EU: Leave strategy ambushes Remain
Tomorrow Jeremy Corbyn makes another intervention in the EU referendum, an intervention that was agreed with the Remain camp at the end of last week. Remain strategists are worried that traditional Labour supporters are not going to turn out on the day and that too many of those that do are thinking of voting for Leave.
Their private polling suggests that pushing the message to these voters that the EU protects workers’ rights can shift the dial up to 8% in this cohort.
Part of Jeremy Corbyn’s reluctance to dive in is that the EU protections argument suggests you’re protecting workers against a Conservative Government. It can sound like you’re conceding the next election, if not the one after that.
Remain campaigners have been ambushed by the Leave campaign strategy, holding fire right up until the purdah period starts (midnight last Thursday night) and then unleashing an alternative manifesto. Remain had incorrectly guessed that the Leave camp was going to carry on much as before and didn’t have much ammunition left. The energy bills VAT line followed by the immigration points system indicates they’ve kept back quite a bit.
How will Remain respond?
They hope for more Labour interventions as well as one day set aside for pro-Remain trade union leaders to line up together. They’re also planning more cross-party moments to convey the breadth of their support and try to make the Leave camp look cranky and fringe. You won’t see Jeremy Corbyn (or John McDonnell) sharing a platform or photo op with a Tory but you’ve already seen Harriet Harman and Sadiq Khan doing just that and you’ll see some more of it with as many faces as can be co-opted into doing it.
Vote Leave has pondered whether to revive a version of the brutal campaign deployed against AV in 2011 by Messers Cameron and Osborne. Back then they exploited Nick Clegg’s unpopularity with posters that suggested voting against AV was a good way to ruin his day. If Vote Leave tries the same sort of strategy with George Osborne and David Cameron in the Nick Clegg bogeyman role they might be able to tap into some anti-politics feeling but they could unleash some demons all politicians might prefer stayed under wraps, not to mention some irreparable damage to Tory unity.
There’s worry about the lack of progress in Scotland post the Holyrood elections. The EU referendum didn’t prove to be the distraction which the SNP had feared in the run up to the May elections. But since May the EU referendum has not caught light. There are signs of limited campaign activity on the street and Remain needs the working class voters in the Central Belt who swung to the SNP in the referendum and the subsequent two elections to turn out on June 23rd. It’s far from clear that they will.
One pro-Remain business voice complained of the referendum “looking like an Eton prize fight”, and tomorrow is meant to be the start of a push addressing that.
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