Friday, 6 November 2015

The Circle Jerk Effect

Sometimes we have to give things up for the greater good and step outside our comfort zone to make a difference.

If you think about your life, you can probably find countless examples where you've taken this step in order to make a meaningful change. Perhaps you sacrificed some of your drinking friends in order to settle down with a partner and start a family. Deep down, you know the two lifestyles don't mix and if you want a successful family, you can't make that happen if you spend every evening necking Glenfiddich at the bar with your mates.

So what's the greater good in this instance? The aim of the 'Leave' campaign should be to exit the EU and as a consequence, regain our position at the top tables where decisions are truly made. In the process, we regain the democratic accountability that's been eroded. That's the greater good.

How can we get there? On the face of it, this is simple, right? We march down to the polling station and cast our vote when the referendum comes. If we've won enough arguments and encouraged enough people, we win the referendum. Then David Cameron is forced to flick a magic switch in 10 Downing Street, the drawbridge across the channel comes up and then the Easter bunny skips up and down the country handing each and every citizen a large pile of notes no longer being sent to the EU (which they would subsequently have rebranded as EU money and largely handed back to the UK anyway).

In my facetious little diatribe above, there are a couple of serious points.

Point 1 - We need to win the arguments

You don't win an argument, without actually having an argument. That means you may have to step outside your comfort zone - but it's worth it. There are plenty of people who will attempt to bully you out of the park over the matter of the EU. The better educated you are on the matter and the more armed with appropriate facts, the better.

Better still, you need to be smart about this and pick the right arguments. There are plenty of topical weapons that can be wielded in this fight that will do significant damage to the 'Remain' cause, yet picking the wrong arguments will do significant damage to the reputation for 'Leave'.

Look at the people who matter in the Remain campaign (know your enemy) not the people that don't. Don't waste your energy attacking the guy who believes that a reduction in mobile roaming charges is worth conceding democracy for - look at Cameron, Osborne, Mandelson, Clarke etc. See where they're going and then head them off at the pass (and as a hint - I'd say associate membership is worth getting to grips with here).

Likewise, if the 'Leave' campaigns are missing the point, get stuck in and give them a *gentle kicking to help them understand when they're wasting time. They frequently need it.


Point 2 - We need to encourage enough people

It's easy to turn up to the debate with confused thoughts, conflating all manner of issues and then venting them at the first opportunity on the internet. I'm sure I've done it enough times - but now really isn't the time to walk in to the ballroom with your flies undone.

You think the right thing to discuss is immigration or bang on about Islam? Well done, you've just polarised the debate in the manner that the 'Remain' campaign will relish and repulsed a large section of the potential voting base. Think about it - it matters!

You've decided to point out the democratic deficit or argue that we need to become world players by taking back our seats at a global level? You're moving the debate in to uncomfortable, indefensible territory for the 'Remain' camp and you're much more likely to usefully educate people and have them rally to your cause.

And this is where it's going to become really difficult for some people.

You have to realise that the EU referendum is a constitutional matter - and although political bodies facilitate our democracy, ultimately it's a matter for the people. Your say and my say - that's what counts. So what this referendum shouldn't be about is furthering the ambitions of any political party. This isn't a gift for UKIP to drive up membership. Let's be 100% clear about this - if you think that somehow, within the space of one and a half years, enough people will wake up and rally behind that political flag to make Brexit a reality as a party political movement, you're entirely mistaken.

Don't get me wrong here, I laughed like many others when I saw an apoplectic Farage describe Van Rompuy as a low-grade bank clerk - but Suzanne Evans let the truth slip when she said that he was 'a very divisive character'. People have made their minds up and you're going to be on the back foot if you think that you can change their views in time for the referendum. You may as well give the 'Remain' campaign a three year head start. I'm not saying to ditch the party if you happen to be aligned to it - but UKIP members will already vote for Brexit, and taking the UKIP branding to the wider battlefield is only going to muddy the waters.

As Darth Vader once said 'Search your feelings, you know it to be true'.

We may need more than the force to win this referendum. Try facts.

Point 3 - We need to be realistic about what we can achieve and when

There are a lot of infographics flying around the internet from both sides making all kinds of laughable claims. The one I particularly hate is the suggestion that 'we'll all be £1000 better off out of the EU'. Much of that money will still need to go to academia and farming etc - just via a less indirect route.

You've also got to realise that Brexit is not a switch. You don't vote 'Leave' one day and walk out in to the street the next day to find it covered in union jack bunting, crowned by a rainbow. Think of divorce proceedings and how messy they can get. The UK is like the person that wakes up realising that they've been in a bad relationship and that they can get on with their life by moving on. The EU wants the UK to stay at home cooking dinner whilst it swans off to all the big parties giving it all the big 'I am' talk. When the UK leaves, it needs a planned / phased exit. Much of the real debate that is going on right now with the referendum is focussed around this and it is critical, if you're going to be effective, that you understand the mechanics.

Has any work been done on a planned / phased / measured exit? The good news is 'Yes' - it's called Flexcit and it's very comprehensive. You can access the work by Dr Richard A E North in pdf form here:

I'd also recommend taking a good look at in general along with associated blogs and sites. It may seem 'frank' in some places but you will struggle to find a more comprehensive and strategically accurate resource for Brexit on the internet.

The 'Remain' campaign likely love nothing more than 'Leave' spouting all manner of unqualified promises - because they can then position us as fantasists. Don't give them that gift this Christmas. Instead, force feed them the 'Brussels sprouts' that they can't stomach until they're sick of it. If you ever put sprouts on the plate of someone who doesn't like them, no matter how smart they seem, they soon become irrational and defensive.

Circle Jerk

If you're brave enough to step outside of mob mentality and take these three steps, at the very least you're going to make a small but meaningful difference; you may just reach out to people who would not have listened in the past.

Alternatively, you can join in the with the circle jerk. You'll be 'passionate' (I hate that term) about your cause and you'll spend time and energy making noise, but you'll only be hiding in the pack with the other sheep.

Step out of the flock. Become a wolf.

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