The simplicity of the message of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, in contrast to the chaos and confusion of the Conservatives and Labour, has given this reckless politician terrifying political leverage and power.
Once again, the potential for lies, falsehoods and appeals to fear and division in the vitally important EU elections on 23 May could well prove to be devastating – and be in no doubt that Mr Farage and his followers will use it as a proxy second referendum. Despite every poll telling us there is a majority for remaining in the EU, they will say that a win for them means the country must pursue the hardest Brexit possible. That is the realpolitik we face.
Be in no doubt that Mr Farage, who has never managed to win a place in Parliament despite repeated attempts, is trying to impose on our country a hard-right political ideology that will change the values and ethos of our great country beyond recognition.
The way the voting system works for the European Election – and if nothing can be done to stop the vote for remain being split – will give the Brexit Party victory on a plate. In the absence of any political remain alliance, remainers will have no alternative but to vote tactically and focus on the leading remain party in their area.
That’s why I commissioned research and analysis using machine learning, a cold, clinical and unemotional method that is better than classic polling techniques. It’s not a perfect system, but it’s better than most. It’s given us a great understanding of how people are planning to vote in the different European voting areas across the UK. It told us clearly who people need to vote for in each area. We had no idea what it would throw up and we show no fear, favour or bias now that we are making public the recommendations on the remainunited.org website.
As things stand, the only parties committed to the UK staying in the EU are Change UK, the Green Party, the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the SNP. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn cannot be regarded as a pro-remain party. I might add nothing would please me more than for Mr Corbyn to accept the wishes of the overwhelming majority of his members and MPs, but thus far he is unwilling to do so and that is no doubt the reason that his party is haemorrhaging support.
The political neutrality of the experts we commissioned is impeccable. Their recommendations have turned out to be relatively simple: vote for the Lib Dems in England, Plaid Cymru in Wales and the SNP in Scotland. We chose not to include Northern Ireland for the simple reason they use a different voting method. But intentions are changing rapidly, not least because of political parties now campaigning, as the date of 23 May approaches this is concentrating peoples minds, and the growing success of our campaign.
As neither the Brexit Party nor Change UK existed in the last 2014 EU Election, we commissioned fieldwork from the pollster ComRes to ask respondents for their voting intention in the upcoming Euro election. A leading expert in machine learning techniques – MRP – then applied regression modelling to the polling data to predict the result of the Euro elections, and identify the pro-Remain party best placed in each of the election regions.
The danger that Mr Farage poses meanwhile cannot be over-emphasised with pollsters reporting a 34% voter intention for them –that’s more than the Lib Dems, Greens and Change UK put together, on 15%, 11% and 5% respectively, as polls shows that the real time will of the people is 54% for remain, against 46% for leave. Yet even with no manifesto and a straight refusal to debate with me or anyone else, Mr Farage is cutting through with the simple lie that a ‘clean Brexit’ is possible.
As a private citizen with no political affiliation whatsoever, I hope to make a more level battlefield in the fight against Mr Farage with my tactical voting initiative. The need for remainunited.org, including information and explanation – for example, that the proportional representation system used for EU elections is not an equally weighted system – was clear from the moment we launched. The phenomenal traffic on day one caused the site to crash twice, but, happily, all issues were resolved swiftly, and large numbers of people continue to view the tactical voting advice from the expert psephologists.
There is still a lot of work to be done getting the word out, informing people and changing their attitudes ahead of the EU elections on May 23. It may be disheartening to see Mr Farage’s party powering ahead, but there are two very practical key actions remain voters must concentrate on.
1) Vote! Every vote counts, as a low turnout will benefit Mr Farage and the Brexit party. Also the total tally on the remain side of the ledger must reflect the majority of people now wishing to remain in the EU.
2) The only way to decrease the number of Brexit Party MEPs being elected is – and I make no apology for repeating this - to vote tactically.
We can all revert to our usual tribal loyalties in future elections, but in this one election we have to join forces to fight the common enemy, Mr Farage.