Pro-EU propaganda

Not as good as a game show!

Call my Bluff, in the 1970sCall my Bluff, in the 1970s
Some years ago there was a TV show called, Call my Bluff. The format was as per most game shows but the intention was for one team to try and fool the other with false definitions of unusual words. The show ended in 2005 and simply would not work now. Today we have become so used to our politicians simply dishing out lies and bullshit that there's no longer any attempt to bluff. It's just blatant rubbish.

So life imitates art, again. The quality of the debate concerning the UK's continued membership of the EU is dire. Older people may be able to remember the last referendum held on this subject and perhaps the original debate on the merits of entry. Naturally any comparison between then and now is shaped by the many years that have passed. But what is notable now is the substitution of propaganda for debate, it's also very low grade propaganda too.

Over at EU Referendum Richard North has looked at FUD tactics: fear, uncertainty and doubt. The FUD tactic is well established but how good is it? In the link from North two of the cases are from the left wing press but all sections of the press seem to be having a go. From the Spectator we get Spectator this-1 and this-2.

The reader comments in the Spectator for link 1 would suggest the propaganda is not very good at all. For FUD to work there has to be some credibility attached and in the case of saying Cameron is mad to talk about leaving the EU from a small town in Switzerland there is none. It's risible as Switzerland has never been in the EU in the first place!

It's also well known that unlike most of the EU, Switzerland has a form of democracy that via referenda at least attempts to be honest and represent the people. While the annual bash at Davos is no more than an opportunity for a select few to peddle their take on anything from green energy to widgets with as little hindrance as possible. So the idea these people have to be taken seriously is risible too. As for trying to link Cameron's speech on the EU with the gay marriage debate, link 2, it's just so desperate, deranged even.

It's at a time like this that the supporters of the EU make it worse for themselves. Typical is the 'fax democracy' claim, the idea that countries outside the EU are worse off than those in. This is not so. Hence the claim that Switzerland is 'in effect' part of the EU is wrong. It's akin to suggesting that as Mars is part of our universe it must have the same atmosphere.

Although it would be wrong to say that Tony Blair played a part in the creation of FUD it's not at all surprising to find that Blair has benefited from the dark arts. Blair's thugs and spinners were rather good at it, for a while. Then they shifted from not just roughing up the political opposition but people from within their own party who had dared to wonder aloud about Blairism.

At that point the trick backfired on them. This we can see when Blair stood down as PM and the Guardian, (who else?) was called upon to eulogise on behalf of the man. They struggled with this and their rather terse and half hearted account of his spinning years was the result. If the Guardian says it was bad then it must have been so!

The low point in all this is could well have been when it was claimed that under Blair, Britain 'had become more confident'. How do you measure this? There being no possible way to, seriously, either prove or dispute this it became a joke. As the referendum on the UK's membership of the EU is years away and might not even happen the claims put out by those who would have us stay in at any price are likely to get more ridiculous as time goes by.

If, when Blair stood down over five years ago the Guardian knew the game was up, then FUD now on our EU membership is simply not going to work in the current climate either. Time has moved on and only the most spangly-eyed cannot see that the EU has not. It has stood still while the economic downturn has showed it up for what it is. Fooling the voter is now more difficult than ever before. So when does the real debate begin?

Footnote

Our image, top right, comes from what might be called happier times; although we may just have been more credulous, roughly the period of when we had the original EU referendum.