It is becoming fashionable among the undecideds in the EU referendum campaign to complain about the supposed lack of available facts in the debate. But they don’t want facts – they want to be spoon-fed opinions and simultaneously reassured that these answers are unbiased
There is a rather nauseating new trend among those people who have somehow not yet come to an informed opinion on whether or not Britain should vote to leave the EU, whereby they blame their inability to reach a decision on the supposed lack of available facts handed down to them from on high.
We even see this cropping up in Question Time, as the Independent reports:
With 113 days until the EU referendum – that’s more than 15 weeks away – levels of stamina among the public for the flow of information being directed at them seem to be waning.
And when the opening question of BBC’s Question Time was on how much the referedum’s outcome would depend on “which side could scare us more”, one audience member put the problem laid before the country in very clear terms.
A young man said the decision to continue or terminate the 40-year relationship all rested on wondering who could be trusted to give impartial, accurate information.
“With all this scaremongering that’s going on in the media about this, I don’t see how us as the general public can make an informed decision,” he said, prompting nods from those around him.
[..] In the light of such risks, the audience member seemed to be concerned that he was given little information with which to make a safe and long-term decision.
“It’s just all sides saying different things and you just don’t know who to believe,” he said.
Boo hoo. It’s so difficult for undecided voters today, bombarded with passionate (but often fact-free) arguments from both sides. How can they possibly be expected to vote when the government and the meejah don’t give them a clear and unambiguous signal?
The amusing thing is that the young Question Time audience member asking the question would probably have absolutely no difficulty using the internet to research a complex and technical query relating to his malfunctioning Playstation or home cinema system. He is likely adept at finding YouTube tutorials which show how to disassemble and repair household appliances, and if he has a favourite sports team, band or celebrity he can quite likely find all manner of information about them online with no difficulty at all.
But when it comes to the workings and operation of his own country and the European Union which influences so many aspects of his life, it apparently does not occur to the questioner that he can use exactly the same skills he honed researching his fantasy football team to turn up some relevant, unbiased facts about the EU. The thought simply does not compute. When it is something glitzy and fun, he is more than willing to spend five minutes consulting Google and a few hours reading through the results that his search throws up. But on “boring” matters like the governance of the EU, what the European Union might look like in the future or how Brexit might actually be accomplished, he loses focus before he can finish typing a query into the Google search bar.
Of course he is not getting unbiased information from the media. Playing the role of high-minded, neutral arbiter has not proven to be very successful for most media outlets, nearly all of which instead churn out content which plays to the gallery of their readerships. That’s life. But it does not mean that the primary information needed to reach an informed and independent opinion is unavailable. It just means forsaking Monday Night Football or the Great British Bakeoff for one night and using the internet or local library to make oneself a more informed and engaged citizen.
EU referendum blogger Pete North has by far the best response to these aggrieved undecided voters who flaunt their ignorance of the debate as though it is an injury inflicted upon them by evil external authority figures withholding “the facts”:
I watched Question Time last night. I heard that whining bovine complaint once more “I just want to be given the facts”, expecting that it’s the government’s job to spoonfeed them with information, under the assumption government can and will. Could they be any more bovine?
As it happens, the facts are available insofar as anything is ever truly a fact. On something as comprehensive as the EU there is all the information you could possibly want. And while you can say a lot of bad things about the EU, one thing we can say is that it is transparent. It publishes most of what it does, the schedules, the regulations, the meeting minutes, the agendas and the agreements. It’s all there if you can be bothered to look for it. I didn’t learn what I know by reading John f*cking Redwood.
And when it comes down to it people say they want the facts but they don’t. You can give them the facts but it’s always “tl;dr”. So they want a digest version of the facts. So you provide them with that and it tells them things they don’t want to hear – and so they stick with their ridiculous notions that either we can pull out overnight and comes the dawn of a new utopia – or on the other side the europhiles pretend the European Union IS that new utopia.
What people mostly want is to be told what to think. To have someone else make the decisions. To not let the complexity of life disturb their comforting ignorance. It’s the “I pay politicians to do the politics” attitude. THAT is how we get in these messes to begin with. Politics is too important to be delegated to these bozos and if this referendum has revealed anything it is that most of our elected representatives are intellectually subnormal and know f*ck all about nine tenths of anything.
In the end, to have a proper democracy participation requires more than just turning up to vote. It requires that you educate yourself, keep yourself informed, keep yourself up to date and find the facts for yourself – and especially that you do not rely on the media – after all our media are very much part of that political class with even less clue than the morons we elect. If you can’t be bothered to engage on that level you really do deserve everything you get from your “leaders”.
It is a lazy, naive idea that we can outsource the running of our country to elected politicians and only perk up and pay attention once every five years or so when there is a general election. As Pete North rightly says, that is how we got into this mess in the first place – people failing to hold their leaders to any kind of account, while the politicians did as they pleased.
If you want to be told what to think by the government or those in authority, don’t complain when David Cameron comes back with a one-sided, pro-EU propaganda leaflet costing the taxpayer over £9 million to produce and distribute. That’s what you get for outsourcing your decision-making processes to people with vested interests.
But at least if you do so, you are in plentiful (I won’t say good) company. Neither the official Remain or Leave campaigns are exactly brimming over with deep expertise on the workings of the European Union, in which direction the EU will travel or the logistics of achieving Brexit.
Fortunately, there are those who stopped watching television for long enough to educate themselves on this important subject. A number of them have become experts in the subject, certainly far more so than the Westminster media with its superficial grasp of the facts, all while holding down day jobs. They are the the bloggers of The Leave Alliance, and the plan they promote for leaving the European Union in a safe, orderly and non-disruptive way is called Flexcit, or the market solution.
Start with that. Or start with the European Union’s own websites – as Pete North says, much of this information is “hidden” in plain sight. Begin your search for facts in any number of places, just don’t repeat the whiny, false complaint that there is no factual information available.
Postscript: The irony is that facts and figures supporting either side are not the most important thing in this referendum, while economic projections are particularly unreliable to the point of being pure fiction. This blog contends that the EU referendum comes down to more qualitative factors like democracy, sovereignty, governance and constitutional reform, which simply cannot be calculated in an Excel spreadsheet.
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There are very few facts about a country leaving the EU. No country has ever left. Most questions should be answered by “don’t know”. Most “experts” make up answers. I have tried reading the Flexit document but it is 421 pages of boredom. The real answer is “don’t care”, as most voters will not be affected if we are in or out.
If you find Flexcit inaccessible, may I recommend the 40-odd page summary version, which you can find here:
Click to access themarketsolution.pdf
This excellent article for the Adam Smith Institute also lays out the case in a shorter and compelling way:
Young people today are much too busy to do any research into anything that doesn’t give them an immediate boost to morale with a few welcome and very praiseworthy exceptions like Young Independence. I do find these articles very amusing – unfortunately not so the subject matter. Unfortunately, there is now no time for patience. If you know anything about sales and marketing, use it. This war has been going on for a very long time and it’s all about financial manoevering and propaganda. I care about one thing above all and that is preserving our sovereignty and democracy. The only rather large glitch about this with the younger generation is that they have been indoctrinated with the idea that we are all Europeans anyway and so what’s the big deal about a ” foreign” government? It’s not foreign to them! It’s normal. My one big hope is that those who are not really interested and can’t really be bothered to think for themselves, will focus their little minds on the footy that week and not bother to drag themselves to a polling station. Those of us who have a very good idea where all this is heading, will hobble there with two broken legs if we have to and that is what just might make the difference!
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Very well said – and thank you for reading! Like you say, those of us committed to the cause will give our utmost. And if that means waging a lonely guerilla campaign, SNP style, in the event of a “Remain” vote, so be it.
Unfortunately some of us have not been interested in politics due to all the corruption we have seen, heard etc. We have felt that it is a lost cause and we really do not have any say in the matter. Now of course we do not know who is actually telling the truth and do not want to be misguided, it is very confusing for the layman to get to grips with this situation. I personally would not even have thought to be even voting if it were not for certain posts received on FB that made me investigate. Have a bit of patience and give people a chance, point them in some sort of direction to help them get to grips with what is going on. Not everyone has the maturity politically to be aware of how important this issue is to all of us. I have only just woke up at 60 odd to be aware that perhaps my vote may make a difference.
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You make a very fair point. One of the few encouraging things about this referendum campaign so far is the number of citizens who are waking up and educating themselves on much of the detail around the EU, having previously been disengaged. It’s great that you recognise the unique importance of this referendum and this choice, and are committed to voting as an informed citizen. We need many more like you!