Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

What If: (best move for #Remain)?

Today we are told that Cameron and Osborne are for a while stepping back from the Remain campaign:

Labour may be taking centre stage today, but Chancellor George Osborne has still been on the campaign trail in Liverpool. He was asked by the BBC whether a degree of panic within the Remain campaign had prompted the “Labour fightback”.

“We want to make sure as we approach this vital vote… that all the voices are heard, not just the Conservative government voices – important as they are – but also the voices of the Labour Party, the voices of the union movement,” he said.

“So you will hear lots of these voices now in the final run in to this referendum because people need to know that all sorts of different political parties, all sorts of different political opinions, all the unions, businesses, the works, we all agree on this.”
BBC News Website, 13 June 2016 | EU referendum campaign latest: Vital that all pro-EU voices are heard, says George Osborne

Which makes me wonder; what might be the best thing that could happen for the Remain Campaign?

What if?

What if Cameron and Osborne came out “for Brexit”?

Would such a move detoxify the Remain campaign – and would it make enough Brexit-leaning Labour voters reconsider how they might vote?

There is a suggestion that Cameron and Osborne’s appearances are having a negative effect because they make the remain campaign look like an establishment conservative campaign and this is turning off those who are anti-establishment as well as Labour voters whose most intense dislike of the Conservatives is reserved for Cameron and Osborne.

As if Buffo, Gove and Grayling etc. are not also establishment – and Farage used to be a commodity broker!

Without Cameron and Osborne might the “silent majority” of our political class – Greens, Liberals, Socialists, Nationalists, etc. be heard? And would we listen? Would it make a difference (remember Conservatives only had minority support at the General Election – even adding in the UKIP vote would not quite give them a majority)? If there was a straight fight between:

  • UKIP, Euro-septic Conservatives, a few Euro-septic Labour, plus some Ulster voters and
  • Euro-phile Conservatives, most Labour, practically all Lib Dems and Nationalists, plus some Ulster voters

What might the result be?

The other parties know that being associated with the Tories is toxic: ask the Lib Dems post Coalition – or Scottish Labour post the Independence Referendum. Cameron seems to have assumed leadership of the remain campaign and thus excluded other voices. Unlike the leave campaign – which has a sort of “bad sibling” (Leave.eu) for the less mainstream members, the remain campaign is nominally united – albeit the majority dare not speak its name.

I originally advocated that Cameron should stand back from the campaign – even though I could not suggest who should step up as leader. Perhaps, at this late stage, Remain does not need a public “leader” but a number of heavy hitters speaking out on roughly the same themes. Corbyn, on The Last Leg (Channel 4) last Friday made the very valid point that Labour’s reasons for wanting to stay were quite different from Cameron and Osborne’s reasons. As  long as the non-toxic Remainers can avoid aggressively contradicting each other, does it matter if they are presenting a kaleidoscope of reasons for remaining?

I am not sure that a “Cameron/Osborne free” week will be sufficient. That is why I am wondering if they should actually defect to Leave.

So, what if?

Leave might reject them!

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