Over the past few days we've seen the emergence of a debate over which person should be the leader of the 'Leave' the European Union campaign. This media inspired distraction means that the whole EU Referendum debate has got off on the wrong foot for, in the end, this event not about personalities but about real issues that affect the British people. It is important to note, that this debate could be a long one but we have to be ready to go at any time. The enabling legislation for the referendum is not likely to pass through Parliament until January (be interesting to see what unelected Lords try to do to the main points of the Bill) and then government can call the referendum at will before December 2017. That's potentially a two year wait before we all mark our ballot papers!
Understandably, Fleet Street which still sets the daily political agenda in this country has to continually invent daily story lines so as to keep the whole campaign 'fresh' in readers minds but to start by focusing who the leaders are on both sides takes us down boring cul de sac. What the debate should be on is whether Britain should stay part of a failing EU customs union or leave and regain our freedom and democracy, while becoming a real global force.
What is clear is that the 'Leave' sides are in a fortunate position at this early stage. It is represented by two well run, monetised and efficient campaigns addressing the value of the European Union on Britain's society, politics and economics from different angles but with a singular overall objective - to get us out. This can only help the Leave side, not hurt it.
First we have the 'Vote Leave' group, the newer of the two but still a dedicated group, with people with bags of experience from winning the anti-proportional representation AV campaign in the last parliament. It has some heavy hitting business supporters who have a global outlook. This is a group's business people pedigree makes it hard to say that anyone who wants Britain out is a 'quitter' or doesn't understand the nature of the worldwide marketplace. This is the kind of expertise and knowledge we need to help persuade the British public that it will be good for business, good for jobs and good for the taxpayer or us to take back control of our government form the EU.
Second, we have Leave.EU, who presents a more retail version of the arguments that are fundamental to us leaving the EU. This group is incredibly digitally aware. They came out of the starting blocks at a fantastic pace. Millions have viewed their digital ads or social media messages and the use of their website name as their nom de guerre is inspired. They have already mastered how to put out little snippets of information that are easy to read and digest. We see them with hundreds of thousands of likes on Facebook, proving that they're media savvy and can engage with the millennials of today. Without a strong online campaign I don't think we'll ever win this. Millions of potential voters need to be reached and motivated instantly for Leave side to overcome the institutional forces of the UK government that will be supporting the EU Superstate.
So, having different views, personalities and a range of social groups is what will make the Leave campaign diverse and wide reaching. When you put these two together with a political party in Ukip which garnered 3.9million votes at the last general election you have a well-rounded and diverse campaign ready to win this referendum.
Yet, we must remember the causes that unite us make us a broad based 'movement'. For far too long, we have taken our freedoms and liberties for granted. Our freedoms do not come and go, they have been hard fought many years ago from the signing of the Magna Carta or the defeat of Hitler and later, the cold war. This referendum will be another tough fight for our freedoms. These causes mean that UKIP members are not alone amongst UK political party members who want Britain to quit the EU. Now is the time to forget about left and right, Tories or labour and focus on what matters most, regaining our parliamentary sovereignty and rejecting being shackled to a failed political European Union.
So, of the two groups can you guess which side I'm with? Easy, I'm backing both until the Electoral Commission chooses the official group to represent all us 'quitters' at the start of the official campaign. I'd much prefer to have these two campaigns working hard to secure a 'Leave' vote, than having Mandleson, Major, Blair and Brown on my side trying to secure a 'Remain' vote. They were wrong then about the Euro, they're wrong now about the EU. No, two groups who believe in an outward looking, global trading Britain rather than an claustrophobic, inwardly looking, European view is the best way forward for a prosperous and proud Britain.