Friday, 12 February 2016
The laughable hypocrisy of eurosceptics.
The purpose of a referendum is to turn a decision over to the people in those instances where parliament, for whatever reason, cannot secure a satisfactorily legitimate agreement. In this, the inherent bubble effect of Wesminster makes the matter of our EU membership a decision that can only be made by the people themselves.
This should be a decision where the influence of politicians is shunned. But predictably, the media hasn't fully understood and have made this primarily about the politicians. The speculation as to who should lead the Leave campaign comes largely from the media. It is they who want it to have a leader. They lack the skill to explore the issues and would rather turn it into a presidential race.
Yet for all the whining about the "establishment" from eurosceptics, at the first opportunity, we see eurosceptics flocking to Grassroots Out (GO), an initiative from members of parliament, and many of the Tufton Street rejects who've seen which way the wind is blowing. Having seen the writing on the wall for Vote Leave, we can expect a steady drip of Toryboys sneaking into Grassroots Out.
As far as campaigns go, you couldn't get more "establishment" if you tried. Politicians transmitting to the public via the media. The ill-informed speculative blether of Louise Mensch is evidently of more value that expertly crafted arguments.
There is some speculation, despite many denials, that GO may be now be the lead organisation. From a tactical perspective, that would be the smarter thing to do since Leave.EU has soiled the bedsheets far too many times to present itself as a credible campaign effort. In fact, it now looks very much like it has been trolling its critics, heaping on insult after insult, as primarily as a decoy.
If that was the plan, then it was a political masterstroke and I fell for it hook, line and sinker. It's entirely plausible. The modus operandi of Leave.EU has been to string people along, with the promise of funding, but as the Bruges Group warned us from the beginning, Banks is only too happy to throw money around when it comes to the foamer clan, but is tight as a penguin's sacred orifice when it comes to projects outside of his comfort zone.
Certainly we have been expertly played by Banks and Wigmore, with the never sincere offer of endorsing Flexcit, knowing that we were not in a position to call their bluff. That's two-faced treachery of Farage proportions. In this I would warn Martin Durkin that unless he has seen the colour of Banks's money that he take nothing on trust. With Banks being an insurance salesman it is unlikely he has developed the moral equivalent of an opposable thumb.
I can only speculate at what their endgame is. I know that one of the main objectives was to break Vote Leave, and it looks very much like that has worked. I am certainly not going to lose any sleep or shed any tears over that, but if the idea was to reclaim the Leave campaign for the people then it has manifestly failed.
If the lead campaign really is going to be Leave.EU (continuity Ukip) then it will have been a complete rejection of every piece of advice offered. It will get the public pasting it deserves. If on the other hand it is Grassroots Out we will see it being far less obviously cretinous than Leave EU in terms of output and web content, but its speakers and spokesmen will be the usual suspects trotting out the usual eurosceptic fare, coalescing around various falsehoods such as the WTO option and the "better deal fallacy".
They will have large rallies and big conferences, telling themselves all the comforting lies. They will build up an unshakable belief system, and people like me attacking it will be the subject of yet more venomous personal abuse. When I point out the mistakes, we will yet again see kippers coming out the woodwork with the "sour grapes" meme - only this time sour grapes over the rejection of Flexcit.
Indeed there will be a good deal of sour grapes in that regard. Sour in that the referendum has been hijacked by showboating egotists, political failures and hasbeens from within the bubble. Unlike the general election, it's not to going to rile me. It will simply be a fact of life that kippers are foul natured ignorant creatures. Their inherent sense that they are winning the argument will be entirely unjustified but nothing will persuade them otherwise. Tis a foregone conclusion and largely predicted from the outset.
It was always going to be the case that a radical set of new arguments was going to challenge the eurosceptic establishment - and it's not surprising they have utilised every tool they have to fend it off. It's a threat to their cosy little consensus. That Arron Banks cleared the way for them largely shows what a fool the man is. But in the end, he is a true believer and disciple of Farage.
This is ultimately what will cost them the referendum. By now, if the Remain camp was as dumb as it looks, they would be tearing into the utterances of Ruth Lea, Redwood and Bannerman. But they are smarter than our bunch.
The Remain side will go very quiet. They are not going to attack. They are keeping their powder dry. They want the Leave campaign to unite around a non-EEA plan or narrative. They will wait until it is deeply embedded in the public domain and on the lips of Leave campaigners. Only then they will strike. They are saving the full demolition job for when the balloon goes up. The Leave campaign will blunder into the ambush and be cut to pieces.
In a blind panic, they will then dishonestly lift Flexcit and cherry-pick it for parts they can use to prop up their flagging credibility, without consulting any Flexciteers or the authors, and they will get most of it wrong. They see a Brexit plan as a tacked on accessory rather than something central to the campaign that dictates much of the message.
By then, they can advance some credible arguments but it will be too late. They will only add further confusion and contradiction, and they will stand naked without authority, prestige or credibility. They've never understood the role of prestige or the necessity to win the intellectual argument.
They think they can win it on the basis of pure populism, spewing out messages according to what the data tells them. They won't be selling a product - they will simply tailor specific whinges to broadcast to different demographics. This is in effect a continuation of the same substance free politics we have seen for the last two decades. It's Blairism.
But that's ok. Bannerman and Hannan still gets their MEP salaries, Lea will have done quite well out of it, and Redwood and Hoey will continue to draw their salaries and pensions. Nobody loses from this. The eurosceptic industry will continue to thrive for some time. None of them have a financial interest in winning it after all.
At this point, I will enjoy gloating to the kippers who told me not to attack these people and show unity. I will remind them that "the establishment" is who they went flocking to in the end. And then we're back to square one - still in the EU with ever diminishing prospects of leaving with immigration climbing far higher.
The guilty will largely go unpunished and the kippers will never admit the fault is theirs, but ultimately the consequences of their failure largely belong to them.
At this point, we reach something of a fork in the road. Decision time. Either we pack up the blogs and leave 'em to it (which anybody sane probably would do) or we keep sticking the knife in. I'ma gonna go with the latter. There's nothing the eurosceptic aristocracy would like more than the fly in the ointment to go away and stop upsetting them. And so that's precisely what we won't do.
As much as anything, this version of history must be recorded, and secondly there are always events that can be exploited to our advantage. In planning for the referendum our very first assumption would be that the leave campaign would be total crap, so thus far it is all going as anticipated and our plan A of blitzing the blogs is as valid as ever it was. That neither Banks nor Wigmore see the value in it - or will simply steal the idea and do a worse job of it, is neither here nor there. There's no competition with the real deal, and while banks can buy many things he cannot buy integrity or authenticity.
What we can say is that we are not exactly on our own in believing the Leave campaigns are a liability and when the designation process is over, it will be clearer than ever that the Leave campaign is on course to deliver defeat. It is then that we will see more people turning to the blogs. It's the only place they are going to find credible and realistic arguments. They are not going to get them from the lead campaign whoever wins the designation. They are poison. The blogs are our last, best hope for victory.