The Brexit Snake-Oil Salesmen Have Rolled Into Town
I look at the group speechifying for Brexit - Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith, Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, John Whittingdale et al - and I hear their promises to give me control, to give me democracy, to ensure the low paid get higher wages, to lower VAT, to increase NHS funding... and it all sounds really good. But it also reminds me of travelling quacks rolling their cart into town and selling an elixir that can cure all ills.
So, how do I decide? Well, luckily, these people are not travelling quacks. They are public persons who have real power and influence right now. And who, importantly, have a record. It is legitimate to ask when have any of these people shown any interest or inclination, or used their power and influence, to give me any of those things? The answer is: never.
The idea that they will remove the oppression of faceless Brussels bureaucrats is seductive. But living in the UK, what is this oppression and how have I felt it? Outside the screaming headlines of millionaire tabloid owners, how precisely has it manifested? In my everyday life. Practically. Is it about bananas or cheese? Have I ever actually been oppressed by rules on maternity leave or equality or a five-day week?
Every single bit of oppression I have ever experienced, has emanated from this very group, at domestic level, now selling me a magical fantasy of sovereignty and democracy. They are the ones who have assaulted the NHS, who have cut frontline services, who have done property deals from which they profit, who have milked the system of MP or MEP expenses, who have told me I cannot marry whomever I want, who are trying to look at my private emails, who take potshots at the BBC, who use the police to kettle my peaceful protest, who cut benefits for disabled people, who conceived the bedroom tax.
They are the same people who defend an unelected upper house, the monarchy, who opposed a more representative electoral system, who denied Scotland its sovereignty, who are trying to redraw boundaries in order to stitch up future elections. What democracy, what control are those people suddenly so keen to give me?
When they say they want to take back control, they mean for themselves. In a very real and practical way. And to that I must answer: no thanks. I have seen how you use the control you already have. Removing whatever mechanism limits it, seems to me a very very bad idea.
You will simply have to find another way to sort out your petty public-school squabble and select the next leader of the Tory party. I have no interest in enabling the right wing of your right wing, reinforcing the ultra-authoritarian tendencies within what little democracy I do have.
I have no interest in your quack medicine. It is provably poison.