Updated: Oct 15, 2019
What's going on?
Whichever side of the voting you were on in 2016, no-one saw this coming. Meyhem. The country(ies) divided as never before. (OK. I 'll admit, in 1642 things weren't great).
So how did it come about?
The Battle of Brexit has been fought with the weapons of communication. From buses with slogans to social media posts targeted at specific audiences, old fashioned leaflets delivered to every home to speeches and sermons, television debates to newspapers.
The name Brexit has become a brand, and you are either for or against the brand. It has become shorthand for a very complicated concept. When broken down into single markets and customs unions, it becomes a lot more difficult to understand what actually leaving the EU will mean to you, your family and your business, but say Brexit and everyone knows what you are talking about. Or do they?The clever thing about the brand is that it conveys one side of the debate. It means Britain exiting the EU. Every time it is said, it reinforces the leave argument. The question is not do you want to stay or go, it is are you for or against Brexit, and that is an important psychologial advantage, as people like supporting more than rejecting. Think about how often you have agreed with someone just to keep the peace. It is also a lot easier to be forceful for change than to keep the staus quo. "I am demanding that we keep things the same" is not a very exciting campaign.
Those that want to leave won the war, and a lot of the battles. This Dominic Cummings fellow understands communications. Any prediction of problems from leaving was branded Project Fear. That stuck. I've heard it used so often it has become a sub brand. Asked a question about potential problems, "That's all Project Fear". "Take back control" is another winner. Who doesn't want control. But when asked for detail about what control they want to take back, a lot of people are flummaxed. Those that wanted to remain in Europe after the vote were branded Remoaners. Another clever brand name.
So what did the remain team bring to the battle. Well to paraphrase The Untouchables, they brought a knife to a gun fight. They tried to use logic, to explain, to get into detail and as a result they were pummelled. Their campaign was, not putting too fine a point on it, crap.
To get people to come onto your side you need to give people benefits and Remain simply didn't do that. They didn't paint a picture of all the things that are good about the EU, all they kept saying was that things would get bad if we left. It was Project Fear because the campaign was so negative. There are huge benefits from being in the EU. They just didn't tell us.
The battles are still being fought on the news channels, talk shows, social media, newspapers and on the streets. It is still about communication. Yet again the remainers are all over the shop. The Labour Prty have learned nothing from the failure of the Remain campaign, with no clarity about what they want, they are diving into detail again. People - do - not - like - detail!
Leavers have a clear message "Get Brexit Done" is playing into the boredom of the public. Never mind that there is no such thing as getting it done, it is a clear message. Labour is saying "get something, sometime perhaps, whenever, if that happens and then we'll see." That's not a winner. The Liberals are saying, we don't like anyone, so there.
So what about the people? They are the ones getting these messages. The recent polls show that Boris is teflon. But he has a couple of things going for him, people know him, and they like him, or they did. Brand Boris works for people, his bumbling persona is used to bypass hard questions, his lack of detail is "Well that's Boris" and his philandering, but sure we knew he was like that. Meanwhile Corbyn has allowed himself to be painted into a hard left corner, we know very little about him as a person, and we don't trust people who are consumed by politics. That's why we know about Blair playing the guitar and why Cameron let us into his personal life. The weakness of Corbyn is not just his policies as that he is seen as a cold fish. People vote for people, and likeability is a powerful tool. It's why Coke taught the world to sing, and Guinness was good for you.
So the market is divided. There are numerous sectors, with different goals and aspirations, those that get into the detail and those that like the headlines. And so far the headline war has been won hands down by Leave.