Thursday 3 September 2015

Ukip's four million votes don't matter

It's fair to say that the sizeable majority of Ukip will vote to leave the EU regardless of what anybody says. Their message has a very limited constituency. It has little to say to the swing vote. It can only repel them. While everybody is concerned about the migration crisis, not everybody is agreed on what to do about it, and certainly the bigoted rhetoric of Ukip is not helpful to our cause.

As much as I am certain that the immigration rhetoric is a loser, I am also concerned by the people vs the establishment shtick. It was a good riff, but it's been murdered by Ukip and it's only going to attract the same crowd who give off the same vibe.

We must also be cautious of repeating history. A coalition of unpopular fringes is a sure fire loser. No surprises then that Farage is courting Jeremy Corbyn. While riding high in the estimations of the Labour party, he is largely an "up yours" to the human detritus offering themselves as alternatives. Corbyn is a fever sweeping through the left and will have a short shelf life. Such an alliance seems unwise when the Tories are enjoying a boost in the polls.

The "people vs the establishment" routine looks like a loser now. You don't get more establishment than a Tory government, and they now enjoy recently unprecedented popular support. Looking at the alternatives to the establishment right now, I think I would side with the establishment. 

Certainly the swing vote is less hostile to Mr Cameron than Farage whose approval ratings have plummeted and moderate people are not hostile to the idea of taking more refugees. Especially today of all days. Even the left will today welcome Cameron's move to take more. My own view is that it was a wasted opportunity to demand reforms to the 51 Convention on Refugees, but do not oppose the move in principle.

The problem with focussing on such matters is that public attitudes are fickle, and sooner or later, the media will be fixated on something else, and the issue will be crowded out by other concerns. Who knows what next years silly season media obsession will be? To that end, we must ensure our message can build a loyal base that we can grow sustainably. Taking a hard line on current affairs is a sure fire way of losing support. The issue central to the EU debate is that we should not be waiting on the EU to act. Control over our own affairs would allow us to unilaterally show leadership.

If the core campaign isn't a rational, measured voice, we will not only alienate the people we need, we will ignore passionate opposite as Ukip has. At present, the main opposition we face are corporate entities, the corporate media, and the EU itself. They can dominate the field but they lack the heartfelt grassroots passion of Brexiteers. If we are as obnoxious as Ukip, then we will quickly hand them such an asset. If we seek to avoid being tainted by association with Ukip we must take the initiative to reclaim the cause - otherwise the craven narcissism of Farage will bury us.

I would rather be selling the positives of independence than the negatives of the EU. After all, the end battle will be as we outline; our vision versus David Cameron's "reforms". More than that, the mouth-foaming Kipper brigade aren't even very good at selling the negatives of the EU. If there is a wrong end of the stick then Kippers will grasp it with both hands. Seldom does it even get the basics right.

If I were to pick a fight with the EU it would be on it's hypocrisy overseas record. From overfishing in Mauritania to the funding of Gaddafi's brutal transit camps, and the shameful undermining of African states by pressing them into dropping border tariffs in order to dump EU surpluses. For a halfway competent researcher it should be easy to undermine the EU's self-image as a benevolent, charitable Father Christmas figure. Ukip is more concerned about the cost of aid than the misdirection and misuse of it, yet if we want to get serious about stemming the flow of migrants then we need to spend money to address the causes of it.

We cannot possibly sell an outward looking vision of a Britain engaged in the global trading community unless our complaints about the EU reflect that too. We cannot preach progressive globalism by slamming the EU over petty domestic minutia or pushing an isolationist vibe.

With any luck, we will see a mellowing of campaigning efforts as the new parliamentary session cranks into gear and hopefully Ukip's efforts will peak too soon, meaning "peak bigot" is over by the time the campaign gets serious. In this regard, not only must the No campaign distance itself from Ukip but be seen to be publicly condemning it. We cannot be seen to be tacitly endorsing it or even tolerating it in our midst.

Eurosceptics tell me that Ukip matter too and we need them. We don't. They are both toxic and repellent and support of Ukip is an endorsement of their obvious stupidity and bigotry. I speak to many undecided voters who fear that Brexit would lead to the sort of Britain that Ukip envisages. If there were any real danger of that they would vote to stay in. And so would I for that matter.

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