CIB has been sent these useful tips from the Norwegian “Nei til EU” campaign, which gave a presentation to the Vote Leave group on 18th January. These key points come from a very successful campaigning organisation. Can we apply them to our own Brexit campaign?
1. We have to believe in winning – in order to develop a positive psychological state around your campaign and motivate your core supporters to campaign actively for you. Believe – not just participate.
2. Build broad alliances around a common platform – focus on what unites supporters of your campaign from different party political persuasions, i.e. leaving / not joining the EU, and put aside differences which can be debated in future elections. Get used to strange bedfellows. The only exceptions must be racists and opponents of democracy, who must be excluded.
3. Don’t fight each other but the common enemy – a united political front, but not always easy
4. Embrace and use to your advantage that the Establishment is against you – a lack of support among the Establishment can be turned to your advantage given the strong prevailing dislike of political élites across many countries at present. The Establishment argument that there is no alternative to the course of action they recommend – like a Medieval king – should be countered forcefully and consistently
5. Employ solid knowledge – you will have to prove the case for “leave” so don’t let them catch you out for errors. They will have more authority and use prominent people when the going gets tough in the final weeks and months of the campaign. Use your own ‘counter-experts’ to rebut false claims made by your opponents. You’ll never win through mass media alone. It is important also to use social media, street corners, kitchen table talk, etc as well as just traditional platforms.
6. Don’t paint it all black – Accept and acknowledge some people do gain from membership. Be honest and admit that there are some groups in society who benefit from EU membership, yet also emphasise how the benefits seen by these groups are outweighed by larger costs arising from membership which burden society as a whole.
7. Help the grassroots and make your own agenda – by providing them with the means by which they can educate themselves about your campaign and the issues surrounding the referendum, and use this in their contacts with undecided voters
8. Make your own agenda – decide what points you want to make during the campaign and stick with them, rather than being drawn into overly-reacting to the other side’s claims. Always communicate in plain English, not sophisticated English, using terms people will easily understand.
9. Scaremongering can be countered – claims from politicians which were made during the Norwegian referendums were shown to be false when the people rejected EEC/EU membership. The PM said something terrible would happen, despite Norway being an oil nation in 1994. They said exports would go down, they went up. That FDI would go down, it went up. Unemployment would go up – it went down. Stock market went up immediately. This example can be used to rebut similar claims made by ‘remain’ campaigners in the UK’s referendum.
10. Knowledge counts – but psychology decides – make sure you win the battles of both the heart and the head
This article first appeared on the Campaign for an Independent Britain