Monday, 30 November 2015

Chasing parked cars

Leave.EU is making an issue of the above. It's nonsense and the fact that it appears in the Daily Express and has David Campbell Bannerman's name all over it is as good a reason as any to ignore it. It's a bunch of hot air from MEPs and it has zero legal standing. Nor is it the actual intent of the EU. If it was, they would say so.

It's the sort of thing the EU would like to do if there was the remotest chance of them getting away with it. If left unchecked that would be the eventual destination of the EU, but that isn't going to happen. Fuhgeddaboudit.

In reality the UNSC council would be the last thing the EU would go after. The modus operandi is integration by stealth, and would not give its whole hand away at such a sensitive moment in the development of the EU. It will leave all such institutions in place to give the outward impression that Britain is still a nation in its own right.

The case we must make is that where it matters, Britain's influence has been usurped. We already vote for the common EU position at the UNSC and on all other UN bodies. The ship has already sailed in that regard so there is no need to be hyperventilating over nonsense. It damages our standing when we do make the more serious arguments.

The UNSC is very much a mechanism of gesture politicking in times of global geopolitical instability but it is not the means by which more mundane business gets done. Trade and regulation is very much the province of the EU and our influence is diminished all the time. That is the grown up case that we can make with ease and have spent the last few years doing precisely that. What we don't need is for the Leave campaign to be chasing parked cars. If we are an echo chamber for the sort of trash the Daily Express publishes, then we have no authority when it matters.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Soaring vultures

Normal service will resume later in the week. I am in the north of England having a great deal of much needed fun. However, is on the money with a damning critique of the SW1 brat pack and their malign influence on the referendum campaign. More will be said on this subject in the coming days and regular readers will have no difficulty guessing what we will say, not least about Dominic Cummings, the vulture in chief at the centre of it.

It for these reasons we openly attack Arron Banks. It is not that we seek to make an enemy of him and his campaign. It is that we see him as the only possible counterweight. Leave.EU's ineptitude leaves the field wide open to what should be considered as not only an enemy of our cause, but also democracy itself. It needs to be better.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

IEA - the Ukip of the think tank world

Dr Richard Wellings, Deputy Editorial Director at the IEA (Institute of Economic Affairs) appears on Sputnik Radio talking about the rise of protectionism. I hate to say it, but Wellings is out of his depth. He is good on some things in terms of domestic economics, but this is not his field and not one to dabble in without a good grounding in the basics.

The IEA is fast becoming the Ukip of the think tank world when it comes to regulation and EU matters. We have some pretty decent regulatory codes and they exist for some seriously good reasons. Wellings's example of a Indian car costing more because of eco-compliance is because their produce has to be tested to European standards. We do this because Indian "standards" are weak, and the testing is largely fraudulent.

Complaining about "ecological regulations" is also stupid. There is nothing at all wrong in principle with wanting to bring down vehicle emissions and the toxins therein. India doesn't give a tinkers damn - but that's why they are polluting themselves into oblivion. Also the very last thing we would want is a recognition of Indian crash tests.

The Tory SW1 types have no idea what they are talking about when it comes to regulation. They are not mentally equipped for it. They think regulation is the reason we should leave the EU. Regulation in itself is no bad thing. The reason we want to be out of the EU is so that we have a veto at the top tables specifically to stop non state actors forming mutual recognition agreements of their own so that we can keep these "protectionist" barriers in place. We do not want Indian cars on our roads, nor Chinese ones either.

The IEA is locked into that 1990's narrative that "EU regulation is bad". As we keep demonstrating, it is not EU regulation - it is global and we need most of it. These people are dinosaurs and way behind the curve. They don't understand what is happening.

Sadly, the IEA bunch are the people informing the Leave campaign - and ultimately it is their arrogance, stupidity and hubris that will keep us in the EU. Wanting to leave the EU so we can have filthy unsafe Indian death sheds on our roads is not a winning ticket.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Arron Banks doesn't have the first clue

I had an illuminating exchange with Arron Banks on twitter today with regard to campaign strategy. In just two or three tweets we saw the gravity of his incomprehension. The short of it is that Banks is a slave to polling and big data. That's never a good idea.

The problems with polling are well documented and you know them as well as I do and I have massive reservations over betting the farm on number crunching because I have no confidence that Banks is even asking the right questions of the data.

Banks is approaching this from the angle of seeking out constituencies and pumping out messages directly at them, telling them what he thinks they want to hear - no matter how much one message contradicts the next. It's political ambulance chasing - and just because you can get the information to the people does not mean they are going to vote for you. Especially if your brand is tainted and you have no gravitas.

Winning depends on having the credibility to convincingly call the Prime Minister a liar when he announces his final package of reforms - and not look like ranting misanthropes. The Prime Minister has prestige and a large degree of public trust that comes with the position. We have to undermine his credibility but then also be prepared so that when asked what our alternative is we have something better on offer. That something must also be credible and it must be attractive.

If the campaign has spent two whole years belching out contradictory fact free nonsense to anyone who will listen then any proposal put forward will come face to face with past output. The contradictions will be many and inescapable. Our authority is instantly lost. Moreover, we know from the Ukip experience that tawdry memes do not make up the numbers we need to win. It's that swing vote who would never vote Ukip in a billion years that we need.

In terms of identifying the target audience, that much has already been done for us. Not having Bank's money, I can't afford pollsters and focus groups. But then it occurs to me that I don't need them. I can just use David Cameron's who will be among the best anywhere. His people are telling him that he needs a moderate reasonable message to talk to the swing vote - and so that is the ground we must seek to occupy too.

We've already been over the basics in that it's really the middle ground our campaign is after and the more Leave.EU runs a crass populist campaign the more distant they become from the people we need. In that regard, Leave.EU's recent form is Christmas come early for Cameron.

Banks protests that he doesn't just "grunt about foreigners" but the problem he has is that he's fished in all the Ukip ponds for support, so the things that will get the most retweets are the things that echo the Ukip message. I don't need a big data sniffer to tell me that. Everybody knows there is a strong Ukippy whiff coming off Banks's operation. That cannot win the debate in the public sphere and cheap populism cannot win the confidence of opinion formers.

The point that we tire of spelling out, is that opinions trickle down from the top. There is the influential and prestigious SW1 bubble, followed by the wider media and then Twitter and social media. That is the spectrum of public debate. The tone of that debate gives off certain vibes and players within it are opinion formers to their own cohort. Each is a trusted node in their own circle.

We are seeking to dominate that sphere and be a respected source of information. Integrity, trust and gravitas matter. If the core of the main campaign in the end is one of contradiction, guesswork and grunty noises about foreigners then word rapidly gets out that we don't have the goods and we're bunch of whinging dinosaurs.

Brexit will be seen as a tainted idea, promoted by ghastly people who have a thin grasp of the facts who want us to take a big and reckless gamble. There is no coming back from that. We have to win the argument and be seen to be winning it. The opposition can afford mistakes. We cannot. If we cannot secure the confidence of voters, we cannot win.

To that end, our brand must use the time it has to establish itself as the never-wrong machine. Cheap memes with disposable factoids will come back to haunt us. Moreover, they are not useful to the debate. We need to be spelling out to voters what the actual choice is. We need to spell out that it's a choice between a tight leash on the fringe of Europe or joining the global party.

We need to show that Cameron's package is not desirable and that our vision is. We must also emanate competence that we know what the implications are and that we know what we are doing. Blind optimism or the suggestion that Brexit is a risky business will result in defeat.

Looking at Leave.EU as an entity as it stands it has brought nothing to the table except for recycled Ukip factoids and the usual tired eurosceptic tropes. The associations are already tainted and the arguments themselves are not fresh material. These are old souls pushing old ideas. As we remarked on LeaveHQ today, both sides are fighting old battles that are entirely irrelevant to the modern context. The way we position the argument is to take the high ground and rise above both camps so we are in the same ring as Cameron - the real opposition in this.

I have argued that in order to take that middle ground then our side needs new ideas, better arguments and a new vibe that departs from the tragically miserbalist eurosceptic groove. We need a clear distinction between our message, the kipper grunters and the hardcore federalists. We are competing for the reasonable title. Coming at it from the traditional Eurosceptic angle is basically trying to sell Bacon to Muslims. Not gonna happen.

In business if you have a market that your product doesn't reach then you must rebrand and modernise the product in order to reach it. Otherwise you concede the territory. In large markets you can afford to do that. You play to your own strengths. In politics, you have to sell your product especially to that elusive market even at the risk of losing your loyal customers.

In a referendum, the market you don't reach easily is the ground you cannot afford concede. They are the object of your campaign. Husky Hugging Dave can tell you that much. (He can also tell you that if you overdo it you end up stuck in a coalition fighting off Ukip). The point being, though is that eurosceptics need their clause four moment, dispensing with the core shibboleths.

In that regard, the crucial test is the taste test. I know a few of the usual Kipper suspects having been in this game for years. I know the type who retweets absolutely anything from any source so long as it paints the EU in a bad light. Those people are the head-banging obsessives, not me. The test being that if those people like what you are doing, then you are doing it wrong. And looking under the hood on the Brexit hash tags on Twitter, the kippers LOVE Leave.EU.

The reality is this. The party that is haemorrhaging votes, losing members and support and one that failed to make a breakthrough with their cul-de-sac populist message is now the one most keen on the Leave.EU message. Banks has looked on the election result and the political wreckage left behind and thought - "those losers there, those are the losers I want running my campaign". Not to put too fine a point on it, that's monumental stupidity right there. Idiocy on stilts.

Our approach is to go large on the global opportunities and the notion that the EU is yesterdays news in the global trading arena. That we need to be at the top tables and engaging where it matters. We need ot show that the EU is a redundant middleman that only complicates and slows down the process of global trade and that is supranational ambitions are actually a nuisance, rather than a driver, in the pursuit of a truly global free trade areas.

We are embedding the written meme that the referendum is a choice between being the driver or the passenger in world affairs, bringing our values to the top tables, demanding transparency and democracy.

Now Banks will miss the point on this, in that he says messages have to be simple. He thinks that an article like that on LeaveHQ is over intellectualising it, and most people don't care about such things and that they are largely the province of head-bangers. Totally misses the point.

As we say above, winning the argument in the public sphere is absolutely essential, but it's also about creating a new vibe that the people demanding Brexit are not the whinging little Englanders but the people who really know what the score is and really mean business. People who are genuinely excited by the potential.

The europhiles have owned the territory on the progressivism for some time by pretending the EU is the very pinnacle of cooperation and the very top table. We should be demonstrating that it is nowhere close and is in fact the little Englander mentality writ large as it complicates rules and puts up more barriers to the world.  

That's not a head-banger message. That is a largely agreeable message that we can reinforce with facts. It speaks to a fundamental truth and sends out the vibe that we know what we want, and we know what we are doing. To get that out we need a campaign working to a strategic narrative and everything we do must reinforce it.

While the issues and the details we go into are complex, the message is not. We need to global, join the global single market - and chuck out the ideas from the last century. The essence being that we should have a partnership with the EU rather than being a subordinate - and that ultimately the people are sovereign. Brexit is an opportunity, not a risk - and we have a clear idea of how to do it.

The problem is, you can feed this stuff to the Kippers to the cows come home, but coming from them, nobody is going to buy it - so those are the last people we want to be putting front and centre. If there is a wrong end of the stick they will grasp it with both hands. If we are seeking to give over a vibe of prideful confidence in our message and its accuracy, it's better if the kippers pipe down.

We saw that immigration is a divisive issue that the right loses hands down under the weight of media bias and left wing sanctimony so any official campaign is best staying far off that subject lest the referendum become a referendum on immigration. That we we definitely will lose since Brexit has little impact on immigration.

Our LeaveHQ message is not only carving through most of the core shibboleths of eurosceptics, it actively seeks to disown them as a whole. We are also saying that not only will we compromise on freedom of movement, we don't actually care just so long as we get out of the EU, because democracy is the issue here, and the rest can be sorted out later when we get out.

This naturally has pissed off enough eurosceptics that they are attacking us. What that tells us is that we have got the pitch entirely right. If Kippers hate you then you must be doing something right. That puts us back in the centre ground. It's counter-intuitive - but most intelligent branding strategies are.

If I had Banks's money that is where I would be taking the campaign. I'd be competing for the reasonable ground and showing the electorate that our Brexit proposal is as reasonable as Cameron's "reforms". In this the tone must at all times take the high ground and if the grunters want to run their own anti-immigration memes then that is their own look out. The lead campaign can't touch it.

We keep it clean, sanitised and competent throughout. If it turns out that by the end of the campaign I am completely wrong, and that it needed to be a toxic message run by grunters, it is far easier to rip off the mask than it is to try and detoxify. Nothing is lost by running a slick operation between now and then. A campaign intractably associated with Ukip can simply not recover the ground.

The bottom line is that Leave.EU as it stands is a destructive, chaotic force that undermines our chances of winning, makes it much harder to win the intellectual argument on-line, and ultimately toxifies the Leave brand. This is guaranteed to keep us in the EU. This must me said as often as is possible. I am appalled that it even needs spelling out.

A skilful campaign should have people who can take a complex narrative with new ideas and train operatives to break it down into manageable messages that inform and shape the debate, rather than blurting out any old lurid crap just so long as it is activity. We need to be able to deliver a credible message and one that speaks with authority.

We need to lay a trail of breadcrumbs that brings you to a natural conclusion. Ours. In this we can take no short cuts or assume the people won't know when we are bullshitting because somebody somewhere will and they will make it known. It is about building our credibility and prestige. If we are not respected and we have blown our prestige then we do not have the means to overcome the gravitas of the Prime Minister. Game over.

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Brexit: a time to step up to the plate

This year I've gone big on the global regulatory agencies. Not just because I'm an epic nerd but also because knowledge is power and in this game, and it can be a most potent weapon. It's as exciting as it is interesting.

Because regulation is all about making things work better, faster, safer, and cleaner and working in harmony with other systems it means it is at the cutting edge of technology. Follow @BoschGlobal on Twitter. Some of what they post will (or should) blow you away when you consider the potential.

That said, it's the political dimension I find the most interesting. We often hear how corporate lobbying is deeply embedded in the regulatory process. That's not always a bad thing since they are the experts in their own fields so why would you not consult them? The last thing we want is government officials with no expertise telling them how to do their job.

Bosch is a seriously interesting one in that they are in with the WHO and UNECE working both directly and as part of lobbying coalitions. One of the major ones is a charity, Global NCAP, an umbrella for all of the major world regional NCAP programmes. They are backed by Bloomberg Philanthropies as well as the FIA Foundation and the International Consumer Research and Testing Organisation, which itself is an umbrella organisation representing most of the major global consumer organisations like Which?.

Many of them are umbrella groups, often encompassing trade guilds and smaller grassroots lobby organisations accountable largely to their own members. The influence of national governments is actually fairly minimal. Governments are only really involved when these organisations come to a formal agreement on standards and practices and need it rubber stamping as official.

In the consultation process, obviously money talks and so often the little guy is frozen out, which is why small producers and innovators are passengers when it comes to regulation. Only those nations who compel SME's to join trade guilds have half-decent representation. In the UK, the respective government ministries have sole authority over who gets to participate at the EU level and that's often as far as it ever gets.

While this process isn't inherently corrupt, it can at times be murky and half the reason for that is that virtually nobody is watching this process and it is accountable to no-one. If ever there was something considerately in need of democratisation it is the global regulatory process. Our media tends to focus on the daily biff-bam politics of Westminster which is so far down the chain as to be completely uninteresting to anyone following the real business of government.

Watching MP's debating whether schools should be teaching first aid is like watching my local parish council deciding if Filton roundabout should have new street-lamps. It's actually embarrassing to watch the mother of all parliaments reduced to this. What's depressing is that MPs can't begin to comprehend just how debased and usurped that institution is.

Were the media to cast an eye on the process, they would have the same problem I have. Knowing who to watch and where. That's the bit that takes some investigative skill - something they lack, which is why they obsess over the Westminster decoy. As Councillor Simon Cooke points out, we need pay much closer attention to the likes of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Bloomberg Philanthropies and follow the money from there. From vehicle manufacture to medicines and sustainable development, they are the money behind most of the organisations at the very top tables.

At no point is this process ever debated or scrutinised by anyone we elect. The only elected assembly anywhere in the process is the European Parliament. So that's a good thing right? Well, as you might expect me to say... no.

By the time any of this is encoded into law, it has already been through the consultation mill, fed up the private chain to the global top tables, embodied in international standards and practices and then spit back out in the form of global conventions. At this point, what MEPs think of it is neither here nor there. At best they can tinker with some of the variables and debate the rollout and the timetables, but it is not a powerful body in that regard.

When it comes to the signing of these global conventions. individual states sign independently, but in this we are compelled to vote for the common EU position - which is whatever the EU Commission says it is. That is why there is extensive lobbying in Brussels. They are not lobbying MEP's.

The short of it is, while regulation is clearly a necessary function in an ever globalised world, there is nothing about the process that suggests it is democratic. More importantly, because the EU is seeking to take our seat on most of these global bodies (where it hasn't already), with an eventual view to phasing out member states and converting observer status into a seat in its own right, it diminishes our own influence - more so as the EU expands.

Instead of dealing with the global bodies directly we have our own government controlling access to the consultation process by dictating who may go to the respective EU forums - and that's as high as our influence goes. As the Morning Star points out, that increasingly means we are represented by commercial lobbyists nominated by our own government and those who can buy their way in.

The only hint from the media we get that this process even exists is when there is something controversial like the TTIP "trade deal". But even that is downstream of the real business of trade deals. Last week we got a small clue in this regard with Martin Schulz calling for ILO conventions to be included in it.

This is ultimately what trade deals are now. They are agreements on regulatory harmonisation. Rather than being original material, they are an amalgam of existing conventions. Tariffs are a much less significant factor. To say then that Norway has no influence in TTIP, ignores the very real influence it has in the making of the component parts, not least through it's participation in the ILO.

It's true that agreements such as TTIP are subject to considerable scrutiny, and though the European Parliament will do a half-decent, semi-democratised job of that, it doesn't get a say in the conventions and agreements that from the components. It is not involved in the process.

These agreements essentially form the basis of what we repeatedly describe as an emerging global single market. A single market is not just an area where there are zero or common tariffs. It is a region that shares common regulatory constructs. In that regard, the single market extends well beyond the confines of the EU internal market. The EU internal market is actually the odd man out, setting itself apart from the rest.

This is why we express some alarm at Ruth Lea and Dominic Cummings and their simplistic notion that we can leave the single market - in that there is in fact no leaving the single market if you think of it in terms of a common regulatory area. For Cummings to say, as indeed we have, that we would "retake our seat" on the global bodies once we left the single market just doesn't make any sense at all since EU rules are also global single market rules. The EU mostly adopts the rules from these very bodies. So in one very calculated tweet we see the gaping chasm of ignorance that is Dominic Cummings.

The fact is, trade is done in an entirely different way and the complaints about regulations from classic eurosceptics are based on a wholly obsolete context. There is no possible way you can make a coherent argument about life outside of the EU if you haven't understood this new paradigm. Dominic Cummings clearly has not.

The future of trade is agreements between regulatory agencies forming massive regions of regulatory harmonisation. Agreements between Euro-NCAP and C-NCAP will be farther reaching than any trade deal that makes it into the media limelight and to my mind far more alarming than TTIP. Similarly, we have recently remarked on how Mexico is enjoying a certain amount of growth through trading agility, but that is done by cutting regulatory corners. A mutual recognition agreement with Mexico is most definitely something we would want to veto - yet this would be done without Britain having a veto and would scarcely be mentioned by the media.

Of course in this there is the question of proportionality. While there is no democracy in this process, should we really get worked up that a corrupt deal at the top of the chain means that it is now the law that you have to use a particular type of inspection device that only Bosch makes, or that potentially lethal cars are greenlit for import?

Well, in the grand scheme of things (not that I have seen a copy of it) I can think of other more pressing matters, and as far as the average voter is concerned, it's less of a priority than those street-lamps on the roundabout, but through standardisation for expediency of growth, bypassing democracy, there are very real risks that standards will be diluted so as to be worthless - where the real deal is little better than the counterfeiters - which negates the whole point of having standards in the first place.

The fact is, our quality of life is enhanced by buying with confidence. Being able to trust our devices and our food is a huge part of what makes the West a great place to live and it's why people would risk everything to get here. We need to ensure that our strict codes stay strict and that our markets remain closed to dangerous and fraudulent goods. To do that we need our right of veto at the top tables, we need our own voice heard and we shouldn't be going via the EU to find our voice stops there.

The bureaucracy of the EU can be exploited and the larger it grows, the more our voice is marginalised, and the less capable the EU is of making decisions in the common interest. If there is to be a global single market then it must be a community of equals where every voice is heard. It is diminished without British participation. If there is one thing we British have proven ourselves adept at it is setting the standards and showing others how to do things. This is not a trait we have lost in spite of forty years of European integration.

Brexit does not mean walking away from the table. It means walking toward a bigger one where our voice matters. Brexit means dispensing with the ideas of the last century and refocussing our attention on the global single market, dealing direct and cutting out the middleman. It means shortening the chain of accountability. It means removing the blindfold to the matrix of global governance and waking up to the new paradigm. More than that it means stepping up to plate.

Britain has always shown the world how to do democracy. Without our participation in this global governance process, democracy has taken a back seat. Once we get to the top tables, we need to be knocking a few of them over and demanding transparency and accountability where presently none exists.

This referendum is not just a Leave/Remain question. It is something more fundamental. In the new global order, are we to be a driver or a passenger? If we are subordinate to the EU at the top tables, we're sat in the back watching a Bob the Builder DVD with the kids rather than at the wheel where we belong. That would be a travesty. It would be an end to a long tradition of Britain shaping the world. Voting to remain in the EU is voting to throw in the towel - and that would be a sad thing to behold.

Christmas come early

Ratings agency Moody’s has said that the UK may be able to avoid a credit downgrade if it leaves the European Union. In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, the agency’s lead UK analyst said that it was possible that a “Brexit” may lead to “no impact” on the Aa1 rating. Kathrin Muehlbronner, senior vice president at Moody’s and the agency’s lead UK analyst, said that the UK’s “diversified and rich economy” meant it could flourish outside the bloc.

While Moody’s said the uncertainty would be negative for growth, it said this could be short-lived if the UK were able to negotiate new trade deals with major partners quickly. “Uncertainty alone may not change the rating,” said Ms Muehlbronner. “What we care about is economic strength, and it is our view that the economic impact of a Brexit would be negative.

S&P said in June there was now a one in three chance
of a downgrade of one or more notches in the event of Brexit. However, Moritz Kraemer, chief rating officer at S&P, said the UK could be upgraded back if the economy maintained its influence. “Switzerland is an AAA and they’ve never been part of the EU, and Norway is, too. There’s no pre-condition of being a part of the EU.” 

Firstly, we would note that it is a change to see some measured analysis that does not give way to the usual hyperventilation. But from this we can infer that the money men (and women) do not see the Norway Option as a risky path out of the EU.

The key quote we would emphasise is this one "Moody’s said the uncertainty would be negative for growth, it said this could be short-lived *if* the UK were able to negotiate new trade deals with major partners quickly."

We take the view that trade deals are not so easily and quickly replaced or renegotiated and so to remove that "if", a Brexit plan must be central to any campaign. A Brexit plan that offers a transitional usage of existing arrangements takes that "if" out of the equation. In this game, a successful campaign can hold them to their word in that if there is no loss of access to existing trade deals then their basis for "uncertainty" is baseless.

Given that we can rely on continuity of treaties, as long as the proper arrangements are made in good time, then there should be no great problem anyway. One would expect these arrangements to form part of any structured exit plan, which would remove any uncertainty from the equation. Part of those "proper arrangements" would be continued regulatory convergence which is not only necessary for EU market access but also a condition of most of the trade agreements we would seek.

We would therefore question the fitness of Dominic Cummings to be leading this campaign in that he is publicly attacking the single market and is steadfastly refusing to adopt any kind of Brexit plan, instead pegging his hopes on some as yet undefined free trade agreement, completely ignoring the regulatory ramifications. Madness.

An astute campaign would recognise this report for what it is. An early Christmas present. Winning the referendum hinges on de-riskng it. Here we have two major financial bodies telling us that Brexit could be greenlit by them if we can show we have the intellectual goods. We've been shown the way in big neon lights. All we have to do is exploit the opportunity yet Cummings et al are intent on introducing risk where none previously existed. Not particularly smart for a man reputed to be a genius.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Right on cue

As though to demonstrate my point, here-above is one such example of what I will no doubt soon be getting a torrent of. Irrational, stupid and cowardly. Cowardly because they will make these hit and run assertions but never have the guts to elaborate even when challenged. This is a tame one but we will see them becoming more aggressive as we start to succeed in cutting through the noise they make.

Put simply, like the Ukip mentality, anything that challenges the group-think of lemming-like unity - and the doctrine that we must all get behind the same retreating and dismal messages of the main campaigns is haraam. If you're not one of them, you're the enemy.

These are the people who will push their bile upon us and the broader campaign and they will be relentless in doing so. I know because we've been here before.

For these people it is more about defending the eurosceptic orthodoxy than it is winning the referendum. That makes these people a liability. Moreover, they are dead weight that we do not need and not worth a nanosecond of our time. That said, when it becomes a coordinated effort, it will demonstrate better than I ever could that these people are the nasty ones - and if anyone has a case to answer - it isn't us.

A personal note

For the time being it's going to be necessary to highlight the failures of the two Leave campaigns. It's going to by quite dry, very detailed and yes, it's going to get nasty. Now I know that suggestion is going to raise some alarm with those readers of our who disapprove of such things. Well, hear me out.

The reason it's going to get nasty is because the people we are dealing with are nasty. Behind the public face of Leave.EU are all the same losers who delivered the Ukip election failure. They are known to us, they are extremely defensive, aggressive and a special kind of stupid.

For as long as is necessary, we will point out their manifest failings, and they will attack, often resorting to some very low grade taunts based on gossip regarding personal circumstances and information picked up by so-called friends from my own Facebook. I know their modus operandi because we went through this during the election and have experienced it for a long time preceding. The word "scum" has been used with some justification.

A favourite meme for the Ukippers was "sour grapes" regarding some or other ancient history, and not learning from their mistakes, they will deploy the same again as they are well aware both Richard North and I were hoping not to have to be pointing out their serial failures, and instead working with one of the campaigns in getting it right.

That was too much to hope for. To get your foot in the door requires playing the game and pandering to the egos of the incompetent and the dishonourable Neither is something Richard or I have the patience for and wouldn't do anyway. In fact, anybody who does make it into the inner circle of narcissistic wreckers is more likely dishonourable, obsequious and duplicitous and not types with whom we would want to work anyway.

So when we get the taunts of "bitterness" and "sour grapes", I certainly don't deny it. There is a good deal of bitterness that a lifetime of work requiring a great many sacrifices is casually overturned by arrogant and profoundly stupid people, and there is anger as every day we watch this race to the bottom plumb new depths. It leaves us with a sense of deflation and dismay.

I have found that dealing with such attacks is always neutralised by honesty, and where possible good humour - but sometimes the level such people take it to makes the latter difficult. Sometimes explainers are just fresh raw material for the people who take it upon themselves to make enemies of us. This is the nature of the game.

What makes it possible to continue is the loyalty and support and friendship of our readers, especially on the days when we wonder why the hell we're even bothering. Anybody sane would walk away and leave these losers to it. But that would mean conceding the ground and going away, which is precisely what these people want us to do - and so that is precisely what we shall not do. We shall stand here mirror-like, reflecting their every failure, personal and professional back at them, and if I get nasty then put it down to cause and effect.

For sure, I will have my momentary lapses of judgement as indeed anybody might when they put the hours in, but it must be said that these are deeply unpleasant, incompetent diminished human beings - and at the end of this, I will have no need of introspection. The faults are their own to realise.

As to when it stops, there will naturally be a cut off point when they must be ignored, but attacking is absolutely necessary for the time being because Leavers out on the wider internet need to know just how badly they have been betrayed by a bunch of self-serving, ignorant trash who have only ever been in this for selfish reasons.

It is the people who recognise that the main efforts are failing whom we have need of. We need those people to fill the ground the main campaigns have vacated. There is a huge gap in the market for an intelligent, progressive campaign. It's going to have to be entirely voluntary and we're going to have to do it the hard way.

We never had high hopes of the main campaigns, and we expected we would be here - pushed out onto the sidelines, and we always knew that the players involved would revert to type. So out here in the cold is not a place we are unfamiliar with.

Such a vantage point has distinct advantages though. While we do not have the reach that comes with money, our agility and skill allows us to shape the debate in ways that those on transmit mode only cannot. Coordination of efforts and skilful targeting can lodge arguments into the debating arena and we have some record of success in this. Sometimes that is achieved through careful and patient study. Other times that is achieved by other less honourable means. That is something I won't flinch from, and given what certain people deserve, I will do it gladly.

If you're clear on what we are setting out to achieve, we still need you to step forward and to make yourselves known on Twitter and get your blogs in operation. We have seen that pack hunting works and the more of you leap aboard the more powerful we are. Out there in the world of politics we do not exist and they will seek to keep it that way. But on the internet where the real battle is fought, we can dominate in the way that a scattergun internet meme based campaign cannot - and they won't even know why it is happening.

The strategy of the main campaigns is like carpet bombing the jungle just in the hope that there might be some enemy hiding in it. Ours is to run an intelligence lead campaign, finding the precise location of the enemy and deploying special forces to take them out. It will be a difficult and thankless task with few rewards - but it must be done, because nobody else will, and nobody else can.

Friday, 20 November 2015

The Leave campaign race to the bottom

I have a Cummings plan
We are being even handed today by dismantling both of the Leave campaigns. On the one hand we have the talentless Wigmore efforts, aiding and abetting David Cameron, and on the other we have a more subtle betrayal of the cause with quite wilful sabotage of the campaign by Dominic Cummings.

Wigmore's excuse is that we must "keep it simple". I have no problem with keeping it simple. But traversing from the simple into the realms of the moronic is simply not required, or indeed helpful.

There is no problem with simple messages per se. Simple is good. Efficient, well engineered points in a marketplace of ideas where attention spans are short are a key part of the campaign. But a good message is engineered according to a strategy.

Establishing memes, written and pictorial, on the internet is part of a process of building narratives in order to brief campaigners and opinion formers. Such cannot afford to be sloppy and they must work inside the parameters of a predefined agenda. They must be breadcrumbs setting a trail to a particular conclusion. Outside of a strategy they are largely destructive noise. This is something Leave.EU is incapable of recognising. Leave.EU is just one long whinge about the EU. Exactly what Cameron wants it to be.

Then on the other hand, Cummings has the right idea. Or at least he knows how to play the game if not actually what the winning strategy is. His tweets are building blocks, knowing that his disciples will obligingly repeat his mantras. He is seeking to drain the pond of waters any single market solution can swim by attacking the single market and the regulations therein. This is so to launch his WTO option, requiring some as yet undefined free trade agreement with all the uncertainty and risk that implies. 

As we noted with Campbell Bannerman earlier in the week, unless you are aware of the regulatory dimensions, there are gaping flaws readily exploited that collapse the entire plan. When exposed to that degree, the only mitigation is to make suppositions and hope for the best. Rather than de-risking the Brexit proposition he has introduced a massive amount of risk.

The Remain campaign then, if they are worth their salt, will ask"out of the single market and into what?". At this point, anyone hoping to leave the EU had better hope that Cummings's real talents lie in creative writing, because there is little in reality that supports his Brexit strategy.

If this is what our side goes into the battle with, then we should be prepared to lose the argument hands down. It may be that the "Stronger In" head of communications is as dimwitted as Andy Wigmore, which may do us a small favour, but as we point out, David Cameron is the real opposition in this - and he has seen us coming. It's turning out to be the exact car crash we said it would be.

Leave.EU is working for David Cameron

Nobody is going to say the EU is a perfect entity. Most of the public don't need any persuading that's it's an expensive and bureaucratic pigs ear. David Cameron is planning on offering a fix for it. So the referendum is largely a question of whether the public believes Cameron has the right repair kit and whether it's worth the paper it is written on.

In that regard whatever British Influence and Stronger In does is entirely irrelevant. The focus of this campaign is Cameron. Everything else is a decoy. That is not to say that the Remain campaigns don't serve a purpose. They are rabid in their own way, but that is exactly how David Cameron needs them to be. 

There is something else Cameron needs in this. He needs Leave.EU to keep doing what it does. He needs them to be indiscriminately throwing out any old complaint against the EU not tied to any substantive principle, churning out irrational noise, and becoming increasing shrill as the campaign advances.

By the time Cameron is ready to come out and announce his grand reforms, the entire media spectrum will be filled up with hardcore noise from both sides. David Cameron then comes shining through between the two sides and says "look, ignore the federalist nutters because we're having none of that, and look at these swivel-eyed ranters pushing their irrational loathing of the EU. There is a middle way!"

The swing vote will be looking at who has the most reasonable pitch. Ask anybody neutral person if Leave.EU looks like a moderate campaign and they will say categorically not. And they'd be right. Cameron, glowing with prestige and authority, will then stand towering above the ranters with a set of reasonable looking reforms (and yes, there will be reforms) and our side will have nothing that can compete. There is no nuance, no subtlety and no depth to Leave.EU's output and they are totally outclassed by Cameron's strategy.

In short, it's a trainwreck, guided by an American snake oil salesman who doesn't know the territory. A man who thinks you can transpose American methods into something that is a much more complex proposition than simply in or out, and in a contest for the middle ground, if you are not offering a middle way solution then you are not even in the game. We are competing for who has the most believable, most achievable and most reasonable product. Right now, that isn't us.

The reason Leave.EU don't see how damaging they are is primarily because they, like Ukip, lack any self awareness or tactical skill. It plays directly into Cameron's hands. All we see is a torrent of little Englander whinging that undermines any serious attempt to put forth a progressive and globalist case. The PM must be delighted. If he was wanted to infiltrate a Leave campaign to make it work in his favour, he would send a man like Andy Wigmore, but lucky for him, he doesn't have to.

Put simply, Leave.EU is a menace and if they don't stop polluting the internet with their, frankly, idiotic outpourings, then they hand the whole game away before it even gets started.

A statement

There are more calls in my inbox for me not to attack my "own side".

Our side has to have a reasoned, rational case for leaving. It must also have a carefully considered strategy informed by the political realities. Neither of the Leave campaigns do. And that's not a neutral problem when their unplanned an uncoordinated activities are actually harmful. The more vague and ill considered nonsense they pump out, the more they undermine a rational case for leaving and make an intelligent strategy impossible to execute. They discredit us and fill up the airwaves with contradictions. 

This has to hammered out. If we are not our own worst critics then our arguments will not stand up when it goes to the wire. Those who demand I do not criticise would rather ignore it and stick their heads in the sand rather than confront something that needs to be addressed. 

Unless you are prepared to make a stand against these people then we are staying in the EU. I'd rather not have to do it, but what choice do I have? You opting out of criticising them means you are giving these two limited companies a green light to screw us over completely and bury the issue for the next generation. 

At least when we do lose I will be able to say I tried to prevent it. I will remind those who demanded my silence that they chose to do nothing.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

We're supposed to be polite about this?

So as if to prove my point, Leave.EU tweets the above this morning.

"In 2016, The European Commission will present a proposal on common minimum social rights to be applied in all member states" they shriek.

And that's bad because?

I can think of one or two reasons why we wouldn't want it, and if there was a link to the actual proposal we'd maybe find it was an ILO initiative where we could make our point that if we want it we'd have more of a voice in shaping it by engaging at the top table. But what do we get instead? An abstract point - an all singing, all dancing grunt about foreigners.

Of the two messages side by side, Leave.EU has effectively just pumped out an advert for the European Commission. Yet Andy Wigmore thinks that his campaign is reaching beyond the cul-de-sac of Kipper whinging.

As I say, this is continuity Ukip from a dangerously inept campaign. This I am supposed to be polite, reserved and measured about - or just not say anything at all. Sorry. Not gonna happen

So it begins.

The main group campaigning for a British exit from the EU has a £14bn “black hole” in the savings it claims the UK would make if it voted to leave, Tory grandee Sir Nicholas Soames has said.
The former defence minister, a pro-European, has called on Vote Leave to explain its calculations or remove from all its campaign literature a “misleading statistic” that a Brexit could save Britain £350m a week.

In one of its founding documents, Vote Leave indicated that the UK would be free to spend nearly £20bn on schools and other domestic priorities if it left the EU. Answering why the UK should leave the EU, the group said: “We stop sending £350m every week to Brussels and instead spend it on our priorities, like the NHS and science research.”

The £350m works out at £18.2bn a year – and was used to roughly equate the UK’s annual £19.23bn contributions to the EU as a condition of its membership. But Soames says this marks the UK’s gross contribution, whereas the figure dips to £9bn, according to Treasury figures, once the UK rebate and other EU grants are taken off.

This is precisely where we didn't want to be as a campaign. We don't want to be arguing the toss over how much we will have to spend on schools hospitals, teachers and nurses. As much as the ensuing debate then falls upon bickering over petty accountancy, it's a turn off to most who will not bother to follow the argument to see who is right. In the end it will be a matter of who gives off the most credible vibe, and whether it is reported that our side has a credible case.

As it happens "we" don't have a credible case at all. The truth is we don't know how much we will save to be precise, but it won't be nearly anything like as much as anybody expects. We are making promises of no disruption to trade by way of single market access. Be it the Norway option or the Swiss option, we still end up participating in EU programmes, and we still are still involved in the creation of single market rules - which is not an inexpensive activity.

Additionally, there will be many areas of administrative and technical cooperation which all parties will want to continue - including agricultural subsidies, even if we repatriate them. Some of the more high profile ones include Europol and Eurocontrol, the latter taking in the development of the Single European Sky.

There is a logical inconsistency here too. One recurring argument the Remain campaign makes is that Brexit leads to the disintegration of academic co-operation. We know this isn't true because Norway etc are participants in Erasmus and Horizon 2020 and Vote Leave Ltd have alluded to this. But that does not come without making some contribution to the EU budget.

Course, nobody can now dig Vote Leave Ltd out of their hole not least because they haven't got a Brexit plan, but also because we don't know what other absurd claims they will be making. All we can say is we told you so.

Meanwhile because Leave.EU are very poor at setting the agenda, they will follow in the wake of Vote Leave Ltd and continue to belch out meaningless statistics and running a reactive campaign in trying to reinforce failure. All of this has been predicted for some time and it demonstrates precisely why a Brexit plan is necessary - as your means and your destination very much have an impact on your referendum message. 

Both Leave campaigns have no made fools of themselves and their lack of subject knowledge will lead them to compound their respective errors. We couldn't help them out now even if we were so inclined. They've walked into the traps we said they would and will continue to do so. This would be the great genius Dominic Cummings at work. Ho hum. 

Leave.EU are dangerously inept

There are days when I could walk away from this whole pathetic show. It's embarrassing. Already the "we can do better than Norway" meme is circulating among Brexit campaigners. In one day of casual thoughtless campaigning, Leave.EU has turned campaigners away from the one solution that can actually win.

To fix that will take careful and time-consuming isolation of key activists and briefing them with the details. As head of communications for Leave.EU, Andy Wigmore takes full and sole responsibility for this glaring ineptitude. Arron Banks doesn't think it matters. He is wrong, it does matter, it does have consequences and if he knew the territory at all he would know.

So now that campaign has landed us with a mammoth task of damage control. Moreover, they are not going to assist in that. They don't even recognise that a mistake has been made so will likely compound the errors in the future.

Meanwhile I have been chastised by some for robust language on Twitter, but when directed at Andy Wigmore, I make no apology for it and make no guarantees that it will not happen again. The man is a dangerous liability to the campaign. He has already created serious work for us and a man of such little talent and strategic acumen will no doubt make even more work for us in the coming months.

If our campaign ever does gets its act together there will be so much Leave.EU branded material in the public domain that the Remain camp will make a huge deal of the inherent contradictions and rub it in our faces. Why do I know they will do this? Because that's exactly what I would do in their position.

In the public domain the intellectual argument matters and I would be rounding on the Leave side showing that these people don't know what they are doing, don't know what they want and don't for a moment understand the complexities of what they are talking about. They will rightly say, if you vote to leave you are putting the fate of the country into the hands of people with a dangerously shallow understanding of the issues, whose own post Brexit solutions have precisely zero impact on any of the problems they are advertising.

Presently Leave.EU is adopting a continuity Ukip strategy in promoting the Australian points based immigration system. This has already been thoroughly dismantled during the election and there is a wealth of material in the public domain for the opposition to recycle, including several pieces of our own that say pretty much the same thing. It won't work for Britain. These are the inherent dangers of not having a strategy and indiscriminately pumping out half understood memes.

So yes I am angry enough to lose my temper over this, and I am seriously angry that people supposedly on my own side are creating work for me and leading the campaign up the same dead end Ukip went up. Moreover, there has been no introspection. They still don't understand why I attack them.

Already I am having the same arguments we had just after the election with campaigners telling me what a marvellous job Ukip did - as they made a laughing stock of themselves and failed to make a Westminster breakthrough. Make no mistake - the election was their high water mark.

Ukip's membership is bleeding, they lose a sizable portion of their vote share every time there is a local poll, and confidence in the ability of Farage has collapsed. Yet the same people who delivered that failure are now the people behind Leave.EU.

This all has a very familiar ring to it and I expect to have the same bitter rows throughout. Moderating voices will tell me to just ignore them but they are impossible to ignore in that they are actively undermining the campaign. They are the source of the effluent leakage. The stop valve needs to be turned.

With Vote Leave Ltd largely being a Westminster Bubble outfit concentrating on the mainstream media and the luvvies within the inner circle of power, there needs to be a people's movement, yet there isn't one. There is just Continuity Ukip leaving us to clean up their mess as they go forth like a bull in China shop.

So yes, I am seething with anger. The campaign is being derailed by those who are ignorant, proud of their ignorance and think it's actually funny that there is little we can do about it. So yes, to say these people are "scum" is something of a measured understatement at times. These people are impervious to reason, won't be told anything and will in due course turn far more hostile that I ever could. Nasty is the only response in kind.

The basic premise is that the campaign must appeal to those who would never vote Ukip in a billion years. Only 14% of the voters did, and half of them wouldn't a second time. Continuing with the same material will isolate Leavers and repel the swing vote.

This is such a simple and obvious premise that it should not need explaining yet for all the repetitions of the same points, the usual suspects seem genetically incapable of grasping it. Twelve year olds could grasp this premise. Why can't Leave.EU?

Consequently I see no other option but to highlight this to everybody who will listen, including the opposition. In my eyes, turning the stop valve is the only fight that matters. I see no choice but to attack these people publicly and without restraint. What other choice do we have? Ignoring it isn't an option.

Continuity Ukip

Readers of my previous blog will recall that in the past I have used some robust and unequivocal words about Ukip. They have gone down in my estimations since. But then they have also gone down in the polls too. The party is a dead man walking and the last people to realise will be the members.

But no matter. It has been reborn. I have arrived at the conclusion that Leave.EU is not just similar to Ukip, it is in fact Ukip in all but name. It is running the same "policies" it has no strategy, despite them thinking they do, and at every level the ay lacking any talent. That they have Emmet Jenner as an events organiser tells you all you need to know. One of the Farage devotees. Grotesquely arrogant and stupid as they come.

They display the same profound and astonishing ignorance and the same pride in it. They revel in their own stupidity like it is a badge of honour. What makes them marginally worse is that while Ukip categorically was not going to listen, and made enemies of anyone who dared to try to help them up their game, Leave.EU pretends that it will listen and that upping their game is just around the corner.

They are con artists stringing everybody along when really they will spend the entire campaign grunting about foreigners, pushing unworkable Brexit policies and preaching only to the converted. Their message will be all over the shop with no regard to what is actually happening in the campaign with no real idea of who the opposition is or the game in play.

Their material will cover no new ground and they will head up that same populist cul de sac as Ukip and hit their head on that same glass ceiling. I have said it before but their brand is now so badly tainted that any makeover moving forward would have to be transformational and extensive. I have zero confidence that is going to happen. They would first have to admit there was a problem.

If asked as to who was the most malevolent influence Wigmore or Cummings, I would have a flip a coin. Wigmore is an untrustworthy, obsequious toad and Cummings by all accounts is worse.

Meanwhile, as points out, Arron Banks is wasting his money on his American consultant and Vote Leave Ltd is now quoting Matthew Goodwin as their source of political intelligence. Were this referendum not so deadly serious this would be hilarious. This has to be some kind of sick joke.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Sins of the father...

One of the most towering influences of the eurosceptic community is one Richard North. This is a fact. This cannot be denied. It is widely acknowledged even by Ukip's MEPs and a great many of our political enemies.

Through several influential books and a series of prominent Daily Mail features, both he and Christopher Booker charted gradual incursion of what was then thought to be EU red tape and how it was destroying businesses up and down the country.

It is this that has informed much of Eurosceptic thinking for the last twenty years and has remained a pillar of eurosceptic argument. So in some respects, it's ironic that I should be the one spending so much of my time shooting it down.

As much as a lot of the regulation following the Maastricht Treaty was bad regulation, it was the transition costs that finished off small and medium sized operators from slaughterhouses to electronics manufactures. Conformity, training and equipping for a new regime is no small undertaking and in the case of small producers, too much to ask.

That is why any fag packet calculations from cranks like Ruth Lea are best ignored. To say we can ditch the single market and have different rules for those who do not export is such a fatuous idea, it's difficult to know where to start. For starters, while you as a business may not export, you may well produce components or methods for assembly lines who most definitely do export. In the first instance that knocks Lea's bean counting out of kilter.

But then she doesn't account for the transitional costs or the fact that if the higher standards of EU regulation meet the domestic requirement then there would be no incentive or rush to depart from them anyway. 

Then of course there's the efficiency aspect. There's a lot to be said for so-called EU regulations. While they were bad at the time of The Mad Officials, we have seen twenty years of incremental improvements for what is an increasingly complex world. To have our own set of rules and regulations would mean massively bloating the public sector in order to accumulate the necessary expertise to regulate. Why not take off the shelf regulations and tweak them? After all, that's what the EU does.

In many respects, that's what makes the Norway Option ideal, in that we still get to outsource our regulations and we can still comply with the single market but secure our own opt outs in ways the EU will not allow.

If we want to talk about deregulation then the answer is to secure better regulation. After all deregulation is just code for cutting red tape. Standardising and reforming regulation is every bit as good as deregulation when it comes to removing red tape and in fact there would be more red tape if no regulation existed. Most of it would be protectionist. It's actually quite amusing that Ruth Lea of all people would be arguing a case that in practice runs anti-ethical to her liberal conservative outlook.

In order to get regulatory reforms what we need is to be in at the top tables influencing the conventions and agreements that make up the larger trade deals. Just yesterday, Martin Schulz was arguing that the ILO conventions should be part of TTIP. So if we want to shape these goliath agreements then obviously you'd want to be in at the ILO level with a full veto to make sure that any package deals the EU makes are shaped the way you want them. That is influence we would not have in the EU, especially as the EU ever more so marginalises British input when we go via the EU.

The short of it is, our side needs to modernise their arguments, slaughter the sacred cows of old and embrace the fact that regulation is now part of the modern world and that our ace in the hole argument is the fact that the EU is the middleman not and not the top table. It's a simple enough premise, but one seemingly beyond the grasp of the loser eurosceptic brigade. That is why we have to spend so much time fighting them before we can even begin to think about fighting the enemy. Until these battles are won, they are the enemy.

Using our voice...

You may have noticed that I don't spend very much time attacking Ukip these days. The reason being is that they are yesterdays news. They are ancient history and they are no longer a threat to my interests.

Had they scored a significant victory at the general election they would have had a leading role in the referendum, which would have put Farage front and centre. For obvious reasons I could not stand back and let that happen. I cannot say for certain how much of a part I played in their downfall but I made sure every single anti-Ukipper was primed with all the insider information I could get my hands on and all the historical perspectives along with assistance in pulling their policies to pieces.

I believe that you can put on a crap show in an election and still do well if you have won the intellectual argument. Ukip was never going to do that but I did my bit to make sure they didn't. Twitter may not be the be all and end all of public debate but it is the trial by fire for policy ideas and I managed to influence plenty of opinion formers.

That is why I maintain that even if you don't have a great many hits as a blogger, if you produce decent content and you target the right people, then you are part of a hugely influential minority.

This is why my main aim is to recruit more Brexit bloggers. The intellectual argument for Brexit can be won. We have some extremely powerful arguments - but we just don't have the exposure that the main campaigns enjoy. It is my view that all the money in the world cannot buy the potency of authenticity and intellectual authority and the mainstream media can be manipulated to our own advantage.

It has to be done this way because the main leave campaigns are no use to us. They are run by classic eurosceptics with thirty year old arguments and Leave.EU is basically a shadow Ukip operation that now employs half of the staff that Ukip have made redundant. They are particularly stupid and odious people.

If we can use extremely well briefed operative operating at the highest level of public debate then our ideas can trickle down. We already have about twenty of them plugging away and there are the occasional signs that it works. We need to replicate that on a much larger scale. Rather than retweeting the idiocy of the Leave campaigns we need to be out recruiting Leavers who find them just as loathsome as we do.

As to Ukip, Ukip is totally finished. They're going to get even more abysmal because any money coming going in that direction is either going into the Leave campaign or it is going in the direction of Carswell. Farage knows he can't have a prominent place in the referendum campaign, he can see that Carswell is going to take the party with him so in that oh-so-churlish way, Farage is going to make damn sure there is nothing left for him to take. He's operating a scorched earth policy.

You would think that I of all people would be revelling in it. Truth is, I can't be bothered. Ukip is a spent force with nothing going for it and its activists are no longer of any interest to me. I mute them on Twitter. The London hack-o-sphere and the kipper grunters still think Ukip is a thing, but in every real sense it is a dead man walking. And who cares? We have bigger fish to fry.

For the time being, our opposition is the Vote Leave Ltd campaign and the odious Cummings. Their bad ideas must be challenged and neutralised even if it means using the Remain campaign as useful idiots to do it. That way we box them in to making the arguments we want them to make. Only then will we lend our weight to them.

It's a pain in the ass to have to do it this way, but as you can see, Cummings is a not a man to be reasoned with. We cannot meet them half way either. This is a binary choice. There is a right way and a wrong way. There is nothing in between.

Leave.EU is less of a priority. They tend to follow in the wake of Vote Leave Ltd and seldom do they set the agenda. While they are a problem, they are not the biggest problem but we'll deal with them later if we have to. Just because we don't have the big bucks and we don't have a public front doesn't mean we don't have a potent voice. So let's get out there and use it.

Bang to rights.

Dominic Cummings is an arrogant, aloof, pretentious, self-aggrandising, domineering, vain and thuggish zealot who will listen to nobody.

That is the profile that has made itself apparent to Nick Cohen. There are two other qualities I could add to that list but I must give way to diplomacy. Yet apparently it is we who are uncooperative. Funny that.

Answering Mr Cohen's question as the whether the man has sabotaged the ant-EU cause, I speak for a fair few when I say unequivocally, yes, he very much has.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

What's in it for us?

Here we go. A nice little demonstration of what I bang on about all the time. The EU outsourcing and adopting regulations and conventions as part of its own treaties. Which means that if we are signatories and participants in bodies such as the ILO we can have access to trade deals that embody them by way of mutual recognition agreements.

And of course, if you want to get the best from these very agreements, then you don't want to be involved at the EU level - you need to be at those tables where the conventions and rules are written with your own voice and your own veto. This one tweet encapsulates perfectly the reason we should leave the EU. But that's not enough. That's just the technical reason we deploy to win the higher arguments. We've got a bigger problem...

By saying that we adopt the transitional Norway Model, very little changes for business, if anything at all in the short to medium term, and the changes mean very little to ordinary people. What we're offering with reassurance is no change for business - but that means no change for voters either. We need to comprehensively answer the next major question. Why bother?

In this it is our view that The Harrogate Agenda is the incentive at the end of the Brexit process. We are still in the process of hammering out the larger technical questions in order to win the intellectual argument, but we have to stir a particular mood also. As we say, the offer of weaker helicopter safety regulations, possibly a grand a year extra in their pockets and notionally fewer immigrants not going to cut it and will lose it for us anyway. At some point we will have to go large on the incentive and show that it's worth braving the rain to give our side a vote.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Gone Griffin!

This is an insane outburst from Nigel farage as he completes his transition of Ukip into the role of the new BNP.
Farage claimed that the European Union was “seriously imperilling our security” because of the risk of terrorists posing as migrants. Initial reports suggest one of the Paris terrorists had a passport belonging to a Syrian refugee.

He said the EU’s principle of free movement of workers had resulted in the “free movement of Kalashnikov rifles, the free movement of terrorists and the free movement of jihadists”. “I have tried again and again and again over the course of the last few months to argue that we must not let our compassion imperil our civilisation,” he said.
The man is a fool. That is all I need say.

The point that Campbell Bannerman misses

It's all very simple you know. EU regulations are not made by the EU. In most respects production standards and safety regulations are made by ISO, UNECE, ILO, IMO and the likes. If you want to export to the EU, you have to comply - but since half the developing world and the vast majority of the developed world adopts the same rules then you STILL have to comply if you want to export.

The reason we don't have to build to the standards of China to export to them is because the global standards are recognised as the best ones, which is why China allows imports of our goods. There is no point in deviating from them.

And though only eight per cent of the UK economy export to the EU we have no idea what all those products are and whether they contain component products made in Britain but not exported. They would still have to conform to standards.

So if you are saying through Brexit we could somehow deregulate or lower the standards, producers would either continue producing to the highest globally agreed standard - thus also meeting current EU standard OR be put in the position of running two separate production lines.

And then if there are global companies who operate to the global standard but are then told to operate in Britain they must learn a whole new set of regulations, they will rightly conclude that operating in the UK is a bureaucratic mess and that we can't make our own minds up.

Then multinationals who like standard practices and methods throughout their entire estate for efficiency will not be pleased. And then to find that their suppliers have gone off half cocked and operate to a different standard will just be another good reason to quit Britain. I would.

Even businesses without overseas links may still have to adopt "export standards" if they are higher than their domestic equivalents, as the higher standards can convey the impression that the imported goods are of better quality or improved performance, making them more desirable. Supermarkets and other multinationals, on the other hand, will often want to avoid stocking produce conforming to different standards, and may opt for the higher set. Where "due diligence" certification is necessary for insurance and product liability purposes, again the higher "export standards" will often be applied.

More to the point, the damage done by regulation is largely in the transition phase. The costs of meeting EU standards is what killed a lot of small businesses in the early 90's - but changing them back would be just as expensive and just as much hassle. Having to study and train to a new set of standards and re-equipping isn't going to be cheap. Our local colleges and universities would have to rewrite their syllabuses too.

Campbell Bannerman is basically fighting old battles. Regulation and red tape is the narrative of the 90's and like all classic eurosceptics he hasn't modernised his arguments or his rhetoric and all of them are still stuck in a timewarp. He's from the same stock who are still grunting about imperial weights and measures.

The fact is, regulation is expensive to comply with, but the costs of NOT having an agreed set of standards just makes life MORE bureaucratic and more uncertain. The regulation we have is here to stay and you're not going to have an easy time of it after Brexit convincing domestic companies that after all the pain they went through the first time around that they have to do it all again.

In truth, there is a great deal of value in a global pooling of effort to develop good worldwide standards and why bother having our own ministries and quangos dreaming up regulation in a total duplication of effort? Since the leading global experts on regulation tend to be the same as our domestic ones, they would probably arrive at similar conclusions.

The modern argument about regulation is our influence in the making of it and our right of reservation, opt out and veto. We have seen a progressive takeover in this regard, with the EU muscling in and taking our seat and co-opting our vote which means we get less of a say in how they are made and have a tougher time initiating updates and amendments. The modern way to deregulate is to improve regulation and standardise it. Bannerman wants to do the precise opposite. He's missing the point of Brexit entirely.

And why is this? Put simply, the man is a blethering cretin with minuscule knowledge compounded by a galactic ego and a sense of superiority. The perfect hybrid of a kipper moron and a Tory snob.

Underlying this gaping stupidity is his claim this saves nearly £1000 per household. This is fag packet maths of a completely incalculable sum and strategically, it's a numbnuts argument that doesn't win favour with anyone except for the grunters who are just itching to leave anyway.

Furthermore, the promotion of his crass meme is on the basis that we are looking to leave the single market - which opens up so many uncertainties that if the likes of Bannerman and Ruth Lea's assumptions were the basis on which we would be leaving, even I as a committed activist would have to think twice about wanting to leave. Yes, that is just how seriously I regard the stupidity of his waffle. There is no sensible argument for leaving the single market even if we wanted to. Bannerman has zero comprehension of just how difficult that would be.

As it happens, europhile academics as well as a great many eurosceptics who actually HAVE thought this through are more or less agreed that the Norway Option is the most likely and the most risk free strategy should we secure a Leave vote. Ultimately, reassurance has to be central to the campaign and it has to be convincing, otherwise we lose the intellectual argument among opinion formers.

What we definitely don't need is the fly-by-night casual Faragesque fag packet calculations and assumptions promoted by Bannerman and Lea. A man of his influence writing such drivel in the Telegraph makes him more malevolent than the Remain campaign.

Those Leavers now criticising me for pointing this out need to think seriously hard if they actually want to win this or not. If they do, then the likes of Bannerman need to be isolated and run out of town. These dinosaurs with their ancient arguments are the reason we lost the last referendum and I am not going to sit idly by and allow them to lose this one as well.

Sunday, 15 November 2015

The dishonesty of Dominic Cummings

These are the tweets of Dominic Cummings in response to my earlier post. Apparently this post has "no resemblance to what ppl actually say". Except Campbell Bannerman most definitely has said "So we could strip out in theory the overburdensome and job destroying EU red tape on 92% of the UK economy and 95% businesses, whilst also saving every household in the UK nearly £1,000 a year."

I've provided several good reasons why we can't and why that is an inherent weakness in his case. This in the mind of Cummings is a rant. In response to this, he posts a completely irrelevant link which he believes to believes is a refutation.

This is the modus operandi of Dominic Cummings, Ruth Lea, David Campbell Bannerman and Daniel Hannan. They see themselves as above criticism and infallible. To suggest that they have made errors is considered impolite and impertinent. Cummings might then take a moment to ponder why this field is "poionous enough". He is the poison.

Three years of meticulous work has gone into exploring the technical ramifications of the Brexit options - and then we have a self-appointed claque with zero expertise barging in, making all the exact mistakes we have warned about, clogging up the debate with falsehoods and errors and undermining the cause.

Rather than responding to the criticisms they close ranks and isolate themselves from any influences that suggest they are not the geniuses they believe themselves to be. Later down the line, the message is then put out by them that we are "ranters" and horribly uncouth people who call them howwid names. But this overlooks the fact that every possible effort has been made to ensure these people are equipped with the right information. They chose to ignore it, believing themselves to be superior.

Only when it is shown in public that they have screwed up do they actually listen. On two occasions now Cummings has been caught out on the public eye. And on both occasions he has resorted to the theft of our work in order to save his own skin.

It very much looks like this is going to be par for the course for the next two years, with Cummings making a pigs ear of it at every turn, then rowing back to do what we said should have been done in the first place - without a hint of deference or apology. That is why this field is poisonous, and if Mr Cummings thinks it is toxic now, I can promise him that we are not even started with him yet.

I am going to put this as unequivocally as I can. Dominic Cummings, like your eurosceptic compatriots in the London bubble, you are a man with no honour, no integrity, no knowledge or skill. When we most likely fail to secure a victory at the referendum, we will make it known that you are the principal reason.

Call this a rant if you will, such arrogance from you is to be expected. But at every turn we will be there to highlight your every careless mistake. You can ignore it all you like, but others are watching.