The New European - - Expertise -

It’s get­ting more dif­fi­cult, isn’t it?

With ev­ery day that passes it’s get­ting harder not to just switch off the news, log off the in­ter­net, go about our daily busi­ness and pre­tend that none of this is hap­pen­ing, or at least, that even if it is hap­pen­ing it’ll all just work it­self out some­how.

It’s not easy to sit through the un­fold­ing des­per­ate spec­ta­cle which is party con­fer­ence sea­son, to watch both the two ‘ma­jor’ par­ties ob­fus­cate and dis­sem­ble as they edge around the vast, stink­ing, de­com­pos­ing ele­phant corpse in the room which is Brexit.

To hear the Labour lead­er­ship trot out their ab­surd plans for a “jobs-first Brexit”, a con­cept which makes about as much sense as a “build­ings-first earth­quake”; to see the Tory ‘lead­er­ship’ and the var­i­ous ri­val Tory lead­er­ships-in­wait­ing play out their cod-shake­spearean tragic farce, with Theresa May cast as a ro­bot-danc­ing Cae­sar sur­rounded by an en­tire party of Bru­tuses (Bruti?).

Or to watch, across the At­lantic, the hideous par­ti­san cha­rade of the rail­road­ing of Brett Ka­vanaugh onto the Supreme Court, see­ing his Repub­li­can spon­sors con­grat­u­late them­selves on their brazen flout­ing of es­tab­lished norms and pro­ce­dures in order to stitch up what is sup­posed to be the fi­nal, apo­lit­i­cal ar­biter of right and wrong in the USA for the next few decades. And to con­tem­plate that this means that a pres­i­dent who is cur­rently an unin­dicted co-con­spir­a­tor in at least one crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion (and pos­si­bly more in due course) just got to pick his own pros­e­cu­tor (specif­i­cally one who, in 2009, pub­lished an ar­ti­cle opin­ing that a sit­ting pres­i­dent shouldn’t even be in­ves­ti­gated, let alone in­dicted).

Or in­deed to con­tem­plate that a sav­age ex­posé of Don­ald Trump’s fi­nan­cial his­tory (in which it was al­leged not only that his sup­posed busi­ness ge­nius – the whole ba­sis, re­mem­ber, of his pitch for the pres­i­dency – is an ut­ter myth, and that he has been liv­ing off hand­outs from his fa­ther’s com­pany for his en­tire life, but also that the Trump fam­ily may have avoided as much as half a bil­lion dol­lars in tax in the course of sub­si­dis­ing Don­ald’s many fail­ures) was pub­lished last week in the New York Times, only to be greeted with com­plete in­dif­fer­ence and an ap­par­ent to­tal lack of con­se­quence.

It’s not easy to keep watch­ing the bad guys win. It’s very tempt­ing to change the chan­nel, to close the win­dow, to stop read­ing this pa­per.


Don’t log off. Don’t switch off the news. Don’t stop buy­ing this pa­per (se­ri­ously, don’t).

Be­cause that’s what they want.

And I’m not us­ing “they” in the vague con­spir­acy the­ory sense of the word here. I mean the Brexit ring­leaders, the press barons, the dis­as­ter cap­i­tal­ists and the dis­as­ter so­cial­ists. It’s not your anger they seek to pro­voke, it’s not your out­rage they want. It’s your de­spair. Your res­ig­na­tion. Your ap­a­thy.

Don’t give it to them.

I know Lon­don is a long way away for some, in­deed most of you. I know not ev­ery­body can take a whole day (or two) off, even at the week­end. And I know that it’s hard to keep the en­thu­si­asm from dim­ming in the face of such re­lent­less scorn and ridicule. But on Oc­to­ber 20, we have a chance to wipe that smirk right off of their faces. They were star­tled by the size of the Peo­ple’s Vote rally back in June; this time we need to scare the liv­ing crap out of them.

Be­cause ev­ery week, even if it’s not re­ported or even widely re­marked upon, we score an­other lit­tle vic­tory. There was one at the Con­ser­va­tive con­fer­ence, which I don’t think many peo­ple picked up on. In her speech the Prime Min­is­ter ad­mon­ished the gung-ho-for-no-deal hard­lin­ers in her party, say­ing “If we all go off in dif­fer­ent direc­tions in pur­suit of our own vi­sions of the per­fect Brexit, we risk end­ing up with no Brexit at all”.

See that? Not many peo­ple no­ticed, but right there, the prime min­is­ter did what no po­lit­i­cal leader is sup­posed to do right now – she ad­mit­ted the pos­si­bil­ity that Brexit might not hap­pen.

That’s a big­ger deal than I think most peo­ple re­alise. The no­tion that Brexit – some form of Brexit – is, since the ref­er­en­dum, a given, an in­evitabil­ity, has gone un­con­tra­dicted by ei­ther the Tory or Labour lead­er­ship for more than two years now. But there it was, right in the prime min­is­ter’s ad­dress: “We risk end­ing up with no Brexit at all.”

The cer­tainty of Brexit – and the im­pos­si­bil­ity of a fi­nal deal vote – has been crum­bling in full view of the pub­lic ever since the march in June. In the space of a few months we’ve gone from “WTF is a Peo­ple’s Vote?” to “Ha! Yeah, right, a Peo­ple’s Vote!” to “There will never be a Peo­ple’s Vote” to “There might be a sort of Peo­ple’s Vote”...

Mean­while, at the SNP con­fer­ence, Ni­cola Stur­geon con­firmed that, should a fi­nal deal vote come be­fore par­lia­ment, the SNP would sup­port it. With Plaid Cymru also on board, that’s ba­si­cally ev­ery party now on our side ex­cept the Con­ser­va­tives and Labour. Oh, and UKIP. How long Labour can feel com­fort­able be­ing on that list is en­tirely their prob­lem. Just at the mo­ment, com­pla­cency is com­plic­ity.

Please, if you can, come down to Lon­don on Oc­to­ber 20. I know that buses are be­ing or­gan­ised from many cities; go on­line and see if there’s one that’s con­ve­nient for you.

Let’s do this. Let’s not let the bad guys win this one. Re­sist.

Photo: Matthew Chat­tle / Bar­croft Im­ages

RE­SIST­ING: Protesters take part in the Peo­ple’s Vote rally in Lon­don on June 24, 2018

Mitch Benn

Co­me­dian, Mu­si­cian, Writer

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