|Some arguments, people, parties, ideologies and religions have a “toxic” image in the minds of many people. Most people will choose how to vote on the basis of whether the side they are being asked to vote for has “toxic”, or alternatively “cuddly”, associations in their particular mind-set.
One approach can be to try to persuade people that something they consider “toxic” is actually not at all toxic, or not as toxic as they thought, or that the alternative is far more toxic.
For example, the Leave side has made quite a good effort at changing the public perception over immigration. Back in the sixties it was already a hot potato – there were the race riots in Notting Hill and Enoch Powell was warning darkly of “rivers of blood”. However, this ran up against the very British tradition of toleration and fairness: is it fair to discriminate against someone on grounds of his skin-colour? The answer, for British people, was usually No. Enoch Powell had been partly misquoted, he was supported by dockers marching under banners saying “Enoch is right!”, but he was rather quickly made into a toxic brand in the minds of many – though not of all, since he also said a lot of sensible things – by his political enemies both in his own party and in the media. Being “anti-immigrant” became equivalent to being “racist”, and for many, indeed most people, these became toxic images. And it is easy to confuse being “anti-immigration” with being “anti-immigrant”, a confusion created and exploited over decades by the Left.
However, more recently, being pro immigration has acquired some toxic connotations in the perception of many, due to the large and growing numbers, the strain on public services, and especially the mayhem wrought by islamic immigrants, whose culture contains some elements that are highly toxic to most British people, from forced marriages to FGM and the ill-treatment of women. Some of them carried out terrorist attacks in the name of their Islamic religion. As a contrarian effort, Muslims and others tried to make “Islamophobia” into a toxic brand image, and even to equate being against Islam with being “racist”, a deliberate conceptual muddle. At least in London they would seem to have been partly successful, since a majority of Londoners elected a Muslim Mayor.
Being against unlimited immigration is now viewed by many as a non-toxic, indeed sensible, stance to take, but not by all. It is still viewed by a fair number as having toxic associations. When we see the pictures of the immigrants in their boats capsizing in the sea, and children drowning, it is difficult to say that the ‘cuddly’ thing to do is not to help them, give them shelter. But when we see them attacking women at the railway station in Cologne, they become very un-cuddly and indeed toxic, as when we learn that terrorists are coming in amongst them. I will leave out the economic arguments for staying and leaving, since they are mostly based on numbers, which by themselves are neither cuddly nor toxic. The outcome depends on which numbers you believe except in cases where the numbers are agreed on by both sides but interpreted in opposite ways. For Lord Rose, for example, immigration depressing wages is a cuddly thing, it means more profit for companies like his, but it is decidedly toxic for low earners who will be earning even less.
But let’s look at the greatly neglected issue of the criminal justice system and what it means for the freedom of ordinary people to live freely. We in Britain have Habeas Corpus and Trial by Jury and other legal safeguards against arbitrary arrest and imprisonment and against wrongful convictions. We have a traditional system of policing where the police cannot be used as an instrument of dictatorships. The police forces on the Continent are completely different from ours. People there do not enjoy our protections.
The EU wants to take these, our protections, away from us, and once we have locked ourselves in by voting Remain, they will most certainly take steps to do just that, and we will have given them the power to do it. We will get not just the European Arrest Warrant, but also the full Corpus Juris and the paramilitary European Gendarmerie. Now these assertions are hard to believe for Brits who have always lived in Britain. But they are true, and we have full documentation from the EU to prove them. Why are we not making greater use of these vital arguments for the OUT campaign? If we use the remaining weeks, to make these into major campaigning issues, there are no toxic associations in the minds of any Brit with Habeas Corpus, hardly any with Trial by Jury, or our other safeguards. They are all 100% ‘cuddly’ in the minds of the entire British public.
Damn it all, we fought all our major wars, from the Spanish Armada through Napoleon to Hitler, to preserve these values! They are now under threat! But the great British public slumbers on, blissfully unaware… This is why some pundits on our side have concluded that the public is not interested in these matters. Well of course not, since they have not been informed! It is much harder to detoxify an image which has toxic associations in the minds of many, as indeed “anti-immigration” still does. I am certainly not saying that we should desist from our efforts to detoxify the associations in the minds of some regarding our position on immigration, and rehabilitate the right of the British public to be very concerned about it.
But it is uphill work, for the reasons I have given, for toxic residues are still associated with it, and this causes many to a knee-jerk response. So why not bring in, alongside that issue, the equally if not more important issue – the preservation of our safeguards of freedom? There are no downsides to it, no toxic associations with it in anybody’s minds except in the minds of aspiring dictators. Once we start to tell the public that their Habeas Corpus and other safeguards will be done away with if we vote ‘Remain’, the other side cannot argue that this is a “good thing”! They can and do argue that immigration is helpful for the economy, but they cannot argue that we should allow people to be arrested and imprisoned on no evidence. They have to resort to denying the facts. But the facts are there, we have all the evidence, we can prove it. It is a winning argument! So why not deploy it now? Deploy it to its fullest extent, with maximum firepower, so that it reaches into every home in the country! If we do not deploy the weaponry of these arguments, we will not be able to say “We did our very best, we left no stone unturned” when we lose.
Why fight with one arm tied behind our backs? Why not use heavy artillery, since we have it?