The Chairman of the so-called “People’s Vote” campaign for a second EU referendum has unwittingly provided us with what could be any such referendum’s Geldof Moment
If there was one image that defined the 2016 EU Referendum campaign – one which almost encapsulated whom, and not just what – we Leave-ers were having to fight against, it was this one. Remember it? “Sir” Bob Geldof, and a gaggle of his well-heeled and well-refreshed Remainer friends, mocking the Thames flotilla of pro-Leave fishermen from the comfort of their luxury yacht, provided and funded by the similarly arch-Remainer global banking giant Goldman Sachs.
The image worked so well for the Leave campaign, and on several levels.
The contrast between the Geldof gin-palace packed with evidently-affluent, designer-clad, champagne-quaffing, pro-EU cool London metropolitans, and the modest working craft of the fishermen hailing from such glamorous places as Hull, Cleethorpes, Lowestoft and Fleetwood, desperately concerned about their livelihoods in the ongoing decimation of their industry by the depredations of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy – but at whom the Remainer bubbly-guzzlers swore, shouted, jeered and V-signed in response.
The hypocrisy of Geldof himself, who hinted that his disgust at a vote for Brexit would make him leave the country – though omitting, curiously, to confirm that his disgust would be so intense as to make him call in at Windsor Castle en route to Heathrow, to drop off his by then surely newly-relinquished honorary knighthood.
The struggle of the fishermen to get their views and concerns heard and reported by a largely unsympathetic national media, while Geldof’s celebrity gave him privileged access to opinion-formers, decision-makers, and invitations to hector attendees at elitist, crony-corporatist boondoggles like the World Economic Forum, despite unresolved questions surrounding his own use of imaginative tax avoidance schemes, and his sometimes foul-mouthed reluctance to answer them.
For many people, it epitomised all that they loathed about the Remain campaign. Suggestions were even made that, given the level of revulsion it generated among voters who up till then were uncommitted, it may have been worth about half a million votes for Leave. If so, then as a stunt, it backfired spectacularly, and very satisfyingly so, too.
But as we know, in the two-and-a-half years since the Referendum result, the losing side, which has refused to acknowledge, much less accept, the largest democratic mandate ever delivered for one specific policy in British political history, has never stopped campaigning to for it to be diluted, ignored, or preferably reversed.
In its various guises, Continuity-Remain has continually sought to de-legitimise the vote and disparage the voters. Its leading political lights, superannuated Blairite, Liberal-Democrat, or soft-‘Conservative’ political has-beens like Major, Heseltine, Clarke, Clegg, Adonis, and of course Blair himself, have regularly trooped to Brussels and European capitals, alternating between begging the EU to impose harsh, even punitive, terms on Britain for deciding democratically to leave the anti-democratic supranationalist project, and begging it to be lenient so as not to alienate the regretful millions of voters allegedly distraught at what they have done and desperate to correct their historic mistake.
When, that is, those same leading lights have not been otherwise occupied in flooding the airwaves with ever more lurid predictions of economic disaster and societal breakdown, despite all their and their acolytes’ similar predictions in the run-up to the 2016 referendum having either failed to materialise or been shown to be 180° wrong.
In recent months, as the majority of MPs, equally horrified at the prospect of actually having to implement the instruction which, by 544 votes to 53, they voted to request the electorate to give them, have stepped up their own efforts to secure a second Referendum blatantly aimed at reversing it, Continuity-Remain’s risibly mis-named but extremely well-funded People’s Vote campaign, and its offshoots, have been ramped up.
Despite attempts by Continuity-Remain to present the People’s Vote campaign as a mass popular movement, it is, notwithstanding its name, essentially a metropolitan, elitist project. Its Chairman, and assumed conduit for much of the funding with which it appears remarkably well endowed, is none other than arch-Remainer and City PR shill Roland Rudd.
Rudd has a background which could hardly be more at variance with the People’s Vote campaign’s pretence to be a mass popular movement. He is, essentially a well-connected corporate lobbyist and Europhile who has, since the early 2000s, been a reliably-obliging provider of apocalyptic warnings of how much Big-Business and The City needs and depends on Britain’s EU membership, and of what disasters would inevitably ensue should we leave.
Rudd has been the main mover behind pro EU membership and pro Euro adoption lobby groups, and has long-standing connections to former European Commissioner and principal architect of Blair’s New Labour, Peter Mandelson. As has been recounted before, he worked with Mandelson to further the New Labour project, canvassed for Mandelson in the 2001 election, and Mandeslon is even godfather to one of Rudd’s children.
Rudd has previously been linked with the procurement from overseas governments of expressions of desire for Britain to remain in the EU which previous pro-EU occupants of No 10 Downing Street have no doubt found extremely helpful. He campaigned hard in the early 2000s for the movement agitating for Britain to join the euro, and with much the same apocalyptic warnings about what would happen if we didn’t as are coming now about what would happen if we exited the EU altogether.
Incredibly, he was still at it as late as 2008 and 2009, arguing that the slump in sterling justified a re-visiting of the alleged benefits of Euro membership and extolling its signal success.
This, then, is the chairman of the People’s Vote campaign. As Establishment-Elite Europhile a figure as you could hope to find. No wonder the most frequent criticism of the campaign is that it is a movement primarily for the rich losers in the 2016 Referendum who can’t believe they lost and want another go.
The narrow, largely metropolitan pro-EU elitist background of the leadership of the People’s Vote campaign, ameliorated only when it descends into left-wing culture-war identity politics, has not stopped it trying some classic astro-turfing, such as grossly exaggerating the size of demonstrations calling for a second vote, and over-reporting the extent of support for one. And if it is really a ground-up, popular movement, where, exactly, is the money coming from? Because its recent spending belies that claim.
This past week, however, it has all started to unravel. Following earlier rumours that all was not sweetness and light within the camp, followed by BuzzFeed‘s Alex Wickham’s revelations of splits and infighting within the movement over tactics between MPs coalescing around Chuka Umunna and senior campaign officials reportedly including Rudd himself, on Wednesday 3rd January, the Left’s poster-boy Owen Jones broke cover.
The official People’s Vote campaign, he said, was “an absolute disaster“, undermining the case for another vote. The New Statesman‘s George Eaton weighed in to report the damning verdict of a “Labour insider”:
“The Peoples Vote campaign has a worst of all worlds strategy. It’s fronted in the media by Blairites who are deeply unpopular with voters but knew how to win stuff. Its back room is run by Milibandites who are less elitist but don’t know how to win stuff.”
Ouch! “Conservative” MP and ardent anti-Brexiteer Sarah Wollaston detected a left-wing conspiracy to derail a second vote, while Labour ardent anti-Brexiteer Steven Doughty detected a right-wing conspiracy to derail it. Involving largely the same people.
And all ignoring the latest indications suggesting that considerable numbers, possibly even a majority, of Labour MPs, including the front bench, will oppose a second vote, and that there isn’t a majority for a second referendum in the country. Finally, the cross-party clutch of Remainer MPs lined up in sombre climbdown formation to announce that there would be no amendment calling for a second referendum tabled by them in the Commons’ debates and motions this coming week.
The real nadir for the People’s Vote movement’s shambolic week, though, had already happened. On the morning of Tuesday last, 22nd January, came this absolute gem, and courtesy of the BBC, no less: as unlikely a source of embarrassment for any anti-Brexit, pro-EU campaign as anyone could possibly imagine.
Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The optics, to use the current politico-media vernacular, could hardly have been be worse. For the chairman of the so-called “People’s Vote” movement, Establishment-Elite Europhile Roland Rudd, was at Davos.
Davos, that annual schmooze-fest of the globalist crony-corporatist oligarchy: where the great and the (mainly) not-so-good of internationalist (or preferably supranationalist – avoids so much of that tiresome nation-state level “democracy” stuff, you see) “Liberal”-“Progressivism” meet to decry the growth of “populism” as they network furiously over Caesar Salads at £43.50 a pop.
Davos, where as the Telegraph‘s Jeremy Warner put it, “the high priests of multinational-corporatism are now so strongly identified with Remain as to make the two virtually indistinguishable“.
Davos, into which descended 1,500 private jets discharging the global elite to lecture us on the importance of “stopping catastrophic climate-change”, aka enriching Big-Green crony-corporatism with eco-subsidies paid by environmental taxes and levies on energy consumers.
Davos, which no fewer than seven of Theresa May’s Cabinet clearly had to attend, despite Britain needing to replicate 30+ trade deals with countries around the world, with the clock ticking down to 29th March.
Davos, seemingly oblivious to the fact that, as Douglas Carswell put it, voters have come to realise that Davos-style technocratic “liberalism” is part of the problem.
Davos, which, as explained by Tim Worstall, gives Oxfam the chance for its annual whinge about global inequality to CEOs paying themselves increasingly stratospheric multiples of their employees’ lowest salaries, while completely misreading the research that forms the basis of its argument.
Davos, where your schedule will most likely include, suggested Reaction‘s Iain Martin, “vegan cocktails with that hedge fund guy who wants to build an ark in Central Park to save all the animals from climate change“
Davos, so aptly described by the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Philip Booth as “the gathering that perpetuates the myth that economic welfare is promoted by ‘experts‘“, and “the perfect environment for ‘crony capitalism’ to flourish. . .a huge magnet for politicians to work alongside leaders of largest businesses and other vested interests to devise yet more regulations, interventions, and barriers to entry that will undermine competition“.
Davos, whose ethos was brilliantly captured here by Andrew Neil:
That Davos. That’s where the “People’s Vote” chairman, Roland Rudd, joined us from. As Spiked‘s Tom Slater summed it up: “the grassroots campaign for a ‘final say’ on Brexit, brought to you by the global economic elite”.
It didn’t take very long for journalists and prominent Continuity-Remainers (frequently the same thing) along with supporters of the “People’s” Vote – (who was it who participated in 2016’s genuine EU Referendum? Martians? Lizards?) – to recognise the implications of Chairman Rudd’s gaffe.
As well they might. Because, should it come to a 2nd EU Referendum, those 11 words of a BBC presenter could possibly the greatest PR gift that could have been handed to a Re-Leave “Tell Them Again!” campaign.
“The Chairman of the People’s Vote campaign joins us from Davos” could be its equivalent of Geldof and his rich Remain pals sneering and jeering from their luxury gin-palace on the Thames at working-class fishermen legitimately concerned for their livelihoods. It might even be worth another half-million votes.
Feel free to take a copy of the image below. Something tells me it might just be worth keeping. How does that old saying attributed to Napoleon Bonaparte go? Oh yes. . . .
“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake”
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