For many people my age I suspect that one of the most defining events of our early adult lives was the Miner’s Strike which still colours the political views of many of those involved over three decades later, and caused a significant divide in the country in much the same way that the 2016 EU membership referendum has done.
Looking behind the dramatic TV pictures and stripping away the rhetoric and spin that surrounded the strike, what we essentially witnessed in 1984 and 1985 was a battle between two opposing political views on how an industry, specifically the coal industry, should be run.
On one side you had Scargill and the Labour movement arguing in favour of nationalised industries to provide employment before profit, and on the other side, Thatcher and the Tories arguing in favour of privately industry driven by profit.
Whatever your position on that argument, it was essentially an opinion on what was best, either nationalised industry providing jobs or private industry providing profits, and with a little thought, the opposing point of view could be easily recognised and understood, even if you did not agree with it.
Contrast that with the situation in 2016 and you immediately see the difference.
In the words of Professor Michael Dougan, the Leave Campaign of 2016 was “dishonesty on an industrial scale”. In other words, it wasn’t about a difference in opinion as in the Miner’s Strike, it was about what was right and what was wrong, what was true and what was a lie.
The Leave Campaign very deliberately set out to deceive the British electorate.
The Remain Campaign struggled to cope with countering those lies and as a consequence largely failed in its attempts to get its own message across. The leaders of Remain had no answer to the disingenuous conduct of the Leave Campaign. Indeed, not only did the Leave Campaign lie on an industrial scale, we subsequently found out that they drove the proverbial coach and horses through both electoral law and data protection laws in pursuit of their goals. It was this failure by the Remain leadership to adequately respond to the tactics of the Leave Campaign that led to Peter Mandelson coining the phrase “Remain took a spoon to a knife fight.’
Sadly, many in the Remain movement, or Rejoin as it has now become, even now often fail to recognise that the Leave Campaign does not care about rules or even democracy itself, and that they will go to any lengths to achieve their goals.
This is why it is so important to tackle misleading or groundless statements about the EU made by politicians such as Justin Tomlinson MP back in September when he claimed that the EU were trying to stop the supply of food to Northern Ireland and to break up the UK.
I do not believe there is any substance to those claims which is why I challenged Mr Tomlinson to produce evidence. He has not done so and that failure can only point to one conclusion.
If we are to prevail, we need to recognise that leavers do not care about rules, laws, or even democracy, and that they will and continue to go to any lengths to achieve their goals. Above all we need to stand up to people who make false claims about the EU and call them out for what they are.
We need to call them out as liars!