The general election is a big important part of the battle for the Remain movement – but the war won’t be over on Friday morning.
I know the home stretch going into an election is supposed to be all about clarity and unity of purpose, and the last thing you want to be presented with right now is a paradox, but I’m going to hit you with one anyway because I’m that kind of guy and it’s kind of important. So here it comes…
This is not our last chance.
But it’s vitally important that we treat it as if it were.
Now I’m not going to insult your intelligence and integrity by wasting this, my final column before the election, by trying to impress upon you the importance of the vote and how essential it is that you all take part because you already know all that.
There are creatures with one brain cell and no spinal cord floating about near volcanic vents at the bottom of the Marianas Trench who understand what a big deal this election is.
Nor am I going to waste any ink (or pixels) exhorting you all not to give up. Of course you’re not going to give up. Not giving up is the defining trait of this movement and of this esteemed newspaper’s readership.
“We don’t give up” is our motto (and could go on the Remainer coat of arms if anyone fancies translating it into Latin, or, to be even more on-brand, French).
This election is happening because we didn’t give up. The October and March deadlines for the expiration of our EU membership sailed past us because we didn’t give up.
We’re still in this fight, and indeed there is still a fight for us to be in, because we didn’t give up, at any point over the three and a half years now during which we’ve been told that it’s over, we lost, get over it, we’re a stubborn dwindling rearguard, etc. etc. etc. They were wrong (again), we were right (again) and we’re still here.
And this might not be the vote we wanted – yet – but it’s a vote. We got ourselves factored back into the decision-making process, even if it’s one which is horribly open to misuse before the fact and misinterpretation after it.
We will still trudge into polling booths, however wearily, this Thursday, and put a cross on a piece of paper. That’s much more influence than the Brexiters, the Lexiters, the Kippers, the ERG and the other RWNJs (that’s ‘right-wing nut jobs’) ever wanted to grant us and we took it from them by force of will. Never forget that.
I’m not going to sit here and start making predictions about where we’ll find ourselves on Friday morning because nobody knows. As I said on election night just two and a half years ago (and it’s every bit as true today) we find ourselves in the age of the rogue vote. The result that night took most of us by surprise and this week’s outcome is no foregone conclusion either.
The polls have been narrowing, as they did last time, and Boris Johnson’s lead wasn’t as broad to begin with as was Theresa May’s initial advantage. She turned out to be a brutally dreadful campaigner, while Boris Johnson has all but refused to campaign. Are the public beginning to see through him? Are they starting to register his absence from all but the most hand-picked benign interactions with press or people and feel the absolute contempt that he has for us?
Because that’s what it is; contempt, not cowardice. I’m sure Johnson doesn’t relish the prospect of an on-screen evisceration at the hands of Andrew Neil – who would – but the reason he’s not following the example of his rivals and predecessors and just gritting his teeth and getting on with it is that uniquely, he feels entitled not to.
Johnson regards submitting himself to interrogation by a ghastly little oik like Neil, for the benefit of all the other ghastly little oiks (ie. us) to be utterly beneath him.
We used to reflect upon how there seemed to be nothing underpinning David Cameron’s political philosophy save his own sense of entitlement; Cameron is a fawning supplicant compared to the baggy-suited Nero we currently suffer under.
But if it happens – if you’re reading this on Friday morning and the Naked Emperor is burbling triumphantly away in front of Number 10 – this still isn’t over.
If Brexit happens (or begins to happen – as we keep trying to point out, our leaving the EU would be but the start of years of turmoil) then this movement doesn’t simply go away. It’s too big, too energised, too committed. Whatever the immediate outcome, this whole sorry episode has already produced one wonderful side-effect: The birth – at last – of a vocal, enthusiastic, unified pro-European movement in the United Kingdom. That’s not going anywhere.
And the only reason this whole catastrophe befell us in the first place is that the anti-European movement never gave up after the 1970s, and they had a far less coherent case and (it turns out) a far smaller support base than we do right now.
If Brexit goes ahead, the last day of the campaign to prevent it becomes the first day of the campaign to undo it.
This week is a battle, and a big important battle, and we’ve got to do everything we can. Vote, get your friends out to vote, bend the ears off your recalcitrantly tribal mates about the importance of outcomes over motivations.
But the war won’t be over – either way – on Friday morning.
Then resist some more.