Recent days have brought a lot of huffing and puffing on the topic of putting right the Brexit damage and restoring Britain to EU membership.
Exploring theories with multiple options is a valuable exercise, but like many brain-storming sessions, the eventual conclusion ends up being not too far from the status quo. Essentially, politics is very much about marketing and needs to be approached as such.
The single biggest factor impacting on my view and that of others has been the registration of VOLT, a Pan-European political group, as a UK political party.
Although VOLT is a superb organisation, contributing to continued cohesion of the EU 27, it’s latest move is a real threat to the UK securing electoral support for reentry to the EU. To all but the politically naive, it will be immediately obvious that the intervention of an offshoot of a Brussels based political organisation will be a gift from heaven for Brexiteers and marketing disaster for supporters of the core initiative.
There needs to be a very clear separation between the supported Rejoin party and any suggestion of foreign influence, within or without the EU.
Having established the need for a clean UK image, the next marketing imperative has to be rethinking on product labelling. ‘Rejoin’ may be descriptive of the final objective, but it has become too emotive to have the widest achievable appeal. The label needs to more accurately describe the intended process and that will be conditioned as much by the EU as by us.
‘The Road back to Prosperity – Renegotiate-Restore or Repair-Rejoin’ might be a starting point for thought. It describes a natural process to get into the Single Market and Customs Union, restoring supply chains and trade, and eventually regaining membership. It would offend fewer doubters. It needs work, but practical political thinkers will get the drift and have ideas based on the theme.
For the purpose of this exercise I shall continue to use ‘Rejoin’ because it’s familiar to readers.
In the absence of a totally new Party with a Macron-like figure driving it, I see the only really realistic lead option as the Lib Dem’s.
Simply because they are already very Pro-Europe and have the appropriate national organisation in place. Organisation is of prime importance and it would take many years for a successor party to build up a similar base.
FORGET previous squabbles! This is not about reliving history, it’s about securing a vehicle that can get us to the desired destination. The old personalities are gone. Those hung up on those bye-gone events need a software restoration’.
The problem immediately obvious to many is that the Lib Dem’s still suffer prevarication within the Party. They have a ‘tired’ leader, a nice man, but one unable to enthuse members or the public, and there is no obvious replacement in sight. However, spreading the Party ‘Rejoin’ ambition does not have to be limited to Lib Dem MPs. With a strong Rejoin message, other prominent politicians will step up to promote this issue, if not the entire manifesto. A further factor is that a good showing in the local elections could add customer appeal.
Turning to the manifesto for a moment, the party representing Rejoin will need to have rejoin as core policy, its USP, but it must be supported by strong mainstream policies. New parties have an obvious difficulty in that regard.
Turning to branding ‘ Rejoin the EU’ is certainly too heavy for many fringe supporters to swallow as one dose. Moreover, voters inclined to give support would rightfully doubt the ability to deliver and conversion of that sentiment to criticism would hamper progress.
In order to get the sort of numbers that one would need would involve not only securing the votes of current anti-Brexit voters, but a good number who were once convinced of the value of Brexit, but have since suffered or witnessed events that have impacted on their thinking. They need leading back stage by stage, not driving back up the cliff face.
It’s important to note that planning to move back in increments is not giving anything up time-wise. It’s realistic. It’s the only way it could happen anyway.
Probably the best way to see a path forward in this type of dilemma is to think about what one would do if one was still running a company and was confronted by a similar situation.
A prime consideration is that there are a lot of Brexit voters who are already suffering and recognising betrayal. Lorry drivers face fines of £300 for entering Kent without a permit. Fishermen find that their ‘sunny upland’ comprises the smelly glow from fish rotting because their market has been removed by Brexit. Industrial workers are seeing broken supply chains that will, probably sooner rather than later, cost them their jobs.
It’s a consideration that the first tranche are likely to be educated intelligent people making decisions on evidence rather than emotion. Such people need careful nurturing and under the ‘Poacher turned Gamekeeper’ syndrome, they can become a powerful sales force.
That the Brexit situation will get worse as new problems arise is pretty obvious. The solution for the party with the guts to get off the fence will be to go forward pledging to:
- Reopen trade negotiations with the EU to secure a return to the single market and customs Union, thus restoring supply lines and established trade links. That will better secure jobs and slowly stop the rot.
- Take action to restore national security by returning to the EU institutions governing: space, medicines, crime, security, Erasmus etc, and
- sit down with the EU Commission to start talks on eventual full membership of the EU.
A manifesto package of that nature promptly updates and validates itself every time a Brexit screw up emerges.
Even the first stage a package offers several real benefits:
- It removes the NI border problem and recognises the importance of the GFA.
- The policy adoption and progress towards implementation could change the balance of the drive for independence in Scotland and thus help secure the Union.
- The first element would simply deliver what Vote Leave promised, an important selling point..
Were I not 82 years of age and a walking medical experiment, I would be seeking to promote this from a political platform. As it is I can only furnish ideas and sit back and watch the scrap.
Quite naturally, the whole picture would change if SKS and the many opposing factions within the Labour Party got together and decided to respect the views of the majority of Labour voters.