It is clear that Remain have been plotting their campaign for some time. Cameron asked us to join him in supporting a “reformed” EU. Brexit has taken a lead in the polls. Why?
Cameron has a reputation in some quarters as a political animal. Before becoming an MP, his background was very much in the Conservative party. He joined the research department aged 21 in 1988. Early on he worked on briefs for Europhile Ken Clarke.
Within a few years, he was working on PMQs for John Major, tipped as a potential Political Secretary to the Prime Minister, he lost out to Jonathan Hill, who he later effectively appointed as an EU Commissioner in 2014.
Before embarking on a career in the private sector, Cameron had two more significant positions. The first of those was under Norman Lamont, Chancellor during Black Wednesday. Next was a spell under, Michael Howard, the man he ultimately succeeded as leader of the party.
In the process, he beat Ken Clarke and eurosceptics David Davis and Liam Fox. There must have been enough known about him at that stage to convince the europhile wing of the party to vote for him.
On to his referendum project, arguably promising a referendum EU secured enough votes from UKIP to form a majority government. The aim of the vote was ostensibly to remain in or leave a “reformed” EU.
Much as Cameron may have been able to secure a vote within his own party, his political skills on the international stage left him with a statement of intent from a Council of Ministers that may never be ratified by treaty. Reform was not reform, instead potential tinkering.
In to the campaign, evidence suggests that it was long in the planning. Failures on immigration would have to be covered up. The focus would have to shift, a strength of Cameron’s.
There are some features of the Cameron campaign, abetted incidentally by his old Oxford chum, Osborne. The centre piece would be from the incestuous connections that Cameron had learned about during his Treasury days.
The Treasury would produce a report claiming doom and gloom. Project Fear was born, supervised by godfather to one of Cameron’s children, Osborne. The latter was to use his contacts and his position on various bodies to build the report into a body of evidence.
First stop, the bank of England Governor, next the IMF on which both Osborne and Carney sit. The IFS could be relied upon through treasury connections anyone else would be out of step.
For his part, Cameron had some strengths. The soon to be impotent USA President had lunch with the internationally respected Queen. Along with 3 other EU powers, Britain’s 4th and majority deciding seat on the G7 helped to ensure a G7 statement. Their body of evidence to sacrifice our sovereignty has been paid for by the British taxpayer.
The main arguments that he, and his sidekick Osborne have, is that “body of evidence”. That probably accounts for the large part of his tactics. Let’s have a look at what they are.
The most obvious Cameron tactic is to shift the question. He “doesn’t accept the premise” or this is a “red herring”. The real issue is the economy, therefore back to his pre-prepared declaration that he believes in the dodgy evidence put together by both George Osborne and a certain David Cameron. The plus side is “access to the Single Market”. Of course, negotiating that access leads to a “decade of uncertainty”.
Next come the half truths. Leaving the SEM would lead to tariffs on British products sold to Europe. The other half of that particular truth is that that we import from the EU. With a trade deficit worth around 10 times the national gross contribution to the EU and over 20 times the net contribution. That gives us a bargaining power that Cameron failed to capitalise on in his attempt at what he calls “reform”.
Cameron is easy to believe when he says “we won’t get a better deal outside than inside”. Of course we won’t if we have a national leader who can not negotiate from a position of strength.
Another of his half truths was on VAT. The side he presented was that we did not have to raise VAT rates above the current levels. The other half is that the UK can not reduce VAT rates below 15%.
The next technique is designed to tap in to the listener’s ‘security’ needs. Cameron tells us that he has been Prime Minister for 6 years, that he knows what he is talking about. To some, the reassurance works, to others he patronises.
He usually tries to fit in the “I love my country” line too. This is customarily followed up with reasons why the only thing to do, if you love your country, is to do as he says. He tells us that we can not have access to the EU markets because Germany won’t let us. He may love his country but apparently not enough to stand up for it.
One of Cameron’s most used ploys is the line “we don’t know what out looks like”. Of course we don’t. After a Leave result, the government of the day has 2 years to negotiate. Cameron has not told us what his policy would be for the last couple of years before the next election.
Arguably the most ironic part of Cameron’s strategy is to fight a rearguard, telling us that Leave are “scaremongering”. This is from a Prime Minister who has demolished the British economy with his prophecies of doom. It is symbolic of his willingness to insult, a tribute perhaps to one of his mentors, John Major.
Increasingly, Cameron uses pejorative digs, as he did over Syria and calling those who disagreed as terrorist sympathisers. On the Commons he made digs at Boris over divorce. Those who want to leave are “quitters”, the hackeneyed phrase from Major’s days of “little Englanders, another irony given the global outlook of the Leave camp.
Another thing, Dave, if a joke isn’t funny, don’t repeat it. A DIY recession may have had potential at B&Q but if it fails then, it will fail every time.
To conclude, there are some questions that Dave might like to answer.
How will you meet your immigration targets if we remain?
You tell us that we have sovereignty and use VAT as an example, that we have not had to raise VAT. Can we reduce VAT below 15%? Can you guarantee removal of the ‘Tampon tax’?
You tell us that we don’t know what ‘out’ looks like. That is not the point of a referendum, the Leave leaders are not the government. Can you tell us what the future holds and what ‘remain’ looks like as the EU seeks to expand its reach?
You have told us what ‘out’ looks like under you; recession, inflation, unemployment, no exports, falls in tax receipts, inability to strike a trade deal, plague of locusts, war in Europe, pensioner poverty and much more besides.
If, as you say, you love your country and are incapable of delivering anything good for Britain, will you stand aside now and let somebody capable, with a vision for an independent Britain take over on 24th June?