Monday 15 February 2021

The Zombies Are Too White: The Politics Of Video Games.

A debate regarding video games may not seem to be the most obvious subject to address on this blog not least that as a medium it has historically been associated with teenage boys. Given the infancy of the medium and its technological limitations a few decades ago where games were little more than Pong or Space Invaders that is perhaps understandable.

Yet teenager boys from the early days, who were distracted by the adventures of a certain Italian plumber, have become (mostly) middle aged men; many now part of a multi-billion pound global industry. This is an industry which has evolved into one by adults for adults, indeed the average computer gamer is now in their mid 30s. Crucially in parallel to a generation becoming older there has been ever significant advances in technology. Both developments have combined almost seamlessly to a point where debate increasingly becomes less about technology and more about whether video games are now an art form.

When considering the entertainment industry, attention largely considers films, television and music. And not without good reason. These entertainment mediums dominate media coverage, There is glitz and glamour in the film and music industries and nothing more epitomises this best than the substantial coverage given to award ceremonies such as the; Oscars, Grammys, Golden Globes, MTV Video Music Awards, BRIT Awards and so on. Pages of newsprint are even dedicated to the best and worst of women’s outfits as they walk the red carpet.

Conversely computer game awards ceremonies such as the Golden Joystick awards or Game of the Year award passes by with little media attention aside from the specialist media. This is more than surprising given that the video game business is now larger than both the movie and music industries combined, making it one of the largest global entertainment products. Even in North America alone video games outperform both the movie industry and all North American sports put together which includes the very lucrative and popular NFL.

Global video game revenue accounted for $120 billion in 2019 and in 2020 revenue was expected to surge to over $179 billion in 2020, although with the Covid lockdown and with many at home on furlough seeking sanctuary in gaming, indications are that figure could well end up being even higher.

British developed Grand Theft Auto V is the highest-grossing entertainment product of all time, surpassing every film, book, and music album. GTA V has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, earning its publisher more than $6 billion on a development budget of $265 million.

Yet GTA is not the highest-grossing overall video game franchise. That title belongs to Pokémon, which has brought more than $17 billion to Nintendo since its inception in 1996, almost doubling the original Star Wars trilogy which collectively grossed $9.4 billion, despite the latter’s re-releases, merchandise and special editions.

Given the enormous money video games commands in terms of revenue it’s clear that it doesn't receive anything like the media attention it should warrant. Rarely has there been a better example of a medium that flies under the radar so comprehensively regarding its cultural impact.

And unsurprisingly with so much money at stake with relatively little accountability or media “sunlight” comes dodgy practices, scandal and politics. And politics is now everywhere in video games.

For example Watch Dogs Legion – made by the French game developer Ubisoft has obvious anti-Brexit overtones dismissing a post Brexit London as xenophobic and nationalist, the themes in Far Cry 5 are regarding religious cults and has an anti Christian tone, Tom Clancy’s The Division 2 is a clear celebration of the 2nd Amendment as is the hugely popular franchise Call of Duty.

Detroit: Become Human is a very unsubtle game about black slavery. The Outer Worlds game co-director Leonard Boyasky admitted; “[The game is about] power and how power is used against people who don’t have it”. The Grand Theft Auto series has always been a satire on American culture and politics not least in GTA 5 where there is a torture mission which is the game’s statement on America’s controversial rendition policy, and the futility and unreliability of torture as an interrogation method.

Death Stranding by the legendary, albeit hugely egotistical, game developer Hideo Kojima admitted his game was anti Trump and anti Brexit:
"President Trump right now is building a wall. Then you have Brexit, where the UK is trying to leave, there are lots of walls and people thinking only about themselves in the world.

"In Death Stranding we're using bridges to represent connection - there are options to use them or break them. It's all about making people think about the meaning of connection."
The irony though was the game is overrun with lengthy self indulgent cut scenes where Kojima’s less than subtle political points about connections are from a perspective of transmit only. Nowhere does he seem to appreciate that people of other countries other than his may have a different point of view and maybe worth listening to.

And nor is politics confined to the themes of games themselves. Black Lives Matters logos were added last year to numerous computer games as part of a downloaded "update".

Ubisoft’s games, including its best selling franchise Assassin’s Creed, begin with a start up screen with the following words:
"Inspired by historical events and characters, this work of fiction was designed, developed and produced by a multicultural team of various beliefs, sexual orientations and gender identities."
On older games the message used to conclude with the words; “… by a multicultural team of various religious faiths and beliefs.” Naturally as trends have moved on regarding the concept of discrimination the words were amended to include “sexual orientation and gender identities”.

Ubisoft has long gone out of its way to pantomime its ‘wokeness’. It probably won't come as a surprise to even those unfamiliar with video games that Ubisoft as a company hasn’t exactly practised what it’s preached. It’s been exposed as a toxic workplace where sexual harassment, abuse, racism, and homophobia were allowed to flourish. Ubisoft stands out amongst other major game publishers where abuse is rampant, this in an industry where loose morals like exploiting developers by what is euphemistically known as ‘crunch’ is common place. The relative silence from the specialist media has always been revealing.

Another company which is less than candid with its principles is Blizzard Entertainment creator of the hugely influential World of Warcraft genre. It became embroiled in the Blitzchung controversy, where Blizzard banned a professional Hearthstone player for simply supporting Hong Kong pro-democracy protests.

After much internet outrage what followed was one of the best examples of a craven non apology ever made by a company CEO (J. Allen Brack) imaginable - so much so that not even the sycophantic audience could manage to applaud in the right place and had to be prompted. That Tencent, a Chinese entertainment giant, owns a 5 percent stake in Blizzard's parent company, Activision Blizzard is obviously a coincidence.

That it was a non apology was not how it was reported in the games media. Right across the media the term ‘apology’ was used for an apology that clearly did not exist. This being a reflection of the progress of the media which has moved on from historic video game moral panics into a compromised shill for the video games industry.

Previously the long term narrative determined that lots of teenage boys playing video games meant a substantial number of them would turn into serial killers. For a long time it was a typical simplistic media moral panic that retained a similar mindset that always emerges when confronted with any forms of new technology; such as the early days of films, music and the home video scares of the early 1980’s. 

Now due to the importance and size of the industry increasingly the media are more concerned with access to early review copies or developers for that all important exclusive. 

Early review copies before release are used by big game studios to enforce a more positive review with the obvious threat of a future review copy withdrawal. A relationship is on the line. Thus with a reluctance to call into question the more dubious aspects of the gaming industry such as microtransactions, loot boxes and crunch the media becomes one of group think. Nowhere is this now more apparent than its endorsement and obsession with identity politics and agenda driven personal outrage - seven long paragraphs of Polygon's Cyberpunk 2077 review was about transgender issues. 

Long gone are the days when you simply wanted to know whether a game was any good or not – increasingly every review is couched in a political framework. Alanah Pearce formerly of IGN admitted that reviews are written for their peers not their readers.

The Sony PlayStation 4 exclusive game Days Gone was a good but not a particularly original game about surviving a zombie apocalypse. Yet the games media such as IGN and Gamespot reserved much of its criticism for the game being too white. Not only that it had a white gruff biker protagonist but also its zombies were too white. Apparently zombies in the game were in need of more diversity - despite that the game’s lore makes clear that virus mutation means many of them became albino.

Ghost of Tsushima on the PlayStation 4 was given relatively underwhelming "official" scores with more than a hint of media criticism of “cultural appropriation” - a game about a Samurai by an American company. Yet when Japanese gamers bought the game in serious numbers to the extent Sony had to order another production run to cope with demand, the Western media went away, had a think, and then decided as it was so popular in Japan it must be a celebration of far-right Japanese nationalism. Yet Ghost of Tsushima has became one of 2020's most successful underrated games, which has seen very high user scores. 

And it's here we come to what could be described as the “Last Jedi" problem. The Star Wars film Last Jedi was widely praised by the legacy media but when it came to the general public it came under fierce criticism for tokenism and running a coach and horses through established Star Wars lore. The contrast between established critics high scores and low user scores on Metacritic is striking. And increasingly this disconnect is becoming more common as the pusillanimous media write for their peers and not their own readers who they view with ill-disguised contempt.

Regarding computer games nothing epitomises a more compromised media, overt politics, and ill-disguised contempt in recent times then 2020’s release of The Last of Us Part 2. This deeply flawed game and the political media fallout is one we will explore further in part 2 of this piece. 

Friday 24 June 2016

EU Referendum: We've Won!

Jean Monnet, Arthur Salter, Robert Schuman, Ted Heath, Nigel Lawson, John Major, Peter Mandelson, Tony Blair, David Cameron, Geoffrey Howe, Douglas Hurd, Michael Heseltine, Nick Clegg....

Your boys took one hell of a beating

Thursday 23 June 2016

EU Referendum: Leave And Embrace The 21st Century

The photograph above is my vote on a ballot paper on the EU referendum. After circa 40 years I have at last had the opportunity to register my objection to membership of an anti-democratic political union - a union which is a relic of an early 20th century project attempting to solve a problem which no longer exists.
Should we remain then we will have another round of further integration as per the draft treaty of the Fundamental Law of the EU

Monday 25 April 2016

EU Referendum: Flexcit, Obama And Boris

“America would welcome it if Britain should apply for full membership in the [EEC], explicitly recognising that the Rome treaty was not merely a static document but a process leading towards political unification.”(George Ball Under-Secretary of State for JFK 1961)
It's been well documented, even by its own internal Wilson report, that the UK public broadcaster is less than impartial when it comes to reporting on the EU accurately.

And it's also well documented that the United States is keen on UK membership of the European Union for reasons that are less than altruistic as the above quote illustrates very clearly. The US was always going to interfere, it wishes to have a relationship with a nation state with whom it has historical connections but which is subordinate to a supranational body.

All of the above has been perfectly evident from years of experience and from the studying
the mistakes and lessons laid bare in the wonderful 1975 Referendum book by David Butler and Uwe W. Kitzinger which with unerring and unintentional accuracy predicted many of the same problems 40 years ahead. The book is freely available on the internet,

With this in mind therefore we note this report from the BBC:
The BBC's opening website paragraph is this:
At a town hall meeting in London, US president Barack Obama told 500 young people to "reject pessimism, cynicism and know that progress is possible".
Obama hasn't mentioned specifically the EU, but the phrase of "rejecting pessimism and cynicism" makes it transparent of what his message is, given his previous statements during his current stay in the UK.

And then follows a relatively long piece BBC about Obama which includes interviews with an "international relations student" who's "a non-binary person", an "ethnic minority president of the Oxford University Conservative Association" and "a campaigner on disability and violence against women". All of which sounds very progressive and positive.

When we consider the recent fuss about the "debate" - if we can call it that - with Boris Johnson's ill informed intervention regarding Obama's comments on UK membership of the EU, describing the lame duck US President as "part-Kenyan", the inference and context of Obama's recent comments becomes obvious. The debate is being framed as a well meaning progressive Cameron against an idiot colonial and out of date Boris.

Obama is using well rehearsed emotional issues to attempt to isolate the Brexit campaigners as those who are not normal without, in this report, having to mention the EU. Thus the BBC doesn't have to show "balance" in this particular piece as part of its referendum reporting.

In this sense the referendum is going according to plan. It is a repeat of 1975. It's not like we weren't warned. We knew the BBC would be unfair, we knew the media be unfair, we knew Cameron would lie and we knew American and other countries would interfere.  We knew this.

And that was the point of an exit plan - it allowed us to launch an effective pre-emptive strike. By having a progressive positive plan we would have negated the effectiveness of an American President's intervention.

Instead we are increasingly being lumbered with Boris, a politician without a clue who this blog has long been less than convinced that he is a Eurosceptic Tory - if that term is not an oxymoron.

It's within this context it becomes increasingly difficult to tell whether Boris' current disastrous intervention in the referendum campaign is the result of idiocy or perhaps more cynically an attempt to hijack the leave campaign and deliberately ruin it, The latter would be very much in keeping with his and his family's well established pro-EU views.

The outcome though as it currently stands is the leave campaign loses, Failing to learn these lessons of the obvious mistakes of the past are now coming to pass....again.

Monday 18 April 2016

EU Referendum: Like A Candle In The Wind

Above is a screen print of a recent American publication - National Enquirer - which has made forthright allegations regarding the songwriter Elton John's private life, more specifically the circumstances over his married life.

It is an issue which has now become a Westminster one - vexing the UK media who are currently unable to report explicitly the implied sordid details as they are obviously desperate to do so.

Conversely the National Enquirer is able to be so publicly indiscreet by virtue of being protected by the American Constitution, it can go where the UK media fears to tread, restricted by domestic privacy law - a law heavily inspired from Brussels but fully enforced by a very compliant British establishment.

This lack of ability to report what is common knowledge worldwide on the internet has lead to a series of articles in the UK media, particularly the Daily Mail, spitting feathers at its inability to name Elton John and crucially his married partner Furnish, as part of an injunction.

With this in mind we note that the website PopBitch gives a detailed insight on how newspapers, and therefore readers, can circumvent injunctions by laying down many clues for the readers to follow while not being in contempt of court.

However and much more interesting for this blog is not Elton John's private life - we couldn't care less about that - it is the observation of the vigorous manner the media have attempted to frame the issue as one of free speech, a deceptive attempt for the media to portray itself as upholding the principles of the fourth estate.

This is contentious. Instead it seems that it is details of Elton John's private life which is the media's concern not the responsibility holding the establishment to account which the fourth estate apparently prides itself on doing.

Free speech is something this blog fully embraces, it is the sunlight that exposes the powerful. But we are left in a position where we have to question the direction of the sunlight from the legacy media. Where is the Super Trooper being aimed at? Celebrities? Or trying to inform us on how our country is governed.

The answer resides in the so- called journalistic principles regarding Cameron lying about "vetoing" an EU treaty in 2011 which never happened, or that Cameron's so called negotiations earlier this year were less than impressive and involved directly lying to Parliament or that there's an exit plan which is doing the rounds in Whitehall which is being comprehensively ignored.

In addition why, for example, has the Daily Telegraph have a editorial block on the word "Flexcit" - the only publicly available feasible EU exit plan - being used in its articles by Telegraph paid authors and why has the media failed to report that the Electoral Commission has allowed itself to be completely bullied regarding the time scale of the referendum to the extent it fully capitulated with no fuss.

The legacy media cannot be unaware not least due very often to the comments under the articles which robustly alert them to their mistakes; comments which are often patronisingly dismissed as"below the line". Perhaps in this context can we consider it more than a coincidence that the revamped pro-EU Telegraph website no longer accepts comments. A change which has occurred just before an EU Referendum?

We are tempted to conclude therefore that regarding the UK media if Elton John truly wants a private life then all he needs to do is have a photograph of him prominently holding up a copy of Flexcit. The self censorship of the media will do the rest for him.

It would have been more effective and would have been a hell of a lot cheaper.

Wednesday 3 February 2016

The Cam Sham? Rule One Of Politics Is Never Trust A Tory

If Cameron was expecting favourable headlines this morning regarding his so-called negotiations then he will be sorely disappointed. Dubbed a "Cam sham" the tone of the coverage illustrated by the front pages above has been savage and rightly so. Cameron's so-called negotiations have been exposed for the nonsense they currently are.

As EUReferendum superbly dissects, despite Cameron's boast there are "substantial changes", there are no economic safeguards, no migrant safeguards, no end to "ever closer union" and no red card. Economic safeguards, ever closer union and red cards all require treaty change, a treaty which so far has every sign of having been put on hold. Cameron's migrant safeguards amount to little more than the UK having permission to ask the EU Commission for permission. I presume the Commission's permission will be delivered to Cameron "by fax".

Yet it could still get even worse for Cameron. Lost Leonardo notes that these non fundamental reforms "may not even be the end of Mr Cameron’s humiliation. The proposals now have to be assessed and picked over by the 27 other EU Member States, which may raise further objections in the upcoming European Council meeting, later this month".

Initially this leaves us rather optimistic that a referendum can be won. Without any kind of 'meaningful reform', and I use the term loosely, the polls have long suggested that the leavers will win.

But and there is a very significant but and it's one which leaves us distinctly uneasy. From experience and from studying the 1975 referendum there were certain expectations of Cameron's strategy. Substantial reform of course was never on the cards and so our anticipation of a deal was low, but delivered with plenty of spin.

In addition we expected plenty of theatre (preferably during late 2017 when the UK holds the rotating Presidency of the Council of Ministers), expectation management and the last minute reform rabbit out of the hat. All helped along by a "Pauline conversion" by the so-called right wing press such as the Mail who have always supported EU membership while not making it obvious. No where was this more apparent than over media reports of Cameron's phantom veto - which never happened.

We also have to consider that Cameron is being advised by the Civil Service, EU bureaucrats and other countries such as the United States, none of whom we should underestimate particularly as they all have vested interests in us staying in.

Yet despite that Cameron doesn't even seem to have managed to reach the very low bar he set himself, has left himself open to humiliation and instead of a last minute attempt at a big white rabbit has allowed the internet to have five months to completely ridicule his plans before a June referendum (if he is planning one).

Further concerns come to the fore when Boris Johnson, arch Europhile, suggests that "David Cameron 'made the best out of a bad job' as he refuses to praise EU deal".

Are we being played? Experience most certainly suggests we are. This appears too easy. Too good to be true. Is the ground being laid for something bigger.

Undoubtedly it could be that Cameron has made a complete pig's ear of this referendum and the negotiations. Cameron's form on the matter so far suggests this is perfectly possible.

Yet...we have to remember rule one of politics applies....never ever trust a Tory.

Saturday 30 January 2016

EU Referendum: A Letter To The Electoral Commission

Despite the widely publicised recommendation last year by the Electoral Commission over a change in referendum question, many newspapers still refer to the referendum as a "In / Out" option leading to potential confusion. Thus the following letter has been sent to the Commission;

Dear Electoral Commission.

I am writing to you regarding aspects of the media coverage of the forthcoming EU referendum which I feel could be improved.

On 1st September 2015 the Electoral Commission recommended a change to the proposed question from an “In/Out” question to a more balanced “Leave/Remain” response. The Government and Parliament readily agreed to these recommendations.

The reason for these recommendations was highlighted by Jenny Watson, Chair of the Electoral Commission in the press release. She noted:
“Any referendum question must be as clear as possible so that voters understand the important choice they are being asked to make. We have tested the proposed question with voters and received views from potential campaigners, academics and plain language experts. 
‘Whilst voters understood the question in the Bill some campaigners and members of the public feel the wording is not balanced and there was a perception of bias. The alternative question we have recommended addresses this”.
Given that the Electoral Commission’s recommendations were widely reported at the time by the media, it is of some concern that the media and newspapers in particular continue to frame their referendum pieces in an “In / Out” context rather than the actual “Leave / Remain” options on the ballot.

This has potential for confusion for voters which may undermine the very balance that the change of question was attempting to address. As the Electoral Commission revealed in its ‘Media content analysis’ report in August 2011 on the AV referendum in May 2011: “The news media play a crucial role in informing voters about the issues, alternatives and candidates in an election”.

In addition according to the Editor's Code of Practice issued and enforced by IPSO, "the press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information". As the question was changed for the sake of "clarity" continuing to frame the debate as "In / Out" is potentially misleading.

With this in mind I feel there is a case that the Electoral Commission reminds editors of newspapers of their responsibilities, as part of the process of a free and fair referendum, and that they try to avoid unintentional and unnecessary confusion by accurately reporting the question.

I thank you for your attention to this matter.

Yours sincerely


Thursday 28 January 2016

EU Referendum: The Disintegration Of Vote Leave?

It's a poor reflection on the so-called reporting skills of most of the legacy media that the dynamics between Leave.EU and Vote Leave is seen as infighting. Describing it as in-fighting heavily implies that both camps have the same objective but simply disagree over method.

But as has readily become apparent over some time Vote Leave has no intention of advocating leaving the EU; a deceptive position of theirs which has been excellently exposed by Mr Brexit. Instead this is a battle to prevent a Tory plant campaign winning designation which has the suspected intention of sabotaging the referendum.

If I was Mr Cameron wanting to win a referendum then an obvious tactic to deploy is make sure the opposition was under my control. And it's within this context we must see the actions of Vote Leave who have shown no explicit intentions to leave the EU despite being given many public opportunities to do so. Their evasiveness is their admission.

Yet with the designation debate raging on the internet - largely ignored by SW1 - it comes as no surprise that the media has rather belatedly woken up and are reporting on the dysfunctional nature of Vote Leave. Its dysfunctional nature is not least due to one of its directors Dominic Cummings, which has come to a head this week. The Times (£) reports:
The leaders of one of the campaigns to take Britain out of Europe were the target of a botched coup this week as infighting among Eurosceptics reached new heights. MPs tried to oust Dominic Cummings, the campaign director of Vote Leave, and Matthew Elliott, its chief executive, at a board meeting of ministers and donors on Tuesday.
Bernard Jenkin, a Tory MP involved with the organisation from the start, made the move after pressure from MPs who objected to the way in which Mr Cummings was running it. The plot was foiled after Mr Cummings got wind of it in advance, tipping off friendly board members and altering the agenda to make it harder for Mr Jenkin to mount his putsch.
One source said: “There was an attempted coup against Dom and Matthew. Bernard was trying to get the board to sack Dom and Matthew. Dom and Matthew are adamant there will be no merger with Arron Banks’s campaign [Leave.EU], which some MPs are pushing for. It was seen off. The money men said no. The board has been quite clear: both are staying in post.”
Another source denied that the coup attempt was dead.
“Cummings and possibly Elliott are on the way out. It’s just a matter of time. My money is on Cummings resigning by the weekend.”
With a temporary failed coup, we begin to see signs of a fight back by Cummings with friendly briefings to various journalists such as the Evening Standard:
A Tory MP faces pressure to quit the board of Vote Leave after he led a failed coup against one of its leaders.
Among the chaos we also see via the Spectator, a magician's "look at this hand" distraction:
The ‘in’ side’s shockingly bad start in the EU referendum campaign
Their data is dodgy, they disregard the facts and their leaders are lazy
The same Spectator whose commissioning editor Mary Wakefield just happens to be married to one Dominic Cummings a director of Vote Leave.

Yet Vote Leave's complete unsuitability for designation has been well rehearsed online for some time; with Elliott's previous No2AV campaign's "sharp practices", enriching colleagues and friends and less than convincing data protection practices.

In addition we can see that Elliott's previous enterprise - Business for Britain has not only been apparently sending incorrect information to Companies House but was potentially trading whilst officially dormant. The latter is a criminal offence and a complaint by a Labour MP has been filed with HMRC

Vote Leave is also being hit with numerous suits over breaches of data protection and libel. And complaints are soon to emerge with Ofcom that Vote Leave's appalling website contravenes disability discrimination laws "which ensures that websites are accessible to blind and disabled users". This consideration is particularly important when applying for taxpayers' money.

To add to the shambles that is Vote Leave there have been long running concerns over Matthew Elliott's Taxpayer's Alliance charitable arrangements which has cast a long shadow. The Guardian reported in 2009:
A campaign group which claims to represent the interests of ordinary taxpayers is using a charitable arm which gives it access to tax relief on donations from wealthy backers. 
The Conservative-linked Taxpayers' Alliance, which campaigns against the misuse of public funds, has set up a charity under a different name which can secure subsidies from the taxman worth up to 40% on individuals' donations. 
In one example, Midlands businessmen said they channelled funds through the Politics and Economics Research Trust at the request of the Taxpayers' Alliance after they asked the campaign group to undertake research into policies which stood to damage their business interests. The arrangement allowed the Taxpayers' Alliance to benefit from Gift Aid on the donations, a spokesman for the donors said.
It is understood that further official complaints have been made to reopen the investigation.

Interestingly Guido Fawkes has thus far remained silent on these matters. Westminster backbiting and scandal has always been his bread and butter. Yet with the potential of a major scoop ahead of the media, given his close contacts involved, there has only been silence. Perhaps that's a reflection of his financially compromised position.

It's becoming clearer that the Vote Leave camp is disintegrating - it is now an organisation engaged in warfare. It's a wonder how it could ever now be designated.

But the myopia of a London based media assumed, and still assume, that Vote Leave will be a shoo-in. That is now looking unlikely with Cummings increasingly resembling toast.

Thursday 21 January 2016

EU Referendum: Cummings And Goings

In the spirit of Private Eye's long standing "lookalikes" feature I can confirm that the picture on the left is an alien from the film Mars Attacks and that the picture on the right is Dominic Cummings.

And it's in today's Private Eye we note this piece on the current status of Vote Leave who wish to apply for the official designation for the leave campaign (scanned in - click to enlarge):

There are some interesting nuggets within Private Eye's article such as:
The officials present, even the Prime Minister himself could not quite believe what a wimp [Cummings] was
The bigger problem though for the leavers, largely overlooked by Private Eye, is that Vote Leave do not want to leave the EU - they only wish reform; they only wish remain. When push comes to shove all the Tories will rally around party and Cameron before country.

We've noted this phenomenon before in a previous post which is further confirmed in a Spectator article by Daniel Hannan a director on Vote Leave - his party's deception laid out in plain sight. Mr Brexit does the business in taking Hannan's deception apart...
Daniel Hannan and Vote Leave are continuing to take people for fools. Associate Membership is not some privileged position outside the EU. A two tier property is still a single building. Membership is membership. Britain would remain part of the EU second tier, remain bound by the ECJ, continue to receive and implement directives from Brussels.
The only difference is that the full members will take decisions and further integrate to service their place as Euro currency users. Associate Membership only exists as a concept to enable this deeper integration while keeping non Eurozone countries under Brussels' control. So what Hannan is doing is trying to position continued EU membership as something other than that. He's being completely disingenuous.
He is being a loyal director of Vote Leave (since 22 Dec 2015). That group has always wanted a reform deal, of the type they always demanded in their guise as Business for Britain. They never call for or endorse Brexit because they want to remain in a 'reformed' EU, and everything they do is geared to achieving that outcome. Even Dominic Cummings' notion of a second referendum only exists to reverse a vote to leave after further EU talks and some more crumbs from the table.
If you want genuine Brexit, Hannan and Vote Leave are not on your side.
It's becoming increasingly clear that Vote Leave is a front for Conservative continual membership of the EU. This is somewhat understandable.

What would be the best way to win a referendum for the pro-EU Tories? Infiltrate and hijack a leave campaign, supported by your media mates, which is going for designation ...