Set One: independent, great, standing on our own two feet, making our own decisions, standing alone, standing tall, forging our own way, getting rid of bureaucracy, taking control, not being bossed about by others, not having to do what other people say, freedom, self-respect, adventure
Set Two: caution, fear, economic crash, need for alliances in a larger world, being able to argue our points from within, protecting ourselves, keeping jobs, not losing trade, listening to people who know better, being sensible, having more of a voice as part of a bigger group
If these two sets of words were associated with characters in a children's book, the first set would be the hero. The second set would be the parent trying to hold the hero back from his foolhardy assault on the dystopian system - or the Mayor of the village, trying to persuade him not to disturb the dragon up in its mountain lair.
Set Two haven't really managed to rewrite the story; all they are doing is wringing their hands and saying, No - don't go and fight that dragon! For the sake of the village! And that means Set One have all the good lines.
This matters, because in this referendum, facts have lost all traction, and narrative is going to be paramount. The reason for this is that both sides bandy about 'facts' which almost always turn out not to be facts, or to be distorted facts - and while Set One's 'facts' are considerably more distorted and untrue than Set Two's 'facts', this generally gets lost in the shouting match. Set Two, the establishment side, as a result of selective fiddling of facts and progressively greater amounts of spin over the last ten to twenty years has only themselves to blame for the way the public now wearily discounts anything they say. They decided that facts didn't matter, that words could be twisted to their purposes, and ended up with a kind of Orwellian doublespeak which, far from fooling everyone, means people mostly consider the word of the Bank of England Governor as worth no more respect than the latest Facebook meme doing the rounds.
They should have got an author to run the campaign. Then maybe we'd have seen a different set of words. Maybe Set Two would have read something like;
solidarity, cooperation, kindness, openness, loyalty, leadership, hospitality, friendship, diversity, working together, aspiration, being part of something bigger, freedom to travel, freedom to engage, hope, aspiration, idealism, looking forward, togetherness
Now that sounds more like a complex, interesting character, and one I'd figure as a more likeable hero than the independent go-it-alone Boy's Own adventure hero of Set One. It's a shame we haven't heard more of those words in the campaign.
Cecilia Busby writes humorous fantasy adventures for ages 7-12 as C.J. Busby. Her latest book, The Amber Crown, was published last year by Templar.
"Great fun - made me chortle!" (Diana Wynne Jones on Frogspell)
"A rift-hoping romp with great wit, charm and pace" (Frances Hardinge on Deep Amber)