Groundhogs – thousands of them …
It was Groundhog Day in the HoC – it’ll be Groundhog Day in the coming GE. That’s not only because Labour and the Tories are going to fight the same old political battles, with Johnson offering ‘tax cuts’ in his Manifesto, see e.g. here (paywalled.) It’s because the Tories and their supporters in the MSM have started to fight the same old “Vote Farage – get Labour” battle after Nigel Farage and Richard Tice launched the campaign of TBP yesterday.
You can watch the whole thing here, starting about 25 minutes in. The speeches by Richard Tice, Anne Widdecombe and Claire Fox are well worth watching, especially as the MSM barely mention them.
Generally, the reports in the mostly partisan MSM are hugely dismissive, There’s a lot to go through – but what a surprise: the main points in these reports are that Farage offered a Leave Alliance to Johnson with the headlines shouting that Johnson has rejected that proposal. Non-paywalled reports are here and here, paywalled ones are here and here.
The other point the MSM writers make is as expected: TBP ‘will split’ the Leave vote and/or hand victory to Corbyn and thus ‘mess up Brexit’. Just look at this:
“By his [ Farage’s] refusal to co-operate with the Tories, he risks thwarting Brexit, the central purpose of his entire political career. At the very moment when there is a golden opportunity to elect a government fully committed to British independence from the monolithic European super-state, his intransigence may sabotage the cause. Doesn’t Farage realise that with Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, this country has the best chance to break free? Doesn’t he realise that the idea of Johnson ditching the withdrawal agreement he recently secured from Brussels – which Farage is demanding – is an impossibility?” (link)
That was Leo McKinstry in the DM, making it as plain as a pikestaff: Farage and TBP must kowtow to the Tories and stand aside. If that’s not an ‘alliance’ of sorts then I don’t know … Also – does Mr McKinstry not know that no incoming new government is bound to the decisions made by the previous one? RemainCentral’s editorial, promoting the same ‘view’, starts thus:
“Trust Nigel Farage to wreck the start of Boris Johnson’s election campaign. Hours after the prime minister posted a video of himself filmed in the back of his official car, the Brexit Party leader emerged to issue a blunt threat. Unless Mr Johnson agreed to abandon his Brexit deal by November 14 the Brexit Party would field candidates in every constituency. That is a price for an electoral pact that Mr Johnson cannot possibly pay […]. Yet there is no doubt that Mr Farage’s threat to split the Leave vote makes Mr Johnson’s own electoral challenge considerably more difficult.” (link, paywalled)
Oh dear! TBP is expected to accomodate the Tories even unto the launch of their campaign – really? In the DT – formerly known as ‘Torygraph’ – Ms Strimpel writes:
“Mr Johnson cannot do that [drop the deal], as Mr Farage well knows. Sealing a deal with the EU, despite its flaws, has helped to unify the Conservative Party and finally give it a decent chance of winning a majority. There simply aren’t enough votes to be gained from becoming the “no-deal only” party. That is why Mr Johnson thought better of it. And he does not need general election advice from the seven-time loser Mr Farage.” (paywalled link)
Well, if she thinks that it’s Johnson’s policies rather than the prospect of losing their comfy seats on the green benches that has ‘united’ the Tories, then I’m sure she’s happy to buy London Bridge when offered. And do note that, as we’ve been saying all along, a proper Brexit is of no significance in the Tories strategy to retain their seats. The former Labour MP Tom Harris writes in the same vein:
“This is an agreement [‘The Deal’], remember, that has united the whole Conservative Party and brought on board former rebels such as Steve Baker, who leads the Eurosceptic European Research Group (ERG) of MPs. Baker, who previously supported some kind of pact with the Brexit Party, now opposes one. So in demanding the scrapping of this deal, Farage is asking us to believe that not a single Tory MP is a genuine supporter of Brexit, whereas he remains the only true believer, the keeper of the Brexit flame.” (paywalled link)
Mr Harris should get out more! Firstly there are the statements by Mr Tice, by Ms Widdecombe and Ms Fox as well as by Mr Farage, that ‘no Party “owns Brexit”, not even TBP’. I wonder if the Tories understand that?
As for the argument that even the ERG now supports “The Deal” – has he not seen the thousands of tweets and comments on this cave-in, by Mr Baker especially, only reinforcing the slogan “never trust a Tory”, that Tory voters are already turning to TBP in droves?
The Tories’ strategy is to be offering everything to both Leave and Remain voters. Their election strategist isn’t Mr Cummings but an Aussie, Mr Levido (no, I dunno him either, he’s a protege of Mr Lynton Crosby who ran the Tory election campaigns and is credited with inventing the ‘dead cat strategy’). This is what they’ve come up with:
“The key messages, which have been tested by Mr Levido and Michael Brooks, the Tories’ pollster, will centre on Labour and the Lib Dems delaying Brexit while saying that a vote for Nigel Farage is a vote for Jeremy Corbyn. There will be no more talk of a no-deal Brexit — that is being excised entirely from the Tory manifesto. It won’t be the slogan but Mr Levido’s appeal to voters could be summed up as: Vote Tory to make it all go away.” (link, paywalled)
Their strategy, in a nutshell, is to rely on Brexit fatigue amongst the electorate while handing out sweeteners to keep Corbyn out. In case this doesn’t work, it’ll be the fault of TBP and Farage. Meanwhile, some Tories welcome TBP standing because, they firmly believe, this will attract Labour voters and thus allow the Tory candidate to squeeze in:
“Nigel Evans, Conservative MP for Ribble Valley in Lancashire, told The Sun today: “I want Nigel Farage and his people to stand. Brexit Party candidates will take votes off Labour and we’ll come right through the middle in a load of diehard working-class seats across the north.” Lord Hayward, a Conservative pollster, also argues that working-class Brexiteers are much more tribal than middle-class Remainers, who are happier to vote tactically. “In large swathes of the Midlands, North, and Wales, Brexit voters are ex-Labour voters and would rather die in a ditch than vote Tory,” he said. “There are therefore many marginals in those areas where the presence of a Brexit candidate would help the Tories, not hinder them.” (link, paywalled)
There’s more, with some interesting observations from pollsters and from John Curtice, the polling guru:
“Sir John Curtice […] said that for the Tories to win it was crucial for them to prevent Mr Farage from gaining traction. […] With more Leave voters preferring no deal to Mr Johnson’s deal, Sir John said: “All depends on the effectiveness with which the arguments are pursued by Johnson and Farage.” Sir John said it was “pretty obvious” that Mr Farage’s plan would hurt Mr Johnson more than Mr Corbyn, with his party taking twice as many voters from the Tories as from Labour. We don’t know what these ex-Labour voters would do in the absence of the Brexit Party, that’s the crucial question”. (link, paywalled)
Perhaps they’d stay at home, as some have suggested? Perhaps attracting them with tax cuts would help? After all, ‘Brexit’ is off the Tory election table … There’s more:
“Anthony Wells, YouGov’s director of political research, said that it was impossible to tell how many constituencies Mr Farage would cost the Tories. “We shouldn’t forget that it is the Remain vote that is really split,” he said. A senior Tory source said […] “If you directly attack Farage you risk alienating the voters you need to support you. Really the only thing that works is to frame it as a vote for Labour.” (link, paywalled)
In other words, they don’t know, but using the tried-and-trusted ‘vote Farage – get Corbyn’ will work again, as it did in 2015, won’t it! Also, take note of the expression’s frame’ – that’s now going to replace “narrative” in the coming analyses.
As the GE has now officially started, expect Groundhog Day in the MSM until the 12th of December. It’s for us to put our Brexit-spoke into the wheels of those Tory strategists, those Labour minions and their useful idiots, not forgetting the dear LibDems, whose ranks are now swelled by the former Tory, arch remainer and Times columnist Matthew Parris.
Perhaps some learned political commentator can explain to us peasants why it is ok for Remainers to form alliances and advise about tactical voting while Leavers must never do so because: Farage!
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