Mitch Benn: Remoaners no more... we're winning, not whining
I couldn't make it to the March For Europe last Saturday; perhaps this dereliction of duty means my Remoaner licence has now been revoked and I must now be demoted to Regrumbler or Rewhiner.
But, it just so happens, I think the weekend's events may have rendered all such terms obsolete. I'll explain:
Some bright spark at the March had the idea of swinging by the Royal Albert Hall just as the crowd for the Last Night Of the Proms was being admitted and handing out hundreds of blue and gold EU flags to the assembled concert goers, to be waved alongside the more traditionally brandished Union Flags during the patriotic finale (yes, 'Flags'; it's only properly referred to as the Union Jack when flown in a naval capacity, and I'm nothing if not consistent in my pedantry).
I'm not sure what the take-up rate was for these flags but whatever it was, it proved too much for the gossamer sensibilities of the Daily Express, which managed to rouse itself wanly from its fainting couch the next day to fulminate at how the event had been 'hijacked by remoaners'. Because after all, the concert hall named in honour of Queen Victoria's beloved German husband is no place to start demonstrating in favour of maintaining links with the continent.
Speaking of marrying Germans, Farage The Unflushable soon weighed in on the issue, accusing the EU flag-wavers of being 'in denial' about the referendum result. Presumably the same denial that he himself pledged to immerse himself in during the evening of June 23 last year, when early counts made it look like we were heading for a narrow Remain victory, and he vowed to 'fight on' if such were indeed the case. Perhaps it's only 'denial' when it's the Remoaners doing it.
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But hang on a minute...
Who's 'moaning' now?
- 1 These are the 322 Tory MPs who voted against extending free school meals to children
- 3 Betty Boothroyd delivers scathing assessment of Boris Johnson's government
- 4 Michael Gove's Brexit fantasy is leading us down a perilous path
- 5 Brexit shambles: A stress of our own making
- 6 Boris Johnson 'plans to resign' in six months because he can't live on £150k salary
- 7 WILL SELF: Two places where everyone knows your name
- 9 Question Time: Ex-Tory minister accused of making 'sickening' comment about free schools meals row
- 10 How the Daily Star became Boris Johnson's biggest critic
Were those who waved their blue and gold flags alongside their red white and blue flags in the Albert Hall 'moaning'? Or were they celebrating the fact that they, like roughly half the population of the country, recognise that there's no contradiction or indeed even conflict between having pride in one's Britishness and also in being European? Were those who took to the streets on Saturday 'moaning', or simply exhibiting exactly the kind of defiance the Leavers had sworn to show if the vote had gone the other way?
Read this paper; are we 'moaning'? Or are we rather making the positive case for Britain's continued participation in the European experiment, while observing that the 'case' for leaving, such as it ever was, has been long since discredited, not least from the mouths of its own proponents?
When we flag up the sheer inadequacy of the government's approach to the Brexit negotiations, is that 'moaning', or alarm? There's a lot of moaning going on about Brexit, to be sure, but it's not coming from our side.
The Brexiteers moan when British people eagerly wave the EU flag precisely because they choose to do it. The flags weren't pressed into their unwilling hands by thugs from Brussels, their Union Flags weren't confiscated, they weren't instructed to wave the EU flag by BBC floor managers, whatever the Daily Mail letters page might think (in fact, the BBC technicians had a large Ring O'Stars which a concertgoer had draped over the balcony removed). The people – that's The People, whose will is absolute, remember – chose to wave those flags. Funny how The People are ineffably wise as long as they appear to support the Brexit agenda but become a treasonous rabble the minute they stop playing ball.
The Brexiteers, as I pointed out last week, moan like hell that the Remainers refuse to get on board with their insane project and continue instead to raise pettyfogging objections like 'It'll bankrupt the country, reduce our international influence to nil and possibly start a civil war in Ireland'.
They moan, as did our old pal Julia Hartley Brewer on Twitter last week: 'Soooo many Remoaner bores on my timeline tonight. Don't they ever take a night off from despising democracy?'
Two obvious responses came to mind: firstly, the 'unfollow' button is right there, Jules. Unless you've already purged all the vocal Remainers from your timeline and it's still full of anti-Brexit tweets in which case what does that tell you, and secondly; Wait, WHO 'despises democracy'?
This week the government's Withdrawal Bill represents just the most recent – and blatant – attempt to bypass and/or subvert the sovereignty of Parliament since the referendum. That looks a lot more like 'despising democracy' than calling for the people to be consulted on Brexit after they've had a chance to discover what it actually entails.
The Brexiteers perverted democracy last June by bombarding the voters with lies and knowingly false promises and they've been running and hiding from 'democracy' ever since. And now, as the lies are exposed, their case lies in tatters and whatever victory they won is left hollow, all they have left is insults, and moaning. So. Much. Moaning.
So, for all that we successfully 'reclaimed' it quite early on in proceedings I've decided I'm not going to use the word 'Remoaner' any more, not even ironically. We're REMAINERS. We're not whining. We're winning.