But is this optimistic? At the moment we see 'Out' chatter dominated by three themes.
- Should Nigel Farage lead the Out campaign? This would be a very bad idea. First, because the tone should be sunny, inclusive, forward-looking optimism. Farage fails on all these counts.
Second, because an Out verdict is not in Farage's personal interest. He wants to keep his grievance pulpit, along with his well paid job as an MEP. Getting the referendum he claimed to want is a blow to him. His best bet now is to make a mess of the Out case & then claim the referendum was conducted unfairly. Chip on the shoulder again. To make sure of losing, it's important to Farage that he has as prominent a role in the Out campaign as possible.
- Much more importantly, what should the exit strategy be? There have to be plausible exit plans in reserve, but they won't be the public's main focus. The campaign must accentuate positive, broad brush themes, and be optimistic, positive and inclusive. Every part of the 'Out' pitch must measure up against Dan Hannan's criteria here.
- For now, the 'In' campaign is setting the agenda, with media discussion focused on measures to discourage immigration from the rest of the EU. It is important to them to talk up issues where they think they might get concessions, and say nothing about areas they know they can't influence - especially if they are far more important!
An early task of the 'Out' campaign is to pick areas of national life which would be better outside the EU. Yes, have a grid. Run an issue for a week initially, then move on to another one. There will be plenty. The fishing industry? Lower food prices? There are a lot of themes which the 'In' campaign will not want to see raised. So raise them. One at a time in a positive manner.
For sure there must be rebuttal. But don't dance to the tune of the 'In' campaigners.
There is another way that the 'Out' campaign must go beyond rebuttal. This involves taking notice of what the 'In' campaign doesn't say. Has a new law or new regulation been forced on us by the EU? The 'In' campaign won't say so. The 'Out' campaign must. Is there a new story about overseas aid being wasted? Was it an EU programme? Say so.
Let these interventions come from one central point, so that the media get to know who to approach when a question occurs to them. Let's have a friendly, open-hearted campaign.
After all, 'Out' is the forward-looking policy.