Thursday, 17 March 2016

For goodness sake, we need a plan!


There's a guy I have to make special mention of. He absolutely hates me. I have no idea what I said that pissed on his bonfire but he is one seriously angry kipper. He has been scheming against Flexcit from the outset and he is very upset by it.

He is your textbook kipper who will miss every point and grasp every single wrong end of the stick with both hands. I won't identify him in that he is your run of the mill kipper and they are two-a-penny. I want to attack the arguments, not the individual in question. In a series of Tweets he reveals the depth of his own incomprehension - shared by many of his ilk.

To win you need: pithy slogans, good marketing and boots on the ground, not 420 page documents.

Well yes, you do need pithy slogans, good marketing and boots on the ground, but they must be informed by something and they need to be promoting something of substance - a vision and reassurance. Can't really do that without having answered all of the serious questions. So a plan might come in handy, no?

Did Poles and former East Germans produce 420 page documents before deciding to regain their sovereignty?

No. They weren't really in charge of their destiny at the time and it was a cascade of events that lead to an end of the USSR. It is precisely that kind of collapse we would like to avoid by leaving the EU in an orderly and careful way. Since we have time on our side, why would we not want to do it in a sensible and amicable way - and why would we not have a plan to do that? If the East Germans could have planned it so that it wouldn't have been the messy transition it was - they would have.

Can't stand Galloway, but so long as he's on side I won't be criticising him during campaign.

I will. I find his arguments about democracy quite compelling and would make similar myself, but Galloway is one of the most vile individuals in politics. He is corrupt, self-serving and entirely repellent. We are talking about a man who cosies up to some pretty horrible individuals. Our campaign cannot be represented by this man. It is a basic moral distinction. We do not need him to make our case for us - and if we do, we might as well pack up now.

People will vote according to their gut feelings and not because they've read some document or other.

That is true. But the gut feeling is not formed in isolation of external influences. It is formed on the basis of the vibe coming from the media and other sources influenced by them. Voters will be asking themselves whether Brexit feels safe and whether it is worth doing. The very presence of a credible Brexit plan is part of the reassurance strategy.

By saying that we assume everything will be ok without specifying our own vision, we don't present a very reassuring front and people's gut instinct will tell them that we are bunch of losers with no clue. Not having a credible manifesto didn't work for Ukip at the election and it won't work for us in a referendum. In this context, the British voting public will listen only to serious, principled politics - not the sloppy guesswork of Vote Leave, Ukip and Boris Johnson.

Maybe it's a great plan, but LeaveHQ have no power to impose it on future governments. Therefore, entirely theoretical.

Entirely besides the point. What matters is that we cannot reassure or convince people it is worth the risk unless we have credibility - and we are not going to have credibility without a plan. 

In any case, the point of Flexcit is that it acknowledges each and every one of the political realities - that Brexit is not straightforward - and the plan we propose is the most likely course of action for our own civil servants - a measured, risk averse and phased exit plan. Sudden Death Brexit is not only undesirable, politically, it's impossible. So we need a plan.

Any 'plan' requires consent of both parties, and no way of knowing whether this would be forthcoming.

Sure, but some preparation gives us some idea and some ability to credibly answer serious questions. You cannot expect to win if you cannot do that. Everything about this campaign has to be geared at winning over sceptics, reassuring the public, de-risking the process and gaining public trust. How can we do that if we can't even say we have a plan and an idea of how we will achieve this massive revolution we propose?

But how many will read it and vote accordingly, do you reckon?

Besides the point. What matters is that the people producing the campaign material have read it, understood and are not making unrealistic promises, unserious arguments and and easily demolished assertions. A Brexit plan informs campaign content - and it is reassuring for those who want to read it - and for some it is enough just to know that a plan that is perceived to be credible exists. Our chap says this is...

"An obscure path."

Obscure - but credible, safe and possible. That has a chance of winning. Speculation and guesswork does not. He then accuses us of being like:

an obscure Trotskyist sect, more concerned with ideological purity than winning.

No. We are unusually devoted to Flexcit not least because the learning process in coming to our conclusions has been somewhat life altering for all concerned. 

It is not a question of ideological purity in that it follows no ideology. It is purely about setting out a believable and possible Brexit plan that minimises the risks so that people will vote for the proposition. They will not take a reckless gamble. We are ONLY concerned with winning and there is no possible way we can win unless our campaign is informed by a plan. It's about pragmatism, not ideology.

The fact is we are asking people to vote for a massive realignment in European politics and huge domestic changes. Even having this referendum is major event with serious ramifications for the future. It is not unreasonable for the public to want to know what it is that motivates us, what we want and how we envisage getting it. They will not vote for our proposition if it is merely a torrent of hatred for the EU.

This could affect us all in very serious ways. The people will want and deserve answers. How can you blithely say that we do not need a plan and should not have one? Seriously people? What on earth is wrong with you?

Thus far the main objection to having a plan informed by reality is that it concedes we would need to address the immigration issue separately and a while after leaving the EU. This is intolerable for Ukippers having had Farage conflating asylum and third country immigration with EU membership. Farage has soured the milk and queered the pitch, making any such compromises anathema to the kipper headbangers. 

In truth it is they would would rather commit suicide at the ballot box than adopt a plan - and that is ultimately a tragedy in that they have it completely wrong about freedom of movement. Ukippers are now the main reason we are staying in the EU.

What's even sadder is that they would know all this had they actually read the thing. All we have heard from them all these months is that they don't know or care what's in it - but they are certain they don't want it - even if it could eventually give them everything they want. But that's Ukip all over for you isn't it? Hate is what they do. They know of nothing else. 

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