All Out War, an interesting work of insta-history by Tim Shipman covering the Brexit referendum campaign and the political battles around it. Having read Vote Leave campaigner manager Dominic Cummings giant blog post this fleshes out a lot of the details that he just alludes to about conflicts between Outers.
Cumming's from the start identified the "Farage Paradox": Farage's strident controversialism motivated a minority, boosted his UKip party, but alienated the critical undecided centre. Cummings and "Vote Leave" therefore tried to keep Farage as far out of the campaign and the public eye as possible. Farage and his deep-pocketed donor Arron Banks set up a rival campaign "Leave.EU", but "Vote Leave" became the official campaign group.
Cummings view is that Leave would have won by a much larger margin without Farage and Leave.EU campaigning, though Farage and Banks insist that their high-spending campaign was important.
Even within Vote Leave, Cummings team had to fight other battles, in particular against the established Conservative Party Euroskeptic MPs: regarding them as hopelessly off-message campaigners they were also sidelined. This culminated in the Vote Leave board and his nominal boss Matthew Elliot summoning Cummings to a meeting where they tried to fire him. Cummings refused to go, and a after a couple of phone calls told them that the entire campaign team would walk out with him. After that was verified that he kept his job. Regarded by some as a genius, some as insane, Cummings seems to attract intense loyalty and most people regard him as a highly effective campaigner.
The Remain camp was less prone to civil war. "Labour Leave" was nominally a separate organisation, but at the time were happy to take orders from a Conservative leadership who had successfully won two general elections. The Remain organisation in turn deferred to David Cameron and George Osborne. The organiser Lynton Crosby who had spearheaded the election campaign was this time only tangentially involved.
In retrospect the Remainers identify a lot of problems. Misled into a false sense of security by their opinion pollsters, Remain leaders wanted to keep the Conservative party in one piece and were reluctant to attack Gove and Johnson too directly. Their message was too targeted on Conservative voters: their dire warnings about a house price falls backfired after being regarded as a positive by non-Tory voters; their message about economic disaster didn't work with people who thought they were already victims of an economic disaster. They orchestrated high profile warnings from Mark Carney, Barack Obama and IMF chief Christine Lagarde (returning a favour after Osborne was the first to nominate her), but again to critical voters they seemed like an untrustworthy elite. Their message about "uncertainty" was contradicted by their highly specific warnings about the exact cost of Brexit.
However, if the result had gone the other way, the Leave divisions would have been highlighted as being a terrible campaign. On balance it seems to me that both campaigns were fairly professional given the chaos of a political war.
The book also contains a detailed description of the manoeuvrings for the Conservative leadership: in particular Gove's disastrous split with Johnson, which is regarded here a more cockup than conspiracy. There's also some very weak stuff on the Labour leadership battle which seems very one-sided. E.g. he mentions late and off-handedly that the unions backed Corbyn without wondering whether there's anything daft about trying to launch a Labour party coup and not bothering to try to get the unions on side.
Overall, a fascinating book for UK political junkies. Suspect it would be a bit dull for anyone else.
What I'm Watching
Saw Suicide Squad. Not a classic but I enjoyed it. Good fun movie, a bit underrated. Liked it more than the weaker MCU or X-men franchise entries: it has characters that are fresher to the screen, and the low-powered/no-powered protagonists don't overmatch the baddie. Margot Robbie is charismatic as Harley Quinn and Will Smith does his usual schtick no worse than usual.
Toddler been off sick with a high temperature so I had to take a couple of days off. He doesn't seem too bad: bit clingy and demanding but not too distressed.
Bad timing at work again as we're now not going to get this feature into the release. Other guys have been going to our Eastern Europe site a short notice to help out. I might be able to go at certain times but I can't do it a short notice when they want.
My boss mentioned in a meeting that I was Scrum Master of my team "at the moment": suspect they're planning to take that away soon. I wouldn't mind but at my age you need something more than developer on a CV.
Politics. Thomas Piketty. Long live populism!" Brexit: the Prime Minister sets the wrong course. Public back Brexit plan but think EU will nix it. FiveThirtyEight on the real story of 2016 Presidential polling. How "Fake News" Became Meaningless. How China's "50c posters" work. German election.
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