The Bonds of friendship are stronger than Leavers’ distrust and control frame

The frame of ‘take back control’ has at its root a sense of harm and distrust. The parent ‘takes back control’ of the car after her teenage son behaves recklessly. The firm ‘takes back control’ of the the outsourced call centre when standards fall and customer relationships are damaged. The family ‘takes back control’ of the addicted father in an intervention when he acts dangerously and can no longer be trusted.

Leave-people ‘take back control’ because they feel the EU hurts them in some way; and they no longer trust our partners, our shared democratic processes and common legal order to put it right. 

Harm X Distrust= Leave meme

It’s a meme, a frame, founded on  lies, distortions and twisted perceptions. It also sticks.

Our challenge is to overcome it and replace it with more powerful frames, stickier messages, deeper appeals.

Against control- we say cooperation. Against distrust, we say strengthening friendship. The friendship of our closest neighbours and allies, patiently and successfully forged these past 40 years.

Against ‘take back for us’ we say ‘move forward with them’- moving forward our common values, aims, ambitions and shared history. Together we weathered the Cold War; together we built the system  of trust and economic exchange that ensures we earn our bread and butter; together we battled our extremist enemies. Together we extended the European dream of democracy and security to the previously enslaved eastern Europeans and the southerners sweltering under dictators. We made Europe so successful and so enticing that millions now want to join us, seeking sanctuary and better lives. So today we must work even more closely together to address this challenge.

‘Go it alone Britain’ is a ‘Go it nowhere Britain.’ A weird mixture of grandiosity (‘We are better than them’) mingles with paranoia (‘The Europeans are out to get us, hurt us.’) Neither is true to the true heart of we British, of our best traditions: getting stuck in, standing up for the underdog, playing fair, being measured and moderate in our decisions. We have contributed to and benefited enormously from our European engagement. We should continue to strengthen our bonds of friendship and refuse to quit, to leave, to distrust.