Opinion: Project Fear vs Project Hate

Brexit (AAP)
Brexit (AAP)

Since I moved to the UK six months ago, it's been wall-to-wall Brexit debate.

I've moved through all five stages of voter engagement - curious ambivalence, amusement, keen interest, vociferous obsession and now come E-Day, near total apathy

I blame both sides for boiling my choices down to Project Fear versus Project Hate.

The referendum campaign should have been an opportunity to have a well-informed, grown up conversation about what we want from the country we live in; the people we deal with, our jobs, our homes, our security and how we relate to the rest of the world.

Instead we've had a campaign broadly characterised by hate, bigotry, fear and scare-mongering.

Of course, sound debate exists, but it's been drowned out by dog-whistling that has become so overt it's blaring through a trombone.

Panic brings out the worst in politicians.

Both campaigns have been panicking for months and every time one side ramps up the rhetoric, it forces the other to do the same.

It's noise pollution and it means those who count -- the voters -- are left with a whole lot of white noise and not a lot of facts.

Project Hate There is hatred in the air in the UK at the moment and the tragic murder of MP Jo Cox brought it into sharp focus.

In a moving interview with the BBC, Jo's husband, Brendan Cox, said his wife was killed for her political views.

Jo Cox was a campaigner for refugee and migrant rights and for the Remain campaign.

An hour before she was killed, Nigel Farage, the leader of UKIP and the man leading Leave's anti-immigration arguments, unveiled this poster showing a long, winding line of Syrian refugees with the words "Breaking Point".

Opinion: Project Fear vs Project Hate

Project Fear It didn't take long for the Remain side to talk up how nasty and hate-filled the campaign had become with an implied finger pointed at Leave.

It was right to do so, but Remain is far from blameless.

Before Jo Cox's death, it too used hyperbolic language to scare voters about the economic and security impacts of leaving the EU.

David Cameron said Brexit would detonate a "bomb under the economy" and questioned peace and stability if Britain were to leave.

Fingers in EarsSo will World War III break out if we leave? No. Will the UK be overrun by migrants if we stay? No. Are we facing the next Great Depression if we leave? No. Is all of Turkey moving to London if we stay? No. No, no, no!

There are legitimate concerns with blow-out migration numbers. The more people there are, the greater the strain on schools, hospitals, jobs and housing.

There are also legitimate concerns about the economy. The markets hate instability and uncertainty does knock-on into jobs, wages and house prices.

But neither side told us how they'd deal with these legitimate concerns, instead opting to be shouty and drum up fear and hatred.

I'm still voting today -- shaking off the apathy -- but with no real thanks to either campaign.

I'll be heading into the polling booth with my fingers in my ears blocking out the static hum of hate and fear because neither have a place in the UK I want to live in.