News broke this evening that the Government will be carpet bombing homes in Britain with a leaflet explaining how ‘remaining in the European Union is best for the UK’. This comes at a cost of £9.3m to the taxpayer and represents a bid on the part of the Government to significantly skew the referendum in their favour.
Each of the camps, Remain and Leave, receive funding from the state. One can argue as to whether or not that should be the case in the first place but, regardless, any funds provided by taxpayers should be distributed equally to both sides in order to ensure as fair and as balanced a referendum as possible. Each campaign is allowed to spend up to £7m of public money during the campaign. This leaflet campaign, funded as it is in addition to that £7m, in effect more than doubles the amount of public money being spent on the In campaign than Out. By funding this outside of the purdah period (which, lest we forget, Cameron wanted to scrap) the Government circumvent these limits. They have justified this propaganda campaign by saying that polling indicates 85% of people want more information before making a decision. Unfortunately, the leaflet itself doesn’t present cold facts but rather Remain spin and deceit. The misrepresentation starts on the first page:
Given that the Government contains several ministers who in fact believe the exact opposite, it is already a misrepresentation of the facts. Inside it goes further, even perpetuating the long since debunked ‘3 million jobs rely on our EU membership’ myth.
What’s more is that the issuing of this leaflet reneges on promises made by the Government itself. Minister for Europe David Lidington is on record as saying in September of last year that the government has: “…no intention of legislating to allow the Government to do things such as mailshots, paid advertising or leafleting.“
I don’t blame people for wanting more information before making up their minds on this issue. The level of debate on both sides has been absolutely woeful. This intervention from the Government however is merely an extension of the Remain campaign and whilst it may not technically break the law, it is certainly highly questionable ethically and an affront to democracy. The information people need is readily available, it just needs a little bit of work and half an hour or so on Google to find. It is an important issue, and people should seek to gather as much information as they possibly can before deciding. This leaflet though is pure propaganda, disgustingly paid for by the taxpayer.