Thursday, 15 October 2015

There are only so many times we can say it

My friend Very British Dude on Twitter points out that the problem 'leave' has, is the Status quo isn't ghastly enough to risk a change. 'Leave' will have to overcome a mountain of apathy, indifference, incomprehension and sell a story to overcome obvious risks.

He is absolutely right. In two tweets he nails it. And the response to this dynamic from the respective leave campaigns is business as usual - demonising the EU, to no real effect, causing people to switch off in droves.

While 35% or thereabouts will alsways vote to leave, there is no particular groundswell to leave as a matter of urgency. It's just that those 35% would vote to leave if given the opportunity. The only groundswell comes in the shape of Ukip who represent less than 13% of the electorate.

Cameron didn't want a referendum, but to win, he conceded. He doesn't want to leave, never did and doesn't think it all that important. Thus both he and the EU are going through the motions in a reform charade they are fairly confident they can win.

So what we have is a vote that is essentially a motion of confidence in the PM at a time when all the economic indicators are improving, the narrative of decline and stagnation doesn't wash and Labour lost the election for the same reason. The miserablist Jerimiah whining about the EU isn't going to cut it and the tabloidesque memes are just going to bore people the people they don't sicken.

Consequently any campaign will have to demonstrate that the risks are manageable and be credible in doing so and must instead promote an alternative. We have to get people to vote to do things a different way and thus we need to demonstrate that we have the intellectual goods and there is another way to do things that doesn't scare the horses and is broadly beneficial with few downsides. 

The end battle is then a choice between two competing visions. The so-called reformed EU as presented by Cameron or our way with our bulletproof method. There is one obvious problem in that the main campaigns are not setting out a vision or a plan. All they a doing is trading facts and figures, fighting the wrong battles and wasting their time and energy.

In this, Ukip has entirely vacated the field only to be replaced by an entity that is every bit as inept and given that they are not open to constructive input, there is very little point in trying to persuade them of anything. The short of it is, we are going to an auction without a product to sell. We're just going to show up and whinge about the quality of the produce up for sale by the competition.

Leave.EU is wholly incompetent but it has money so it has legs, the Elliot effort has establishment prestige so it can go about its business without having to defer to the people, and anyone trying to cut through the noise they create will simply fail.

That is why the Referendum Planning Group has set about putting in a bid for the lead nomination. It is almost certainly going to fail because we have neither SW1 prestige or indeed any money, but it does give us one last opportunity to try and refine the message of the lead campaign, whoever that may be. If our warnings are heeded then we have a fighting chance. If not, we are staying in the EU - and there ends my input in this and politics in general. We will leave the EU eventually, but this will be the opportunity we squandered to do it amicably, carefully and without harming international relations.

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