‘In my imagination, there is no complication...‘
PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 November 2017 | UPDATED: 15:17 24 November 2017
I didn’t get much from my Twitter spat with Kylie Minogue’s songwriter, but his famous lyrics certainly sum up the mindset of Brexiteers.
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I won’t lie to you; this hasn’t been an easy gig this week. I don’t necessarily regard it as being my responsibility to put a comical spin on events in every issue, but I am conscious of the fact that it’s only because of my ‘profile’ as a humourist that anyone knows who I am or cares what I think, and as such I generally feel that I should inject at least a hint of levity into these columns.
But this week, perhaps more than at any time during the year-and-a-bit I’ve been contributing to this paper, I find I’m all smirked out.
I can’t raise so much as a Harrison Ford-esque knowing half-smile, let alone a chuckle. The news isn’t even blackly humorous any more, it’s just relentlessly bleak and depressing.
Labour – the ‘opposition’, remember – has voted WITH the government to take us out of the single market, while the ‘government’ (rarely have sarcasm-quotes been so richly merited) appears to have decreed as a matter of dogma (purely in order to duck out of some bit of post-Brexit admin) that animals feel no pain and have no emotions.
If this is true, my dog has some extremely varied and specific autonomic responses on the go. Sometimes he is so unconsciously reflexively stimulated to see me that I can’t get in through the front door.
Even the occasional faint glimmers of silvery good news tend to be lined with blackest cloud: Good news! The Democrats might pick up a Senate seat in Alabama! Bad news! That’s only because the Conservative Christian ‘Values’ candidate stands accused of having spent much of his 30s hanging around shopping malls trying to pick up underage girls! Good news! The government isn’t covering up the results of the Brexit impact survey any more! Bad news! It looks like they may not actually have done a Brexit impact survey after all.
The news really is a bottomless well of despair just at the moment, and so, mindful of my mental health and ever keen to maintain a psychological even keel, I’ve spent this week avoiding it and getting into protracted and bitter arguments on Twitter instead.
Over the weekend I incurred the wrath of about half of the Labour supporters there (and the support of the other half) by remarking upon the fact that despite the fact that this country currently toils under the single worst government in living memory (seriously; we’ve had nasty administrations, and dishonest and incompetent ones, but never a government this nasty and dishonest and incompetent all at the same time), Labour is nonetheless polling at best one or two points ahead of the Conservatives, and as often as not at level pegging.
I suggested that Labour could pull comfortably away from the Tories if they bit the bullet and came out in favour of Remain, given that there’s at least 48% of the electorate currently ‘homeless’ in party terms.
This was angrily rejected by Labour loyalists (albeit heartily endorsed by a rather greater number of Labour-leaning but disenfranchised Remainers) who pointed out that being openly anti-Brexit didn’t do the Lib Dems any favours in June.
While this is true in as far as it goes, it’s not really a valid analogy once you take into account the way general elections actually work in this country.
The Lib Dems are, at the best of times, not taken seriously as a potential party of government, and this June was not the best of times for the Lib Dems, given they’ve still never really recovered from having been perceived to have betrayed their core vote by ‘selling out’ in order to enter the Coalition back in 2010, and were at the time being led by the whirlwind of charisma that is Tim Farron.
Remainerism was never likely to do them much good, but it could be transformative if adopted by an energised main opposition party (energised for now; the post-election Corbymania is dwindling fast and will continue to do so unless Labour start to actually oppose, rather than enable the government).
A few days later I found myself, bizarrely, mired in a lengthy dispute with Mike Stock, as in Stock Aitken and Waterman, names sure to send a chill through the heart of anyone who remembers the wasteland of interchangeable Australian soap stars that was the UK singles chart at the end of the 1980s.
Mike Stock is, you’ll be entirely unsurprised to hear, a Brexiteer of the bluff, hearty ‘Calm down dear it’ll all be alright’ variety.
Well I’m sure Mike Stock will be alright, unless of course he had the world’s worst accountants back in 1988 (or unless Pete Waterman had the world’s best accountants back in 1988). It’s the rest of us I’m worried about.
I did ask Mr Stock to give me one good reason for leaving, in return for which I would give him ten good reasons to stay, but he didn’t seem to get the Jason Donovan reference.
I can only conclude he’s purged his back catalogue from his memory. Would that I could do the same.
Perhaps I just need to find out which news outlets the Mike Stocks of the world are watching, assuming they are, because I think I might find a brief interlude of blithe ignorance of what awaits us quite refreshing. Or maybe reality will find a way to seep into their collective consciousness, and they’ll join us in trying to find a way to avert this pointless, needless disaster.
We should be so lucky.
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Almost four years after its creation The New European goes from strength to strength across print and online, offering a pro-European perspective on Brexit and reporting on the political response to the coronavirus outbreak, climate change and international politics. But we can only rebalance the right wing extremes of much of the UK national press with your support. If you value what we are doing, you can help us by making a contribution to the cost of our journalism.Become a supporter