Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Bait and Switch

Arron Banks is a hard man not to like. He does seem to dislike the right people for the right reasons and I have no doubt of his commitment to the cause. He wants to leave the EU. We cannot say the same of the men running Vote to Leave.

That alone though is no good reason to support Leave.EU. His operation is just not thinking. We have warned repeatedly about the need to craft an intelligent and consistent message aimed at tackling the actual opposition. Instead Leave.EU is doing a Ukip and piping out any scrap of generic eurosceptic material to be retweeted without a strategy in mind.

Here above we see a hugely prestigious figure making remarks that seemingly are beneficial to the cause but with a clear caveat. Certainly that is not the message our side wants to promote. Those committed to leaving the EU know full well that the EU is unreformable and would not make the required reforms even if it wanted to.

Moreover, Lord Blackwell is very much in the establishment camp. He is pretending to wait and see, but in the end will say that his criteria for "significant change" has been met by the Prime Minister. Adopting him for our own side therefore is a huge mistake. If he is a totem of our own campaign and then he switches at the last minute then we're standing naked.

All Lord Blackwell is saying here is that the status quo is not sustainable. We know this. Our campaign must be to attack the reforms on offer and the men who will sell the "reforms" as a break from the status quo, among whom will be Lord Blackwell with David Cameron.

Leave.EU is making the classic mistake of running a splattergun campaign, mistaking volume of activity for productivity. Banks thinks this campaign is a marketing exercise and invokes his marketing expertise when faced with criticism. But he and his staff are clearly not aware that referendums are not a marketing exercise. This is real politics, and Banks is no politician. He is not an astute player in this game and Leave.EU is as much a liability as Ukip would have been were they running the campaign.

In Bank's favour, he is one to respond to criticisms and claims he is aware the message needs refining, but there is no evidence his understanding is translating into action. I think this is the only level this operation is capable of operating at and certainly I am running out of patience. Thus far, Mr Banks is stringing a lot of people along with empty promises because he knows his money buys him a certain amount of tolerance for his flaky eccentricity, but we cannot afford for him and Andy Wigmore to up their game because we will be waiting too long.

I spent the entire general election campaign duty bound to point out the manifest failings of Ukip's amateurish operation. I would rather not spend the referendum campaign doing likewise with Leave.EU but it looks like the 1975 referendum is not the only history destined to repeat.

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