Everyone accuses the Remain campaign of fear tactics. However, the Leave campaign also engages in Project Fear, exaggerating the size of the EU superstate which costs only 1% of our tax and has as many employees (32,000) as Leeds Town Council. However, we are up against a dreadful alliance of the mad, the Little Englanders, the isolationists, manipulators, and those who rarely tell the truth, so we frequently have little option other than to outline the risks of leaving.
Good advice on how to campaign positively comes from the unlikely source of the former Greek Finance Minister, Yanis Varoufakis. In a recent interview, he talked about the politics of fear that Donald Trump uses and “even by relatively nice people like David Cameron…he is playing the fear card”. He advises us to use the politics of hope, so democratic sovereignty can sit with a common European identity.
Europe legislates for an ideal world, safe, clean, with Human Rights enshrined at its centre. But if you ask most people outside political circles, they will tell you that it is not an ideal world. They see a bleak, hard, frightening place, moving too fast and fraught with dangers, dangers which the EU seems to ignore. It is for us, the Europhiles, to engender a sense of hope into those we talk to, to attempt to show that idealism not only can work, but must work, if we are to continue to live in relative peace and prosperity and unite to fight fundamentalisms, terrorism, cruelty and the destruction of the natural world.
When one questions those who want Out closely, and dig down to the real reasons why they want the UK to go it alone, beneath their complaints about budget contributions, light bulb, hairdryer power restrictions etc. (you will have a hard job persuading hairdressers to Remain ), lies immigration. You can explain about Schengen and our borders until the cows come home, but they fear many refugees will qualify one day for European citizenship, and then swamp this country with terrorists. People genuinely believe this. Arguing post-war mass migration from the former British Empire helped develop the British economy and culture don’t allay their fears either.
Varoufakis now spends his days campaigning to reform Europe from the grass roots up, to, as he puts it, “shake Europe – gently, compassionately but firmly” towards a better democracy, a more equal Europe. He makes the distinction between refugees and migrants, and states there should be different policies, but compassion must be the key. What terrorises us most, a bullet or the sight of a homeless, starving child? To gain support, we Remainers should share Varoufakis’ objective and promise to shake Europe up. It is all about dream juggling, really.