I am on my way to Paddington. Travelling this way on a Saturday seems strange. I only got back to the west country on Thursday. But I will be on Park Lane at midday, as we gather for the People’s Vote March. If all goes well, it will be the largest public demonstration in the capital for more than a decade. Somehow I shall find my son, and we will march together.
I am not a natural marcher. This is only the third time in my life I will have turned out to demonstrate. The first was exactly 50 years ago, in Oxford, protesting about the Vietnam War. More recently I stood outside the Old Bailey, to protest the cuts to Legal Aid. And today it is the folly that is Brexit that saw me up shortly after 6:00.
Much is written about the anger of those who voted leave – their anger at elites, at the politicians they believe have ignored them, at metropolitan liberals in the south east, at being left behind, at losing their identity – and their anger that many of us who voted remain refuse to accept the result of the referendum.
We are told that in holding to our conviction – that Brexit has to be fought – we are disrespecting democracy and thus disrespecting those who, for whatever reason, voted to leave.
So be it.
I feel a corresponding anger. Not at those who voted leave but at those who manipulated the truth for their own ideological ends, and at those politicians (and they are not all in the Conservative Party) who continue to put personal ambition and party before country.
I have no idea how this will all end, except my money is on it ending badly.
But when my grandchildren ask me what I did, I want to be able to say that I marched – and that I marched for them, for Lewis and Max, Otti, and Amelie.
One of the least attractive aspects of the Brexit debacle is the way in which Brexiters have prayed in aid the (fairly) recent history of this country.
Perhaps the most egregious example is this tweet from Andrea Jenkyns
It is better to go down fighting and honouring the democratic decision of our British people. Then to be long remembered for waving a white flag and surrendering to EU demands. All Brexiteers in Gov and on the backbenches its time to #StandUp4Brexit and finally #ChuckChequers.
She is not, of course, alone in all this fighting talk. As Christopher Grey notes in his recent article in Prospect, How Brexit got metaphorical,
Indeed, mentioning the war—or a war—is almost compulsory. For Brexiters, Dunkirk—that strangely ambivalent moment of defeat and triumph—has pride of place, and their leaders also yearn for a fight on the beaches, if only to dust down their dodgy impersonations of Churchill.
and Nigel Farage is never more at home than when posing in front of a poster showing spitfires in the blue skies over the Weald.
There is a risk in looking for similar analogies. But one thing strikes me: Theresa May’s shtick is that she is only following orders.
In doing so, not only has she abnegated all responsibility for the state we are in, but far from being the woman of principle that she likes to portray herself as – and as she is held out to be by those who would wear her crown – her lack of imagination and blind insistence that the referendum vote is irreversible, because “the people spoke“ simply accelerates us towards the cliff edge.
She may not be the author of our misfortunes: he is holed up in a shepherd’s hut somewhere in Oxfordshire. Nonetheless, she has been his willing accomplice.
And the ‘Good Germans’?
In a Tory party desperate to cling to office, there are very few.