Saturday, 21 November 2015

EU Referendum: Americans Should Stay Out.

This blog largely stays clear of American politics as the nuances and subtle dynamics of another country's politics are often lost to those have not resided in the country for many years.

The reverse is, of course, true and we saw a wonderful example last year when
Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigned over tweet regarding Dan Ware displaying England flags outside his house. What was understood to UK political observers was less so to those across the pond - this was clearly evident from the Washington Examiner comment editor Philip Klein at the time:
This becomes more evident when it comes to the EU. Seen partially through the prism of the UK, America is a step removed and have no direct experience of what it's like to live under a supranational government.

With this in mind perhaps
it is not the wisest move to appoint as a referendum strategist an American, which is what Leave EU has done in the form of Gerry Gunster. And so it's proving. As EU Referendum observes this is a man whose only experience of winning referendums is by aligning himself with the status quo camp, and has shown no knowledge of the EU and "even has no direct knowledge of British politics".

Employing an American also presents another problem.

As we have seen already other countries are going to interfere in what should be a purely domestic vote on our own democracy. The United States, which has
its own selfish motives in keeping the UK in the straitjacket of the EU, will be at the forefront of this interference as this intervention in June earlier this year demonstrates:
The UK must stay in the European Union to continue to have influence on the world stage, US President Barack Obama has told the BBC.

He said the UK's EU membership "gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union".
And nor will it be just utterances by the US President. As was the case in 1975, there will inevitably be active financial assistance to keep the UK in:
Sir Richard Body: "After I became joint chairman of the Get Britain Out Council two Americans came to see me in 1975 with a large bundle of papers. They were, they claimed, CIA agents who deplored their country's methods in interfering in the affairs of a good ally. What they had brought were copies of documents which showed that a dedicated federalist, Cord Meyer, jnr. was to become head of a CIA station in London for the duration of the Referendum "to do what it takes" to secure a "Yes" vote in favour of Britain remaining in the EEC. The papers showed that the CIA had already given the European Movement considerable sums of money, but now multinational corporations which had been assisted by the CIA were to be persuaded to fund the "Yes" campaign through indirect channels".
The United States should be told to mind its own business, yet with the Leave EU campaign having an American as the main strategist in a UK referendum diminishes the obvious retort that Americans should stay out of UK's domestic matters.

Friday, 13 November 2015

EU Referendum: Blogging Matters

Recently we have made some minor housekeeping adjustments to the blog, and there are some more changes to make. Added to the side column is a contact form where I'm happy to take questions or offer advice to any reader who wishes to start out as being a blogger as part of the campaign to remove ourselves from the EU.

We have made changes to the blogroll where I'm more than happy to included any blogs I've inadvertently missed out. Just let me know via the comments or by the contact form. Some videos which are no longer relevant to a referendum campaign have also been removed.

With the thus far disappointing nature of both the Vote Leave Ltd and efforts, both of whom are attempting to "own" the referendum with sometimes crass and puerile stunts. A referendum has to be won by the people, not "owned" by a leader.

It therefore looks like UK exit from the EU will have to increasingly rely on those who use the internet outside Westminster. Here then independent blogging can be but one tool in this fight. Using this medium we can build communities and use blogging to brief in plain sight.

While not having the prestige of the legacy media and sometimes not the numbers it can seem that blogging has a limited effect in terms of publicity. But as bloggers we can make a huge difference. With this we are reminded of the "CiggyBusters" campaign in 2010 for example where Medway Council took fright after complaints by an internet campaign not least by the now defunct blogger Corrugated Soundbite.

We also see how effective a bloggers' campaign was against Open Europe which prompted Open Europe's Mats Persson to write a deceitful article in the pro-EU Daily Telegraph in response. In addition we see how the video campaign 10:10, No Pressure by Franny Armstrong fell apart quickly when faced with bloggers and the power of the internet.

Here we're minded to think of Rochester Castle which is pictured above. One of the interesting features of Rochester castle which can be seen in the picture is one of the towers is round while others (the other three) are square.

The reason is the consequence of the 1215 siege by King John during the Baron wars. The round south east tower was initially square like the others. During the siege the south east tower was undermined destroying the foundations of the tower which was supported by wooden props.

These props were then burnt with pig fat causing the tunnel to collapse and subsequently the tower. When the tower was rebuilt castle defensive technology had moved on resulting in it being built round rather than square.

In this sense blogging is a means of undermining the castle of lies, with a relatively small but very effective team.We can take down the castle walls by tunneling underneath.

Monday, 9 November 2015

EU Referendum: Children At Play

Dominating the headlines (but almost certainly for only one day if that) are reports of a stunt by two students sneaking into Cameron's address to the CBI and heckling him regarding the pro-EU bias of the CBI. One of the students confessed that the stunt was "the most terrifying thing I've done in my life". We'll leave that comment to speak for itself.

It is of course true, and well documented, that the CBI is most definitely pro EU and always has been. They were a significant force during the debate over whether the UK should join the Euro. This was natural with a project which could have been seen as economic in nature (though it wasn't) but with the question of ultimate exit from the entire EU political project they will be an irrelevance come the poll. This is especially so if we remain, on a interim basis, part of the single market as per the Flexcit exit plan.

Such nuances though have passed the students by, and they have reduced what should be a level of campaigning based on intellectual foundations down to 'heckling' which is then easily dismissed. All publicity is not always good publicity.

The stupid crass stunt allows Cameron to take the moral high ground and thus appear statesman-like rightly dismissing a stupid schoolboy prank for what it is, being easily branded as fools by a Prime Minister who has gone to the country and won an election against the odds. This when conversely we need to strip Cameron of inherent prestige in order to win.

Conformation has come from Guido that it was apparently organised by Vote Leave Ltd  - Guido of course would have inside information as he is closely linked with Vote Leave Ltd and Matthew Elliott not least due to potential financial benefits for himself.

And revealingly it was representatives for "Students for Britain" who protested on behalf of Vote Leave Ltd - their website notes:

Students for Britain is a new campaign pushing for fundamental reform of Britain’s relationship with the European Union. We want to amplify the voice of young people across the country who feel that the EU is not working for them, and is in need of radical reform.
Here we go again; a Matthew Elliott based campaign wishing reform not exit. How ironic that an essentially pro-EU student group is protesting against the pro-EU CBI.

This is exactly what happens then a campaign has a no strategy, and has to instead indulge in meaningless stunts to look active. A pressing concern is that Vote Leave has to appear active to keep its sponsors content who are funding an expensive operation out of Westminister.

Ultimately this is coming across as a campaign which is not taking a coherent intellectual argument to the country but a Westminster bubble activity based on crass stunts.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

EU Referendum: Leave.EU Gets It Wrong Again.

My previous post about Leave.EU's ill-advised tweet regarding Guy Fawkes suggesting they were advocating murder attracted some criticism not least from commenter AndrewZ who noted:
You will only damage your own credibility with that kind of hyperbole.
My comment in response outlined the danger to the leave movement when it makes such comments:
People's true feelings are often expressed using humour. We remember the 10:10 video campaign which featured people being blown up. They said it was a joke but Franny Armstrong's subsequent comments showed she clearly meant it.
More importantly though, the EU referendum has a huge number of vested interests riding on it. Therefore when we enter the campaign proper (particularly if polls show a strong leave vote) then the fight will be very dirty.
The is going for official designation and if it wins it will come under sustained and vigorous attack. -no-holds barred. If it produces tweets like that then they will be condemned across the establishment in precisely the language I have used above.
Dismissing it as silly is no excuse, there's going to be no prisoners taken during this fight and the criticism will face with tweets will leave this blog piece looking mild by comparison.
It's a warning to Banks' of what he can expect
And so it proves on Remembrance Sunday again resulting from a tweet posted by Leave.EU:
Campaigners who want Britain to leave the European Union sparked a furious row today after using Remembrance Day poppies to attack Brussels.

Organisers of the Leave.EU campaign were branded 'shameful', 'disgraceful' and 'disgusting' for posting a tweet which said suggested staying in the EU would 'give up values for which our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice'.

Critics said Remembrance Sunday should not be used to score political points before the tweet was deleted.
I didn't anticipate such evidence to back up my previous post would happen so soon.

And this is how a referendum will be played out - every misguided tweet will be highlighted, reported and taken out of context. Deleting said tweet by Leave.EU is an admission that it is portraying itself as a bunch of amateurs.

This referendum is going to be a brutal fight, yet both of the leave campaigns attempting to win official designation are showing a worrying lack of appreciation of this reality.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

EU Referendum: Leave.EU Promotes Murder?

As today is November 5th, we'll see plenty of fireworks which are less a celebration of Guido but more that he failed. The celebration is not one of an attempt of Parliamentary democracy but instead is one against a reactionary religious terrorist who failed.

Thus it's interesting that Guido's blogging namesake celebrates his apparent "anti-establishment" credentials while being a fundamental part of the establishment while trying to enrich himself on behalf of the taxpayer.

With this in mind we see with absolute astonishment, Arron Banks' Leave.EU operation tweet the above advocating to blow up EU institutions. There are no arguments, nor debates, but instead a tweet advocating destroying buildings which would pose a considerable risk to people in it. is promoting murder. Perhaps it's us but how this helps the leave campaign win a referendum quite escapes us.

It's less a gunpowder plot and more the Leave.EU has lost the plot.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

EU Referendum: The People Versus Cameron

As we can clearly see above with Conservative MP Owen Paterson's answers in a BBC Newsnight interview last week he demonstrates conflicting loyalties. A loyalty naturally to the Tory party, (and his boss Cameron), which largely wishes to remain members of the EU, a loyalty to Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliott of Vote Leave Limited who are increasingly showing no interest in leaving, and a loyalty to the campaign to leave the EU.

It's this contradiction of conflicting interests which meant Paterson was unable to put forward a convincing case for the UK leaving the EU when being interviewed; he was trying to ride two horses at once rather unsuccessfully.

This is an interesting and revealing example of the contradiction since 1973 within the Tory party where some party members who wish EU exit have traditionally placed loyalty towards an inherently europhile party above trying to demonstrate the case for an independent Britain. This has led to the enduring "policy" of the nonsense of so-called EU "reform" - a continuing pretense that it isn't the Tories' fault that the EU has somehow diverged from a so-called common market.

Meanwhile outside Westminster the EU has always made it clear it was about political union from the outset and any reform to the contrary is little more than asking for a barking cat:
In respect of the European Union, this principle [of barking cats] is as important as it is profound. As a treaty organisation, steeped in history and protocols, with its own embedded "political DNA", its behavioural pathways are fixed. There are certain things it will do, there are things it can do. And there are things which, under any circumstances, it will never do - because it cannot. 
Thus by the EU's own political DNA, to give the UK the "reforms" it allegedly wants is a complete non-starter.

So while the BBC's Evan Davis is clearly in favour of EU membership given that his questions posed to those arguing in favour of EU membership meant a much easier time that those arguing against, the lack of Tory party clarity on the issues helps the remain campaign.

A national referendum though is not a general election campaign. A referendum allows the people to have the opportunity to lead and the politicians have to do as they are told - direct democracy - a plebiscite, where the people rather than the politicians make the decisions.

There are no constituencies, no tribal loyalties with the electorate and the use of tactical voting becomes redundant. Politicians themselves have only one vote like the rest of us, and with most MPs supporting remain - aided and abetted by a pro-EU supporting media - the referendum becomes a contest between the people against the pro-EU establishment.

The dynamics are thus different to a general election, where the electorate are de facto electing a Prime Minister to run the country; in 2015 for example it was a contest between Cameron and Miliband. However a referendum is not about electing a leader, it's about the people having a say over policy.

Thus American Gerry Gunster who has been hired as Arron Banks' referendum adviser, rightly says that a leave referendum campaign should not have a leader as it is prone to the vulnerability of attacks on a target.

With this in mind it is evident that when being outnumbered or outgunned in a physical confrontation it is often a successful method to isolate and take out the vocal leader at the front. As Sun Bin, a Chinese military strategist observes:
To Catch The Bandits First Capture Their Leader

[This] means that you first have to take out the leader of your strong enemy. After that; your whole enemy will lose the fighting spirit and will flee or surrender and will defect to your side and that leads to a great victory.
And it's here the leave campaign has a potential advantage. The establishment will be represented not by the remain campaign, which is little more than a pantomime horse - a decoy - but instead by Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service, David Cameron. Incumbent of office and titles confer upon Cameron prestige; a prestige which gives him authority.

The remain campaign, therefore will have a leader whilst the leave campaign, if it plays its cards right, will not. The real enemy will not be the EU but Cameron. And as Sun Bin observes above we have to capture the leader. It becomes necessary to strip him of the prestige of office and attack him personally, perhaps making it very personal.

The essence of trust in this referendum is vital. We know from experience Cameron is not to be trusted - cast iron guarantees. We also know he never wanted a referendum because he wants to remain a EU member:
"I don’t want an ‘in or out’ referendum because I don’t think out is in Britain’s interests.”
Therefore the question ultimately comes down to whether Cameron can trusted or not. He has limited options and is betting the bank on a new EU treaty with the option of Associate Membership. But the new treaty cannot be delivered in time for the 2017 referendum, so Cameron will only be left with promises of future change not yet defined. A very weak hand.

This makes an exit plan for the leavers essential. With Flexcit we can present a better offer of a new relationship with the EU, in contrast to Cameron.

In addition having an exit plan, and one which potentially is part of winning referendum campaign, means the leave campaign will have a mandated plan on how to leave. This will ensure that there can be no stitch up should we win. A danger otherwise would be that post Article 50 the subsequent negotiations are little different to EU Associate Membership. A second referendum on the outcome of negotiations will keep the government honest.

So as per Sun Bin, Cameron is the target, take him out and we take out the remains.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

EU Referendum: Elliott Was Director Of Britain in Europe Campaign Ltd

As Vote To Leave rightly observes Matthew Elliott has been a director of a company named as Britain-in-Europe Campaign Ltd. To be a director of a company named Britain in Europe is very odd for someone who wishes to apply to the Electoral Commission to campaign to leave the EU.

Vote To Leave notes further concerns:
Firstly, why did Matthew Elliott only resign as one of its directors two weeks after Vote Leave was incorporated with Companies House? Second, why was he a director of it for four years when the company continues today with William Norton as sole director
Quite clearly it's not unreasonable to question Matthew Elliott's motives regarding an EU referendum particularly when we consider his past performance with the AV referendum, where he is under scrutiny of enriching his friends with taxpayers' money. This is rather ironic for someone who established the Taxpayers' Alliance.

Perhaps it's unfortunate for those involved with the AV referendum campaign that a new development with Companies House means that it now appears to be releasing its information free of charge. Typically and historically Companies House documents have cost £1 a piece but now via a "beta" website such information is now free of charge.

So in addition we can see via Companies House that Matthew Elliott was listed as a director of the "Yes Campaign Limited", having resigned on 1st October 2015. Why would a Director of a "Yes campaign" and "Britain in Europe" who is on record many times as wanting "EU reform" be trying to submit a bid for Brexit?

More to follow...