When thinking about the personal relationship between Remainers and Leavers, I remember how very determined Professor Mike Dougan (Constitutional Law, Liverpool), was that we Remainers hold Leavers responsible for the depredations they have generated – it is our job to take Leavers to task for the damage they have (already) done. Leavers are responsible for it and must be held to account.
His is a different message to those asking us to Love a Leaver and persuade them of the Error of Their Ways. I’ve heard this admonition from Clare Moody MEP, A C Grayling, Molly Cato MEP and Jolyon Maugham QC.
Personally, I’m with Prof. Dougan. Though what I have learnt to say to Leavers (through gritted teeth), is the rather anodyne, “We were all lied to weren’t we?”
My hunch is that people have not been changing their minds on the issue of our membership, or not, of the EU, because it is a decision led by emotion, not fact.
We Remainers can, as current affairs unravel around us, marshal an array of reasons that justify our position on Europe. But my intuition is that we ‘feel’ those facts because we are inclusive citizens with a fluid notion of what constitutes a border, which sense of fluidity does not bring us alarm. We do not feel unnerved by the process of change which being part of a larger, evolving entity inevitably entails. We are not threatened by incomers. Leavers are the obverse. Leavers need surety, dependability and for things to stay the same. This means they do not like foreigners because incomers only ever create change. Sometimes this is expressed as plain racism, sometimes their arguments cluster around ‘economic’ issues.
The Leave state of mind generates an approach to life which favours exclusion and rejection of change in order to maintain stasis. It is a mindset, a state of being, which finds comfort within a tightly enclosed space that only contains PLU (People Like Us – thanks to a Leave voter for introducing me to that ‘keep out the rest of you’ abbreviation).
Moving on – we need ask ourselves about the likelihood of winning the next referendum (the possibility of which looms ever larger). Given I don’t think people will/are changing their minds, it might be that Remain will only win if enough Leavers have died since last year, and enough new voters, and young people who did not vote in the last referendum, now do vote – and vote Remain.
In the Lie Fest that we call the June 2016 Referendum 17,410,742 voted Leave and 16,141,241 voted Remain. All that’s required is a swing of just 635,000.
It’s going to be close. But is absolutely do-able. The thing is, we really do need to know if we can persuade Leavers. Because if we can’t, our limited resources would be best spent elsewhere, encouraging the young to register to vote and then encouraging them to use that vote at the next referendum. Younger voters significantly contributed to the swing in the recent general election. Here’s hoping they do so again.