Working on too many longer pieces just now, so just a few short thoughts…
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In an article the other day for The Spectator, Alex Massie made a half-decent point about Remainers being entitled to continue the fight post-referendum. Just as it would be unreasonable to demand of the SNP that they abandon their raison d’être and stop campaigning for independence, so it would have been unreasonable to expect UKIP to disband had the country had voted to stay in the EU. So why then should Remainers (or rejoiners) stop believing in and campaigning for the European Union just because we’ve voted to leave?
However, there are issues with this argument. It doesn’t acknowledge that when Yessers (and hypothetical post-Remain Kippers) assert that “the dream will never die”, they intend to pursue that dream purely through democratic means – i.e. another referendum. On the 19th of September, the day after the referendum, the Scottish Parliament had a pro-independence majority (and still does) – and yet MSPs chose not to declare UDI, but instead respect the result and start preparing for a future referendum. To their credit MPs, who are 3-1 in favour of the EU, have accepted they shouldn’t overrule Brexit-in-name – i.e. by blocking Article 50. But it is not yet generally agreed that they should not try to overrule Brexit-in-substance. Were the shape of Brexit up to me, we would be staying in the single market; then again, were it up to me, we wouldn’t be Brexiting in the first place. No, remainers shouldn’t pipe down and take their medicine – the Leave-vote card doesn’t give the government an opt out from scrutiny or accountability. But we must accept that the vote was to actually leave the EU’s institutions, not just to go through the motions of a paper Brexit. We have the right to mourn, but Brexeunt all.
Further, the legitimacy of Remainers – like normal people – continuing to believe in their beliefs despite other people disagreeing with them was not really the main thrust of Blair’s speech. Blair called for a rethink – and to his credit wasn’t arrogant enough to assume this could happen without another referendum. And yet though he portrayed himself as a democrat, neither he nor those that think like him promote the position they do out of a desire to keep the people involved in the process. In truth, they see the views of those who voted for Brexit not as different, but wrong; 52% of the population voted to leave the European Union not out of preference, but stupidity. Months have now passed since the referendum – surely enough of these idiots have come to their senses to reverse the result in a fresh referendum? Despite what he says (and probably believes), Blair is not some messiah sticking up for ordinary people, who realises they have changed their minds and wants to offer them a stop button – he is a self-righteous, elitist zealot who thinks what he opines is synonymous with the truth. These people were wrong, and if they can only be scared and patronised enough they will choose “correctly” next time. Blair is a democrat of convenience, not a democrat of conviction.
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The mere mention of a person who “thinks what he opines is synonymous with the truth” inevitably brings to mind (President!) Donald Trump, who in another of his trademark “Rivers of Pish” speeches made up either a terrorist attack or a mass “Taharrush” sexual assault (he wasn’t clear which, but neither happened) in Sweden.
When someone is accused of ignoring “an inconvenient truth”, the implied criticism hinges on the unspoken assumption that something about true facts lends them greater import than commodious propositions. Yet in The Donald’s epistemology, veracity is trumped by the modality of the convenient. Anything that would be handy were it true, is true. Any “facts” reported by the media that Trump doesn’t like are not only fake, but a personal attack on the President that could only have been carried out by a failed journalist.
I cannot fathom how embarrassing it would be to be the staffer at the US State Department who has to reply to an e-mail from the Swedish Embassy asking: What the fuck is your ELECTED PRESIDENT on about?