Muscly Putin stickman – my part in the #EUref

Whenever I’ve tired during this long referendum campaign I’ve thought about how I will feel as I watch the results come in during the small hours of 24th June. Fear of losing, especially if not by much, has driven me to throw myself into the campaign.

And one of the benefits of a truly national election is that there are no safe seats or swing seats. Every vote genuinely counts as much as any other. It’s given me the freedom to get out and about as I campaign. It means that last weekend I was in Bournemouth, the week before in Liskeard, and this Saturday I’ll be at home in Plymouth (feel free to come along).

I wanted to do even more though, so my partner and I set up a Facebook group as somewhere to try out ideas and see if anyone thought they were any good. We called it Campaign to Remain – keep Britain in Europe.

We didn’t expect much. At first we thought it would be a niche little thing where we’d be breaking open the champagne if a post ever got over 10 likes. But we’ve been really lucky.

On our third day of posting stuff, we put up this graphic – we called it muscly Putin stickman – and went out for a coffee. We’d played around with the design a bit, picking and choosing different groups to illustrate, and were very happy with the end product. To be honest, we’d made it to amuse ourselves but hoped that others would like it too.

It really took off even before the caffeine had had a chance to kick in. As I type, the graphic has been shared over 10,500 times, liked 37,000 times (once Facebook has counted all the likes on the shares too) and appeared on the feed of over 1.5 million people.

What lessons have we learned from our three months of running the page? Well, people clearly enjoy poking fun at the opposition – like mocking Boris for his nonsense about EU rules against large bunches of bananas.

But there is also clearly an appetite for information that’s getting less attention because of the media focus on the open, blue-on-blue warfare in the Tory party. Workers’ rights, for example. Our posting of this colourful graphic from trade union Usdaw has been shared 1,400 times, liked 3,700 times and reached over 184,000 people.

As the 23rd approaches, it’s getting busy. We’ve topped 5,500 likes for the page (in just three months) and in only the last seven days our posts have appeared in front of 559,000 pairs of eyes. We realise social media has its limits and its flaws, but getting over half a million people to see at least of our posts during the course of one week has to be worth something.

My partner and I are going to miss checking in now and then to see how the latest posts are going, fending off hordes of Brexit trolls trying to fill the page with stuff about the EUSSR, and having an outlet for our ideas – like turning #projectfear into #projectfearless. But I just hope all the effort that everyone has put in will be worth it.

Whether it was donning an “I’m IN” T-shirt in St Austell, Truro, Taunton or Yeovil – or creating a weird, merged face out of Boris Johnson and Vicky Pollard – I just hope that the effort put in by all of us will tip the balance with enough people. We’ll know soon enough.

* Stuart Bonar was the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate in Plymouth Moor View.

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One Comment

  • “like mocking Boris for his nonsense about EU rules against large bunches of bananas.”

    Whilst Boris was talking what he would describe as massive piffle, I’m still trying to find a decent explanation as to why there need to be EU rules on how long a banana has to be and how many bananas there must be in a bunch when presenting them for sale. It seems unlikely that the single market would collapse if this was the case.

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