial communication.

If we believe the dire warnings of the Remain campaign, we can only reach the conclusion that exercising our simple democratic right to self-determination will be a total catastrophe, leading to economic meltdown, political disintegration and a war in Europe.

However, once the shock and awe has passed, the Remain campaign’s lack of balance and its overblown rhetoric may herald its ultimate failure.

Lynden Alexander is a forensic communication consultant and an expert in adversarial communication.