Wednesday, 20 April 2016

It's time to disown Vote Leave

Anyone wanting to leave the EU commanding a basic grasp of the issues will have been recoiling in horror were they watching the performance by Dominic Cummings yesterday. It was a less than gratifying display of arrogance, contempt, obnoxiousness and evasiveness. For from being a wily rebel with all the answers, this was a demonstration of a man far out of his depth and stalling for time. There is no pretence of coherence or even an attempt at consistency. He was rightly taken apart.

Now I'm no fan of our MPs and I have sympathy with the Cummings view that there is a Westminster herd mentality, but this was an example of MPs doing what they are supposed to do. Bringing clarity to complexity. A few simple questions asked by Rachel Reeves were met with sneering contempt and a carefree shrug. These were not unreasonable questions, not far removed from what many will be asking in the coming weeks. How does Brexit affect the small to medium sized enterprises?

In this we got evasion from Cummings with a heap of sneering supposition and yet more griping about the evils of the single market. This was her reaction...

Now we know the lady isn't exactly a sceptic but you would think Vote Leave would understand the necessity at least to send someone with manners to present a compelling case. Such MPs are after all opinion formers in their own right. In that regard it might have been smart not to have a campaign strategist with all the innate charm and lovability of an itchy verruca.

This display prompts Allie Renison, Head of Europe and Trade Policy at the Institute of Directors to tweet the above top illustration. While she herself is not a Brexit advocate, she recognises just how much of an asset to the remain camp this petulant display is.

For sure, our side was never going to convince the likes of Renison or Reeve but the very least we could do is not hand them fresh campaign material. In this regard, we might as well have let one of the angry kippers lead the campaign because the material difference is slight. A fantasy fiction solution whereby we have full trade continuity without paying anything into the budget without even triggering Article 50.

It's not going to take very long to filter through the media that Vote Leave between them really don't have a clue. Johnson with his witless posturing about Canada and now Cummings and Gove with their fantasy land scenario that bares no resemblance to what will happen in reality.

Worse still, the campaign is now deeply bogged down in a flurry of meaningless estimations, facts, figures and spurious economic metrics from both sides. Exactly where we did not want to be. This campaign hinges on reassuring the public on economic grounds - yet from the outset Vote Leave have been pushing dodgy figures with no intellectual foundation to their campaign. 

Now it is looking doubtful that Vote Leave can claw its way back. They have made so many repetitions and confirmations that they do not see us being part of the single market, do not intend to use Article 50 and insist they will save £350m a week, there is no chance whatsoever of presenting a credible case without making embarrassing u-turns. To fix this it would require Cummings and Elliott to be sacked - which is simply not going to happen. There isn't time.

It is now incumbent on all people who genuinely want to win to disown Vote Leave and the Tory clan, and focus on the more realistic scenario that we will stay in the single market thus rendering the economic concerns inert. We need to make it clear that the Electoral Commission has no real democratic legitimacy in appointing a limited company run by entirely self-selecting executives - and we need to make it clear that Cummings speaks only for himself. Now more than ever we need to make this a peoples campaign. If we rely on Vote Leave they will bury us. 

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