Nicky James on why smirking at Leave voters will not give them the space they need to change their minds on Brexit. The Remainers’ anger must be directed at those who mis-sold Brexit, not their victims.

First published in February 2020.

The last week has been a revelation for me. Apparently, thinking that it is wrong to be nasty to people is wrong.

I won’t dwell on some of the nastier encounters I have had as a result, but I am going to outline my reasons, and then mute this thread for my own mental health.

Shamefully my main reason for disliking insulting, mocking and revelling in the misery of Leave voters is strategic. No campaign, whether political or advertising, insults the people it wants to persuade. We are the side of facts and experts, so why shouldn’t we follow their advice?

“No campaign, whether political or advertising, insults the people it wants to persuade.”

There seem to be 3 main counter arguments to this:
A. It infantilises Leave voters.
B. We have been ‘nice’ for 3.5 years and it didn’t work.
C. Remainers worked it out, so they should have too.

A. It infantilises Leave voters.

For years we have been arguing that people were lied to, that Leave used millions of pounds to pay for their propaganda and that the mainstream media hasn’t been balanced/unbiased. So how were people suddenly supposed to have the new information? We might know, but they weren’t given the message.

It is not infantalising anyone. It is the logical conclusion after years and years of anti-EU rhetoric and lies. Most people I know in the UK, which aren’t politically active, are woefully under- and misinformed. If you are getting your news from headlines, you won’t know better.

Advertising works! We know it does. That is not an opinion, but a fact.

B. We have been ‘nice’ for 3.5 years and it didn’t work.

I know that people up and down the country stood on street stalls and talked to people in a civil way. I personally think that was one of the strongest campaigns of Remain and applaud every person who did this.

We were successful. The polling was in our favour and 54% of voters voted for pro-referendum parties in the General Election. We managed to postpone the leaving date twice. We lost in the end because a General Election isn’t a binary issue and it should never have been used to settle this issue.

C. Remainers worked it out, so Leave voters should have too.

It is generalising to say that everyone is the same and will process info the same way. Intelligence and life experience both play a big role, but at the end of the day everyone is different. For example, my brain shuts down to protect me from trying to process trade stuff.

Many of us have spent hours every day reading information about Brexit. Many others don’t have that time or, as they have been told that it will all be fine, the inclination. It is likely they will understand in time, when Brexit bites.

Direct the anger at those in power.

At the top of this piece I said that my main reason was strategic. On a personal level I just don’t see the point, or want, to be nasty. I have always had an aim in all of this and I wasn’t going to achieve it by being nasty.

I am not “holier-than-thou”, nor am I not angry. I just don’t see how being nasty to people who voted a certain way is going to help. The anger is justified, of course; I just think it should be directed at those who are actually responsible for mis-selling Brexit.

“The anger is justified, of course; I just think it should be directed at those who are actually responsible for mis-selling Brexit.”

For me not being nasty doesn’t mean being “extra nice”, or accepting Brexit. It certainly doesn’t mean hugging a racist. It just means making my points without insults, mocking, and schadenfreude.

It can be argued that by sinking to that level we are relinquishing any moral high ground that we had. There is a general opinion, although I don’t necessarily share it, that Remain voters are better than Leave voters.

For that to be true, we need to be better.

If you have read this far, thank you, and one final point. Leave voters didn’t have to be civil to us, because they had already won. We were, and still are, trying to change minds, so we don’t have that same luxury, in my opinion.

I am angry, hurt, scared, and feel absolutely insecure in my home thanks to Brexit. I have no political representation, so no one fighting my corner. Believe me, I understand the anger, but wish it were directed at those in power, not fuelling the divide.🔷

[This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article on 27 February 2020, with the author’s consent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected. | The author of the tweets writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Flickr/Number 10/Andrew Parsons. - Boris Johnson's Cabinet meeting. | 14 February 2020. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)



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Chairman of the Final Say For All Foundation. I want my vote back, too, along with a vote for the 3 million EU citizens in the UK. I refuse to be a victim anymore.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Articles in PMP Magazine Website