“Vote Leave, Take Control”, “Vote Leave, Take Control”…. no sentient creature can possibly fail to know what the strapline of the Out campaign is in this referendum. Its been an extraordinary exercise in message repetition and disciple, and as any professional communicator will tell you, message repetition and discipline really works.
Whether it was Michael Gove’s little-watched but impressive performance on Sky News last Friday, or the cracker-jack six-way debate last night, there is no mistake in what Leave are trying to tell us, whilst from Remain there appears to a mounting sense of panic and – with it – a breakdown in message consistency. David Cameron remains (pardon the pun) the best communicator in British politics, but when he isn’t there, no-one else seems quite so compelling. Corbyn seems reluctant, Alan Johnson is nowhere near as visible as he ought to be, many Tories seem apologetic and as for Tory big-hitters like Theresa May, they are presumably preparing their declarations for the Leadership contest rather than fighting for the future of Britain.
So what can Remain do to regain the lead? Well what they can’t do is change strategy. With 13 days to go, there is no time. They need to execute the strategy they have, focussing on the economic risks of leaving the EU, more effectively. Stop trying to say ten things and instead focus on saying three. And David Cameron needs to dose up on the caffeine and do every media opportunity he can, because no-one has a better chance of keeping Britain in Europe (and keeping himself in a job) than he.
Its been impossible to avoid the sense this week that Leave is the campaign with the momentum. A month ago, you could confidently say that Remain were on course to win. Would anyone make that statement with certainty today?