Anyone else enjoying the falling apart of the People’s Vote campaign? It’s one of the funniest news stories I’ve read in months. It’s like a soap opera. EastEnders with posh people.
And I’m not only chortling over it because I’m a Brexiteer who’s loving the Schadenfreude of seeing the kind of people who don’t respect my vote descend into bitching, backstabbing and Twitter turf wars.
No, even more mirthful than that is the issue around which PV is pulling itself apart: the question of whether it should present itself as an openly pro-Remain group or as a neutral outfit that just wants another EU vote because it really, really likes democracy.
I’m cracking up. Guys, I hate to break it to you, especially when your organisation is in meltdown, but everyone in the country knows you’re pro-Remain.
Did you really think there were people out there thinking to themselves, ‘Oh look, a nice group of middle-class people want to make sure we’re all certain about Brexit by giving us another vote, how lovely’? If you did, then you’re even more out of touch with normal people than I thought you were.
Yes, this is the story of the transformation of People’s Vote into the People’s Front of Judea, as Robert Peston describes it.
The Remainers who run PV — we know you’re all Remainers! — are gunning for each other. There are too many moneyed organisations and elite factions to discuss in depth here, but in a nutshell the clash is between people who want PV to say ‘Yep, we back Remain’ and people who want it to be neutral on the question of how we should vote in a second referendum. Even though it was never neutral. Ever. Obviously. But for now, let’s indulge this bizarre fiction of PV’s political neutrality.
In one corner, there’s Roland Rudd, PR mastermind and outgoing chair of Open Britain, one of the super pro-Remain groups that makes up the People’s Vote lobby. In the other corner are James McGrory and Tom Baldwin, PV’s director and head of comms respectively.
It is reported that Rudd has forced out McGrory and Baldwin, with immediate effect. But McGrory and Baldwin turned up to PV’s offices this morning and then refused to leave. Rudd and his people refused to enter until they vacated. Imagine two Home Counties mums staring each other down over the last jar of pesto in their local Waitrose and you have some idea of the tension enveloping PV this morning.
Everyone who’s anyone in the Remain world — we still know you’re all Remainers — is getting involved. Alastair Campbell is tweeting about it. Tony Blair is no doubt on the blower to the various protagonists. Gina Miller will be organising an emergency cocktails-and-canapés get-together to discuss the crisis as we speak.
Brexiteers, meanwhile, are allowing themselves a few chuckles over the fact that as Boris pushes for a General Election, and the Brexit stakes rise yet again, the key second-referendum campaign is collapsing into disarray. And no, we don’t feel bad about this. Watching the wealthy, well-connected people who have tried to thwart our democratic vote become consumed by ‘political differences’ is bloody beautiful, to be honest.
But here’s the thing, the really key thing. There aren’t any serious political differences in PV, not really. This bizarre spat is essentially over PR, over how PV should be spun to the public. Over whether it should state clearly that it favours Remain or whether it should pretend otherwise (that’s really what it would be doing) and say that it doesn’t mind if we vote Remain or Leave, it just wants a second referendum. Who do they think they would be kidding? I could have a lobotomy and still know the entire point of PV is to stop Brexit.
Much of the tension seems to have sprung from the March For Change rally in London in July, when some PV types gathered to express their love for the EU and the desire for second-referendum people to adopt a more openly pro-Remain position.
Some in PV circles said this rally was held at ‘the wrong time’ by ‘the wrong people’ and was giving ‘the wrong message’. They were worried that openly Remainer policies would alienate ordinary voters, especially Leavers. Just how dumb do they think Leavers are? The idea that we would align with PV in the belief that it is neutral on the EU is surreal.
Roland Rudd is actually the voice of reason in this matter. On the Today programme this morning he said:
‘This is an absurd argument, everybody knows we’re made up of people who want to remain.’
Exactly right. We all know this. It’s as plain as day. Who else apart from Remainers would want to re-run a free, fair, legal, democratic referendum in which Leave won? I don’t know a single Leaver who wants a ‘People’s Vote’ — they just want the people’s vote of 2016 to be respected.
So, to recap — this is a clash between second-referendum campaigners who want to be honest about what they are doing (Rudd and others) and second-referendum campaigners who want to be dishonest about what they are doing (the anti-Rudd group). I’m sorry, but what a motley crew. I will continue enjoying their disarray and arguing against their cynical efforts to overthrow the real people’s vote.
Thanks to the Courtesy of :