Can you switch with Mitch at the People's Vote march?

PUBLISHED: 12:00 18 October 2019

Mitch Benn performing at a People's Vote march. Picture: Twitter

Mitch Benn performing at a People's Vote march. Picture: Twitter

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MITCH BENN challenges you to make up for his absence at the People's Vote march.

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My committed activism in the Remain cause since the 2016 referendum is fuelled in no small part by residual guilt at the knowledge that I didn't do a damn thing to help or promote the Remain cause before the 2016 referendum.

I don't think I'm alone in this either; many people I've spoken to on my travels banging the People's Vote drum have expressed similar regrets. In our collective defence I don't think any of us expected the utter limpness of the 2016 Remain campaign, nor indeed really perceived it even while it was still happening.

I wasn't as shocked by the result as I keep being told I was; I was disappointed, obviously, but I knew it'd be a three- or four-point squeaker in either direction and was just as likely to go Leave as to go Remain, but in retrospect it was surprising it was as close as it was...

We had two well-funded Leave campaigns, both led by 'charismatic' politicians with big personal followings (no tutting at the back; however transparent and repellent Johnson and Farage may be to us, they do command a lot of loyalty even if Boris is using all of his up just now) up against one vague, apologetic Remain campaign ostensibly led by David Cameron (who was thus in the philosophically untenable position of leading the opposition to something he himself had invoked), with Jeremy Corbyn largely absent and Tim Farron entirely absent even when present.

Add this to the 40 years of virulent anti-EU propaganda in much of the media (tempered only by occasional timid, measured pro-European squeaks in the rest of the media) and it's amazing it wasn't a landslide.

So it's with what I guess you'd call the zeal of the convert that I've jumped into the Remain cause since then, attending and indeed hosting People's Vote rallies all over the country, writing this weekly column and posting screeds of anti-Brexit videos and songs online, the better to assuage my conscience that even if we're doomed to lose again, I'll know I did all I could this time.

Or at least I had been doing all I could until now.

I'm not going to make it to the March in London on Saturday.

I could have made it had it been held on its initial date of October 12 (last Saturday) as my gig that evening was in Banbury, but this Saturday my show is in the town of Wem in Shropshire. There's just no way of combining the two.

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And I should point out that these shows aren't mixed bill comedy nights; they're dates on my own national tour. One can generally get out of a comedy club booking without causing too much trouble (although it doesn't do to make a habit of it), indeed to go on one of the previous People's Vote marches I cancelled a gig in Barcelona, which I doubt I'll be offered again in the near future.

But to cancel a tour show would cause chaos; the show only exists because I'm doing it, so if I pull out the whole thing is off and a lot of other people's time and money is wasted.

I should point out that I wouldn't have been performing in any official capacity on the day; my absence merely deprives the event of one body on the street (albeit one of the bigger bodies).

But this still matters; a crowd of a million people doesn't arrive as the result of a single collective decision by 'a million people' to turn up, but rather as the product of a million individual decisions to turn up, and every one of those decisions is as vital as all the others.

So I'd like to ask a favour.

By the time you read this the march will be no more than 48 hours away, and as such all of you know by now whether or not you're going. What I'm asking is for one of you who've decided not to go to change your mind.

All my missing the march is doing is reducing the turnout by one person, but turnout is what it's all about, so I'm asking one of you to be that one person and make up for my absence.

If you can be that one person, and send me proof of your participation to mitchbenn@hotmail.com by next week, I'll give you a shout out in the next column. Unless two thousand of you decide to go of course, in which case giving you all a shout out would bust my word limit.

This one is important, folks. This one matters. You know how I keep ending these columns with the word "Resist"? If you've ever wondered what exactly you can do to "resist", well now you know.

Turn up. Turn out. Resist.

We're nearly there.

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