“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
George Santayana (The Life of Reason, 1905)
The 1975 referendum (on the then EEC) was the first ever nationwide referendum in the UK and so as a consequence there was no real direct experience for campaigners to draw upon. As a result many mistakes by both sides were made, not least in the failure of establishing a coherent message particularly from the anti-marketeers - with the word 'anti' portraying negative connotations. We can somewhat forgive many mistakes if we take the view that a lack of experience hampered the "out" campaign.
Now, with an impending referendum on the UK's membership of the EU due in 2017, there is no such excuse. In contrast we have the opportunity to learn not only from the referendum of 1975 but subsequent ones over AV and Scottish independence, and we can endeavour to try not to repeat mistakes made there.
The mistakes and lessons to be learned is laid bare in the wonderful 1975 Referendum book by David Butler and Uwe W. Kitzinger which with unerring and unintentional accuracy predicted many of the same problems 40 years ahead.
For any serious student of fighting the 2017 referendum this book is a must read. However, and no doubt not a coincidence, the book is becoming increasingly more expensive to purchase from websites such as Amazon.
So with this mind, this blog has scanned the entire book and its contents are now hosted by the kind efforts of EUReferendum.com. If we are to be serious about winning we must learn the lessons of the past. The 1975 Referendum book is as good as place as any to start.