Being afraid won’t get us what we need. Only by boldly striding towards the future with a hopeful determination, can Britain regain its identity
Hope is a feeling that is present in many different times and places. We feel hope at the saddest of times, hoping for things to get better, but we also feel it as a warm excitable feeling, something we feel the night before Christmas. As a country we thrive on hope. It illuminates a light in people’s minds and hearts to continue making their way out of crises and problems, it inspires us to success and helps us to achieve our goals. Most importantly, though, it gives us something to aim for.
Senior Scientist Shane J.Lopez, Ph.D., in his book Making Hope Happen, writes that ‘hope is a combination of head and heart’ and is ‘the golden mean between euphoria and fear. It is a feeling where transcendence meets reason and caution with passion’.
Is hope an intellectual feeling? Certainly. Whether it is hoping for buses to be on time, or to score the winning goal in a cup final, we don’t hope for the impossible. We may wish, for there to be no world hunger, but we don’t hope for that. Instead we hope that a little village may gain running water, or for a particular family to be reunited. When one says they hope, they see that as a future aim, but not one that’s unachievable. Hope is an intellectual aim.
According to Dr Lopez hopeful people share four core beliefs:
1. The future will be better than the present
2. I have the power to make it so
3. There are many paths to my goal
4. None of them is free of obstacles
How does hope affect politics?
Did the disengagement with politics happen because of a lack of hope? I believe so. The electorate felt as though they had lost the power to make their future better because of the lack of choice. Despite having a crowded debating stage of seven political leaders, many voters I talked to felt as though they were all the same and that when May 7th came there were really only two choices, where ‘both [were] as bad as each other’, according to one voter. That combined with a feeling that the future will not be better than the present, mainly down to the constant cuts and economic warnings, led to a lack of hope, and consequently a low turnout in what was described as the most important general election for a generation.
Hope affects the electorate and thus affects the campaign. The side in the EU Campaign that encapsulates the feeling of hope, and turns that into momentum will win. Hope can spread from person to person, it can be a feeling based largely on the environment one lives in. With the help of the media a campaign can spread the sparks of hope quickly. The question is: will we hope for an improved future in the EU or hope that a largely unknown future out of it will be better for the UK?
As seen in the Scottish Independence campaign, hope is more advantageous and an easier sentiment to generate for the pro-independence campaign groups. It is however a feeling that can, at times, be weak and easily destroyed with the risky campaign tactic of fear. Fear was used by the Tories against Labour, and ultimately led to their victory. The electorate were scared by the prospect of the SNP propping up a Labour minority government. This fear led debates, interviews and discussions — a result of the Tory manpower among the press — but also the polls, citing a hung parliament with days of negotiating ahead (a polling error that according to the Scottish ex-Labour leader Jim Murphy led to Labour’s infamous Scottish collapse, with Labour voters in Scotland thinking that they could vote SNP but still wake up with a Labour government). This remains unproven, but there is truth in the polls controlling the campaign; Ed Miliband struggled to get his policies across without them being shrouded by talk of an SNP coalition. Lynton Crosby and Tory HQ had a dream scenario.
I’m sure we will be discussing polling closer to the vote, but I would like to stress how we must not allow this campaign to be dictated by the polls; after all, should we trust them again?
Already it is evident that the ‘stay’ campaigns are hoping to frighten the electorate. The question is ‘will the electorate be brave’. I believe so. Persuaded by patriotic claims and the lack of excitement from the stay camp, I predict that this could lead to momentum being on the leave side — evident in current polls (although, I do think the Daily Express’ poll this week saying 92 per cent of us want to leave the EU is a bit too optimistic from its Eurosceptic editors and funders — with their chairman Mr Richard Desmond donating £1m to UKIP in the general election campaign).
Fear is a dangerous campaign strategy. It runs the risk of being seen as too pessimistic and boring — as not helping in the all-important debates, during the one time when voters can see the argument from both sides presented to them. For this to work the stay campaign will need the power of the papers. Despite readership going down, newspapers are crucial. Their headlines, seen by all, whether it’s a political junkie or an ordinary voter outside the petrol station, such as ‘BREXIT THREATENS THOUSANDS OF JOBS‘ do have an effect . Which way will the papers go? This depends on the outcome of David Cameron’s renegotiations in a few weeks. The reaction last week, showed early signs that the majority of the papers, broadsheets and tabloids, back the Eurosceptic.
Fear or Hope? Hope from the Leave Side. Fear from the Stay campaign. Will Britain be brave and choose hope over fear?
I hope so, after all a great country like the UK shouldn’t be making life-changing decisions out of fear.