I wasn’t in practice as a psychoanalyst for many years without picking up a sense also of the collective public mind and so I believe that labour, in it’s campaign, is making a similar mistake to that of the remain campaign in the EU referendum.
When launching Labour’s manifesto Jeremy Corbyn gave it the right introduction in that it was a message of hope for the future, a plan for a better, safer, more caring and kinder times ahead. Apart from that though their campaign has been largely negative in that they have, at time of writing, concentrated on how terrible it would be if Boris Johnson’s Tory Party was re-elected for a further five years. The list of horrors awaiting us has been endlessly trotted out and of course this is largely correct. Now for the ‘but’ which is that human beings are programmed to be positive, it is what made our specie successful, to see dangers not necessarily to be avoided but to be overcome, a challenge. Additionally when the dangers are being continually thrust upon them by a serious faced old man, even though he is right, there is a natural tendency to avoid accepting them because that requires action of some kind not least the action of thought. Contrast that with a genial, laughing, bumbling twit who enjoys being mocked while stuck on a zip wire, who says don’t worry, everything will be alright, it’s all a load of scare mongering, follow me and we’ll ‘get it done’. He doesn’t even have to specify what he will ‘get done’ it’s easy for a lot of people to be content to leave it all with him and save themselves the necessity of thinking, even though they know that in reality he is lying to them.
The same error of negativity was made by the remain campaign in the EU referendum. The focus was almost entirely on the likely disasters that would arise if we gave up our membership of the biggest trading bloc on the planet and based on peaceful co-operation and whilst likely to be entirely true, was counteracted by a deceivingly positive campaign by the leavers led by Farage. His laughing face beaming out from behind a pint glass of beer and a cloud of fag smoke created a vision of anti establishment even though a part of it. The consummate salesman he wove a vision of the future based on a mental image of our ‘glorious’ past that we never had.
Is it too late? Probably but like the rest of humanity I am programmed by evolution to cling to hope.