Monday, September 28, 2015

Two kinds of "Out" and two kinds of "In"

The row tearing UKIP apart, as The Economist writes here, reflects a cultural divide between two kinds of "Out" people who will be supporting British exit from the EU.

One is positive, business-friendly, forward-looking, and pragmatic.

The other is, to take The Economist's words,  the "brassy populists" who are concerned about "immigration, political correctness and metropolitan elites. Europe, for them, is about identity." They are particularly passionate about national sovereignty and fear that Europe "is sapping the country's distinctiveness."

If the two work together they would have a very good chance of taking Britain out of the European Union. If the past week is anything to go by, there is more chance of a fatal schism.


The Economist could have said, but didn't, that remarkably similar fault-lines will exist on the pro-EU side.

Though they are much less numerous and confident than they were, there are still some people who are convinced that the EU is the future, who do not just distrust nationalism (a view I share) but also sneer at patriotism (a view I definitely do not share). They are the same people who were forecasting economic catastrophe fifteen years ago if Britain didn't join the Euro and, despite the fact that this catastrophe has manifestly failed to emerge, still think it is clever for the same people to make the same apocalyptic predictions about what will happen if we leave the EU.

But there are also pro-Europeans who can look at the EU with all it's faults and recognise them and want to reform them rather than smash the whole thing of leave.

There are genuine, pragmatic and positive arguments for both "stay" and "leave."

The side which best combines the two elements, which makes effective use of "Project Fear" negatives while presenting a positive image for Britain of the future, will almost certainly be the side that wins.

I certainly hope so, because whichever side best articulates a positive vision for a modern Britain, which builds mainly on hope and not fear, will deserve to win.

2 comments:

Jim said...

Speaking as someone who is very clear about which side I am on (its currently known as "Leave" though it has had previous incarnations as OUT and NO). but I have said for some time, the biggest and largest hurdle we face is not the opposition. It never has been. The Pro European side are having problems finding something positive to say, and this if after 40 years of "delivered benefits".

By far the biggest handicap the leave campaign face, is ironically, our own side.

Jim said...

The thing with this referendum is that in the end it will all boil down to trust. Sure there will be the side line "battles" where the Remain campaign state a tired mantra, and the Leave side thoroughly refute it, state why its false and state something better - then the remain side state the same thing again 4 days later *Lather - Rince - repeat*

But this is not the battle field, its not even close.

The battle will come once Cameron announces that "much progress has been made but due to the economic crisis in Greece and due to the migrant crisis etc not as much as he would have liked, this means that the treaty changes we had hoped for could not be delivered in time for our deadline, but we need to stick to our promise of a 2017 referendum, and we have a promise that treaty change is coming"

He will add about the Eurozone and none eurozone having different priority's and how Britain needs to focus on its 'market relationship' and this will be embedded into the future treaty, by voting Remain, you are giving a 'mandate' to negotiate the new treaty which will be followed up by a second referendum when it comes to ratifying the treaty. Or we could throw the baby out with the bath water, not bother, and vote "leave" now.

That will pretty much be how things go (DC does not have many hands to play, and right now he is not driving or negotiating anything, he is being driven along by the EU commission, and this is his best hand (its also the best hand for the commission).

Then we go to what may or may not be negotiable etc, and the battle is postponed. This is where the battle is,

Cameron is planning to use "a negotiation for associated membership" as his 'Remain' option, thus agreeing that the status quo is not acceptible, using the arguments the Leave side have prestented as to why, and his "Promise of a renegotiation, with a second referendum' is the answer.

The way to outflank this of course is to disclose all of this and the downsides of associated membership before hand, we explain it before cameron can "present it as his masterpiece" state a better way forward and how we can rejoin the world at the top tables, making "associate membership" a less attractive option than "leave" before its even announced.