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.”