Swords of a Thousand Men: The Last Day of the EU referendum campaign

Today is finally the last day of campaigning in the EU referendum and this miserable, hopeless exercise that started as a Tory Party dispute and an attempt by the even more hard right of the Tories to grab power which has now ended up in a sewer full of lies, bigotry, ethnic nationalism, English/British exceptionalism, sneering, racism and the death of a British MP finally closes. Last night saw a Chris Morris sketch from The Day Today become real as David Dimbleby presented Question Time from Wembley Arena.

As opposed to Scotland’s independence referendum, this hasn’t seen the rise of democratic debate among people disenfranchised, it has seen the total success of fact free ‘debate’ from both the shrill, scaremongering Remain side, and the shrill, scaremongering and racist Leave side. People believe the UK gives £350 million a week, a lie. Some people may also believe Gordon Brown’s claim that a Remain vote will bring half a million new jobs to the UK, also a lie. There has been no great quality of debate at all with most televised debates ending up in shouting and anger.

I’ve already voted to stay in the EU, not because of any great love of the EU, but because the benefits (free movement, human rights, employments laws, being part of Europe) is important even if the EU isn’t the efficient machine it could be. I don’t want to support the Leave campaign’s horrendously racist campaign, because here’s the thing, if you vote to leave based upon a fear of Turkey joining then I’m sorry, but you’re a fucking bigot. That doesn’t mean I think all people voting leave are bigots or racists, there will after all be bigots and racists voting to stay, but the leave campaign has racism at it’s core and I reject that.

But there’s a number of people that have had a shocking campaign with just a few having decent campaigns. Lets start with those who’ve had a shocker:

Jeremy Corbyn

Corbyn’s an old socialist in the Labour mold. He’s been against the EU for decades, and his campaigning in this referendum has been full of carefully drilled in platitudes that he’s been coached to an inch of his life to say like he’s meaning it. It doesn’t wash though. His performance on Sky this week was dreadful as he was clearly uncomfortable speaking to people who aren’t his core and that should worry Labour in England. If he can’t connect with people outwith his supporters then Labour has issues, but overall Corbyn’s had a shocker.

Old British Socialists

There’s going to be a number of the left voting to leave. If the argument to leave had been based round a progressive politics and a reform of UK democracy, I’d have considered to have voted to leave. It hasn’t. It’s been based around extreme free market neoliberal economics, English/British exceptionalism and racism. If you vote to leave because you think people are going to ‘come to their senses’ and vote Labour, or that the Tories will collapse after the referendum and kick themselves out of power then think again. It isn’t the 1970’s or 80’s. Socialism has moved on and the old tired Labour model needs updating.

David Cameron

There is not one single sane, sensible reason we should be having this referendum in 2016 unless you want to leave, yet Cameron wants to stay. Basically, he’s fucked up. He thought he’d have a nice, short campaign running at the same time as national elections in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, not to mention local and Mayoral elections in England. He thought people would be distracted with summer as after all, it’s Glastonbury, the Euros are on and people are off on holiday yet the short, contracted campaign has ensured a Big Complex Subject like the EU which needed a longer, more informed debate has been reduced to arguments about bananas and Hitler.

He faces either the last day or so in power as there’s no way he can remain as Prime Minster and Tory leader if he loses the vote, or to cling on by the skin of his teeth with the harder, more far right arm of his party chipping away at him for however long he manages to cling on. The only person he can blame is himself.

Boris Johnson

Johnson started this campaign as the heir apparent to Cameron. He ends it as someone contemptible, repulsive and so abhorrently full of shite who may have pissed in his soup in terms of becoming leader of the Tories and Prime Minister, which this is what all of this is about. If Cameron wasn’t so shite scared of losing his job before he decides to leave he’d not have shat it and ran a referendum now.

Johnson’s been a shambles in all the debates he’s been part from. He’s used the clearly xenophobic ‘we want our country back’ phrase coined by the far right UKIP while avoiding any real intelligent debate. He’s now aping this speech.

Yes if it is a Leave vote, Johnson is empowered. He’s won. He’s of value to the Tories because forget the idea of the Tories tearing themselves apart, I mean, they may, but I’m also possibly a small 8 year old child named Melanie.  The Tories are exceptionally good in coming together to keep power, they have done and will do because the fact is traditional politics is changing. Just as Corbyn has issues trying to update Labour’s version of socialism, the Tories know they have problems updating to the 21st century so Johnson’s solution is to forget even trying and drag the country back.

What do you really think Johnson means when he says ‘taking back control’?Do you think that’s to do with your democracy? Does it fuck.

The Media

With one or two exceptions like Jon Snow or Paul Mason, the media has been a crowd of useless, elitist, sneering, wankers. They’ve failed to understand why people are angry with the mainstream and failed to understand why people feel lost and angry because the media has failed to hold power to account, instead choosing to cosy up to that power.

Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage is a far right racist with borderline fascist tendencies. He’s an unapologetic liar and he’s actually had not a bad campaign by his standards as after all, he’s whipped up hate against immigrants, especially Muslims, ‘lefties’ and anyone who isn’t a racist like he is. He’s a vile, and I think, genuinely evil figure who is rejected by most of us, yet he’s still there like a cancer that won’t go. He’s destroyed any last idea he’s not a racist, but he doesn’t care. He’s motivated bigots and scared people.He’s had a disaster of a campaign but he’s also had a good one, especially if we leave and shows his value to a Tory Party desperate for all those votes he’ll bring with him.

I will say some people have ran a good campaign to Remain, Alan Johnson, Alex Salmond and Caroline Lucas have made some great speeches and stood head and shoulders above the likes of Farage, but with the campaign for weeks dominated by Cameron’s threats and Labour under Corbyn doing nothing what was imprinted upon people was the shrill Tory upon Tory campaign at the start. There’s been on the whole a terrible campaign that’s only ended up in a quagmire of British nationalism, racism, hate and fear which frankly you can trace back to Better Together’s campaign in the Indyref. There’s a direct line of sight from Scottish politicians making the word ‘foreigner’ into a pejorative to Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson whipping up fear of Turks as a bunch of terrorist criminals who will rape you, your wife and your cat while waving scimitars in the air.

Yet as abhorrent as the racism of the Leave campaign is, I’m tired of the smug middle class bullshit of the Remain campaign. Post a list of business leaders who want to remain?That isn’t an argument? Post a video of Richard Branson saying he’d like to stay? Snap, the same. That isn’t going to convince undecided voters because these people may be people in this case I’m forced to agree with, but it doesn’t mean that people undecided think that.

Also, if anyone voting to leave thinks they wake up on Friday in an independent country then they’re a fool, and when it all goes wrong do you know what you do, you suck it up and try as much as you can to rectify your mistake because there’s a damn good chance you end up like this.

Do you think that woman didn’t realise what the Tories are or how the system works? Possibly, but when she looked at the Tories she thought it’s be someone else they fucked over not her, and the same is true her. It isn’t other people going to be fucked over by a leave vote, it’s you and ask yourself why supporters of tax havens like Boris Johnson would want to leave the EU?

It isn’t racist to be concerned about immigration. It is racist to demonise them, dehumanise them and Other them. If you think immigration will be under control (whatever that actually means) after a Brexit then think again. However a progressive politics have to deal with these concerns and make the case for immigrants, to be part of a larger union and no, as a supporter of Scottish independence there isn’t a contradiction. The UK and EU are different things which is where I think the pro-EU vote the polls suggest in Scotland and Northern Ireland suggest a greater understanding of politics, plus where the real villain in all this is which is the political system of Westminster politics which isn’t going to change. Vote leave and you think that’s going to change?

We’ll find out on Friday morning, but this isn’t over regardless. Farage isn’t going back in his box. The xenophobia won’t go. The lies and bullshit will have consequences. The racism won’t go. The climate that led up to the murder of Jo Cox by a far right British racist is still there. My hope is that people do pull back from the brink regardless of the result, but my fear is that they’ll go on instead into the future raging.


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