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.

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