Richard North, 17/05/2016  

So, at last, the full ROSL presentation is on-line, with a permanent link on the sidebar. That link replaces the link to the Dawlish presentation, which had reached a whisker short of 10,000 views. Over term, we expect this presentation to do at least as well.

The video presentation complements the Flexcit book and the pamphlet, the former now totalling just over 70,000 downloads, with just over a thousand in the last month. By any measure, that is an impressive performance which demonstrates that there is real interest in the Flexcit concept.

It should go without saying that we do not expect the Flexcit book to have a run-away popular appeal. Not is there any expectation that the video viewing numbers will soar into the stratosphere. Neither production is designed for the mass market.

The primary purpose, of course, is to provide reassurance. The very fact that it exists is intended to demonstrate that it is possible to devise a sound, credible exit plan. And as long as people have that reassurance, they don't necessarily need the detail.

Had the official "leave" group adopted the work, the sort of claims being made by George Osborne and the like would simply gain no traction.

The odd thing is that when the Chancellor argues that the WTO option might cost £4,300 for each household, we probably wouldn't disagree. If anything, the costs have probably been understated. But what we would also say is that no one in their right mind would even entertain the idea of the WTO option.

Yet, we're seeing precisely that, in a parade of ignorance by the likes of Roger Bootle and the error-strewn Brexit the Movie, which lines up most of the eurosceptic "aristocracy" to repeat the same errors

Personally, I just don't see the point of knocking out dogma and then defending it against all-comers, regarding any criticism as an insult. But that is the "industry standard", where group-think prevails and as long as everybody freely shares their ignorance, error becomes the norm.

Sadly, therefore, being right also means being different – going against the herd which is determined to protect its myths with the same fervour that the Spanish Inquisition acted against heresy. Thus, Flexcit has not been given the welcome that one might have expected.

The oddest thing of all is that, in devising our original scenario, we adopted the line taken by the British negotiating team in its successful attempt to enter the European Community in 1972.

In his report on the negotiations, Con O'Neill wrote a very telling piece on how he came to define his strategy. "First", he said:
…almost every conceivable Community policy or rule or enactment is the resultant of a conflict of interests between the members, and has embedded in it features representing a compromise between these interests. Open it up at any point, and the whole laborious compromise will fall apart …

Second, as in all negotiations, exceptions are dangerous, for they create precedents. Admit a change in this or that case, just because British arguments are strong and you will find it hard to resist changes in other cases where the matter is vital. So the two facets of the Community's principle became embodied in one precept: "Swallow the lot, and swallow it now".
On this basis, the character of the negotiations became one of leaving "relatively minor" matters to be settled after the UK had joined the Community while, in order to expedite the negotiations, the governing precept became, "Swallow the lot …".

Given the two-year time limit and "sudden death" character of the Article 50 negotiations, which would determine the exit settlement for the UK, it seemed to me that the precept which had facilitated our entry could do equal services in assisting us to leave the EU.

My reasoning in this respect was entirely straightforward. It would be far better to gain an exit settlement which was less than optimal than to end up with the catastrophic outcome of leaving without an agreement.

Furthermore, and crucially, I took that view that, unless we were able to show that compromise was possible, we would never secure the confidence of the electorate, and their support in the referendum. In effect, we either convinced the electorate that we were prepared to compromise on our exit expectations, or we would lose the referendum.

Such insight, of course, stems to a very great part from the intensive labour, with Christopher Booker, in researching and writing The Great Deception. And you might have thought that this might afford us some authority when it came to defining the referendum strategy.

In this though, normal rules do not apply. We are dealing with the eurosceptic movement. The grip of this tiny, narrowly-focused and self-centred clique - which we have come to call the eurosceptic aristocracy – is absolute.

Having become besotted by the immigration issue, they had decided that compromise was not acceptable. And with that, they have undergone the laborious self-delusional process of constructing a narrative that would allow them to claim what the EU has told them they cannot have, that we could leave the EU and maintain trading relations without having to make any concessions on freedom of movement.

In this, we are not dealing with rationality. The "aristocracy" have decided on their preferred outcome and anything which conflicts with that has to be marginalised and ignored.

Needless to say, when the real world intrudes, the "preferences" will evaporate but, until that happens, the delusion will sustain the faithful. And that means that Flexcit cannot be allowed to prevail. It is the most dangerous of all things – it challenges the collective delusion.

When this is all over, therefore – win or lose – things are going to have to change. In particular, the way we do politics must change. This Westminster-centric "bubble" has messed up our lives for far too long, and its grip must be broken. 

There is a world outside London – the same world from which Flexcit emerged – and The Harrogate Agenda. Westminster, one must recall, gave its powers to Brussels. Westminster politics is keeping us there. If we are ever to get our freedom, this is not the place we need to be looking.

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