Official campaigning for the June 23 referendum on UK membership of the European Union is trying its damnedest to reach new depths of scare-mongering. The playbook of modern day electioneering is negative propaganda. It is particularly pointed at an anti-immigrant xenophobia, but it is in fact aimed at a dislike or prejudice of basically anything if it scares enough people. Don’t forget that around 12 per cent of the voting population still haven’t decided which way to vote and 35 per cent may not vote at all.
The propaganda game gets underway and last week, for instance, the Office for National Statistics released figures revealing that net migration into the UK had risen to 333,000 in 2015. This was the second highest figure on record, with EU-only net migration at 184,000, equalling its record high.
The ONS report did in fact prominently highlight that the 20,000 rise in net migration was caused by a 22,000 drop in the number of British people moving abroad rather than a rising ‘swarm’ of migrants dragging themselves up on the shores of Dover. However, this fact was almost universally ignored in the establishment media. Blame was pointed at PM David Cameron for failing to honour his own anti-migrant pledges amongst all the other pledges he has not honoured.
Over the following days, anti-migrant propaganda reached fever pitch, especially after a poll for the Guardian reported a two point lead for the Leave Team, which today has extended another point. Different newspapers are reporting different poll results, most are misleading one way or another but what’s interesting is that now we have accusations by both camps over their equally distasteful levels of propaganda. Don’t forget of course that both ‘Remain’ and ‘Leave’ are headed up by Tories.
The Sun “Brexit campaigners furious over £9.3m spend on pro-EU propaganda leaflets”.
The Daily Mail “Brexit MP’s demand pro-EU propaganda is stripped from government website because it’s illegal”
The Independent “Leave campaigners claim IFS study warning of Brexit impact is ‘propaganda’”
CNBC “Brexit warning is ‘rotten propaganda,’ says former UK Chancellor”
The Express “Osborne under fire from furious Brexit MPs over ‘illegal’ pro-EU propaganda websites”
The Mirror “Send David Cameron’s ‘EU propaganda’ leaflets back to No.10”
Huffington Post “Mark Carney Condemned By Jacob Rees-Mogg For ‘Brexit’ ‘Propaganda’”
The ‘Remain’ camp seem to be in some trouble as almost all the accusations of propaganda are firmly directed at them.
In more subtle ways other statistics are being used in the war of words for your mind.
The Telegraph reported last week that “UK manufacturing unexpectedly returned to growth in May as a closely-watched survey showed uncertainty surrounding the Brexit vote had “no significant effect” on activity for most businesses.” This is a clear case of disinformation as UK manufacturing has been declining ever since joining the EU and a small bounce in trade had nothing whatsoever to do with Brexit.
Almost from the same day The Telegraph prints “FTSE 100 suffers sharp sell-off after Brexit poll shows ‘leave’ camp ahead”. Again, this is full spectrum propaganda as there is no evidence that the global market players that make up the FTSE100 were suffering from Britain’s contemplations over its future relationship with the EU. Depressed economic data is now spewing out daily from all over the world and it is of no surprise that share prices are falling, which they have been for nearly a year.
Next up from the BBC “OECD warns of Brexit ‘negative shock‘” – this one was positively apocalyptic in its prediction that Britain’s economy would fail in the years to come in the event of leaving the EU. However, there is a positive message here. The OECD completely failed to predict the global crisis in 2007, the biggest since the great depression and the slowest recovery ever on record. It constantly over-estimates the GDP forecasts for its own 34 club members, under-estimates just as many inflation projections and did predict a completely stable Euro area by now! So on that note, reverse everything they say, and you will be closer to a prediction that might add up. Statistically speaking OECD Observer makes this point better than I do.
My favourite is George Osborne’s assertion that “House prices could fall by 18% if Britain quits EU”. This would happen in less than 18 months from the referendum of course. He also stated that the cost of mortgages will rise and that property investors were inserting “Brexit clauses” in commercial deals to allow them to pull out. The fact that lowering property prices is government policy at the moment makes Osborne’s statement rather contradictive. These blatant scare tactics come from a man who has missed almost of all his own deficit targets last year, along with all the other major predictions such as the ‘welfare cap’ and the only ones he did hit came from some ‘creative accounting‘. It also appears his predictions of of 2019-20 budget surplus is nothing more than fudging the books.
You might ask which way I am going to vote. I’m as confused as the next sane person. No-one knows what’s best because no-one can see into the future. One thing we do know is that the only reason we’re having this referendum is that the European Union has failed. After all, if it is was a raging success, we wouldn’t be having this debate in the first place.
At the moment I am very distrustful of a Tory government that has lied on just about everything it promised at two elections. At the first it needed a partner to scrape in, the second looks like to have been rigged with 28 MP’s facing an investigation from at least eleven police forces under an extension of the “Representation of the People Act” – in other words electoral fraud. To make matters worse, the Tories have tried to block the investigation by police, heightening the probability of guilt.
I am also extremely worried that David Cameron himself is at the heart of a democratic scandal. Britain is rushing through a trade agreement that is basically another TTIP deal, just not as well known. The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the EU is a worrying development where Cameron stands accused of trampling over democracy by pushing for the “fastest possible implementation” of the trade deal. This is without parliamentary scrutiny or indeed without any debate or vote at all. The same can be said of TTIP.
And look who the other countries are that are pushing CETA just as hard; Spain, Estonia, Sweden, Portugal, Lithuania and Cyprus. Contrary to popular belief, Sweden’s economy is on the verge of collapse (interestingly, because of long-term immigration that is bankrupting the economy) Spain and Portugal are already Zombie economies hanging on by their fingernails. They surely have reason to join a club of Desperados in the vain hope of economic recovery. Or does Cameron know something the rest of us don’t?
The propaganda game has been rife, as it was with the Scottish referendum.
By voting to Leave we are at the mercy of a government that represents nothing more than a corporatocracy. Politicians will be rewarded with perpetual revolving doors from some of the wealthiest and most powerful corporations in the world whilst everyone else is left to their mercy. We definitely do not want this.
By voting to Remain we are increasingly unable to decide our own destiny where geo-politics, cold wars, hot wars and trade wars looks more likely to drive political and economic outcomes in the future. And the EU have made a pretty poor job of everything so far.
If TTIP says anything to the average citizen that cares to look – the thin veil of Britain’s democracy will not shield her whether in or out of the EU. For all of the wonderful things you may have read about the benefits of EU membership, and to be fair, there are many, you might be surprised to find out that their are plans for an EU-Army, EU border guard, and EU paramilitary police force called theEuropean Gendarmerie Force and they are worrying enough along with pretty shocking powers the EU has given the police forces all over Europe to control protesting against governments and corporations. Stifling free speech is another skill set the EU Commission are perfecting. The EU even wants you to log in to social media accounts only with government issued ID cards. The USA is triallingthis in several states right now. This is because those with too much power want to control the discourse and narrative on the important stuff. Britain is only one of two countries in the EU that do not have ID cards.
Then again, no-one gave electoral permission for Thatcher to deregulate the banks that is causing wave after wave of economic chaos, Tony Blair to destabilise the world order, David Cameron to dismantle the NHS and secretly negotiate our sovereignty away with trade deals. All of these huge decisions that have or will badly affected us all were done outside of manifestos, mandates and any sense of morality.
There’s no easy answer.
Like most elections in my time, it’s really been about voting for the least worst and I can’t work out which one would be more dreadful as neither have our best interests at heart. Whatever direction you vote, go with your heart and think about the generation that’s going to have to live with your decision because elite politician’s and their corporate paymasters will do neither.
Graham Vanbergen – truepublica.org.uk