A quick report on yesterday’s rally of the Brexit Party in Surrey.
It was absolutely packed – probably around 1,000 attendees. Very slick presentations, and even though there were two Bentleys and a massive Rolls Royce parked just outside the venue, also attended by plenty of “ordinary people”. Yet, the audience is entirely white – well, I saw one black face in the 1,000 and no brown faces. About 70% of audience are pension age. Apart from a handful of kids being dragged in by their parents, there seem to be only two people under 25 there.
The presentation begins with a short film – where two presenters introducing the film are black – before the film cuts to Farage in his ludicrous hats ranting and raving about Brexit.
Inside the atmosphere is a mixture of Christmas Pantomime and Evangelical Church Meeting, with the speakers whipping everyone into a frenzy to hold up their little placards. The candidates are presented and give a short speech each. Each have very public school plummy accents, and obviously members of the British Upper Class.
They are introduced as benign journalists and businessmen and student of European Law. In reality they are Family Office and Hedge Fund managers (Rowlands), ex-UKIP spokeswoman (Phillips), Trustee of a Charity which was given £500k by the government to send disadvantaged people on holiday and only sent nine in the first year (De Lucy), or a leader writer for the Daily Telegraph or Daily Mail (Bartholomew).
So they are really engaged in tax avoidance for really wealthy clients, ex-UKIP propaganda and spin, being connected to a slightly obscure charity and real aristocracy, and opinion former for the Brexit right-wing press and author of a book against the Welfare State. None of this, of course, is mentioned.
It does not matter – the youngish women selected (Phillips, De Lucy), with their long blonde hair will look good on Question Time in the future – undoubtedly selected for the appeal to a woman electorate – as well as their obvious eye candy appeal to the 60+ older male voters. What matters are that speeches are emotional, jokes are corny, and that it plays well with the audience.
Nobody in the hall cares about little details like the real background of candidates.
Or why we allow autocratic limited companies now to send candidates to elections, rather than democratically elected ones from a real membership base.
Or why we allow which looks like illegal funding by millionaires and payment methods which cannot be verified in our democracy.
Or why the EU parliament even allows candidates whose only policy is to leave the EU. Who gives a damn about these democratic details? Not the audience, that is for sure. They are just worried that the democratic will of the people is ignored.
The European Parliament is not even mentioned by any of the new candidates. Each candidate will make about £115,000 each year if elected and if we do not leave – as seems increasingly likely. Half a million over the next 5 years for doing sweet FA in the name of the electorate. How is this democratic? But these details would just get in the way of the coherent storyline.
And the story told for 90 minutes is one of betrayal, the incompetence of existing parties to deliver Brexit, and the threat to our democracy this poses. This is literally the only thing being said, in various forms and iterations by all the six candidates – 3 years of Brexit disasters condensed in 1.5 hours, looked at from various angles. Not one word about how exactly a Brexit negotiated by the Brexit party would look like. It is a very coherent and powerful narrative.
That narrative won in the referendum in 2016 and it will get the largest number of votes again!
All candidates studiously avoid the word Hard Brexit, but are for a “WTO Brexit”. This is the party which is against charlatans like Boris Johnson, who is against the May Deal, but then votes for it anyway. They love their hero Nigel when he finally comes on and mentions exactly that. Nigel Farage in real life comes across like a mixture of Berlusconi (he is a short-arse really) and Hitler (outdated, crappy, over-rated oratory skills). Very appropriate to the snake-oil Brexit which is being peddled here, and the story of betrayal.
These people literally stand for nothing, other than Brexit. “We mean what we say, unlike the other ones currently in power.” That is their main message. Vote for Brexit, for real this time.
As a show it is not bad, well worth the £2.50 everybody paid to be there. It is balsam for the soul of the part of the 52% who are now either upset or stupid enough to vote for the Brexit party and their right wing hedge fund candidates. They voted for Brexit – it has not happened – they are now betrayed – and Nigel is the leader of the Betrayed party. That is what it is about. Emotions not reason. Nothing else.