Richard North, 27/02/2016  

Well, for us at least, The Leave Alliance campaign has got off to a good start, with donations over the last two days bringing the fighting fund to just over £8,000. We're well on our way towards our target of £50,000. This buys us the precious gift of independence: we are not beholden to any one person and can fight the campaign as we think fit.

I've endeavoured to write to every donor personally, to express my thanks. If I've missed anyone out, I apologise. Let me here express my thanks for your support, which has been a tremendous morale booster.

As to the campaign, the Government has seen fit to play it "by the book", adopting the minimum statutory periods for designation and the referendum periods.

According to the Electoral Commission the designation period starts on 4 March, with the deadline for applications on 31 March. The designation decision will be made on 14 April and the official referendum period will start the day after, on 15 April, marking the official start of the campaign.

The Electoral Commission has completely bottled out of its insistence of a six-month gap before the start of the designation period, and the Government has circumvented the possibility of judicial review by making the decision subject to Parliamentary approval. Spineless MPs will rubber stamp the Regulations, and that'll be the end of it.

This process gives a clear advantage to the "remains". Their single campaign organisation can already be making plans, while the two (or maybe three) "leave" organisations are still battling it out for lead designation. That means neither can wholly focus on the campaign until the day before it officially starts.

In March last year, long before the bulk of the legacy media was even beginning to understand what was going on, we were discussing designation, and then about the need for us to secure the lead campaign status.

The emergence of two and then potentially three other groups has somewhat changed that calculus, but as the choice seems (subject to confirmation) to rest between the so-called Grassroots Out "movement" and Vote Leave, we have decided to opt out of this competition. Instead, we feel there is an urgent need to focus on the campaign proper.

There was a time when we thought the selection of the "right" organisation would be crucial to the contest. But that was when there were some hopes that – then in the field – could represent a significant improvement over its rival Vote Leave. When it comes to a choice between Vote Leave and the GO "movement", though, we are in Samuel Johnson territory, having to judge the precedency between a louse and a flea.

In their own different ways both contestants have major problems,  although Vote Leave seems to have the worst of it. If, as Lord Howard is doing, it continues to argue that a "leave" vote is an opportunity for further negotiations, then it is hard to see how it can qualify for designation.

As David Cameron's official spokeswoman contemptuously points out, "The Prime Minister is absolutely clear that the British people should go to the ballot box on June 23 very clear of the choice facing them. There are two choices on that ballot paper - Remain or Leave".

But while these two slug it out in an increasingly pointless contest, time is a wasting, with Mr Cameron rapidly gaining the initiative. Chancellor George Osborne has been in Shanghai for a summit of G20 finance ministers and tells us that global economic instability means it was "the very worst time for Britain to take the enormous economic gamble of leaving".

Over the next few weeks, all Mr Cameron has to do is lodge his ersatz "treaty" as a done deal. Then he has given the "remain" campaign a firm foundation which will make it difficult to dislodge.

That puts The Leave Alliance in pole position as the only organisation with a clear strategy and committed to a single, coherent plan. Despite the resources and noise-making capabilities of the other groups, only we are ready to take on a battle which may be won or lost before the designation process even gets under way.

Hence, enter the open DOR strategy: Debunk; Offer; and Reassure. The first priority is to Debunk Mr Cameron's deal, and ensure that the public are fully acquainted with the fact that he is perpetrating a fraud on the British public.

But that, on its own, is not enough. Even knowing that their Prime Minister is a liar is not sufficient to motivate voting against the EU. Most people, reluctant to change, need to be presented with a credible alternative. We must Offer a different, better Britain outside the EU.

It is the third element, though, that is absolutely crucial. Promises of a better world are easily given – words are cheap. We thus need to Reassure voters that there is a credible and safe way of reaching this alternative Britain. And that, of course, is what Flexcit is for.

This is what makes The Leave Alliance different. We are the first and only "leave" organisation with the sense to develop an all-embracing, coherent strategy, which puts us in an ideal position to open that DOR. Against that, the designation drama is a side show. 

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