160316farageEUpropagandaThe image above is from Nigel Farage’s Twitter feed. Does it suggest more people agreed with him after the London Palladium debate last night – or simply that more UKIP supporters were drummed into responding to the Guardian‘s poll?

Also not that the question is about who impressed people – not about whether they agree with his opinion – so it seems inappropriate for Farage to put it up as an example of support for his views.

Looking at the Guardian‘s report of the event, which the newspaper hosted, it seems nobody won, because nobody in the audience heard enough to change their opinions.

Perhaps it’s because they didn’t hear many facts.

Look at Farage’s warnings about Turkey. The only offer on the table for that country at the moment is a deal in which that country agrees to take back migrants arriving in Greece and gains visa-free travel to the EU in return. This does not affect the UK – only member states in the ‘Schengen’ area. The UK would benefit from a lower number of migrants seeking entrance to this country.

Farage’s claim that the UK wasn’t “a star on somebody else’s flag” is correct – although not in the way he intended. As a member of the EU, its flag is also our flag, not somebody else’s at all. Farage doesn’t think of that because he has a “them” and “us” attitude – Europe being “them” and the UK being “us”. In this debate, as an EU member state, there is no “them”.

His comments about Norway are equally misleading. If you want to know about the delights of Scandinavia, read this. Norway is a terrific place, and there is much the UK could learn from the way its people organise their affairs, but its relationship with the EU is not among those things.

Sadly, the Graun‘s coverage of its own debate falls short of what one should expect. Stating that the ‘Remain’ camp has more reason to worry after this event, political correspondent Andrew Sparrow refers only to David Cameron’s “calm and coherent” campaign.

Cameron’s campaign to stay in the EU isn’t the only one!

To suggest that it is, and that he is winning the argument, constitutes hugely biased reporting and Sparrow should be ashamed of himself.

Does the Graun‘s political reporter really think Cameron is a leader of a campaign entitled Labour In For Britain, for example?

Doesn’t he know that Labour is not interested in cross-party campaigning with this man after his party’s poisonous behaviour in Scotland?

The best way to sum up the whole farrago is to say that it was a lot of emotive sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Never mind who won; it seems the biggest losers… once again… were the facts.

Anyone who thought the EU referendum campaign was going to be dull will have to revise their thinking after that event. It was lively and raucous, mostly in a good way. By comparison, the general election debates were rather turgid.

Project Fear was out in force – on both sides. On the Leave side, Ukip leader Nigel Farage – unsurprisingly – labelled the EU a “failing political project” and warned that remaining in the union would mean Turkey joining at some point in the future. The Tory MP Andrea Leadsom claimed the EU was imposing laws on the UK that were out of Britain’s control.

Remain campaigner Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats said Brexit would lead to “considerably worse terms of trade” and Labour’s Alan Johnson said the French would tear up the deal that allows border checks at Calais if Britain left the EU.

The people who came to listen seemed for the most part engaged and committed but, at no point, did one get a sense of minds being changed. At the end, when the Guardian’s political editor and chair of the event, Anushka Asthana, asked if anyone had been persuaded to rethink by what they had heard, hardly any hands went up.

Yet it is probably the Remain camp that has more to worry about from Thursday night at the London Palladium. Over the past three weeks, in speeches and interviews, David Cameron has made a calm and coherent case for remaining in the EU, while his opponents have fought for Brexit with turbo-charged press backing but a lot less consistency and discipline. Cameron has been winning the argument.

Farage started with a striking soundbite, about Britain being more than just “a star on somebody else’s flag” and then, time and again, he was able to press emotive buttons, for example on Turkey, on Labour and the working class, on Eurocrats and even on Scotland (where he was withering about the prospect of it ever voting for independence with the oil price so low). He even managed to brush aside the perfectly sound argument about a Norway-style trade deal not being in the UK’s interest with a rather good riff about the delights of Scandinavia. If anyone on the platform was going to sway undecided voters, it was probably him.

Source: Guardian EU referendum debate: the verdict | Politics | The Guardian

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