UK-EU Referendum – Football or Tennis Match?

UK EU Football Tennis Match colour2

15 June 2016 and the early morning radio squawked:

“the two sides in the EU referendum debate…”.

Even through my raging earache, which got me up early to listen to this broadcast, I knew there was something wrong here.

I like listening to the BBC. It covers a lot of ground without a deluge of adverts. Maybe they’d got confused with the Euro 2016 football tournament!

Ah! Got it! They’d made the EU referendum sound like a football match – a game with two sides. But, this isn’t a football match! When the ‘game’ is over and the Leave or Remain side have won, the two teams aren’t going back for a bout of changing room analysis.

These two teams are made up of you and me. Unless we tell anyone, we won’t know if our UK ‘team’  mates were on the Leave or Remain side. No special shirts or labels. Just a cross in a box. A cross which shuffles us down to one end of the media football pitch.

After the vote is completed 23rd June, we will go back to work and live as we did before. All mixed up together. No visible sign that the UK has Left or Remained with the EU. So this is nothing like a football match. The ‘winners’ won’t go on to play another match in the league table. We will all simply be in a new arrangement with the EU. We will also be in a new arrangement with the rest of the 185 other countries in the world.

24th June 2016 and the UK, will be a different jigsaw piece in the big picture of the world. This is what we needed to know many weeks or months ago. All we UK voters needed to know was what the two worldviews could look like. Worldview One where the UK remains a fit in the EU and world jigsaw. Worldview Two where the UK doesn’t fit in the EU jigsaw and is a new shaped piece in the world jigsaw.

The UK voters have not been given any pictures of these two new worlds.  Before UK voters can make a reasoned, robust voting decision, they need to see what both worlds could be like. More tennis match with the UK as the ball, first going into one half of the court, then the other. Our heads switching from side to side, as we weigh up the UK’s chances in each half of the court. One half the UK having a place inside EU and world; the other half the UK having a place inside the world only.

This match needs to be about two views of the future. A match of two sides (as in football) only gives you a ‘winner’, without any view of the future that they have ‘won’.

With 7 days left to voting day, the organisers of this referendum would do well to paint a picture of the two futures. Some big hitters will say they are. Yet the messages are largely about the failures that will be visited on the UK people if they vote Leave or Remain. Focusing on failure alone is not the whole picture. We UK voters need to be shown a picture of the whole future life; successes AND failures.  How things could work!

Joseph Stiglitz in his 2015 book “The Great Divide” said of the 2008 Financial Crash:

“Free market economists seldom looked at the success of the managed-market economies of East Asia. They preferred to talk about the failures of the Soviet Union ..” (page 12).

It seems like nothing has changed.  We get more commentary on failures than successes.  Nobody seems to know why!  Stiglitz is clear a focus on failure in preference to success isn’t good for us.

It would be better for referendum organisers to supply commentary of what will work well in both futures. The UK voters will work out for themselves what will likely fail or not work.

The referendum organisers have so far missed an opportunity to make this vote a pleasant tennis match. Without being given insight to the two “what works futures”, we are left with an ill-tempered commentary. A commentary which UK voters call scaremongering – and doesn’t give guidance on how to make a decision.

Our younger generation need a better Prospectus Brochure to the future. They want vision, clarity, oneness of purpose. They have no need for a list of points won or lost. When they are the older generation, their younger generation will likely say the same thing: “no more scrapping – tell me how the future looks!”