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Thursday, April 07, 2016 

Scream and scream and scream. (With added Dodgy Dave bonus!)

A long time ago before Channel 4 turned into the same wasteland as all the other main terrestrial channels it made an effort to put on some slightly alternative programming late at nightOne such show was Pets, a forerunner of BBC3's Mongrels, meant to be a sort of parody of Friends only not really at all.  I bring this up only because the entire Brexit campaign seems based around the line spoken by Hamish, after he, Trevor and the parrot are turned into living mummies by a curse.  "I think we have two options.  Option one: we continue to stay calm and think logically until we work out how to free ourselves.  Or we scream and scream and scream like girls until someone rescues us".

And by god, can the Leavers scream.  And whine.  And moan.  And complain.  Everything is a betrayal.  Every argument that points out there will be huge uncertainty and years of negotiations if the referendum results in a victory for the leave side, which is not a subjective conclusion but an objective reality is dismissed as scaremongering, Project Fear 2.0.  However dodgy some of the statistics and claims presented by the remain side are, it is absurd that more than a few on the leave side continue to pretend as the Yes campaign did in the Scottish referendum that everything will be swiftly sorted out amicably and business-like once a leave vote happens.

The latest outrage is, of course, the government's decision to send out leaflets to every household on why it believes we should stay in.  This will cost £9m in total, much to the faux disgust of Michael Gove, who exclaims on how at a "time of austerity" spending such a sum on "pro-EU propaganda" cannot be justified.  Others predictably are complaining about how the government seemingly promised not to put out such a document, although those promises covered only the main period of campaigning once the period of purdah has begun.  More whinging still focuses on how the money spent on this one mailshot is more in total than the official campaigns will be allowed to spend during the main campaign, and how this obviously gives the remainers an unfair advantage.

Then there's the outright paranoid tendency, that somehow the publishing of the leaflet has been timed to distract from David Cameron's Blairmore Holdings travails.  While it's certainly not beyond imagination that Lynton Crosby could have come up with a dead cat to help Dave, dead cat this is not.  The whole idea of the dead cat is to change the subject, not to add to the problems the prime minister faces, which this most certainly has.  This was planned well in advance to come not too early to be completely forgotten about, while not near enough to the date itself to outright break the aforementioned pledge.  (Indeed, if anything it can now be argued Cameron has produced his own dead cat to knock the controversy over this down the agenda, for which see below.)

Humbuggery doesn't begin to cover it.  Apart from Vote Leave sending out leaflets without branding claiming to separate fact from fiction, we've had the lovely spectacle of Nigel Farage cutting up rough over the prospect of Barack Obama making an intervention on his upcoming visit.  This naturally didn't stop him from sticking his oar into the Netherlands referendum on the EU deal with Ukraine, nor has it prevented the wider leave campaign from inviting those behind the referendum to the UK.

The irony of the leave side and newspapers alike complaining about the government attempting to redress the balance doesn't seem to occur, or rather does, they just cast it to the back of their minds.  That 80% of the press has not just spent the past few months but the last couple of decades spreading myths about the EU, with the result that the public, who aren't interested at the best of times haven't got an idea who is and isn't telling the truth is of no importance.  How can a government possibly justify such propaganda (not that it is propaganda as it seems for the most part to be somewhat objective), never mind the unfairness?

Not to say that there aren't unintentional hilarities over the mail out: the same government that has long disdained councils producing their own propaganda sheets suddenly feels very differently.  That hardly anyone reads such leaflets, and few will likely read this one, let alone make their decision to vote on the basis of it also doesn't matter.  It's the principle of the thing.  The principles of always having an excuse ready, accepting the will of the people except not, and forever holding out the prospect that a vote tomorrow under "fairer "circumstances will bring a different result.  The leave side have stolen all their lines from the SNP.  They'll probably lose the vote, but are without doubt hoping to win the argument in the same way.

---

4 days on, and after first describing it all as a private matter, Dave finally comes clean and admits he made £31,500 out of Blairmore after selling his "units" in 2010.  The whole interview was set-up and designed to make it look as if this was perfectly reasonable: Robert Peston all but made a defence of the PM in a Facebook post this morning, setting out how those who invested in Blairmore did have to pay tax when they sold their shares, while ignoring the obvious point that Blairmore itself was based in Panama so it didn't have to pay tax in the UK.  Peston then just so happens to be the chosen hack Dave decides to talk to about it.

To describe the entire thing as being very Shifty McGifty doesn't really do it justice.  Why if this was all above board, as it seems to be at least from Cameron's end, did it have to be dragged out of him?  Each successive answer has just raised more and more questions.  Has he really only ever profited by £31,500?  If so, did any of the £300,000 his father left him come from Blairmore?  Does his mother still have an interest in Blairmore, as the Graun asks?  If he thought it best to be "transparent" in 2010 by selling his units in Blairmore, shouldn't the same apply to the donors to the party he leads?  And hasn't this sorry spectacle demonstrated that while those lucky enough to get the start in life that Dave had shouldn't have it held against them, it has made very clear just how stacked the odds have been and remain in their favour?

If Cameron means what he says, he has the power and influence to level that playing field.  He won't obviously.  But the thought's there.

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There's underlying emotional blackmail on the Remain side, typically in the form of 'if your side wins, you have your sovereignty back but at the expense of you turning Britain into a nuclear-style wasteland'.

The sky won't fall in. Big business will still invest, we still have the stock exchange and only EU politicos threaten revenge sanctions. And espcially now the ECB boss admites the EU makes people poorer, the 'little people', it's all the Remain side can do to paint the other side as the real brats!

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