IN the wake of the Supreme Court decision that the suspension of Parliament was unlawful, it seems likely that the UK will not be leaving the European Union on October 31. The ‘Remain Alliance’, if they can delay Brexit, will surely continue to block an election too. The longer the delay to an election, the longer the delay to Brexit, and the more likely we are to remain permanently in the European Union. Leave voters will be worn down.
However, somewhere along the line there will be an election (unless these too become unlawful). If, at that stage, Remain parties win a majority we will have reached the end-game. Brexit will have been defeated.
We therefore need to maximise the chances of Leave parties winning the next election. A fortnight ago, I wrote in TCW about the need for a people’s #LeaveAlliance. It wasn’t an original idea. Many people have been saying it. But to date I have not seen anyone act. Organisation needs to start now. Here is my outline of what a #LeaveAlliance (#LA) needs to do.
The first steps are the all-important basics – setting up a #LA website and web presence and raising sufficient funding to pay for it. A small number of immediate volunteers with web and data skills and an initial core group of strategists could do it.
The #LA needs to organise rapidly to start reaching out to three key audiences. These are:
- Leave voters in marginal seats: advising them how they can most effectively cast their vote;
- Leave supporters: persuading and helping them get involved in campaigning;
- The Brexit Party and Conservative Party – staff, volunteers, candidates – who will bend their parties’ ears to the activities of the #LA.
Of these, the second is the most important yet it is the one that has been overlooked in every discussion I have seen about a #LA. Energising a Leave Army to be on the doorstep will be what swings a #LA vote at the next election.
Taking each in turn:
Leave voters in marginal seats: advising them how they can most effectively cast their vote
We can predict who will win many constituencies in the UK. The #LA needs to:
a) Identify the marginal seats which could be won by Leave, if Leave voters come out to vote, and vote tactically and the same way;
b) Analyse who it regards as most likely to win these seats, the Conservatives or the Brexit Party. (Someone could tell me now why the Conservatives came second in Brecon & Radnorshire, while the Brexit Party came second in Peterborough.) What are the variables and how do they interact? There will be some statistical analysis but also nuance. This work needs to start – psephologist needed;
c) Reach out to Leave voters (via PR, social media, doorstep) and persuade them to come to the #LA website, enter their postcode and find out relevant information about their constituency, in the hope that they will use the information to inform their voting decision. Crucially, the website needs to persuade a significant number of them to click through to the next section. Which is for:
Leave supporters: persuading and helping them get involved in campaigning
A #LA PR/communication team is needed to motivate a significant proportion of the 17.4million who voted Leave to get out on the campaign trail. The contact process can be made easy. Leave supporters will enter their postcode in the system and find the nearest places they can most usefully support an election campaign. They are then provided with the contact details for the campaign team.
Many Leave voters who wouldn’t necessarily want to show up on a doorstep explicitly supporting the Conservative Party or the Brexit Party may well be willing to show up on a doorstep under the banner of the #LeaveAlliance.
This means #LA campaign materials including leaflets (more costs for the central #LA organisation). Local Conservative and Brexit Party campaigners should welcome #LA activists on to their teams with their own leaflets and approach to doorstep conversations. It will need discussion between them, it won’t work everywhere, but hopefully a belief in democracy and a higher purpose – the desire for Brexit – will carry the day.
The Brexit Party and Conservative Party – staff, volunteers, candidates – who will bend their parties’ ears to the activities of the #LA
A little-discussed truth is that the main political parties run candidates in every constituency but more or less abandon those whom they believe have no chance of winning. ‘Activists’ are directed here or there, sometimes with ruthless efficiency. An organised #LA may help to facilitate something of the sort between the Brexit Party and the Conservative Party.
To summarise: a cross-party #LeaveAlliance is needed to mobilise a cross-party Leave Army – people who have previously voted Conservative, Labour, Brexit Party, Other, or not voted. Anyone who has been active in politics knows that only a tiny percentage of our population actually comes out and engages in the electoral process, distributing leaflets, talking to people doorstep by doorstep. One of the reasons, and I speak from experience, is that it is a difficult and awkward thing to do. Trying to find information, making that first phone call, turning up to a first meeting, feeling like a fool, are all significant hurdles before you even start knocking on doors. This is the process we need to facilitate – and to make enjoyable – for the 17.4 million.
Who will step up to help fund and form a #LeaveAlliance? The work needs to begin now. Our democracy depends upon it.