While Nigel Farage was the focus on media attention yesterday, he said that:
If Ukip win these elections, a referendum, an opportunity for us to get back control of our country will be one massive, massive step closer.
The problem here is that an in/out referendum is seen as the be all and end all by Farage. There are two major holes in his objective.
- How, in the first instance, will the anti-EU side win such a referendum in the face of FUD, misrepresentation and plain falsehoods when the people being asked to vote is many times greater than the combined audience of the recent debates? What is the plan to turn a current majority in favour of remaining in the EU to a majority in favour of leaving, particularly as UKIP is ever more focused on Westminster politics and issues such as gay marriage and HS2?
- Assuming a referendum is won, then what? What is the UKIP plan for events after the UK announces it is leaving the EU as set out in Article 50? What if any understanding does UKIP have of the global trading and regulatory environment into which the UK will boldly step, and what plan does it have to offer for making the transition and new arrangements a success?
The problem in British politics at the moment is tribalism, but tribalism with little or no philosophical base. One look across comment threads on newspaper and blog websites lays this problem bare and shows that this is now more true of UKIP than any other party – which should be a huge concern to the anti-EU side. The political process now resembles more than ever something akin to football and UKIP is the club that wants to reach the Premier League but remains stuck firmly in the Conference…
All that seems to matter to the management and the vocal, cult-like supporters is the excitement of scoring goals and winning at the final whistle to get one over the opposition. It is all superficial. There is no detailed consideration or discussion about what makes a team successful behind the scenes, such as a set vision, effective management, leadership techniques, having the right coaches, physios on the backroom team, match strategies, repeated reviews of the previous games, the science of nutrition and fitness, training regimes, qualified scouting networks, and looking at the future opposition time and again to prepare the right tactics for the forthcoming matches.
When it comes to UKIP the management team is with the fans in the pub chewing over things like how many more fans they brought to the game, how crap the opposition fans’ support was, how their team deserved to win but were unlucky or cheated by the officials, how their players aren’t getting the recognition they think they should get, bemoaning poor write ups in the press match reports as biased rubbish, and only looking at the next match through the prism of which pub to get the best drink in, what songs to sing and how to make their presence felt, and looking at their mid-table position claiming they are making a push for promotion and that they will soon stun everyone.
Stepping away from the football analogy, what is the point of pushing for a referendum without any plan for winning it, or any idea of how to deal with what awaits the UK after leaving the EU? The work that UKIP should be doing using the many resources at the party’s disposal – including financial – to develop, publish and campaign on a comprehensive workable plan for leaving the EU, is instead being done by a blogger.
Without the detail and the complexity having been worked out, there can be no catchy slogans, easy to understand one liners or bitesize soundbites to present to the public. That is why the argument that the public don’t do detail doesn’t wash.
Without assurance that there is a detailed plan in place the public will not take the leap of voting to leave the EU. Therefore details have to be carefully worked out and a compelling case made that the UK has positive reasons to leave the EU, and will have opportunities and benefits as a result. The soundbites alone, with no plan behind them, will quickly be exposed as politicians just blowing more hot air and referendum will be lost. But if we leave it to the fans in the pub, the armchair pundits, UKIP will not develop what is needed. They are only bothered about the buzz of the match and don’t have a clue about what it takes to turn their team into winners.