Monday, 23 May 2016

The battle for the EU is between dourness and creativity

With a week to go before the UK decides whether to stay in or out of Europe what's struck me is not the 'he said, I said' almost child-like approach to the arguments (you'll notice that's entirely male driven by the way) but an infinitely more subtle and perhaps powerful indicator of our unconscious thought processes.

It's the battle of the dour against the creative.

On the one hand we have several highly charismatic individuals within the leave campaign who can utter the wildest of statements and yet the general public seem not to notice how absurd they are. Their opponents will point out these absurdities, possibly ignoring any nuggets of truth there might be in these or other statements by the gregarious team.  The literati may recognise the absurdities too and externally berate them - but internally...?

On the other hand we have the staid, solid, fact driven crew of the stay campaign. They talk of opportunity but these are swamped by their own dire warnings of chaos and confusion in just as florid a language (for them) as their opponents.  These too are ignored by the general public.  The statements sit there, like cold porridge on a plain white dish neither offering any gems or enticement to partake.

What is that attracts us to one or the other camp?  What can they do to encourage others to change their minds, to come to a decision to vote one way or the other?  And this aspect, this is where it gets really, really interesting.

There's four styles of learning which aid our decision making and only one of these really fit the staid, solid, fact driven campaign.  Similarly there's four types of preferred communication styles and again, only one of those really fits the fact driven campaign.

The balance lies more with the visual appeal of a wind-blown Boris or beer hugging, grinning Nigel . Their tone of voice, their buoyancy, yes their outlandish statements, appeal to the emotion more than cold, hard fact driven mantra by Osborne & co who, by the way, aren't even the leaders of the stay campaign.

It's the patriarch trying to suppress the upstart teenager.

The stay campaign offers little in the way of community.  Who wants to be part of a group of people who talk fear?  The leave campaign offers much to our social needs of fun, collective protest and group identity.  You may think them outrageous and to some, positively dangerous, but you still listen, comment and engage.   Do you get just as excited by the remain utterances?  I think not.

Now it might be that as we get closer to the date of the vote that the tenor of the campaigns shift. It's also true that all the pre-vote excitement could naturally level out and equal attention given to both sides. Wise heads may well prevail and the facts from both sides debated sensibly.

I suspect though, unless and until the stay campaign finds charismatic individuals to speak up, to level the playing field as it were, the chances of there being rational, intelligent discourse and debate is slim.  That plays into the most primitive instinct we have - emotion.  It will be emotion that makes the ultimate call on 23 June.  The winner will be the side that taps into our emotions.

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