Another day, another crack appears in the edifice of the Leave campaign, as an attempt to get observers to “Look over there” ends up being another “Oh what a giveaway” moment. All those involved in the various campaigns to persuade voters that leaving the EU was A Very Good Thing know that they are in trouble. And, despite the bravado, none knows it better than Dan, Dan The Oratory Man, who has been writing at ConHome.
What am I bid for my latest lame article? It's with you, sir, yes, you with the gob and your fifth pint of Spitfire
Hannan lets rip from the word go: “What do you suppose was the biggest problem faced by Brexit campaigners last year? The fact that we were up against the entire government machine? The funding imbalance? The inertia bias of a cautious electorate?” Perhaps it was a man with a pointed stick? Do tell us more, O wise one.
“Nope. Speak to almost anyone from Vote Leave HQ and they’ll tell you that by far their worst headache was Leave.EU, the wrecking operation set up by Arron Banks. It caused them ten times as many problems as Downing Street did. By the end, they were convinced that Banks wasn’t interested in winning, only in using the campaign as a vehicle to promote himself and Nigel Farage”. Yeah, Leave EU are poo! And there was more.
“What undecided voter, at that stage in the campaign, was suddenly going to be swayed by the image of immigrants in Slovenia? As a way of helping Leave across the line, it was plainly counter-productive. As an attempt to keep Banks and Farage centre-stage, on the other hand, it worked a treat … Banks and Farage were the Leavers Remainers loved”.
Well, I hate to bring a little cold reality to Hannan’s efforts to divert attention, but (a) he’s taken more than a year to lay into Banks and Farage, and (b) the real reason for this diversionary tactic is that Vote Leave - that would be the organisation with which Hannan is closely allied - is now in the mire big time.
As the BBC has reported, “The Electoral Commission has reopened an investigation into Vote Leave's EU referendum spending. The campaign paid £625,000 to clear bills allegedly run up by university student Darren Grimes with a digital agency days ahead of last June's vote. A separate group, Veterans for Britain, received £100,000 from Vote Leave. The campaign denies attempting to get round spending limits - the Electoral Commission initially accepted this but now says it has new information”.
The Guardian added “Watchdog has ‘reasonable grounds to suspect offence was committed’ by Vote Leave and student campaigner who received £625,000 from group” and then made this telling observation: “Grimes told Vote Leave on 13 June last year he would like to use a donation offered at an unknown date the previous week on a digital campaign with Aggregate IQ”. Aggregate IQ. Ring any bells?
Carole Cadwalladr at the Observer showed the closeness of the relationship between Aggregate IQ, which Vote Leave used, and Cambridge Analytica, which Leave EU chose. The two firms had a no-compete agreement. The two campaigns worked more closely together than they admitted. And, as Ms Cadwalladr noted, “The law states that different campaigns must not work together unless they declare their expenditure jointly”.
Vote Leave and Leave EU didn’t do that. Daniel Hannan is demonstrating the first signs of panic by trying to shift the blame elsewhere. But it is already too late.