Look at this, from the BBC:
Leaving the European Union would threaten jobs and put the UK’s economy at risk, leaders of some of Britain’s biggest companies have said.
It could be argued that this is true – but that is mainly because they were promoting the benefits of staying in.
The signatories wrote: “Business needs unrestricted access to the European market of 500 million people in order to continue to grow, invest and create jobs. Britain will be strong, safer and better off remaining a member of the EU.”
But the BBC (in this example) has concentrated on the negative:
Bosses – including those of BT, Marks & Spencer and Vodafone – signed a letter published in the Times, saying an EU exit would deter investment in the UK.
Leave campaigners point out two-thirds of FTSE 100 firms, including Tesco and Sainsbury, did not back the letter.
This is despite the fact that
chairmen or chief executives of 36 FTSE 100 companies signed the letter, organised by Stronger in Europe and Downing Street, backing the campaign to stay in the EU, including Burberry, BAE Systems and EasyJet.
The FTSE bosses were among a total of 198 signatories from the business world, including the chief executives of Heathrow and Gatwick airports.
On top of all this, we have other claims which seem to have no direct foundation at all:
Richard Tice, co-founder of Leave.EU, said Downing Street had admitted using taxpayers’ money and “applying pressure” on FTSE chairmen and chief executives to sign the letter.
So, who’s running Project Fear, in this case?
Project Fear is a name applied to any campaign that seeks to persuade people to support it by accenting the negative (and possibly fictitious) aspects of supporting its opponents.
The trouble is, in the EU referendum, either side could accuse the other of running Project Fear, simply by stating their own case.
The ‘In’ supporters who signed the letter stated their belief that the UK would be better-off as an EU member.
But ‘Out’ campaigners have leapt on it, claiming that it alleges the country will be worse-off if we leave. It’s a logical conclusion – but not really what was being said.
Suppose I were to say my part of Wales has benefited from more than a thousand jobs through EU funding. ‘Out’ campaigners could then say I was scaremongering that Powys could lose the investment that created those jobs if we leave – not what I would have been saying, but it would stick in people’s minds because we tend to remember the negative over the positive.
Without corroboration of his claim, Mr Tice’s comments seem a more direct application of Project Fear, even though he is alleging it of the other side.
And so the debate descends into gibberish.
Why can’t we have a civilised discussion, with assertions supported by factual evidence and none of this childish name-calling?
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