Welcome to the world’s biggest elite
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The People's Vote march received just the kind of snarky criticism we have all come to expect, says MITCH BENN.
Like many of you in body and all of you in spirit, I imagine, I spent Saturday last taking part in what became known as the People's Vote March, and have the badly sunburnt ever-expanding forehead to prove it. I recorded my experiences of, and reflections upon, the day itself in a 12 minute video which I posted on my YouTube channel the next morning. This video is now attracting pretty much exactly the kind of comments you'd expect. But – joy of joys – as the video's originator, I get to delete any comments I don't like. It's like having my own private Twitter in which I can make all the idiots disappear, Thanos-style, with a snap of my gauntleted fingers. I am drunk with power.
For what it's worth, the now-deleted comments were broadly of a piece with the snark which has been directed at the march throughout the media, social and otherwise; the event's detractors are not concentrating their fire on the aims of the march itself, or on the (impeccable) conduct of the marchers, nor are they attempting to throw shade on the numbers of attendees (understandable, given that it far exceeded everyone's expectations; I've heard various estimates ranging from 150,000 to half a million but in any event it was certainly well into six figures). Rather, the critics are, without exception, picking on what they perceive to be the demographic make-up of the protest.
Spiked online's Jon Holbrook got in early on Saturday afternoon, opining on Twitter that 'The #PeoplesVote is for the white middle class united in their contempt for ordinary people', while Julia Dunning-Kruger, sorry, Hartley-Brewer, in an instance of a lump of pure non-reflective obsidian calling a kettle black, chimed in with ''What do we want?' 'Focaccia bread with rosemary and sea salt to be sold at a reasonable price at Waitrose.' 'When do we want it?' 'Now!''. Ha ha! Do you see? Because middle class! She's a card.
I've always gone by the principle that to resort to ad hominem attacks is to concede you've lost the argument, but I suppose it's vaguely possible that these commentators genuinely think they're making some sort of valid point. I'm just having difficulty imagining what they think that point might be.
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One thing I do know, though, is this idea that the Remainers are all members of some sort of detached elite class, who are somehow entirely untouched by economic strife and social turmoil, while the true champions of the working class are those who are advocating abandoning the working class to their inevitable post-Brexit fate of joblessness, poverty, indignity and disease, REALLY needs to go away.
I don't know how typical I was of the marchers on Saturday – I heard accents from around the country (and elsewhere), I saw skin tones of various hues (indeed mine varied quite a bit over the course of the day – really should have worn a hat) but for what it's worth, and not that it's any of Jon or Julia's business, I can't afford private medical insurance; if the NHS bites the dust I'm as screwed as anyone else. My kids go to state schools, as did I; if the education system collapses they're in as much trouble as anyone else's children. I work in, I guess, an unusual industry but it's just as vulnerable to economic woes as any other enterprise; my income took a massive hit after the 2008 crash from which it's never fully recovered.
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My point is, I am 'ordinary people', I'm just an ordinary person with a bit of a profile which I'm going to keep using to advance the causes that matter to me. And not deliberately bankrupting and humiliating my country to avoid admitting we made a mistake is a cause which matters to me.
Meanwhile, of course, the Corbyntologists, hearing that their Seven Nation Army chant of 'Oh Jeremy Corbyn' was re-worded 'Where's Jeremy Corbyn' by waggish marchers, have decided that the sole purpose of the march was to undermine St Jeremy. That was it. No other concerns or motivations; it was all a foul Blairite plot to make Jeremy look bad.
So we have new-money, tax-shy hedge fund bandits and old-money, imperialist fantasists cheerleading Brexit from one side, and ivory tower-dwelling Year Zero socialist theoreticians cheerleading it from the other. But somehow we're the elitists. Got it.
They're rattled, though. Oh boy, are they rattled. You can't look at a protest of that size and dismiss all of them as 'the elite', for all they're trying. And that, in the end, is the most significant thing about Saturday's march; the fact that this movement, our movement, far from dwindling, far from fading away, is growing, in strength, numbers and vehemence. All the more remarkable when you consider that not only are we being attacked and slandered by both sides of the political establishment, but for two years we've been told that we're fighting not even a losing battle, but a lost battle. A battle that's already over.
Well it isn't over, not by a long chalk. The Brexiteers on both left and right can sneer all they want, but they saw what we can do and they know now that there will be no getting rid of us. Because for all their bluster, they know something; something they will never admit, but which is burning a hole in their minds.
We're right, and they're wrong.
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