Why the ‘Out’ Campaign Lost the EU Referendum – a New Year horror story

It is now increasingly common for magazines and websites to publish a ghost story in the pre- Christmas period. Here at CIB, we are doing something a bit different. Here is a horror story for the new year.  It does have a serious point, however, attempting to provide some conjectural ‘hindsight’ well before the event as a pre-emptive warning which may be helpful today.

It is late 2017 and the initial tumultuous celebrations of Mr Cameron’s triumph are dying down. Slowly the truth is sinking in as the emboldened European Union (EU) hierarchy now boasts openly about their next steps in the former United Kingdom’s integration into their bureaucratic superstate. Our Prime Minister, leading the Remain (in the European Union) Campaign, has won a decisive referendum victory, using techniques trialled in the General Election (2015) and Scottish Referendum.

On his side was the political and ruling Establishment, the apparatus of government, the media, the EU’s PR machine, the BBC, big business and various opinion-setting celebs. Together they were able to deploy a combination of big spending, fear-mongering, repetitious ‘on-message’ soundbites and subduing political dissent through threats and bribes. But this is not the full story; the Leave Campaign made Mr Cameron’s task much easier than it should have been.

The Leave Campaign was full of ordinary non-political people who were ‘too nice to win’. They did not realise how ruthless and underhand (‘dirty’) their more politically astute opponents could be. The deceit, the propaganda (especially aimed at the younger generation), the vilification, the denials of the truth and cover-ups, the threats and the fictitious fears came as a surprise, but should not have been.

After all anyone betraying his or her country to domination, exploitation and taxation by a foreign power and cultural destruction is not going to play by some sort of Queensberry rules. The Leave campaign also didn’t quite realise that this was a ‘fight to the death’ for their country’s identity, sovereignty, democracy and dignity, not an exercise in leaving a gentleman’s club for nations.

Counter-strategies to the ‘dirty play’ of the Establishment – including by the media – were not developed and, therefore, not deployed. The Remain Campaign and the media effectively shut down meaningful discussion of major issues not following their agenda.

Ignored were: the political issues, the loss of sovereignty, open borders and uncontrolled mass migration, emasculation of democracy, replacement of the rule of just law with political law, the rising tide of regulation undermining personal liberty and free enterprise prosperity, the increasing EU taxation and waste; the expanding opportunities outside the EU and the changing needs of the future.

Instead there was increasing diversionary sneering and ridicule directed at the supposedly chaotic and deeply divided Leave Campaign, which was not recognised as such by the Public. Rapid rebuttals by the Leave Campaign of deception by their opponents, using comprehensive facts, did not occur. The fifth columnists or pseudo-Leavers helped repeatedly to undermine the Leave Campaign, kept everyone guessing until at the eleventh hour, then changed sides and urged all Leavers to do the same.

Then there were the ‘Leave egotists’ who thought they could win the Referendum singlehandedly and made the most basic mistakes. They failed to work as a team and support the common effort at national or local levels. They caused publicity-seeking distractions that were exploited by the Remain Campaign. When in front of an audience or giving interviews they could go off on tangents or ‘hobby horses’ rather than present an array of strong reasons for leaving the failing EU.

An insular centralising ‘Leave’ leadership (just like the EU and Mr Cameron’s government) was unable to devolve power, make full use of the potential resources and inventiveness available or to value individual contributions. The Leave Campaign did not illustrate what people can achieve as individuals when not hamstrung by the EU’s bureaucracy. The top-down management wanted to be seen to be in control and direct everyone rather than play a supporting and co-ordinating role to maximise the enthusiasm and resourcefulness available. Square pegs were fitted into round holes, if they were fitted at all. Internal communications were slow and one way (downwards), if they existed at all. Being seen to be doing something became more important than thinking and planning first, or rapidly improving professionalism throughout.

Referendum fatigue and tedium with the ‘same old politics’ and endless commentary in the media set in early amongst the Public as the extended campaign and EU ‘negotiations’ dragged on. Meanwhile real knowledge of the important issues remained at low levels amongst many. Independence from the EU and the exciting opportunities it offered in the modern world failed to be presented in a way that would to capture the popular imagination of the Electorate.

The Leavers thought they could run a visibly ‘me too’ Anne Oakley style campaign, (‘anything you can do, I can do better’, with much more limited resources and access to the generally hostile media). Mostly it didn’t work and resources were wasted, instead of being concentrated where they could achieve most ‘bang for the buck’. And rather than be innovative, adaptive and build upon success, they just copied.

The Leave Campaign failed to develop its clear modern USP (unique selling proposition) and therefore show how different and in tune with the liberating, democratic, egalitarian, Internet and global international future it is, in contrast to the failing, obsolete, hierarchical, control-freak EU. Without the modern, optimistic change and progress USP the Leave Campaign could not align its objectives, modus operandi, and symbolism with the emerging future world leaving it open to being portrayed as living in ‘Little England’. Yet the future is the world of value-adding collaborations between empowered individuals who work together to bring participative democracy, social justice, better and more efficient government, innovation and per capita wealth creating prosperity into an increasingly competitive world. The EU cannot deliver results in the modern world, only costly failure. A free United Kingdom, could. Indeed, it could have inspired the rest of the world, but it missed its chance.

Dr Who took this report and analysis, and raced to the Tardis. ‘Back to the start of 2016 quickly. The Out Campaign must read this before it is too late and the United Kingdom is destroyed.’

William Hague’s political schizophrenia

William Hague stated at the end of last year that he is minded to vote for Britain to remain in the European Union partly because he fears “Brexit” could lead to the breakup of the UK and partly because “Brexit” would weaken the EU. This has hardly been a case of coming off the fence. Hague’s euroscpticism has always been suspect. The general public saw through its shallowness in the 2001 General Election when they returned Labour to power and ignored the Tories’ half-hearted campaign under Hague’s leadership. His current position is much confused both intellectually and politically. He has failed to grasp that it is not possible to believe in democracy as well as EU membership.

BREXIT

William Hague may have been in the forefront of politics for many years and is much respected. However this does not confer any automatic right for his confused views on the EU to be takne seriously.  On the other hand, it is useful for those of us who support withdrawal to listen to such a Europhile ally of the PM as it will help us to sharpen our attacks on supporters of “”remain”.

In this piece, where I comment respectfully upon his words in a Daily Telegraph article dated 22nd December, I will be using the excellent rebuttal of the Europhiles’ arguments by Robert Oulds on this website, which also contains a rebuttal by CIB of 7 major Europhile issues.

SECURITY AND NON-DEMOCRACY

The security of Europe rests not with the EU; indeed the EU does much to unsettle it. Most certainly security depends not upon the forces of Luxemburg or even of the other smaller 25 EU members nor even with the might of the UK with France and Germany but upon NATO, where we work with the USA. It is NATO that provides security for Europe and the wider world. [Please see footnote A].

The EU has endangered that security with interference in the internal affairs of states from the Balkans, the Ukraine, Iraq, and North Africa as well as by its trade negotiations, as in Ghana for example. The EU provides no safety for anyone through its sclerotic involvement in foreign affairs. Yet Mr Hague says “We still need the EU to provide the safe harbour for the docking of fragile democracies, and it would be strange to champion that idea but abandon it ourselves.”

I need hardly remind Mr Hague that there is not an ounce of UK-style Democracy in the EU.  The EU “parliament” has only limited powers [Please see footnote B] and Mr Hague has acknowldged its limitations: “As to the European parliament, it does not remotely provide democratic accountability for the simple reason that most voters across Europe do not take elections to it seriously and are not usually aware of the identity of their MEPs. It is not possible to be accountable and anonymous at the same time.” He misses the point of course. It is just because the EU parliament is without a strong set of democratic teeth that no one can take it seriously. Ask the MEP’s in the UK.

Accordingly the idea of there being a democratic dock within the EU for “fragile democracies” is nonsense. The EU actually destroys national democracy. It was designed to do so and will not change its course.

EUROSCEPTICISM OF MR HAGUE

“And I am often asked whether the years I spent in EU meetings and negotiations made me less Eurosceptic than when I toured the country 15 years ago with my ‘Save the Pound’ campaign” said Mr Hague. “The answer to that is “no”, since close acquaintance with central bodies of the European Union does nothing to create enthusiasm for them. The Commission itself, generally the best-performing of the EU institutions, could benefit from the spending cuts and rigour to which most national governments have been subjected. The European Court of Justice has pushed the boundaries of treaties and is capable of imposing burdens on businesses which suggest a detachment from reality.”

“Even more worryingly, some of the most cherished projects of European unity are in deep trouble – the Schengen zone buckling under the weight of new migration, and the euro bedevilled by flaws which were obvious at the start. There is a legitimate question as to whether the EU can survive in its current form two or three decades from now.”

These statements are unquestionably true. The totalitarian Commission maintains its fundamental straight course onwards towards an united non-democratic federal auperstate, as it alwasy has done. Mr Hague knows this full well.

“It is high time for a vigorous debate to get going. So far, what I have written above would be cheered on by my old friend Liam Fox, who has advocated withdrawal, by old Cabinet colleagues tempted to campaign to leave in the forthcoming referendum, and even by Nigel Farage as he reels from the discovery that a rebel who joins you from another party simply becomes a rebel in your own.” Correct in part only!

EUROPHILIA AND FEDERALISM OF MR HAGUE AND THE IRRELEVENCY OF THE PM’S NEGOTIATIONS

“Yet here I part company with these fellow critics of the EU, distinguishing between deploring the state of an organisation and deciding it is best to leave it. I wait, first of all, for the outcome of the negotiations the Prime Minister has launched, the importance of which should not be underestimated in continental capitals.”

Mr Hague forgets that how many issues which desperately need addressing are not on the PM’s little list of four items which he is discussing. There is no reference to the ECJ and its control over the UK Supreme Court, Fisheries, the Free Movement of Peoples, the UK’s right to represent itself on global bodies (The Top Tables), the cost of our membership, the red tape suffered by the 80% of UK GDP involved only with internal UK trade, reform of the CAP and so on.

In conclusion there is no substance to the PM’s negotiations or “thin gruel” as Mr Rees Mogg called them. Their conclusion will be trumpeted as a success but in reality, the fanfare will merely be a repeat of Chamberlain’s “Heston moment” in 1938 as John Petley refers in his January 2016 Article on the CIB web site.

THE ECONOMY OF THE UK

“The arguments about what is best for our economy will rage back and forth. Those who say we have to be in the single market to shape it and benefit from it have the edge and that will be a vital edge as the public weighs the implications of their choice for their jobs and businesses” says Mr Hague.

Many businessmen and economists would disagree. We can access the Single Market from outside the EU, by joining Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, who have plenty of say in the formation of EEA- relevant regulation, even if they do not take part in the final vote. People like Lord Bamford and Sir James Dyson may not have made detailed analyses of the best exit strategy, but thier confidnece that we can not only survive but prosper outside the EU is well founded. With only 20% of UK GDP linked to total global exports and of that only a diminishing 7% of UK GDP comprising trade with the EU, it makes little sense for that tiny dwindling tail of 7% to wag the growing dog of 93%!

CONCLUSIONS

It is clear that Mr Hague is politically and economically generalising and being economical with the actuality. There is no attempt by Mr Hague to support his line of argument with facts and reasoning. Mr Hague’s current position is much confused both intellectually and politically. It is not possible to believe in national democracy and at the same time support our bondage to the EU?

Furthermore, how can Mr Hague think that the UK has any possible useful influence inside this total disaster?

Why a tariff union, Mr Hague? It is entirely counterproductive to the UK trade outside the EU which comprises 64% of UK exports.

Why must the UK guarantee the obligations and debts of the Euro and its failed experiments to the ECB and the IMF? This weakens the UK and makes it vulnerable as it borrows ever more to do this and then borrows more to pay interest on the borrowed sums! Hence Mr Osborne imposes more and more taxes on those who can least afford it!

Why has the UK lost so many of its seats on important world bodies just to be represented by one member acting for 28 with conflicting and confused objectives? Why support our membership of a political union if all we are talking about is a free trade area, Mr Hague?

In short, Mr Hague, who seemed to show such promise when he made that memorable speech at the 1977 Conservative Party Conference when he was only sixteen years old,  has proved one of the great political disappointments of recent years.  His schizophrenia over the EU suggests that for all the hype of his early years, he possibly never was a suitable person to lead our country after all.

FOOTNOTES [FOR WHICH I AM INDEBTED TO THE CIB.]

A) NATO: Since 1999 NATO changed from being a highly successful defensive alliance into an aggressive, go anywhere- bash anyone organisation with unlimited ambitions to “humanitarian interventions” anywhere in the world which suit US/EU policy. The first such adventure was Yugoslavia (1999),an unprovoked attack, admitted to be illegal but thought, as in “1066 & All That”, to be a “Good Thing”- also completely contrary to the then existing NATO charter but Blair & Clinton just did it. And the Bundeswehr used the opportunity to cease being “citizens in uniform” and become a force able to operate overseas. As General Naumann (whose title would have been Chief of the Great General Staff in palmier days) put it “German forces will be engaged for the protection of the market and access without hindrance to the raw materials of the entire world”. NATO is up to its neck and beyond in the operations in the Ukraine and elsewhere, targeted against Russia. Victoria Nuland, US Under Secretary of State, boasted of spending 5 billion dollars destabilising Ukraine and the EU itself, plus sundry intelligence agencies (like the Bundesnachrichtendienst and state funded NGOs like the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung) are not far behind). The EU has a slightly different terminology for these operations and calls them “The Export of Stability”.

B) The Powers of the EU parliament: – Actually the parliament (so-called) has acquired some powers, like confirming or rejecting the proposed President and members of the EU Commission. Whilst its function is mainly “advise and Consent”, it can withhold consent in committee and sometimes does. The Commission with the vital and perpetual sole power of initiative then has to come back with a modified proposal. What the parliament (so-called) does not have is any democratic legitimacy, as Mr Hague rightly points out. There is not much demos but quite a lot of kratos in it. It is by no means powerless and is asserting more power and influence than ever. If the parliament’s majority opinion (taken from the large central groups that control the EU parliament) coincides with that of the Commission, it is very likely to prevail. The European Council (of prime ministers and presidents) would have difficulty in resisting determined, long-sustained, combined pressure by the Commission and Parliament singing from the same hymn sheet. The EU institutions do have a life and power of their own – just as Dr. Hallstein (see Edward Spalton’s CIB earlier paper) intended.

Photo by Foreign and Commonwealth Office

A letter from our President to the Leicester Mercury

Come the New Year we will be steeped in preparations for the EU referendum requiring evidence based facts and not EU biased wool pulled over eyes, especially by Little Europeans who would have us believe that we are too small and cannot stand on our own feet. The pages of Mailbox were filled at one time by letters from local European Movement members who predicted that it would be a disaster to stay out of the euro. They have been proven hopelessly wrong but no doubt they will again try to strike fear where and when they can. What they cannot do is silence the growing awareness of the damage done to Britain and its industries over the past forty years. A vote to stay in the EU will commit our children and generations to come to ever closer political control no matter how much our present Prime Minister tries to convince us otherwise.

I would like to mention two quotations that remain in my mind, one from the Conservative party:-
In my lifetime all our problems have come from Mainland Europe and all our solutions have come from the English speaking nations of the world” (Margaret Thatcher)

and one from the Labour party:- “This island is made mainly from coal and surrounded by fish. Only an organising genius could produce a shortage of coal and fish at the same time.” (Aneurin Bevan)

The national organisation financed only by public donations founded in 1969 for a free UK that I am elected to head, will continue to campaign to inform and restore pride in Britain as a self governing nation engaging in friendly relationships with nations of the whole world, especially the Commonwealth. We have put up with our unelected European Union masters long enough. It is time to leave and more usefully spend the £33,000,000 net we give away to the EU every day. They might not miss us but will desperately try to hang on to our money whilst pretending they might change their ways

John Redwood’s New Year Message

We want a new beginning. We want to restore our democracy, and to change it for the better.

It is fitting that many of us have boundless ambition for our country. We know that independent the UK can be richer, freer, and more of a force for good.

Restored to our rightful place at the top tables and councils of the world, the UK will have more capacity to help shape the future.

Able to make our own decisions about who to welcome here, we can be fair to people from all round the world and no longer have to discriminate against the non Europeans.

Lets make 2016 a great year to rank alongside 1660 and 1688 when our freedoms were increased by political actions.

Bruised and battered the old year goes out amidst war, floods and the usual political recriminations about the role and cost of the state.

All was not lost, as 2015 at least broached some of the big issues that we need to confront to restore our democracy and find justice for England.

It is true that on offering England her voice, it was muffled badly by the  Hague reforms. Our devolution settlement remains too lop-sided as well as under continuous pressure from the SNP.

2015 has usefully highlighted some of the ways the British people and their Parliament have lost control. The inability to change our VAT on tampons exploded the  myth that we can still choose our taxes. The failure to restrict benefits to economic migrants show how one  of Labour’s red lines with the EU has been wiped out. The powerlessness to achieve the very popular government target for net  inward migration stands as a prime example of our lack of power and authority as a country.

These matters roll into this year in search of a solution. 2015 will not have been in vain if we decide to leave the EU, the cause of so much damage to our democracy.

Cam’s great sham will need some pretty wrapping paper

With December’s European Council meeting now behind us, the political world is now winding down for the Christmas break. What are we to make of the situation as 2015 draws to a close?

Firstly, things have moved on dramatically in the last year following the victory of the Conservative Party in May’s General Election. David Cameron’s commitment to hold an in/out (or rather, remain/leave) referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU has concentrated minds in the withdrawalist movement. The goal for which some of us have been striving for 40 years or longer could finally be within our grasp in the next two years.

Furthermore, the battle lines have already been drawn. We know what David Cameron is going to try to sell to the electorate. Forget all the discussions about opt-outs from closer political union and curbs on migrant benefits. There has not been and will not be any real renegotiations of any substance. Cameron has basically capitulated to the EU. “We need a British model of membership that works for Britain and for any other non-euro countries”, he said. What this really means, in the words of the former Environment Minister Owen Patterson is that “he is bumping around the back, towed along in the dinghy and this is all froth and bubble “

Associate membership – re-packaged as “The British Model” – will nonetheless be marketed by Mr Cameron as a major triumph – the result of “battling for Britain” in hard negotiation. Having downplayed expectations, Cameron will in reality be attempting to sell us a very shoddy deal – and not one for which he can even claim any credit. The original plans to turn discussion of a “two-speed Europe” into something concrete go back to a proposals by Andrew Duff, the arch federalist former Lib Dem MEP in 2006. It then moved up to consideration by the Bertelsmann-Spinelli group and the Five Presidents’ group. Carefully orchestrated press releases indicate that Mr Cameron has been going down this route for some months, with full support from leading figures in the Brussels establishment.

Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, stated to a meeting in Brussels on 18th November that the EU “is a family. Over time, one needs to give them (we the children!) the possibility to find their place on an orbit that better suits their sense of temperature. But Brexit will not happen”. Give Mr Juncker’s words, we can take it that the plan has been agreed. There is going to be a great deal of theatre. The script and choreography are mostly written already.

It will be Cam’s great sham. At the heart of this new arrangement, nothing of substance will have changed:-

  1. We will still be subject to the European Court of Justice
  2. Our ministers will still be overruled by qualified majority voting at the Council of Ministers
  3. Our Parliament will have to implement legislation with no power of unilateral veto.
  4. The European Commission will continue to churn out new laws and if the European Parliament and Council approve them, we will have to put them on the statute books.
  5. We will have an opt-out from the Euro, but this basically means relegation to the EU’s second division – indeed, Mr Duff has actually used the word “relegation” to describe his associate membership proposal.
  6. We will be still liable for any future eurozone bail-outs, even though outside the Single Currency
  7. We will still be tied in to Europol
  8. We will not be on the EU’s “top table” in spite of that being one of Mr Cameron’s stated objectives.

That Cameron is working hand-in-glove with the EU élite is more than apparent from his refusal to consider the far better alternative of the Norway Model – i.e., retaining our access to the Single Market from outside the EU by re-joining EFTA and thus availing ourselves of the European Economic Area agreement.

  1. Unlike the UK, which is represented by someone from the European Commission, Norway represents itself at the real “top tables” like the WTO and the United Nations Economic Committee for Europe (UNECE).
  2. It can refuse to put EU legislation onto its statute books – for instance, it refused to implement the Third Postal Directive, even though it was labelled “EEA Relevant”.
  3. If the Euro goes belly up, Norway will not be liable for its debts.
  4. EEA countries like Norway are widely consulted when EEA-relevant legislation is being framed and the lack of a final vote is not seen by most Norwegians as a problem.
  5. Liechtenstein, whose relationship to the EU is likewise via EEA/EFTA, used a clause in the EEA agreement to apply an “emergency brake” on immigration from the EU 20 years ago and the “emergency” is still in force!
  6.  Norway does not participate in Europol and the Eurpean military police (EUGENDFOR) will not have any rights to operate in the country.

In short, the “Norway Option”, while not an ideal long-term arrangement, would get us through the escape hatch and is far nearer to achieving Cameron’s stated objectives than his crummy “British Model.” One of his former constituents, Dave Phipps, who was the author of the now-defunct Witterings from Witney blog when he lived in the area, met with him and explained the obvious benefits of the Norway Model, but it has not made any difference. Unless Mr Cameron is a bear of exceedingly little brain or suffering from severe amnesia, one can only surmise that his mind is not open to any possibility of leaving the EU, in spite of his utterances that nothing is off the table. While Steve Baker, the MP for High Wycombe, claims that, “the only logical and consistent position the Prime Minister can take is to lead our country out of the European Union”, that just isn’t going to happen.

Mr Cameron may already have his “British Model” neatly under wraps, but there isn’t very much actually to wrap it in. The mainstream press is preoccupied with benefit restrictions on EU migrants and the opposition Cameron faced from Poland when he raised the subject of a four-year residency period, but this is a sideshow. The opt-out from “ever-closer union” is meaningless and recognition of the UK’s right to keep the pound is hardly a great concession. An agreement to cut red tape – in other words, addressing the lack of competitiveness within the EU – is hardly a big deal. True, Cameron complained in February 2014 that the Commission “is so obsessed with red tape that it believes that removing regulations which damage businesses is an act of self-harm”, but in reality, as new regulations are handed down from global standards-setting agencies, the EU does actually ditch obsolete regulations and will continue to do so.

Furthermore, the treaty changes which would be required to formalise a two-tier EU won’t be ready for signing until after the UK referendum, so all he can do is offer us a promise. Thinking back to his “cast iron” guarantee of a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, this doesn’t really inspire any confidence.

Admittedly, opinion polling doesn’t inspire much confidence either, but last week’s YouGov poll, suggesting that perception of the success of Cameron’s supposed renegotiations hold the key to securing a “leave” vote is consistent with a number of other studies. If he can find some suitably pretty wrapping paper, selling the British Model as the middle way, the safe option that resolves our long-standing frustrations with Brussels, he may win. As it’s his only hope of winning, we can be assured that the spin machine will be revved up to full speed. Our task is not to be distracted by side issues like benefits for migrants. If we can show the public – and in particular, the undecided – that underneath the wrapping paper, Cam’s great sham is a non-solution meaning more Europe and even less say in how it is run, we can pull off a great victory.

On that note, a very Happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year from all of us in the Campaign for an independent Britain. Let us hope that 2016 will be the year when the tide finally turns irrevocably in our direction

Mood Music

To win the referendum for the UK to leave the EU, we will need to battle on a number of different fronts. Some of the crucial issues have been frequently mentioned on this website – the need for a credible exit strategy, the need to ensure our sums are correct and, of course, how to handle the thorny issue of immigration, which can be a bit of a two-edged sword.

One other important but much more “fuzzy” battlefront issue must also be addressed if we are to win – mood music. It is not sufficient merely to offer a series of facts explaining how much better off we would be as a free country; we need to make withdrawal feel good. This all sounds very wishy-washy, but basically, it’s all about soundbytes. Our opponents are past masters of this. When I took part at a debate at Southampton University back in September, one of my abiding recollections was that my principal opponent, Peter Wilding of British Influence, didn’t attempt to rebut my criticisms of the EU but instead made it appear a much safer option to remain.

Our Chairman, Edward Spalton, has also noted the power of mood music. Edward has participated for several years in the CIVITAS programme of information about the EU, speaking to sixth forms in debate with representatives of the European Movement. He used to win every time, usually convincingly. However, around two years ago he had the salutary experience of losing a debate with an MEP who advanced very little of substance except to say “The EU is like a family. Like your own family it’s not perfect but you would be very lonely without it”.

During the recent Council of Ministers meeting, many leading political figures on both sides of the channel have been canvassed for their opinions about Britain leaving the EU and their comments are far more laced with mood music than substantive arguments.

John Major, for instance, claimed that leaving the EU was “dangerous”. That’s very emotive word. What exactly does he mean? What increased dangers will we face? Invaders from Mars? A plague of locusts? He then went on to say that leaving the EU would leave us in “splendid isolation”. Again, a very fuzzy term. From what exactly would we be isolated? We would still be members of the UN, Nato, the Commonwealth, UEFA and countless other international bodies; our airports and seaports wouldn’t suddenly close if we left the EU, our international telephone and railway links would still continue to operate and Dover would still only be 21 miles from Calais. Or does he really mean that withdrawal would usher into power some Kim Jong-Un-like ruler who would close down all contact with the outside world?

Glenis Willmott, a Labour MEP, told the meeting of the European Parliament that she found it “hard to believe” the UK’s “position as a global leader” was “under threat”, adding that she hoped “sanity prevails”. Well cheer up, Mrs Willmott. Regaining our places on the world’s top tables, we will be far more of a global leader than in our present situation, shackled to the EU. As for sanity being the exclusive preserve of the “remain” camp, the very fact that Nick Clegg is included in their number is surely enough to dispel that particular argument!

Frivolity apart, these examples show the potential power of soundbytes. We may dissect them and point out that there is no substance behind them, but we nonetheless have to master these tools and fight back – in other words, to use the soundbyte as well as the detailed economic study and the exit strategy document to counter our opponents. If the remain camp uses fear as a weapon, we must emphasise hope and opportunity. Personally speaking, I find the prospect of withdrawal incredibly exciting. It will be the greatest day in our country’s history since VE and VJ Days, both of which took place over a decade before I was born. People threw street parties to celebrate. Even though I am not much of a party animal, I fully intend that my village will have a party to celebrate independence even if it may fall on my inexperienced shoulders to organise it. But how can I encapsulate that excitement in a few pithy phrases? With the number of meetings and debates about the EU likely to increase during 2016, we will all need to develop our skills when it comes to mood music. We have a much better narrative than our opponents, but style as much as content and passion will determine how persuasively we come across to our audiences.