by Stuart Littlewood
I have a bad feeling about the referendum vote tomorrow (Thursday).
All the mainstream political parties – Conservatives, Labour, Liberal Democrats, Greens – want us to remain in the EU. The Establishment wants us to remain. The US wants us to remain. And roughly half of British voters are bribed by cosy perks like EU-guaranteed employment and maternity rights to remain; or they feel the devil they know is better than the devil they don’t. The trouble is, they neither know nor properly understand the EU and its devlish machinations. Hardly anyone outside the Brussells bubble does. If the proverbial man on the Clapham Omnibus cannot understand it, and has no chance of exercising democratic control, that on its own is good reason for not belonging to it.
The referendum is a vote the Establishment and our political elite cannot afford to lose. And it’s a vote the EU itself cannot afford to lose. If the UK brick is removed from the crumbling wall the whole top-heavy edifice is likely to come crashing down.
It is for ordinary people to decide the question whether to stay or leave. The referendum is not interested in the views of political parties and their self-serving agendas. Nevertheless the parties are trying desperately to force their views on ordinary voters and persuade them to become their proxies. Millions will do so.
Rational discussion has been further derailed by the horrific slaying of Jo Cox, who was a prominent pro-EU campaigner. Her husband and children were recorded shortly before her murder taking part in a counter-demo against the fishermens’ anti-EU protest flotilla on the Thames and flying an ‘In’ flag on their speedboat.
There’s a strong whiff of dishonesty about the way the murder story unfolded. It has changed or been “corrected” many times. Did the perpetrator shout “Britain first”, or not? Was he attacking an elderly man with Jo intervening, or was he attacking Jo with the elderly gent intervening? He fired three rounds. Was it from a home-made handgun or a sawn-off shotgun? Nobody seems sure. Did he have a history of mental illness, or not? Was he getting treatment? Was he high on drugs, or not? Whatever the truth, the ‘Remain’ side and mainstream media have managed to whip up public hysteria against the ‘hatemongers’ who caused her death, implying the anti-EU brigade.
There’s also a disturbing similarity to the murder, in public, of prominent pro-Euro MP and foreign affairs minister, Anna Lindh, just four days before the Swedish referendum on joining the Eurozone in 2003. All campaigning was cancelled but the vote went ahead. The result was ‘no’, although in Stockholm where the murder took place, a clear majority voted ‘yes’. The killer was judged mentally ill and admitted he was high on drugs at the time.
Let’s assume Jo was the victim of a deranged loner rather than a ‘psy-ops’ operation as now suggested in some quarters. How are unstable individuals, who may be fiercely patriotic inasmuch as they consider British people and their interests must come first, supposed to regard MPs who are so passionately pro-EU that they support the idea of giving away £8.5bn of British taxpayers’ money a year to a foreign bureaucracy over which we have little or no control? The arithmetic, by the way, is the 2015 figure of £13 billion net contribution minus £4.5 billion then spent by the EU in the UK. The remainder, £8.5 billion, disappears into the gaping maw and is lost for ever. There are hundreds of MPs who seem happy with this gigantic loss of public funds at a time of austerity, real hardship and crumbling public services at home.
Where is such an individual, on a bad day with his pschotropic medication, likely to focus his rage? Jo Cox had other potential nutty enemies too on account of her work in the Middle East (and by the way how wise was it to set up a fund in her name for the Syrian White Helmets?). These are things all MPs need to think about when tempted to stray outside their prime task which is to serve British parliamentary democracy.
Another concern affecting the chances of a positive outcome tomorrow is the strange assortment of spokesmen assigned to the ‘Out’ campaign. Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove have very little following. Boris Johnson is more likable but a misfit. His clowning in the past means that no-one knows whether to take him seriously on this most serious of subjects. Besides, his CV includes Eton and the Bullingdon Club so he comes from the same stable of loutish toffs as ‘Remain’ leaders Cameron and Osborne. Why would he turn on his own and deepen the already throbbing rift in the Conservative Party? The threesome are joined by the volatile Nigel Farage with whom they have little in common and whose UKIP party overflows with undisciplined hardliners with dodgy backgrounds – a gift to the opposing side.
This unlovely quartet are flanked by a handful of more credible MPs who get little chance to speak, and it is not the team most ordinary ‘Leave’ citizens would choose to champion their cause. Farage in particular sails close to the wind in terms of inflammatory language and images, and his placing of a questionable advertisment just prior to the tragedy gave opponents a chance to link Jo Cox’s murder to the Brexiteers and discredit the entire ‘Leave’ campaign.
Farage doesn’t actually put a foot wrong but his inability to soften the tone provides the ever-righteous thought police, the coiled-to-strike propagandists and hostile media enough ammunition to score telling points. And in a neck-and-neck contest that’s all it takes to tip the result the wrong way.
Many of us have a deep sense of foreboding as a result of what happened these last few days. This vote is our one and only chance to escape to sanity and prosperity before the stricken ship goes down. But I’m afraid the Dark Powers may have arranged things so that they keep us under lock and key.
After working on jet fighters in the RAF Stuart became an industrial marketing specialist with manufacturing companies and consultancy firms. He also “indulged himself” as a newspaper columnist. In politics, he served as a Cambridgeshire county councillor and member of the Police Authority. Now retired he campaigns on various issues and contributes to several online news & opinion sites. An Associate of the Royal Photographic Society, he has produced two photo-documentary books which can be read online at Radiofreepalestine.org.uk and Paperturn-view.com