Sunday, 12 June 2016

A remain vote is a countdown to extinction

In the immediate aftermath of this referendum, should we remain in the EU, I rather imagine the political landscape will be more toxic than we have seen for a generation. There is no business as usual. Ukip will need an internal revolution, The Tories will be at each others throats, Labour will move to rid themselves of Corbyn and nobody, absolutely nobody, will care if the Lib Dems crawl into a hole and die.

At least half the country will be disgusted by the manner in which this referendum has been conducted and I know of no Brexiteer who will ever accept a remain verdict and will keep this an open wound on the right until there is another referendum. We have ensured the Tory party has been unable to function as one for the last two decade. We will do it for another two decades. We do not go away until the boil is lanced. Get used to us, we are a permanent fixture.

As it happens I do not see a Ukip revival. There is a huge Ukip inclined sentiment in the country, larger than the data might suggest and may well have been swelled by the utter and abject contempt labour has shown to its base. But the general election proved the experts like Matthew Goodwin to be completely wrong. Just because the demographics suggest a party like Ukip is the natural way they will vote rather ignores the unpredictability of the species. Ukip could have done as well as Goodwin had predicted but only with an effective party machine, real leadership and an intellectual foundation.

What happens after the referendum we do not know. Ukip is deeply fragmented. Farage may even keep soldiering on. Though I do not see how he can given how they have put on such a poor show. Mr Farage is old news. If Ukip is going to go anywhere it must be reinvented. There are several obstacles to it emerging as anything worthwhile.

Firstly, there's the Ukip MEPs. Not to put too fine a point on it, they are stone stupid. They are Farage's appointees and because he is not a real leader he has surrounded himself with people who do not threaten him and ostracised those who might.

And in so doing the party has no intellectual foundation and will have trouble accessing any expertise now that it is next to bankrupt. Being that the case, having only Suzanne Evans who is actually presentable (and if I understand it correctly, not actually holding any official Ukip position) they have little potential for a fightback.

I think it fair to say Ukip is probably finished. Even if it were Suzanne Evans, the lady is presentable but I'm afraid she is equally out of her depth when it comes to the facts. Someone would have to put a gun to her head and insist she gets herself up to speed. I don't see that happening.

Chances are it will make a few damp squib efforts in by elections, maybe mopping up a few peripheral positions but in most respects it will be back to square one. Anyone expecting a post referendum surge as per the SNP is dreaming. The SNP had a competent machine. Ukip does not and probably never will.

So where will that Ukip vote go? Chances are, like me, it will stay at home and fester with rage. So when you add up disgusted Tories, jaded Labour and the Ukip vote we are talking about a third of the country pretty much disenfranchised by the establishment. Parliamentary approval ratings will plummet and we will see an even deeper crisis of confidence in our process.

This sees, yet again, more navel gazing and yet another round of "how can we re-engage voters?". We have been here before haven't we? And nothing really worked. At least not until there was a glimmer that we would get a referendum. And then when it became a Conservative election pledge, the balloon went up. And so it is not that voters are disengaged, it is just that there is no reason for them to engage while we remain in the EU - because while we are in the EU you vote to not make a bit of difference. The faces may change but the bubble does not.

We will then have come full circle. The EU will push for yet more powers, we will see just how worthless Cameron's reforms are, we will see yet more rioting and disruption on the continent, considerably more deaths in the Mediterranean and no meaningful economic growth. By voting to remain we will have resolved nothing and resentment will continue to corrode political life in the UK.

So I suppose the question for remainers, since they are the ones intent on inflicting this future upon us, what their ideas are for breaking this toxic cycle? You can't reform the EU. We've proved that. Tinkering with the voting system won't get people out to vote for parties they hate - and while we are still under the dead hand of the EU our agriculture and energy policy isn't going to change.

Our utility bills aren't going to get any cheaper. Rail fares will continue to spiral upward. Housing will increasingly be out of reach of ordinary people. So where are your ideas? The Tories haven't got any. Labour haven't. We'll have an ideas vacuum and all we will have is gradual decline in living standards. You'll have put us on a countdown to extinction.

So what's your big plan then? Our ministers can pull at the levers of power but the EU will ensure the levers are not connected to anything. You keep repeating the mantra "we don't know what Brexit looks like". Ok, fine. But this is what remaining looks like. Powerless, declining, rotten and robbed of our political vitality. If anyone has questions to answer, it's the Remain camp.

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