On the referendum #19: Final message from Vote Leave HQ to our supporters

 

Below is the final message from the Vote Leave HQ team to our supporters.

I will be blogging about the campaign at some point over the next few weeks / months.

Best wishes

Dominic Cummings

***

Dear XXX

WE TOOK BACK CONTROL!

Last week you changed the course of history. Vote Leave took on almost every force with power and money and we won. Britain chose to Vote Leave.

This victory would not have happened without your amazing help and generosity. Thousands of you donated. Thousands of you volunteered. Thousands of you spoke to friends and family on our behalf to spread the message. THANK YOU!

In just ten months we built from scratch an unprecedented national movement that took our campaign to every corner of the country. We got to places that ‘politics as usual’ ignored. People who have been ignored, and have never been involved in politics before, suddenly spoke out and took action.

In 2008, the worst financial crisis since 1929 hit the world. The people who paid the bills were mainly those on P.A.Y.E. They are still paying. They are also paying the bills for the EU’s and the euro’s dysfunction. Meanwhile many with power and money who were responsible for the mistakes and were completely wrong in their predictions dodged their fair share of the bills and got rich out of the EU system. We spoke for those on P.A.Y.E.

We did new things. Nobody in the UK has ever successfully built a web-based electoral database. Companies have spent millions and failed. We did it in a few months and succeeded. The combination of this database, our digital communication effort and our ground campaign broke new ground for political campaigns. This database product is worth a lot of money. We will shortly put the code online so that everyone can use it for free in the future (keep an eye on Github if interested). Hopefully it will help other campaigns give the public a powerful voice as we have. We’ve shown political parties how they can change and stop ignoring large parts of the country.

Why is this important? The British political system is broken in many ways and needs big changes – the EU is not our only problem. Our campaign was never controlled by any party though there were great people from all parties who helped us. All the parties have very deep problems. The way they are structured incentivises MPs to focus on themselves and their party – not the public interest.

It is important that the Conservative leadership candidates accept that the vote must be respected. Both the leading IN candidate (Theresa May) and the leading OUT candidate (Michael Gove) have made clear that if they win they will respect the vote and deliver a new UK-EU deal. This could mean, among other things, democratic control of immigration policy. This could marginalise extremists and allow a fair, sensible, and humane new policy. It could mean new trade deals and new jobs. It could mean more money for health, education, and science.

But we cannot be sure it will happen. In particular, while there are many wonderful civil servants there are also many who regard our victory as a disaster. They will try to stop or minimise changes. Not all the candidates in the Conservative leadership campaign have shown an ability to deliver big changes in the face of civil service opposition. Many in Labour are in complete denial about the real state of opinion and the real problems of the EU. Few MPs have the skills needed to manage normal government departments – never mind the EU negotiation and complex problems that implementing the referendum result require. Many MPs are desperate to ignore any lessons from the referendum and go back to politics as usual. The situation is very worrying.

Westminster cannot be relied upon. Taking back control to Britain is just the first step. The next step should be major political changes in Britain so that the broken Westminster and Whitehall system has to focus on the public interest in a way it does not now. If we increase the power of MPs and officials without changing how they behave, we will not solve our problems. We need organisations like Vote Leave to operate permanently to give a voice to those who otherwise won’t be heard.

This campaign did not win because of support in Westminster – it won because of support in the country that has forced Westminster to listen. But three MPs in particular worked closely together and helped us win: Michael Gove (Conservative), Boris Johnson (Conservative), and Gisela Stuart (Labour) who was also a wonderful Chair. We want to thank all three of them too. They put their careers and reputations on the line. THANK YOU Boris, Gisela, and Michael. Thank you too to other MPs of all parties who helped, such as Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Graham Stringer.

It’s been a privilege to have your support throughout this campaign. Your dedication brought victory.

On behalf of the team here at Vote Leave, and on behalf of the public, THANK YOU – and goodbye.

Best wishes

The Vote Leave HQ

P.S. If you want to keep in touch with events after we have won, then follow the private blog of our Campaign Director, Dominic CummingsCLICK HERE. If we ever want to send up a ‘bat signal’ that Westminster is cheating the vote and we need to form a new movement, you will see the bat signal there…

P.P.S. The website will remain online for many years. We are not using your data for any other purpose. All personal data will be permanently destroyed as we promised at the start. If you want to contribute to our ‘lessons learned’ investigation, then please take this survey – CLICK HERE

 

 

On the referendum #18: the ECJ uses the Charter of Fundamental Rights to take more power over the UK, this is just the start

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg today issued a series of judgments of considerable importance for the UK and the upcoming EU referendum.

Firstly, in a case called Delvigne, the ECJ held that some prisoners must obtain the vote in elections to the European Parliament. Rejecting the UK Government’s submissions and agreeing with those of the European Commission and Parliament, it held that it had jurisdiction under article 51 of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights to rule on the legality of a French law depriving some prisoners of the vote. Overruling two recent decisions of the Supreme Court in R (Chester) v Lord President of the Council and Moohan v Lord Advocate, the ECJ held that the Charter gives EU citizens the right to vote in certain elections.

Although the ECJ accepted the French law was a ‘proportionate’ limitation of the right to vote, there is little doubt that the UK’s 1983 legislation is not ‘proportionate’ and is thus contrary to the Charter. The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has consistently said as much, and article 51(3) of the Charter states that the Charter must be interpreted to conform to Strasbourg rulings. The ECJ found the French legislation was ‘proportionate’ because unlike the UK, France only removed the vote from prisoners sentenced to more than five years, and gave them a right to review their disenfranchisement. The UK has no right of review, and removes the vote from all prisoners.

It is now a virtual certainty that some prisoners will gain the right to vote in European Parliamentary elections. Either the UK’s 1983 legislation will be set aside altogether, or prisoners denied the vote will win damages under the EU law doctrine of ‘state liability’. This is a legal certainty for as long as the European Communities Act 1972 remains in force, regardless of what the Government might say. In 2011, Parliament voted overwhelmingly against allowing any convicted prisoners the vote, and Cameron has said the prospect makes him ‘physically ill’.

Secondly, in a case called Schrems, the Court invalidated the 2000 EU-US safe harbour agreement on procedural grounds, with big implications for British companies which store data outside the EU. More importantly, the Court engaged in a significant discussion about the compatibility of government surveillance programmes with the Charter of Fundamental Rights (see paragraphs [87]-[95]). In a little noticed case in July 2015, the Divisional Court in London struck down the Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act 2014 for inconsistency with the Charter. Nothing in today’s ruling suggests the Government’s appeal against that ruling will be successful. In fact, the reverse is true. Despite ‘security’ being the theme of the Conservative Party conference, a foreign court, rather than the British Parliament, will now decide what is necessary to protect the UK’s national security. The EU has long desired to scupper the US-UK intelligence sharing agreement that has been in place since 1945. The ECJ now has the tool it needs to start doing this.

The ECJ has been given more power over the UK by the Charter than the US Supreme Court has over the American states. Although pro-EU lawyers claim the Charter only applies when the UK ‘implements EU law’, the UK Supreme Court made clear in 2011 that that potentially limitless phrase ‘is to be interpreted broadly’. Even pro-EU bodies like the CBI admit than over half of new British laws originate from the EU. The ECJ will increasingly use the Charter to do whatever it likes without any democratic accountability. The Blair Government wrongly claimed that it had an ‘opt-out’ from the Charter, which it alleged would have the same legal status as ‘The Beano or the Sun’. Subsequent cases in the ECJ and UK Supreme Court have made clear these claims were entirely false, and that the Charter has ‘direct effect’ in UK law. David Cameron once claimed that ‘we will want a complete opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights,’ a promise repeated at p. 114 of the 2010 Conservative Manifesto, yet the Charter does not appear to be part of the renegotiation.

Today’s judgments also demonstrate that the Conservatives’ 2015 manifesto promise to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998 and reform the ECHR is pointless within the EU. As Mr Justice Mostyn observed in a 2013 judgment, the Charter contains all the rights in the ECHR and this ‘much wider Charter of Rights would remain part of our domestic law even if the Human Rights Act were repealed.’

Thirdly, the Advocate General issued an opinion in a case where the Commission was suing the UK over the requirement that claimants of child tax credits and child benefit must be habitually and lawfully resident in the UK. Amazingly, the Commission argued that claimants didn’t need to be lawfully resident in the UK: an argument that the AG rejected. However, the ECJ isn’t bound by this opinion, and might still accept the Commission’s extreme arguments, as it did today over prisoner voting.

However, the AG stated that any checks on the lawful residence of EU citizens had to comply with the principle of ‘proportionality’, and could not be carried ‘out in every single case, something which, in my view, is prohibited’. The AG stated that the UK must apply a presumption that EU citizens resident in the UK for more than three months are here lawfully. This undermines a pledge by David Cameron that EU jobseekers who haven’t found work within three months will be forced to leave the UK.

The opinion makes it crystal clear that for as long as Britain remains in the EU, the ultimate arbiter of whether migrants can stay in the UK and claim benefits will be the EU institutions like the ECJ, not the British people.

For many decades, Whitehall has deceived itself and deceived the public about the true nature of the EU project. Their ability to keep doing this is crumbling…

On the referendum #17: The state of the campaign

Below is the Business for Britain Bulletin sent out this morning.

Back in the summer, various people including Matthew Elliott, some MPs, and some businessmen, including Stuart Wheeler, asked me to help get a new campaign off the ground that could fight the ‘leave’ side of the referendum.

We need a campaign aimed far beyond the fraction of the population that already supports UKIP. I have yet to meet anybody, whether a UKIP supporter or not (including Nigel Farage), who disagrees. This campaign will go public shortly.

The BfB bulletin clarifies some of this.

The Times leader today is also on this subject.

Dominic Cummings

 


Business for Britain Bulletin, 26 September 2015

Before the summer recess, the EU Commission published the Five Presidents Report, their plan for another Treaty transferring many more powers to the EU. The EU has been at the forefront of the political agenda after recess. On the Commons’ first day back, MPs voted for a series of amendments to the EU Referendum Bill, allowing for a purdah period and changing the question, both of which will ensure the process is now fairer. The Conservative Party has also in recent days announced that it will remain neutral during the referendum campaign and will not give money or data to the ‘IN’ campaign. A series of business polls have revealed that business is divided about whether to leave the EU and large majorities want Britain to regain the power to make our own trade deals. As you all know, in light of the announcement that there would be no Treaty change in the forthcoming referendum, BfB’s Board decided in July that we would help create the campaign for Britain to leave the EU. This campaign will launch soon.

Please see below for a more detailed update on what we have been up to over the past month.

Best,
Matthew

New polling shows business split on EU membership

There have been three significant recent attempts to measure business opinion on the EU:

1) Business for Britain (August 2015). This was a telephone poll of 601 businesses by Perspective Research Services. It was weighted by the respondents’ number of employees, region, and industry sector in order to give a representative sample of British businesses. It found that by more than two-to-one (41% to 20%) SMEs believe that the EU is harming rather than helping their business. A majority (54%) would also like to see the EU develop into a less integrated free-trade area, with only a quarter backing further integration. 74% of businesses said that Britain should regain the power to make our own trade deals. Coverage of the poll results featured across the media (above).

2) The Federation of Small Businesses survey (June-July 2015). This was an online survey of FSB members which received 6,263 responses from FSB members who chose to participate. Just over 40% of respondents said that they would vote to leave the EU, compared to 47% who would opt to remain. It was weighted to reflect the regional profile of FSB members, but not by the number of persons the respondent employed. 17% of respondents relied on exports to the EU. This was unrepresentative of British companies, of which only 5% export to the EU.

3) The British Chambers of Commerce survey (August 2015): This was a survey of 2,000 ‘senior businesspeople’ who choose to respond to the British Chambers of Commerce by email. Although the results were weighted geographically, half of respondents exported goods to the EU. This survey was wholly unrepresentative of British companies, since only 5% export goods and services to the EU. Nor was the survey weighted by the number of persons employed by the respondent.

Only BfB’s is a proper poll that is properly weighted to reflect ONS statistics on the profile of British business. The other two are surveys that are not weighted to reflect these statistics and have other significant flaws. This is important. The CBI routinely distorted the debate over the euro by manipulating their own membership surveys. After this was exposed in 1999 the CBI had to admit its membership was divided and they withdrew from the campaign in January 2000.

Polls have consistently shown for over a decade that about 70% of businesses reject the rationale for both the Customs Union and the Single Market and want Britain to regain the power to make our own trade deals, which is not part of Cameron’s renegotiation effort (see ICM, April 2004 and October 2006).

Conservative Board agree Party neutrality for EU referendum
In a meeting on Monday 21 September, the Conservative Party Board agreed, following the recommendation of the Prime Minister, that the Conservative Party would remain neutral during the EU referendum campaign. In practice, this will mean that access to data and funds held by the Party – and staff – will not be available to either the ‘IN’ or ‘OUT’ campaigns.

Reacting to this development, Conservatives for Britain Co-Chairman Steve Baker MP said: “I am delighted the Prime Minister and the Party Board have decided that Conservative Campaign Headquarters, its data and funds will remain neutral in the forthcoming referendum. There is a range of views within the Party about the EU, with many members waiting to see the deal before choosing how to campaign.”

Business figures speak out on EU withdrawal

A number of senior business figures have spoken out in recent weeks, expressing their views on a potential British withdrawal from the European Union:

“Our position in terms of competitiveness is driven by not only the situation in Europe in terms of whether we are in or out of the EU but more importantly the commitment of the people we have in the North East, the supply chain we have in the UK.” – Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox (Daily Telegraph, 3 September 2015)

BCC Director General John Longworth said the business network did not rule out calling for a British exit – or Brexit – from the EU should Cameron fail to get EU countries to agree to British businesses’ demands. “The European Union is getting further away from us. The single market was conceived for German industries and French farmers,” the BCC’s director general said (La Figaro, 7 September 2015)

“I voted for a free trade area in 1975. That’s what we should be [in]. It is absolutely crazy we are in there. I will be at the forefront of the ‘out’ campaign” – Peter Hargreaves, co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown (Sunday Times, 13 September 2015)

“I don’t think in that event there would not be a trade agreement with what was left of the EU. We’re a very, very big market for European products, goods and services, and it would be unthinkable to us as a corporation that no such trade agreement would ultimately be negotiated if this country chose to leave.” – Chairman and Managing Director of Vauxhall, Tim Tozer (Daily Telegraph, 15 September 2015)

“Regardless (of the outcome), we think that the UK is a good place for investment.” – Board member of Bentley, Kevin Rose (Reuters, 16 September 2015)

“I’ve had lots of questions in my time in a way of why aren’t you opening up a plant somewhere else… I said guys are you kidding me? This is so truly British, that it belongs to Britain and it is also part of our success story that we are from Britain.” – CEO of Rolls Royce, Torsten Mueller-Oetvoes (Reuters, 16 September 2015)

“We have plants in Luton and Ellesmere port. We will not turn our back on England… We would continue to find ways to invest.” Chief Executive of Opel, Karl-Thomas Neumann (Reuters, 16 September 2015)

EU planning further transfers of power to Brussels

The EU has published its blueprint for its next big Treaty change, which will transfer even more powers to Brussels. In their ‘Five Presidents’ Report’ (right), the leaders of the EU state that they are looking at the possibility of introducing a new Treaty after 2017 in order to fix the euro’s problems.

This is worrying, as these plans will leave Britain as a permanent second-class member state, subject to EU law but condemned to be constantly outvoted in the EU’s institutions. The French Government has already come out in support of some of the report’s ideas. With Commission President Jean Claude Juncker saying he wants a ‘EU Army’ introduced, and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble this week advocating EU-wide minimum taxation rates, it is clear that the EU is going to be trying to take even more control over the coming years.

Immigration and the referendum

There is some confusion about the immigration issue and the referendum. There is no doubt that immigration tops the polls as the No. 1 issue. Contra some pundits, this is not a left/right issue. People across the political spectrum and demographic groups are very worried about Britain not having control of immigration policy. This is bound to get worse. For example, the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights has given the ECJ the power to judge how the UK implements the crucial 1951 UN Refugee Convention. This is another big limitation on Britain’s ability to adapt to the huge migration underway. David Cameron originally promised to get an opt-out from the Charter but this has been dropped.

However, for a crucial group of voters, roughly 20-25%, their attitude is – ‘we don’t like the EU, we would like to leave the EU, but we are very worried about the effects on jobs and living standards’. These people are also deeply worried about immigration. However, many of them will not vote to leave unless their fears about living standards are neutralised. If they are neutralised, then they will vote to leave. This does not mean ‘they don’t care about immigration’. They do care. But they care more about their own jobs.

Our campaign

We have been working with various people over the summer to set up a professional cross-party campaign, including an Exploratory Committee of Parliamentarians that includes: Steve Baker MP, Douglas Carswell MP, Kate Hoey MP, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Bernard Jenkin MP, Owen Paterson MP and Graham Stringer MP.

 

The Business for Britain Board voted unanimously in July to affiliate to this campaign and throw our resources behind it. New offices are being set up. The campaign, along with a new version of the BfB EU Briefing (above), will launch shortly.

This requires an unprecedented organisation. We need to create something that can scale from a handful of people to hundreds of staff and thousands of volunteers quickly. It needs a professional media operation and a combination of old-school grassroots and cutting-edge technology. We will make further announcements on this soon.

EU news from the last month

What you might have missed…

  • The EU is important for our economy, but it’s not a one-way street – Ruth Lea, The Times
  • Conservative party machine to stay neutral in EU referendum – Financial Times
  • EU referendum – the state of public opinion – Anthony Wells, YouGov
  • Cameron suffers Commons defeat over ‘purdah’ rules – BBC News
  • The UKIP/Arron Banks campaign re-launched at the UKIP conference today. We’ve had some friendly meetings with Arron. We wish him well. – Daily Express
  • The future looks rosy for the Brexit brigade – Tim Montgomerie, The Times
  • Ignore the scaremongers, manufacturing powerhouse Vauxhall says it would be fine outside the EU – Daily Telegraph
  • Hammond raises possibility of 2017 referendum – Reuters
  • Will David Cameron deliver ‘associate membership’ of the EU for Britain? – Spectator
  • UK claims migrant crisis will help its push for EU reform – Financial Times
  • No, Brexit would not “drive” European Premier League footballers out of the UK – Robert Oxley, CityAM
And finally… yet another startup falls foul of EU regulations

Last week, the IN Campaign launched its website. Unfortunately, as reported on Guido Fawkes, the website was in breach of EU law in several places, particularly concerning the use of cookies and information sharing. They’ve seen for themselves just how hard it is for new startups to comply with EU regulations, and how the EU makes life hard for entrepreneurs…

On the referendum #16: New ICM poll shows differential turnout could be important, only a third support the failing EU project

I asked ICM to add two questions to their weekly referendum tracker (which has changed to reflect the new referendum question). These results are the first time ICM has used the new question (PDF).

2,000 people were polled online between 11 – 13 September.

The results suggest some SW1 conventional wisdom and some eurosceptic conventional wisdom are wrong.

Results are cross-referenced according to three questions.

A. The referendum question itself.

B. A question on ‘enthusiasm’. There is evidence from America that tests of enthusiasm are more accurate predictors of turnout than standard poll questions that ask specifically about turnout.

C. A question that seeks to quantify the core vote of each side and the swing vote.

Summary of findings

1. ‘Leave’ voters are much more enthusiastic about the prospect of the referendum than the ‘remain’ voters: net enthusiasts split 56-23 for ‘leave’. 33% of ‘leaves’ but just 11% of ‘remains’ rated themselves as 10/10 on the ‘enthusiasm’ scale.

2. Both ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ have a strong core support of a third each. There is a crucial fifth of voters who would like to leave but are frightened of the effect on their jobs and living standards.

3. If the ‘leave’ campaign successfully assures these swing voters that their living standards will not be significantly affected, then there seems to be a better than 50:50 chance that ‘leave’ will win the referendum.

4. The change in the question may have helped the ‘leave’ side slightly: the gap seems to have narrowed to 52:48. NB. This may be pure chance. Also it may have no long-term significance. It is important not to over-interpret such things and also important to remember this is just one poll.

The numbers

‘Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?’

Total
Remain a member of the European Union 43%
Leave the European Union 40%
Don’t know 17%

Once ‘don’t knows’ are excluded:

Total
Remain a member of the European Union 52%
Leave the European Union 48%

‘How enthusiastic are you about the referendum on EU membership?’ Scale 1-10.

Total Remain Leave
NET: Enthusiastic 34% 23% 56%
NET: Neutral 41% 51% 28%
NET: Unenthusiastic 18% 22% 13%
Don’t know 7% 4% 3%

Net ‘enthusiasts’ would vote 56-23 to leave (the numbers are roughly reversed among the ‘neutrals’). 33% of those who want to leave stated that they were ‘10 – Very enthusiastic’. Just 11% of those who said that they want to remain recorded the same degree of enthusiasm. The most enthusiastic are also older. According to Gallup, questions regarding enthusiasm were much better indicators of the eventual election outcome in midterm and presidential election years in the United States.

Fundamental attitudes to the EU

Total Remain Leave
I think the European Union project is bad for Britain and Europe, Britain should pursue free trade and friendly cooperation outside the EU and I am almost sure to vote to LEAVE the EU 33% 1% 81%
I strongly support the European Union project, Britain’s future role should be to play as full a part in it as possible in it, and I am almost sure to vote to STAY in the EU 31% 71% 1%
I would like to leave the European Union but I am worried about the effects on jobs and living standards, so I may vote to STAY in the EU 18% 19% 14%
Don’t know 17% 10% 4%

Roughly one third of the British public is very hostile to the EU, one third is pro-EU, a fifth wants to leave but is worried about jobs and living standards, and a fifth doesn’t know (perhaps doesn’t care). In the 1970s, the EEC was seen as a modernising project and connected to Britain’s recovery from basket case status. Echoes of this were still there during the euro battle 1999-2002. This feeling seems to have died. Focus groups strongly support the data above and suggest that the financial crisis, the Greek euro crisis, and the migrant crisis all played an important part in changing sentiment.

If one looks at this crucial ‘swing’ fifth, they now break 59:41 for ‘remain’. This suggests that if the ‘leave’ campaign persuades these people that a ‘leave’ vote will be followed by a free trade deal and friendly cooperation, then the ‘leave’ campaign will win. The ‘remain’ campaign has many advantages, such as its grip on conventional wisdom in institutions such as the BBC and CBI (which were deeply wrong on the euro). Its fundamental position, however, clearly has significant weaknesses.

Can we build a ‘leave’ campaign that can persuade people of this crucial argument on jobs and living standards? It will need an unprecedented organisation and a coalition that extends far beyond the current eurosceptic world.

We need to explain why this 1950s bureaucracy is failing and how a ‘leave’ vote by Britain will help spark a much better political organisation for Europe. Ultimately, we need a European institutional architecture that a) can accommodate the Eurozone’s attempt to prop up the euro and build a political union, b) can allow the Eurozone and non-Eurozone countries to trade freely and cooperate in a friendly way, and c) helps much greater global cooperation on issues such as technological breakthroughs, a billion new people joining the global economy, and migration. The EU has neither the physical assets or legal structure it needs to cope with the forces changing the world. A ‘leave’ vote is a necessary but not sufficient condition for doing much better.

Ps. Those working for George Osborne, Boris Johnson, and other leadership candidates will ponder the Conservative voter figures. It is extremely likely that Conservative activist figures would be even more striking…


 

Added later.

This paper, A Behavioral Measure of the Enthusiasm Gap in American Elections (Hill, 2014), discusses the ‘enthusiasm’ issue and why US campaigns look at this question re differential turnout.

On the referendum #15: Good news, Cameron changes the question – and a new poll

Today the Electoral Commission said the question should be framed as stay/leave rather than yes/no. (They have given similar advice before.) The government knew about the announcement beforehand and immediately announced they agreed. This is good news.

Cameron has been persuaded that his original desire to be the YES campaign was an error. It is unclear to me whether this nudges things in his direction or not. There are reasonable arguments either way. I suspect it will not help either side much. More importantly, I think clarity about stay/leave will avoid the confusion that I had already noticed with Yes/No, so regardless of which side it helps (if any) it is better for the public debate for this element of confusion to be eliminated.

One of the reasons why we decided in June to revive the old ‘no’ campaign logo and branding from the euro campaign 1999-2002 was so that we could get going fast without having to spend a penny on branding and without having to worry about the question being changed as it went through Parliament. When we discussed it we thought it unlikely this would happen but worth guarding against, particularly given branding processes can be expensive as well as nightmarish. The announcement today therefore is unexpected good news because of the clarity and hasn’t cost us anything.

The referendum will rest on whether the third of the public that dislikes the EU and would like to leave are persuaded that they have little to fear in terms of their jobs and living standards and that a vote to STAY is at least as risky as a vote to LEAVE given the long-term dynamics of the EU grabbing more money and power every year and planning a new Treaty after the referendum. If they are so persuaded, we will win by at least 65%. If they are not, we will lose roughly 65:35. If they split 50:50 it will be close.

Now, few MPs have heard of the Five Presidents Report and the Commission’s plan for a new Treaty (part of the reason is that it was published at the same time as the Tunisia terrorist attacks so it got almost zero coverage). When the vote happens, most of the country will know about it. Now, almost nobody in the country has heard of the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights which gives the ECJ more power over Britain than the Supreme Court has over US states, and which Blair promised would have ‘no more legal effect than the Sun or the Beano‘. (NB. this is NOT the ECHR which is justiciable in the Strasbourg court). When the vote happens, most of the country will know about it. STAY will not seem like the safe status quo because it is not a safe status quo. The EU is inexorably changing as it always planned to do, adapting to the long-term plan for the euro to drive ‘political union’ – a plan that the Foreign Office understands very well but which it has masked for decades with propaganda about ‘3 million jobs’ and so on.

The choice is not between ‘a safe status quo’ and ‘a risky leap’. The choice is between whether you think it is riskier a) to keep giving away control and money to an organisation that cannot cope with the economic and technological forces changing the world, and cannot use the power it already has wisely yet wants even more power to prop up the euro, or b) to take back control and money and negotiate a new deal based on free trade and closer international cooperation with our European friends and other countries around the world.

NB. The 5 Presidents Report and the Commission’s timetable also opens up  a wild card option for Cameron that I will blog on soon…


UPDATE

Half an hour after writing the above I got this poll back from ICM.

Coincidentally, given today’s news, I asked ICM to ask a question over the weekend to probe attitudes.

The standard tracker question on the (now) ‘old’ official question shows 46(+2):35(-2) for YES, bang in the region where it has been for weeks.

We asked another question:

‘Which of the following best reflects your view?

A) I am not worried about the UK leaving the EU because I believe it can negotiate a free trade deal with the EU, and carry on cooperating in a friendly way from outside the EU.

B) I am worried about the UK leaving the EU because I believe that outside the EU it will not be able to negotiate a free trade deal and cooperate in a friendly way.’

The headline figure is 43:40 for (a), i.e. neck and neck (within margin of error).

If you look at the crossbreaks, it shows that the 43% who say YES break 76:14 for B, while the 35% who say NO break 90:4 for A.

This is interesting. Lots of polling shows the public divide roughly into a third definite OUT, a quarter to a third definite IN, and about a third who dislike the EU and would like to be out but are worried about leaving because of fears over jobs and living standards.

Today’s poll suggests that if more people are persuaded that we can get a new deal based on free trade and friendly cooperation, then the headline voting number could swing our way quite significantly.

Of course this will be hard. There is substantial fear that, I think, is unjustified. Whether you are pro/anti the EU it ought to be clear that Britain can have a free trade deal and cooperate from outside as other countries in Europe and elsewhere do.

All those who think like me that the EU cannot cope with the profound economic and technological transitions reshaping the world should reflect on this. We need to present a picture of how the world could be organised much better, with 1950s bureaucracies like the EU replaced with dynamic institutions that can adapt fast and fix their errors rapidly. If we sit around discussing ‘gene drives’ in Brussels committees the way we’ve sat around discussing the ludicrous CAP for fifty years, we are in big trouble. We deserve better and we can do much better than the EU. We need to explain how.

 

On the referendum #14: latest ICM poll, numbers move slightly toward NO but normal variation

ICM is doing an omnibus question regularly now on the precise referendum question.

HERE is a PDF of their latest poll of 2,000 people conducted over 21-23 August.

Headline figures: Yes 44 (-4), No 37 (+3), Don’t know 19. This change is probably normal variation in a random sample.

In this poll, Scotland’s figures are closer to the average: 49 – 30.

The strong lead for YES among ABs remains: 55(-5) – 30(+5).

On the referendum #13: new ICM poll shows growing support for Yes/In; couple of other thoughts on education and judgement

ICM is doing an omnibus question regularly now on the precise referendum question.

HERE is a PDF of their latest poll of 2,000 people conducted over 14-16 August.

Headline figures: Yes 48 (+2), No 34 (-2), Don’t know 19.

In this poll, Scotland has much more divergent figures than the previous one: 56-26. I assume this is a combination of a small sample (170) and normal statistical variance…?

The strong lead for YES among ABs is even stronger: 60(+2) – 25(-5).

Two other brief thoughts on the issue of why more educated people often make huge errors of judgement, perhaps the best example of which being the way in which the best educated were the most suckered by Soviet propaganda and most resistant to the truth about Stalin’s terror, the Ukrainian famine etc (see Orwell’s famous essays).

1. Thucydides and simplicity.

One of the best bits in Thucydides is his account of the civil wars that wracked Greece. In that account is this passage:

‘Thus revolution gave birth to every form of wickedness in Greece. The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature was laughed to scorn and disappeared… In general, the dishonest more easily gain credit for cleverness than the simple do for goodness; men take pride in one, but are ashamed of the other… At such a time, the life of the city was all in disorder, and human nature, which is always ready to transgress the laws, having now trampled them under foot, delighted to show that her passions were ungovernable, that she was stronger than justice, and the enemy of everything above her… When men are retaliating upon others, they are reckless of the future and do not hesitate to annul those common laws of humanity to which every individual trusts for his own hope of deliverance should he ever be overtaken by calamity; they forget that in their own hour of need they will look for them in vain… The cause of all these evils was the love of power, originating in avarice and ambition, and the party-spirit which is engendered by them when men are fairly embarked in a contest… For party associations are not based upon any established law nor do they seek the public good; they are formed in defiance of the laws and from self-interest…’  Book III, Jowett translation.

‘The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature…’ Intelligence is not just necessary for some things – in some areas such as maths and physics it is directly related to achievements. Politics is very different.

Thucydides reminds us that morality is not positively correlated with intelligence. Some modern evidence even suggests that more intelligent people are less compassionate (see my Essay).

2. Timescales and priorities.

A physicist emailed re my last blog to point out that richer and better educated people are less susceptible to physical disruption and economic disaster. Poorer people have to be more cautious.

Many people I know are very happy with the immigration policy of the last 15 years. They have gained a lot and see no risks to them. Their visits to doctors are unaffected. They hire cheap foreign nannies. They can afford to take positions based on moral signalling because they are cushioned against harsh reality – hence their vocal support for the euro at dinner parties while less educated people said things like ‘they’ll use it to put up prices like with decimalisation’. They have little or no idea what it’s like to struggle on £18,000 a year in a part of Birmingham that has been radically changed by immigration in a short period knowing one has no reserves to call on. The BBC and other influential institutions are dominated by such people so it is almost inevitable that they see issues like the EU in ways that seem distorted to others.

Another feature of richer people in my experience is that they tend to think that their greater wealth is a consequence of their virtues – they don’t seem to reflect much on the genetic roll of the dice. This is another subject…