Friday, 23 December 2016

Aftermath part 2 - Poisoning the Well

"In order to help the people understand that they're on the wrong side of history, they had to realise how unpalatable they were. Some unforeseen force, some fear was needed to drive them away from their position. An existential notion so distasteful that, with the right framing, it would be impossible to defend."

It started with stunned silence - but the losing narrative soon changed

I'm not sure that the depth of our current situation has become clear at all and we may be heading in to an unprecedented sea of discontent, for which there is no easy means of resolution. I'm not talking here of the uncertainties over trade, commerce and prosperity for the UK in a post Brexit world but moreover something for more insidious and far reaching.

This referendum hasn't been a one off democratic event. That description is far too benign to describe what's really just happened. Before we joined the EEC in 1973, we'd moved away from the notion of Empire and the 'benevolent' autocratic subjugation of other nations, substituting hard power with trade and soft influence. Our form of democratic government, aligned with our own sense of national identity and purpose allowed us not once, but twice to intervene in world wars instigated on the continent. The UK, guided by a democratic system which has eschewed all forms of political extremism for many years - has helped save the continent from itself, a price paid for in blood and trauma by its citizens. The UK can in no way take credit for the rise of Hitler or Mussolini, only their downfall.

Yet if the wake of the referendum is anything to go by, the UK shouldn't be seen as a virtuous and ingenious nation capable of punching well above its weight. Instead, if many embittered Remainers are to be believed, we find that the nation is a shameful place jam packed full of racists, xenophobes and wilfully ignorant morons hell bent summoning fascism to our very shores . Along with those sentiments, words such as 'nationalism' and 'populism' are being bandied about online and across the liberal wings of the press to add to the sense that a vote of ignorance is about to usher in the devil, last seen rising out of Germany just before world war two.

Particularly, to have pride in a nation, its ambitions and its achievements is now considered to be a sinister tell tale warning sign of fascism to come. Why? Because globalists, fuelled by their own ambition to enforce their integrationist ideology on the unwashed masses, have gone for the kill by short circuiting the path between national pride and authoritarianism.

Let's look at fascism:

philosophy or movement; nation or race is supreme; authoritarian leadership (typically dictatorship); socio-economic control with extreme oppression of opposition.


Are we fascists yet?

Clearly, by any stretch of the imagination, love of a nation does not equate to the want of fascism.  Especially, if the nation in question is the UK, underpinned by a parliament first established by Simon de Montford in 1265 - or where all were subject to the rule of law, as established by Magna Carta 50 years before that. In the context of the referendum, the latent desire of many Leavers I met was to protect the integrity of that very system because they know that it has served us justly for many many years, helping us navigate through the darkest hours of European history. It's not perfect by any means. Although we elect MPs to serve in the House of Commons and can hold them accountable at the ballot box, the bicameral nature of parliament means that unelected members of the House of Lords can both raise legislation and intervene in laws proposed in the other house. The model is not satisfactory and has required revision for some time now, yet the people and democracy are safe guarded to some extent by the primacy of the house of Commons and The Parliament Act.

By contrast, the system being imposed by the EU is seen to fall short of that mark because it fails to provide the direct link between electorate and the law makers that the UK have grown to trust. Instead, we have a system which is hard to fathom by the majority, with tiers of separation which gives rise to the impression that the Commission (law makers) are operating without a yoke. The absurdities of this system, which I'm convinced is designed to neuter national power rather than amplify it, is beyond the scope of this particular post, but suffice to say that concerns are warranted.

The upshot of all this is that the instinct of Leavers is to retain the Goldilocks state of democracy. One where they will fight to the death to defend it from fascists, as they did in world war two - and they will upend the political apple cart if they feel that their link to government is being eroded. For such a noble desire, is it really right that many activist Remainers are distilling a hateful brew? The bitter truth here appears to be difficult to swallow.

The language of losing

Over time, the language of losing from the more vocal of the 48% has evolved. It began with a near blissful silence in the days that followed the vote, but that blessing was short lived. Soon we heard mutterings of discontent focussing on the 'stupidity' of leavers who were obviously not intelligent enough to know what they had voted for. The story moved on to one of the people having been deceived by the Leave campaign. Lies had been told (only on one side mind you) and the gullible had swallowed them whole. Then the mood grew to anger. Anger that the wilfully ignorant were wrecking everything that intelligent and virtuous people had worked for over the last forty years. Then the narrative moved on again to question the worth of democracy itself; what good can it be if people like us have to accept what people like 'them' want? But that was always going to be a tall order to sell, in spite of the obvious want of technocratic imposition to guide people without fear of interference.


Broad brush generalisations of stupidity and xenophobia, a common comforter for the losing side

Better still was the idea of a second referendum where people could chose again, but chose correctly this time. In order to help the people understand that they're on the wrong side of history, they had to realise how unpalatable they were. Some unforeseen force, some fear was needed to drive them away from their position. An existential notion so distasteful that, with the right framing, it would be impossible to defend. What other than the notion of Hitler and his ilk returning through the misguided actions of the people themselves. Xenophobes. Racists. Fascists. You have one last chance to save yourselves before the continent is mired in unthinkable horror. Come over to Remain or condemn us all to a future of oppression and warfare.

The hunt for authoritarianism

Yet if authoritarianism demands unquestioning obedience to an ideology espoused by the few, where's the evidence that this is happening? Disturbingly, I see more of this pressure coming from globalists keen to usher in their narrow view of the future at alarming expense.

Here's the VP for External Affairs and Dean for Europe at Aberdeen university, holding up the reversal of the Swiss referendum as an example for Brexit:


Willing democracy to come second place to the EU


She also happens to be former Chief Scientific Adviser to Jose Manuel Barroso, so no surprises perhaps that there's not a taint of horror at the notion of democracy being over-ridden. The point I'm making here, and I want you to consider it very carefully, is that there are many people who consider democracy a threat to their own interests and desires and would happily impose their ideology on the majority.

Here's another example of a very worrying trend:


Again - democracy gets forgotten in all this.


Picture what's being said here. Scientists for EU echoing a report that the EU is cracking down on Eurosceptic groups. A follower praises the action, suggesting that Ukip should be shown the door. To paraphrase: The EU is clamping down on democratically elected opposition; Remainers celebrate and demand the eviction of those who would challenge the EU's authority. In spite of the fact that it's the mandate on which they were elected.

Are alarm bells ringing now?

This is why the battle for Brexit is multifaceted. On the one hand it's a straight question about the UK's political alignment with other members of Europe. On the other, it's about saving ourselves from a new emerging class based system where weight is given to the views of the entitled few over the many. In the democratic world, 'one person - one vote' protects the rights and needs of every man. In the post democratic world, it's easy to see the weight of decision making aligning to privileged intellectuals who do what's best for them. You only need look at the likes of Christine Lagarde and the outcome of her recent trial to know that there's one rule for us and another for them.


Summary

Emotive language is being used to shape our understanding of what's happening. An information war which is as full of falsehoods as the lies it claims to call out. It does not care who it tars with the brush of racism or fascism, so long as it achieves its desired goal: To cow the people in to submission by virtue of a form of moral entrapment. Introducing a boolean state where taking any position but their own righteous stance leaves you mired in the most caustic and repugnant of accusations. By these means, they poison the well. Drink at your peril.

To the contrary, this kind of engineering, designed to manipulate thinking in one direction is a form of authoritarian control in its own right, as demonstrated by the mob handed demonisation it metres out. It is the enforcement of an ideology by the few on the many. It is the removal of opposition (essential to democracy). It's a new form of 'intellectual' fascism where a globalist class subvert the nationalist class not by brawn but by guile.


Sunday, 9 October 2016

Aftermath 1 - The Politics of Denial



"Sadly, there still appear to be a large number of bitter and weeping Remainers who genuinely seem unable to understand that in a referendum, all people count equally at the ballot box. At the recent Conservative party conference, May talked about the sneering class. How right she was."



In the wake of Brexit, suggestions of creeping fascism and racism are commonplace

Although the days of this blog have long since passed, if I'm being honest, I miss the cathartic effect of blogging to ease the psyche and to make some sense of events, hence this self indulgent aftermath post. Time has passed since the historic vote to leave the EU, a moment in history which should have poured the ice cold water of reality on the rambunctious metropolitan Remainers. So, have they stepped back and taken stock? Have they tried to comprehend the meaning of the result in order to fathom why, after forty three years of integration, the UK decided to extricate itself from the EU? Or have they decided, in an ever extending fit of bigotry, that they are still the only people with a valid opinion and that the situation would be best served by a pernicious and socially corrosive form of attrition.

Introspection needed

You'd hope that there would be a period of deep reflection. A moment where the shock of the event told some home truths, not about the make-up of the electorate but the state of EU politics, the paths that it's taken and the impact that it's had on society. Perhaps, during this time of introspection, they'd ask themselves where the divisions lie that caused so many to tick the Leave box, in spite of the dire and gushing economic warnings that were forcefully pumped in to every facet of our lives. Without this kind of understanding, it's going to be impossible to regain social cohesion - if indeed that's what they want.

Sadly, there still appear to be a large number of bitter and weeping Remainers who genuinely seem unable to understand that in a referendum, all people count equally at the ballot box. At the recent Conservative party conference, May talked about the sneering class. How right she was.

Daily, I encounter the vocal Remainers who, to a person, seem to make the assumption that everyone they encounter voted the way they did. Why? Because if you come across as sensible and even handed then you can't possibly have voted any way other than Remain.

Permeating the social strata - outwardly they like to think that they're salt of the earth, yet they act like they're the gold; precious and reflecting the beauty of metropolitan society for the rest of us to marvel at and strive toward. Often engulfed in the feedback loop they've weaved around themselves on social media, they crow loudly and re assuredly from the comfort of their expensive houses and their iPhone 7s - and when needed, they impose their moral compass on all and sundry by means of a venomous mono-narrative. You know, the one which, when boiled down to it's absolute thickest stock, says that 'Leavers are racists'.

The 'Everyone I don't like is Hitler' meme

That's where we are at the tail end of 2016. Not in a position where 'intellectuals' recovering from a stunning defeat try to grasp how and why they got it so wrong - but where noisy celebrities, opportunist politicians and frankly butt hurt, well to do, self loathing centrist idealogues try to lever their frustrations by twisting the narrative and smearing the Leave position as a vulgar Trumpist march towards a black shirted future.

Black forgetting the SNP's own historic associations with the Nazis

Let's ignore for a moment that it's Remain campaigner Amber Rudd's speech regarding immigrant workers at the Tory conference which has rattled cages and fanned the flames of righteous contempt. And never mind that the fact that the FCO are not banning non-UK nationals from working on Brexit related projects (a suggestion which David Allen Green appears to have resolutely debunked HERE ) - because keeping the 'unsettling' mood music is more important for 'the cause' than being factually correct. So when it transpires that you've echoed such falsehoods, never apologise, never look back and don't blink when questioned, because the next unsubstantiated, nebulous act of wanton fascism is only a misguided tweet away - and the chorus of indignation and hatred can begin all over again.

This internet meme seems to have been taken as an instruction manual by many Remainers

It must be a sorry world where the only way to deal with the shortcomings of your own position is to lash out in a manner that probably does more to debase the issues of racism than it does to help it. I imagine that people at the sharp end of racism would rather that it wasn't wielded in such a desensitising manner. Likewise self serving suggestions of latent fascism designed to fuel discontent are equally divisive.


Onward and upward

As a small child, I remember sitting on the carpet at Primary school and being given the luxury of being allowed to watch an episode of Playschool, the foundation stone under-pinning many a Brits TV viewing habits. I can't remember which window we went through (I always hoped for the arch) but the story we were told made much sense. In it, a Sowester clad individual was harassed by the four winds as they each took it in turns to hurl gusty assaults in order to blow the hat off and win a bet. No matter how ferocious their blustery gales were, each in turned failed to remove the hat as the stubborn individual held on tight to the much needed apparel. Dismayed at their failure, they let the sun have a go and within a few seconds of his warming rays, the Sowester was off.

It seems this simple lesson was missed by many in the land of self entitlement.

Remainers take note. A 52% / 48% vote cannot be genuinely considered a boolean mandate to authorise hard Brexit (if such a thing exists). But by the same measure, even a thin majority voting to Leave the EU after all the time that it's had to prove itself clearly demonstrates that it has significant failings and that things need to change. People didn't vote to Leave because they were lied to and (being 'stupid' naturally) accepted what they were told. I've yet to meet a Leaver who regrets their vote, let alone one who feels they were conned. For many, it was the obvious reality that the EU end goal was federalisation and it was something they didn't want. Cameron failed to convince people that his reforms were substantial enough to stop us either being in a compromised minority in the EU or eventually spiralling down the federal plughole twenty or thirty years down the line.

Be prepared to lose everything

So, unhappy Remainer, get over yourself, accept the result and then get involved with the process in a constructive manner that helps shape the future of the 100% not just the 48%. Don't argue for the Single Market because we were stupid for leaving and it's the closest thing to the EU that you can get. Argue for it because it's good for business. Don't scream for Freedom of Movement because everybody is a racist if you don't get your way - argue for it because it's the way of the modern world and that in the age of internet connectedness, it's necessary for us to fulfil the promise of global engagement. Stop blowing a gale for once and cast some warming rays - or be prepared to lose everything.












Saturday, 2 July 2016

Footnote

"This isn't so much a blog post in the spirit of UK Unleashed - it's just a footnote."


The sun sets on the referendum. Tomorrow, the Brexit debate continues.

After months of campaigning, I thought it worth tailing this blog with a simple footnote. The vote for Brexit has caused a huge ongoing political earthquake here in the UK, one which risks forcing a shake down of all major political parties and a complete reboot of parliamentary democracy.

I have this quaint idea that at some point in the future, tomorrow's generation will study this moment as part of a history curriculum or other. Rather than reach for the text books, they'll take to the blogosphere to research points of view from activists to find out the motivations and concerns that fuelled a country to ignore all the risks and portents of doom laid before them by the establishment and to turn their back on a future within the European Union. Perhaps blogs like this will provide historic, if extremely subjective, insight.

Results

In the run up to polling day, Leavers who had been tracking the polls were not overly optimistic. Polls had narrowed from a brief Leave lead to 50/50 in the final week. Yet in the last 24 hours there were some crushing numbers coming in from pollsters like ComRes, YouGov, Ipsos Mori and Populus - the first and last showing between eight and ten point leads for Remain.

Remain commentators were buoyed and we heard the likes of Peter Kellner predicting a 55% win for Remain. For Leavers, there was that creeping sense of horror that we would be consigned to a decade of smug ridicule and, much worse than that, the sense that the country we loved was about to give a democratic endorsement to a political entity which would see it as a green light to continue with the slow erasure of our national identity.

I can't comment on how other Leavers reacted, but I immediately contacted all and sundry letting them know my voting intentions and the reasoning behind my position (if they didn't already know). I rang round to make sure that people less able than me were able to get to the polling station (one person took me up on my offer) and I reached out to my local Leave campaign team to offer any last minute support.

At 10pm, there was nothing left to do but sit and wait for the results. After months and months of bombardment where 'experts' and 'celebrities' had allowed themselves to be the munitions in the Remain arsenal, we Leavers were left with nothing but the vague hope that somehow, there was an unrepresented Leave strata of society that had been ignored by pollsters and pundits alike.

I'd consigned myself to catching the first few results and then trudging off to bed by 2am in the depressing knowledge that after months of activism and, in my case, over twenty years of concern about the EC/EU - we'd remain. Things proved to be remarkably different.

The North brings hope

It was no surprise to anyone that Gibraltar came in first with a 95% endorsement for Remain. It was never going to be any other way and it wasn't in any sense a weathervane.

Then the Newcastle result was called and we saw the first glimmer of hope. A city we'd expected to have a significant Remain margin came in for Remain but at a much reduced levels than predicted. Almost 50/50.

When the results for Sunderland were announced, it became clear that it wasn't going to be an early night. Sunderland fell to Leave and the margin of victory was significant as it exceeded predictions by circa 6 %. Yet another sign of the trend the Leavers had been so eager or even desperate to see. It meant that I had to wait for every subsequent result in order to see whether the pattern not only emerged but truly established. And it did. Whereas London weighed heavily for Remain, there was a reduced turnout. Scotland also apparently fatigued by the whole affair seemed to show comparatively lack lustre voter turnout. Remain were unable to find a corner of the UK significant enough to damage the lead that Leave were creating for themselves.

Towards the morning, cities like Liverpool and Manchester who meekly voted Remain were easily absorbed by Leave who had been mopping up region after region accumulating a surplus of around 1 million votes, including surprises like Birmingham.

Holy polley

As the TV stations each in turn declared victory for Leave, I reflected on the big question as to whether the online polls (marginally Leave) or the phone polls (heavily Remain) would turn out to be more accurate. My prediction that there would be a shy Leave element, under-represented in the polls (see HERE), may well have been true. Or other factors could well have been at play here. Most interesting for me was to read this piece from Yougov published on the 28th on June: https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/06/28/online-polls-were-right/

Intriguingly, they suggest that the Remain campaign had invested in analysis by NCP (presumably by Matt Singh, newcomer and guru of GE2015) to determine whether phone or online polls were the most accurate, and he prompted for the latter. Yougov trash the analysis quite thoroughly and then go on to suggest that the misguided work provided Remain with false confidence, resulting in them taking their eye off the ball. To quote them:

"It is entirely possible that if the Remain campaign had not been misled as to their margin of victory, they might have run a different, and successful, campaign."

This wasn't the only major predictive failure of the referendum. For reasons which were utterly beyond me, the media had become fixated on the notion that where there's money, there's truth. The betting markets emerged as the new crystal ball, presenting Remain in the lead with probability of circa 70% or above in all but the final hours of the campaign. Yet when the figures came rolling in, they fared no better than the phone polls and will likely never be taken seriously again.

Moment of victory

In the early hours of Friday morning on the 24th, after no sleep and hours of febrile activity, the realisation of the victory finally sank in. I enjoyed a rather sober celebration in the comfort of my living room, connected to friends and associates via Twitter and also expats in Spain via Skype - all of whom had been willing on the victory that we thought impossible. The people of the United Kingdom had stood up to the threats and the scaremongering. We ignored the manufactured horrors that were paraded before us over the previous months; we turned to look at Brussels and the notion of a future wed to the European Union, and we said 'No' by well over a million voices.

And there is a small irony buried in all this. At the start of the referendum campaign, it seemed clear to me that Labour were intent on sitting back and watching the Conservatives tear themselves apart over Europe, like some re-run of Maastricht in the early 90's.  They smugly pronounced themselves a united party on this front (ignoring Hoey, Field, Mann, Skinner etc), almost mocking in their tone. Yet it was their own disaffected electorate in the North that set the trend and snatched the UK, its sovereignty and democratic future, from the gulping jaws of the EU. We owe them a debt for the guts they showed. And in the wake of all this, Labour has since turned to infighting and recriminations, steadfastly refusing to accept that from the perspective of their traditional vote, they've been wrong on the matter of the EU for years.

The campaigns

It would be an easy thing to pick through the bones of the Vote Leave campaign and point out every mis-step they made during the process. At times they seemed caught off balance and lagging behind the curve. Almost certainly, if the 'Britain Stronger in Europe' (BSE) campaign had managed to get their act together, Vote Leave would have been found wanting. However, BSE were woeful - and when it mattered the most, during the final televised debates, Vote Leave won the sentimental arguments, if not the technical ones.

BSE on the other hand failed to inspire. Perhaps a sense of hubris, underpinned by their confidence in the phone polling results and a fatalistic sense of pre-ordained victory, caused them to slumber in to a complacent spiral. Exaggerated scare stories were thrust upon the public, sandwiched between layers of 'experts' confidently telling the electorate not to budge on the matter of 'Europe' for fear of economic collapse, World War Three or the permanent evaporation of workers rights. On and on this relentless routine went, never once stopping and pausing to consider changing tact, even when it desperately needed to. The merchants of fear became just so much white noise in the end, consigned to the same mental space that the sound of bickering children and industry manufactured rap music get swept in to. Their carousel of experts and celebrities, just more contemptuous and patronising malodour from people who only bother to connect with the real world when they want to control them.


Finally Farage

It's hard to talk about this referendum without mentioning Nigel Farage. He's an oddity. Hero worshiped and reviled in equal measure, there's no doubting that he's had a huge effect kickstarting the process of the referendum. Tory defections to UKIP and a swelling of public support almost certainly animated Cameron in to dangling the referendum as a prospect to the UK voter. And it's for his efforts in this run up period that Farage should be most praised. His razor sharp tongue lashing of Herman Van Rompuy, amongst the most famous victims of his parliamentary apoplexy, drawing attention to the absurdity of the assembling european superstate.

Yet his own success at elevating himself to the position of the UK's most prominent eurosceptic made him a primary target for the bile of the europhiles. By the time the referendum was called, rightly or wrongly, he'd been tarred with a brush that meant he was unpalatable when it came to winning over the undecided vote. It meant that he needed tact to avoid constantly being framed as the kind of latent fascist that europhiles imagine him to be. Unfortunately, swelled by the notion that the Brexit cause was best served by the tidal pressure of immigration, he allowed an undercurrent of 'racism' to creep in to the debate with his 'Breaking Point' poster. That's not to say that it was racist; it surely wasn't otherwise he'd be in the dock. But the poor judgement opened up the attack surface against the Leave campaign, allowing the Remain camp to turn the torch towards moralistic and hugely emotive matters rather than defending the inadequacies of the European Union.

I wonder if there was a further twist to this though. The thrust of the accusations; the veritable explosion of 'racist' chants and finger pointing came at a point when the Remain team had handed the campaign batten over to the Labour party in an attempt to woo over the traditional left wing vote which they sensed was flagging. New Labour returned to type and went back to the same script they'd been reading from for the last decade. It contained the same divisive sentiment that weakened the glue between the parliamentary Labour party and their own grass roots. The sentiment where concern about immigration equated to racism, therefore the conversation had to be shut down through ridicule and derision. The mantra quickly became "not all Leavers are racists, but all racists are Leavers".

Whereas immigration turned out not to be the leading motivation for Leavers (Sovereignty won that), this almost instinctual attempt to shape the outcome by shaming people with this insincere and manipulative attempt at equivalence may be have bashed the beehive and provoked its own angry reaction. Failure to sting the aggressor hard enough would have left the electorate subject to a future dominated by career bee keepers smoking them in to submission.

That's not to say, if this scenario did play out, that it was a calculated move by Nigel Farage or that I'd condone that poster. Moreover a reminder that eventually, you reap what you sow.


End of the blog

This blog ends but the future of Britain is still subject to much speculation - to much chicanery and intrigue - to developments in the wake of the political shock-wave that has swept over this country. It's to those matters where we will need to turn our attention next.






Sunday, 19 June 2016

The Spirit of Brexit

"Bring me my Bow of burning gold; Bring me my Arrows of desire; Bring me my Spear; O clouds unfold! Bring me my Chariot of fire!"


When you feel that the race is run - you have to find that little bit more

This is likely to be my final blog post before the referendum and just possibly the last for UK Unleashed. It's been a long journey and a charged roller-coaster with all the twists and turns that you'd expect in a battle for the soul of one of the greatest nations on earth. And recently, it's become downright ugly.

We saw campaigning resume today after the tragic death of Jo Cox and regardless of the whimsical sentiment made in the aftermath by all sides, that we'd see a more respectful approach to campaigning, what rapidly emerged was an exceedingly grubby form of politics. It's not something that I'm going to dwell on because I'm sure that the Remain gang would love nothing more than to turn this in to a dirty ground fight in the final week; I will only say this.

When a tragedy happens, we condemn it - and we unite together in our protest, because it is the decent and human thing to do in the face of such horror. And if it's subsequently established that it was an assault on democracy, we agree that it's an affront to all of us. An act that served nobody but the twisted demons that inhabit the perpetrator's agonised mind. And we agree that to allow one deranged man to both drive a wedge, and be used to drive a wedge between people, does not provide fitting tribute to the person who was taken from us.

Yet, as if to instantly prove my naivety, the Remain campaign have immediately seized the opportunity of the moment. I will not sit here and count the many ways in which this tragedy has been gleefully exploited across social media or in the mainstream press, but I will bring one individual briefly under the microscope - because for someone of his stature, he really should know better.


Simply shameless. Win or lose, he can't go soon enough.

Let us be clear about this - this is an unconscionable act by a Prime Minister, one repugnantly ghoulish in character. If Nigel Farage's 'Breaking Point' poster demonstrated political naivety and campaign damaging hubris, David Cameron has gone so much further. Yes, Jo Cox should be honoured - but surely she deserves more respect than to be used as political collateral only days after her death. Shamelessly, that rather human concern appeared to count for little in David Cameron's eyes.

The tide comes in - it goes out

It's not entirely unbelievable to think that as things get tense over the remaining few days, we'll see new lows and be forced to inhale the sickly stench of more putrid political debauchery if we want to stay in the fight. But as Leavers, one thing has become abundantly clear - it's that we have a powerful and uplifting message that can help us rise above the sqalour. It's a tale that should be told and a song that should be sung (to loosely quote Hannan).

Right now, we're back to being the underdogs. Leave waxed in the polls last week and then waned over the weekend. That may be in part as a reaction to the sad death of Jo Cox, but Yougov polling data suggests that the contraction had already begun before Thursday and other polls support the trend*. This would indicate the expected 'status quo' effect where people recoil slightly from the prospect of change as we near the day of voting. It's not yet known though how it's going to play out because the dynamics are very different from other referenda such as Scotland and Quebec.

Because of the subtle and deceptive way in which power has transferred from from the UK to the EU over time, we've not had a hard transition where people have come to understand that the UK has changed immeasurably. The modus operandi of 'the project' is acquisition of power by stealth. In other words - it works by pretending that nothing has changed in the nation, when bit by bit it wrestles the sovereignty away in the margins. You only realise that things have taken a turn for the worse when you find out that your Chancellor has to consult 27 other nations in order to alter VAT on sanitary products.

Existential crisis - what crisis?

So for many people, this whole process may well be one whereby they wake up to find a very different existential crisis happening from the one David Cameron has been alluding to in the press today. They'll wake up during the debate to realise that their status quo - the one where Britain is a proud sovereign nation - has actually vanished. This realisation could result in a different reaction at the ballot box than has been seen elsewhere. In Scotland, there was a pronounced swing back to retention of the Union - but that was in a campaign where the threats were fundamental (currency / oil dependency) and nobody could claim to remember an independent Scotland.

The UK situation, being so very different, may result in the status quo effect being muted somewhat, yet perhaps not held in check entirely.

In the final hours of this fight, we need to focus on emphasising this point. Sovereignty is the baseline - the foundation stone on which our house is built. And of we don't have sovereignty - then we're just guests in someone else's house. Should the UK vote Remain, then we've just given the EU the biggest democratic endorsement that it's ever had - a democratic gift that it will never reciprocate.

So we must fight a fight. A clever fight not the vicious and nasty brawl that some people would like. We will use reason; we will use moderation; we will use intelligence; we will use history and we will use perspective. And win or lose, we will know that we have tried our damnedest to raise the spirit of Brexit to deliver the free and sovereign United Kingdom that future generations deserve.

Arm yourselves for the final battle.



*Footnote. I'm still trying to track the field work from Survation for the Mail on Sunday poll released over the weekend. It's become seemingly apparent that along with the question about intention for the referendum, many other questions were asked. At least one of which could be construed as a 'softener' designed to focus the interviewees mind in a particular direction. This is only possible if the dubious question precedes the all important 'Leave / Remain' one though. I'll update when I get the field work.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Vote Sovereignty and The Rest Will Follow

"The age is upon us where a significant transition is happening. Where the erosion of public engagement in the political process seems almost engineered and where, in the midst of this ambivalence, power will shift away from the electorate."

Union Jack flags and red buses on Parliament Street - without sovereignty, it's all just tourist fodder
If ever a comment from the political class threw our dilemma in to stark relief, this was it. Edwina Currie cheaply dismisses sovereignty with vague and unfathomable insinuation that a nation with the economic clout of the UK cannot put food on the table unless it gives up its sovereignty.

Ex-politician and quasi game-show celebrity - Edwina dismisses our right to self determination

It's a suggestive comment, not explicit. One which deliberately attempts to trivialise the notion of self rule by conjuring up base images of jobless poverty. Just how did we get to this?

Regardless of all the micro arguments that affect various different interest groups, we come back to the macro argument that sovereignty is the thing from which all else flows. It's the root cause, the first premise and the beating heart of any nation. Without it, we are no longer a nation carving a path and making our destiny - we are rudderless state being towed helplessly in one direction. Many think the waters are flowing toward Niagara Falls, yet the crew steadfastly refuse to cut the tether. At times like these, it makes you wonder just how much control the electorate have.

For many, parliamentary democracy is a bit like undergoing constant major surgery. After careful analysis you make a judgement about what work is required, then you choose the best surgeons to make the alterations you need. For the next five years, you're out cold whilst the surgeon puts you under the knife does his or her work, setting about the perceived problems as agreed in the surgery manifesto. After coming round, you review what's been done and then repeat the process for the next five years.

Those that we have entrusted to look after us during our anaesthetic slumber have ulterior motives it seems. What we're witnessing is an attempted stealth transplant in some Frankenstein like horror B movie, where the hearts of individuals are given over to some vivisect creation that we've been stitched to. We end up like a vulgar human centipede with Germany at the front and Greece at the back. After we've been surgically hollowed out, when we awake we find ourselves powerless to reverse the operation and walk away - and to calm our protestations, the surgeons gleefully enthuse that for our own collective benefit, we've been 'pooled'.

During the referendum, we've come around yet we haven't woken up properly. We know there's a vote but many have not grasped the true depth of what is at stake. Although I refused to believe it at first, it's now clear to me that there is a strata of international politicians and corporations who have greater affinity with each other than they do with the electorate/consumers (we're becoming more like the later than the former it would seem).

The age is upon us where a significant transition is happening. Where the erosion of public engagement in the political process seems almost engineered and where, in the midst of this ambivalence, power will shift away from the electorate. Your right to determine your nation's future is now held in obvious contempt. Not just by one or two political ghouls who have shared DNA, like Currie and Major, but by successive senior politicians from all parties. Whether it's Clegg or Cameron manufacturing the deceit of 'pooled sovereignty' or whether it's Brown and Miliband (David) reneging on a manifesto pledge for a referendum - these are people who no longer see themselves as temporary custodians of your nation, but as successive Sherpas leading us up the EU mountain.

When you realise just how deep the rot has set in, you'll realise that a vote to Leave will not cure this situation. The people need protecting from this kind of manipulation and if parliamentary democracy cannot safeguard our rights, then we need a constitution that enshrines the right to directly hire and fire those that make the laws of the land. Further still, direct democracy is needed to act as a defibrillator jump starting democracy up and down the land on all matters of consequence.

So how do we get back down this mountain that has taken well over forty years to climb? Do we strap a parachute to our backs and jump off the nearest ridge? Or do we carefully descend, avoiding peril and harm? The former is a quick way out but we need to avoid dashing ourselves on the rock-face as we spiral down. The latter is more of a journey where we want to reach the same destination but accept that we don't get everything we want in one go.

For most people it would seem, taking the safe route pays dividends. According to recent research by the Adam Smith Institute, faced with the prospect of Brexit, the electorate would overwhelmingly support a Norway style relationship.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/06/11/uk-voters-back-norway-style-brexit-poll-reveals/

It's a least impact approach to the transition away from EU governance. We retain single market access paying half per head for access of what we're required to pay now - we regain the ability to make our own FTAs - we ditch CAP - we retain access to EU science and education programmes etc etc. For the best comparative illustration of what's available, the Euquestion blog by Paul Reynolds says it best here: http://euquestion.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/remaining-in-unreformed-eu-versus-efta.html

The sticking point for some is that it still requires 'Freedom of Movement' - yet even faced with the prospect of that, we're given a unilateral emergency brake to pull.

Ben Kelly, reviewing the research on his Sceptic Isle site recognises the need for phased exit, stating:

"Brexit is a complex process that will necessarily be done in stages and joining the European Free Trade Association and trading with the EU via the European Economic Area agreement is a ready-made transitional arrangement that will facilitate negotiations and provide a “soft landing” and a secure platform to build on."

(Here: https://thescepticisle.com/2016/06/11/explosive-poll-shows-that-the-public-back-leaving-the-eu-and-remaining-in-the-single-market/ )

Other commentators also emphasise similar points. On his White Wednesday blog (named after the UK's ejection from the ERM), Fellow of the ASI, Roland Smith, suggests:

"The option, which would see Britain initially moving to a Norway-like single-market-based position outside the EU, is actually a stage in a broader multi-step roadmap of gradual disengagement from the EU and re-engagement with the rest of the world.

(Here: https://medium.com/@WhiteWednesday/poll-reveals-eea-option-has-big-support-including-half-of-leave-voters-7b67bd50667c#.counf5c9j )

Facing the real prospect of Brexit, this is quickly becoming a consensus view and a middle ground approach toward the complex issue of extrication of the UK from the tendrils of the European Union. There is no realistic light switch style boolean operation available. Disentanglement requires time and financial assurances. EFTA/EEA is the right first step along that path - not the final destination to park our bus. We need to get used to it.

Politics is often about compromise and things tend to be at their worst and most unstable when it's not. So if you're a hard-line Brexiteer and want out, be prepared for long journey; a journey in which you will need to be engaged for many years to come in order to reach the desired outcome of free trade, intergovernmental collaboration and sovereign nations.

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Remain Unravelled

"And in one tweet - the premise that we must be ruled by the EU in order to collaborate on important matters unravelled before the eyes of the electorate. Lost in the moment, the PM didn't even realise that he had just surgically debunked himself"

Admit it, the Merkel hand thing is starting to look like it's a compulsion issue


Take a look at the following tweet. It's typical of the automated factory churn which we see spewing from the PM's lips. Like some cheap, unremarkable pate oozing out of a dull grey food grade nozzle in a factory in Swindon. It's meaningless trite sentiment which doesn't serve the people - it promotes the status of the PM. Virtue signalling for the elite.

A game of 'context' - the opening move

This kind of nauseating and needless jaw flapping, suspended in the context of the EU referendum, enrages seasoned Leave campaigners because it splashes in the face of common sense. Insultingly, it ascribes the duties associated with responsible national governance to an organisation which despises the notion of the nation state. Without giving ourselves away to the EU none of these matters or issues, all of which we expect a government to carefully manage on our behalf, can be achieved.

It's a revolting notion - that suddenly we have become so enfeebled that we can no longer stand on our own two feet. Instead, we must be cradled in the arms of a larger entity and suckle on its breast as it mothers us in to submission.

Fool me once

Except I've mislead you by taking that tweet right out of context. Let's pull back and take a look again:

He's not talking about the EU (for a change)


You know where this is going? You have to think to yourself for a moment -  why does the original tweet in the context of the G7 matter at all. The answer is that there's a profound kernel of truth embedded in it which, when expounded unravels the PM's repeated assertions about the need for us to remain in the EU.

Time and time again, he and his wilful cohorts have banged the drum shouting that 'terrorism - the migration crisis - trade - anti-corruption - health' are all reliant on the UK handing over competencies and responsibilities to the European Union. Like a bullhorn pressed to your ear, the repeated rasping pronouncements from Remain have reminded us, crowding out reason and common sense in the process, that no issue of substantive importance can have a positive outcome without us first prostrating our nation in front the EU Commission.

Yet Cameron's tweet declares the polar opposite. Canada, Japan and the United States are all G7 nations - and the PM has declared that we can act inter-governmentally with the G7 to 'get things done' on matters which have repeatedly been used in the most incendiary manner during this referendum debate. There's no suggestion here that the USA, Japan and Canada must be brought in to the fold in order to 'get things done'. We accept that we hold no rights over them, yet through mutual trust we will work together for better outcomes.

Fool me twice

At the instinctual level, we all know the immutable truth here.

Dismembering the sovereignty of our nation is not a pre-requisite for collaborative action. In the cold light of day, it's an absurd notion that few would readily accept without the crowding hysteria trumpeted by the elites of the Remain campaign. To suggest we must abandon ourselves in order to progress and overcome the trials of the modern era sounds more like an obscure cultist act than it does a measured step taken in the interests of the people.

These assertions


After a veritable carpet bombing that would have made even the US military blush, you'd think that these assertions would have hit home by now. No opportunity - without the EU offering it to us. No safety - without the EU protecting us. No security - without the EU holding us close to its bosom.

If any of this were true, then it would have penetrated the electorate like red hot shrapnel by now and atomised the spirit of the Leavers. So why, after this prolonged Civil Service backed campaign of 'shock and awe' are there so many people still prepared to leave in spite of such a large number of talking heads telling them to do otherwise?

Because as well as forgetting the primary cause from which they sprang (that of national representation), the majority of politicians have submitted to a group think mentality which is now clearly ignoring a huge political problem which MUST be dealt with and not ignored. Namely:

  1. Half the people in the UK obviously think there's sizeable problem with the EU - so much so that they won't be moved. John Curtice writes here (http://whatukthinks.org/eu/project-fear-success-or-failure/) that Remain have made little or no ground, in spite of the horrendous carnival of doom which they've plagued the airwaves with for the last sixty days.
  2. Therefore, it follows by any conceivable measure that the EU needs reform. Don't just look toward the sizeable discontent in Britain for this. There must be circa 200 million disaffected people across the continent wondering how such a dysfunctional bureaucracy has wrestled control away from their own national governments. To suggest that 'the project' can somehow move forward and carry the people with it without itself being prepared to change is an act of blinkered estrangement.
  3. Yet the EU is not reformable or moveable. Whether it's a Dutch referendum rejecting closer ties with the Ukraine - or David Cameron begging for a small handful of tepid and largely insubstantive declarations, nothing is reformed or yielded unless it goes to serve the furtherance of the EU. Case in point, in order to secure his rather meagre and famished referendum 'reforms' from the EU, Cameron was forced to surrender a veto over further Eurozone integration. This he willingly did, without even first getting the EU to submit to treaty change.
If, as a politician, you ignore these considerable issues and continue along the uncritical path then you are no longer serving your constituents, you're serving your own self interest. Congratulations, you're now in the ruling class of the new aristocracy. Pray there are no French style revolutions in our time.


Saturday, 21 May 2016

The Wealthy Few


"Naturally, when it comes to the most important political decision in your life, you're going to want to hear from Knightley and Cumberbatch in order to get a steer. Personally, although their meaningful and well thought out pro EU narrative has illuminated so many - I'm waiting to hear what The Chuckle Brothers and the Milk Tray man have to say before I finally decide"



The Abbey Road album came out in 1969 - three years before joining the EEC
NB - I half inched that picture from the BBC. As they force me to to pay a license fee tax, surely I'm entitled to pinch a photo of David Cameron re-enacting the famous Abbey Road walk - enjoyed by four of the finest musicians the UK have ever known, in a period before we were signed up to the EEC by Ted Heath. No irony there then.



What are Remain talking about?

Anything but the reforms. That's what Remain are busy focussing on right now. Devoid of content, the reforms have been consigned to the dingy cupboard out the back and are now but a distant echo that bounces back in the meaningless and irritatingly dishonest phrase 'a reformed europe'. You know, that prop wheeled out by the Prime Minister pretending that he advanced the nation's interests forward in the EU after a herculean wrangling session with other member nations; The result of which required no treaty change and left more than just Bernard Jenkin saying 'is that it?'

Instead, every sinew of the Government and civil service appears to have been channelled towards stirring up a scenario where they believe they can kill off the spirit of Brexit by endorsement. Perhaps tiring of falsely attributing every known human right to have its roots in EU legislature, now it's the turn of the rich and famous to tenuously attribute the success of practically everything to the EU. Herded under the stage lights by the Remain campaign, we're presented with a host of 'iconic' stars suggesting to us that, by means that the average person could hardly fathom, somehow being in the EU makes the entertainment industry 'more creative and more imaginative'.


Seeing stars

Not content with enjoying our money at the box office, they like to remind us that plenty of additional money is freshly plucked from the groves in the EU garden and sent their way. Let us ignore for one moment the notion that the EU actually has no money, other than that which we give to it from our own pocket.

Rolling around naked in piles of money must become tiring after a while, hence the sound of the people of the UK agitating to leave the EU must have aroused their instincts and inspired them to put the crowd back in their place. Never mind that many of them live privileged lives that the rest of us could only dream of; that they have second, third and forth homes dotted around the globe; that they're not stuck on a creaking island which is having both sovereignty and democracy slowly boiled away over time.

And this is the weapon that Remain have chosen to wield. Whether it's Keira Knightley trying to pout us in to place under the supranational auspices of the EU, or David Cameron trumpeting bullshit assertions in a costly tax payer funded carnival - they  hurl their thunderous affirmations at us, backed by friends in the media who ensure peak coverage and then vanish in to the shadows when the Leave campaigners turn up for the fight.

Properly defend the EU? Or just virtue signal from afar?

Keira Knightley won't stand and debate the honesty of a project which has, by guile, managed to guzzle competencies from nation states to the point where the national parliamentary clout has become emaciated. Jude Law isn't going to tell us how the EU is going to maintain financial viability without folding the Eurozone in to a proper federal entity. Benedict Cumberbatch isn't going to come forward with a plan to heal the weeping sore that is over 50% youth unemployment in Greece after the troika gouged out the nation's assets in order to save the Euro.

Graduating straight from the university of champagne socialism, none of them will apologise to your children or to mine for putting the narrow interests of their profession before the right of the next generation to hold the law makers to account. And if there's ever been a lesson to be learned from this referendum, it's that money protects money - at any cost.

And David Cameron is no different. Blurting out continual visions of dystopia on Brexit - his absurdities avoid direct cross examination and the confrontation of debate because he says what he likes, the press oblige and then he scurries off to prepare his next scare story. Never letting himself be manoeuvred in to a position of danger. Anyone would think that he's frightened of someone shoving the 'renegotiation' custard pie in his face.

Elementary my dear Watson

Truth be told, it is all a little bit bewildering. What are we, as Leavers, to make of what we're seeing? What would Sherlock deduce from all this?

  • You're seeing a well organised Remain campaign benefiting from a civil service that's spending your money to achieve the PM's goals.
  • You're seeing 0.0001% of the population who probably have a significantly larger proportion of the nations wealth telling you that as well as throwing money at them, the EU is responsible for boosting creativity and imagination. Although the mystery of these processes have baffled scientists for hundreds of years, it's nice to formally know the EU now has competency for our minds as well now.
  • And you're seeing people abuse their status as admired entertainers in order to convince you to forget your principles.
Do they seem such benevolent people now? No?

A remedy for the madness

There is a simple remedy to all this madness. It's context. The reality of the referendum is that you hold as much power in your hands as the rest of them. Forget their red carpet walks and jet set lifestyles for a moment. When it comes to the ballot, that money cannot buy them any more votes than the one you have. The referendum is as much your stage as it is theirs, whether they like it or not.

Thankfully, you can dispel their beguiling charm simply by voting to leave in June. They may need the EU to prop up their faltering sense of imagination, but we certainly do not.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

How do you solve a problem like Korea?

"If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
" ..  
Attributed to the Nazi Propaganda machine of World War 2.

From: The Sound of Brexit

Throughout the non-tribal histories of human nations, propaganda of one sort or another has been used to coerce and cajole populations. Whatever authority is governing, it seeks out an emotive nerve to jar and then sets about it to provoke a much wanted response. One which suits the aims of the establishment, moving the needle gently in the right direction.

Lies needn't be small and palatable - they can be whoppers, so long as the falsehood is repeated and asserted by enough 'credible' faces for long enough. Eventually, the poison will seep in and overcome any sense left in the intended target.

It's a battle of attrition where the instantiation of the lie as a common 'fact' is more important to those who will benefit from the result than it is to those who have to judge its credibility. The former bombards the latter, using the tools of authority - position and statesmanship to continually assert - crowding thought, rhyme and reason until all mental resistance is sapped away. Eventually as the weak willed give in to the assertion, those that are still left questioning are no longer prepared to stand out from the crowd and argue against the now commonly held position.

There are plenty of falsehoods that have travelled down the referendum river over the last year, yet none so huge as the insidious and repeated notion that sovereignty does not hold the value that you think it does. If propaganda is a form of biased communication, aimed at manipulating views and perceptions then we're seeing a classic example of it in motion.

As a fundamental pillar of the Leave argument, it was always going to be a challenge for the Remain campaign to try and tackle, yet they have chosen to fight, using their biggest hitters and a wave of disinformation that could sink a cruise-liner. The days of the honest debate on this matter are over and those of us on the Leave side find ourselves not just fighting for the democratic future of our country - but to liberate the moral compass at the helm of our democratic institutions in order to save us from being dashed on the spiny rocks of an Orwellian nightmare.

Whereas a lot is up for debate in this referendum, the one certainty that the Leave campaign have is that if we walk away from the EU, we would regain our true sovereignty and restore levels of control and accountability that the nations outside of the EU still enjoy. It is the kernel at the heart of our campaign - a truth so unquestionable that nobody would think that the point would need to be defended.

Yet with brazen audacity, the Remain campaign has chosen to attack the very notion of sovereignty by redefining both its meaning and its values as a way to pull the rug from underneath the opposition.

The Assertion

Amazingly, for a man who has a first class Honours BA degree in politics, David Cameron allowed himself some leeway regarding the definition of sovereignty back in February of this year, where a fawning Andrew Marr let him freely suggest that when leaving the EU "You have an illusion of sovereignty but you don't have power".

Anyone who has observed this man campaign for any length of time can spot the 'tells' that differentiate between a policy he honestly believes in and a well rehearsed, strategic lie. This was one of those transparent moments.

What was a simple matter of national governance without interference from a greater authority, suddenly became a very different issue. Cameron questioned whether our sovereignty would be 'real' and then muddied the waters further by conflating sovereignty with power. If you can stomach a grown man attempting to deliver a complete reversal of logic whilst keeping a straight face in front of camera - it's still available here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-eu-referendum-35624753

This acted as a springboard for the Remain campaign to challenge sovereignty with 'pooled sovereignty' - that by throwing our chips on to the table with all the other nations, somehow it gives us greater oomph. That's how things are done now - you've got to be in it, to win it etc etc.

Yet Remain decided that the 'pooled sovereignty' claim was not enough on its own. John Major, who no doubt felt snubbed at being upstaged by the IDS resignation last time he attempted to intervene in the referendum (Marr Show appearance cancelled), stepped forward to suggest something quite bizarre. In an interview with the BBC, he said "If you want undiluted sovereignty in the modern age, when everybody is interconnected, then go to North Korea because that is where you will get it."

Amazingly, he repeated the statement in the same interview saying  "... in the modern world, the modern world of interconnectivity, the modern world with the economy that now exists, you have to share sovereignty or you find yourself isolated and weaker."

Interestingly, Chuka Umunna used very similar words just three days earlier in the Spectator Brexit debate in the London Palladium: "As for sovereignty, if you took the Leave campaigners argument, the most sovereign nation in the world would probably be North Korea – because they don’t work with anyone."

Desperate Images

When we think of North Korea, we imagine a dilapidated Communist anachronism, filled with grey concrete infrastructure and a half height, malnourished population so oppressed by the state that wiping your arse in the wrong manner would probably mean life in the gulag. This? This is the picture that Remain are trying to paint of the alternative? Think also about the repeated use by Major of the notion of 'interconnectivity'. The irony. The former PM is suggesting that the modern thing to do is to align our nation with 27 others on the basis of our geo-locality (in the age of the internet) - allowing a 1950's concept of bureaucratic federalism to assume our governance right at the moment when global bodies like the WTO and UNECE are blossoming.

Here is a man who is so out of touch with the world that he belongs out in the Kuiper belt.

As we appear to be lacking a manual in 'voluntary pooling of sovereignty', we're left with some questions.

  • If pooling sovereignty is so good, why are no other countries outside the EU following such a program?
  • How much sovereignty is it right to pool and for how long?
  • What checks and balances are put in place?
  • How do we reverse that pooling with minimal disruption to our country?
  • Surely for a nation to pool resources or competencies that it allegedly still owns, it would only be done where there is mutual benefit? Hence we could withdraw or veto where it is not?

The Dead Pool

Pooling sovereignty or surrendering it? There is a difference. Naturally, you're left wondering - how can you pool something which you no longer own? It's a non sequitur. Instead, you give it up and someone else pools it because they now own the rights and competencies in question. It's often put that pooling sovereignty is a sacrifice worth paying to get things done in the modern world, yet this is a bit like chumming up your own legs and pouring the chunky mess in to the South African sea, just because you want to get on with the Great Whites of this world. You lose yourself in the process.


Why Sovereignty Matters ...

.. Is the wrong question. Sovereignty isn't something that should need to be justified. It's a natural state for most countries all around the world. The question should be - why do we need to give it up? Were we the aggressors in the last two world wars? Why can we not collaborate bilaterally on an intergovernmental basis instead? Surely it can't be that bad, after all - David Cameron had to resort to intergovernmental arrangements during his now much exposed EU non-renegotiation. The deal that's not worth the paper it's written on is locked in a UN safe rather than having gone through the arduous and cumbersome process of EU treaty change. That in itself should speak volumes.

Summary

What does this gross manipulation of truth and perception say about the character of the people prepared to peddle the propaganda? Do we really want to live in a UK where the kind of illiberal nonsense we've witnessed can be dished out by an elite political class without deafening repudiation or derision?

A referendum should be a hallowed moment in any democratic history. It's where the government step back over a matter of grave importance and the people are allowed to have their say - directly. As part of this principal right, the people should be free to chose, without being subjected to an Orwellian mental siege.

Yet this blatant corruption of meaning is a sign of a rotten institutional authority, determined to warp perception in order to get what it wants at all costs. Never mind the people's right to assess the facts - to analyse and synthesise a truth of their own. Through techniques known best by dictatorships around the world both old and new, Prime Ministers past and present tell the lie - that black is white, that up is down and that sovereignty is not of use until it's been given away.

So when we raise the spectre of North Korea, with its half starved citizens filling their empty bellies with handfuls of grass and its concentration camps that consign the helpless to a fate worse than death - it leaves us with our final question.

Which approach would the Kim Jong's of this world favour the most? A vision of a country where the people of a nation were able to directly elect and hold to account those people that made the laws of the land? Or a nation mesmerised and coaxed in to submission by 'big lie' techniques previously employed some of the most vile and repugnant individuals the world has ever known?


Footnote - as for the quote at the top of this page, it's no small irony that this attribution appears to be a little white lie in itself.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The Authority Gap

"Remain are exploiting a simple mechanism in order to cause havoc within the Leave campaign. It's easy enough to resolve, but Vote Leave et al need to get a grip, pronto."


Because you're once, twice, three times an interfering President


Obama Drama

We all knew about this visit from Obama, that he'd be guided by number 10 to gently draw the stiletto knife across the throat of the Leave campaign. This he did, seemingly with much relish.

An op-ed appeared in the Telegraph announcing his right to have an opinion on the matter. Then, on the evening before having dinner with our royalty, he announced to the UK that, should we vote to leave the EU, we'd be 'back of the queue' when it comes to trade deals.

Standing to one side and smirking with delight, just as he did when President Hollande made his own well scripted threats to the UK, our own Prime Minister and leader of the Remain campaign, David Cameron. Obama made all the neat points required of the Remain campaign, yet between the lines, we know his real motivation.

It's not that the UK will be stronger or better off welded to the titanic that is the EU. We need to look at this from another angle. The US does have a right to have a say - it has fought along side us during two world wars - it has invested heavily in 'the European Project'. But why should that condemn us to a future where our sovereignty is diminished and untethered democracy floats off in to the distance?

The real reasoning is, or course, that the UK would represent the first lifeboat abandoning that ship and the subsequent unravelling of the EU presents the US with problems and a reversal of regional stability.

In my opinion, it's the real reasoning behind the rhetoric and the mild threats that Cameron seems to enjoy just a little bit too much. Hence Obama believes that the UK must sacrifice herself to the EU in order to maintain the stability that suits his strategic aims.

It's a sorry price for the UK to pay considering that we didn't instigate either of the two tragic European conflicts in the last century (although we did participate in subsequent US lead military tragedies in our usual poodle like obeyance). In fact, the USA had yet to join WW2 when the UK alone fought the Battle of Britain, halting Operation Sea Lion dead in its tracks and leaving Europe with a glimmer of hope. For our efforts, we are now threatened with 'the back of the queue', sentiments gleefully witnessed (and possibly orchestrated) by our own spineless Prime Minister.

The Authority Gap

This plays in to the hands of the Remain campaign rather neatly and on social media, it's been hard not to witness the 'smug' dial being turned right up. Time and time again they churn out the stock phrase 'you can't say what Leave will look like'. The same is true of course for Remain, but with a public still largely unaware of the planned changes to the Eurozone and expectant of the status quo, that threat doesn't have the same weight. Here's Charlotte Vere, Executive Director of 'Conservatives In' doing exactly this with yours truly:



Charlotte Vere - cranking the 'you don't know what eave looks like' handle

I get tired of this line of questioning for a number of reasons; chief amongst them is what I describe as 'the authority gap'. It's a ploy which the Remain campaign have exploited to maximum effect all the way through this campaign. To explain: How we leave the EU is not the same as wanting to leave the EU. Leave campaigns are organised around the latter and not the former; The make-up of the Leave campaigns does not give them the authority to execute any Brexit plan. They can suggest what could happen but cannot guarantee that the government will implement any of it; The only people with authority to execute a leave plan happen to be lead by the man heading the Remain campaign.

It's simple, the man with the authority to actually implement a plan, benefits from there not being one. It would be like BBC licence fee payers in the 70's waiting for the BBC to implement child safety measures on their premises when people like Savile were running the show.

Plan? What plan!


Yet, in spite of all that, having an 'authority gap' doesn't mean that you shouldn't attempt to mitigate. It's the strategic thing to do. In all honesty, in spite of my lack of criticism of late, the Leave campaigns are all guilty of not taking solid advice on this whole issue, advice that was issued some time ago.

As Clinton once said "it's the economy, stupid" - and right now, the focus and major arguments are all based around economic stability and the impact to prosperity. The polls show, it's hitting home. As soon as it became clear that Remain were employing project fear, it should have been obvious to all that they would go for the wallet - and a lack of detailed exit planning hands Cameron and Osborne fertile ground in which to plant the seeds of doubt. The Leave campaign are then left busy hacking down the burgeoning weeds that sprout like triffids rather than going on the offensive and making their own case.

Herein lies the frustration which has largely rendered me mute out of anger for the last month or so. When I came in to this campaign last year, I very quickly picked up on the messaging of Dr Richard North and Pete North (North²) of eureferndum.com and the Leave Alliance. Although combative and bitterly acerbic at times, their simple narrative demonstrated foresight that is lacking elsewhere and time and time again, they've been proven to be right.

They'd plotted the course. They'd read the manual. It was clear to them that Brexit needed calm waters in order to bring the ships in to port. Dr Richard North had even constructed a plan, known as Flexcit which charted the UK through the choppy seas, allowing for a carefully staged exit which completely de-risked and defused all of the FUD that has been thrown our way to date.

Flexcit is a plan that advocates a 'temporary' move from the EU to EEA / EFTA membership. From that safe haven, we could pull a real emergency break on immigration and then plan our wider engagement with the world. Best of all, it describes ways in which we can protect ourselves from ever getting in to this position again. It's foolhardy to suggest that we can move away from forty years of integration in a single step; a staged exit is the only realistic way out - it always has been. You need to eat your cake in slices - or risk choking to death on the whole lot.

An abridged version of Flexcit, The Market Solution - can be found here: http://eureferendum.com/themarketsolution.pdf

Trumpet this loud next time someone asks you what Leave looks like. Because if we do exit, it's likely to be the only path that those in authority will be willing to take.


Official Campaigns

To date, I've only managed to attend one of the official campaign events and that was the Vote Leave event in Oxford last week where Chris Grayling and Douglas Carswell spoke. I attended to see if there were any significant changes in tact that could represent green shoots of hope in terms of strategy.

I almost didn't make it to the event. After leaving early, I relied on SatNav to guide me to the event but, to my surprise, it announced that I had arrived at my destination after abandoning me in the middle of what can only be described as the Oxford equivalent of Beirut, some twenty minutes away from where I needed to be. And it's here that I should really apologise to the two people who witnessed me in an apoplectic rage bellowing nuclear words of fury at my SmartPhone at the roadside - waving the wretched thing in the air in an attempt to regain a GPS fix.

Somehow, I managed to make it across Oxford in time without missing anything. Although it felt good to be surrounded by a mix of Leavers of all ages and backgrounds, only one message really stood out for me as being significant. That was the persistence in underlining that the EU has more plans to change. The Five Presidents Report was mentioned by Grayling as it had previously been by Gisela Stuart at a separate event. Both of them making it clear that after stalling for our own referendum, the EU would do what was necessary to secure the Euro, including tighter financial integration in the Eurozone.

That in itself isn't a compelling issue for the people of the UK, until you consider the emerging position that the UK and Denmark would be left in, sitting in the shadow world somewhere between Eurozone and independence. It's the worst of both worlds where the UK becomes increasingly marginalised as the country called the EU takes shape, ready to cannibalise our best assets in order to keep themselves financially buoyant.

Thankfully, Vote Leave were able to make this point, and if Lord Ashcroft's observations are correct, this approach may be their best hope of disrupting the current smugness of the Remain camp. In his focus group '62 Days to go', he makes this observation:

"At first glance, most in our groups saw leaving as a change and remaining as the status quo: “we know what ‘in’ is like”. When prompted with the thought, the idea that the EU itself might change – and would not necessarily stay as the devil we knew – was quite powerful. The most easily imagined change, and a worrying one for many, was expansion, particularly if it included Turkey: “when we joined it was six countries, a completely different animal”. The argument that remaining in the EU also involved change did not reverse the balance of risk, but evened things up somewhat."

The full report can be read here:
http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/04/referendum-focus-groups-d-62/?utm_source=Lord+Ashcroft+Polls&utm_campaign=0909e09e4f-RSS_EMAIL_CAMPAIGN&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_b70c7aec0a-0909e09e4f-71673341

Sunday, 3 April 2016

The Shy Goodbye

"There are two things you need to keep in mind here. Firstly, just how wrong the pollsters got it in GE2015 and secondly, this is not a general election."


After the 2015 general election debacle, pollsters strive to find more accurate ways to divine our voting intentions.

 
Herein lies an exercise in confirmation bias ... probably

I've found the recent polling on the EU referendum perplexing to say the least. Like many people who are invested in this whole process, in spite of last year's dismal failings, I've been captivated by the lure of the pollsters. Microanalysis of each and every poll released, looking for signs and portents that could indicate positive trends or changing opinions; correlating shifts with topical events, campaign strategies, the weather and the phase of the moon etc etc.

Let's be honest here, it would be foolish to accept them as accurate and they should be, at best, taken at a high level - as roughly hewn chunks of indication rather than well chiselled out masterpieces of national voting intent. But amongst the polls, there's a schism emerging. On the one hand, we have the online polls which show an intertwining closeness between Leave and Remain, and on the other we have the phone polls which seem to give Remain significant margin.   


Shakespeare Vs Singh


Explaining this apparent anomaly we have polling analyst and Number Cruncher (http://www.ncpolitics.uk/) Matt Singh who has become somewhat of a guru in the field after, amongst other things, rightly predicting the surprise outcome of the 2015 general election. On the other side of the ring, Stephen Shakespeare, the big gun at Yougov who, along side most other pollsters, is fighting to regain credibility in the wake of 2015. Shakespeare takes aim at Singh in this Yougov blog post ( https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/03/31/analysis-why-yougov-has-upper-hand-eu-referendum-p/ ) suggesting that the golden child's recent explanatory report on EU referendum phone polling is off whack.

Singh believes that there are inaccuracies in both online and phone polls, but that the online polls are out by a wider margin. His thinking? Apparently online pollsters are inclined to be socially conservative (caused by sampling bias) meaning they lean towards Leave by circa 3%. Phone polls lean 5% in the other direction (Remain - weighted towards more socially liberal types), yet another factor over-rides all this because phone polls are more likely to push for an answer than accept an undecided response. When this happens, Singh and his co-author James Kanagasooriam believe that people, presumably in a fit of honesty, opt for the status quo. Because this confrontation doesn't take place online polls, it means that the 'fit of honesty' effect doesn't happen, leaving them a further 5% out in terms of accuracy.

When I heard this, it threw me somewhat. I don't have the wealth of data that Singh drew his report from but I felt that there were other social factors at play that meant the exact opposite was likely. More later.

Shakespeare has a counter argument. Although he respectfully suggests that Singh should be listened to with care, he's adamant that he's wrong in his perception. Shakespeare believes that it's wrong to attribute trust (honest responses) to the phone polls based on the fact that they tend to show greater social liberalism. Instead, he believes that a process of social satisficing is happening, where people are delivering the message they think people want to hear rather than saying what they actually feel. So where there is direct contact, this causes a pronounced increase in 'safe' responses, where as the lack of confrontation in online polls allows people a moment of un-pressured heartfelt honesty.

Intriguingly, he continues by underlining the fact that British Election Study polls (apparently Singh's gold standard of polling) under-represented the UKIP vote by 2% and similarly other significant phone polls were out by as much as 4%. The Yougov blog isn't entirely clear here but I take it that this refers to GE 2015.

There are other elements of Singh's report that Shakespeare questions, yet for my purposes, it's these initial challenges that I think are most relevant.

No Sword of Damocles here

It's nearly impossible to find parallels between this referendum and other recent political events. It's not a cozy, well worn and intellectually brainless party flag waving exercise like a general election. And the dynamics are entirely different from the Scottish Referendum that Cameron no doubt has drawn his confidence and bravado from; whereas the SNP were effectively neutered by the sterling argument, we have no such 'Sword of Damocles' hanging over us. In fact, it could be argued the opposite.

So why do I feel that long standing polling stalwarts and GE2015 star flops Yougov are right and the new David Beckham of polling, Matt Singh is wrong? This is where accusations of confirmation bias could creep in but in my own defence, I'll offer a subtle observation.

I get to travel and meet a wide array of people attached to different industries. It's not part of the job spec, but I like to do a bit of am-dram whilst I'm there, where I present the question of the EU referendum, posing as someone genuinely flummoxed by the whole matter needing illumination. I'm never going to learn anything by leading with my own Eurosceptic credentials so I leave the door wide open, waiting to see what people have to offer.

The pattern I've seen has been interesting to say the least. People who admit to wanting to vote Remain don't wait to make the point. They may share some preliminary concerns in the first breath, but they're quick to come out behind Remain in the second. With Leavers, they're much more guarded and tend to deliver a long winded and apparently thoughtful appraisal of the pros and cons before eventually closing in on Leave. Any sign of sympathy with that position breaks the dam, with surge of concerns about the EU bursting forth when it's seen as safe to share them, confirming their earnest Leave credentials.

Acceptable thought and social media

There's a definite hesitancy when it comes to people fessing up to being a Leaver and I think it's rooted in the perceptions of social acceptability. Remain is spun as a matter of international inclusivity whilst Leave as an act of recoiling self interest. In this world, where everyone can become a casual activist on social media by holding up a board and virtue signalling (whilst pouting like a thoughtful trout), the boundaries of social satisficing are being set. The mistake that these couch campaigners are making is to think that by controlling what is perceived as a socially acceptable position to take, they're actually influencing the decisions that people will make. And I'm sure this is what lead to over confidence by the Labour party at during GE 2015.

What we feel and what we're comfortable talking about in public are two entirely separate things, for most people at least. In fact, the mind prison that both legacy media and social media activists roll out in order to contain and control debate is only likely to fuel resentment and determination by those who feel oppressed, making them more energised than the Facebook 'share and like' generation to get out there and exercise their rights on referendum night. Barking? Well, take a look at how long it took for politicians to finally accept that concerns about immigration are not rooted in racism. Better still, Justin Welby finally conceding to the same fact as late as March 2016 only to be leapt on by the Independent newspaper who, with some zeal, used quotes from the Twitter thought police in order to discredit a perfectly reasonable message. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/justin-welby-archbishop-of-canterbury-criticised-after-saying-it-is-not-racist-to-fear-immigration-a6925026.html).


Apparently, newspapers reporting what people said on Twitter = journalism. Hence the Independent had to go.



Summary

It seems to take much longer to crack open the Leave egg than the Remain one. The perception of self interest is one which doesn't resonate well in the echo chamber era of social media virtue signalling, so it's masked and guarded. As a result, Leave may well be the shy Tories of this referendum. Whether it's a game changer is yet to be seen.