A regional daily has declared its intention to make its readers think ahead of European Union referendum next month.
While vowing to remain neutral on the 23 June vote, the Yorkshire Post has launched a campaign for a “more mature” debate on the issue.
In an editorial published yesterday to mark 30 days until the vote, the paper accused politicians of spreading “alarmist scare stories” and reducing the debate to a “battle of egos.”
The editorial reads: “So much for the European Union referendum being a great exercise in democratic renewal which not only settles Britain’s relationship with the EU for a generation but also rekindles the electorate’s interest in public affairs.
“With 30 days to go, the daily mudslinging is not only bringing the conduct of politics into disrepute but threatens to alienate those voters who are taking their duties seriously ahead of June 23 and are trying to come to a considered decision.
“If all they’re going to get are the alarmist scare stories being propagated by the increasingly frenetic – some might argue desperate – Remain and Leave campaigns, they can’t be blamed if they choose not to engage in political debate in the future or, in some cases, decide not to stand for public office.”
“This should be an opportunity for both sides set out the advantages of disadvantages of their respective arguments before allowing voters to consider what is best for their needs and also future generations, namely those who are too young to vote next month.
The piece added that rather than addressing the specific concerns of women or young families, the campaign is “degenerating into a battle of egos” exemplified by the internal conflict within the Conservative Party between David Cameron and Boris Johnson “after these two Old Etonian contemporaries fell out spectacularly”.
The editorial continues: “Irrespective of the referendum’s outcome, the conduct of both will only make it harder for the Government to come together after polling day and concentrate on building a more prosperous economy for all.
“As such, it won’t be Britain which is the biggest loser of all if the negative campaigning degenerates still further over the next 30 days. It will be the whole democratic process – and the country’s political elite will only have itself to blame.”
The Post’s policy of neutrality mirrors that of Wolverhampton daily the Express & Star, which declared the position despite a poll in the newspaper revealing four out of five of readers would vote for Brexit on 23 June.