The importance of keeping it positive

By Jonathan Bartley
December 9, 2010

The last couple of weeks I have been working with the "yes for fairer votes" campaign for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum on the Alternative Voting system for Westminster. It’s provided some fascinating insights, but also some rather dark ones when it comes to the tactics of the 'No' campaign.

My first experience came after an interview I did with the 'No' campaign’s Dylan Sharpe for BBC News 24. I had received some intelligence that the 'No' camp were going to campaign on the slogan: “If you don’t know, vote no” – itself quite a negative message. I challenged him on it.

After the interview, Sharpe confronted me at the BBC. He told me, in front of several people, that he was going to make up a fake campaign slogan about the "yes" campaign. He said he would then tell everyone in the next interview that we did together, that this is what the “yes” campaign were going to use. In effect, he was going to lie.

There’s plenty of room in the campaign to have a laugh and a good debate about the issues, but deliberate misrepresentation, and certainly lying, should have no place. The referendum, after all, involves a debate about the kind of politics we want to leave behind.

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