British Prime Minister David Cameron has been criticised for using “careless” language and fanning the flames of ignorance after he told voters that a vote to leave the European Union would be an act of “self-harm”.
Arguing in the Telegraph that European countries would close ranks should Britain vote to leave the EU at the referendum in June, Mr Cameron wrote: “When you look at the consequences of leaving this market, you have to ask: why on earth would we do this to ourselves? I believe it would be needless and reckless – an act of economic and political self-harm.”
But Caroline Harroe – CEO of the self-harm support group Harmless, said that the Prime Minister’s use of the term was “careless”, and has called on him to think more carefully about the words he employs.
“In a time of heavily stigmatised language in the field of self-harm, the reference suggests a rather naive comparison between a complex political issue and a very intimate and sensitive personal struggle,” she told Breitbart London.
It also appears that Mr Cameron’s reference may have unintended consequences – Ms Harroe added: “Whilst Cameron’s reference infers that self-harm is a straightforward act of destruction, it is for many, a coping strategy that enables people to stay alive.”
It seems therefore that Mr Cameron has unwittingly stumbled into a pro-Brexit metaphor, supportive of the argument that a British exit from the EU could be damaging in the short-term, but will certainly be beneficial in the long term.
Regardless of the aptness of the metaphor, Ms Harroe is adamant that using the term is unhelpful to people coping with self-harm.
“It would be beneficial for all politicians and especially our leaders, to consider their use of language carefully, so as not to heap coals on the fire of ignorance,” she said.
A recent poll has shown that Downing Street’s ‘Project Fear’ to scare voters into voting Remain may be working: the results put the Remain camp in the lead on 51 percent against the Leave campaign’s 44 percent. But when likelihood to vote was taken into account, the gap all but disappears, putting Remain just one point ahead on 49 percent to Leave’s 48 percent.
Mr Cameron’s spin doctor, Sir Lynton Crosby said the poll’s result proved the Remain campaign had had “greater message discipline and focus” during the last month.