Tuesday, 7 October 2014

EU Referendum: How We Can Win

My previous piece reflected on the free bet that is the offer of a referendum in 2017. It maybe that Cameron doesn’t deliver, and that is of course a risk, but it’s the only offer currently on the table. We should remember that extracting this promise from Cameron has long been UKIP policy. For example in 2011 (2 years after “cast iron”) Farage had this to say:
…Ukip could form an electoral pact with the Conservatives at the next election if David Cameron were to promise a referendum on membership of the European Union. There was "every chance of forcing David Cameron into giving us a referendum", he said. Whether or not to propose an electoral pact with the Conservatives in 2015 would be a "huge decision" for the party, he said. But he had offered the Tories a pact before the 2010 election, he said.
Given Cameron’s track record it’s reasonable not to trust him, though that would imply that other politicians can be trusted. However in my view the question of trust doesn’t come into it. If Cameron wins in 2015, albeit with a small majority, he won’t have any choice but to deliver lest the party give him an offer he can’t refuse. Less a case of trust, more a case of pure political calculation.

If there is to be a referendum in 2017 then another obvious concern is that it will be loaded in favour of staying in. It’s worth noting at this point that exit is very unlikely to ever occur without a referendum being offered and won. The precedent for constitutional change has now been set with the referendum in 1975, Scottish & Welsh devolution, the AV vote and the Scottish independence vote. Nor indeed can we expect ‘perfect conditions’ for one being held.

It’s certainly going to be a challenge to overturn the message of the establishment, media and FUD all of which will be heavily funded. An example of this was during our entry into the then EEC where pro market lobby groups were co-ordinated under the umbrella of the European Movement part funded by the EU Commission to act as an integral part of the government campaign. Efforts were made to bring the media on board particularly the BBC where eurosceptic presenters were dismissed in favour of more sympathetic ones.

However this is not 1975, the world has moved on in 40 years and as a consequence we do have a number of potential advantages over that campaign which can help nullify if not overcome the challenges.

The EU: 
The first advantage is that the EU is no longer just the EEC or a ‘Common Market’. In some 40 years since UK membership the EU has taken ever larger strides towards political union such that its ultimate goal has become much more obvious.

Now it is a ‘European Union’ rather than a ‘Market’. By calling it a “Common Market” meant the 1975 referendum was defined by the terms pro-marketeers and anti-marketeers – membership argued in simple economic terms. Thus in this context Wilson was able to get away with his sham negotiations by reducing it down to the level of import quotas on New Zealand butter and cheese.

40 years on, Cameron could not get away with anything so lightweight. It’s no longer a Market but a Union. Thus there would be demands for a far more substantial return of powers - none of which can be achieved without Treaty change. And that leads us neatly onto the next advantage...

David Cameron:
As has been well documented Cameron did not want a referendum nor does he want to leave the EU. That he has offered a referendum against his wishes is a reflection of his political weakness not his view that he thinks he can win it. We know this because he has made a political mistake. His offer was due to being under pressure from backbenchers who in turn are under pressure from UKIP in the belief that such a promise would win him the next election, and it is an offer made regardless of what concessions Cameron thinks he can spin from Brussels. It is very likely he chose the date as the UK takes over the Presidency of the Council of the EU rather than any other consideration.

The reform option has always been dangerous as it splits the “out” vote to the benefit of those who wish to remain EU members. However Cameron’s promise largely negates the reform option as he can’t possibly hope to have any substantial concessions which he can put to the electorate by 2017. The changes needed to the founding Treaties simply cannot be achieved in time. Thus all he can rely on is what will be unconvincing spin without substance.

And this is where his track record of ‘PR man’, ‘cast iron’ and ‘lack of trust’ becomes an asset to the out campaign. Without Treaty change it will be spin few will believe and it is a mistake we can capitalise on. A mistake that Clegg appears to appreciate very acutely during the Lib Dem conference:
The Lib Dem leader said he was committed to a vote when there was EU treaty reform, but criticised the "arbitrary date" of 2017 set by the Conservatives.
It’s worth noting that the Scottish referendum also had superficial promises of the reform option announced by, among others, Gordon Brown who tried to rewrite the UK constitution on the back of a fag packet in an impassioned speech by offering essentially devo-max to the Scots. Yet the pledge of reform made little difference to the final results which were in line with months of predictions by the polls. Other core substantive issues instead decided the referendum which we will explore later in this piece.

The 1975 referendum was the first ever in the UK, thus there was no real direct experience to draw upon. As a result many mistakes by both sides were made, not least in the failure of establishing a coherent message particularly from the anti-marketeers - with the word 'anti' portraying negative connotations, In contrast we have the opportunity to learn not only from the referendum of 1975 but subsequent ones over AV and Scottish independence, and we can endeavour to try not to repeat mistakes made there.

The Internet:
In 1975 the media and all the newspapers bar one – the communist Morning Star – supported EEC membership. Such support would be similar today, including from the likes of the Daily Mail which in editorials has made it clear it supports EU membership.

However unlike 1975 we now have the internet and everything that comes with it; smartphones, Twitter, Facebook and forums. The establishment no longer has a monopoly on information. Scotland revealed the significance of this development. The independence campaign was a dry run of how an EU referendum would be conducted and it showed comprehensively that unofficial campaigns centered on social media was very powerful.

Indeed the Scottish referendum has revealed that social networking via Twitter and Facebook played a very significant part in the vigorous and intellectual debate to the extent that the “yes” vote remained strong in the final outcome:
The 2008 US election showed how politicians could use it as a campaigning tool, but it wasn't until the Scottish referendum that Britain really caught up.

According to Facebook, more than 10 million interactions were made about the fight in a month. So who won the social media wars - and what can we learn from it? The simple answer is: the Yes campaign was victorious.

The official Twitter account of the Yes campaign has an impressive 103,000 followers compared to 42,000 for Better Together. Alex Salmond boasts 95,000 Twitter followers and Nicola Sturgeon has 66,000 - while Alistair Darling has just 21,000. On Facebook, the Yes campaign page attracted more than 320,000 likes compared to 218,000 for the No.
But debate was not only held on the most well known outlets, there was much passionate debate on forums such as Celtic Football Club’s which ran to an impressive 1674 pages.

It’s also worth noting that during any campaign the URL address http://www.eureferendum.com/ would be much sought after – and this is already registered by Richard North. Typing the words “EU Referendum” into a search engine and links to the country’s premier eurosceptic blog comes top of the search results.

Thus with the internet we can bypass the mainstream media. This is a tactic that was used by Farage in UKIP’s early days. Comprehensively ignored at the time by the media, Farage went under the radar by taking the message direct to people by travelling the country and addressing local meetings. He was to replicate this method in 2013 with the Common Sense tour.

As UKIP proved, such methods can be very effective in getting the message across despite the bias of the legacy media and so it can prove with a referendum in 2017.

There's a strong anti-establishment vote: 
Unlike 1975 where there was more deference to the political system, we now have the obvious decadence of Westminster politics. A decadence which reveals itself by the increasingly lack of quality in MPs, hopeless leadership, the lack of relevance of political parties with membership plummeting, and the electorate itself being treated with contempt and their anger in return.

Revulsion at this decadence and alienation from Westminster is common to both England and Scotland. In England it expresses itself partly in UKIP; in Scotland it helps power the SNP.

Thus unlike 1975, the parties of Westminster campaigning as one in 2017 to stay in the EU could actually prove to be useful as part of an effective anti-establishment campaign which when based around sound exit answers can win over a lot of people, as was shown in Scotland.

The establishment is not always united:
The Scottish referendum illustrated that the establishment campaign epitomised by Better Together was not always united. Although they shared the same aims of keeping the union together the fundamental differences between parties and between themselves could not help coming to the fore. Gordon Brown was sidelined until the last minute, Darling was consistently criticised for running a poor campaign, for example in May 2014:
Alistair Darling has effectively been dumped as head of the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK following crisis cross-party talks.
And naturally there were tensions between the Tories and Labour:
A Labour MSP has criticised his party’s decision to “hold hands” with the Tories in the ‘Better Together’ alliance against Scottish independence and has claimed that the No campaign is now unable to “outline a coherent vision”.
Then arguments over "reform"
The Better Together campaign has been accused of “spiralling into self-destruction” after UK cabinet ministers appeared at odds over enhanced devolution proposals.
And after the vote:
Ed Miliband today publicly snubbed Gordon Brown after thanking every Labour MP who campaigned against Scottish independence – apart from the former Labour leader.
The 'in' campaign is likely to be as split as the 'out' one.

Having a major party on board is not always necessary:
As the SNP found out to its cost, a major party with an official position does not always mean party supporters and members follow suit  - voters in Salmond's own 'backyard' of Aberdeenshire gave independence the thumbs down. Official positions of Labour and the Tories in an EU referendum are likely to be very different to its members when deciding on an EU referendum and there are likely to be splits within.

The question has already been decided:
Should Cameron endeavour to progress with a referendum then it's out of the question that he can manipulate the question. The Electoral Commission has already given its advice to Parliament - the full details of its advice can be found here. In summary it advises:
If Parliament wants to retain the use of ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ as response options to the referendum question, then the Commission has recommended that that the question should be amended to:

'Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?'

If Parliament decides not to retain a ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ question, the Commission has recommended the following referendum question:

'Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?'
The European Economic Area (EEA):
Unlike in 1975 we have an off-shelf economic model in form of the EEA which can successfully nullify the FUD which will undoubtedly be deployed to portray by fear that leaving would be economically disastrous. The EEA was designed as a ‘stepping stone in’ for reluctant countries such as Norway and this can very easily be used as a ‘stepping stone out’. The economic arguments of 1975 would be made redundant:
Let us be clear about one thing: In or out of the Common Market, it will be tough going for Britain over the next few years.
In or out, we would still have been hit by the oil crisis, by rocketing world prices for food and raw materials.
But we will be in a much stronger position to face the future if we stay inside the Market than if we try to go it alone.
Inside, we can count on more secure supplies of food if world harvests turn out to be bad. And we can help to hold down Market food prices - as we have done since we joined in 1973.
The EEA therefore allows us to sideline the economic arguments effectively and so use the referendum to concentrate on the political aspects of the EU which prove to be so unpalatable for the British people (my emphasis):
Public opinion is divided on the detail of Britain’s role in Europe, however. Around three in ten each would prefer to see ‘Britain’s relationship with Europe remaining broadly the same as at present’ (32%) and ‘Britain returning to being part of an economic community, without political links’ (30%). One in five would like to see ‘Britain leaving the European Union altogether’ (20%), with ‘closer political and economic integration’ with other EU member states the least favoured option (13%).”
The 1970's pessimism has gone:
It's not unreasonable to suggest that the early 1970s provided probably the only window of opportunity to have joined the EEC. The UK was beset by a national lack of self confidence not long after "Great Britain had lost an Empire and had not yet found a role", the Suez crisis, devaluation in the 1960's, a global recession, spiralling inflation, collapse of Britain's traditional manufacturing industries and rising unemployment and industrial unrest.

With this in mind it's easy to understand why the UK sought refuge in the EEC. Yet largely as the result of the Thatcher reforms of the 1980s, the UK escaped from the inward straightjacket of its past. Rather than pessimism overshadowing the next referendum a confident UK will now be able to take advantage, outside the EU, of the dominating factor of trade...

Nothing illustrates the ever decreasing need for single market access for the UK than the rise of globalisation. This is the EU's redundancy notice, its P45. The EU is a relic of the 20th century, a time when the cold war dominated, when memories of war on the continent were still painfully fresh. Yet during the late 1970s and 1980s we had the emergence of other markets such as Japan.

Fueled by the evolution of technology, improved transport (Containerisation) and the growth of multinational companies and trading blocks globalisation is now the dominating factor. With the growth of China and India, the United States for example is increasingly looking east rather than to the EU in terms of importance of trade.

With globalisation has come the increasing importance of global bodies setting international standards. The Single Market, is a collection of regulation which drives the harmonisation of standards, with a view to not only facilitate trade throughout the Communities but to lead to increasing "political union" in the EU. It has primarily a political objective not an economic one.

However the EU acquis of harmonisation is gradually being replaced by international regulation which does not have the same political overtones. As such the EU loses its European distinctiveness and simply becomes a property shared by all members of the WTO, which they will all use as the basis for international trade. The EU's Single Market thus will become redundant. Gradually it is being replaced by the globalised market.

As it stands, as long as we are in the EU, we have a subordinate position, (only 8% of the vote within the EU) on international bodies and the agreements on international standards are negotiated and approved by the EU on our behalf. 

However EFTA/EEA countries such as Norway are able to negotiate for themselves at the top international table and only after they have agreed them are they then processed into actionable law and passed down to regional trading areas such as the EU. The following graph illustrates how this works:
The early '70's demonstrated the UK's lack of ambition and self-confidence by tying itself to an inward-looking customs union based on the European continent.  A 2017 referendum will give the opportunity to argue instead for a vision which was not available in 1975 - a vision that embraces the globalisation one which the UK can fully participate in.

An Exit Plan:
With the above in mind it is essential then that there is a detailed, workable and credible exit plan. Nothing illustrates this better than what has been very apparent from the Scottish independence referendum. The 'yes' campaign was not undermined by FUD, nor by the closing of ranks by the establishment, nor by a loaded referendum question nor by the lack of funds. Instead what the polls clearly showed is Salmond lost primarily due to not answering the currency question:
Meanwhile so far as the issues are concerned, if the Yes side does lose it will probably have done so not least because it never managed to persuade a majority of Scots that the country would be more prosperous under independence. YouGov find in their latest poll that only 35% think Scotland will be economically better off under independence while as any as 47% reckon it would be worse off.
Of course, describing the patterns of the kinds of people who were more or less likely to vote Yes or No does no more than give us clues as to why people voted they way they did. What we can note at this stage is that women, older people, those in ABC1 occupations and those born elsewhere in the UK were all, according to YouGov’s final poll for The Times and The Sun, relatively pessimistic about the economic consequences of independence. And as we have repeatedly noted on this site, nothing seemed to matter more to voters in deciding whether to vote Yes or No than their perceptions of the economic consequences of leaving the UK.
In other words Salmond did not have a well thought out exit plan to deal with the basics. And failure to address the core problem of currency if Scotland left the Union then plants further doubts in voters' mind about other issues such as; defence, NHS,oil, immigration, EU membership, the Monarchy, pensions and so on. If Salmond had provided answers to these then it is very likely we would be looking at an independent Scotland.

One of the fatal flaws of the 1975 campaign was its inability to come up with a credible alternative to then EEC membership, a situation replicated by Salmond. With a fully workable exit plan we can avoid that flaw and crucially win...

This is the joker in the pack. Without yet a resolution to the inherent problems of the Eurozone namely it's still only an economic union without the political union necessary its problems are far from resolved. Given that a referendum is likely to take place in September of 2017 (during the UK Presidency of the Council of the EU) it will be at a time that is traditionally one of market turbulence. We could see a Eurozone crisis right in the middle of a referendum campaign.

In many ways therefore we can see that winning a referendum in 2017 is perfectly possible. Reluctance to take a calculated risk until conditions are just 'perfect' obviously begs the question if not in 2017, then when?


  1. A good overall analysis and I'd agree with most of it. I'd caution you on only two points:

    1) The "In" side will avoid the term "European Union" like the plague. They will use the term "Single Market" repeatedly. In fact, they already do -- see the Financial Times. They will do their best to stick to economics (FUD). If possible, the term "Single Market" will be appended to the ballot in the same way "Common Market" was in 1975. For example: 'Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union (Single Market?' This has to be dealt with, head on.

    2) Re: Scottish independence. I think there's serious dangers in treating the Scottish referendum and a potential Brexit one the same. As just one example, I actually think the British establishment fought a very poor campaign and I would charge some members, such as the BBC and the Guardian, as being at best AWOL. Part of it was complacency, of course, but I expect a much tougher campaign in a Brexit referendum. Salmond actually got lucky in many, many ways. It wasn't simply about the currency issue. We can't count on that.

    Otherwise, in terms of the economic situation, new media, decline of deference and all the rest, you're pretty much spot on.

    Except I think Cameron will find some way to weasel out of his 2017 commitment even if he wins....

  2. I do not want to vote Conservative in 2015 principally because of the contemptuous way that Mr Cameron has treated his supporters and the way that the Conservative Government has not passed Conservative laws. We will suppose however that Mr Cameron wins a majority in 2015 and then states that there will not be a European Union referendum after all. What do we do then?


  3. ''Nor indeed can we expect ‘perfect conditions’ for one being held.''

    Roughly around twelve years ago, Blair was given a fairly extended interview by Jonathon Dimbleby on an ITV 'QT' type programme which has long since disappeared. In that interview, at one point he asked Blair details with regard to the referendum which was supposed to decide Single Currency membership. Winding up that session of the debate, Blair gave the standard retorts with regard to 'if you lose the referendum' with the meaningless 'well, it would be strange having gone to the lengths of having a referendum, we'd then ignore the result'.

    'So, if you lose, you'll legislate to retain the pound and accept the result and move on remaining outside the Euro then' - Dimbleby replied.

    With the sickest, slickest of Blair grins, he responded 'Er.... well, no, I didn't say that'.... And Dimbleby naturally ended the session there without the remotest intentions to follow that up.


    We may not be presented with 'perfect' terms for a referendum, but we damn well need better terms than are on offer right now. Cameron has not in any way, shape nor form given a satisfactory answer with regard to an 'out' vote. He has also continued to evade any scrutiny of what he would accept as the form of EU he'd find acceptable to put before the electorate. The notion of 'not giving away his negotiating red lines' is frankly drivel.

    It may well be that - as some say - the Conservative Party will threaten another internal civil war if Cameron refuses to legislate for an 'Out' vote. Well, they'll have it - for several reasons.

    One, as Redwood continues to point out, that there is no Parliamentary majority for EU withdrawal. Even if the public vote 'No' (just run with it for now) it's extremely unlikely that Parliament will recognise it. And you can forget a sympathetic hearing in the House of Lords.

    Long one - sorry. Second part coming...

  4. Pt. 2

    Nobody I have ever talked to in local politics answers this question with anything other than astonished foreknowledge. With a look of disdain, when posed with the question of a Referendum vote which goes against the government, not one individual local MP, Councillor or party worker of any main party I've talked to would concede immediately that a Government was under an obligation to honour the result. Each and every reply was a version of 'The Prime Minister will have to resign', 'There would have to be a second Referendum' or 'There would have to be an immediate General Election'.

    And to reiterate, Cameron has not once, not ever confirmed in any form in the English language that he would honour an 'Out' vote with a legislative session to extract the UK from the EU.

    It's not uncommon that people will still try the scam that the 1975 referendum was a fair trial and that all facets of it were honestly published and up front of the consequences. They say 'Should have read the small print at that time' in justification.

    It's exactly what they'll say in thirty years time if the referendum continues under current levels of evasion and concealment. 'Cameron never said he'd leave the EU, he was clear he wanted to remain in - you should have asked at the time' will go the phrases. (....and no, I'm not going to entertain catty remarks about having a crystal ball - it doesn't take long to go on past instances to work out what will be said at that future time....)

    Douglas Alexander intentionally fought the recent EU elections denuded of any mention of the EU in any respect. Labour won't even engage in the public debate. Cameron's intentions are hidden behind a referendum\reform package, the details of which are also wilfully hidden.

    No part of the establishment will even recognise or acknowledge the political aspect of the debate - no matter how aggressively the observer might prod.

    What better time to have a referendum? It's certainly a bad time to have a wrecking referendum which Parliament will almost certainly overturn or ignore. If you can't accept that Parliament would conduct itself thus, I'll invite the reader to present a clear, attributable and recorded instance that this Prime Minister has indicated he will legislate for, and action, UK withdrawal from the EU. One instance or quote which hasn't been pre-invalidated by the standard-issue Parliamentary weasel-wording.

    Others have commented recently that under a second coalition, Clegg would attempt to extract heavy concessions from Cameron if he was to underwrite an EU referendum. Almost certainly one of them would be that Cameron would be required to campaign to remain 'In' the EU. A Cameron resignation at that point, or a confidence-based General Election will see the Conservatives fight that election in the midst of session of violent internal struggle (it's happened before and it will happen again under such circumstances, you don't need that crystal ball to predict it).

  5. Pt. 3

    Solutions? I have none - but I'd say as a precursor to accepting the challenge of a pre-rigged Referendum that the 'Out' campaign declare to those organising that referendum that all terms of reference and details are presented to the public well in advance of that campaign being held - including full details of how a Government will conduct the matter upon the event of an 'Out' vote. There should be no irony nor askance. In the event of the 'Out' campaign continuing to be denuded of those informations, or refusal of the gatekeepers of power to even acknowledge critical aspects of the debate, that to do so will prove entirely unprofitable in historical terms. They'll simply sour their own milk and guarantee the matter continues to remain unsettled. Why should 'out' campaigners accept the result of an egregiously rigged Referendum yet again? Nothing to do with sour grapes - it's about legitimacy, clarity and accountability.

    On this I'll just speak personally, but without that clarity of information from Cameron well in advance of his alleged renegotiation\reform, I'll gratefully decline the tempting offer to hand him a blank cheque on the matter. In particular when practically every observer agrees he's not to be trusted.

  6. Annexe 'A'....


    Probably just reasonable to re-introduce M.E. Synon's exceptional contribution to the Bruges Group as posted by RN at that time. It's a pertinent reminder of the type of antics our politicians can be relied upon to enact.

  7. The Conservatives have to win a clear majority to do this, and that isn't looking likely.

    It's not a question of who you believe, so much as what you believe. I'd have said the movers and shakers of the Conservative Party were quite capable of destroying the party rather than seeing it deliver an in/out referendum there was a decent chance of resulting in an out. An in vote would be the Holy Grail. No matter what the conditions it was obtained on, it would be treated as an in vote and the matter regarded as settled.

    I don't believe the Conservatives would have mentioned the EU more than they had to, much less a referendum, had the polls ever given them a reasonable chance of winning the next GE.
    I really don't understand the enthusiasm in some quarters for pushing for the Conservatives on the basis of this referendum pledge.

    Admittedly, were this to come about it wouldn't be quite as dire as the 1975 referendum for several reasons.

  8. Speculative comment on an In/Out referendum and Cameron's stance on this in 2017 is, as I have argued before, all very interesting but largely premature at this stage in the electoral calendar..
    Of course we all agree that Cameron is not to be trusted and that coming "negotiations" and his absurd objective of "a reformed EU are completely pie in the sky.
    In which case the lie must be fully exposed for what it is.

    My view is that 'outers', now need to concentrate on insisting relentlessly that Cameron makes public precisely what he intends to negotiate on our behalf. We face an election in a few short months, and we know that our political class in all three parties will do anything and everything to avoid speaking of the "elephant" let alone define in clear terms for the public their intentions.
    And yet this conspiracy of silence, particularly by the Tories, covers their main plank of EU policy to present to the electorate before the election! As yet they simply mouth the mantra - "we are the only party....& etc.
    I agree that we are not in 1975, and therefore the economic issue of our membership is not so prominent as it was then (those who are politically aware already know that the EU is an economic basket case anyway).

    The central issue then will be - what does Cameron intend to negotiate? What areas of policy will he put as priorities (if any). What about repatriation of the CAP and CFP for example . What precisely will he demand about immigration from the EU?
    I am suggesting that he must NOT be allowed to engage in secret, hole in the corner, meaningless negotiations on minor issues which he will placard as being wonderful, but merely cosmetic and relatively unimportant.
    Will the whole country therefore be brought into the process, and if not, why not (pace the Scottish referendum and the fierce but meaningful political debate that ensued) In any event the issue of national independence is much the same as we know.
    Cameron and the Tories all claim the mythical moral high ground that only they offer a referendum.
    Ok fine. In which case we must know WHAT a vote will be based upon, and we need to be asking our Tory MPs these embarrassing questions right NOW, while we have the time.

    Some may argue that to insist on this is unrealistic and will fall on deaf ears. Answer: Only if we allow it to remain a secret debate confined to inner Tory circles a la another "seven veils" illusion.
    Lets be specific - i.e. will you or wont you repatriate the CFP - yes or no? . Cameron needs to be nailed down on these. If answers are refused or fudged then we need to keep asking until we get specific answers on them and debated as widely as possible in every media outlet possible.
    Only in this way will the electorate test the reality or lie of Cameron's EU promises before the election.

    1. Exactly, this is the core of the problem - not 'whether' Cameron will hold the referendum, but how it will be fought, the detail behind it and how a Government - and Parliament - will respond to an 'Out' vote.

      For these purposes, I'd take it as read that practically any reader of the thread here has assumed that Cameron is concealing important information from the electorate, and is intent on delivering what would amount to a rigged - even intellectually fraudulent - Campaign. From the M.E. Synon link above, I'll cherry pick a couple of points she makes which are central to any 'Out' Campaign:-

      ' you have a referendum at all. Cameron may slip out of it exactly as he slipped out of a Lisbon Treaty referendum. Still, I understand most of you believe that, if you get an in/out referendum, and the out vote wins, then - hurrah! – free at last. You’ve won.

      Don’t kid yourselves.'

      'Here is what to expect. If you want to get your country out of the EU, you’d better come up with a strategy to overcome this....'

      'A referendum under a Cameron majority government would be worse than no referendum at all.'

      If the Outers are to fight a pre-rigged Referendum, if the factors above remain unchanged, the Out side will need to adopt what would notionally be seen as having a stridently negative edge on these particular points. The Campaign will need to have a boldly-fought in-yer-face aspect that Cameron is lying - and if he wants to disprove the accusation, that he will have to give unambiguous, clear and unqualified answers to the central points above, without obfuscation, evasion or misdirection. In particular bearing in mind Peter Hitchen's repeating words attributed to Jeff Randal:-

      ...' ‘To describe Cameron's approach to corporate PR as unhelpful and evasive overstates by a widish margin the clarity and plain-speaking that he brought to the job of being Michael Green's mouthpiece. In my experience, Cameron never gave a straight answer when dissemblance was a plausible alternative, which probably makes him perfectly suited for the role he now seeks: the next Tony Blair.’


      I understand the imperative that some have adopted in taking up Cameron's challenge as the only viable one. Those same people have already conceded essentially that it's a sham, but nonetheless the gauntlet be taken up. There's also a clear need for a strategy to break up the central dishonesties in Cameron's stance, and those strategies need to be coalescing in parallel tandem with plans for a positive 'Out' campaign.

      As Synon indicates, there is no evidence in any respect, no matter how frequently sought, that Cameron is planning to directly respect an 'Out' vote. 'We' need to continue to loudly highlight this unremittingly until the wider public begin to appreciate the point.

    2. A few months back Open Europe was talking about reforms which could be achieved without treaty change.

      The Tories will never be drawn on what they intend to renegotiate and what the minimum demands are because we are looking at a party which absolutely does not want to leave the EU. If they made things clear in the way you suggest, it would make their chances of pulling a Wilson, which is the clear intention, non-existent. They are almost certain to get nothing of any substance, but if it was made black and white that nothing had been achieved, they couldn't support an in vote on the results by bigging up nothing.

      They need the water to be muddy.

  9. Cosmic. I fully agree with your points, and yes a "Wilson" deception is definitely on the cards. It is often said that history repeats itself, and a re-run of 1975 in terms of deception is likely knowing the deceit of Cameron.
    However the point of my post was to emphasise how
    imperative it is to counter this well beforehand with specific demands for an open and public debate on negotiation details
    and BEFORE the GE, on the grounds we are the electorate and must be heard. If not, wave goodbye to your GE electoral chances..
    In a word, the Tories must be drawn so that their political nudity is fully exposed!

  10. It isn't going to happen, as the EU says vote again till we get the correct result, we can talk and discuss in reasonable civilized terms but the rulers live by their rules and will change the goalposts, as the Ukraine has shown perhaps extreme violence will be the only way out of their grip, one way or another it is going to end in tears, I never hated the continent of Europe till it was imposed on me, but these days I am so wanting to go to war against the French, Spanish, Germans and every other bugger on the continent. Being British though I remain silent and recite mealy mouthed platitudes about the interference of the EU in such major concerns as the content of meat in what is classified as the great british sausage, but I seethe inside at the state of play in politics today and hold every single politician in immense disdain and contempt. I hold my breath talk civilly, the obedient citizen cowed in to submission, forced into feudalism, shafted by our "representatives" threatened by a paramilitary police force, forced into not being able to speak freely. I could go on, just suffice to say really p****ed off

    1. Oh yes, now I am not alone. Actually, I think there are probably many tens of thousands of English who would delight in your words. We are possed off. This is a good debate here, some well thought out arguments. On balance, UKIP elected would get us out, Conservatives elected would keep us in - somehow. I will speak to Anne Main, hear what she says, then vote UKIP.

  11. You say "The European Economic Area (EEA):
    Unlike in 1975 we have an off-shelf economic model in form of the EEA which can successfully nullify the FUD which will undoubtedly be deployed to portray by fear that leaving would be economically disastrous. The EEA was designed as a ‘stepping stone in’ for reluctant countries such as Norway and this can very easily be used as a ‘stepping stone out’."
    Yes I am all for it but what about the continuation of free movement of people still? EU immigration has been UKIP's trump card in its advance!

  12. Cameron must be pushed on the 'ever closer union' question. Everything else is all but irrelevant. Whatever 'promises' he may come back with will easily be undone as the EU juggernaut rolls on to 'ever closer union'.

    Ever closer union, deeper integration call it what you will is the single issue that will not go away. It is the issue that unites most, including business, as being in the Out camp.



    I too am surprised how many people are willing to give Cameron's Referendum a chance when he is so clearly adamant that he does not want to leave the EU and the power behind the Tory throne (europhiles to a man) will not allow such a thing to happen - ever!

    The risk of Cameron;s Referendum is that a YES result will all but kill off BREXIT as the politicos take a YES as a mandate for 'more europe' and any opposition will be derided with "we have had our Referendum".

  13. I want out of the EU as much as anyone but I can't help but view the recent Scottish thing as a barometer of what to expect.

    For years, the Scotland Out thing had been viewed as mere jousting but there came a point where it looked like it might actually be a possibility.

    What happened? All kinds of scaremongering about what would happen if they were to vote out.

    Why, even the Queen herself was apparently asked to interject and plead with them to consider very carefully the ramifications of leaving the UK.

    Why even Gordon Brown, who I thought had crawled under a stone never to be seen again, resurfaced and gave his views as to why the Scots should not leave the UK but should seek "re-negotiations" (or something... whatever... didn't the whole EU thing teach him anything?)

    That was just Scotland leaving the UK.

    For the entire UK to leave the EU, I can just imagine it ten-fold.

    I just hope sufficient people are able to see through the veil.

    If you're a doctor then you'll still be a doctor if we leave the EU. If you're a mother then you'll still be a mother if we leave the EU. If you're a bricklayer then you'll still be a bricklayer if we leave the EU.

    All of these roles were always needed and will continue to be needed.

    We did just fine before the EU and we'll do just fine after it.

    1. The thing which struck me about the Yes campaign in the Scottish referendum was the basic dishonesty of what they were offering and the tide of emotion which glossed over some basic questions.

      We are going to be independent and run our own affairs. We have the potential to be a small decently run country (that's true).

      We will work towards a fairer society (Define "fairer", but one involved in more state hand outs seems to fit).

      What about the currency?

      The rUK is bound to enter into a currency union and anyway it's a technicality.

      The rUK was bound to do no such thing and there were good reasons why they shouldn't. In any case a currency union implies political union which is the very thing a yes vote is there to avoid. Any realistic currency solution involves running a balanced budget which conflicts with state hand outs financed by running up debts.

      What about NATO membership and threats to act up over the Trident base and be a general nuisance to the organisation? There's also the matter of 10,000 jobs associated with the base.

      What about the finance industry, worth more to the Scottish economy than oil and which would naturally base itself in an established state just south of the border where 90% of its customers were.

      What about EU membership? The EU appeared to be saying that Scotland disappearing as a part of the UK and reappearing as a part of the EU with no gap wasn't on the cards. There were very good reasons why they would heave a sigh of relief at a yes vote. The Yes camp had to offer convincing reassurance as to what would happen were Scotland to become a new state outside the EU or any other international associations and explain what was to happen on the reasonable assumption that joining the EU might take five years, during which?

      "We did just fine before the EU and we'll do just fine after it.", Yes but this is something along the lines of "We have the potential to be a small decently run country.". You can't just ignore 40 years of integration unless you can call on a level of political will which I suggest isn't really there. Much of the dishonesty in the Scottish Yes campaign was the notion that they were going to vanish from one state of being and reappear in another state of being, with the intervening and painful stages being brushed out of the picture.

      Now, I don't believe the problems of the UK leaving the EU are the same as Scotland leaving the UK, but there are questions which need answers if an intolerable level of disruption is to be avoided at least as much as sources of attack on the idea as genuine objections.

      That there was no honest and realistic answer to the currency question was a show stopper as to Scottish independence in my view. You can hardly argue that "We are best placed to run our own affairs" if "we" are either lying or making unrealistic assumptions as to the way foreign countries would deal with us, and have no convincing answers to so basic a question. It wasn't scaremongering to suggest that the SNP were encouraging people to take a leap into God knows what on that basis alone.

      Flexcit is an attempt to defuse the obvious objections to the UK leaving the EU by smoothing the way and not relying on unwarranted assumptions that it will all be all right on the night.

  14. Well, while I appreciate the intelligent points above, I think some of us are becoming cynical to the extent that they're walking away from reason.

    Sure, Parliament could disregard a referendum that resulted in an "Out" vote, but there are untold and manifold dangers in that case -- not the least of which would be the wholesale and quite possibly permanent discrediting of the entire British constitutional system among the overwhelming majority of the population. At that point we are in uncharted and very dangerous waters. Our political elites simply aren't that brave (tho' I concede they may be that stupid).

    The reason the Europhiles can shrug off the criticisms of the 1975 referendum (entirely legitimate criticisms, I would add) is because the British people voted to stay in the "European Community (Common Market)" (to quote from the ballot) by a greater than 2-1 margin. It was a landslide defeat for our side which is why any criticism of it, no matter how reasonable, is dismissed as a rejection of the decision of the British people. In short, we're painted as rejecting democracy.

    Hold a referendum in this country where a majority vote to leave the EU and that position loses all political and moral suasion.

    Yes, I think Cameron will do whatever he can to avoid holding a referendum in 2017 (or any time after), but if one is held, as I believe one will, a majority for the "Outs" means the end of our EU membership.

    There is everything to play for.

  15. Useful insights overall, but a few errors. First, in 1975, the Spectator was also on the side of withdrawal.

    As for "Thus there would be demands for a far more substantial return of powers - none of which can be achieved without Treaty change".

    It is my belief that Cameron will not give a referendum even if re-elected. This is because (under the acquis communautaire rule and established EU law) you cannot take powers back from within the EU. So Cameron would have nothing to take to the British people.- a pro-Cameron newspaper recently confirmed that a referendum would only take place after renegotiation.

    He would be rumbled if he tried to do a Harold Wilson and sell superficial concessions as some sort of a victory (Telegraph readers are already rumbling Cameron after yesterday's hyped bogus 'victory' over EU immigration).

    If people are mad enough to trust Heir to Blair, he will probably make sure that 'renegotiation' discussion drag on forever, and will blame either other EU members or external events for any delays. His MPs will not put themselves out of a job by bringing the government down, so he would get away with it until 2020 when he would probably want to retire and become a roving global gay marriage ambassador.

    1. Anon. I take all that you say in your last two posts, (and content of article above) but reiterate the .one single point I sought to raise in my posts, namely that the urgent issue now is the looming GE and the Tories vain boast about "re-negotiation and reform of the EU. which they would not wish to come clean on.
      In the remaining months as a matter of tactics we must "hold Cameron's feet to the fire" re his much vaunted "negotiation".
      He hopes to do a Wilson of course, i.e. minimum effort in the "negotiations" ( which he does not believe in any way, but he has been forced into this position), use the occasion to prevaricate and delay, maximise any minor proposals for change, then dress it up as good for Britain" - but in effect NOTHING.
      I am asking that his bluff is called and that 'outers', fully aware of his deception, must make this an election issue between now and the GE and demand to know what areas of policy he intends to address, or not address, and so bring the EU to the fore in pre election debates so that it is not submerged by many other issues that they will wish to campaign on to do with the "wonderful" Coalition record etc..

  16. TBF. Please heed your own website comment about the permanent limitation on national sovereignty.

    If Cameron tried to change the EU treaty, it would be against EU law for the EU27 to accept this. The European Council and Council of Ministers are both EU institutions, and thus bound to work to the goals of EU treaties - ever closer economic and political union.

    It was only last year that continentals like Barroso, Westerwelle and Van Rompuy were lining up to tell Cameron that he would get no serious discussion on getting powers back.

    1. Quite right, which is why Cameron's reform proposal is a non-starter. He needs Treaty change but cannot possibly to hope to get it. He would need the approval of other member states and as you rightly note the EU won't wear it anyway. This is where he's made a mistake...

  17. The EUreferendum website and the Flexcit proposal only see EEA membership as a stepping stone to getting a better deal outside the EU.

    As opposition to unlimited EU immigration (including the free movement of criminals) is likely to be a big factor in winning an unlikely referendum, I would not hype the EEA beyond this.

    Robert Oulds' Everything You Wanted to Know About the EU shows how the EU would be bound under World Trade Organization rules to carry on trading with us. I cannot see the EU breaching this obligation and causing a seismic stock market slide.

    1. Thanks for mentioning immigration. Re my post at 19.25 yesterday, much as I like the stepping stone theory, I cannot help but see unlimited EU immigration as a fatal flaw in this Flexcit scheme, added to the other drawback of the Single Market in that its rules govern all our internal domestic trade as well as exports to the EU.

  18. TBF: "With the above in mind it is essential then that there is a detailed, workable and credible exit plan. Nothing illustrates this better than what has been very apparent from the Scottish independence referendum.”

    And there can be no more credible an ‘exit plan’ than one undersigned by both the British government and the EU itself. No greater guarantee of workability than the mutual endorsement of those parties to a new relationship such a plan describes. Nothing of greater essence in the minds of the voting public than a concluded plan named 'The Framework for Britain’s Future Relationship with the European Union’.

    Article 50, of course, goes out of its way to provide the apparatus for this plan to be made. It also acknowledges that Britain's realisation of its intention to withdraw from the EU is conditional on concluding such a plan and, thereafter, it receiving constitutional consent at the ballot box.

    A year or so ago, TBF, you began an analysis of Article 50 and then gave up. Had you persevered, you would have found ALL the mechanisms for building a safe, ordered, publicly-appealing and dispute-free withdrawal plan are there before your very eyes. Flexcit (with all its errors and assumptions) is redundant.

  19. I do not know what we are all worrying about Cameron has already sorted out the immigration problem.

    "David Cameron claims victory over EU migrants: Brussels agrees restrictions on free movement of workers may be needed"

    Ken Adams

  20. A very good piece and well argued. I once voted for UKIP, but before was s regular conservative voter, but no longer. However looking at the choice in the next election I feel forced to vote again for the conservatives, as was once. A win for any of the others would be disastrous, not only because there would be no referendum and the economy would die. The energy policy is so insane that words fail, we seem to be ruled by a strange coalition of WWF an Greenpeace, neither were on the last ballot paper.

    1. Thanks, it seems rather odd to me to say the least that we now have to rely on the Tories rather than on UKIP to exit the EU.

  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. The November 1st meme is not true...



  22. Thanks for the links Boiling frog ... opened my eyes :)

  23. It was interesting the idea of a Grand Alliance of Con and Lab to keep UKIP out. See how it pans out.

  24. If I take anything from the Scottish referendum it is just how important having a major party, preferably the ruling party is, the SNP nearly did it despite the fact that they did not have a believable exit plan. Perhaps we have the plan, but without the party we will loose the referendum, Cameron will make sure of that. He after all will have just won an election and all the power will be in his hands. My short comment below was intended to indicate the power in action

    "David Cameron claims victory over EU migrants: Brussels agrees restrictions on free movement of workers may be needed"
    Ken Adams

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