How “Project Fear” weaponises stupidity

How “Project Fear” weaponises stupidity

   December 01, 2018  
 
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How “Project Fear” weaponises stupidity

Wednesday brought a slough of doom and economic gloom to the scant Brexit smorgasbord. Treasury impact analysis was released that indicated that in a ‘worst case scenario’ withdrawal could cut the UK’s GDP by 3.9% over the next 15 years and Chancellor Philip Hammond set off on an eeyorish tour of TV and radio studios reiterating again and again that in every outcome quitting the EU would leave the UK economy poorer.

That’s the Chancellor of the Exchequer telling you that he and his government are actively pursuing a policy which they believe will be detrimental to the economic well-being of our nation.

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To lighten the mood – Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, chipped in warning that Brexit and in particular a ‘worst case’ (those words again) no deal Brexit – would cause unemployment to rise, house prices to fall and quite possibly plunge the UK into the worst economic crisis in modern history.

“Fun, fun, fun!” as the Beach Boys so memorably sang.

The news went down in Brexit circles like an outbreak of viral gastroenteritis on a luxury cruise. Lacking the arguments to counter the report findings, the Brexiteers deployed ‘old faithful’ or ‘project fear’ as it is better known. Sensing perhaps that “PF” had grown a little stale, the trope was upgraded to ‘project hysteria’ and Rees-Mogg and chums spluttered their way around Westminster casting aspersions on Mr Carney, his CV, Canada, people called Mark and the use of numbers in general.

Those with long memories will recall that ‘Project Fear’ was first deployed in the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, but it only really came into its own during the EU campaign of 2016. It is (and it pains me to say it) in many ways a brilliant campaigning strategy because it weaponises ignorance. Anyone can deploy ‘Project Fear’ for the simple reason that you don’t need to know or understand anything if you have ‘project fear’ in your arsenal.

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