By Estelle Shirbon
LONDON, May 25 – A campaign video urging young Britons to vote to stay in the European Union in a June 23 referendum backfired on Wednesday, with young people taking to Twitter in droves to denounce it as patronising.
To a soundtrack of thumping dance music, the video shows images of young people while a series of verbs appear one after the other in capital letters: WORKIN, LEARNIN, EARNIN, SHOPPIN, RAVIN, CHATTIN, ROAMIN, MAKIN, MEETIN, SHARIN, GOIN, LIVIN.
The images show young people engaging in purportedly typical activities such as spraying graffiti, parachuting and clubbing.
A message then flashes up: “Life’s better in the EU, but it’s at risk. 23rd June, make sure you’re #VOTIN”
The decision to drop the letter “G” from the end of all the verbs, in an apparent attempt to mimic the way some young people talk, set off a tidal wave of scorn on social media.
“Interested to read about the #votin campaign – it’s just like ‘voting’ apparently, but for young people,” wrote Twitter user Carys Davis.
Many others used the hashtag #cringin to express their views.
“#votin – not to be confused with #patronisin & cringin innit. Remainin in da European massive,” wrote Julian Shea, in his own take on faux youth language.
The official “In” campaign ploughed on, repeatedly tweeting links to the video, but its opponents on the “Out” side were quick to react with a tweet of a poster from the campaign, with the slogan “PATRONISIN CRINGIN EMBARRASSIN #VOTIN”.
Beyond the mockery, galvanising the youth vote is a serious issue for the “In” camp, as surveys show young people are far more likely to be in favour of remaining in the EU, but far less likely to vote.
A survey of 2,000 students published last week found that 63 percent of them did not know the exact date of the referendum, while 54 percent were not aware it was being held in June.
Sam Gyimah, a junior minister and member of parliament from the ruling Conservative Party who is leading the #VOTIN campaign, wrote in the Huffington Post that young people had most to lose from a British exit from the EU.
“As the #VOTIN launch video points out, whether it is ‘learnin’, ‘travellin’, ‘sharin’ – the ‘easyjet generation’ takes being in the EU for granted on so many levels, and reaps the biggest rewards from our membership,” he wrote.