The AV referendum in 2011 - which had been offered as nothing more than a sop to the Lib Dems as part of a coalition agreement - was one very few cared about; acutely reflected in the very low turnout.
The lack of interest allowed certain elements of the tight knit Westminster circle the opportunity to win the official designation with little competition and without, it's become apparent, much scrutiny.
Perhaps this gave significant reassurance for a team led by Elliott that designation for the EU referendum would also be a similar shoo-in. Certainly the media, well briefed by Elliott, have assumed so.
The relativity low profile of the AV referendum may have also given confidence that no-one would bother to wade through manually nearly 500 pages of invoices submitted to the Electoral Commission, invoices which illustrate a clear conflict of interest...at best...in the No2AV campaign.
Nor indeed an anticipation that records would be downloaded from companies house, among other records, regarding The Taxpayers' Alliance, nor that records would be sourced regarding companies registered in Hong Kong.
This appears to represent a lack of appreciation that there are many who have been in the anti-EU movement for years, if not decades, many of whom are battle hardened through bitter fighting. We are not going to stand aside and allow a SW1 candidate to waltz in and take the designation especially when it potentially involves handing out contracts to his Westminster friends - financial reward at the detriment of trying to win
So while on the surface it appears the 'leavers' are engaged with fighting among itself what we are instead seeing is battle for the soul of the movement. Much is happening behind the scenes not least significant attempts by those inside the M25 to silence blogs like this one.
It has been notable that Elliott has been conspicuous by his absence since the launch of his inept Vote Leave website. Maybe he's realised that his "vision" of a reformed EU would be contrary to Electoral Commission criteria regarding applying for a straight leave campaign.
"Reform" not leave has been an argument he has noted before - here and here. The lack of clarification on leave or reform has been dramatically exposed by Mr Brexit, Elliott is proving to be one of Cameron's useful idiots writes Lost Leonardo.
Maybe concerns over competition for the official designation bid is why the Vote Leave campaign is now taking to plagiarising other material in what appears to be an about turn to try to win designation as Pete North notes. The latest Vote Leave newsletter says:
“We will be publishing a lot of work over the next few weeks about how we can have a better UK-EU relationship. For example, there are important arguments concerning regulation that we will address soon. Vote Leave is not 'a campaign to scrap regulations'.
The arguments concerning regulation are more complex than the media suggests. Further, they have changed over the past 15 years as the global regulatory system has evolved. Many 'EU regulations' actually come from global bodies.
An important argument for leaving the EU is that we would then regain our ability to influence global discussions about global rules at the global level. There are good arguments for having some common global standards, e.g. the modular, standardised shipping container system has been a huge success.
As the global economy integrates and becomes more interdependent, there will be more global rules and platforms. This strengthens the argument for Britain engaging at the global level rather than confining itself to the parochial meeting rooms of Brussels”Global regulation? 'Not a campaign to scrap regulations'? Now where have we seen that before? Flexcit - two years in the writing and a document hitherto been dismissed by the likes of Cummings and Elliott.
It's shameless as well as desperate...