Tag Archives: Tory leadership election

Corbyn’s scorn for working-class patriots gets its deserts

There was a certain pleasure to be had in flicking from channel to channel as Boris Johnson’s “Get Brexit done” election campaign destroyed, in the twinkling of an exit poll, the hopes of those who had spent three-and-a-half years attempting to subvert the result of the 2016 referendum. Well, that was how I spent the early hours of Friday. It was hard to know who looked more gratifyingly furious: the proponents of the suddenly annihilated second vote on Brexit, or the broadcasters (I am thinking especially of Channel 4, whose news operation is just The Guardian with shorter words).

It was George Orwell who best captured this cast of mind, in his 1941 essay England Your England. Though a socialist himself, Orwell expressed his contempt for much of the well-to-do British left: “In the general patriotism of the country, they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality. In left-wing circles it is always felt that there is something slightly disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every English institution from horse-racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, but it is unquestionably true, that almost any English intellectual would feel more ashamed of standing to attention during ‘God Save the King’ than of stealing from a poor box.” Continue reading

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Betcha we don’t leave the EU — on October 31 or ever

And as the prime minister struggled through her witless negotiations with the EU, so this fervour for a people’s vote grew — because the thickos hadn’t understood how complex it all was, had they? And look — see how complex it is now, how labyrinthine? You hadn’t bargained for this, had you? And yet all the way along it was not Brexit that was the problem but the government’s handling of Brexit. But this stereotype, of the decrepit moron leave voter, was crucial to the cause of not delivering Brexit. They knew not what they had done, these poor deluded *snip*s. So another vote was needed, or maybe no vote — just stop the process in its tracks.

Labour MPs could convince themselves that in opposing Brexit they were doing the best for their constituencies, despite what their constituencies actually had to say about the business. Tory MPs did the same. And so parliament began to follow the narrative of the soft Brexit, the nice Brexit, the Brexit that wasn’t Brexit at all, something that might be offered as a sop to the idiots but that actually kept us in the EU in all but name.

Oh, and the elderly. It was elderly people who voted leave. Destroying the future of the younger generation. And their votes shouldn’t really count because they’ll all be dead soon — a familiar theme among that extremist tranche of absolutist remainers.

Never have so many blameless people in this country been held in such contempt, or been subject to such vilification, by an elite. A transgressed elite. Another narrative. The vote was invalid. It was not “binding” — despite the promise of the then prime minister, David Cameron, that it would indeed be binding and the absence on the polling cards anywhere of the word “advisory”. Sheer chicanery. Only 52% voted leave — a proper vote would have insisted upon a 60–40 majority. Would it? Why would it?

Those were the rules — a simple majority sufficed. Everybody knew that when they went to the polls, remainers and leavers alike. A football match won one-nil has still been won — the opposition does not declare that it’s not a win at all because the score wasn’t five-nil. The majority of people in the UK didn’t vote leave — another wholly asinine objection from that rump of infuriated remainers. No, indeed, they didn’t. But we have a habit, in this country, and in most democracies, of counting up the votes of people who have voted — not the ones who didn’t. An odd arrangement, but there we are.

Or the vote was invalid because the leave campaign — always the leave campaign, never the remainers — told fibs. Well, heaven forfend. If we nullified elections every time a politician told a porkie, we wouldn’t have a democracy at all. But all this epic, disingenuous, non-sequitur shit, this flailing around in pursuit of a bunch of Aunt Sally arguments, helped to grease the wheels of the remain lobby and assuaged the MPs in their confected anguish over not, actually, respecting the vote at all.
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