Gordon Brown and the Remain 'relaunch'

Gordon Brown Image copyright Getty Images

A "relaunch" ten days before a vote is not a good sign. But by the main Remain campaign's admission, that is what's happening today, as 'Labour In' beefs up its effort to get its voters to choose to stay in the EU referendum.

So today you'll see Hilary Benn, the shadow Foreign Secretary, and Gordon Brown the former Prime Minister, making direct calls to voters and a document of the "positive case" for the EU issued in Brown's name with the current leadership signed up too.

It's an admission too that the main plan to persuade the country to vote to stay in is not enough on its own.

For months David Cameron and his team have been pushing one argument - leaving is a gamble with the economy - trying to plant a seed of doubt in undecided voters that convinces them it's a risk not worth taking.

Whether you call this Project Fear or, as one senior campaign source describes it, "going with the grain of public anxiety", that approach has clearly been shown to have its limitations.

Campaign sources say the prime minister and the chancellor have stuck to it like glue because their analysis is that hammering one point about economic risk won them the General Election and the Scottish independence referendum. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But several months ago, at least two cabinet ministers were already expressing concerns, though privately, that this was not the same kind of vote, and it would need more than a narrow warning about the country's wealth, however strong, to get the vote out reliably.

For Remainers, there are certainly parallels with the independence referendum, but there is one missing vital missing ingredient.

Many Scots who voted to stay in the UK weren't just voting on economics, but were motivated by an emotional affection for Britain, an attachment to the idea of being both Scottish and British. That factor is nowhere to be seen this time round. Even being diplomatic, attachment to the European Union and its institutions is niche.

In the last five or six days however, especially with the Out camp making headway on immigration, Remain MPs and campaigners have been alarmed by how bluntly, the economic gamble message just isn't cutting it on the doorstep.

It's not just because there isn't affection for the EU, or because of immigration but because simply, one message doesn't work for every voter.

The economic message of the general election that was designed to work in marginal seats, perhaps not surprisingly, won't work similarly in every corner of the country in a nationwide vote where geographic variations count for nothing at the ballot box.

As one senior politician in the Remain camp put it: Among undecided voters, perhaps 20 percent or so, there are two different broad categories of voters, both "culturally concerned" and "emotionally anti-European", in other words, uneasy about immigration and the EU.

For one of those groups, likely to be financially secure, with a pension, a mortgage, a decent job, the prime minister's message is likely to have some appeal, and they are likely to be willing to "put head above heart". For the other group, who are not financially secure, "fear doesn't appeal to them". Broadly, if you haven't got much to lose, you won't worry about losing it.

Those voters, tending to Labour, need to hear, in this analysis, a different and more positive message, something that suggests that the EU can make their lives better as the world "changes around them like a runaway train".

What you'll hear today and this week from Labour politicians is an attempt to make that case. It might not sound like much but even getting John McDonnell, Jeremy Corbyn ad Gordon Brown to sign the same document shows how they are trying to unite to push these arguments.

With the days counting down and the referendum result seemingly so uncertain, who knows if it will be enough.

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