Tuesday, 21 June 2016
This land is your land
“Labour, Liberal or Conservative?” Pinned to the prefab classroom wall by the henchmen of the school bully, my eight-year old self had no idea what he right answer was. “Conservative?” I ventured whereupon, having guessed the ‘right’ answer, I was released to go about my business which, back then, was roiling around the playground in the melee that comprised my circle of friends, all of whom it turned out had been subjected to the same inquisition. Those who said Labour had fared less well than I. We had no idea, but it transpired that in rural North Yorkshire, the Conservatives were the friend of farming families, in whose interests their lusty, big-boned offspring were happily junior-brownshirting every future voter, to what purpose... ooh look, squirrel!
The attention span of a sub-teen has always been an ephemeral thing and hard to pin down and the election came and went, installing Harold Wilson in Number 10 without my further involvement. Four years later the only real reason his replacement with Ted Heath even registered was because of Mike Yarwood’s good-natured and mostly politics-free impersonations. There was a certain deference towards our politicians back then; disliked they may be at times, but there was a general feeling amongst the ruled that our rulers had the best interests of the nation at heart. How could it be otherwise? This all changed when Ted Heath took us into the Common Market.
As a schoolkid the research material available to me was limited, but I became aware of Enoch Powell defying his own party and leader to lobby for change in 1974 when he stated that the main issue in the first election campaign of that year was whether Britain was to “remain a democratic nation ... or whether it will become one province in a new Europe super-state” and backed the Labour party, “the party which is committed to a fundamental renegotiation of the Treaty of Brussels”. It was messier than just that but eventually Wilson was back in the chair with a promise to hold a referendum on our membership. Here is Peter Shore in 1975 backing Britain and decrying Project Fear. Watch it and wonder at how little has changed. Project Fear won then; we little people didn’t have 24-hour rolling news and the social media with which to discuss it.
Since then our relationship with our own leaders has been an increasingly uneasy one, with the EU never out of the headlines for the wrong reasons. We don’t fit in, it’s as simple as that; Britain is more than just geographically detached from mainland Europe but it is that geography which has shaped our nature. Politics has always been a dirty business, but in the end the one thing each party had to do was somehow carry the people with it to come first past the post. A vote to stay in the EU takes the government one step closer to ending the degrading charade of pretending to care what we think; if they get the answer they want, they won’t need to ask us ever again.
And as for that quaint and vaguely simplistic old notion of asking the people, ask the workers who used to be Labour’s bedrock what they think of Nigel Farage and don’t hold your nose while you do it. The party that wanted us out of the EEC for the benefit of ordinary working people is now half-heartedly asking you to vote to remain; no wonder the only reliably steadfast figure they can see is the one who for twenty years has been trying to wake the country from its slumber. And what is the last argument the Remainers are using? That what he and half the country see as reality is nothing other than unbridled xenophobia; Project Shame.
Let's show our leaders what we really think...
Don’t listen to Project Fear. Disregard Project Shame. Dismiss those who dare to say they trust the British people but then seek to take them out of the equation. This is the very last opportunity you will ever have to stand up and be an independent nation again. You gave that independence away once; take it back on Thursday. The Leave campaign has no visions for what happens on the outside? Of course they have; a re-unified Britain, a common need to rebuild all that was good and cut through the smokescreen of detached global domination politics. Your land or their land? This is your choice.