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John McTernan: Remain must follow these rules to win the Referendum

| 21.03.2016

There is a straightforward way for the Remain campaign to win the EU Referendum. Just follow three simple rules.

First, tell the truth. Always tell the truth. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t overclaim. Don’t gild the lily. Precision is boring but that’s the point.

If it’s 61% say that rather than a third. If a trade treaty can be negotiated in two years then admit it, and say what has to be omitted to get agreement so quickly.

If sovereignty has to be pooled or shared explain why. If there are genuine and acknowledged flaws in the European Union (EU) then concede them and move on.

Facts, facts, boring facts are the basis but only the basis.

Second, scare people. Absolutely terrify them. There’s nothing wrong with doing that. For one thing, it works.

Ask punters about negative campaigning and they will tell you that they hate it – they want positivity, sunlight, uplands, vision.

Watch how they act and you see that negativity works, it changes their votes – just look at the successful Tory campaign to get people scared of a Labour/SNP coalition.

For another thing, it is not an ignoble thing to do. The UK faces an existential choice. In or Out is not about what kind of country we think we are but what kind of country we will be in the future.

Smaller, poorer, weaker, less influential – that’s not a great prospect so make sure people hear that.

Third, give voters hope. All the polls show that a third of them want to stay in, a third want to leave and a third are uncertain.

Those who are in play are ‘head and heart’ voters – their heart say the UK should leave while their head says it would be too risky.

Dig deeper and you find that most of them do not see any benefit coming to themselves in the future from continued membership of the EU.

The hardest thing in politics is to persuade people to change their minds, so make them change their focus, their time-horizon.

Get them to think about the future for their families. They have sons, daughters, cousins, nephews, nieces – all of whom will benefit from what the EU has to offer in the future.

Whether it is working in Magaluf or studying in Maastricht those are opportunities which are tangible.

And from them flow economic and social benefits. Learn a European language, build a business and start with 400m potential clients.

Facts, fear, hope. They will win the referendum. As long as they are deployed with consistency and discipline. As they say, when you are bored of saying something the public are just starting to hear it.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.



John McTernan

John McTernan is a Labour Party political adviser, political strategist and commentator and was once Tony Blair's director on political operations. Read his thoughts exclusively at Ladbrokes News.