Richard North, 18/03/2015  

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In the manner of a stopped clock occasionally being right, even Conservative Home has managed to make a sensible comment about the Farage call for a 2015 referendum. It reads:
If you ever feel the urge to run a failed Out campaign in an in/out referendum on Britain's membership of the EU, here’s how to do it in two easy steps.

First, make Out-ism all about immigrants and foreigners. Indelibly associate it with gripes about how many people speak English on your train to work, mutter about abolishing protection from racial discrimination in the workplace, stuff your mouth full of dog-whistles and blow until you can blow no more. 
Neglect to make a positive case for replacing the protectionist, monolithic, anti-democratic EU with an outward-looking, free-trading approach to the whole world. Provide no messages to the wavering, softly eurosceptic millions other than those which confirm the fears raised by the "in" camp's scare-mongering.
Second, having built such a poor platform, insist on an immediate EU referendum. In return for your support for a minority government, demand a vote on a time scale that provides for no campaign period beyond a couple of weeks, no time to build a big Out coalition across party lines and no opportunity for anyone to undo the damage your focus on foreigners has done to distract from the positive case for independence.

Of course, while such an approach is a recipe for failure in a referendum, it may simultaneously be a recipe for maximising support for your party among the 20 percent or so of voters whom you hope will hand you the greatest partisan advantage, and to hell with the impact on our chances of actually leaving the EU. But to make that trade, you'd have to put party before country – and that would be wrong. Wouldn't it?
What's missing, of course, is any idea that a 2015 referendum is impossible, but then you have to take what you get from CH. Better late to the feast than not at all.

However, Civitas also offers a reasoned analysis on the same theme. It is very much worth reading, pointing to the damaging effect of Farage's move. But it is a measure of how far Farage has departed from reality that, despite the absurdity of his position, he has repeated his call, telling the Telegraph: "The EU is facing an existential crisis and, given that it only takes a few weeks to launch and organise a referendum, it should be held in 2015".

For the many years that I have known Farage, I have never seen him exhibit quite this degree of detachment from the real world - "it only takes a few weeks to launch and organise a referendum". This is barking mad. No serious politician could ever say something quite so stupid – even if it takes a pretty stupid journalist actually to publish it. 

Strangely, a piece by Reuters tends to confirm this surreal detachment. The Agency records Farage's response to a question about his health, having him says, "it's fine", then adding: "I have lived a very clean lifestyle so I like to think I am reaping the dividends". As the man said, "you can't be serious".

As for the media, currently, there is currently a certain manic quality to the coverage, particularly from the Telegraph which, having puffed The Great Leader's poundshop Mein Kampf, failing to note - as did Boiling Frog - TGL's ability to produce his personal statement when his party is unable to deliver a manifesto.

Not content with this, though, the Telegraph is also sucking up the Europhilia from Open Europe. Bizarrely, it then runs an editorial that ends up telling us that Cameron is right to seek "reform" of the EU because the OE crapologists assert that the Norway "model" doesn't work. Even the term "model" rather than "Norway Option" is a distortion, designed to confuse rather than inform - again as pointed out by the redoubtable Boiling Frog.

In fact, the paper's treatment of this issue is more than bizarre - it is downright sinister. There have been two high quality studies on the "Norway Option", one from Bruges Group and the other from Civitas, yet neither were given any coverage by it, nor the media in general. Yet any amount of tat opposing the option goes straight in. It takes no imagination at all to work out that there is an agenda here.

Thus, if you want sense from the media, go elsewhere. In this instance, you could try looking to Russia Today, which relays David Cameron's views of Farage's stupidity, saying that the chances of holding a referendum in 2015 were "pretty slim". Even on this, though, Cameron is being pathetically weak. He should be slapping down the stupidity, making it absolutely clear that Farage is on his way to madness.

Perhaps this is the real story. Ukip is now dipping to 12 percent in the latest YouGov poll, on a downward trend, and Farage is a wasting asset. Yet the Conservatives are being run ragged. Cameron needs to grasp the nettle. He should stop running scared of Ukip and deliver the coup de grace.

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