I thought I would let the dust settle on the latest head-to-head twixt Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage before putting my two-pennyworth forward for consideration. For those who did not watch or who would like to refresh their memories:
It cannot be denied that Farage has an ‘appeal factor’ – he is not an Oxbridge-career-politician-who-has-never-had-a-real-job, he presents an image of being-one-of-us and projects an ability whereby he seems to be able to talk to us as one of us – and thus it could be said he has ‘charisma’.
That is on the plus side – unfortunately where he is found most wanting is in his inability to concentrate on important detail and to recognise an open goal when presented with one.
In the debate last night Clegg raised the tired old canard about Norway being governed by fax – yet Farage could have killed Clegg’s argument stone dead by pointing out that, for example, Norway has no vehicle industry but sits on the United Nations body (UNECE) that decides such matters as the size of wing mirrors on vehicles, having a voice in the formation of such global rules while the United Kingdom, with a sizeable vehicle industry, has no voice whatsoever, being subservient to the European Union which speaks for all 28 Member States. Farage could also have made the point that far from being governed by fax, Norway is in the position of already knowing what ‘rules’ the EU is about to bring in having already had a voice in their formation. Farage could also have made the point that Norway can refuse to implement any EU ‘law’ – as they did with the 3rd Postal Directive, ie Norway has the power of veto, which the United Kingdom does not possess.
While Bagehot reckons that Farage is all ‘piss and wind’ (apologies for the use of the vernacular and needless to say I paraphrase); Janet Daley reckons that he has ensured the British public will no longer accept a cosmetic fudge of any new terms: their awareness of what is at stake in our present relationship with EU institutions will be heightened by Farage. If only that were true.
What is missing in this entire debate on the UK’s membership of the European Union are the two matters of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’ ,at least where the MSM is concerned – and, also unfortunately, where the political class are concerned: including Farage. For sure, Farage prattles on about the need for the British people to have the ability to govern themselves – but seeks not to discuss how that should be done. In that respect Farage is no different to those he castigates in that he is a firm advocate of parliamentary democracy and the system of representative democracy. If Farage is to present himself and his party as ‘the alternative’ then the question has to be put to him as to where is the alternative twixt the present political class and his political class; to which the answer can only be: none – they both wish to govern us and thus view us as no better than serfs.
It is good to see that the ‘penny has finally dropped‘ with The Harrogate Agenda that the change they wish to see in our democracy viz-a-viz membership of the European Union are so entwined as to be inseparable. That that realisation is most admirable does however present another problem – namely how to make that message resonate and become ingrained in the British ‘psyche’. It is here that I have to return to the point I made in this post- added to which the ‘message’ of the ‘Out’ campaign is disparate; it has no central ‘message’. When considering that those such as Better Off Out appear to be content campaigning for the cessation of the UK’s membership of the EU, they offer no alternative to the status quo – in other words they fail to tackle the subjects of ‘sovereignty’ and ‘democracy’. Witness the fact that one of the finalists of the IEA/Brexit competition is one Rory Broomfield - a director of Better Off Out and The Freedom Association – in a competition that is obviously skewed to ‘reasons economic’ for cessation of the UK’s membership of the EU – and which is totally ignoring matters of sovereignty and democracy (hence the exclusion of the submission by Richard North?).
It would appear that Nigel Farage, fresh from his triumph over Nick Clegg, is ‘cashing in’ on same with a live phone-in for Telegraph readers at 1pm tomorrow. You can watch Phone Farage live here. To take part, email email@example.com with your question. One can only hope he manages to ‘up his game’?
So why is it that those involved in a campaign, one with a single aim, are unable to understand – and accept – what is the ‘core’ reason for said campaign? Are we talking ‘egos’ here – and if so, do not a few heads need to be gently ‘banged together’? When the voice of any campaign is ‘splintered’, it is doomed to fail – which can only mean that any referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU is as good as lost before it has begun.
Just a few thoughts…………………………………..
Update: And another open goal Farage missed - Leon Clifford reminds us that Farage’s comment about the need for another Manchester was also not hitting the point – we will in time not need another Manchester – rather more space akin to Belgium.