Sometime this year, possibly June, or even in 2017, Britain will make its most important decision post-war — whether to leave or remain as a member of the European Union.
Whether you like it or not the campaign has begun, and with it this blog; where each week I will review and analyse the events in the campaign and talk about the issues that matter to you, hoping to engage ‘us’, the younger generation into a vote that will affect all of our lives.
Monday was a day of personal slip-ups from the ‘In Campaign’. The Campaign leader of ‘Britain stronger in the EU’ Lord Rose forgot the correct name of his organisation three times. Though, I do wonder how much impact these mistakes will make on the result. In truth, very little. The press may love to create satirical headlines over these mistakes but to the public they scarcely matter; all they’re worth is a little laugh. Nevertheless they do add momentum to backbench MPs and campaigners, going from street to street. They raise spirits for the opposite side. Remember Ed Balls failing to remember the full name of any businessmen he had met that night, on Newsnight? The effect that had on the polls was non-existent but it did make the Tory camp that little bit happier than team Labour — something vital in a campaign that we expect to be very close.
What became evident this week was how voters are tired of living under the effects of negotiated laws with Brussels that are foisted on them. The feeling of a need for change is high among voters. The question is: will that change come with David Cameron’s renegotiation with Europe (the renegotiation soon to be announced — read next week’s blog ) or will the country still feel the need to leave the EU to gain the changes wanted.
Fear was a big factor in the Yes Campaign’s defeat in Scotland. Voters realised this fear when they came face-to-face with the ballot paper — something that we need to take into account when reading the polls. Fear is a dangerous campaign tool. For the In Campaign they run the risk of appearing pessimistic, employing scaremongering and being unpatriotic to voters. This is why it’s vital for them to be advocating their fear argument not through Brussels bureaucrats but through British politicians, liked and trusted by the public (yes, there are some like that out there, would you believe it?).
The two campaigns are fighting over politicians who are currently sat on the fence; for example, Boris Johnson, a keen Eurosceptic but at the moment wary of stepping out of government line with a possible top cabinet job on the cards after May — something that would support his leadership credentials — is one of them. It is so important for the Out Campaign to gain people like Boris Johnson, to make voters believe in the largely unpredictable — what would happen if we did leave? The electorate are more likely to believe Boris Johnson over trade statistics than George Osborne, even though both sides have probably fabricated them in some way. The addition of Boris to a team will add energy and that all important momentum needed in such a lengthy campaign.
It may seem ludicrous to be campaigning over a referendum that we don’t even know when it will be. But I hope that this campaign will captivate both the youth, the older public and everybody else too.
Us, the youth, a voting category that is usually dismissed as unimportant in an election campaign could swing this decision. The government may seem to have blocked the House of Lords, Lib Dem, Labour and SNP plans to lower the voting age to 16, but we do still have a voice. A voice that will determine the future of Britain. We have been given that voice through the beauty of democracy: lets not waste this chance to truly decide our future.
Whichever way we vote in the referendum, our relationship with Europe will be changed forever. The question now is how much change Britain will want? And are we ready for it?