Saturday, 29 August 2015

We need to reclaim No for the people who matter

It's all unfolding as expected. Hereabove we see a middle of the road housewife friendly television presenter soft-pedalling Nigel Farage. The Kippers love it. The comments on social media are as you might predict. "Nigel was right all long!".

But it's easy to see what they're really doing...

In 1975 the media picked all the very worst spokesmen for the No campaign and as far as today is concerned, you couldn't pick worse than Farage. He is a gift to the Yes campaign. In the defining moment of the general election, with sweating brow, he denounced the BBC audience and proceeded to spout about foreigners with Aids. Just incredible. The more we saw of Farage the more we saw the Brexit polls going in the opposite direction. For an establishment media determined to keep us in, he is god's gift unto them.

Meanwhile, the No campaign doesn't look very promising. With the Tory plastic eurosceptics sitting on their hands, the field has been left wide open, with some pretty dire people forming the rest of the Tory No campaign, cobbled together by the idiotic Matthew Elliot.

So self-assured are these people it is unlikely they will heed warnings or learn the lessons, and unless you're a member of the gilded inner circle, there is no talking to them. As to what Farage and Raheem Kassam will concoct between them, god only knows, but we can say it will not be pretty. They're armed with invincible stupidity and unconquerable arrogance.

Then on the Left with have Kate Hoey, who while a apparently a lovely lady, is really not very bright and too far behind the curve to ever catch up. Oh and then there's Owen Jones persistently bleating about austerity and neoliberalism when the Tories are soaring in the polls. Just to make life fun we also have the RMT union on our side. They who take great pleasure in bringing London to a standstill. Not much to go on is it?

Worse still are the turncoat Tories who will declare their eurosceptism early on but have Damascene conversion when Mr Cameron comes back from Europe holding his reforms aloft.

Thus far we are not so impressed by The Know either, in that they are very much fishing in the Ukip pond which has pitfalls we have already outlined. There is still time and our own little operation may yet make a contribution, but on the whole, the No campaign is looking like a rabble of prima donnas, fools, snobs and mouthfoamers. Swing voters will rightly be asking why they should put their tick in the same box as these muppets. We don't have good answers thus far.

We're now seeing a flurry of activity from the big players, with lots of money being thrown at fighting the wrong battles, and griping about the EU without actually building a movement, and without securing any kind of directed and focussed activity. It generates superficially impressive numbers but it achieves little. All we can do is look on in horror.

Some have observed that our activities barely register and that we have little exposure on social media but I'm actually ok with that. We're still influencing people. We have tried fishing in the social media swamp but it doesn't work. Just recently, with just a small budget I experimented with Facebook promoted posts. It gave us 3500 page impressions, 124 likes, 22 shares, and a mere 220 click-throughs. As I understand it, the ratio doesn't improve with a large budget.

That's bad enough in itself, but of the two hundred or so comments it attracted there was scant evidence that anybody has read the article, much less understood it and all we got was the usual grunting about corrupt politicians, Bilderbergers and the fourth reich. I deleted three quarters of the comments and I'm being generous with the ones that remain. It's wasted money.

There are ways you can refine your marketing budget and better direct your message, but when it comes to the Brexit issue, it tends to attract some pretty low grade people. These are not people we want. Their posts reflect on the messenger and that's seriously bad news. An army of these grunters is not conducive to winning the referendum.

With a large enough budget you can scoop them all up and get them to click "like" and retweet any old eurosceptic bilge in their usual bovine fashion, but if those same people are then retweeting disgusting memes abut Muslims then you're tainted by association. Why The Know is spending hard cash on advertising in the Sunday Express escapes me. These are precisely the people we don't want. Largely they only speak to each other while repelling everyone else.

What we need is a core of task focussed people directing their efforts at winning the intellectual battle, who in turn can mobilise ordinary people who are not affiliated with any tribe or party. They are the key to winning. Rather than courting the media, we are best going around the media and speaking to people directly.

We need to identify opinion formers and smaller influential publications and tailor the message to them. In this I mean with real human judgement rather than computer algorithms. We need operatives with their own social media constituencies who can focus on other like-minded opinion formers. There are people on Twitter who are openly hostile to Ukip but are still open minded to Brexit. We need them.

Switched on people know propaganda when they see it and will not be inclined to retweet or share inauthentic material. Corporate scale material tends to be bland, largely transparent and not very persuasive. It is of limited value it can't turn the tide. We're using cannon fodder when we need special ops.

The core activities of the official campaigns are going to be white noise that speak only to their own established consistencies. This won't shift the polls. The battle is for the undecideds and the don't knows and they are not going to respond to the tried and tested methods. The people we need on side will have to be working to a strategy, staying on message and coordinating their efforts. We will need to train them. There may need to be a subsidiary or branch of the official No campaign working under a different identity to differentiate itself from the white noise.

Rather than acting as a rebuttals unit, it needs to be selling the alternative and be alerting people to the fact that Cameron's reforms differ very little from the status quo. If there is a point to be made about the EU and immigration, then it is that the EU closing off land routes is the killer of men. It's own fortress mentality sends people to their graves. The bullying interventions of the EU creates the push factor in the first place. In turn, we can show that the EU is protectionist and inward looking. We can show that the EU is Kipperism writ large for the whole continent as it erects more fences. We can make the case for more focussed aid and international development. We can show that Brexit is key to reforming Europe.

We can make a progressive, rational and outward looking case for Brexit, and it doesn't have to pander to the far left or the hard right. We can and should ignore them and focus on the people who matter. We can radiate excitement in that Brexit is the opportunity of a lifetime. We don't need to grumble, we don't need to pointlessly ague the toss over boring things and we don't even have to hate the EU. The whingers are no use to us. The fanatics are pathetic and the eurosceptics are bores. Our job is to break from that and make the eurosaurs look like the luddites. We can do this. But only if we are ready to move out of our comfort zone. If we mistake volume of output for productivity then we'll hand the game to the enemy. That is no good.

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