Frankly, I object to billionaires who exile themselves to a French
chateau and represent a French constituency in the so-called European
Parliament in Strasbourg telling us how to conduct our affairs. It is a
For this reason, Sir James Goldsmith is unlikely to appreciate his
fundamental PR problem: convincing us that his Referendum Party is
really concerned to preserve British sovereignty in Europe. He confirms
this by embracing ex-Tory treasurer, Lord McAlpine of West Green, who
lives in Venice, and hostess Lady Carla Powell who comes from
Domodossola in Northen Italy. This is not to mention Taki
Theodoracopulous, the Greek millionaire columnist who describes himself
as an ‘ardent’ Referendum supporter.
If Sir James had resigned from the Euro-Assembly, sold his chateau,
moved to London or, better still, Yorkshire and volunteered to subject
himself to the British tax system, we might be inclined to take him more
seriously. As it is, large numbers of solid British citizens, like me,
wonder why they should take a blind bit of notice of the much-advertised
concern of himself and his fine bunch of British patriots for our
ability to govern ourselves.
This is why Goldfish, who is clearly enjoying swimming in his bowl, will
have only a marginal effect, if at all, on the general election next
April. I say ‘if at all’ because it is by no means clear which party -
Labour or Tory - will be hurt most or whether the Goldsmith effect will
cancel itself out.
But PR people have to take marginal effects seriously. After all, the
quality of their work can be crucial in marginal situations. And, as
things stand, the most likely outcome of the General Election is a
narrow victory, one way or the other. So, leaving aside the preposterous
notion of Sir James riding to the defence of this island race, we need
to examine his other appeal.
Superficially, he has a lot going for him. He plays on ‘five principal
fundamentals that define an independent nation’: to make laws which are
supreme in our own country; run our own economy for our own benefit;
decide our foreign policy; determine our national security; and control
our own frontiers. All these are to a greater or lesser degree now
So Sir James wants ‘a full referendum on Europe’. But he doesn’t tell us
what the question would be. Nor does he explain what the alternatives to
Europe are - obstinately in, heroically out or the 51st state of the
USA? And, much as I object to the way Europe is going, he studiously
fails to point out that sovereignty is a relative condition in the
Sir James and his Referendum Party are nobbut a stunt. A suitable case
for Max Clifford.