Government warning: Brexit can damage your health
It looks a little like a government health warning: Brexiting can Seriously Damage Your Health.
The Government’s leaflet heading to all households in the UK (England first, then the rest of the UK straight after elections to Holyrood, Stormont and the Welsh Assembly) is a pretty dour production.
They’re trying to make it stand out from the rest of the post so it doesn’t get dismissed as “campaign” material (which, of course, it is) and doesn’t go straight to the bin.It’s one of four such communications that will make their way to your doorstep in the coming weeks.
The officially designated “in” and “out” campaigns will get a leaflet delivered free, as they did in the 1975 referendum.
This time the Electoral Commission gets a free drop of its own as well, telling you what the referendum is about and no doubt trying to boost registration and turnout.
The Electoral Commission document may even have a one page summary of the “In” and “Out” cases in case you couldn’t manage the seven short pages of text in today’s government offering.
The Government emphasises that it is simply following the precedent of the Wilson government in the 1975 referendum.
The document sent out then actually made much on the front page (and beyond) of the renegotiation which the Government had secured. The document was headed “Britain’s New Deal in Europe.”
David Cameron’s once much trumpeted renegotiation is relegated to a lower key mention in the 2016 equivalent. The inside page text does refer to the UK securing “special status in a reformed EU” but then lists a whole load of “special” UK conditions which include the handiwork of John Major and David Blunkett.
The 1975 leaflet had a picture of Harold Wilson on the inside cover page above a message from the PM (referring to “long hard negotiations”) and his signature. This time round, Number 10 has clearly decided that a Cameron face and signature would diminish the unique aura and authority of a government document.
That doesn’t mean David Cameron isn’t central to the “Remain” campaign plans.
Strategists there talk of him still being “pivotal” and “absolutely critical” to the battle to win over floating centre/centre right voters.
In recent weeks, the Labour Party, which is officially committed to Remain, has been attacking David Cameron on Panama, the steel industry, the Budget, the IDS resignation and disability benefits. It will be interesting to see if the last weeks running up to the referendum on 23 June see any kind of pull back on that.
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