Some months ago we asked if remainers would learn how to harness domestic issues. As the General Election began we saw the first signs it might be happening.
The Big Red Bus
Everyone remembers the bus. Most remainers, however, remember the wrong thing about it. The 2016 bus and its ludicrous claim might have been a lie, but what matters was that it worked.
It worked not because lies inevitably work, or because the lie was clever. It worked because it was domestic. It focused not on the EU but on the NHS.
While some people care explicitly about the EU, for many the whole subject is just a means not an ends. There are signs this is creeping into remain imagery and slogans this week, and that remain imagery is creeping into domestic ones.
The Big Blue Bus
Labour this week tweeted a bold image of a blue bus – the red bus photoshopped. On it they suggested voting Tory would send £500m a week to US drugs firms and we should spend it in the NHS instead.
— The Labour Party (@UKLabour) November 5, 2019
The veracity of the claim was quickly called into question, though there was at least real analysis behind it. Regardless, the conflation of remain imagery (mocking the leave bus, and “let’s give up control”) with a clear domestic policy (NHS funding) is a vital boost for remain.
Labour even rather generously didn’t brand the image, so remainers can use it Labour-free if they wish.
£50billion Remain Bonus
Labour are of course not explicitly remain. To be so would damage their electoral strategy. But clear cut remainers – the Lib Dems – are doing the same in announcing a £50billion Remain Bonus.
— Liberal Democrats (@LibDems) November 5, 2019
Again, the £50bn claim depends somewhat on where you cut off the data. It could easily be £100bn by using a longer time frame. Better still it could have been £47bn – a more instinctively trustworthy number than a round figure. But either way the winning argument is clear.
This “bonus” allows the Lib Dems, and thus remain, to sell the message that people should vote remain to boost schools, then to boost policing, then to boost the NHS, and so on. And the public cares deeply about such things. Even Brexit outlook is often a result of opinions on such things.
A Positive Case
This positive case for remain must continue past the general election.
Granted, if the Conservatives get 330 seats remain is dead anyway so maybe such lessons are then worthless. So Lib Dems and Labour especially should stop hurting eachother’s marginal contests against the Tories.
However, if all the other parties combined deny the Conservatives a majority, a referendum is likely. Fears about how bad brexit will be are not powerful. The positive domestic case for remain is.