On June 24th my life could get immeasurably more complicated and uncertain if the referendum on whether to stay in the European Union goes in the wrong direction. As a British immigrant who has lived in Denmark for over 23 years I do not have a vote since that right runs out after 15 years away.
So I am watching the campaigning very carefully even though it is likely to ratchet up a few notches once the official organisations for each side have been agreed. The impression I get so far:
Campaigners to leave the EU paint a picture of much greater freedom from EU legislation which will allow economic growth and a brake on uncontrolled immigration.
The remain side has been dubbed Project Fear because they warn of the downsides such as economic uncertainty and understaffed hospitals and schools after all the EU employees have been sent packing.
On the one hand they are already fed up with the column inches devoted to the issue and on the other polls show people saying they would like more information. This seems to mean fewer slanging matches on TV and a nice clear leaflet through the door showing the pros and cons.
The Fourth Estate
There are accusations that the BBC, the major news organisation in the UK, is treading far too cautiously on the issue because its charter is up for renewal soon and the Minister in charge of those negotiations is a prominent member of the Leave campaign.
What can I do, with no vote but a huge stake in the outcome?
The latest show in our podcast Absolutely Intercultural talks with a Jordanian life coach who describes the effect of positive language both on the speaker and those they speak with. Issa Assaf explains that if you use the language of victimhood rather than that of leadership, the stage is set for you to see and feel yourself as a helpless victim. The dubbing of the Remain campaign as Project Fear got me wondering if it would be possible to campaign to stay in a positive way.
As I see it, if you see the European Union as a mostly positive organisation, then leaving it would obviously be a bad thing and so it is not surprising that the Remain campaign paints a bleak picture of leaving, since that is the question: Leave or Stay. But I wondered if it would be possible to re-frame the issues that are emerging as important to voters in a positive light for the Remain campaign? In fact it turned out to be very difficult, at least for me, when I tried to create a short quiz, where the idea is to pick the most positive answer!
Take a look below. How did I do? Can you think of more, better, shorter questions and answers?
So can we look forward to more positive campaigning?
The Remain side does need to continuously fact check the Leave campaign and this will lead to more negative campaigning. But perhaps they could also include some more good news stories about how the EU has made exporting easier, given opportunities to all sorts of people, not just university students, to study and get work experience to broaden their perspective and how law enforcement agencies across Europe have been able to work together. And more signs with yellow stars please! How about starting with the newly renamed Crossrail as Elizabeth Line in London, one of Boris (Leave supporter) Johnson’s crown jewels in his time as Mayor of London?
But in the meantime, if you could improve my quiz, I would be very grateful!