Do you want to know the real reason that the Remain campaign lost? Because I can tell you. I was there on the frontline, I fought their war in the trenches. I stumped up on cold, wet, windswept streets to unforgiving, ashen faces of anger and disdain, pleading and cajoling the locals of my city to consider their homes, their futures, their families. To consider their country.
We were told to fight for economics, we were told to fight for GDP and digits. We were told to talk about house prices and pensions, degrees for their children, ERASMUS and Wind Farms, investment and growth. We were told so many things, told and told as the master tells the servant. We were the little soldiers marched into battle by moustachioed Generals. We were pawns in a game.
I feel such anger and resentment now that I look back. Those shocked scenes at Southbank, the hollow eyes and sunken cheeks, the pallid, yawning, falling feeling in the stomach. That dull and bewildering realisation of what we lost and who had won. More importantly — who we had let win.
Do you want to know the real reason why we lost the referendum? It wasn’t that the facts were wrong or that our principles were broke. It wasn’t that our hearts were in the wrong bloody places. No, we lost because of hubris. We lost because of them. We lost because the tiny cabal, the true elite; the nepotists, old boys, egotists and chauvinists felt cocky about their ruse, felt swagger in their game, felt utterly, totally invincible.
Take Cameron, the ringleader. We little soldiers, little dynamos, trundled our hearts into the streets to fight his pointless and unnecessary little war. His war, started by him, for the benefit of him and his party, a party of ravenous and cruel, bloodthirsty hyenas. He played his big boys game of bluff and charade, accusation and rebuttal. The sickening, dreadful mess he caused and the shit he shovelled down for us little people, with little lives and little jobs, but people who care so much for their country, for the defence of Enlightenment values that Hume, Newton, Wollstonecraft baked into the very fabric of this nation; we the little people had to eat it up and clean it up for him. We were the ones rolled out to fete his disgusting parades to factories and speeches — his shiny, spotless, pompous set-pieces. All for the cameras, all for the show. Who were we? A wall of coloured meat to lay behind him. To show off in front of. A convenient display of troops for him to promenade and preen in front of. To sneer and grimace in front of.
We little people with little dreams, from little towns with broken schools and broken homes, we little folk who cared enough about our values to accept the disgusting embrace of a Pantomime villain because the alternative was the embrace of a grinning Fascist: we were fodder. Thrown to the streets by the Grand High Master and his cronies.
Take the factory visit he made to Peterborough. The note came the night before — top secret, it read. A senior Tory, no more about it. No word on who the High Commander was — who we were to expect. Perhaps we should have known. When on the day it was revealed as Nosferatu himself, he was all false smiles and fake hands as the small band of us gathered to meet him. We were shuttled to an engine factory and photographed — then told to wait outside, in the cold. In the cold. Not like people — just pawns. Just a photogenic meat wall, a gaunt parade. Then, big smiles for the camera, and off he floats at speed, his balloon of hot air released, no need to stay and ‘connect’ with mere mortals. The tiny, pointless, meaningless lives who he knows nothing of nor cares a jot for. No coffee in plastic cups for Eton and Oxbridge, no cold pub meetings. This was the Bullingdon Club, Top Hat General, riding crop inspection, and all for pictures, all for pictures, all for the bloody pictures.
So we would trundle out, continue, weekend after weekend whilst our Tory master could feel assured that his soldiers’ work was done.
But it was not just Cameron whose fetid boots we set to shining, the wretch. No, for tiny, feckless hubris, hypocrisy and nepotism stalks the liberal establishment too. Who better to run a campaign destined for fame and glory than the son of a man who took a country to a needless war, Master Straw? A young prince, benighted by grace and fortune to guide, for the betterment of him and perhaps those wealthy, elite friends, the fate of all of us who cared to retain the deep convictions of unity, human dignity, justice and cooperation in our country, our continent and our world.
No doubt Master Straw, of Pimlico and Oxford, would be the hero to the wave of the chequered flag, when the inevitable momentum of Remain trundled over the line. Surely it would be a lark, a jape, a caper? A little campaign to pass the time, to fill the CV and hobnob with the elite of the global stage. Oh how the other half live…
Meanwhile in Brexitland the minions turn themselves out to the wet streets to face the wrath of an austerity public starved penniless by a cold and distant Austerity Chancellor. An angry, bitter, ravenous crowd, beaten and abused like dogs - all of us - in the forgotten towns of forgotten England.
All they have, all they see are the shopping bags, baby clothes, TK Maxx. Facebook, Nandos and TLC. Terrorists in Hijabs, foreigners stealing jobs, all on TV. The ones who look like me. Simple pleasures and simple beliefs for hard lives lived simply, not with reflections on the complications of reality.
And there we were, the Liberal Elite, value signallers, snowflakes, before a leering firing squad of angry eyes and bitterness. No fooling with uncomfortable facts or flighted speeches about common humanity. No persuading those convinced by headlines rife with coloured, foreign, immigrant hordes. Twisted-tongue invaders.
Up we got, up the ladders, up to the mud-soaked fields, this ‘Elite’. Up with rifle reports echoing from a thousand angry words, a thousand dirty looks. Up towards their guns we laboured, the plastic blocks pushed across the board, behind us Cameron’s greedy eyes and the largesse of a landed squire; our betters pushing us at our backs, never to face the consequences.
Down, down, down we fell to their words, their looks, their hate their sadness their fear. We the enemy, we the cold and distant master, we the arrogant Liberal Masters; in their eyes, aloof and patronising. While inside, each of us, we died and died again, tears of frustrated sorrow at the mad injustice of a world so swollen with unnecessary anger and channelled hate to that awful ‘other’.
A tragic band, we. Asked to draw swords against our brothers and sisters of this land, demanded by his golden crown to win him glory, honour and unity for his pack of wild dogs. Poor soldiers, weak humans, little people with little lives, forced to defend values of justice and peace against an implacable force of despair and darkness; forced to lift our weary heads above the parapet to protect the weakest from the wolves, by who other? No less than the vampire king himself, and only so that he may feast on them later. Unhappy allies to tyranny, unhappy foes of fascism and hate.
It was hubris and hypocrisy, what done us in. Vile and compromised masters, justified fury and channelled hate, what did it. If you want to know who to blame for a war, who to blame for a defeat, just try to look and try to find your “leaders” who have slunk away. For once the game is up, once the fun is gone, they drift off slow, like hot air balloons, silently lifting away from the room. Whilst we pick up the pieces.
We, the little people, as ever left to tidy up.