Posts Tagged 'EUsceptics'

Two lessons business today taught those who want independence

(this post may be updated with links and additional information later…)

Lesson 1

Standard Life has broken cover to tell the market that if Scotland chooses to leave the United Kingdom without an agreement covering currency, interest rates, taxation and regulation, it would look at relocating itself to England.

This is little different from the concerns business in the rest of the UK would have if a political party decided to repeal the European Communities Act and simply declare independence from the EU.

Such a political party would be deluding itself to believe that all the complex issues and problems this would cause relating to trade, tariffs, regulations and agreements that have been made with other countries on the UK’s behalf, would come out in the wash and that World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules would force the EU to maintain trade with the UK as if we were still part of the customs union.  Exiting in an orderly manner with a negotiated agreement is the only responsible course of action.  Anything else and the actions of Standard Life in Scotland would be replicated many times over in the rest of the UK and on a much bigger scale.

Lesson 2

While speaking to the Today programme on Radio 4 about WPP’s latest results, chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell was asked about what the business community – which has been going along with the deludophile nonsense about EU reform – would do if reform could not be achieved.

After explaining that the business community feels there are a lot of positives being in the EU – in other words the single market, as the EU is political and the single market is economic – he said the business community would want to stay ‘in’ if no reform was achieved.

Therefore, those who are most vocal in calling for impossible EU reform will stick with the status quo if the changes they want are not forthcoming.  The fact reform will be impossible was made clear by a German guest speaking separately on the same programme this morning about the visit of Angela Merkel.  He pointed out that Cameron’s reform agenda was going to go nowhere, not least because no one knows what his supposed demands are.

It was pointed out by this guest (name to follow) that the Treaties that would need to be changed were the product of years of negotation and compromise, and so the outcome would be the same compromise, with little or no change.  The Lisbon Treaty would be strictly off limits and none of its elements would therefore be negotiated let alone reformed.

Added together we can see that a grand performance is being played out for the media and public, to give the impression that there will be changes.  But it is just that, a performance, an act, and nothing of substance will be altered.

Cameron famously said about the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty by Gordon Brown that he ‘would not let matters rest there’. But he did.  Cameron is now on the stage once again, prancing around and delivering a monologue to the audience, gazing imploringly into the stalls and peddling more fallacies, in the shape of a rengotiation our EU overlords have told us won’t happen, and in the shape of a referendum that cannot possibly be delivered in 2017 even if the Conservatives form the next government.

And now we can see that behind him are those people who have given their backing to this drive towards an illusory outcome, but who are now saying that they would stick with things as they are if no reform came about.  EUsceptics need to bear these important lessons in mind.

Why EUsceptics should be concerned

We are a bit late to the party with this because of a trip over the weekend, but nevertheless it is a topic that has to be mentioned here.

Two polls reported over the weekend, from ComRes and Opinium.  The results do not make good reading for EUsceptics.

ComRes

Opinium

In addition to these, ComRes also published the latest findings from its Favourability Index of parties and leaders.  There is a pattern that emerges.

The decline in support for UKIP and decline in voters having a favourable view of Nigel Farage stands out from the rest.  This contradicts UKIPs claims to have momentum and to be increasing its support around the country.

Voters are trying to find out what UKIP’s key message is and what the party stands for.  But they are only receiving a confused jumble of information that appears, at best, random.

Since Farage chose to get involved in the discussion about the floods he has, among other things, separately called for the UK to request financial aid from the EU solidarity fund, then called for foreign aid money to be diverted to the west country, then called for the creation of a civil defence force and then called for a public inquiry.  Anyone listening out for the UKIP line on this subject is either suffering from whiplash or has given up trying to work out exactly what Farage’s priority is.

What is interesting is that while William Dartmouth MEP has, according to UKIP’s website, ‘condemned the EU’s skewed priorities, exposing the damaging consequences of EU directives on flooding,’ Farage’s only references to the EU have been to say of the Environment Agency that:

They seem to want to follow European Directives to the letter of the law…

Then to add later that:

I don’t know the truth of the extent to which the Environment Agency is now bound by European Union rules and laws. I just don’t know. That’s why we need to have a public inquiry.

This is Farage all over, hedging his bets, letting other people like Dartmouth speak out so he can stay silent.  This allows Farage to come down on either side of the fence later and claim either that the party did link the flooding to the EU laws followed by the Environment Agency, or that the party did not link the flooding to EU law, it was only the opinion of one MEP.

It is this kind of pin-head dance that leaves voters drawing the conclusion that Farage is absolutely no different to any other party leader, engaging in spin and playing with semantics.

Too many voters, when they think of EUscepticism, think of Farage.  They link UKIP and its performance to the EUsceptic movement.  So when Farage’s or UKIP’s stock falls with voters, the wider EUsceptic movement is tainted by association.  So seeing this developing trend over recent weeks of UKIP’s polling figures dropping is a frustrating cause for concern for everyone else who wants to see the UK exit from the EU.

There has been a lot of bluster from UKIP officials and supporters that the party increased its vote nearly five fold in Wythenshawe last week, that the party got nearly 18% of the vote, that it ‘came from nowhere’ to finish second in the election.  But the harsh reality is that despite most of its supporters being energised and motivated and turning out enthusiastically, they still only received 4,301 votes.

At the general election they will not increase that by much, if at all.  In all but a few areas the reality is the party has limited appeal, and I would wager that a large part of that is the way the party says what it is against but does not explain to people what it is for.  The invitiation is for people to vote UKIP because they aren’t Labour, Conservative or Lib Dems, not because there is any positive message people can readily point to that makes them say, that is a vision I share and I’m going to support it.

There never will be such a compelling message when the leader wants to be all things to all men and offers contradictory manifestos and campaign slogans depending on whether they contest is in the north or the south.  The fact therefore is that after 20 years of UKIP the effort to free the UK from the EU monolith is no closer than it was before.

Farage’s prospects facing death by a thousand column inches

It gives us no pleasure to see Nigel Farage courting the kind of controversy this blog has long warned was just waiting to be dropped into the public domain.  The media have been waiting for the opportunity to inflict the most damage possible on the Eurosceptic movement, and see the leader of UKIP as being a fulcrum in the movement.  It’s not rocket science.

The issue this blog has had has never been about UKIP or its supporters.  There are many decent people in that party with the wisdom to understand the interests of the British people and the United Kingdom will be best served with our nation outside of the EU.  The problem has always been Farage.  As we have noted for a long time, Farage doesn’t do serious and he doesn’t do detail.  This undermines UKIP and weakens the Eurosceptic campaign as a whole.

Witness the complete absence of a formal UKIP response to the political class’ efforts to hijack the narrative on trade to push the EUphile agenda during the G8 conference at Loch Erne. With the need to throw off the constraints of political union within the EU, the sight of Barroso and Van Rompuy pitching up at the G8 and addressing the media should have had Farage on the air, providing the media with balancing comments and rebuttal.  In fact he should have been briefing the media in advance of the meeting, but that’s a discussion for some other time.

Instead he was playing out a humiliating and self inflicted tragi-comedy, running from venue to venue around Aberdeen under police protection trying to dodge left wing protesters.  If potential UKIP supporters were watching and weighing up whether to throw their support behind the party, this episode – so close on the heels of another abortive Scottish visit – may have put many off.

If Farage did detail and listened to people who know things, he would have learned from the experience of the other parties how to conduct business north of the border.  There the parties are Scottish with their own leaders, not run out of Westminster.  The party leaders down in London do not cross Hadrian’s Wall unless they have an invite from the Scottish party leader and Scottish party supporters lined up to attend speeches and events.  Rightly or wrongly, the Scots do not like the Sassenachs mincing north from the capital and delivering what is seen as an English vision in their country.  It is seen as imperialist and an exhibition of bad manners.

Compounding this strategy of doing things his way to appear like a plucky outsider thumbing his nose at the very political elite he aspires to be part of, is Farage’s questionable character.

Sure, you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.  But Farage doesn’t just break eggs, he burns down the chicken shed, kills the chickens, flattens the surrounding farm and hurls insults at the onlookers.  This is why there are so many ex-senior UKIP  members.

Away from the camera – although we’ve seen glimpses of his true nature at times – Farage is a psychological bully who believes he is the party.  But it’s not just his lack of interpersonal or leadership skills that is the problem.  It is his behaviour in other areas of his life, both professional and personal, that have left a trail of scandals and incidents with unsavoury outcomes which have largely gone barely reported due to UKIP’s previous lower profile.  But you can be assured the media has been digging into these and adding more detail, ready to drop damaging stories into the public domain at moments that best serve the interests of those who are trying to keep the UK firmly under EU control.

UKIP will be tainted by the assault on Farage and exposure of incidents and issues that he thought had been airbrushed out of public discourse.  UKIP doesn’t deserve to suffer this and neither does the wider Eurosceptic movement.

While it’s Farage’s prospects that are being dragged to the edge of the cliff ahead of rapid acceleration followed by deceleration trauma, the real issue is the collateral damage to those near him.  This was always the concern of those who have not supported Farage yet want to see UKIP do well. It now appears to be coming to pass.

Snatching defeat from the jaws of a straightforward victory

Unless voters can be reassured that withdrawal from the EU will not cause economic harm, they could very well opt to remain in the European Union.

That simple yet powerful sentence, written by Richard, is almost certainly the reason why YouGov’s latest opinion poll – reported in the Wail – is showing that voters who were in favour of securing this country’s independence are starting to to get nervous and thinking instead that staying in the EU is the only way of preserving our economic interests through access to the single market.

Most people don’t know the ins and outs, but the pro-EU campaign’s claims that exit from the EU would harm this country’s economy sounds plausible enough to warrant a change of heart.  And the fact of the matter is these plausible claims – which deliberately spin only a slanted and easily rebutted version of the story – are not being countered by the supposed ‘leaders’ of the loose collection of EUsceptic organisations.

You could be forgiven for expecting the counter arguments and details of a strategy to protect this country’s economic interests after exit from the EU would be front and centre on the UKIP website, but they seem to prefer to focus on other things and asking people to sign petitions, while the voters drift away:

This is the direct consequence of the absolute refusal of certain EUsceptics to consider any means of exit from the EU other than the ‘magic wand’ option – repealing the European Communities Act, thereby precipitating an abrogation of the EU Treaties with no alternatives in place. Farage and Co continue to play their fiddle while Rome burns our cash and helps decide the laws British people have to abide by.

This is why, despite the UKIP brickbats that inevitably come in my direction when I make this argument, I say that faith in Nigel Farage is completely misplaced. He will destroy our efforts.  Unless people understand and recognise this, we are heading for defeat.

The absence of strategy and detail, that reassures voters and businessmen alike that leaving the EU doesn’t mean giving up involvement in the single market, is giving the EUphiles the opportunity to swing the argument in their favour.  With the exception of a small band of bloggers trying to make a noise from the cheap seats, they have the stage to themselves.  It defies belief.

So it is that despite people citing a multitude of essential reasons for the UK getting out of the EU, for many of them the thought of losing the ability to sell our goods and services and the subsequent impact of that on jobs and the economy, outweighs the absence of democracy, self determination and the huge sums of money we are compelled to send to Brussels.  Against this backdrop we have the celebrated and high profile EUsceptics absolutely nowhere in the debate and on the verge of consigning the UK to membership of this rancid union for generations to come.

It would be easy to say I feel despair about all this but it’s not despair, it’s frustration and anger.


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