Monday, 31 August 2015

Jingoistic, crass and foolish

The Know seems to think that capturing the kipper base is their best bet for winning the official No campaign nomination. As an opening gambit, it's not entirely without merit. It could well win the nomination. But that's all it will win.

In the past I've been less than complimentary about Professor Matthew Goodwin in that he went native during the election campaign. His wild predictions of Ukip's electoral success proved to be utterly wrong. As polling day came closer, he settled his prediction of around 14% based on his demographic rune reading. In that much, his work is not entirely without merit, and along with the YouGov demographic analysis it gave us a reasonable insight into the mind of the average kipper. That said, all it really did was put the academic rubber stamp on that which we already knew. Research from the University of No Shit Sherlock.

This was the result of Farage's gambit that he could capture old Labour grounds and absorb those votes that would previously have been BNP territory. Ukip had the added advantage of being cleaner to an extent so that those tempted to vote for something like the BNP had a socially acceptable vehicle with which to lodge their protest.

Some hailed this as Farage's genius. In this we do not agree. Prior to lodging itself as the protest vehicle for the masses, Ukip was growing steadily. In one stroke Ukip threw that away for a short lived explosion, giving them all the publicity they could ever dream of. Having failed to build an intellectual foundation, they entered the election campaign completely unprepared, without the ability to sway opinion formers. Rapidly they became a laughing stock.

The wages of this folly was the failure to convert the vote share into seats. Many argue that this is a result of the inequities of the First Past The Post system. This is an excuse. FPTP was one of the obstacles of the terrain, along with media bias. A good strategist takes such into account rather than hiding behind excuses.

Having had all the exposure they could possibly want, we got a real insight into Farage and his supporters. What we say was a band of Farage sycophants, oafs and buffoons, followed by largely ignorant, aggressive and toxic people. That is not to say all kippers are like this, but they attracted more than their fair share thanks to the message they crafted along with regular dogwhistles about multiculturalism and Islamisation etc. Combine that with the obsessive LibLabConnery of the kipper bores and you have little credibility to stand on.

Consequently, just a few months after the election Ukip is haemorrhaging support, losing councillors, facing a heavy drubbing in just about every council by election thus far. It may be that Farage has destroyed Ukip and thanks to his reckless gamble, the referendum Ukip clams credit for is a poisoned chalice.

In light of this, any campaign running a Ukip friendly message may very well convince the electoral commission they represent the core No constituency, but they will hit the same glass ceiling Ukip did, and in fact, may not even capture the same ground due to Ukip being a protest dustbin.

There is certainly no possibility then of running the American strategy of winning the nomination then switching the message. Once you are tarred with the kipper brush, you're up the creek permanently.  It will have neither credibility or intellectual consistency, especially if it latches onto the immigration issue without having a through command of the facts.

Critics say we are over-intellectualising, but we cannot emphasise enough the importance of winning the intellectual argument as well as the propaganda war. While the message may be reduced to Tweets and mere soundbytes they lay down a tapestry that makes up the entirety of the message (the vibe), from which it is possible to divine the core assumptions of what we expect Brexit will achieve. If our message is built on a foundation of intellectual sand then it can be taken to pieces by the opposition and the media.

When we look at the graphic above, we can see that The Know is laying down the foundations of a very poor case. It goes down well with the chattering eurosceptics, but it will be shredded in the wider public domain. The crass jingoistic subtext of it does us no favours.

The fact is, there are no shortcuts to building our referendum victory. We need to be building a credible core message and we need to be attracting new blood now. This hereabove is a huge turn off and little different to what we have already seen. One might even be so harsh as to say this is actually worse than anything we have seen from Ukip lately. We have two years with which to build a movement, and it must reach our swing vote lest we be talking to ourselves.

If Mr Banks is indeed going to run with this low grade tat, he will find it impossible to salvage it later down the line. The internet never forgets. Ukip suffers from the same affliction. They could clear out the rot (which would involve removing most of their MEP's and senior officials) and change their message entirely, but Ukip is now forever tainted as a slightly comical, amateurish cult. They will always be treated with suspicion as to what lies beneath even if they adopted a more progressive message. A man who stands shouting at the audience about health tourists with Aids cannot then credibly condemn the EU for it's barbarous asylum policy. Farage and Ukip have already failed the empathy test.

In this regard, the No side cannot afford for the No campaign to be the dominating organisation. It will need to be a fragmented campaign, with the official No campaign remaining as issue neutral as possible. If it goes down Kipper Avenue, it has no chance of talking to the people we need.

In this regard, there is little to be said for Matthew Elliot's efforts either in that he sees the campaign as a vessel for his own self-aggrandisement, and anticipates it being a series of debate concerning the attributes of the EU. In this he is also fighting on a foundation of sand, and fails to recognise that in the end, the bickering about the respective merits of the EU will take a back seat to whether the public buys Mr Cameron's charade.

It is actually painful to watch this all unfold as predicted, having failed to learn the lessons from Ukip's hubris. Not least knowing that our warnings will go unheeded and the strategy ignored. In that regard, we look upon the contest for the No nomination with bemusement having no particular dog in the fight. Regardless of who wins the nomination, we will be forced to fight our own side to get to the enemy.

Once again we've set collision course with the glass ceiling and as galactic egos fight it out, and the rest of us are left with the crumbs from the table with which to fight, scratching whatever we can from wherever we can get it. In the final analysis, Ukip will do what it does and the No campaign will walk into every trap. As for us, we'll be clearing out hate-mail from our inboxes for "undermining" these wonderful, clever people who assure us they know what they are doing. Maybe the referendum after this one they will listen to us. 

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