The Message Behind Stephen Fry’s Brexit Video: Knowledge Conquers Fear
Grow Talk by Sofy Robertson
A video, available to watch below, by the actor Stephen Fry was released this week entitled Brexit: Facts vs Fear. In less than twelve minutes, Fry proceeds to outline the key facts with regards to immigration and economy, debunking the media myths and propaganda that have been perpetuated over the years leading up to the EU referendum.
Using a range of studies, represented through graphs and diagrams throughout the video, Fry demonstrates the disparity between what the voting public were told in 2016 by the media and select politicians, and what has been shown through research.
At one point, Fry draws a startling comparison between Nazi anti-semetic propaganda and the English tabloids’ reaction to immigrants, describing them as non-human “cockroaches”.
As recent polls have suggested, many voters who previously voted to leave the EU have now changed their minds. The poll featured in the video demonstrates a 54% majority to remain. Fry suggests that this is in part due to expert projections from institutions such as The Bank of England, The Centre for Economic Performance and The International Monetary Fund, coming true during the process of leaving the EU.
The odds of a second referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU are now at higher than 40% in the betting markets and with May’s government being the first in UK history to be found in contempt of court, trust in our leaders is at an all-time low. In Fry’s narration of the video, he explains:
“The truth is beginning to outshine the mythical dragon of the EU.
“There is increasing support for a vote on the final deal, something which Jacob Rees-Mogg once supported.”
Watching the video, feelings of anger and resentment, even embarrassment are quick to come to the surface. The evidence that the voting public has been so successfully duped by an ongoing media campaign to portray immigrants as ‘the other’ and the EU as a negative force against our independence and ability to govern our country is shocking. I am sure I am not alone in a feeling of helplessness that has been building during the ongoing Brexit battle but this was not necessarily compounded by Fry’s video.
Promoting information, rather than misinformation, has never been so important. Whether or not the UK public are given a second referendum, it is inevitable that our country will be voting on major issues and changes in UK government in the near future. Edmund Burke, author and political theorist, made a statement over two hundred years ago that still rings true:
“When you fear something, learn as much about it as you can. Knowledge conquers fear.”
There is no doubt that Stephen Fry’s video has hit our country where it hurts; exposing our duplicity in perpetuating segregation and, at times, racism and xenophobia. Rather than feeling defensive, or even defeated by the truths Fry reveals, I choose to feel empowered. We study history to learn from our mistakes and we are a generation with technology and information available at our finger tips like there has never been before. I believe that Fry, too, meant this video as a message of empowerment and not damnation, demonstrated by his final words:
“Perhaps in a final vote, facts would start to overcome fears.”