Tuesday, 23 February 2016

EU Referendum debate has begun

It's an interesting time again in political communication. David Cameron today  at the O2 headquarters in Slough cleverly sidestepped a question about Boris Johnson.

If you are asked a direct closed question like "Will you admit that?" any clever person will be able to  bridge to the answer they want to give, as David Cameron does here.  I haven't managed to see an unedited version but normally a closed question is not given a clear yes or no reply.  You may remember that from some of the famous Paxman interviews.

A bridged answer is when you answer part of the question positively and then reply with a message you have prepared and thought of earlier. Carefully worded open questions are ones that get the  clearer responses.  I'll explore these at a later date.

It will be really interesting over the next weeks and months to see David Cameron's approach. It looks to me as if the approach is quite similar to the one he used in Scotland, at least at the moment. Visually he's in amongst the people, shirt is off, looking relaxed and open. He's shifted to being positive about his colleagues (despite supposed couched criticism of Boris Johnson from earlier in the week).

From a presentation and delivery point of view David Cameron in this video shows a brilliant performance. What is he doing?

  • his hand gestures are open and engage the audience. 
  • his upper body is relaxed
  • his face and tone is also relaxed 

By making some jokes about him and Jeremy Corbyn being on the same side he gets some laughs from the crowd, which puts them at ease and on his side too.

Cleverly he's also being strong in his message but he's playing the long game - he's not using an impassioned tone yet.  He's aware it's a while until the actual vote.  You get a real sense of being aware of the time frame he is working to. Now is the time for lightness of touch.  

He is also delivering a very clear and simple message at the moment. "It's safer to stay",  a similar sentiment he used in the Scottish referendum debate.  It will be interesting to see if the tactics he used there will be used here too.  And if they are, how the voters will react to it?

It will also be interesting to watch what questions the media ask him too.  How engaged will the public be in this complex debate?  What questions will be explored as a result of the complexity?  What tactics are being planned now and how will they change throughout the timeline?

So many questions to be answered!