EU Referendum: no "wall of love"

Saturday 23 May 2015  

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This wasn't even a proper European Council. Rather, it was an "International Summit" to discuss the Eastern Partnership with Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine.

As such, there was no opportunity for formal (or any) negotiations on EU "reform". This was simply neither the time nor the place. And hence, it is hardly surprising when the Prime Minister sought to hijack the meeting for his own ends, he was forced to admit that his attempts to renegotiate Britain's relationship were not met with "a wall of love".

The Guardian, however, has Mr Cameron effectively pledging to make a nuisance of himself until he is heard. Yet, for all that, he has not set out a comprehensive list of "reforms" he is seeking.

Giving the game away, his aides are suggesting he may not want to reveal his hand publicly at any stage in the process, which is probably the truth of the matter. He will keep it deliberately vague, right up to a few weeks before the actual poll, and then bring out and array of "concessions", initiatives and declarations, all to fortify his "Heston moment" and give the impression of progress.

Having not set himself up as a target, by refusing to declare his hand in advance, he can then spin the results in the most favourable way, depriving his critics of the opportunity to compare promises with delivery.

In keeping with this strategy, Mr Cameron is keeping it vague, talking of such things as the UK's demand for an exclusion from the EU drive for "ever closer union", even though the moment the "British question" has been resolved, the "colleagues" will be seeking another treaty which will be aiming for precisely that.

Nor is Mr Cameron committing himself to a specific timetable. All he wil say is that the discussions "will take time". In his press conference after the summit, he said: "We've got to get our heads down, get on with it, have discussions and bring them to a successful conclusion". The meeting, he said, was "not the start of detailed negotiations but about making a start and setting out the issues and trying to explain to people what we want to achieve".

Nevertheless, it is very clear that Mr Cameron is still thinking in terms of bringing home his treaty. A British official source said the UK recognised there were "27 nuts to crack" – in reference to the fact there will have to be approval from every EU member state.

Mr Cameron argues that Germany has achieved treaty changes when it had problems with the eurozone and the UK deserves the same hearing for its complaints. Keeping up the momentum, he  is also to host Juncker at Chequers this Monday. This is all part of the theatre, as the Commission President has no direct responsibility for treaty change.

Meanwhile, the Guardian has been accidentally e-mailed details of the establishment of a secret Bank of England propaganda team, to work on costs of leaving the EU. This is operation "Bookend", led by Europhile former civil servant Jon Cunliffe. It looks like another attempt by the establishment to rig the debate, adding to the flow of FUD as it prepares to detail supposed "financial shocks" that could hit Britain if we leave the EU. 

Altogether, the Europhiles are risking there own credibility – not that they had much to start with. If they have nothing more than lies, deceit and scare stories, they may end up struggling to win this referendum.

Richard North 23/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: the theatre continues

Friday 22 May 2015  

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We could go to sleep for the next two years and wake up in May 2017, just in time for the start of the referendum campaign. And we'll be hearing exactly the same things then as we're hearing now. The Prime Minister is simply ramping up the theatre, all in preparation for his "Heston moment" when he can grandly declare, "I have in my hand a piece of paper", as he brings home his treaty from Brussels.

The man is playing us, and he is so confident in his "play" that he is even telling us the script, as he arrives at Riga, for the start of informal negotiations.

There, he tells us: "All I'd say is that there will be ups and downs, you'll hear one day this is possible and the next day something else is impossible". He then goes on to declare:
But one thing throughout all of this that will be constant, is my determination to deliver for the British people, reform of the EU, so they get a proper choice in the referendum that we'll hold, an in out referendum, before the end of 2017, that will be constant. But there will be lots of noise, lots of ups and downs, along the way.
One wonders whether the media even realise they are being played – or, indeed, whether they even care. After all, they are in the entertainment business, and not one of the hack-pack has shown any sign of being able to understand the issues – much less report them intelligently.

Certainly, Farage is being "played", walking "eyes wide shut" into an elephant trap so wide and deep that even a blind man in a coma could see it. Suckered in on immigration, Farage will find his legs cut off at the knees, as Cameron brings home his treaty to limit migration (or so it will be presented), leaving the Ukip leader with only bleeding stumps to stand on. 

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Those of us who know the history of the EU recall the great "reconciliation" between Pompidou and Heath – another event that was outrageously stage-managed, with the communiqué written before the meeting was even agreed.

And there is the point. All of this talk of reform is carefully staged theatre, designed to distract the gullible media from the central point that nothing very much is on offer, and nothing of any substance can be delivered.

The one thing we are seeing, though, is a gradual recognition that there is not going to be a referendum next year. There never was going to be one – because the procedural steps can't be completed in time. But that didn't stop the ignorant hacks speculating – it gives them something to occupy their dim little minds with.

But now it comes clear that Mr Cameron is going to let the play run its full course, the media are rowing back.

This, though, is the level at which the coming "renegotiations" are going to be reported – with the media claque lining up to report events as if they were serious matters, dealing with anything of substance. And when we do get that "Heston moment", they'll be all over Cameron, applauding his persistence and skill, as he takes them for the fools that they really are.

The sad thing about all this, though, is that too many of our fellow citizens will be taken in by it as well. Mr Cameron is staging this charade because, by and large, this sort of thing works.

Richard North 22/05/2015 link

Immigration: not an EU issue?

Friday 22 May 2015  

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There was no escaping the news yesterday that recorded net migration for 2014 was 318,000 – up from 209,000 in the year ending December 2013. This is regarded as a "statistically significant increase".

The European component stands at 178,000, or 56 percent of the total. That is up from 123,000 the previous year, the inflow driven by EU15 citizens (excluding British) and EU2 (Bulgarian and Romanian) citizens. Emigration was stable with 323,000 people leaving the UK, compared with 317,000 in the previous year.

A high proportion of the non-EU immigrants are students, but ultimately all of this category of immigrants is controllable under domestic law, without no specific restrictions imposed by the EU. This is entirely up to our own government to sort out.

For the rest, that leaves a balance of 178,000 migrants which, as Mr Farage predictably asserts, cannot be excluded unless we leave the EU and are thus [supposedly] able to control our borders.

But, where this starts to get interesting is if we imagine what might have happened, not if we had not joined the EU (or EEC as it was then), but if there had not been any Mr Monnet, and the whole EU thing had never started. What would have been the situation if there had remained just the European states, each acting independently?

Strangely enough, we can get some idea of where things were going, because in 1946 we agreed a treaty with France on the mutual abolition of visas (pictured above), allowing unrestricted travel between the two countries, with just the production of a passport. There, in effect, was a move towards the freedom of movement that we see in the current EU treaties.

The thing is, though, that the treaty explicitly states that it was "a first step towards the eventual restoration of the freedom of travel which existed between British and French territories before the war". This signifies that, with or without the Treaty of Rome, that was to come 11 years later, these two countries has already determined on freedom of movement.

Furthermore, this didn't just apply to France. In 1947 we saw a raft of treaties with different European nations, removing travel restrictions, taking us towards Europe-wide freedom of movement – and more were to come later.

With France, though, there were further developments in 1961, when it was agreed that citizens could travel between the countries just on the production of identity cards. And since UK citizens did not have ID cards, provision was made for them to travel with a British Visitor's Passport (BVP) which could be bought cheaply over the counters at most post offices.

After we had joined the EU, with effect from 1 January 1996, the BVP was withdrawn. Since then, travel for British citizens to Europe has been made more difficult. EU membership has not, in fact, made the process easier.

Without the EU, though – and the EEC before it – it is not unreasonable to assert that the independent countries of Europe would have stitched up deals between them on free movement and then progressively, on reciprocal employment rights. That was, so to speak, the direction of travel.

Then, when the Iron Curtain came down, it could hardly have been the case that the newly liberated east and central European countries would have been excluded from these deals.

Given all this, it is not entirely unreasonable to assert that freedom of movement in Europe – and the things that go with it – would have happened anyway, with or without the EU. And, as such, it will continue after we leave the EU.

The facility, though, is one thing. Scale of movement is another. And that is controlled by addressing push-pull factors. And, as it stands, the reason for the current inflow is the UK's relative economic prosperity. It is always open to our government to change that. Some are only too good at it.

Short of that, it is a fallacy to suggest we can control our borders – we can't. For a country that has visa-free agreements with its neighbours, free movement is a fact of life. But, to get results, we can manage immigration. That is an entirely different thing.

Richard North 22/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: mind your own businesses

Thursday 21 May 2015  

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"I don't tell you how to build aircraft so don't tell us how to run our country", says the Complete Bastard in a pithy response to the unwanted intervention by Airbus president Paul Kahn into the referendum debate.

Apart from the very real problems with the A-400M, one model of which recently crashed near Seville airport, ironically on Europe Day, the company has serious commercial issues with the A-380. There are strong indications that they have chosen to build the wrong aircraft for the market.

With such problems, one might expect the senior management to be focused on what they are paid to do – managing their company. But even if they thought this political intervention was appropriate, Khan needs to consider revising his pitch and coming up with a more imaginative set of lies.

A decision to quit the EU would raise doubts about Airbus's long-term future investments in the country, he says, apparently thinking that his audience doesn't have the skills or wit to look up the company investment patterns. Perhaps Khan, like his contemporaries, believes we are as ill-informed as he is.

Presumably, he believes we are incapable of remembering the words of his colleague Fabrice Bregier, the company chief executive, who last year said that if the exchange rate remained stable and the UK government continued to support for the development of the aerospace industry, "there would be no reason for Airbus to change our strategy in the UK".

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Clearly, also, Khan doesn't think we are capable of looking up his own company's website on China, to find that Airbus will have invested nearly $500 million in Chinese manufacturing partnerships by the end of this year, including building the first assembly line outside of Europe. The A320 final assembly line in Tianjin began operations during September 2008.

Of this, one has to ask whether a decision by China to quit the EU would raise doubts about Airbus's long-term future investments in the country. But silly me! China isn't in the EU, so it can't leave. And if being outside the EU doesn't affect investment in China, why should it affect the British operation?

The same might be said of the United States, where Airbus is building a $600 million manufacturing facility for A-320s at Mobile, Alabama, to add to its Wichita engineering operation, ready to produce finished aircraft by the end of this year.

This plant is all part of the $140 billion Airbus has invested in the US since 1990, working with hundreds of American suppliers in more than 40 states. So one has to ask whether a decision by the US to quit the EU would raise doubts about Airbus's long-term future investments in the country. But silly me! The US isn't in the EU, so it can't leave. And if being outside the EU doesn't affect investment in the US, why should it affect the British operation?

Any which way you put it, Khan's facile, shallow threats don't stand up to scrutiny, any more that do the vapourings of the Deputy chairman of that vast criminal organisation, Barclays Bank.

Interestingly, its co-criminal conspirator, Citi Bank, is also an energetic FUD distributor, recently asserting that, if the UK were to disengage significantly or completely from the single market the implications could be "dramatic". The UK population would face a drop in living standards as a result of lower wages or a weaker pound so that the same export performance could be maintained within the EU. 

Jim Cowles, Citi's chief executive for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, told the Financial Times of "mounting concern" among clients about their ability to continue using the UK as a regional hub if the country were to exit.

We've also been getting similar rhetoric from Deutsche Bank, another criminal enterprise that recently had to pay a $2.5 billion fine to settle the investigations into the Libor rigging involvement. It now faces a potential shareholder revolt over the poor management of the company, the profits growth, mounting regulatory fines, and restructuring plans.

"Last but not least, we are very concerned about of Deutsche Bank. It's not just the money. The findings of the regulators suggest very serious misconduct. It's something we think the management is responsible for," says one of the larger shareholders.

Yet Chuka Umunna, Labour's business spokesman, wants company managers tell staff about upsides of staying in EU, asserting that local and regional bosses are best placed to show workers the consequences of a possible Brexit.

Umunna himself, it rather appears, needs to spend more time with his own portfolio, and has clearly lost the plot in believing that our thieving and incompetent corporates have anything useful to add to the EU referendum debate.

Campaigners from both sides of the divide, and especially those in the proto "out" campaign, need to be telling businesses to mind their own businesses, and to stop interfering in matters that are not their business.

They may feel entitled to express concern about matters that directly affect their enterprises, and ask for their needs to be taken into account – and even support the sides that they believe represent their views, but they are not entitled to spread lies and scare stories in order to influence the debate.

And, in the final analysis, how we the people are governed is no concern of theirs. These businesses should be very, very careful about abusing their power and influence. Public patience is wearing thin.

Richard North 21/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: them cheatin' businesses

Thursday 21 May 2015  

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And so it is that Sir Mike Rake, president of the CBI, avers that: "No-one has yet set out a credible alternative future to EU membership. The current alternatives are not realistic options - little or no influence and the obligation to comply with EU principles whilst still paying most of the costs".

If Rake doesn't actually know he's wrong, he should do. But, for a man who in 2003 wrote a pamphlet on "How to join the euro", ignorance is a way of life. Us plebs and our work don't exist. It is perhaps not surprising,therefore, that he thinks of us as "no one". To him, we're not even the dirt on the soles of his expensive shoes.

But hang on a minute. Isn't this Mike Rake also deputy chairman of Barclays Bank? And isn't this the bank that has just been fined £284.4m by the Financial Conduct Authority – the biggest bank fine in UK's history - over "brazen" currency rigging?

And this is the day we also see four of the world's biggest banks - including Barclays - agree to plead guilty to conspiring to manipulate the price of US dollar and euros, while a fifth bank, UBS, is pleading guilty to parallel but separate interest rate rigging charges.

Together, Citi, JPMorgan, Barclays, RBS, Bank of America and UBS will pay almost $6 billion to the American authorities, bringing the total fines over the foreign exchange scandal to $9 billion. Barclays must pay the biggest fine, equivalent to £1.5 billion.

And this comes right on the heels of the Libor interest rate scandal, where banks were found to be rigging the rates banks use to lend to each other to their advantage. 

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The US authorities discovered that between December 2007 and January 2013, traders at Citi, JPMorgan, Barclays, UBS and RBS referred to themselves as "The Cartel" in chatrooms where they used coded language to set benchmark rates. One Barclays trader wrote in a chatroom in November 2010: "if you ain't cheatin', you ain't trying".

And so, this "cheatin' bank", subject to the biggest fine in UK banking history, has its deputy chairman who is telling business to "speak out early" to stop the UK voting to leave Europe.

On this, I think the phrase I'm looking for is "foxtrot oscar" - although I am surprised at my own restraint. These dregs should be in prison. At the very least, Rake should concentrate on cleaning up his own "stinking cesspit of corporate corruption" and keep his nose out of our affairs. As we remarked earlier, how we are governed is none of his business. 

Why should we listen to corrupt, cheating businesses telling us how to vote in our referendum? They should shut up and mind their own business.

Richard North 21/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: none of your business

Wednesday 20 May 2015  

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This is the Sun editorial I would like to see:

There are no benefits which we gain by virtue of UK membership of the EU that are not open to us through other means. Thus, the game played by the CBI is classic misdirection. The fat cats want to keep us focused on the wrong issues, fighting battles of their choosing so we can be defeated in detail.

In fact, this coming referendum is our chance to correct a historical error, where the British nation joined in a dangerous experiment in political integration in the mistaken belief that it would solve our problems at home and abroad.

With the passage of time, the magnitude of that error has become more and more apparent. And if final stages of integration – already on the drawing board - are allowed to unfold with Britain still a member of the EU, we will be trapped in a nightmare from which there is no escape.

It is vital, therefore, that we ignore CBI propaganda about "benefits". We must not engage on their choice of battlefield. The "benefits" they speak of are ours to enjoy in or out of the EU. And we are better off out. We need to focus on the real issues - our issues, not theirs. People need to know that the fate of their nation is at stake. We should not allow ourselves to be distracted by the self-serving corporate élites. 

All the  fat cats are interested in is their "bottom line". They think they can keep more cash by sticking close to Brussels, with not the slightest concern for the welfare of the British people and their needs.

While they offshore their profits to the shadiest tax havens they can find, they weep crocodile tears about the dangers of leaving the EU. All they are actually doing is looking after their own interests. They will tell any number of lies to get their way, which is precisely what they are doing now.

They need to be told that how we the people choose to be governed is no business of theirs. No matter how big and important they think they are, no "fat cat" has any more votes than any other individual. It is what the people think that matters. Democracy, not corporate greed, is what matters.

We must define the issues in this referendum campaign – not the "fat cats" who are trying to distort to debate in order to line their pockets with our cash. They live happily with dictators and want a "rip-off Britain", knowing that pickings are easiest when democracy is weak. Our democracy must come before fat-cat pay-cheques and pension pots.

The fat cats need to mind their own business, and keep their grubby mitts out of our politics.

Richard North 20/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: progress at the coalface

Wednesday 20 May 2015  

I was in London yesterday, on meetings relating to the referendum. It is too early yet to give details but we expect to have some formal announcements by next month. Nothing is firm at this stage and there are many developments, some of which could have interesting consequences.

In the meantime, I would refer you to John Redwood who has written an open letter to Ukip members. Before I respond, I would very must like to know what you think of it.

More in the morning, when I've had some sleep.

Richard North 20/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: Queen's speech announcement for the Bill

Tuesday 19 May 2015  

We are now being told that David Cameron intends to put the EU Referendum Bill at the top of the Queen's Speech, with some sources saying that the draft Bill will be published the next day.

This doesn't stop the idle hacks telling us that "ministers will be able to force through the law by summer next year even if it is blocked in the House of Lords this year", thus "fuelling speculation the poll could be held in 2016".

However, since the Electoral Commission recommends that there is a nine-month gap between the legislation being implemented and the poll, the completion of the Bill by summer of next year inevitably means that the voting has to take place in 2017.

I suppose those burbling that there will be an early poll are on a par who earnestly told me that Mr Cameron would not call a referendum, although we still have some of those, who haven't changed their position. They will, no doubt, still be denying the obvious as we are ticking our ballot papers.

The denial brigade, however – aligned with those who failed to see a Conservative victory at the general election – have contributed to our almost total lack of preparedness, but that still doesn't stop Farage calling for a 2016 poll.

With Ukip still in disarray (having only staged round one of its ritual blood-letting) – and having sat on its hands for over a decade, without preparing an exit plan – the party is in no position to fight a referendum campaign. This makes Farage's enthusiasm for an early poll particularly otiose.

But then, if you are used to going into battle completely unprepared, and without an effective plan – then to be defeated – it might be as well to go early as late, and get the humiliation over with.

Nevertheless, according to The Times, there is growing scepticism across the Conservative party at suggestions that the referendum might take place a year earlier than the 2017 deadline promised by Mr Cameron.

That puts Farage on the back foot once again, picking the wrong horse. Yet, if he had been better prepared – and taken my advice tendered over a decade ago – this would not be the case. Not least, we would have had a unit in place to counter the Europhile Open Europe, which has the Guardian waxing lyrical over the prospects of reform.

Instead, the party seems reluctant even to recognise that there is a referendum in the offing, its website whinging about the electoral system and the perceived need for reform. That gives an indication of where its priorities lie.

Perhaps, though, given the effect of the party on the majority of the electorate, its silence on the issue is just as well. Better it stays out of the fray than poisons the well even further, making it harder to get an effective message to voters.

In fact, Farage promises not to seek to monopolise the EU "out" campaign, claiming that fears among Tory MPs about Ukip dominating everything were entirely false. "We will be an important voice", he says, "but there will be a lot of voices there". He thinks that a broader, "let's have a different relationship with the EU" campaign is needed.

Since Mr Farage has yet to define with any clarity what that relationship should be, and how we would get to where he wants to go without wrecking the economy, he really does need to keep quiet.

Richard North 19/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: softened up for reform?

Tuesday 19 May 2015  

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The year 1992 was an interesting one, the year that Alan Sked set up the anti-federalist league, which subsequently became Ukip. But, as the Finanical Times reminds us, it was the year when Denmark had rejected the Maastricht treaty and a second EU referendum was looming.

I not only remember that, Booker and I wrote about it in The Great Deception (TGD). There was no chance of changing the treaty and scant time to negotiate a side-deal, and we were all anticipating a total impasse which could bring the edifice down.

But that was to reckon without the perseverance of the "colleagues" who stitched up a package which became known as the "Danish solution", agreed at a late-night meeting of the European Council at Edinburgh Castle, under the chairmanship of John Major.

The FT raises this because it believes the solution is emerging as an important crib sheet and guide to dealing with Mr Cameron's "renegotiations".

Uffe Ellemann-Jensen, Denmark's foreign minister at the time says, "it would be a good idea to dust off those files and look at how we solved the situation then". It worked, he says and when Jean-Claude Juncker speaks of a "fair deal", we are told that it is the Danish solution he has in mind.

This solution was a "multi-part package", which included specific opt-outs through a binding accord, signed by all member states and deposited in the UN registry for international agreements. It was a treaty, says the FT, just not an EU treaty. It gave the Danish government enough to campaign on, yet did not contradict Maastricht or require revision.

The pact was further strengthened by political declarations, acknowledged by other EU leaders, which clarified the application of future integration in areas such as defence, the euro or home affairs, requiring a referendum before any changes could be made.

The FT posits that the UK will not be able to secure a treaty change, but says domestic legislation could be used to reinforce a deal and counter eurosceptic concerns over the lack of treaty change.

Personally, I don't think the pundits have yet properly (or at all) understood the potential of the "simplified procedure", giving Mr Cameron the additional boost of a treaty to add to the package.

But that could prove to be just a bonus. The FT argues that, with hindsight the Danish accord acted like a promissory note from EU leaders, a form of post-dated treaty change.

Philip Hammond, Mr Cameron's newly re-appointed foreign secretary, notes the deal "delivered in the end", with the Danish opt-outs incorporated into later treaties. He sees the terms "as a demonstration of just how creative and flexible the EU in practice is able to be".

In fact, as we recorded in TGD, when the second Danish referendum, on 18 May, just two days before the third reading of the Maastricht Bill in Westminster. The result was a "yes", delivering 57 percent to 43 percent against.

But the event was marked by the worst riots Copenhagen had seen since the war. Protesters smashed shop windows, burnt cars and barricaded part of the city. Eleven demonstrators and 26 police were injured.

How well the voters understood the arguments was questionable. In one post-referendum poll, only 17 percent knew of the Edinburgh "concessions". Others complained that their constitution prohibited holding two votes on the same issue. "We gave our decision last year", said cabinetmaker Steen Majlund. "I thought this was a democracy".

Nevertheless, the FT narrative probably has some force. What Mr Cameron will be offering will doubtless be a complex "multi-part package”, which will have considerable power to shape the debate and persuade the uncommitted.

Anyone who thinks this could not be decisive is delusional. All you need to do is look at the current editorial in the Times. "Seize the Moment", it says, arguing for Mr Cameron to bring forward the EU referendum.

Typically of the incompetent journalists of the legacy media, they haven't done their homework, but the sentiments expressed in the piece are an ominous harbinger.

"Achieving real reform in Europe is clearly more important than meeting an arbitrary deadline", it says, but it goes on to say that Mr Cameron's position is far stronger than a month ago, and that treaty change is not needed to achieve many of his goals.

Reform should be a natural and permanent process for the EU as for its members, it adds, then picking up on Denmark, also noting that a side-deal was reached to keep it in Europe on its own terms.

Britain is a more important member of the union, says the Times, and deserves at least as much consideration. "Mr Cameron should seize this chance to win important powers back from Brussels, and then get on with running Britain", the paper concludes.

In this, I see the newspaper preparing the ground for an acceptance of the Cameron "package" that will eventually be on offer, whence it will be recommending the public to vote to remain in the EU. It will be joined by the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph, and virtually the whole of the legacy media.

We are, I am convinced, being softened up to accept that reform is attainable, so that we will vote for what we are given. It is going to take a powerful campaign to overcome that and a realisation that we are up against forces of enormous power and determination.

What I see from our "side", though, does not fill me with enormous confidence, especially as most of us seem to have become invisible.

Perhaps, though, that is our greatest strength. They didn't see us coming in the general election and they are still so blindly cocksure that they might not see us coming in the referendum. Every monster has its blind spot, and we know where it is.

Richard North 19/05/2015 link

EU Referendum: Christmas comes early?

Monday 18 May 2015  

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Gullible eurosceptics could hardly believe their "luck" this morning as the Guardian paraded its front-page story telling us: "JCB boss says EU exit could lift burden of bureaucracy on UK businesses".

With such a glowing headline, they could even be forgiven for thinking that Christmas has come early. But, of course, it hasn't. Any warm feeling left by the headline is quickly dissipated by the text, which tells us that: "The top executives of JCB … have said Britain should vote to leave the European Union if David Cameron fails to negotiate reductions to bureaucracy that weighs down UK businesses".

There we have, writ large, the "wait and see" strategy which, if adopted, would almost certainly lose the referendum for us.

Additionally, in a ploy so typical of the opposition, we see the elision of EU membership and the single market, as Graeme MacDonald – the CEO for JCB – is cited as dismissing concerns about the impact on business "if Britain voted to leave the single market".

Here on this blog, we know that Britain could leave the EU but stay in the Single Market, by dint of rejoining the EEA. But the Guardian doesn't want you to think in these terms. Its tactic, alongside the entire Europhile corpus, is to keep people confused enough to believe that the EU and the Single Market are one and the same thing.

However, we then get an apparent contradiction when MacDonald is asked if it would be better for the UK to quit an unreformed EU. To this, he says: "I think it would be, because I really don't think it would make a blind bit of difference to trade with Europe". MacDonald then is allowed to say: "There has been far too much scaremongering about things like jobs. I don't think it's in anyone's interest to stop trade. I don't think we or Brussels will put up trade barriers".

This, on the face of it looks quite encouraging, and especially as it is the Guardian conveying the story. But, as always, nothing is quite what it seems.

In the first instance, the newspaper is doing precisely what we don't want – it is framing the story as an economic issue, a ploy which the BBC is happily adopting, telling us that, "what business actually 'thinks' about Europe ... will be one of the defining issues ahead of the in/out referendum".

With that legend in place, they can perpetuate a tit-for-tat narrative, with a series of "he says, she says" exchanges. There is no better way of keeping people away from the substantive issues and driving the general public into a state of catatonic boredom.

However, there is an even darker side to this apparent concession to the eurosceptic cause. What the Guardian is also doing is providing a timely foil to the Europhile Open Europe for it to pedal the reform agenda, helping extend its baleful grip.

In this context, Norman Tebbit has noted that even the "hardcore" eurosceptics such as Bill Cash, are holding their tongues, having no wish to be labelled as disloyal "bastards" like those who troubled Mr Major a couple of decades ago.  If they can be prevailed upon to keep silent until Mr Cameron comes back from Brussels with his "deal", the fight will be almost over and they will find it impossible to regain the lost ground.

Meanwhile, rather suspiciously, the New Statesman is talking up the effectiveness of the "out" campaign, having previously told us:
The Out campaign has all-but-decided on its best line-up for the battle to come, and already exists in utero in the shape of Business for Britain, a sharp-elbowed and media-savvy think tank headed by Matthew Elliott that has quietly put together a team of able advocates for a European exit. To make matters worse for pro-Europeans, it is likely that when the campaign moves out of cover it will be bolstered by veterans from the Taxpayers' Alliance and the No to AV campaign - a sort of right-wing, anti-European version of the Avengers.
Give that the Elliott faction favours the "wait and see" strategy, one can see a "play" beginning to take shape. If the media can be prevailed upon to support the group most likely to fail, this will have the effect of marginalising a fully-fledged "out" campaign before it even gets under way.

It seems to me, perhaps,  that someone has been reading Sun Tzu and putting his principles into practice. "To fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence" Sun Tzu counsels. "Supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting".

As far as the Tory right, goes, Mr Tebbit's observations are also a warning of things to come. Nothing would please the Europhiles more than for us to lose the battle without even putting up credible a fight.

Richard North 18/05/2015 link

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