They’re Talking In A Language I Don’t Speak.

It’s boring. And it shouldn’t be boring.

We have been presented with a hugely important decision. The most significant for a generation.

Yet, despite initial enthusiasm and interest in the EU referendum debate, it’s been ruined. Ruined by the same people who have ruined so much else: professional politicians who have no idea how much they are loathed.

For their part, politicians bemoan our lack of ‘engagement’; as if it was somehow our fault.

This is absurd. Over the years, I have been privileged to hear some of the world’s most experienced and senior marketers talk about their business and brands, and how they take them to consumers. If, at any stage, they had sought to attribute any lack of engagement in their products and services as the fault of their prospective customers, they would, quite rightly, have been fired.

Go to any marketing conference today, and you can bet your bottom dollar that, amongst the myriad buzzwords, you’ll hear both ‘purpose’ and ‘authenticity’ repeated a lot. This isn’t by accident.

When did you last hear a politician talk with either purpose or authenticity, let alone both?

Instead, they continue to trot out the same pompous, top-down, duplicitous, jargon-laden, deeply patronising gobbledygook that no one in the real world would ever dream of trying to get away with. We are seeing this writ large with the referendum debate.

They treat us as if we were stupid, as if we have no interest in policy and decisions. They seek to pretend that there is only right and wrong, only black and white, as if we have no experience of the multiple greys that we know exist in the real world. They rattle off statistics and numbers and hollow soundbites that are mind-numbingly meaningless.

And then they blame us when we refuse to buy it.

It is simply not credible. If you have a message that you need to convey, it is your job to communicate that message in a style and format that will resonate with those to whom you are trying to speak. And in this respect, there is absolutely no difference between politics and business.

Except that business does it much, much better. It has to, because, in a free market, where brands jostle constantly for share of mind and share of wallet, there is no alternative.

If politicians were genuinely serious about engaging voters, they could do significantly worse than learn from the folk who are out there, every day, at the coal face, developing new products and services to cater for the changing needs of ever more choosy consumers, working hard in an increasingly noisy world to win hearts and minds, and doing so humbly.

The irony of the EU referendum debate is that in opining on the Brussels political establishment, our own has exposed its manifest and multiple deficits.

The British people deserve better.

Nick Jefferson is a partner with Monticello LLP, the advisory firm, and a curator of The Library of Progress.