This week has seen two election communications land on our door mat. One arrived from one of the country’s two main political parties, unaddressed. The other was specifically addressed to The Other Half. Lucky him.
It was a folded leaflet for The Brexit Party, Nigel Farage’s latest political project.
After failing to persuade more than a few dozen people to march (part of the way) to London in support of Brexit (without him, himself), Farage has somehow found the money needed to launch such a publicity campaign.
Not that he’s saying where that cash has come from – or at least, not the one big donation that has (apparently) been received, even though election rules say such things must be revealed. Maybe he'll let on later. But not now.
The rest is all from individual supporters, all paying small enough amounts that these do not need to be declared. You can’t join The Brexit Party – you can only “register as a supporter”. This is not, in other words, a democratic political organisation. There is no mechanism for any internal democracy to elect any official within it or to decide any policy.
But then again, when you only have one policy, who needs discussion and debate?
And given that situation, what on earth do you fill an expensive election communication with?
The main meat, if you will, is a statement from Farage, dramatically headlined “We must leave the EU”. The key reason given is that, in “June 2016, 17.m voted to leave the EU – the biggest democratic mandate in British history”.
This is arrant nonsense. It would only be the “biggest democratic mandate in British history” if the margin had been the biggest margin in British history. It was not a massive margin. It was a very, very slender margin.
Indeed, it was precisely the margin that, a short while before the referendum, Farage himself told the Mirror that, were the vote to be 52% to 48% in favour of remaining in the EU, he would start campaigning for a re-run.
Not that I'm suggesting that Farage is a hypocrite. Obviously not.
There is familiar stuff in the leaflet about how MPs “have betrayed Brexit”. Apparently, “our great nation” is now being “humiliated” and we must “fight back against our failing MPs who have defied 17.4m of us”.
Unlike Farage, I can only speak for myself. But personally, I don’t feel “humiliated”. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments when I feel myself to be in a permanent state of face-palm frustration and bemusement – and possibly even some embarrassment – but I haven’t spotted any personal sense of “humiliation” yet.
Farage also seems not to have noticed that, among the MPs per se that he condemns in the leaflet, there are quite a number that support Brexit – and in several cases, they fancy the harder Brexit the better. That group would include former Trotskyist Unionist Kate Hoey, who did a Titanic routine with Farage himself on a boat on Thames and appeared with him at the start of the Great Brexit March.
Or, more to the point, Farage has condemned an entire group because the people he is trying to appeal to will swallow the simplest messages and not bother with the facts.
It’s all rhetoric – empty rhetoric. The rest of this leaflet is no better. Candidates for our region are quoted as saying that “we need to keep our democracy intact for future generations”. Joel Chilaka – medical student. What does that even mean?
“We must take our waters back and restore our costal communities.” June Mummery – “fishing industry”. One wonders if she’s asked Farage why he attended so few meetings of the EU fisheries committee, when he could have actually done some work on this very issue.
“Left-wing democrats should vote to deliver the referendum result” – this from ‘former’ Trotskyist Claire Fox, the individual who still believes that IRA bombings were okay and (allegedly) that viewing images of paedophile abuse should not be illegal. She’s on the ticket locally because, presumably, any leftie will automatically be convinced to vote for her like.
“I do deals for a living. Taking ‘no deal’ off the table is bonkers.” Ben Habib – boss of First Property PLC, who clearly doesn’t actually understand what ‘no deal’ would do to the country or doesn’t care.
“Our country deserves better leadership.” This is Richard James Sunley Tice: private school educated ‘man of the people’. Oh – and Brexit Party chairman.
“The Conservative Party has failed to deliver Brexit and damaged trust in our democracy.” And so declares Annunziata Rees-Mogg – journalist and intellectual prodigy, who claims to have joined the Conservative Party at the age of five and, three years later, been out “canvassing, proudly wearing my rosette.”
“I fought for our country. I’m not prepared to see it humiliated.” James Glancy CGC – decorated Royal Marine.
Dear Christ. My mother only sent me out delivering Christian Aid and NCH (as it was then) envelopes shortly before I was in my teens. Should I have to bow before Annunziata's genius? Or indeed, is she really such a genius – or just an entitled brat?
Any meat on the bones? Any policies? Nope. Not a one.
But there is more.
“83% of Labour MPs back a second referendum.”
Because the democracy they’re whinging about being under threat or broken would be further underminded by, err, voting.
“92% of Brexit voters feel betrayed.” This apparently appeared in the Sun, which is hardly a trustworthy organ. However, since polling in recent months has increasingly suggested that support for Brexit is no longer a (small) majority position, this could mean that those Brexit voters feel ‘betrayed’ when realising how many lies they were fed by Farage and others.
“498 MPs promised to honour the result.”
We live in a representative democracy. It is not the job of MPs to push ahead with policies that will damage their constituents and the wider country. Jobs have already been lost as a consequence of the vote – even before we leave the EU. The cost of living has gone up as sterling has gone down – again, as a direct consequence of the vote itself and then as a result of the prime minister setting in motion Article 50.
But of course: “Politics is broken. Let’s change it for good.”
Yes – our political situation is a mess: our political (and public) discourse is a mess. Neither have been helped by liars and spivs like Farage and his fellow Brexit high priests – or David Cameron.
But change it for who’s “good”? For what “good”? Indeed, does “good” here mean ‘permanently’ – potentially then suggesting something anti-democratic – or for ‘better’?
And there you have it. Brexit is Brexit is Brexit. There is only one Brexit (actually, there are probably as many Brexits as people who voted for it). Nothing else matters. There is no degree of Brexit. Only Brexit.
It’s just a case of ‘get Brexit done – whatevs!’
Farage and Tice give no indication of how leaving the EU will benefit the majority of ordinary working people.
That’s because neither of them care about British working people, per se.
They are on the economic right – and harness the social right to support it. They are disaster capitalists who believe that profit has no downsides and that those on the receiving end of profiteering corporates are acceptable collateral damage.
It’s worth remembering that Rees-Mogg’s dad wrote the text book on disaster capitalism.
The Brexit Party is an organisation that nobody can join, that has no manifesto, no policies, no internal democracy and no transparency about where it gets its money from.
It is facile and wrong to label all those who voted for Brexit as intellectually challenged. But if The Brexit Party’s empty election literature convinces you that it is the answer to anything, then you really are probably too foolish to have understood the question.