Choices

Back in 2016, we as a country made a choice based on the information we had; and we made a reasonable choice.

We chose to be better off because leaving the EU would produce lower food prices.

We chose to unleash our economic strength because the EU was holding us back.

We chose to protect the polar bears

We chose to stop bull fighting

We chose to build better flood defences

We chose to give £350m a week extra to our NHS

And we chose to protect our British cuppa!

This was the information that was selectively shown to just some voters.

No context.

No detail.

No truth.

If this is what you saw and, up until that day, you didn’t know anything about the European Union, I would have been shocked if you hadn’t voted Leave!

It is all complete and utter nonsense; but it was delberatly targeted at, and shown to, people who didn’t know that. Those who had little or no knowledge of the European Union and what it did. And if you were in that situation and you saw these – and you beleived it because it came from your friends or from poltiicans whose view you trusted – then of course you voted Leave.

Responsibility

I certainly don’t blame these voters for supporting Leave – and nor should any pro-Euorpean campaigners out there. There are some who think everyone should be knowledgable about all things political and that people have failed if they are not. That is unfair. We have a parliamentary democracy; and the reason that they are superior is that every citizen cannot be expected to have in-depth knowledge and understanding of every issue – especially one as compelx at the EU. We vote in people with broadly our values and then they do the detail (this is a key point in the accompanying book). This is one of the main failings of referendums – especially on highly complex issues.

The people who saw these adverts were effectively spied on and then shown just the right thing in their personal timelines to hit just the right buttons to get the desired reaction. They were deliberately manipulated by some rather clever and devious people. Now I don’t for a moment expect anyone to admit to this being done to them – I would rather expect people to double down and find other reasons to justify the emotional choice that these ads provoked – but the manipulation happened all the same.

And the people who did it knew that’s what would happen.

The mantra in the Leave campagin was that people make choices based on emotion (any advertiser will tell you that’s the biggest factor); and that their ads didn’t have to be true, they just had to be believed. So they developed emotional and misleading adverts, subverted the electoral rules to overspend and then distributed them using personal data harvested for other purposes.

This was manipulation on an industrial scale.

A Defence?

The best defence you then get from Leavers is “well, Remain overspent”, which is both unture and a pathetic attempt to deflect attention. They are squirming and trying to justify the unjustifiable becasue there is no defence for their actions.  This whatabouterry cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.

Remain did NOT overspend, nor did they engage in dodgy misleading advertising (which wasn’t even promoted as such) with the money that they did spend. What Leavers often try and quote is the government leaflet on the referendum that went out. To everyone. Openly. But if a government calls a referendum it has to say what it is about and is entitled to say why it was called and what its plans are.

A leaflet that tries to explain all the options and the background to a choice and that is done publically and to all is not the same as trying to evade the law by targetting unsubstantiated nonsense at people on the sly. The fact that some people can even think they equate shows how far down the partisan “my side right or wrong” path we have come.

Conclusion

We can only ever make decisions based on what we know. But now we know most of what Leave said was either a lie or heroically optimistic (easiest trade deal in history, German car manufactures on the phone to Merkel demanding we get a deal, etc, etc). So knowing what we know now, would we still make the same choice? Possibly, I don’t know.

What I do know is that one of the five fundamental pillars of democracy is accountability. Without it, you are just electing dictators. So I support the People’s Vote because without accountability, without that chance to test what was promised and predicted aginst reality, elections and referendums are just competitions in lying.

That is not democracy.

So please support the People’s Vote.

 

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