Sunday, 14 February 2016

Can British 'feelings' about Europe be changed?

The Daily Mirror is one of the few British newspapers to support Britain’s continued membership of the EU, but this weekend it failed to persuade its readers to think the same way.

In an online poll Mirror readers voted 2-to-1 against Britain’s continued membership of the EU. 

This is in contrast to the country’s first referendum, when the British electorate voted 2-to-1 in favour of Britain remaining a member of what was then called the European Economic Community.

The newspaper, one of the country’s most successful tabloids, warned that Prime Minister David Cameron’s cabinet was about to face ‘civil war’ over the issue of whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union.

The Mirror dared to imagine that David Cameron wouldn’t get the negotiated reform deal he desires from the EU. Then, the PM, unable to face his Tory sceptics, might have to turn to the Scottish National Party for support. 

And what happens next, according to this Mirror scenario? 
“The Scots take advantage of the predicament the king of the Conservatives is in and sell him back to Parliament for a princely sum. The PM loses his head, figuratively speaking, and is removed from office.”
Something like that really did happen around 400 years ago, the Mirror reminded its readers this weekend:
• Tory Civil War looms as Eurosceptic Roundheads threaten
David Cameron and his Cavaliers, claims the Daily Mirror
Explained the Mirror:
“For Cameron read King Charles I – which makes balding, Eurosceptic roundhead Iain Duncan Smith the new Oliver Cromwell. The civil war simmering in today’s Tory Party is set to be every bit as bitter as the one which tore the nation apart in the 1640s. 
“Having lost the Battle of Naseby in June, 1645 Charles preferred to surrender to the duplicitous Scots rather than Parliament. And they sold him to Oliver Cromwell for £400,000.
“The king lost his head, literally not figuratively. Olly had it chopped off on January 30, 1649.”
And the Labour-supporting Daily Mirror thinks the situation is rather similar today, comparing the “self-righteous, arrogant and u­nscrupulous King Charles” with Mr David Cameron. 

The newspaper added,
“And now the PM is facing a Cabinet split over an issue that has always divided the Tory Party: Europe.”
The Mirror predicts that a ‘Tory civil war is looming’ with a likelihood that Mr Cameron may lose his head (figuratively).

The paper summarised the pros and cons of Britain remaining in the EU. 
  • On the ‘leave’ side the Mirror claimed that half of British laws are drawn up in the EU (some reseachers consider it to be much less). If we left, according to the Mirror, we could negotiate our own trade deals instead of through the EU. And Brexit could give Britain ‘more border controls’.
  • On the ‘remain’ side, however, the Mirror explained that 3.5 million British jobs are dependent on the EU; the continent buys ‘more than 50% of our exports’ (that figure is actually out-of-date, it’s now 45%), and because the EU is the world’s biggest marketplace, the UK would be disadvantaged in trade deals if it was not a member of the EU.
•  In an online poll (not scientific) Mirror readers voted 2-to-1
for Britain to 'leave' the European Union
Mirror readers weighed up the pros and cons and (so far) this weekend, have voted 66% for Britain to leave the EU, and 34% to remain.* 

Maybe that’s because it’s hard for evidence to shift peoples’ feelings. That’s something you maybe learn as you get older. You cannot argue with someone’s feelings. If someone doesn't ‘feel something’, it’s unlikely that evidence alone will shift their point of view. 

So, with a referendum that might be only five months away, the ‘Remain’ campaigners may have some serious thinking to do. In my view, the evidence for Britain to remain in the EU is overwhelming. But evidence will never be enough.

The real battle will be to win hearts as well as minds - possibly more so. In other words. to change British peoples feelings about Europe. 

Can that be done in the short time before we’re asked to cast our votes in the referendum?

*It should be emphasised that the Daily Mirror poll is not scientific, and readers have been allowed to vote multiple times.  So far, there have only been around 500 votes - tiny compared to over 2 million Mirror readers.

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Posted by Jon Danzig on Saturday, 13 February 2016

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure which side the Mirror is actually on, given the way they presented arguments for both sides. It seemed more like hedging bets to see how things may pan out to avoid being on the loosing side, as I think a lot of the media is actually doing. It seems like it's the belief in national sovereignty that decides it; that being out will be more secure and economically free and hence more powerful. It's an emotional presumption and just not the case, but it's the way the Mirror presented it, so not surprising people bought into it.


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