Thursday 24 December 2015

EU Referendum: Merry Christmas And Looking Forward To 2016

2015 is nearly over - a year which proved to be pivotal confirming that a referendum will take place in 2017 allowing us the chance to remove ourselves from the insidious supranational organisation known as the European Union.

Despite a number of pre-election predictions to the contrary, including from UKIP's Farage,that Cameron could not be trusted to deliver on his referendum promise if he won the general election in May, political reality suggested very strongly in advance that he had no choice.

And so it's proved, with 2015 being the year that a Royal Assent has recently formally approved an EU Referendum Bill. This will be the first referendum in over 40 years on the EEC/EU and so we, the British people, have a belated chance to decide how our country is run 40 years after the 1975 referendum. There can be no excuses now.

On an optimistic note so much has changed since 1975, not least that crucially we now have the internet. And with the internet there's is no hiding place when the likes of William Hague, among many other Tories, pretended in the past that they were Tory eurosceptics only to betray their gullible party supporters as they have always have done.

The referendum is likely to turn out to be a contest between the people versus the establishment (not unlike the Scottish referendum) and we have the freely available tools to spread the message easily.

This blog has been comparatively quiet recently, yet that is not a reflection on the what is happening behind the scenes. We are likely to have a fascinating year ahead, one which can help change the dynamics of the eurosceptic debate.

Meanwhile thank you to everyone who has read and commented on my blog in the past year. Have a fantastic Christmas and wonderful New Year. We'll be there on the other side in 2016.

Monday 14 December 2015

EU Referendum: Another Reason Why June 2016 Poll Is Unlikely

Despite frequent articles from journalists of the legacy media suggesting there could be a referendum as soon as June 2016, the Electoral Commission has made it perfectly clear (page 17) this cannot be possible as ten months must elapse between Royal Assent of the Referendum Bill and the poll.

The Electoral Commission recommends a six-month gap between passing of the law and the start of the referendum campaign. If then the referendum campaign includes designation, the combined campaign period would need to be four months, (page 6). Four months plus the six-month gap gives us the ten months.

With the Referendum Bill unlikely to receive Royal Assent before Christmas and the recommendation of a ten month window, as highlighted by this blog and EU Referendum, all but rules out a 2016 poll and certainly it rules out a June 2016 poll.

The Electoral Commission is a statutory body and thus its recommendations can be subject to judicial review. Recommendations have to be taken seriously as evident by its statutory advice over the referendum question change. The lack of reference to the Electoral Commission's recommendations by the UK media does bring into question its integrity and its less than candid nature.

Yet in addition to the Electoral Commission recommendations, another factor comes into play regarding a June 2016 referendum and it is one which has a more political significance than a legal one.

June 2016 is when UEFA is hosting its football championships in France. The draw, which involved three of the four Home Nations was made on Saturday, where one of the fixtures will be England versus Wales. Here then we will have a month of football in European wide tournament held in France - an EU member state which is a crucial and pivotal part of the EU.

With media build up to a tournament involving England it would seem inconceivable that Cameron is going to dump a referendum on the UK during a month long celebration of football particularly when a significant number of the electorate will have priorities more focused in a warm month on football, beer and barbecues.

A referendum held in these circumstances would almost certainly impact on turnout, and the results could be heavily influenced by how successful, or indeed not, the Home Nations performed during the tournament. Cameron would not want the referendum result to be influenced on the uncertainties of the mood of the nation over the fortunes of the unpredictability of football.

How a football tournament can influence politics can be seen during the debate on Scottish devoltuion in the 1970s:
The sharp rise in nationalist support, which registered in the first of the two general elections of 1974, prompted the Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, to make a commitment to devolution.

On June 22 Labour's Scottish executive met to ratify the Downing Street proposals on devolution. Unfortunately this was also the day of the Scotland V Yugoslavia World Cup football match and only 11 members turned up. Most of those who stayed away to watch the football were pro-devolution. This gave the anti-devolutionists their chance to throw out the proposals.
Perhaps learning the lesson we see four years later, in 1978, that the Hamilton by-election was moved to Wednesday 31st May 1978 as the opening game of the 1978 World Cup was on the Thursday 1st June. This was the last time a by-election was not held on a Thursday.

In addition to Euro 2016, we see that a month later in August the 2016 Olympic games will be held in Brazil (and the Paralympics in September). Following on from a media narrative on how England and the other Home Nations have conducted themselves, attention will then turn to the Olympics with the lead up consisting of headlines of variations on the obligatory theme of whether the stadia and infrastructure has been built yet.

2016 will be a summer of sport. With a Prime Minister having such a weak hand in terms of his EU referendum it's very unlikely he is going to risk having his message overwhelmed by a narrative concerned with other priorities.

Saturday 21 November 2015

EU Referendum: Americans Should Stay Out.

This blog largely stays clear of American politics as the nuances and subtle dynamics of another country's politics are often lost to those have not resided in the country for many years.

The reverse is, of course, true and we saw a wonderful example last year when
Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigned over tweet regarding Dan Ware displaying England flags outside his house. What was understood to UK political observers was less so to those across the pond - this was clearly evident from the Washington Examiner comment editor Philip Klein at the time:
This becomes more evident when it comes to the EU. Seen partially through the prism of the UK, America is a step removed and have no direct experience of what it's like to live under a supranational government.

With this in mind perhaps
it is not the wisest move to appoint as a referendum strategist an American, which is what Leave EU has done in the form of Gerry Gunster. And so it's proving. As EU Referendum observes this is a man whose only experience of winning referendums is by aligning himself with the status quo camp, and has shown no knowledge of the EU and "even has no direct knowledge of British politics".

Employing an American also presents another problem.

As we have seen already other countries are going to interfere in what should be a purely domestic vote on our own democracy. The United States, which has
its own selfish motives in keeping the UK in the straitjacket of the EU, will be at the forefront of this interference as this intervention in June earlier this year demonstrates:
The UK must stay in the European Union to continue to have influence on the world stage, US President Barack Obama has told the BBC.

He said the UK's EU membership "gives us much greater confidence about the strength of the transatlantic union".
And nor will it be just utterances by the US President. As was the case in 1975, there will inevitably be active financial assistance to keep the UK in:
Sir Richard Body: "After I became joint chairman of the Get Britain Out Council two Americans came to see me in 1975 with a large bundle of papers. They were, they claimed, CIA agents who deplored their country's methods in interfering in the affairs of a good ally. What they had brought were copies of documents which showed that a dedicated federalist, Cord Meyer, jnr. was to become head of a CIA station in London for the duration of the Referendum "to do what it takes" to secure a "Yes" vote in favour of Britain remaining in the EEC. The papers showed that the CIA had already given the European Movement considerable sums of money, but now multinational corporations which had been assisted by the CIA were to be persuaded to fund the "Yes" campaign through indirect channels".
The United States should be told to mind its own business, yet with the Leave EU campaign having an American as the main strategist in a UK referendum diminishes the obvious retort that Americans should stay out of UK's domestic matters.

Friday 13 November 2015

EU Referendum: Blogging Matters

Recently we have made some minor housekeeping adjustments to the blog, and there are some more changes to make. Added to the side column is a contact form where I'm happy to take questions or offer advice to any reader who wishes to start out as being a blogger as part of the campaign to remove ourselves from the EU.

We have made changes to the blogroll where I'm more than happy to included any blogs I've inadvertently missed out. Just let me know via the comments or by the contact form. Some videos which are no longer relevant to a referendum campaign have also been removed.

With the thus far disappointing nature of both the Vote Leave Ltd and efforts, both of whom are attempting to "own" the referendum with sometimes crass and puerile stunts. A referendum has to be won by the people, not "owned" by a leader.

It therefore looks like UK exit from the EU will have to increasingly rely on those who use the internet outside Westminster. Here then independent blogging can be but one tool in this fight. Using this medium we can build communities and use blogging to brief in plain sight.

While not having the prestige of the legacy media and sometimes not the numbers it can seem that blogging has a limited effect in terms of publicity. But as bloggers we can make a huge difference. With this we are reminded of the "CiggyBusters" campaign in 2010 for example where Medway Council took fright after complaints by an internet campaign not least by the now defunct blogger Corrugated Soundbite.

We also see how effective a bloggers' campaign was against Open Europe which prompted Open Europe's Mats Persson to write a deceitful article in the pro-EU Daily Telegraph in response. In addition we see how the video campaign 10:10, No Pressure by Franny Armstrong fell apart quickly when faced with bloggers and the power of the internet.

Here we're minded to think of Rochester Castle which is pictured above. One of the interesting features of Rochester castle which can be seen in the picture is one of the towers is round while others (the other three) are square.

The reason is the consequence of the 1215 siege by King John during the Baron wars. The round south east tower was initially square like the others. During the siege the south east tower was undermined destroying the foundations of the tower which was supported by wooden props.

These props were then burnt with pig fat causing the tunnel to collapse and subsequently the tower. When the tower was rebuilt castle defensive technology had moved on resulting in it being built round rather than square.

In this sense blogging is a means of undermining the castle of lies, with a relatively small but very effective team.We can take down the castle walls by tunneling underneath.

Monday 9 November 2015

EU Referendum: Children At Play

Dominating the headlines (but almost certainly for only one day if that) are reports of a stunt by two students sneaking into Cameron's address to the CBI and heckling him regarding the pro-EU bias of the CBI. One of the students confessed that the stunt was "the most terrifying thing I've done in my life". We'll leave that comment to speak for itself.

It is of course true, and well documented, that the CBI is most definitely pro EU and always has been. They were a significant force during the debate over whether the UK should join the Euro. This was natural with a project which could have been seen as economic in nature (though it wasn't) but with the question of ultimate exit from the entire EU political project they will be an irrelevance come the poll. This is especially so if we remain, on a interim basis, part of the single market as per the Flexcit exit plan.

Such nuances though have passed the students by, and they have reduced what should be a level of campaigning based on intellectual foundations down to 'heckling' which is then easily dismissed. All publicity is not always good publicity.

The stupid crass stunt allows Cameron to take the moral high ground and thus appear statesman-like rightly dismissing a stupid schoolboy prank for what it is, being easily branded as fools by a Prime Minister who has gone to the country and won an election against the odds. This when conversely we need to strip Cameron of inherent prestige in order to win.

Conformation has come from Guido that it was apparently organised by Vote Leave Ltd  - Guido of course would have inside information as he is closely linked with Vote Leave Ltd and Matthew Elliott not least due to potential financial benefits for himself.

And revealingly it was representatives for "Students for Britain" who protested on behalf of Vote Leave Ltd - their website notes:

Students for Britain is a new campaign pushing for fundamental reform of Britain’s relationship with the European Union. We want to amplify the voice of young people across the country who feel that the EU is not working for them, and is in need of radical reform.
Here we go again; a Matthew Elliott based campaign wishing reform not exit. How ironic that an essentially pro-EU student group is protesting against the pro-EU CBI.

This is exactly what happens then a campaign has a no strategy, and has to instead indulge in meaningless stunts to look active. A pressing concern is that Vote Leave has to appear active to keep its sponsors content who are funding an expensive operation out of Westminister.

Ultimately this is coming across as a campaign which is not taking a coherent intellectual argument to the country but a Westminster bubble activity based on crass stunts.

Sunday 8 November 2015

EU Referendum: Leave.EU Gets It Wrong Again.

My previous post about Leave.EU's ill-advised tweet regarding Guy Fawkes suggesting they were advocating murder attracted some criticism not least from commenter AndrewZ who noted:
You will only damage your own credibility with that kind of hyperbole.
My comment in response outlined the danger to the leave movement when it makes such comments:
People's true feelings are often expressed using humour. We remember the 10:10 video campaign which featured people being blown up. They said it was a joke but Franny Armstrong's subsequent comments showed she clearly meant it.
More importantly though, the EU referendum has a huge number of vested interests riding on it. Therefore when we enter the campaign proper (particularly if polls show a strong leave vote) then the fight will be very dirty.
The is going for official designation and if it wins it will come under sustained and vigorous attack. -no-holds barred. If it produces tweets like that then they will be condemned across the establishment in precisely the language I have used above.
Dismissing it as silly is no excuse, there's going to be no prisoners taken during this fight and the criticism will face with tweets will leave this blog piece looking mild by comparison.
It's a warning to Banks' of what he can expect
And so it proves on Remembrance Sunday again resulting from a tweet posted by Leave.EU:
Campaigners who want Britain to leave the European Union sparked a furious row today after using Remembrance Day poppies to attack Brussels.

Organisers of the Leave.EU campaign were branded 'shameful', 'disgraceful' and 'disgusting' for posting a tweet which said suggested staying in the EU would 'give up values for which our ancestors paid the ultimate sacrifice'.

Critics said Remembrance Sunday should not be used to score political points before the tweet was deleted.
I didn't anticipate such evidence to back up my previous post would happen so soon.

And this is how a referendum will be played out - every misguided tweet will be highlighted, reported and taken out of context. Deleting said tweet by Leave.EU is an admission that it is portraying itself as a bunch of amateurs.

This referendum is going to be a brutal fight, yet both of the leave campaigns attempting to win official designation are showing a worrying lack of appreciation of this reality.

Thursday 5 November 2015

EU Referendum: Leave.EU Promotes Murder?

As today is November 5th, we'll see plenty of fireworks which are less a celebration of Guido but more that he failed. The celebration is not one of an attempt of Parliamentary democracy but instead is one against a reactionary religious terrorist who failed.

Thus it's interesting that Guido's blogging namesake celebrates his apparent "anti-establishment" credentials while being a fundamental part of the establishment while trying to enrich himself on behalf of the taxpayer.

With this in mind we see with absolute astonishment, Arron Banks' Leave.EU operation tweet the above advocating to blow up EU institutions. There are no arguments, nor debates, but instead a tweet advocating destroying buildings which would pose a considerable risk to people in it. is promoting murder. Perhaps it's us but how this helps the leave campaign win a referendum quite escapes us.

It's less a gunpowder plot and more the Leave.EU has lost the plot.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

EU Referendum: The People Versus Cameron

As we can clearly see above with Conservative MP Owen Paterson's answers in a BBC Newsnight interview last week he demonstrates conflicting loyalties. A loyalty naturally to the Tory party, (and his boss Cameron), which largely wishes to remain members of the EU, a loyalty to Dominic Cummings and Matthew Elliott of Vote Leave Limited who are increasingly showing no interest in leaving, and a loyalty to the campaign to leave the EU.

It's this contradiction of conflicting interests which meant Paterson was unable to put forward a convincing case for the UK leaving the EU when being interviewed; he was trying to ride two horses at once rather unsuccessfully.

This is an interesting and revealing example of the contradiction since 1973 within the Tory party where some party members who wish EU exit have traditionally placed loyalty towards an inherently europhile party above trying to demonstrate the case for an independent Britain. This has led to the enduring "policy" of the nonsense of so-called EU "reform" - a continuing pretense that it isn't the Tories' fault that the EU has somehow diverged from a so-called common market.

Meanwhile outside Westminster the EU has always made it clear it was about political union from the outset and any reform to the contrary is little more than asking for a barking cat:
In respect of the European Union, this principle [of barking cats] is as important as it is profound. As a treaty organisation, steeped in history and protocols, with its own embedded "political DNA", its behavioural pathways are fixed. There are certain things it will do, there are things it can do. And there are things which, under any circumstances, it will never do - because it cannot. 
Thus by the EU's own political DNA, to give the UK the "reforms" it allegedly wants is a complete non-starter.

So while the BBC's Evan Davis is clearly in favour of EU membership given that his questions posed to those arguing in favour of EU membership meant a much easier time that those arguing against, the lack of Tory party clarity on the issues helps the remain campaign.

A national referendum though is not a general election campaign. A referendum allows the people to have the opportunity to lead and the politicians have to do as they are told - direct democracy - a plebiscite, where the people rather than the politicians make the decisions.

There are no constituencies, no tribal loyalties with the electorate and the use of tactical voting becomes redundant. Politicians themselves have only one vote like the rest of us, and with most MPs supporting remain - aided and abetted by a pro-EU supporting media - the referendum becomes a contest between the people against the pro-EU establishment.

The dynamics are thus different to a general election, where the electorate are de facto electing a Prime Minister to run the country; in 2015 for example it was a contest between Cameron and Miliband. However a referendum is not about electing a leader, it's about the people having a say over policy.

Thus American Gerry Gunster who has been hired as Arron Banks' referendum adviser, rightly says that a leave referendum campaign should not have a leader as it is prone to the vulnerability of attacks on a target.

With this in mind it is evident that when being outnumbered or outgunned in a physical confrontation it is often a successful method to isolate and take out the vocal leader at the front. As Sun Bin, a Chinese military strategist observes:
To Catch The Bandits First Capture Their Leader

[This] means that you first have to take out the leader of your strong enemy. After that; your whole enemy will lose the fighting spirit and will flee or surrender and will defect to your side and that leads to a great victory.
And it's here the leave campaign has a potential advantage. The establishment will be represented not by the remain campaign, which is little more than a pantomime horse - a decoy - but instead by Prime Minister, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service, David Cameron. Incumbent of office and titles confer upon Cameron prestige; a prestige which gives him authority.

The remain campaign, therefore will have a leader whilst the leave campaign, if it plays its cards right, will not. The real enemy will not be the EU but Cameron. And as Sun Bin observes above we have to capture the leader. It becomes necessary to strip him of the prestige of office and attack him personally, perhaps making it very personal.

The essence of trust in this referendum is vital. We know from experience Cameron is not to be trusted - cast iron guarantees. We also know he never wanted a referendum because he wants to remain a EU member:
"I don’t want an ‘in or out’ referendum because I don’t think out is in Britain’s interests.”
Therefore the question ultimately comes down to whether Cameron can trusted or not. He has limited options and is betting the bank on a new EU treaty with the option of Associate Membership. But the new treaty cannot be delivered in time for the 2017 referendum, so Cameron will only be left with promises of future change not yet defined. A very weak hand.

This makes an exit plan for the leavers essential. With Flexcit we can present a better offer of a new relationship with the EU, in contrast to Cameron.

In addition having an exit plan, and one which potentially is part of winning referendum campaign, means the leave campaign will have a mandated plan on how to leave. This will ensure that there can be no stitch up should we win. A danger otherwise would be that post Article 50 the subsequent negotiations are little different to EU Associate Membership. A second referendum on the outcome of negotiations will keep the government honest.

So as per Sun Bin, Cameron is the target, take him out and we take out the remains.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

EU Referendum: Elliott Was Director Of Britain in Europe Campaign Ltd

As Vote To Leave rightly observes Matthew Elliott has been a director of a company named as Britain-in-Europe Campaign Ltd. To be a director of a company named Britain in Europe is very odd for someone who wishes to apply to the Electoral Commission to campaign to leave the EU.

Vote To Leave notes further concerns:
Firstly, why did Matthew Elliott only resign as one of its directors two weeks after Vote Leave was incorporated with Companies House? Second, why was he a director of it for four years when the company continues today with William Norton as sole director
Quite clearly it's not unreasonable to question Matthew Elliott's motives regarding an EU referendum particularly when we consider his past performance with the AV referendum, where he is under scrutiny of enriching his friends with taxpayers' money. This is rather ironic for someone who established the Taxpayers' Alliance.

Perhaps it's unfortunate for those involved with the AV referendum campaign that a new development with Companies House means that it now appears to be releasing its information free of charge. Typically and historically Companies House documents have cost £1 a piece but now via a "beta" website such information is now free of charge.

So in addition we can see via Companies House that Matthew Elliott was listed as a director of the "Yes Campaign Limited", having resigned on 1st October 2015. Why would a Director of a "Yes campaign" and "Britain in Europe" who is on record many times as wanting "EU reform" be trying to submit a bid for Brexit?

More to follow...

Wednesday 28 October 2015

EU Referendum: EEA Ruled by Fax? Iceland Said No

It does seem rather revealing that, David Cameron has opted to make his case against UK membership of the European Economic Area (EEA) - the so-called Norway option - in Iceland, which is also a member of the EEA.

The EEA would allow us to have access to the Single Market without "ever closer union, but crucially as Flexcit demonstrates membership would not be the end game but merely part of a six stage process to facilitate an orderly exit and allow the UK to rejoin the global community without EU constraints or baggage.

That neither the Vote Leave campaign nor the Leave.EU campaign (nor indeed UKIP), thus far the only two candidates for official designation, have officially adopted such a position of the Norway option leaves us wondering why the Prime Minister would go to such lengths to discredit the option.

It can only leave us with the conclusion that the option posses a significant threat to the pro-EU movement. It negates the economic argument, leaving only politics and "ever closer union" which leaves them vulnerably exposed. And with this it does indicate that the ideas behind Flexcit, the only definitive exit plan on the table which helps us leave the EU, is gaining traction.

It appears rather ironic that Cameron will attempt to argue against EEA membership in Iceland, which has a population of around 313,000 people; a country which boasts fewer people than the London Borough of Croydon (363,000). A country which has, as we have noted before, said no to the EU.

Iceland was involved with one of biggest rejections of the EU there has ever been by an EEA member over the collapse of Icesave.

Yet as has been typical of our membership of the EU, it has been based from the outset on deception and quite frankly lies, a deception necessary as the true nature of the project cannot be conveyed candidly by politicians to the British people as they would rightly reject it. The true nature of which the EU itself readily acknowledges.

And so it proves with the Norway option which allows us a "stepping stone" out. Inaccurately dismissed as "ruled by fax" (perhaps the use of the term fax is an indication of the backward looking nature of EU supporters - the world's moved on) Norway has in reality more say than the UK over Single Market rules, particularly via global regulatory bodies such as UNECE. Not forgetting also that EEA members have a veto over EU single market rules as per the video above.

Here we see that Mr Brexit does a comprehensive job of demolishing the "Norway has no say meme", for example:
Norway and the other EFTA countries have more influence over the rules and regulations that are turned into laws. In fact, they actually get two bites of the cherry in influencing their shape. As a non-EU country, Norway represents itself on the world stage. Unlike every EU member state, Norway has seats on the international bodies where rules are developed and decided, before being handed down to the EU to implement. EU member states are not allowed to represent themselves, the insists on having a single position for all 28 member states, which is a generally a diluted, compromise position.

But then as members of the EEA (single market) the EU consults Norway and the other EFTA countries on the measures to be implemented, giving them an opportunity to influence the shape of the implementation. So Norway has more than just a say, it also gets to shape the rules from the outset and again at implementation. This gives Norway far more influence than any EU member state.
With the deception of associate membership now out in the open, and the danger which Cameron et al faces over the Norway Option combined with Flexcit, it's only our own side that can stop us now.

Monday 26 October 2015

EU Referendum: Hurdles To Exit

French civil servant and pen pusher Jean Monnet became one of the architects of the EU and appreciated, eventually, the difficulties of trying to encourage nation states to give up their power to an "anti-democratic" bureaucratic elite. This we can clearly see via the observations of Prime Minister Clement Attlee:
"[There's no way Britain could accept that] the most vital economic forces of this country should be handed over to an authority that is utterly undemocratic and is responsible to nobody"
With significant and understandable objections to Monnet's flawed model he had to adopt a salami strategy - slice by slice - a strategy which within the EU is known as the engrenage (gearing) principle or the Monnet Method which was a tribute to the man.

Engrenage is taking away a nation's powers incrementally, via more and more treaties, with the seemingly innocuous call for "more Europe" in times of crisis. In reality it is a project to create an anti-democratic construct.

Thus in order to exit we have to adopt a similar strategy of our enemy; of Monnet. It has to be a process; one which is less a big bang but a process. A process of reassurance. Flexcit addresses this in six stages:
  • To win a referendum and continue trading in the Single Market
  • Then to address the migrant problem in Europe
  • Then to participate in common rule-making in Europe under UNECE
  • Then the ability to develop new domestic policies outside the suffocating straitjacket of EU membership
  • Then embrace global trade and actively participate in international regulatory bodies such as Codex
  • Then to stop the elite unaccountable buggers joining the likes of the EU again without our permission.
In the spirit of Monnet, Flexcit's six stages allows us to have an orderly exit with relatively little fuss and, crucially, to win a referendum which is the immediate priority.

Here we consider jockeys'; they do not attempt to jump all the hurdles at once in the Grand National at Aintree. To do so would require a flying horse. Instead one hurdle needs to be taken at a time in order to win, some more difficult to navigate than others.

With this mind the first hurdle regarding an EU referendum is that we need overcome it to win it. Fall at the first hurdle and it's all over.

Friday 23 October 2015

EU Referendum: Vote Leave And Plagiarism?

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 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...

Monday 19 October 2015

The EU: The Poisoned Chalice

"Determined to lay the foundations of an ever closer union among the peoples of Europe".
(Treaty of Rome 1957)

For all the criticism which could be leveled at the EEC/EU it could rarely be said that it didn't hide its ambitions in plain sight. 

"Ever closer union" were the words in its first Treaty, as part of the first sentence. They meant it then, they mean it now. The organisation even calls itself the European Union. Not a single market but a union. We're in Ronseal "it does what it says on the tin" territory. 

The lack of candid appreciation of the EU's inherent ambition by the UK is why it is known as the "awkward member state" - it has failed to appreciate the rules of the club it has joined and willfully so. Is it any wonder that other member states are often exasperated by the UK's inability to fully comprehend the EU's primary objective - political union.

The greatest deception of course is self-deception. And with this it allows Tory MPs to put forward Judas Goat arguments of wanting "reform" allowing them to pretend to be eurosceptics (a word now debased) but really wishing to stay in. Here then we see a great example via Mr Brexit, regarding Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan:
The problem with having a Leave campaign that is owned and run by people who have never publicly called for Britain to leave the EU, but instead have long urged David Cameron to secure a deal to  'reform' of our EU membership, is that you cannot trust their apparent conversion.

Prominent Vote Leave supporter, the Tory MEP and arch Eurosceptic Daniel Hannan, has signalled the real objective of the Matthew €lliott/Dominic Cummings campaign with these words in a piece he wrote for ConservativeHome (run by €lliott protege, Mark Wallace):
Ah, some readers will say, Hannan and the Eurosceptics are just trying to raise the bar impossibly high. Actually, we’re not. Our key aims – the supremacy of UK law on our own soil, more freedom to strike bilateral trade deals with non-EU states and the right to determine who can settle on our territory – are remarkably moderate. Nothing would make me happier than for the PM to come back from Brussels with a deal that we could support.
The problem for Hannan is that he has been able to maintain his long standing duplicitous Tory position, often outside UK media scrutiny as an MEP in EU institutions while there was no referendum promise by his own party. But now there is a referendum, with only two options; remain or leave, he's come unstuck. A Tory to his fingertips.

In the spirit of Hannan's self deception, below are the four episodes of the BBC's The Poisoned Chalice on the UK's membership of the EU.

Episode one shows at the beginning Douglas Hurd ("now we've signed it we better read it" fame) treating other EU member states rather rudely by turning up late. Perhaps it played well at home in the UK but it merely demonstrates the arrogance of a country which consistently refuses to acknowledge the EU's true purpose. Reform is not an option...

Friday 16 October 2015

EU Referendum: Guido's Dodgy Data Grab?

In light of our recent posts it comes of some interest to see that blogger Guido Fawkes - a self declared anti establishment figure - is criticising the establishment, more specifically supporters of Labour leader Corbyn, for potential data mining:
The Corbyn cheer-leading organisation “Momentum” claims to be able to contact all the people who signed up to support Jeremy Corbyn during the leadership contest, but they might not have permission to do so. When people signed up as supporters of the Corbyn4Leader campaign, they were asked to give their email addresses and postcodes; the campaign said they were collecting this information to “enable us to carry out casework on behalf of constituents; issues and campaigns we are involved with locally; maintaining our own accounts and records; supporting and managing our employees and agents.”

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office “individuals should generally be able to choose whether or not their personal data is disclosed to another organisation” and if an organisation does intend to disclose information to another organisation, “fairness requires that you tell the individuals concerned unless they are likely to expect such disclosures.”

If Momentum is a stand alone limited company and doesn’t share any formal links with other organisations as they claim, what right did the official Corbyn campaign have to pass over the sensitive personal data of its supporters to them?
It really is astonishing that given Guido's assertions by his own admission to build a database of "sensitive personal data" on the back of referendum campaigns he has the nerve to criticise others for allegedly doing similar and to give "unofficial" advice. It's brazen hypocrisy. It is also a reflection of supposed prestige over facts, by a blogger who is clearly a member of the establishment

It has long been with some despondent amusement to find that a blog which purports to be anti-establishment, yet clearly has establishment approval who have financial interests at stake, has as its main author a man who has been bankrupt, is guilty of criminal behaviour and appears to be happy to abuse taxpayer's money with the icing on the cake being a blog published by an offshore company. That he is given significant leeway by the establishment is of some puzzlement. Perhaps it's a perfect reflection of them.

In addition Guido Fawkes is clearly closely linked with Matthew Elliott as we have previously seen and obviously there are questions to be answered regarding the conduct of Guido and Matthew Elliot in the AV Referendum; questions which have yet to be answered despite plenty of opportunity to do so.

With this in mind we wonder then whether MP and former Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson MP should associate himself with those who may compromise his position as a decent man.

Hattip: Toby Goodman on Twitter.

Sunday 11 October 2015

EU Referendum: Where's Elliott?

The above video shows a Sky News interview with Owen Paterson, who rightly argues that the EU is not the top table but is superseded by international bodies such as UNECE. Thus at present we are represented by the EU at an international level where we only have a diluted voice - by being one of 28 member states. This in a system where the EU is leaving us behind in its determination to create a poltical union as it always has been designed to do.

Owen's argument has been an lonely one in today's media which is determined to ignore the EU's raison d'être of "ever closer union" and try to reduce politics down to personality based biff-bam nonsense.

Nowhere has this been more true that the lightweight reporting on BBC's Andrew Marr this morning - it was like the Wilson report on BBC EU bias never happened. Certainly if that's the "quality" of the debate we can expect by the legacy media, then thankfully we have the internet.

Interestingly with Andrew Marr we ask the question, in the spirit of where's wally, of where was Matthew Elliott on Marr's BBC show this morning? Despite clearly being advertised in advance as appearing on BBC's Andrew Marr show by the Guardian, reported elsewhere and clearly insinuated by Andrew Marr at the end of his show last week Elliott's absence this week has been very obvious.

It does appear to be extremely odd that with the official launch of Elliot's business just last week, to try to win official designation, Elliott has gone apparently missing in the media. It surely would not be unreasonable to expect a number of appearances by Elliott and/or his associates across the Sunday media in the face of such a launch. Thus we do wonder is this supposed to be a professional launch of a "campaign".

Clearly then Elliot's business website "vote leave" launch was rushed and has many faults as Lost Leonardo notes:
This site is far worse than amateur. It carries the imprimatur of people who simply do not care, which, given that (without exaggeration) the EU referendum is about the future of our nation and Britain’s place in the world, is grounds enough to place a very large question mark over whether the ‘Vote Leave’ organisation and the people behind it are suitable candidates to lead the official “leave” campaign.
As eurosceptics we deserve better...

Friday 9 October 2015

Guido Fawkes: Vote Leave, Take Control?

Isn't it rather strange that with the launch of the "vote leave" campaign, whose CEO is Matthew Elliott, Guido Fawkes writes a rather supportive blog piece. What a contrast to the various uncomplimentary pieces written about Arron Banks.

Now I wonder why that could be...?

EU Referendum: Vote To Leave?

We wouldn't advise, on a professional basis, that a website emblazoned largely with black would be conducive to try to successfully advertise a campaign, let alone portray a positive image of trying to leave the EU. Perhaps maybe Elliott's close associate and "IT expert" Jag Singh knows better:
So I’ve carved a niche as an “online electioneer” and “digital strategist” – the go-to-guy for when campaigns and organisations want to win over the hearts and minds of people
This blog has never been impressed with the self-promoting statements of Singh particularly when, despite being a "Senior Advisor for Hillary Clinton for President" among other claims, he's a surprisingly difficult man to pin down via the internet. For an “online electioneer” it's odd that attempting to get to grips fully with his online profile proves to be somewhat elusive.

So for a highly paid digital expert it comes as a surprise that first observations of the "voteleave" website mean we note that much of the text is unreadable particularly when such text, for example, is written over pictures of Cameron's face (below):

This surely is about as amateur as it gets when it comes to website design. And perhaps the "Vote Leave" is the only website which could make a picture of a murmuration of starlings - one of nature's wonders - look unsightly:

The "scrolling" text at the top of the website gives the distinct impression of a design made by an overzealous 12 year old who has discovered HTML script for the first time. If this is an example of the supposed "campaigning genius" of Elliott and his friend Singh, then we can expect Elliott to lose the leave campaign and lose it heavily, if he is given the official designation. We sometimes wonder in these circumstances whether that might be the point - he 'accidentally' loses which helps to facilitate further his Tory career. 

Further concerns come in the form of the "voteleave" website which looks suspiciously like a certain website by albeit one designed with different colours. The horizontal "bar" structure is the same and the coding is little different. The subsequent invoices would be interesting to investigate, as it has been before.

It's also interesting and very revealing that Elliot, who the media have clearly promoted as a shoo-in for being designated as the official EU Leave campaign, has had to launch his "leave" campaign earlier than expected as a response to the emergence of the campaign by Arron Banks. 

Elliott, the darling of the media which is the consequence of a sustained campaign of patronage, is quoted on Reuters as saying:
"We will be the main out campaign," Elliott told Reuters. He said the campaign would be launched imminently.
Aside from such arrogance Elliott's hasty launch amounts to little more than a re-branding of his previous campaign to try to enrich his mates - a re-branding which has had to occur rather sharpish with reflection of the Electoral Commission's recommendations that the question will not be between an "in" or "out" option but between "remain" or "leave".

With the rushed and what is apparently the unexpected launch of Elliot's campaign to try to receive official designation, many of our observations have come to pass regarding the potential lack of quality of his campaign. We wonder why the campaign apparently believes that having a dark designed website would be attractive to "soft" voters who are crucial to winning the referendum.

Perhaps winning a referendum is less important than close associates of Matthew Elliott, such as Jag Singh, being able to build a voter database which can become extremely lucrative subsequent to a referendum.

Thus it appears that Elliott's campaign appears to have carried on where he started off with the AV referendum with no real concept of how to actually win a referendum - where he made such a shambles of it he had to be bailed out by the Prime Minister. Cameron was forced to intervene despite that all party leaders were anticipating to take a back seat.

It was a shambles which was due to incompetence and received warranted acute criticism even by those on his own side who were paid £3,333 per month by the No2AV campaign (page 54).

But then as we have seen Elliott seems not to be interested in the EU but more interested in constructing a web of companies which help facilitate financial gain with his friends. As EUReferendum writes not only is the silence revealing but so is the pressure to silence us:
It seems that I am not allowed to criticise the current Elliott operations, or express criticism of any of his supporters, such as Daniel Hannan. The writ is extensive, restraining me from offering critiques in any form, actual or implied - even when no names are mentioned. I am even required to censor my son, Peter, and ensure that he refrains from hostile comment. 

Such has been the pressure that I have even had complaints about pieces I hadn't written, on blogs I do not control.
An indication of the uneasiness in the Elliott camp comes via Breitbart:
The Vote Leave Take Control campaign says it won’t be paying salaries of more than £99,000 a year, so donors know their money is being spent on campaigning. Well, that’s awkward, and it shows that Mr Elliott and his friends are concerned with allegations popping up on the internet concerning the finances behind the last referendum campaign Mr Elliott ran: the NO2AV one.
With this in mind it's also very intriguing that Matthew Elliot does not appear on the website as the CEO despite that he is. Why is there not a statement on the website from him as the CEO including a picture with his team? Why the secrecy? 

This becomes even more curious when we see that he owns, alongside Dominic Cummings, the company behind the website. A company which is not a charity but a limited company.

Then there is the potential that a very useful and extensive database can be built acquired via a national referendum which can be laundered through Hong Kong, and then offered back to the UK as an offshore product.

We would strongly recommend that any personal details are not given over to any Elliott campaign.

Sunday 4 October 2015

EU Referendum: The Independent Deception

With the front page of the Independent on Sunday we see a good example of what to expect during the referendum campaign; copious FUD, fear and what can only be generously described as misleading details. On a slightly optimistic note we are being forewarned explicitly as to what Brexiteers can expect in the forthcoming campaign. Such is the poor quality of the Independent's article that it's no surprise EUReferendum is prompted to rightly criticise it.

The immediate agenda of the piece can be seen as a reaction to the start of the Conservative conference, attempting to highlight so-called divisions in the Conservatives for the newspaper's partisan reasons. Like the BBC on so many occassions- as per criticisms by its own Wilson Report - the question of how our country is governed by our membership of the EU is always reflected through the prism of Tory splits. With this in mind we can see that the wider agenda of the Independent becomes obvious.

The wider agenda comes with the usual tediousness, which eurosceptics are familiar with, that makes the same old tired arguments of the supposed fear of leaving which apparently would "threaten millions of jobs". The failing paper tries to make its case with deception,
In campaigners say this would not be so easy, claiming technical rules for EU withdrawal mean, should Britain vote for “Brexit”, the remaining 27 states would negotiate between themselves to determine the terms of the new relationship. They have warned that this would risk disadvantageous rules being “dictated” to the UK...
The procedures for EU exit are outlined in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which states: “The member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing member state shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.” 
It's disappointing, to say the least, that a national newspaper struggles to comprehend the full concept of Article 50, the realities of which has been well rehearsed here. It's interesting that the paper left out the initial part of Article 50 (4) as highlighted below in bold:
4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.
It's omission meant the Independent was able to insinuate that the UK would be excluded from EU institutions entirely upon invoking Article 50. In this context we wonder why the full paragraph was not included.

The missing sentence makes clear that paragraph four only means the UK is excluded where EU institutions are discussing the UK's exit and this is entirely logical otherwise the UK would end up negotiating with itself regarding its exit. Article 50 forces the EU to negotiate with us with both being on opposite sides of the table.

The paragraph four exclusion is entirely consistent to Article 49 where accession countries are also absent from the European Council and the Council, by virtue of not yet being EU members. The UK will still partake in EU institutions where decisions are unrelated to its exit. In addition Article 50 (3) makes explicit that EU treaties will fall after two years regardless if no negotiation is successful so no terms can be "dictated" to the UK.

We are thus tempted to conclude that this is less a newspaper's ignorant and lazy conclusion and instead a rather cynical and deliberate attempt to encourage eurosceptics to fall into territory where the argument is confined to be all about tedious irrelevant detail to the detriment of the bigger picture. Concentrating on such tedious detail will put of the electorate. Conversely we could also conclude the Independent is probably not that clever but the outcome of its article is the same.

Yet this is not entirely the Independent's fault. Significantly a great deal of failure must lie with the eurosceptic movement, particularly UKIP, who have consistently, and largely failed, to provide a credible exit plan which would comprehensively negate the legacy media's falsehoods.

In contrast Flexcit drives a coach and horse through such europhile's shallowness and lack of substance. In addition it provides the foundation for the real battle, not tedious detail, but instead a new relationship with the EU. Cameron is very likely to offer one very weak form of relationship with the EU by Associate Membership. But Flexcit is a better offer.

Our real battle is with Cameron - we have a better offer than he does, and with this we can not only completely outflank Cameron but the likes of the superficial and dishonest Independent.EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum EU Referendum  

Saturday 3 October 2015

EU Referendum, Data Mining And Hong Kong

Designation for the leave campaign means receiving official funding capped at £7million, a considerable sum which allows for more than a few contracts for friends. Designation also means that a large database, called Metis, consisting of millions of the electorate's details can be constructed in a national campaign as Mr Brexit notes. This database will have a lucrative market domestically particularly with the Conservative party and "Elliott's Four" have no qualms in spelling this out.

The AV referendum appears to have been acting as a dry run. During the campaign we can see the Action Centre section of the now defunct website (via Wayback Machine), where widgets could be added to blogs, Facebook and websites. Supportive tweets could be sent directly via the website and donations could be made which required names and addresses. All this information helping to build a database of supporters. Is it a coincidence that subsequently Metis began life in 2013 covering already 500,000 people?

What's interesting is this section of the Privacy Policy on the NotoAV website, (my emphasis): 
We may provide other third parties with information about our users, where this is likely to contribute to a successful outcome in the referendum for our campaign. Where you have not indicated that you agree to such sharing we will only provide third parties with statistical information cannot be used to identify you.

We may engage a third party to help us carry out any of our activities and these third parties may be located in countries that do not provide the same level of protection as is provided in the United Kingdom. We will ensure that these third parties have an obligation to protect your information in the same way that we protect your information.
Curiously one of Matthew Elliott's other business ventures Business for Britain does not have such an explicit "overseas third party" clause.

That NotoAV did begins to make more sense when we consider that Strateusis submitted a number of invoices to the AV campaign including this one below for £7,000 providing Search and Facebook marketing services:
Strateusis is, as we have noted before, registered in Hong Kong. Providing Facebook marketing services would strongly suggest it needs access to the database being accumulated, meaning that a copy of the data would be offshored.

If so this raises further concerns. Hong Kong data protection laws "are miles away" from developments internationally particularly within the EU. The main privacy law is the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance (Cap 486) (the Ordinance). But crucially Section 33 of the Ordinance which prohibits the transfer of data overseas has never been enacted, meaning there currently is no effective legal restriction on cross-border data transfers in Hong Kong (Guidance on Section 33 published by the Privacy Commissioner is voluntary and not binding).

NotoAV does try to reassure us that they "will ensure that these [offshore] third parties have an obligation to protect your information in the same way that we protect your information". But given the very suspicious way the campaign was constructed, how can we be so sure?

Friday 2 October 2015

Business For Elliott's Friends

We have previously established that after Elliott had been awarded the No2AV campaign, he appointed his friend and business associate Jag Singh as the Director of Digital Communications. Singh then appointed Message Space - the company in which he had a financial interest - as the campaign's digital agency. As notes: 
"Message Space was paid over £65,000, which including on 5 May – days before the poll – the biggest 1-day-blitz online ad buy in UK political history. One should note that Conservative Home - then under the proprietorship of Tim Montgomerie - was a major beneficiary".
It's also worth noting that Douglas Carswell, who has had a recent spat with Arron Banks over the former's support for the Elliott campaign, is also a customer of Message Space.

In addition to the £65,000 paid to Message Space (including one invoice for £17,000) Singh then went on to pay Strateusis well over £30,000, a Hong Kong company which he is a director. One such invoice, (below) showed a considerable sum of £20,000 for the vague term of "media planning". Interesting using the Hong Kong company meant he paid no tax on the money. Invoices for Message Space and Strateusis combined amounted to nearly £100,000.
Further invoices show yet another close associate of Elliott working for him in the AV Referendum campaign. We see that Dr Lee Rotherham was paid £4,166 (below), for "work undertaken". Rotherham advises The Taxpayers' Alliance on EU matters and has written at least two books with Matthew Elliott.
It's becoming perfectly clear that Elliott is completely unfit to lead any official leave campaign. Never has he advocated leaving the EU instead arguing that we stay in with unspecified reforms. More serious is the deep suspicion that his campaigns are being constructed largely to allow close friends to award themselves contracts.

However as Richard North says "should the [Electoral Commission] decide to ignore warning signs and make the award to the establishment grouping, there is always the prospect of a judicial review in the High Court".