The Telegraph has run a story this morning concerning one Jim Mellon, a wealthy man who plans to back the No to the EU campaign. If you’re thinking it’s a bit much for the Telegraph to write an article every time some rich person donates to the Get Out campaign, get used to it: we’ve got 15 more months of this at the very least.
The headline was interesting – it told us that the Get Out campaign plans to be an “anti-politics” one. Reading this was a good way to start my morning. Having worked on an “anti-politics” campaign myself in Yes to AV, I know how little anti-politics campaigns work. They sound good on paper – people hate Westminster right? But actually, the public still looks to politicians for guidance on political issues. So like on AV, when the No side had David Cameron and John Reid sharing a stage, saying that though they disagreed on a great many things, the future of the country was too important to play around with. This won the day over us lot putting forward “real people” saying that AV was going to be a gas.
I can already see how this is could all go for the Get Out campaign – again, because I’ve been in precisely the same position myself.
“Hello, BBC. So we’ve decided who we want to go up against George Osborne tonight. His name is Joseph Normal, and he runs his own bait and tackle shop in Margate.”
“Thanks for that, but we’ve already booked Farage.”
“But we don’t want Nigel to do it. We want this bait bloke.”
“We asked you five times for a politician. We want a politician tonight.”
“But we’re an anti-politics campaign. Real people, not nasty Westminster types.”
“Wonderful. Like I say, we’ve booked Farage.”
“And like I say, we don’t want Nigel speaking for us.”
“Interestingly, Nigel has a different view on that.”
Beyond the practical comms problem outlined in the skit above, the No campaign will have a genuine ideological problem in running an anti-politics campaign. So they want to demonise Westminster politics while simultaneously campaigning to get powers away from Brussels and give it to…..Westminster? Also, if the country votes No, who gets to decide what happens next? Oh yes, a bunch of politicians. They are playing themselves into a corner, one we’ve seen play out before.
If the No to Europe crew want to run a simulacrum of the Yes to AV campaign, I for one will applaud. I can give them the play book if they’d like it.