The message is getting out as the scare stories get sillier and sillier

Today it’s the threat of war in Europe from David Cameron and the possibility of a drop in the vastly-inflated UK house prices from George Osborne. Perhaps we should start taking odds on what wil be the next Brexit threat the Prime Minister and his acolytes  will try to scare us with – the return of the Black Death, an invasion from Mars, a plague of locusts or the next ice age, perhaps?

Meanwhile, in the real world, the message is getting out.  Readers might like to enjoy these pictures of some CIB-sponsored placards now gracing the side of the M6. More are to follow on other motorways soon.

Motorway sign 2

Projection of the EU referendum vote

A fresh look after four weeks

There is no doubt that the last two weeks have been a setback for the Leave campaign.

The Cameron slogan about ‘a leap in the dark’ has failed to be countered by Leavers, who have ignored the excellent Flexcit proposals – the Market Solution, on offer from The Leave Alliance – which would neutralise Cameron and also any business objections.  Instead, the Leave campaign continues to persevere with the no-exit-plan strategy reminiscent of the South Sea Bubble company formed in 1720 ‘for carrying on an undertaking of great advantage but no-one to know what it is’.

At the same time a great deal of the political shine has been taken off Boris Johnson with a number of clumsy, ill-informed interventions.

However, we need to keep a laser focus on the determining ‘swing’ vote which is the 11 million Conservative voters and, specifically, the 7-8 million of moderate apolitical voters, the ’comfortable’ middle.

It does not seem likely that whatever blunders are made by the Leave campaign, the minority camp of Leavers in Labour, SNP, LibDems and the Greens will be affected as they have already taken up a stance against their leaderships for some time.  If you examine the numbers, even a substantial change in the breakdown of Leave or Remain voters in these parties would not make a big difference.

The Conservative voters are in a different position.  There are far more of them up for grabs.  They are more likely to be from the affluent classes that are likely to turn out, are affected by the daily political news, likely to be subject to group-think and, except for the Thatcherites, likely to be swayed by the Prime Minister’s authority and his PR machine.

‘Cognitive dissonance’ is a term psychologists use to explain how humans hold conflicting opinions simultaneously and try to resolve this problem.

On a mass scale, this condition appears throughout Southern Europe where the eurozone crisis has resulted in mass poverty, unemployment, lower wages, government debt explosions, etc.  Yet there is no demand from the voters in Southern Europe to leave the euro, let alone the EU.  Indeed, it was very clear during the referendum in Greece that the last thing anyone who had bank holdings or deposits wanted was to exit the euro and float freely with a new currency.  Of course, in such a scenario the bank deposits would probably lose half their value overnight but, in the long term, it would be the first step to economic reconstruction.  But this sentiment also applies to the Leftist parties who do not have bank deposits.

EU enthusiasts rely on this aversion to taking the first, possibly unpleasant, steps to recovery.

Comfortable Conservative voters exhibit similar characteristics.  After all, they are mainly fairly affluent and they seem mesmerised by cheap air fares and other trivia.

However, the Dutch referendum seemed to demonstrate that, while the comfortable voters are unwilling to suffer any short-term disturbance, they are also not so enamoured of the EU that they will support its further accumulation of power and foreign adventurism.

‘Cognitive dissonance’ also explains how little effect the Brussels terrorist murders have had on British opinion.  After all, to vote to remain in an institution whose capital is in a state of lockdown, with no public transport, bodies lying in the streets and at airports, police manhunts by special units in balaclavas, and all this being featured nightly on the News seems to exhibit a pattern of unreal behaviour, ‘normalising the abnormal’, a pattern of behaviour much played on by totalitarian regimes.

I have said before that the choice for voters can be reduced to 2 slogans:

‘the leap in the dark’

versus

‘the blank cheque’.

The Leave campaign failed to counter ‘the leap in the dark’ slogan with the sensible Norway Option, also known as the Flexcit Market Solution, so it now has to convince the comfortable conservative voters that, by voting to remain, they are giving a ‘blank cheque’ to British politicians and the EU establishment to further centralise power in Brussels and strip democracy from the nations.  Being out of the euro will not make any difference because decisions will be taken by the Eurozone members.  The EU will press for more powers as it has in the refugee crisis.

Nothing will be done about immigration.

The point about this democracy ‘thingy’ is that, apart from enhancing the dignity of man and the nation, it is a self-correction mechanism.  Without reform and renewal effect, revolution is inevitable and, in this case, the UK will eventually leave the EU with disorder at home and abroad.

Here is an analysis I made some four weeks ago.

PROJECTION OF EU REFERENDUM VOTE

General Election 2015

Electorate 2016: 44,722,000 (General Election 2015: 45,325,000)

Turn out in 2015 election 66%

Total voters in 2015 election: 30,691,500

2015 Votes for Adjustment to 2015 vote
Parties Making 60% T/O LEAVE REMAIN
Conservative 11,300,109 11,100,000   6,600,000   4,500,000
Labour   9,347,324   8,500,000   3,000,000   5,500,000
SNP   1,454,436   1,300,000      400,000      900,000
LibDems   2,415,862   2,320,000      690,000   1,630,000
UKIP

  3,881,099

  3,780,000   3,500,000      280,000
Green   1,157,613   1,057,000      157,000      900,000
Others, mainly Northern Ireland)   1,135,057      800,000      400,000      400,000
(Approx. total) 30,691,500 28,850,000 14,747,000 14,110,000
The Breakdown in percentages
Leave/Remain in ORB polling figures Leave/Remain projection
LEAVE (%) REMAIN (%) LEAVE (%) REMAIN (%)
Conservatives 56 44 60 40
Labour 39 61 35 65
SNP 32 68 31 69
LibDems 35 65 30 70
UKIP 92   8 92   8
Others, mainly Northern Ireland 41 59 50 50
Green n/a n/a 18 82
Total 52 48 49 51
Total 85% most likely to vote 54 46
Total 68% extremely likely to vote 58 42

Comments:   Most assume that the total turnout will be about ten per cent less than in a general election, as in 1975.  However, I have allowed for a higher turnout because the electorate has shrunk since 2015 because of individual voter registration and, therefore, some ineligble voters are no longer on the electoral roll.

There is an unequal distributional effect of this.  Since benefits are not affected by the Leave-Remain result and there are no real Scottish issues involved, unlike a general election, the lower turnout will be mainly among Labour and SNP voters.

Who will turn out?  David Cameron has said turnout is critical to the result but he certainly has not made the best arrangements for his side.

My projection (unlike the ORB poll data) is made after correcting for a lower turnout of a referendum vis-à-vis election.  But it is before considering the effects of the 5th May elections in local authorities in Scotland, Wales and London.

To call the electorate back to the polls six weeks later is a substantial ask and, again, in London, Wales and Scotland, there is likely to be a drop off in votes on 23rd June.

Then there is the European football tournament which will be going on most of June.  Once again, a depressant on votes.

The ORB polls clearly show that, as the number of voters goes down, so the Leave lead increases.

                                                               %              %

                                                           Leave         Remain

Poll turnout figures                                52             48

Only 85% most likely to vote                54             46

Only 68% extremely likely to vote       58             42

The older demographic voter will turn out because of its sense of civic duty and all polls shows the older demographic is much more likely to vote ‘Leave’.  It is quite evident that the key voting block is the 11.3 million Tories, most of whom will vote.

While the 25 percent or so Thatcherite Tories will vote en masse to ‘Leave’, the question arises about the liberal or moderate Conservatives, Home Counties Tories.  They will determine the outcome.

It is evident from the figures that, contrary to general elections, it is the Leatherheads, the Henleys, the New Forests, the West Kents, which will decide the outcome.  They are the ‘Swing’ votes.

The moderate Tories are being asked to give ANOTHER BLANK CHEQUE to a Tory Leader when the last blank cheque was cashed in, in the form of nine extra Treaties.  And I do not think they will make the same mistake again.

Opinion is now solidifying.  It is possible there could be a major terrorist atrocity with EU links.  (This was written before the Brussels’ attacks) or a major event on the Eurozone.  Either are likely to increase the ‘Leave’ vote.

For all these reasons, I am calling the result of the referendum now – a win for ‘Leave’ – by about ten points.

We must remember the referendum is not the end; it is a stage, and what happens afterwards is what matters.  The larger the ‘Leave’ vote, the harder it will be for Boris Johnson or another Tory Leader to come in and promise new (and better) negotiations to stay in the EU.

I am pleased to see reports in The Daily Telegraph indicating that the Leave Alliance proposals are being looked at with favour in Whitehall.

It is inevitable that, after a ‘Leave’ win, our proposals must be the only safe, sane way to execute withdrawal.

[Data extracted from March 2016 ORB poll]

Photo by secretlondon123

That booklet!

We have received a number of e-mails from people very angry about our money being spent by the government producing the booklet which landed on our doormats last week.

Some people have very kindly responded by making a donation to us, for which we are most grateful. “I don’t want my taxes used on propaganda… so I have to do my bit to redress the balance” said one kind contributor.

But what of the booklet itself? It has been criticised  – and with good reason – both for its style and content. Rosalind Moffitt, an inclusive communications consultant at Inklecomms, said of the former, “I….am astounded by the long and complex sentences within the leaflet. It also uses many unnecessarily difficult words. The leaflet is written at a complex level for average-low literacy readers, so it will be difficult for many to read and understand” Good news for the Brexit campaign!”

Turning to the content. Lord Wemyss did not mince his words, calling it “senseless twaddle – insulting to the intelligence of the recipients.”

This is indeed a good summary. If the “twaddle” can be categorised, most of it comes under three headings:-

  1. So-called “benefits” which aren’t actually very beneficial.
  2. Benefits which we don’t actually need to be in the EU to enjoy
  3. Untrue and misleading statements.

In the first category comes the European Arrest Warrant, which is mentioned under “keeping us safer”. Since 2004 (when the EAW was first introduced), we are told “over 1,000 suspects have faced justice in  UK courts and over 7,000 have been extradited.” Fine. You try telling people like  Andrew Symeou or  Edmond Arapi how wonderful the EAW is. These men suffered gross miscarriages of justice, being exposed to judicial processes on the Continent which do not include the legal safeguards we are accustomed to in the UK. It is so easy to forget that Magna Carta may have crossed the oceans, but it never crossed the Channel. One consequence of this is that you can be tried in absentia, tried on hearsay evidence or kept in detention for ages without being charged. The EAW potentially exposes any one of us to all these horrors.

Also sold as a benefit, on page 12, we are told that “the EU is leading the world on tackling climate change”. Try telling those made redundant in the now defunct UK aluminium smelting industry what a good thing this is! Perhaps when we suffer blackouts because our government has signed up to unachievable emissions targets we will console ourselves with how virtuous the EU is being!

Turning to the second category, the phrase “Single Market” comes up no fewer than eight times. There are probably few regular visitors to our website who aren’t aware that we can retain access to the Single Market on leaving the EU by re-joining EFTA and availing ourselves of the European Economic Area agreement.  The booklet boasts how the EU “guarantees many employment rights” without mentioning, of course, that most employment legislation originates with global organisations like the International Labour Organisation. These benefits would not disappear if we left the EU.

“EU reforms in the 1990s have resulted in a drop in fares of over 40% for lower cost flights”, proclaims the booklet.  Once again, one has to question whether this benefit would disappear if we left the EU. to help us answer this question, guess which airline won the “Best low-cost airline in Europe” award in 2015? It was called Norwegian and furthermore, this airline which seems to hoover up awards, flies to a number of European destinations but isn’t based in the EU.

What about the untrue and misleading statements? It’s hard to know where to begin. Going back to the Single Market. we are informed that “No other country has managed to secure signficant access to the single market without having to follow EU rules over which they have no real say /pay into the EU”. Shoddy work here. As we have pointed out, Norway is widely consulted  in the framing of EEA relevant legislation (which amounts to less than 25% of the total Acquis)  and the price it pays to access the singel market is peanuts compared with how much we pay per capita to the EU as a memebr state.

The first page proclaims that “the UK has secured a special status in a reformed EU.”  Oh really?  The legality of the agreement has been widely questioned, with Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the vice-president of the European Parliament, describing it as “nothing more than a deal that has been hammered out down the local bazaar”.

Part of the “deal” is that “we will not join the Euro” Didn’t we secure that opt-out over 20 years ago? What about the “tough new restrictions on access to our welfare for new EU migrants”? Well, suppose that, say a  Latvian decorator moves over here after 2016, falls off a ladder and breaks both legs after living here for three years dyring which time has only worked for 29 months. In theory, he shouldn’t get much out of our system under Dave’s new deal. In practise….?

Keeping our own border controls is another benefit which is part of our “special status” so we are told. Once again, if this means that we are not part of Schengen, this is not exactly a show-stopper. We secured an opt-out here many years ago.

The biggest criticism, however, is that nowhere in this booklet does the word “sovereignty” come up. The  EU’s unique selling point is that it requires member states progressively to hollow out their national institutions and surrender soverignty to supranational institutions. These other issues are peripheral. the creation of a federal superstate is the EU’s raison d’être. Failing to mention it is rather like a supplier of fruit trees illustrating its products with lovely pictures of apple blossom but failing to show a single picture of a nice ripe apple or to mention that the reason you buy an apple tree is to eat of its produce.

To be blunt, this reluctance even to mention what the EU is all about is just plain dishonest. If the referendum is won by the “remain” side without this issue being at the centre of the debate, it will have been a pyrrhic victory which will leave us stilll being the EU’s awkward partner, always dragging our feet and being outvoted more than any other member state.

Is this really what Mr Cameron  wants? it will be a most unsatisfactory legacy. Best for his sake and for our country if we deny him such an opportunity by securing a vote to leave.

 

 


 

Mr President, it’s none of your business!

Keep your nose out, Obama! Don’t you think you’ve done enough damage to prospects for world peace in the nearly eight years of your disastrous presidency?

So writes Rev Dr. Peter Mullen as the US President makes his case for us to stay in the EU. Dr Mullen goes on to say:-

“His latest conceit is to use the occasion of his coming to the Queen’s 90th birthday party to tell the British to remain in the EU. “you will be stronger for your belonging to this union,” he said. Imagine his reaction – and the entirely justified fury of the American people – if David Cameron said, “Well, Barack, sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The USA would be stronger if you formed an economic and political union with Mexico, Nicaragua and all the other shambolic Latin-American states in your own back yard.” Of course, Dave would never go in for such straight talking, but one of his aides might have a quiet word in the President’s ear and say, “it is not the business of allies to interfere in the domestic policies of those allies.”   

This is precisely the line  taken by Matt Ridley when Obama’s secretary of State, John Kerry, spoke in similar terms a couple of months ago. The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also been critical of President Obama, calling him “hypocritical” and stating that it would not be right for the US President “to urge us to sacrifice control” when America would not do the same. Iain Duncan-Smith, the former Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith added “He is asking the British people to accept a situation that he patently would not recommend to the American population… I can imagine no circumstances under which he would lobby for the US Supreme Court to be bound by the judgments of a foreign court.”

Obama’s speech was a truly pathetic effort. The man used the word “friend”, but is this really appropriate for someone like this? A few years ago, when the Gulf of Mexico suffered from an oil spill caused by the sinking of BP’s Deepwater Horizon drilling platform, the President pointedly referred to “British Petroleum”, even though the company’s full name has not been in popular use for many years. This man is no friend to our country.

Nor is he honest in his claim that TTIP “will advance our values and our interests.” True, it will advance the interests of US pharmaceutical giants, but  since when has a top-secret deal to be governed by a text that no one is allowed to publish been a true reflection of anglo-american values?
Quite honestly, his claim that we would be at the “back of the queue” for trade talks hardly ties in with the behaviour of a real friend. Anyway, we already have a healthy trade relationship with the USA without TTIP and world trade is moving away from big bilateral deals towards smaller, limited agreements in specific areas.

He made the security argument, mentioning the threat of terrorism as one would expect. Perhaps a gentle word in his ear that it is the EU that we wish to leave and not NATO might not have gone amiss.

However, it was particularly sickening to hear him talk of “The tens of thousands of Americans who rest in Europe’s cemeteries” who are “a silent testament to just how intertwined our prosperity and security truly are.” Those Americans, like the thousands of our own soldiers who died in World War 2, died to preserve our freedom and save us from tyranny. It is precisely our desire for freedom that drives us to vote to leave the EU. We should not stay in the EU just because it suits America or any other foreign country for that matter, nor should we be put off voting for leave because Mr Putin may like the idea. It is our country’s interests that count and it should be our decision alone what our future should be.

As our President, Edward Spalton has pointed out, In 1950 Clement Attlee, the Labour Prime Minister, refused to join the forerunner of the EU, the Coal and Steel Community. He said there was no way that Britain could accept that “the most vital economic forces of the country should be handed over to an authority that is utterly undemocratic and responsible to nobody”. The decline of our industries and the near extinction of steel production under forty years of EU control testify to his wisdom. Yet President Obama has the sheer cheek to urge us to continue in this subjection – a subjection which he an all Americans would regard as odious and downright treasonable – far worse than anything George III ever did to them!

“For us the EU is a long-suffered wrong, inflicted by our own political class”, said Mr Spalton. “The American colonists of 1776 took up arms for the rights of Englishmen who happened to live in America. Along with Samuel Adams we can now say loudly to our own betrayers – ‘If you love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen‘.

What possible objection could President Obama have to that?”

Stuff and nonsense from the Treasury

One of the worst examples of government waste in recent times must surely be the 200-page document produced by the Treasury claiming the average British family would be £4,300 worse off if we left the EU. Maybe one of the larger “leave” organisations may consider hiring an economist to produce a lengthy counter-document to rip the Treasury document apart line by line, but it isn’t really ncessary. For all the bleatings of Stephen Crabb on Radio 4’s World at One urging our side to reply in like manner, the flaws of the Treasury report don’t require a 200-page rebuttal.

Firstly, the headline figure is based on a Canadian-style Free Trade agreement, which isn’t going to be our route out of the EU. However, the Treasury report reduced the figure to a £20 drop on tax receipts and a 3.8% fall in GDP if the EEA/EFTA option is chosen. Is it going to be a disaster even under the safest way out?

Not at all. The Treasury report says that under The EEA/EFTA model, “we gain partial access to the single market but we still face custom barriers and we still end up paying into the EU and accepting free movement”. Well, the mandarins at the Treasury haven’t done their homework. We even have more options to restrict “Free movement” under EEA/EFTA than as a member state and this is the least inaccurate part of the statement.

Perhaps they should read the most detailed analysis of how EEA/EFTA works – i.e., Flexcit, which makes it clear that countries like Norway do not face the problems with limited access to the Single Market or customs barriers implied by the report. If there is such a glaring mistake in the methodology, how can we trust their calculations?

Furthermore,  the Treasury report looks at a scenario as far ahead as 2030. The Financial Times tries to defend this approach. It asks the question, “Isn’t a forecast for 2030 absurd, since economic forecasts for even two years ahead fail?” and replies, “This is to misunderstand the exercise the Treasury has carried out. As stated, the Treasury is estimating the difference between two possible futures on the basis of a decision regarding Britain’s trading relationship. That does not require accurate forecasts, just a good understanding of the effect of trade on prosperity. It is the same as saying, “We do not know how heavy you will be in 15 years, but if you drink a bottle of cola a day, we are pretty sure you will be fatter than if you keep off the sugar.”

However, this argument isn’t convincing. One authority who has studied the EEA/EFTA route in far more detail than the Treasury has reached the opposite conclusion:-  “Brexit is cost-neutral in the short-term. As for the longer term, there are benefits, and these could be substantial – not only for the UK but the rest of the world.”

Let’s be honest, could you imagine a department commissioned by George Osborne to look at Brexit options coming up with a favourable economic forecast? Who pays the piper and all that…..

Likewise, Mr Osborne himself said that “the people want to know the facts” and followed it up by saying “Britain would be permanently poorer if we lef the EU”.  This report is hardly a set of facts, just a very long-term estimate. However, the economic arguments are the only weapon available to the “remain” camp and they are being played for all they are worth as a desperate attempt to take the focus off what the EU actually is and the threadbare nature of Dave’s dodgy deal.    If the debate can be shifted onto these issues, the “remain” camp is in big trouble.

Apologies for the lack of articles this week. We intend to produce a rebuttal of the Government leaflet in the next few days  and thank you to all our contributors who have made some suggestions.

   

Photo by HowardLake

The anger about that Government leaflet

Understandably, we have recently received a number of e-mails from people furious that the Government is going to spend £9.3 million of our money producing a 14-page colour brochure telling us how good the EU is. If you wish to sign a petition against it, here is the link. Already over 100,000 people have signed, which is sufficient to oblige Parliament to “consider” the matter for debate but regrettably, it is not likely to have any effect.

On a more positive note, we are very thankful to those supporters who have directed their anger into a donation, enabling us to produce more material to counter the government’s arguments.

What does the brochure actually say?  From what others have gleaned, much of it extols the virtues of the Single Market, which, of course, we could continue to access from outside the EU by re-joining EFTA and availaing ourselves of the European Economic Area agreement. EEA/EFTA also knocks on the head the predictable fear tactics which the leaflet contains, e.g.,

“Voting to leave the EU would create years of uncertainty and potential economic disruption. This would reduce investment and cost jobs. The Government judges it could result in 10 years or more of uncertainty as the UK unpicks our relationship with the EU and renegotiates new arrangements with the EU and over 50 other countries around the world.”

Unfortunately, any pro-leave group without a credible exit plan is going to be vulnerable to this sort of tactic, as Richard North argues.

Remarkably, we are still hearing of undecided voters who are coming down in favour of withdrawal, but a convincing victory is going to be very challenging as long as this vulnerability remains. Some people may distrust the government so much that they won’t believe a word of the brochure, but not enough. Withdrawal from the EU can be risk-free with the EEA/EFTA option, but unless our fellow-countrymen are made aware of this, all too many of them may fall for the Government propaganda.