Word on the street: Wording for Brexit hindered chance of winning - and how developers play the system


- Credit: Archant

One of David Bowie’s last political gestures on this earth was his appeal in 2014 to the Scottish people facing a divisive referendum, to “stay with us”.

Musicians and poets understand the power of words. They choose them with care. Rod Stewart sang Stay With Me. If he’d sung Remain With Me, he would have got nowhere.

Remain is a ridiculous word; whoever authorised its use on our referendum ballot paper twisted public perception forever. Remain? Who even says remain? It’s a stupid, old fashioned word – like roundhead. Remain sounds dreary, passive, inert. Remains are the leftovers.

Remainer is even worse. Whilst Brexiteer sounds exciting and thrusting, Remainer sounds stiff, fusty and uncool. It’s an instant negative. We have allowed our image to be thoroughly manipulated.

Why didn’t they use Stay? Stay sounds positive, it’s a nice word – commanding but also gentle, open and generous. There’s a unitedness, a warmth in stay. Stay together. Stay strong, stay calm.

As advertisers also know, a tiny change of wording can make a significant percentage change of opinion. If we ever do get that second vote we should ditch Remain and insist on Stay.

Talking of feeling misused, I notice there is a new planning application in to tarmac over Crouch End’s Abbots Terrace – one of the few unmade lanes still in London. They drove sheep along here once upon a time. Rather like a mini parkland walk, and with a similar terrain, this dear little lane serves as a delight – not only for its natural habitat of birds and butterflies – but for the pedestrians who can wander along it.

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I know it well because we lived in adjoining Ivy Gardens when our children were young, and still recall my relief after school pick-up when – with a baby and three other children – we turned into Abbots Terrace off busy Crouch Hill and the older ones could run the rest of the way home, with me following on with our big old fashioned pram, safe in the knowledge that there were no cars to worry about. On summer evenings they loved playing under the dappled light of its trees.

It will come as no surprise to seasoned Ham&High readers that there is now a proposal to build a three-bedroomed house, complete with basement, in the garden of 29 Haringey Park which backs on to this lane.

Due to access difficulties, the applicants now propose resurfacing this lane “to provide an even surface for wheelchair and pushchair use”.

What sentimentality. Dressing up a planning application to tarmac a little nature reserve as in the interests of young children and disabled people is self-serving and distasteful.

Presumably they want it smoothed so their concrete lorries and private refuse collectors can access the site.

And as we all know, once they get their access, others will try it on too, and before long, Abbots Terrace will no longer be a little lane for children to run along or play in.