Monday, 23 May 2016

The sound of pennies dropping

If you've been watching Newsnight or any other children's entertainment channels you will have noticed a disconnect between the debate the media is having and the debate happening among everyone else.

Those who haven't worked out that Leave has already lost are belching out the usual mantras denouncing the remain side as scaremongering. There's no doubt it is. The treasury report released today is nothing at all new. Projections based on a selective interpretations of the facts using entirely implausible scenarios.

But nothing disguises the fact that Vote Leave have presented nothing concrete that can win over those who doubt the economic credibility of the leave case. It's the elephant in the room - and even producing something even halfway credible at this late stage in the game will not change our fortunes. We have already lost the economic argument. Stable doors and bolting horses.

Of course there are some making a valiant effort to lodge the EEA/Efta route, since retaining single market membership cuts through most of the scaremongering, but the damage is already done. Roland "White Wednesday" Smith has managed to convinced some in the media of the staged exit approach by way of his Adam Smith Institute publications, which is commendable given those he must consort with, but we really are past the point of no return.

There are deficiencies in the EEA/Efta model which make the approach suboptimal, not least accepting freedom of movement. There are mitigating arguments as previously discussed, and to my mind even the EEA/Efta model is a vast improvement on the status quo, but in the face of Vote Leave's crass "vote leave or the granny gets it" referendum broadcast, implying that immigration is killing the NHS, there is just no hope of cutting through the noise.

Moreover, to justify the EEA/Efta route we have to bring into play the role of globalisation and the obsolescence of the EU as a rule-maker. For opinion formers to get their heads round it will take patience and some considerable intellectual investment from them. The very concept that something exists over and above the EU is an entirely alien concept even to hacks at the Financial Times. Put simply we're out of time. To preach these concepts with any credibility you have to understand them in some detail and you can't wing it.

The few who have woken up to the fact that Vote Leave's case is intellectually bankrupt and utterly patronising have left it far too late. All that's left to do now is watch them flail around throwing everything including the kitchen sink at the opposition to diminishing effect. The lead campaigns are in a race to the bottom and the civil war on the Leave side has already started. Or should I say resumed? It's a trainwreck.

I am still going through the motions on social media though. I don't think we can win but the remain side is just crass enough to make it a narrow loss. That ensures we have a chance of reviving the issue later down the line. To that end I feel it important to blog in this way so that there is a record of the mistakes from the perspective of someone who wanted to win.

What I would make clear though is that neither Ukip nor Arron Banks can complain at what has been done in their name. We've had the facile bleating about regulation and now we're about to see an ugly parade of anti-immigration themes - so Vote Leave is doing nothing differently to what they would have done. If their complaint is that the initiative was taken from them, that says more about their own disarray in the run up to the designation process and the rank amateurism on display.

Though why we must go through the same insanity over immigration I don't know. Ukip tried this approach during the general election and managed to get themselves labelled as bigots and racists. It brought all the very worst elements out of the woodwork - resulting in a less than stellar performance at the election and an impassable roadblock to a credible Brexit plan. It is repellent to the swing voters.

What we have seen is a re-run of Ukip's election effort. A know-nothing loudmouth winging it, an absence of a plan or manifesto, weak ground level coordination and poor media management. It seems the Brexit blob is incapable of learning anything. I am in the unenviable position of wanting to leave the EU but at the same time wanting them to lose because it's no less than they deserve. I suppose that will be my consolation prize.

But I am not disheartened. All of this was predicted and I never expected to win. What we will achieve is a purge of the freaks and the phoneys. The Eurosceptic aristocracy will be a spent force and thoroughly discredited - and if there is any justice Matthew Elliott and Dominic Cummings will never work again. But more to the point, we have really started something here.

Our little band or guerilla bloggers have proved a serious point that you can heavily influence the debate with very little resource and you can force certain issues by weight of argument. I am persuaded that the reason we haven't seen so many corporates speaking up is because of our early attempts to rattle them into silence. It's no coincidence that the corporates who do speak up tend to be those who cannot be boycotted in any meaningful way.

We have also planted the seed of an idea. The idea that there is something bigger and more tangible than the EU and it's real. There is a rich seam of new information to be mined, new ideas to realise and new avenues on which to build a stronger case for leaving.

The main reason this referendum is a dead loss is because we went to battle without a plan and arguments long past their sell by date. All the Remain campaign has done is defeat bad ideas. It has not made the case that the EU is a good idea and it never will. That is why we will win. Eventually. For the time being there will be no miracles here.

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