writes DM director Stuart Coster
Westminster dwellers may have noticed some expensive new anti-Brexit poster vans trundling around the corridors of power. The campaign is reportedly also being replicated on billboards "across the country."
'Stop the Silence', runs the slogan. But a glance at the advertised website reveals only a deafening silence about who exactly is behind the campaign.
"The people are speaking," the theme self-contradicts. Although quite how they can speak isn't clear, given those pictured all appear to have their mouths stickered over.
So far, so odd. But look beyond the conflicted visuals and it appears that, somehow, these people are managing a muffled mumble about the EU referendum.
Apparently, they say, 'we' did not vote for "price hikes" (currency movements actually work both ways), "hate crimes" (nothing to do with Brexit, say the police), "brutal Brexit" (what even is that?) or "deal or no deal" (eh?).
The list continues on the campaign's website. More things 17.4 million people supposedly didn't vote for are "leaving the single market" (yes, we did), "WTO rules" (ie. trading like many other major non-EU economies), "losing our funding" (what part of 'net contributor' to EU funds did they miss?) and "losing our rights" (which rights, precisely?).
Such a lot of things 'we' apparently didn't vote for. Yet it seems no understanding about what we very clearly did.
Like an end to free movement, control over our laws and to halt vast payments into the dodgy EU budget that could be better spent by key public services like the NHS. All frontline Leave campaign messages, debated amply, endorsed by a clear majority, none of which can be delivered if we stay within the single market.
With messages so vague and weak that they miss their political targets by miles, Stop the Silence has that detached air of wealthy-yet-politically-inept client meets PR agency who've spent ten minutes googling the brief and, inevitably, come up with lines that have no depth or credibility.
Most shamefully of all, this campaign - just like Fearmonger Farron and his Liberal Democrats - deploys the politics of fear and division towards its vague objectives, by claiming there is a prospect of "losing our families".
In its frightening brevity and total, plucked-out-of-the-air, inaccuracy, it's an outrageous and base claim. No-one in government has suggested anything of the sort. In fact, back in January, Theresa May attempted to achieve a reciprocal guarantee for both EU and UK expats, her move only blocked reportedly by "one or two" EU leaders. Yet the government's intentions to resident EU nationals have been made crystal clear.
So who's behind this? The Stop the Silence twitter account claims the campaign is "The first national entirely crowdfunded campaign taking a message to Parliament." Except the only evidence of money raised on crowdfunder amounts to nowhere near what it would cost to take the action claimed. Sounds like more weak PR spin.
The posters feature a selection of mostly obscure logos, but one prominent link, perhaps tellingly so, on the campaign's website is to Campaign2018, the creatively-titled latest anti-Brexit outburst by Gina Miller.
Miller is the investment manager who was so concerned about the powers of parliament over the government that she originally supported the EU continuing to have huge, far less accountable power over both. Fresh from saying it's "over to the politicians now" and that she was going "back to her day job" following the conclusion of her Article 50 legal actions, she now says Brexit can't be left to the "too weak" politicians.
Still confused? It's all quite simple really. Extreme Remainers are floundering. They can't say what they really want - for the public's clear Brexit verdict in June last year to be ignored - lest they're confirmed as the anti-democrats they truly are.
Likewise they must also realise that no amount of opinion polling or drumming up public support is going to come near to matching the 17.4 million people who in June last year voted Leave - including, very clearly, to leave the migration, legal and cost implications of the single market.
Even more frustrating for the democracy refuseniks, now Article 50 has been triggered the prospect is remote of any mechanism being available within the two year negotiation deadline that can lead to Brexit being blocked. That article of the EU treaty, which they so admire, itself says that after two years the treaty will "cease to apply", deal or no deal, meaningful vote in Westminster or no meaningful vote. And Theresa May is hardly likely to agree to extend talks and take them even closer to a 2020 general election.
So instead of facing up to such realities, from the hardcore Remain rump we get meaningless guff from marketing agencies like these weak posters and a media procession of Blair, Heseltine, Major, Osborne and Branson to tell us yet again what a disaster Brexit apparently is. A desperate, tired and inevitably hopeless repeat of the elite PR campaign that lost Remainers the referendum in the first place.
If it makes some feel better to lavish cash ineffectually on law firms and PR agencies, then so be it. To be fair to them, supporting EU membership and having no interest in democracy is at least consistent, if only they could be more honest about such views, even with just themselves.
But a more sensible plan for grumpy Remainers would be this. Hold on to your cash, learn to respect democracy, campaign for Britain to rejoin the EU again if you must but, like the rest of the country, just try to move on.
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