Theo's Blog: The ‘official’ campaigning has begun and my Theo’EU’ometer is reacting to the good, the bad and the ugly…

EU Referendum barometerV8

EU Referendum barometerV8

And, we’re off! The ‘official’ campaigning has begun and my Theo’EU’ometer is reacting to the good, the bad and the ugly that are campaigning on both sides.  This week saw both parties send out their big guns, or their water gun depending on what fires need to be put out.  The official campaign teams were chosen last week, with Vote Leave for the Brexit camp, and Stronger In for the Stay camp, both kicking off on the yellow brick road journey to the Referendum.  In a Wizard of Oz comparison, it’s not yet clear who needs courage, a brain, a heart…or frankly, who needs to just go home!  The facts will be the decider though, and only then can we all make the right decision.

News that Nigel Farage has extended his support to work with Vote Leave, regardless of not being chosen as the official campaign, will perhaps not be music to Vote Leave’s ears.  Whatever happens in the campaign, it’s safe to say that Nigel will be turning up to the Brexit party, waving his flag for all to see, whether they like it or not.

Then we have the matter of the man who presided over the light touch regulations of the banks, allowing them to effectively screw the economy; Alistair Darling, was all over the Breakfast media last week, ironically almost as Vote Leave’s biggest asset, in my opinion.   Much of the public, including me, had their breakfasts ruined by his inability to answer even the simplest of questions straight-forwardly.  Looking back at the former chancellor’s political forecasts over the years, we should almost be taking what he says as what NOT to do.  Not so much Mystic Meg, more weatherman Michael Fish the night of the 87 storm! No hurricanes here!  In a Political Magic Roundabout, it also seems that Darling who was instrumental in bailing out the banks, is now working for them, having taken on a Board role at Morgan Stanley.  Unsurprisingly he’s being a good boy and spouting the official Morgan Stanley line, as briefed to all their employees to vote to stay in.  Coincidence?

This week’s Stronger In spin, courtesy of Osborne’s treasury analysis, is that households will be thousands of pounds poorer overall, from Brexit.  As ever, the £4300 figure that has been quoted is ambiguous and clearly means different things to all people.  Vote Leave branded these statistics as "absurd" and "worthless" considering the Treasury’s past forecasting record.  You can get any answer you want, depending on the assumptions you make.  In business we call that ‘Shit in. Shit Out’.  Simple as that!  The latest polls show 50% for both camps, so will be interesting to see the impact of this on public opinion.

Having had a look back at some of the historical arguments for and against joining the Euro since 1999, it does seem that some of these are on rotation.  Arguments that staying out of the Euro would hinder trade, and make big businesses such as Hitachi, who is still very much here, leave the UK, are all too familiar.  Most interestingly, there were also lots of surveys showing that people were confused by spin and felt ill-informed to make their decision.  No change there then!

I was really looking forward to Michael Gove’s reply to the scare tactics/project fear/scaremongering of Mr Osborne’s 200-page report, but I have to say I was really disappointed because whilst hugely entertaining, and we all know that Mr Gove is the custodian of the Tory Party joke book, he really did not help me in painting a picture of what the UK would look like unburdened by the shackles of the Mandarins in Brussels.

Now you may argue that so much of what will be will depend on the reaction of our EU partners.  Will they be illogical, vindictive or even cut off their nose to spite their face?  Surely no organisation which exists to protect its citizens would be any of these things?  But, history has proven otherwise, as the Greeks and many of the southern Mediterranean countries will testify.  The leave campaign really must do better with facts and clear cohesive arguments if it is to persuade the Great British public to break away from the status quo, which for a large number has been the norm all, if not most, of their lives.

So, as one of the many ‘economic illiterates’, , I am still unsure as to which way to vote, as I’m sure are lots of you.  But, I’ll certainly be making it my business to keep my finger on the pulse, listen to both sides and tell you all which part of the fence I am perched on, on a regular basis, by virtue of my Theo-EU-ometer.

I’m also not closing the door on a possible third option, that everyone seems too scared to talk about – but more of this in future blogs…Til’ next time, let’s see if we can actually find Wally in the sea of information, so we can make the right decision for the country and for all of us on June 23rd.

Oh, but let’s not forget Obama is also on his way over, but whatever pearls of wisdom this titan of foreign policy has to bestow upon us during his visit, it’s important to make sure that he is talking about the best interests for us as a country, not what suits the good old U S of A!

Published: 21st April 2016