The Remain campaign disconnect

Janet Daley discusses the peculiarly British response to the killing of an MP, suspending campaigning but also how the threats and stupidity of the Remain camp derailed themselves.

In truth, what became clear in the hours and days after this crime were the common humanity of the British people and the natural decency of the country’s institutions. The immediate, unanimous decision to suspend campaigning on the referendum; the expressions of obviously sincere sympathy and support from all sides of the House; and the decision by the major parties not to contest the by-election which will result from the death of a Labour MP: here was the traditional British character as I have come to know it. It was quite extraordinary to see politicians who had been bashing seven bells out of each other only moments before, instantly restored to benign civility.

This was the real revelation: not the shocking appearance of a single, isolated individual who seemed to be filled with hate, but the response of everyone else.  This is not a vicious country full of antagonism and resentment. It could only seem that way to somebody who sat alone in front of a computer all day – which, of course, is precisely what unstable, isolated individuals are inclined to do.

And that brings us back to the substance of the great debate that must now be reignited. How is it that those very politicians who reacted to a startling tragedy with such immediate, faultless responsiveness to the national mood, could have been failing for weeks to show the slightest understanding of how their own countrymen think?

That’s a very good question.

Almost from the off, and certainly since the going got rough, the Remain leadership in Downing Street has given out what seemed an almost explicit message that they know nothing about the people they govern – and what they do know, they don’t like. This strikes me as bizarre, as well as deeply wrong-headed. How can these politicians, who have famously come through the most quintessentially British educational institutions and established channels of national life, possibly be so ignorant (and unappreciative) of the instincts and character of their electorate?

It’s a bit like the flag debate but with much more serious consequences, that may well include David Cameron being knifed.

Perhaps I am at an advantage here, having been born somewhere else. When you adopt a new country as your home, you are inclined to be peculiarly observant of its population because you want to adapt your behaviour to fit in. What struck me from the beginning was a quality that requires rather a lot of adjectives: calm, rational, tolerant, grown up, undaunted, and quietly brave.

I have seen that subtle virtue in play many times over a lifetime here. Under the truly terrifying wave of IRA bombings, when virtually nobody flinched or even altered their daily habits and when, most movingly, the population evinced almost no trace of anti-Irish prejudice. (A fashion for fairly benign Irish jokes was as far as it got.) I saw it again after the 7/7 terror bombings, when the population grieved but did not panic, and again manifested almost no hostility to the British Muslim community. So I now have a very firm idea of what the British are like – and they are not going to be bullied or frightened like silly children.

When somebody tells them that the world will come to an end if they do not do as they are told, their first response is to laugh, because they have been tested before and know they can survive, and the second is to become suspicious: why are these people trying to scare me? What’s in it for them? Hence, the conspiracy theories about elites and self-serving vested interests. If you have a persuasive positive case, you do not – thinks the voter – throw a sheet over your head in a darkened room and go: “Woooo, woooo.”

The anti-TPPA protestors all acted the same way. Now if you mention the TPP to people they ask what you are talking about.

Perhaps, as I say, coming from somewhere else, I note and appreciate these things more than those for whom they are normal and predictable. But I am still amazed by the idiotic mistakes that have been made. How could David Cameron and George Osborne not have known any of this: not have understood that they were not intimidating voters but insulting them? This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “out of touch”.

Yes, utterly surprising. Labour here springs to mind every time they whinge about the voters being tricked by John Key. When they do that they are telling voters they are retarded and that they know best. The voters for three elections in a row have said otherwise.

As the warnings became more palpably absurd, they were replaced by threats, culminating in a particularly nasty one for Brexit-inclined pensioners: the promised triple lock on state pensions, which had been an article of faith with Mr Cameron since the beginning of his premiership could be withdrawn if the old gits had the temerity to vote the wrong way. I thought that was about as low as it could go, until George Osborne came along with his Punishment Budget which would, if it ever got through Parliament, lock the country into a loop of Greek-style recession. That really went well. I have never seen a politician explode so spectacularly. There weren’t even any pieces left lying around afterwards, just a kind of sticky residue.

This disconnect with the people has confirmed the widely accepted view of the Cameron-Osborne Tory leadership as – how to put this? – rather odd. On the one hand, they are so self-consciously modern and anti-traditional that they made gay marriage one of their flagship policies. But on the other, they seem so loftily contemptuous of the real‑life concerns of ordinary people that they make comic misjudgments about the effects of their public pronouncements.

Years ago, I worked with someone who was a habitual liar. He would blithely give colleagues completely false and conflicting reports about events and office conversations. We would all, of course, compare notes and discover the clumsy deceptions (“But he told me that you said…” etc, etc), which rendered the whole strategy demonstrably useless. But strangely, it never seemed to occur to him that we were able to do this: talk among ourselves and come to our own conclusions about what was really happening.

In a peculiar way, the Remain leadership seems to have the same flawed – almost childlike – illusion. They appear to think that we will simply believe whatever they tell us however much it conflicts with our own lived experience. They may be in for a surprise.

Those last two paragraphs sound suspiciously like a certain left-wing blogger more known for being wrong than right and his kite-flying over polls he has neither seen nor heard about in real life. His fanciful predictions and prognostications in order to generate a narrative will soon come tumbling down when the next reliable polls come out. Then he will, once again, be shown up for the fool he is.


– The Telegraph

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.