Britain’s Virtue Signallers Prepare To Vote Remain In A Blaze Of Self-Publicity

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For many Remain supporters, it is not enough to vote to keep Britain in the EU. Some are driven to ostentatious acts of self-promotion, to make everyone else aware of just how progressive and tolerant they are

This blog has already discussed how voting Remain is de rigeur for Britain’s young, leftist virtue-signallers.

And here is a prime example: Guardian (of course) feature writer Laura Barton, consumed with that gnawing fear known to all young leftists that perhaps not enough people know just how progressive and tolerant they are, has concocted a lame little stunt to better promote herself within her like-minded social circle.

Barton proudly tells us:

I had been contemplating taking action for some while. Flyers? I wondered. A demonstration? For a time I thought I might post kippers through their letterbox, though my friends soon pointed out that this would be a waste of good fish.

I live, you see, not very far from the Ukip office in Thanet, an area of the country considered the party’s heartland, and where Nigel Farage stood but failed to get elected in the 2015 election. As a staunch supporter of the remain campaign, in the weeks leading up to the EU referendum the office’s proximity has proved a source of temptation.

Yesterday evening, a little lit up by the crescendo of the debate, I set to work: I procured two sheets of A3 paper, two red felt-tip pens, and set about colouring in a sign that read “IN”. And when it was done, I set my alarm for 6:30am and went to bed happy.

The Thanet Ukip offices lie behind an insalubrious looking shop-front, painted purple and yellow, with a “VOTE LEAVE” placard sitting prominently in the window and a metal grille protecting the glass. It has the air of a 1970s newsagent, where everything is faintly sticky and slightly out of date.

King Street was quiet at that hour – a couple of cars, a Loop bus, a truck rumbling at the lights as I sellotaped my sign to the grille. I crossed the street to photograph my handiwork and noticed a couple of women standing in a doorway, but they only looked at me quizzically and did not pass comment. I posted my photograph on social media, then headed home for breakfast.

Because what is the point of doing anything in this day and age if we do not immediately upload footage to social media in the hope that it goes viral?

As stunts go, this is hardly very impressive. Colouring in two sheets of paper with felt-tip pen and sellotaping them to the window of an opposing political party? That’s the kind of thing an eight year old child might win praise for. But then, perhaps paper and felt-tip pens were the only tools Laura Barton had to hand in the super progressive safe space where she shelters from all of those awful Ukippers in Thanet.

Barton then goes on to admit (my emphasis in bold):

As direct action goes, it was hardly as magnificent as this week’s raising of multiple Mexican flags on the border of Donald Trump’s golf course in Aberdeen, but I was pleased with it nonetheless. I felt I’d made my point firmly but politely: I’d coloured inside the lines, and I knew that the sign could easily be removed. There was no spray paint, no smashing up of things, no expletives.

Yet taking a visible stand seemed a vitally important thing to me – as I think it has to many of us in recent days. I’ve seen friends proudly tacking posters in their windows, attending marches, wearing stickers, and felt heartened by the swell of passion and involvement. And my friendship group and social media feed are naturally, satisfyingly full of remain rhetoric – with links to stirring op-eds and rants against Farage, Gove and Boris, with Cats Against Brexit, Wolfgang Tillmans’ posters, and pleas for love and compassion, for peace and harmony – and togetherness.

Love and compassion, peace and harmony all being proprietary virtues of remainers and EU supporters, of course. And naturally Laura Barton’s entire friendship circle is comprised of people with similarly childish, two-dimensional views, as she herself confesses. Heaven forfend that she might actually socially mix with one of the many UKIP voters in Thanet. Such people are to be pitied, grievously pitied, to be sure – nostalogic, economically left-behind losers that they are. But they are by no means to be befriended. One is judged by the company one keeps, after all.

To be sure, there are social media echo chambers on both sides of this debate. As a political blogger attuned to the debate I have witnessed them forming and expanding. But it is certainly the case that the greater impulse for conspicuous virtue-signalling is on the Remain side. An ardent Brexiteer will often fill their Twitter feed and Facebook wall with Vote Leave campaign messages and supportive news articles, just as an ardent Remainer would do the same with Britain Stronger in Europe materials. But the Remainer is much more likely to want to protest or act out in some other way in order to draw attention to themselves. They are not convinced with thinking that they are in the right – others must know about it, too.

We then get the tiniest glimmer of self-awareness:

But the politics of this place are so often at odds with my own world view. I see more leave posters than remain, I hear heated anti-Europe discussions as I walk through the town centre. And in some regards they have my sympathy. I’m aware of how much European legislation has affected the local fishing community, how that must breed frustration and exasperation; how it is easier to point to the damage done than look for the benefits EU membership has brought.

Still, in the last few days of this campaign, I felt it important to take some sort of action here – to raise a voice for the other side. It felt better than waiting, than doing nothing. Because this matters so colossally. Because this is a vote with repercussions that will last forever. Because the leave campaign has been so polluted by lies and misinformation, so run through with hate and with cowardice.

I always say that the most important things in life are to be kind and be brave. Sellotaping a homemade poster to the window of a Ukip office isn’t really either, but I hope it might at least encourage someone else to vote kindly and bravely.

We will leave aside Barton’s wailing about the behaviour of the official Leave campaign and utter silence about the Project Fear waged by her own Remain team.

Barton is at least aware that she lives in an area where many people do not share her views. She even states that she hears those views being loudly, forcefully and repeatedly expressed as she walks through town. But does it occur to her for even a minute that some of these people might be right – that their antipathy toward the European Union is not the result of having been brainwashed by Rupert Murdoch or Boris Johnson, but rather a considered position as to what is best for Britain? Of course not. These people suffer “frustration and exasperation”, but this is only because they do not realise how wonderful and beneficent the European Union really is. It’s okay though, Barton doesn’t blame them. How could they know any better? Most of them are working class. They don’t read the Guardian. They don’t really know what is going on, or what is best for them.

Doesn’t this just perfectly sum up the sneering, metro-left case for Remain? In truth, it is more a campaign against the thick, racist working classes and of virtuous self-promotion by the middle class clerisy than anything to do with the European Union. Most of those eagerly cheering for Britain to “stay in Europe” probably couldn’t tell you the first thing about how the EU operates, its history or its likely future trajectory. But they do know one crucial thing – vocally supporting the EU is the progressive, liberal, trendy thing to do.

Supporting the European Union sends all of the right signals – that one is cosmopolitan, internationalist, easy-going about immigration and multiculturalism. And those traits are an essential prerequisite for admittance into Laura Barton’s social circle, while rank ignorance or indifference about democracy do not matter in the slightest.

The good news: at the general election, the virtue-signallers were caught short. So cocooned were they in an ideological bubble of their own making that they failed to realise that the great mass of the country were not behind them. Now, Ed Miliband sits on the back benches and David Cameron is prime minister.

Fast-forward thirteen months and  here we are again. The Laura Bartons of this world are furiously sharing infographics and videos about how the European Union fosters peace, friendship, cooperation, puppies and kittens while never stopping to actually question or verify the premise of their argument. Meanwhile, the great mass of the country is ambivalent about the EU at best, and  will only grudgingly vote to Remain if David Cameron’s tawdry campaign of fear resonates strongly enough.

God willing, the British public will disappoint the virtue signallers tomorrow, just as they dashed their hopes of Prime Minister Ed Miliband at last year’s general election. And perhaps, if we are able to regain our democracy, Laura Barton (after a period of reflection) can take her felt tip pen and A3 paper and write a thank-you letter to all those nasty, working class Ukippers in Thanet whose wisdom and courage made it possible.

Besides, everybody knows that cats support Brexit and think that Remainers are stupid.

 

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Top Image: Guardian / Laura Barton

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The Petition To Cancel The EU Referendum Showcases The Remain Campaign’s Dim View Of Democracy

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The divergence between the strong preference of most MPs and the sentiment of the British people is the main reason we are having this EU referendum, not a reason to cancel it

Last week, before the awful murder of Jo Cox MP changed the character and atmosphere of the campaign, it was widely agreed that the Remain campaign were on the back foot, behind in some of the polls and certainly lacking in anything like momentum.

And so perhaps it is unsurprising that late last week, a petition started by Remainers began to circulate on social media, calling for the EU referendum to be scrapped altogether.

The text reads:

According to the BBC (as at the 26th February 2016) 444 MPs of (almost) all parties have declared their support for Britain staying a member of the European Union on the basis of the reform package negotiated by the Prime Minister, David Cameron.

Constituting more than 68% of the votes in the House of Commons, this represents a rare and overwhelming cross-party Parliamentary majority. If it is the settled will of such a large majority in the House of Commons, Parliament should now rise to the occasion and assert the very sovereignty Brexit campaigners claim it has lost. Parliament should ratify the agreement reached by the Government with the European Union and confirm Britain’s membership of the European Union on that basis.

What a cynical, opportunistic and fatuous thing to do – to seek to cancel an imminent referendum just because their own side happens to be in danger of losing.

The “444 MPs” line does not hold water, either. The whole purpose of this referendum is to settle what is in effect a dispute between past and present parliaments on the one hand, and the British people on the other. It is parliament which has knowingly and willingly signed away endless new competencies and powers to the EU, hollowing out the British state at the expense of the growing supranational European government in Brussels – a parliament often composed of many MPs who described themselves as “eurosceptic” while being complicit in the process.

This includes many Conservative MPs who were only ever selected by their parties or constituency associations as candidates because they professed strongly anti-EU sentiments to the Tory party base. Now, it has sadly been the case that many of these MPs were revealed to have lied during their selection processes, telling eurosceptic party members what they wanted to hear while themselves being ambivalent or even pro-European, as evidenced by their decision to support the Remain campaign. But it is clearly disingenuous to claim (as the petitioners do) that the majority of MPs favouring Remain represents the settled will of the people – the tightening polls, some showing a lead for Leave, prove this to be otherwise

It should also be pointed out that many of the “444 MPs” supporting Remain would not presently be sitting in Parliament had David Cameron not taken the sting out of UKIP’s tail by promising the referendum in the first place. Prior to that pledge, two former Tory MPs (Douglas Carswell and Mark Reckless) had already defected to UKIP in a blaze of publicity, and more threatened to follow. If Cameron had not neutered part of UKIP’s appeal by promising the referendum, there could have been up to a dozen more defections prior to the general election, and then tens more UKIP MPs elected in May last year. If anything, promising the referendum helped to keep a pro-EU majority in the House of Commons. That same majority can not then also be used as grounds to take the referendum away.

But the root of the matter is the “parliamentary sovereignty” referenced in the petition text. I cannot speak for all Brexiteers, but I know I speak for many other liberal leavers when I say that I am not fighting with every fibre of my being to secure a Brexit vote because I want to re-establish the sovereignty of parliament and re-empower the very people who so blithely gave it away to Brussels in the first place. On the contrary, I want the British people to finally be sovereign in this country. And this is the wider debate which has been entirely missing throughout this sorry referendum campaign, but which we need to have.

What, after all, would be the point of striving to claw back sovereignty and decision-making power from Brussels only to give it back to the same people operating under the same laws who gave it away? This is why Brexit must just be part of a broader process of democratic renewal, making the people sovereign and beginning with the assumption – much as in the United States of America – that “Parliament shall make no law…” except in those areas where we the people explicitly grant permission.

This then opens up a whole load of other questions which gleeful Remainers would doubtless seize upon as more evidence that Brexit would cause problems and be “difficult”. Well, yes, it would. Unsurprisingly, great deeds require a commensurate effort in their accomplishment, and throw up lots of problems which need to be patiently solved along the way. Man did not walk on the moon the day after John F Kennedy idly thought out loud that it might be a good idea. The Apollo Programme took place in many stages after Kennedy set the initial goal, each one solving a particular problem or proving a new competency until all of the pieces were in place for Apollo 11 to finally touch down on the surface of the moon.

It is reasonable to expect that the process of extricating our country from forty years of gradual, incessant political integration by stealth should be a task of comparable difficulty. But it is not scientific and technical expertise which we must rebuild, but political, constitutional, democratic, trade and regulatory knowledge, much of which we have lazily outsourced to the EU.

And unfortunately the prize cannot be measured in pounds or euros, or any economic model pointed to by David Cameron’s hallowed “experts”. The ability of people to exercise meaningful control over their leaders, communities and futures cannot be boiled down to numbers in an Excel spreadsheet or one of the smug infographics shared by the Remain campaign. But this does not mean that democracy lacks value – rather, that it is priceless.

Those who would have us vote Remain on June 23rd look at British independence and see it as a series of problems and risks, all of which our country and our people are too small, too weak and too incompetent to overcome. They genuinely cannot understand why a country as “small” and supposedly inconsequential as Britain would want to leave a supranational political union in which we trade our democracy for the illusion of influence which comes from being a member of a big club.

Those advocating Brexit, on the other hand, see opportunity and feel a sense of optimism grounded in a healthy sense of what this country and its people are capable of accomplishing. They generally accept that there may be some short term political instability, but that there is just as much instability in our future if we remain shackled to an EU beset with so many intractable problems it is simply unwilling and unable to address. And they also value democracy sufficiently highly that endless, apocalyptic scaremongering with doomsday economic scenarios simply doesn’t resonate. The prime minister appears genuinely frustrated that we Brexiteers are not more responsive to his Project Fear, because he fails to appreciate that the core Remain argument does nothing to neutralise the reasons why many of us want out of the EU.

And sadly, this difference in mindset is not one which we can reconcile (or persuade any hardcore Remainers to the Brexit side) in the little time left of the campaign. But while we Brexiteers are happy to fight on to the end, making the case as best we can, some on the Remain side want to circumvent the process and take the choice away. Hence this ridiculous petition, arguing that because a majority of the very people you would expect to love the EU think that we should stay in it, there is no need to further consult the British people.

I would state again that the very existence of this petition shows a contempt for the will of the British people – but when the entire Remain campaign focuses myopically on short term economic indicators rather than the long term health of our democracy, it hardly needs saying.

 

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EU Referendum Live-Blog: Cameron v Farage, But Not Really

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Semi-Partisan Politics: EU Referendum Live Blog – Cameron vs Farage (but not really)

#ITVEUref

21:57

And that’s it. Cameron off the hook, with no major hits landed on him.

Combative and effective as usual from Nigel Farage, but nothing new to suggest a recalibration to reach the essential 50%+1 on Referendum Day. Once again Farage will have pleased his supporters and disgusted his detractors.

What an utterly pointless “debate”, and what a useless format. I sincerely doubt that anybody in the country learned a single new thing from watching that “showdown”. Generally weak audience questions served little purpose other than to tee up the usual soundbites we are tired of hearing from Vote Leave and Stronger In.

Weak moderation too – Julie Etchingham seemed to be imposing rules and time limits which existed solely in her head, and which often ended up cutting through some of the more eloquent and discursive points on each side.

All in all, this was yet another example of the media’s shameful, shallow coverage of the EU referendum – and the glibness and alarming lack of depth of those who lead us.

21:56

Polished, passionate and utterly vacuous.

21:54

David Cameron, directly asked by an audience member whether he is “finished” regardless of the result of the EU referendum, waffles and talks about anything and everything else.

But it is very hard to see Cameron continuing. This is a supposedly conservative prime minister who gladly, joyfully shares a platform with Labour and Green Party politicians campaigning for an outcome which most party members detest. There is no love for Cameron, who will go down in history as a second-rate version of Ted Heath.

21:53

More scepticism about David Cameron’s assertion that Brexit means “quitting”:

21:49

Good point by audience member. Hardly anyone can name their MEP. Because the European Parliament is a chamber representing a demos which does not exist. There is no European demos. Hardly anybody feels European first and foremost, above their national or regional identity. And yet the EU seeks to acquire all of the trappings and powers of statehood. Shouldn’t that be setting off alarm bells?

21:48

Contra Cameron, “quitting” is staying in the EU and giving up on the ability of the fifth largest economy and second (by some rankings) military power to influence world events.

21:47

True democracy is about whether you can fire the people in charge if they start to do a bad job or if the people want a change.

The British people can’t fire the people who run the EU. There is no democracy.

21:44

No, Cameron. We will not be like a country with our faced pressed against the glass while the EU makes key decisions on trade. On the contrary, by leaving the EU we will regain our voice, our seat and our vote at the true global top tables which set key regulations and standards – organisations like UNECE, the IMO, ILO, Codex Alimentarius and many others.

These are the true originators of much regulation today, and for as long as we are in the EU with the Commission acting as middleman, we have a limited voice and a diluted influence in shaping these regulations – even ones which could obliterate entire British industries at the stroke of a pen.

Here’s why the EU is no longer the “top table” for trade – and why David Cameron was just deceiving the audience.

21:41

Ooh, it’s NHS time. Everybody genuflect to our National Religion.

If you are basing your decision on whether Britain should leave or remain in the European union solely or primarily on the NHS, then you are doing it wrong.

21:40

I’m glad someone brought up Little England. Because it is the Remainers – with their declinist, pessimistic view of Britain – who have low horizons. Those who want Britain to be an independent country, fully participating in the true global top tables for trade (hint: not the EU) are the ones with bold, global aspirations.

21:38

Yes, David Cameron is doing his creepy “passion” thing again, in place of actually standing for things and leading:

21:35

Audience member takes David Cameron to task for his fraudulent renegotiation. Everything Cameron is saying now is false – the “agreement” he reached was negotiated with EU leaders acting in their capacity as heads of state and government. Many of them will soon no longer be in power. The EU is in no way obligated to honour the pitiful commitments in that agreement.

21:32

Immediately David Cameron pivots to talking about the single market, not the EU.

But leaving the single market is not on the ballot paper – we can (and almost certainly would, in the event of a Leave vote) leave the political institution of the EU while maintaining access to the single market – the so called interim EFTA/EEA or Norway Option. Adopting this plan immediately negates every single pessimistic, fearmongering argument put forward by the Remain campaign, which is why they are so desperate to slander or dismiss it.

21:31

David Cameron’s turn.

Good first question from the audience. 6 months ago Cameron was saying that Britain could thrive outside the EU, yet now he says it would mean economic Armageddon.

Was the prime minister lying then, or is he lying now?

21:27

Well, that was Farage. A typically assured performance. Ukippers will be happy. Liberal leavers like this blog and members of The Leave Alliance less so, for obvious reasons – Farage doubled down on all of the illiberal and protectionist arguments while doing nothing to reach those not already convinced that Brexit is the way to go.

In terms of moving the needle of public opinion, Nigel Farage certainly hasn’t done himself any harm. But it has made it harder for those of us arguing for a more progressive case for Brexit to do our work.

21:25

Moderator of this referendum is worse than useless so far. Staying silent when she should guide the debate, cutting across when actual interesting points are being made.

21:24

Audience member rightly notes that there are many separate means of cooperation between EU countries independent of the EU. Brexit doesn’t mean severing ourselves from the continent of Europe or from schemes like Europol. By freeing ourselves from the EU’s political union we restore our democracy and are able to choose the areas and nature of our cooperation.

21:23

Waving a passport around is not going to get us from 40-45% of the vote to the 50%+1 the Leave side needs to win the referendum. People who get misty eyed about blue passports are already going to turn out and vote to leave. We need to reach undecideds with a comprehensive, safe offering, showing them that it is possible to leave the EU while minimising economic risks.

21:21

I’m not the only one to note the markedly poor quality of questions coming from the audience so far. Roland Smith (author of the Liberal Case for Leave) sees it too:

21:19

Farage is a natural performer. One can only wonder what an asset he could have been to the Leave campaign had he only updated his 1990s-era euroscepticism and embraced a more progressive (or small-L liberal) case for Brexit.

21:16

Audience member with an utterly fatuous question about the Leave campaign supposedly whipping up anti-black fervour. As a mixed race person (not that it should matter), this is complete hogwash. Disagree with UKIP all you want (and I disagree with them on plenty), but disagree with their stance on immigration all you want, but fatuous, blanket assertions that their immigration stance is racist or “legitimises racism” is flat out false. And in fact it is this effort to slander euroscepticism and worries about immigration with the charge of racism that creates further resentment.

21:15

Oh, Justin Welby accuses Nigel Farage of legitimising racism, eh? The Archbishop of Canterbury might do better to look at the gaping hole in the public discourse where a rational, intellectual and moral Christian case for the European Union should be.

Shockingly, it doesn’t exist.

21:13

The good thing about Nigel Farage is that he doesn’t feel the need to flatter audience members, agree with them and accept their assumptions and premises. I think that some people do admire that, even if they disagree with him. Contrast it with David Cameron’s doubtless oleaginous performance once he takes the stage.

21:10

Every moment Nigel Farage spends talking about tariffs is time he could be spending reassuring wavering Brits that we can leave the EU’s political union while maintaining our access to the single market.

21:09

Tremulous audience member worried about Britain being “punished” if we vote to leave the EU. This takes us back nicely to the Remain side’s cognitive dissonance about whether the EU is a friendly club of countries who get together to knit and braid each other’s hair, or an abusive relationship where we will be beaten up if we try to leave. The Remain camp really do need to make up their minds…

21:08

Oh dear – the first appearance of “they need us more than we need them”. Farage is rightly being taken to task by an audience member for this point.

Far too much talking over one another going on already – Farage, audience members, the moderator.

21:06

Fair point from Farage – there is a marked difference between people in current positions of power in government and NGOs who tend to side with Remain, and those now out of power, who are more likely to back Leave. Something about the freedom of being able to speak one’s true mind seems to make people more likely to support Britain’s independence from the EU. Funny, that…

21:03

Okay, here’s Nigel Farage. The man who arguably did more than anyone else to secure this referendum, but failed to produce a plan for actually leaving the EU.

21:00

Well, here it is. The debate that is not a debate, because David Cameron doesn’t dare actually engage anyone in debate these days.

I’m far from certain that this event will be worth live-blogging, but it will be practice for the Semi-Partisan Politics live-blog of the referendum count and results on 23/24 June.

 

 

More about The Leave Alliance here.

More about Flexcit here.

The EU Referendum blog here.

 

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Top Image: ITV

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The Leave Alliance Grows In Support

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Brexit for grown-ups

Another passionate and articulate voice joins the ranks of The Leave Alliance, recognising that while UKIP may have helped get us the EU referendum, neither they nor the freshly-designated Vote Leave are in a position to do anything more than preach to the converted.

David Taylor writes:

So don’t listen to the formal leave campaigns you see on the TV news or read about in the newspapers. I’m talking about Leave.EU, Grassroots Out, Vote Leave, and of course UK Independence Party (UKIP). I used to be a UKIP member because I wanted a referendum, and now we’ve got one, they are doing more harm than good.

These groups want to take the EU marriage certificate and tear it up in front of the EU, in some sort of dramatic gesture, and then walk away and have a bonfire of regulations, and start from zero, with great bravado, to create a bespoke trade deal with various countries around the world, which would probably take 5-10 years (it has taken Switzerland 16 years and their position is good, but not ideal).

That’s all bollocks, obviously.

This is a referendum, not an election. We are only being asked whether we want to stay in the EU or leave the EU. Nothing more.

If we as a nation decide to leave, nobody gets elected, not Nigel Farage, not Boris Johnson, or anyone else. They won’t even get seconded to some transitional team to work on extricating ourselves from the EU. So don’t even listen to them.

It is the current government who would be tasked with the leave process and the end state. This means Whitehall (civil service) and the FCO (Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

So ask yourself: what process and end state would the current government choose?

I’ll tell you. They would choose to leave by Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (sorry to be an anorak), and they would choose to enter the EEA (European Economic Area) as a member of EFTA (European Free Trade Association), of which we were originally a member.

Why? Because that is the solution that most closely resembles the current membership of the EU that we already ‘enjoy’.

What this means is that we would still be a member of the Single Market, we would still pay into the EU budget (about 20% of what we do now, based on Norway), and most importantly, we would still sign up to freedom of movement of people, capital and goods.

It is this last point that is the reason why you have not heard the Norway Option being promoted. UKIP, the progenitor of the leave impetus, is all about immigration, so the Norway Option does not address their issue.

Pick a number, but there are about 30% of people who want to leave, 30% of people who want to stay, and 40% of people who are undecided.

The UKIP immigration concern has a plateau, which has already been reached, and will not win the referendum. The undecided middle listen to all the ridiculous messages from both ends and, when push comes to shove, will probably plump for the devil they know, even though that devil is not a status quo, because the EU is proceeding towards political integration and that’s unstoppable.

So the thing about EFTA / EEA is that it is not a big risk. There is no bonfire of regulations, no loss of access to the Single Market, and no change to freedom of movement. But we do regain our sovereignty and self-determination. That’s the only real change we are after.

It’s a stable, low-risk departure lounge, from which we can consider other matters later.

That’s what the undecided 40% of voters need to know. That’s what will actually happen if the government is charged with leaving the EU.

If you want to know more about my point of view, look for Leave HQ and search for The Leave Alliance.

It is always encouraging to witness others “seeing the light” and coming to support the only Brexit campaign group to possess an actual, robust blueprint for safely and securely leaving the EU while minimising economic uncertainty. And it is particularly pleasing when the new recruit is a long-time, valued reader of Semi-Partisan Politics.

David Taylor, like me, has been on a political journey to reach this point. Readers may recall that I reluctantly gave my vote to UKIP in the 2015 general election, in protest of a thoroughly un-conservative Conservative Party and the desire to reward what I saw as genuine political courage from Nigel Farage’s party in speaking up for a segment of the British public – and for certain ideals – which for too long had been high-handedly ignored by the entire political establishment.

Though I do not presume to speak for him, I believe that Taylor’s journey has followed a similar trajectory to mine, ultimately becoming disillusioned with UKIP’s self-defeating focus on immigration to the detriment of our prospects for winning the referendum, as well as the amateurish infighting which continues to hinder the party.

Such people should be welcomed into The Leave Alliance – despite our growing social media and online reach, it is still not easy for members of the general public to become aware that there is another, better eurosceptic game in town than that offered by the likes of Boris Johnson and Vote Leave.

Our national media holds the independent political blogosphere in something near contempt when they think about us at all, which makes it very difficult to cut through the noise and reach people with our message (it would be altogether impossible without the levelling effect of social media).

The British press will gushingly write up almost anything that BoJo does, but are seemingly incapable of acknowledging the incredible work and research undertaken by The Leave Alliance’s largely unpaid team of citizen bloggers, and so it is up to all of us to amplify the message until it can no longer be ignored.

With UKIP teetering on the brink of civil war, Vote Leave determined to run an amateurish campaign that insults the intelligence of voters and the EU referendum a mere two months away, the need for The Leave Alliance is greater than ever.

If you have strong doubts about Britain’s continued place in the European Union but feel alienated by the superficiality of Vote Leave and worried about the potential economic consequences of Brexit, know that there is an alternative campaign with a compelling, comprehensive plan for safely leaving the EU in a controlled manner.

This pamphlet outlines the basic details.

If you like what you see, make it a daily habit to read eureferendum.com and stay up to date with The Leave Alliance at leavehq.com.

Then come join us in the trenches.

 

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Only The Brave Now Dare Admit To Being Conservative Or Eurosceptic

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When ordinary people with perfectly mainstream opinions are hesitant to express themselves for fear of being accused of racism, prejudice, stupidity or worse, our democracy is in real trouble

If you voted Conservative or UKIP at the 2015 general election, you could be forgiven for wondering where the other fifteen million people who made the same choice are currently hiding themselves. David Cameron’s leadership may be uninspiring and his government’s achievements few, but these are hardly the paranoid, dying days of the Brown government – ordinarily there should still be a level of authentic, spontaneous support to be found out and about the country.

Equally, you may wonder how on earth it was possible for Ed Miliband and Labour to have lost that election, given the fact that social media and popular culture roar their hatred of the Evil Tories louder than ever, that it is almost impossible to find kindred spirits willing to admit to voting Conservative or UKIP, and the fact that conservative policies and beliefs are routinely derided as ignorant and selfish at best, and violent and vengeful at worst.

The current political environment can be quite lonely for anybody with conservative leanings – and it makes one wonder why the people who delivered David Cameron his House of Commons majority and propelled UKIP into a remarkably strong third place are so desperate to avoid drawing attention to themselves.

There have been a couple of worrying pieces in the media this week which highlight the fact that furious open hostility toward anything vaguely conservative or eurosceptic – often emanating from a small but determined band of opposing activists – is having a chilling effect on the political discourse and preventing small-c conservatives from openly articulating their opinions.

First, the Independent carries a letter from former Labour MP Tom Harris, who only felt able to “come out” as a eurosceptic after having left elected office. Sounding as though a weight had been lifted off his shoulders, Harris writes:

I was never a fully paid-up member of the Euro team. Early signs of unsoundness manifested themselves in my outright opposition to British membership of the euro when it was first launched. The whips’ office had its eye on me after I added my signature to a letter, back in 2002, warning the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown, to resist committing to abolishing the pound. And once you’ve decided to oppose that central mechanism for the creation of a European superstate, it’s a fairly short step to being painted as “anti-EU”.

But my instinct to vote Leave (probably running at 53 to 55 per cent right now) is not something that can be confessed in polite middle-class company. Such an admission might too easily be interpreted as a dislike of foreigners or, worse, a tolerance of Nigel Farage.

[..] The question is precisely the same one we were asked in 1975: should we stay or should we go? In the meantime, if asked over dinner how I intend to vote, I’ll do the sensible thing and change the subject to the range of breads in the Marks & Spencer food hall. Or The Archers.

And follows up in the Telegraph:

As for me, I will continue to pursue this enigma known as “the normal life” by having, expressing, then rejecting various opinions. No doubt they will be variously correct, wrong, misplaced, insightful and dangerous. I may believe in all of them, some of them, or none of them.

What’s it to you?

But among Labour circles and much of the wider Left, it is simply no longer “permissible” to hold eurosceptic views, or to believe that Britain’s democracy and vital national interests would be better served by leaving an explicitly political and ever-more closely integrating union which we never realised we were joining in the first place. The Tories are perceived to be eurosceptic (even though many of them are not), and so the prevailing dogma has it that one must be pro-EU to be anti-Tory.

Aside from the few brave (and mostly decidedly retro) souls who form Labour Leave, the question of Britain’s ongoing EU membership simply is not up for discussion. And to express any doubt whatsoever about Britain playing an enthusiastic part in this European political union is seen as treachery, automatic disqualification from membership of the movement.

Look at Jeremy Corbyn’s reversal on the issue. Love or hate Corbyn, he has been willing to stand up to a mostly hostile Parliamentary Labour Party on issue after issue, from military action in Syria to the Paris attacks to the question of Trident renewal. On all of these issues, the Labour leader has proven himself willing to enrage many of his MPs by holding firm to his deeply held convictions.

But what of his eurosceptic convictions? Jeremy Corbyn has been a lifelong eurosceptic, and voted for Britain to leave the European Community in the 1975 referendum. Corbyn holds this view about as strongly as any other, and yet it was on this issue alone where he instantly capitulated to the establishment and became a pro-EU advocate. What should rightly be a non-partisan issue pertaining to sovereignty and self-determination is instead imbued with nearly the same cultural weight and quasi-religious fervour as one finds in the American culture wars. Such is the power of the Left’s infatuation with the EU.

Jeremy Corbyn - EU Referendum - 1975 - Eurosceptic

The second article of concern is this worrying testimonial from a conservative-leaning history supply teacher who found himself drummed out of the school where he taught because colleagues complained when he failed to join in their frequent denunciations of the Tory government and all things conservative.

Joe Baron writes in The Spectator:

After keeping schtum for two months, I finally challenged a colleague’s view of the Tories. ‘Why are Tory voters thick?’ I asked. ‘Is it just because they happen to disagree with you?’

‘No,’ he replied. ‘Because they voted for cuts’.

‘Perhaps they saw the cuts as necessary,’ I said. ‘Surely it’s better to make savings now, rather than keep spending money we don’t have, go bankrupt and, like the Labour government of 1976, be forced to make even deeper cuts after going cap in hand to the IMF.’

‘That’s rubbish!’ said another colleague. And so it continued, though no one actually raised their voices, until they brushed off my argument with a blasé ‘yeah, yeah, yeah’ before gesturing towards the office door as if dismissing a recalcitrant child.

If Joe Baron had been loudly and forthrightly expressing his views in favour of Ed Miliband and the Labour Party, he would have been met with a chorus of approval and the respect of his colleagues. But in choosing to defend conservative ideas like government fiscal responsibility and personal self-sufficiency, Baron chose another path. A darker path:

I was called into the head’s office and told that, after a complaint from colleagues in my department, the school would no longer require my services. So I was effectively being dismissed for holding the wrong views, though of course the head dressed it up in a different garb: it was my manner rather than my opinions. Apparently I was ‘too assertive’.

As I remember it, my interlocutors were both red-faced and angry, and more than willing to use inflammatory language. I was told, at one point, that I was unfit to teach.

Interestingly, the head of department who refused to work with me — effectively calling for my dismissal — had several weeks previously decried the cruelty of zero-hours contracts. Where was her left-wing compassion when it came to sacking me, a married man with two children to support?

I suppose I’ve only got myself to blame. For a brief moment, I deluded myself into believing that schools actually encouraged tolerance and the questioning of orthodoxies through intellectual exploration, freedom of thought and speech. How silly of me.

Both cases – Tom Harris the former MP and Joe Baron the supply teacher – are examples of the visceral, real-world retribution which is threatened (and sometimes carried out) by those on the Left against people who have committed the thought crime of being a conservative. And this climate of anti-Tory hate-mongering not only distorts our political discourse, but undermines the health of our democracy, whose proper functioning relies on people with political differences being able to speak their consciences in good faith.

My own personal experience of this phenomenon has thrown up more depressing anecdotes than I can relate here. Friends who have sat next to me on the couch shouting at the television when one smug-faced Question Time panellist (or audience member) after another have deliberately misinterpreted and sanctimoniously condemned Nigel Farage or David Cameron, but who fall fearfully silent when the inevitable anti-Tory hate mobs form around the water cooler or on social media.

Or the senior PR executive I was chatting with at a recent event for the launch of Dan Hodges’ excellent chronicle of the 2015 general election, “One Minute To Ten”, who furtively looked around and dropped her voice to a hushed whisper before confiding to me that she actually voted Conservative, picking David Cameron over Ed Miliband.

Or the look on the faces of people I speak with in my hometown of Harlow, Essex, at the precise moment when a voice in the back of their head tells them to self-censor their speech and hold back their real opinions, for fear of ridicule or attack. They may have re-elected an excellent local Conservative MP in Robert Halfon, but few are willing to proudly and publicly stand by their decision months later, away from the privacy of the polling booth.

You just don’t see this same reticence on the other side. For a political movement which makes a great performance of supposedly being the voice of the voiceless and most marginalised people in the country, left-wingers have a near monopoly in many areas of the public discourse, particularly in the arts and entertainment sectors. And there are far fewer occasions or settings where it is necessary to pause and “read the room” before confessing one’s left-wingery than there are situations where conservatives have brutally learned the wisdom of self-censorship.

The problem is that it is not just the unhinged crazies sharing misspelled memes on the internet and typing in ALL CAPS below the line on news website articles. People like that exist on all points on the political spectrum from left to right, and the misogynistic ranting of one barking CyberKipper no more represents UKIP than the conspiratorial, anti-Semitic sermons of a self-declared Corbyn supporter reflect on Labour.

No, the real problem is the softer bigotry of bien-pensant public opinion – the arrogant assumptions of the dinner party set, well-heeled professional people in the office or having dinner at Carluccio’s – the middle class clerisy, Brendan O’Neill called them. Their willingness to lazily believe and repeat hysterical left-wing smears about conservatism and to virtue-signal in front of their friends by flaunting their vague and incoherent opposition to the Evil Tory government are the problem.

And it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The more that left-wingers openly flaunt their views while attacking or shunning anybody who thinks differently, the more likely they are to only ever hear ideas and opinions which chime with their own worldviews, and falsely assume that they are universal.

But it’s not true. The 2015 general election proved that there is no silent left-wing majority in Britain, and there will be no “rainbow coalition” of left-wing political parties coming together to kick the Evil Tories out of office any time soon.

In fact, the only question is how much longer the Left can continue to punch above their rhetorical weight before the British people finally tire of the sanctimonious yapping of a bunch of ideologically incoherent, virtue-signalling, anti-aspirational opportunists and the temper tantrum they are throwing in the face of a very mild and utterly unremarkable centrist government.

How much longer will the silent majority-makers of this country be willing to silence themselves, censor their speech and edit their public opinions solely to avoid the screeching disapproval of these losers?

Right now, it may be hard for some to “come out” as conservatives. But the Left are loudly and brazenly overplaying a very weak hand, and the sooner that more of us start calling them out on it, the easier it will be for more people to stand up and take pride in not being just another centre-left drone.

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