ConHome Diary: The 'Leave' Campaign Needs to Unite and Up Its Game
23 Apr 2016 at 09:10
If you are part of a campaign to try to say something, you don’t just have to win the argument, you have to win people’s hearts and minds. As usual, the Republican movement got it totally wrong yesterday on the Queen’s 90th birthday. Instead of wishing Her Majesty a happy birthday, they just carped and moaned from the sidelines. Yesterday was not a day for arguing about the future of the monarchy, or lack of it, it was a day for wishing a ninety year old lady a very happy day and thanking her for her service to the nation.
So will Jeremy Corbyn be meeting Barack Obama or not? On Monday we were told that “logistics” meant that a meeting might be difficult. On Tuesday it emerged that Obama didn’t actually want to meet Corbyn anyway. I suspect that Corbyn spinners had got to hear that the President might not be making time in his schedule so they got their retaliation in first. It was a pretty bad briefing, but we’re used to that.
Talking of the Labour leadership, they have also banned McDonald’s from taking a commercial stand at this year’s Labour Party conference, apparently on the basis that they use zero hour contracts and don’t recognise trade unions. The hand of John McDonnell was probably behind this decision. He has long been a vocal critic of the burger chain. The fact is that McDonald’s employs 85,000 people in this country. They do actually allow their employees to join unions, and they have moved away from zero hour contracts. Perhaps they will also ban the Cuba Solidarity campaign from having their usual stand. After all, the Cuban government bans trade unions. I wait with baited breath.
So the EU referendum debate grinds on. I’m actually interested in the subject and it’s already boring me rigid. Every day, the same scare stories, the same threats. And we’ve got nine more weeks of this, God help us. The only politician so far to articulate any kind of positive vision for the future is Michael Gove. And the trouble is, I don’t see it changing. The REMAIN side seem to have no positive vision at all of the opportunities available to Britain if we stay, which for many people says it all. The LEAVE side aren’t a whole lot better, and their problem is that all they can come out with is generalities which don’t have an awful lot of economic data behind them. It’s a bit like believing in God – you have the faith that God exists but you can’t prove it. LEAVE supporters have faith that things will be better but they have no way of proving it, and that is the main weakness of the PR in their campaign. So far REMAIN have proved very adept and scaring people that a plague of locusts will descend if we leave. LEAVE now need to up their game.
But what happens if Britain does indeed vote to REMAIN? Will the subject of joining the euro rear its ugly head again? Will we then face arguments for us to join a fully fledged United States of Europe. However much I hate the idea, if we vote to stay, the logic is much deeper integration, rather than maintaining our usual position of grudgingly moving as slowly as we can. Personally, I could never, ever support us joining the euro for all the reasons already articulated over the years. If you don’t have control over your currency, you don’t have control over your economy and by implication your country. William Gladstone put it like this 125 years ago…
“The finance of the Country is intimately associated with the liberties of the Country. It is a powerful leverage by which English liberty has been gradually acquired … It lies at the root of English liberty, and if the House of Commons can by any possibility lose the power of the grants of public money your very liberty will be worth very little in comparison … That powerful leverage has been what is commonly known as the Power of the Purse, the control off the House of Commons over public expenditure, the root of English Liberty.”
Gladstone ended with a final warning:
“If these powers of the House of Commons come to be encroached upon, it will be by tacit and insidious methods, and therefore I say that attention should be called to this.”
Quite. Some truths endure down the years. Like this one.