Sunday, 5 June 2016

No business as usual

The mood is that the polls are a dead heat. The polls, however, are not telling us much about the undecided vote. I expect there are many shy remainers who are not taken by the buffoonery of Boris Johnson and remain unconvinced by the mainstream eurosceptic arguments. Vote Leave have not won the intellectual argument in the public domain and those in charge of the leave campaign have never seen the importance in doing so.

As we edge closer to the vote, the leave campaign has reverted to the comfort zone, spreading fears of Turkey joining the EU, unleashing uncontrolled immigration on an unsuspecting public. The essence of this message is a lie. Like many of their other messages. Particularly, the notion that leaving the EU gives us £350 million a week to spend on the NHS. They have taken the electorate for fools and the eurosceptic movement have as a whole gone along with this deception. It is a message that deserves to be defeated.

This is ultimately a test of eurosceptic ideas in the public domain. Should we lose, it won’t be that leaving the EU is a bad idea. It’s just that the many themes put forth by the leave campaign will be defeated.

The first presumption of theirs is that we can leave the EU in a single bound, leaving the single market while maintaining preferential access, qualified by the nostrum that they sell more to us than we sell to them. This is nowhere close to a coherent proposition. Every expert and analyst in the land has driven a horse and cart through it. It is a lie, they know it is a lie and persist in promoting it.

Secondly is the conflation of freedom of movement with open borders, placing the entire blame of the UK’s immigration problems on our EU membership. This cannot be argued. Neither can the infantile notion that our budget contributions can be immediately stopped or the idea it facilitates an NHS spending binge.

We are also witnessing the same tired themes surrounding regulation: Arguments developed in the 1990’s which have barely moved on since. Between these varying and conflicting messages, the theme is clear. The leave campaign wants to restrict our borders to Europe, withdraw from any cooperation and reset our laws back to 1992. It is not a winning vision. In many respects Boris Johnson is the perfect front man for this campaign. He exemplifies the very idiocy he preaches.

In fact, this would be the ideal leave campaign were it 1992. But this is not 1992. It is 2016. We have seen in the general election what happens when the bigots and little Englanders are emboldened by populist dog whistles. They are repellent. I do not see how it can win over the swing vote. There is a danger people will quietly vote for the status quo. Not out of any particular love for the EU but because the alternative vision is worse.

Only one classic eurosceptic argument still stands and that is that the EU is not a democracy and we are harmed because of it. It is this one factor that keeps this a burning issue. Were it not the case, the entire leave movement would be dead in the water. It is for that reason many will defy the experts and economists and vote to leave. It is why we are even having this vote. It is also the reason we will keep coming back to this until the day we leave. There is no business as usual until we do.

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