The shambolic People’s Vote campaign continues to let down the remain movement. After the sacking of James McGrory, its director, and Tom Baldwin, the head of communications, by Roland Rudd, the campaign has collapsed into a squabbling shambles.
The sacked duo have refused to be sacked and they accused Rudd of “making a mistake’” and “taking a wrecking ball to the campaign”. On Monday, Reaction reported on Rudd’s meeting with Patrick Henaghan, former head of Labour campaigns, in the café at 30 Millbank which revealed just what a mess the campaign is in.
Today the row got even more farcical as Rudd and Heneghan insisted on meeting staff in a Hilton hotel across the road. Meanwhile, PV HQ staff waited defiantly in their offices, refusing to a change in venue.
Another extension has been granted, and an election is coming, providing an opportunity for a remain alliance and a push for another referendum. Instead, at this crucial moment, the campaign has collapsed into civil war.
Part of the split in the People’s Vote campaign comes from disagreements as to whether they should be unashamedly pro remain or adopt a more neutral tone. This is clearly ludicrous because it is obvious what the purpose of the People’s Vote campaign is. It is insulting to people’s intelligence to pretend otherwise.
Some campaigners within the organisation think the People’s Vote should argue for another referendum in a neutral tone rather than openly campaigning on a pro-EU message, but who exactly do they think they are kidding? This is a campaign group run and staffed by people who voted and campaigned for remain. They don’t like the result of the 2016 referendum and want to hold another referendum in the hope that the result will be different.
Why deny this? It’s brazenly insincere. Is there a single People’s Vote staffer who doesn’t have as their main objective keeping the UK in the EU? That is, of course, the whole reason they are campaigning. If a second referendum was called, would the People’s Vote campaign split into leavers and remainers? No, they’d all be remainers of course. The People’s Vote staff would naturally transfer their efforts into the new remain campaign.
Roland Rudd felt that the campaign should be unashamedly pro-EU and pro-remain. Setting aside allegations of poor people management, his position is at least honest and principled. Those who disagree with him and wanted to dampen down the pro-remain tone are effectively arguing for a disingenuous policy. Now that the civil war is out in the open this dispute is publicly known and any pretence to be neutral on the leave/remain question is even more ludicrous.
Adam Boulton of Sky News asked Rudd about the dispute among staff about whether to be explicitly pro-remain or neutral, he responded: “Everyone knows where we’re coming from”. He’s right.