Calm Down At The Front

Each passing week sees the European referendum debate stepping up a gear and with it the rhetoric edging closer and closer still to the edge of the cliff signposted, 'barmy.' Last weeks offerings stretched credulity by offering both Hitler and Churchill in equal measure along with the not inconsiderable feat, from the Prime Minister, of including the dead of two world wars. Gordon Brown stepped forward to calm things down and instructed us in earnest Presbyterian tones that it would be un-British to leave the EU. Thank you Gordon. As it happens, one of the few quietly sensible reasons for Remain that I have yet heard is that the EU prevents some of the worst excesses of national governments, 'just think what Brown could have done to us had he been unleashed from the restrictions imposed by being part of the EU,' said my chum over a glass. 

Despite all the made up bilge that has poured out the polls remain remarkably consistent. They suggest that Remain have a lead of up to 10 points but are vulnerable to turnout numbers on the day and the 'fuck it,' factor. I don't use the phrase lightly. The backlash against the Establishment elites, which really started with the Arab Spring, has manifested itself across Europe and most prominently in the US with support for Donald Trump. National politicians and the media who get animated about Trump and sneer at his supporters are rather missing the point. Many if not most of his supporters are not Trump acolytes. They are simply fed up. Fed up working longer and harder for less. Fed up seeing their aspirations, ambitions and dreams being trampled on and fed up watching the relentless growth in the wealth gap between the super rich and the rest with no conceivable way of joining then party. The non stop lecturing from the inner circles of international finance, the Bank of England, (who mostly should at this point shut up), and supportive media like the Economist may just provoke a Trump like backlash from British voters that they least want. Such a backlash, and I do believe it is fermenting, would slice through that 10 point lead.

In fact, the Economist is becoming ever more shrill in it's warnings. Good thing the Economist rarely gets the big calls right then otherwise we'd all have Euro's in our pockets. No matter, it is to the Economist we look to find a letter from a reader in the United States who articulates rather well how the US election cycle has got to where it is. This is what Mr Mark Kraschel of Portland Oregon has to say,

You used so much ink trying to convince us that Donald Trump is not fit for office (“Time to fire him”, February 27th). Do you think the type of person who reads your erudite publication would ever consider voting for him? Not likely. The people who will vote for The Donald are the disaffected bitter-clingers whom the last candidate you passionately begged us to vote for—Barack Obama—disparaged in his campaign. Those same disaffected people haven’t been doing well over the past eight years, and in case you haven’t noticed, they are mad as hell.

Government isn’t working for us. There are few good jobs, we’ve been stuck with a joke of a health-care system, the few rights we still enjoy are under siege and the future looks dim for our children. We are powerless to foment a revolution while working two part-time jobs to make ends meet, so all we can do is register a protest against the Dickensian nightmare that the elites have created for us by voting. Apparently, nobody listened (Republican or Democrat) to what we were trying to say in 2012. Come November, you’ll be hearing from us again, louder and clearer.
— MARK KRASCHEL Portland, Oregon

From where I am standing, the Remain campaign would do well to take a big dose of humility and immediately stop hectoring from the pulpit. We don't like being threatened and no one likes a bully. Similarly, the Leave campaign must start explaining the positives of leaving and how the mechanics of extraction will work in practice and do so with calm authority and dignity. I'm obviously not holding out much hope for any of this to transpire and confidently expect proceedings to deteriorate into an unseemly squabble punctuated with more hysterical warnings of plague and pestilence from a political rabble who are increasingly detached from Planet Reality. Voters will take action accordingly.

 

A Good Day

Mr Cameron has done a good thing in fulfilling his promise and offering us a straight answer in-or-out referendum on Europe. While I don't agree with his personal view, I respect him as a man and a politician for having the courage to face down what has been a corrosive issue in British politics for a generation. Some would say it has been corrosive for Britain but then we have the referendum to settle the issue. He at least has done what none of his predecessors had the confidence to do.

Westminster and the media are loving the whole thing. They relish plots, intrigue, alliances, broken loyalties, subterfuge and everything else that goes hand in hand with the self feeding circus they live off. After all, this is why they all did PPE at Oxford and this is their moment. Well, actually... sorry to rain on your parade boys and girls but it isn't. The rest of us have been waiting an awfully long time to make ourselves heard and I suspect the sound is going to rattle and reverberate across the world on June 24th at a level that will spin the needle off the clock. My view, for what it is worth, is that the leave vote will overwhelm those who wish to keep the status quo by a margin which Westminster, and the EU, are simply not prepared for. 

We have already heard many short sound-bite arguments from both sides, usually in less than 140 characters. Much of what is said is simply made up and has no basis in fact. The principle tactic employed by both sides appears to be one of who can scare us the most. Well it won't wash. In the voting booth most citizens will disregard all the hysteria that has been pumped out and will simply apply their own reasonableness test based on their own experience of family and community around them. No nation on earth is better equipped to be reasonable, it is what we are. That gives me confidence.

Nonetheless, in a modest contribution to the discussion allow me to share an illuminating discussion paper on Brexit written by former colleague Dr Savvas Savouri of Toscafund, in which he deconstructs some of the more alarmist claims being banded around the television studios by the Hampstead and Notting Hill crowd. It is worth taking the time to read.