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Mitch Benn: We’ve come so far – now for the big push

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 24: Cabinet Office signs and doors covered with stickers after the People's Vote march on June 24, 2018 in London, England. PHOTOGRAPH BY Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images (Photo credit should read Matthew Chattle / Barcroft Images / Barcroft Media via Getty Images) - Credit: Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Writer, comedian and musician MITCH BENN issues a rallying call for readers to join the People’s Vote March in London.

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-in-waiting play out their cod-Shakespearean tragic farce, with Theresa May cast as a robot-dancing Caesar surrounded by an entire party of Brutuses (Bruti?).

MORE: All you need to know about the People’s Vote March

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.

MORE: ‘We are becoming a self-built cultural jail’ – Musicians speak out against Brexit

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.

MORE: Events – How you can help the grassroots anti-Brexit campaigns

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.

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