With less than a month to go until the EU referendum, activity from campaigners is really hotting up and not in a good way. Personally, I have found the shambolic and embarrassing campaigns on both sides to closely model the behaviour of your average six year old.
Politicians acting like children? Never! Here's how this campaign resembles the behaviour of my six year old:
If you've ever watched a bunch of six year olds at play, you would have noticed that every other word is 'pretend'. 'Pretend I'm a princess who turns into a frog', 'pretend I broke my leg and I'm in hospital', 'pretend I'm a shopkeeper and I sold a bunch of curved bananas' (sorry I couldn't help it) and so on.
Make believe is an important part of play for six year olds. This is not dissimilar to EU referendum campaigners. In fact, watching an EU referendum debate is like watching a group of six year olds playing together. Everyone is pretending something different and no one knows what the game is actually about.
If you don't like what you're hearing, chuck out an insult
Mid tantrum (my daughter's tantrum, that is, not mine) I'm often told that I'm the worst mother in the world and this is the worst family EVER. And, thanks largely to some American movie she's seen, I'm called a jerk more often than I care to admit.
I heard an exchange between Alastair Campbell and James Delingpole on LBC where the former called the latter a buffoon. Someone should tell Mr. Campbell the same as I tell my daughter, 'if you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything at all'.
Embellish (or lie) to scare and impress
When recounting stories to each other, six year olds use any tactic to impress or scare their friends. Embellishing the truth or outright lies can often be employed to this end.
No-one knows what will happen if the UK leaves the EU. Yet new 'facts' about the outcome are hammered out daily by campaigners with increasing absurdity. House prices will fall. There will be a recession. Unemployment will rise. The problems of the NHS will disappear overnight. The moon will turn into cheese. Aliens will invade the Earth.
If in doubt, make like a six year old and invent the desired result.
Go on and on and on in the hope that the other person will capitulate
Six year olds are masters of trying to grind their parents down to get what they want. Tantrums, whinging, threats and insults are all utilised relentlessly. EU referendum campaigners use similar tactics. After listening to a referendum debate, I feel akin to how I feel after spending a long time with a load of six year olds. Utterly confused, completely worn out and in need of a large glass of wine.
If nobody is paying any attention to you, do or say something controversial
Let me set the scene. I'm in a crowded café attempting to have a conversation with a friend. I can feel a little finger tapping me on my temple, 'mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy, mummy...' In a last ditch attempt to get my attention, my darling six year old screams at the top of her lungs, 'Penis! Penis! Penis!' I have no idea where she learned that word but her timing was well calculated. Almost as if she thought, 'I won't tell mummy I know that word until it really works in my favour'.
This sort of behaviour reminds me of the newspaper article where Boris Johnson stated that the aims of the EU are similar to the aims of Hitler. Whether you agree with his comments or not, they were made in order to grab your attention and ensure the focus returned to him.
If no one is paying any attention to you, tell them that the price of their holidays is going to increase. Or, tell them that Brexit is what Putin wants more than anything in the whole wide world, that will really make them sit up.
When I was at university, one of my course's modules involved studying the EU. I even visited its institutions (although I almost vomited in the European Council thanks to a particularly heavy drinking session in Brussels the night before). I feel fortunate that my studies have enabled me to form my own opinion and ignore all the gibberish flying around today.
As the mother of a particularly willful six year old, my advice to campaigners of this referendum is as follows. Forget the scaremongering, falsehoods and insults. You're making about as much sense as a six year old who has been given too many flying saucers at a party. This behaviour doesn't work for my daughter and it isn't working for you.Suggest a correction