Is the Bollocks to Brexit bus value for money?

Remember those wonderful “Bollocks to Brexit” stickers we see at every People’s Vote march? Some think they’re not too classy, but I think it pithily sums up hw I feel. I have my own stash of the things and keep one on my phone at all times.

Over the last few weeks, a big and bold yellow bus has been touring the country spreading the Bollocks to Brexit message, encouraging people to contact their MPs and emphasising the Brexit is “not a done deal.”

This week it came to Edinburgh:

And photobombed some news coverage:

I certainly think that a bus tour like this gets itself into local papers and attracts attention that way, but does it change minds?

I’m just wondering if the money spent on it could have been put to better use with some more specific targeting of communications to change people’s minds. Direct mail, phone calls, conversations with people may actually have been more effective.

And while I love the Bollocks to Brexit slogan, let’s face it, I’m already pretty passionately on board with the anti Brexit messaging. I am already invested in the idea that we should use any peaceful means to stop this nonsense. While every campaigner needs solace in the stress of it all, I just wonder if our overall aim would be met more easily with a more specific rather than a stunt-driven approach.

Maybe you need a bit of both – but time is running out and we have to do what works best and all the evidence from every election shows that targeted communications wins seats.

My money, give or take the odd stash of Bollocks to Brexit stickers, is going to the Party’s anti Brexit campaign because I think it will reach more people that way.

What do you think?

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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19 Comments

  • If we have another referendum, the vote will be won or lost by whichever side gets their vote out. As much as we like to think we can “change minds”, I don’t think much of this actually occurs.

    I don’t think it hurts to have a bus going up and down the country.

  • John Marriott 22nd Dec '18 - 4:41pm

    Call me a prude if you like; but I find such an expletive led slogan as a sign of a lack of imagination and in extremely bad taste.

  • Completely agree with John Marriott. If the ‘slogan’ had referred to female genitalia can you imagine the predictable scream of outrage from certain quarters ?

    Cheap, puerile, and offensive.

  • Yeovil Yokel 22nd Dec '18 - 5:46pm

    Caron, in order to allocate campaign resources effectively it would help to know just what IS the cost of the bus – do you know?
    John Marriott – as someone of a similar vintage to you I’m inclined to agree. Words like ‘bollocks’ may appeal to younger people who use such terms more indiscriminately, but using it as part of an anti-Brexit slogan is surely preaching to the converted? If you want to persuade Leavers to change their minds then you have to use terms which have an impact but don’t risk alienating an older and more conservative audience (clearly I’m generalising).

  • Also, people have been flyposting stickers with the same slogan in the most surprising places across the country. This helps persuade people how, exactly?

  • It gets noticed and it gets in the news, and reminds non-political people that there is active opposition to Brexit. Will as many pay attention to “targeted communication” from Lib Dem HQ?

  • Martin Land 22nd Dec '18 - 7:51pm

    @Yeovil Yokel
    “Yes dear, that nice John Major, you know the one married to Norma, he says Brexit is a bad idea. No, you don’t have to be nice to foreigners if you don’t want to. Blue passport? Well, we can have those anytime, if you want”

  • Richard O'Neill 22nd Dec '18 - 11:40pm

    In solidarity with the older posters here I, as a younger voter, would say I also find it crass and inappropriate. Fine as a muttered political slogan in the pub between friends, wrong to emblazon on the side of a bus which presumably passes by nurseries and primary schools (etc.)

    Like others here I’m interested in both the cost, and also whose idea it actually was.

  • The official Remain campaign consisted of lions led by donkeys, promoting lions to lead on a Bollocks to Brexit bus is much better than not doing it and waiting for the donkeys to come out of their strong stable, and do something for our land…

  • Phil Wainewright 23rd Dec '18 - 1:04am

    What on earth is the point of wasting time and energy criticising people on the same side as us? In what possible way does this help our cause?

  • I really can’t see the problem. The word “bollocks” has a great pedigree. In the middle ages is was a common term for a priest – hence why we use the term “a bollocking” to mean a telling off. The word also appears in early editions of the Bible the King James replaced it with “stones”. The word was a pretty normal everyday word until the uptight Victorians came n the scene… a do we really want to be associated with Victorian values? Bollocks to that I say.

  • This slogan is OK to make ‘remainers’ feel good. However, it does nothing to persuade the voters who need to be persuaded – and will alienate some people. The ‘outward-facing’ message needs to convey something more than dislike or distain. For example:
    “Brexit Wrecks it” or
    “Brexit: Britain rejects it” or even
    “The lies on the bus go round and round” (but don’t put that on a bus, obviously)

  • It looks to me as if there are yet more people who cannot bring themselves to come out in open support of the European Union.
    Here we have a group of countries coming together with agreed objectives and a Democrat structure.
    It is difficult of course to understand democracy when living in the U.K. with and absence of democracy, and a parliament run like a pantomime.

  • The slogan (even if you take the ‘naughty’ word out of it) smacks of petulance; “I can’t argue my case, so I’m just going to say yah-boo-sucks to the thing I oppose”.

    Part of the problem here is that the left generally (not just on this issue) has lost the ability to argue; there’s a sort of groupthink, and the idea that anyone who disagrees must be some sort of moron. That, of course, does bugger all to persuade those who disagree.

  • Jayne Mansfield 23rd Dec '18 - 1:19pm

    I suppose, Vote Brexit to make your family worse off’, is too long a slogan for the side of a bus.

    A pity. At least it would re-open the argument with those who might disagree with the slogan, especially with those who will be hardest hit..

  • David Evershed 23rd Dec '18 - 3:58pm

    The bus campaign will have a small affect. It will antagonise the Leave voters.

  • Laurence Cox 23rd Dec '18 - 5:46pm

    @Jayne Mansfield

    The Brexiteers won the last referendum because they appealed to emotion and not logic. “Take back our country” and “get rid of immigrants” are not logical arguments. Relying on logic like “Vote Brexit to make your family worse off” is only repeating the mistakes of the last campaign.

    @Caron

    https://www.bollockstobrexit.com/the-bus-tour/

    “Over £15, 000 has been raised by the BOLLOCKS TO BREXIT BUS tour team through a successful crowdfunding campaign ”

    The question is would you have got any of that money for your targeted campaign? If the answer is ‘No’ then you would have gained nothing and indeed would have less publicity. These are the same people who organised the handing out of EU flags at the Last Night of the Proms for the last two years.

  • Jayne Mansfield 29th Dec '18 - 8:48pm

    @ Lawrence Cox,
    I despair.

    I wonder what universe those who come up with the handing of EU flags to audiences at the Last Night of the Proms, and conceived of a bus with B— to Brexit on the side , inhabit.

    Is the aim to persuade those who voted Leave in 2016 to change their minds or is it not? I would suggest that these sorts of stunts are more likely to have the opposite effect.

    It is the politics of the wine bar, demonstrating a dismissive attitude to those who had their reasons for voting Leave in 2016. It plays to the sense of vulnerability of those who voted leave, widens the gap between ta large swathe of the electorate and the political class.

    If one really puts one’s trust in ‘the people’ , then surely one should trust them enough to enter into discussion of why, in one’s opinion, they are directing their anger and frustration at the wrong target when voting leave. At least that gives them the respect of a hearing, the time of day for a meaningful discussion.

    I suspect that many in working class towns in the North , coastal towns, and in rural areas where there was a heavy leave vote, the message B– to Brexit will be received by many as B—- to Brexiteers i.e them.

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