Are you bored already with the European Referendum campaign? If you are I strongly suspect that you are not alone. I’m not sure I can stand another three months of this.
Yes, I do accept that it is a very important issue, but all we’ve seen so far is endless petty name calling and pathetic posturing from the chattering classes. The politicians and political journalists seem more concerned with scoring points off each other than they are in making any real effort to communicate with the public.
Neither campaign seems to have learned any lessons from the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum. The astonishingly high 84.5 per cent turnout in that poll was due to the fact that the electorate were enthusiastic and passionate about the issue. When I drove through any town or city in Scotland in the months leading up to the poll, it often seemed that every other house has either a Yes or a No poster in the window.
That level of engagement with the public seems to be sadly lacking in the current European campaign. Part of the problem is that neither camp has a strong charismatic leader. The Yes campaign does have the benefit of being backed by all the main political party leaders. However, that could prove to be a disadvantage given the public’s general disenchantment with the political establishment. And as for Tony Blair’s intervention…
The No campaigners need to be wary about letting Boris Johnson hijack their cause for his own ends. Other prominent Brexit figures such as Nigel Farage and George Galloway may well have anti establishment credibility but run the risk of alienating more voters than they attract.
In the Scottish referendum each side unified behind a single campaign group and the leaders, Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, each communicated their messages with conviction and passion. Both sides need to quickly inject some of that passion into the Euro debate or there is a real risk that the electorate will be too bored to turn up and vote on 23 June.