Certain images possess an unshakeable power. They crystallize a moment in history with greater strength than the millions of words which follow.
Another picture, of lighter human consequence, won the Brexit referendum.
Days before the vote, a flotilla of fishermen—their livelihoods crushed by the European Union— floated down the Thames. A banner read: Honest People Wanting an Honest Living.
Incensed by this gratuitous act, Bob Geldof and his millionaire, Remain-backing pals popped open champagne and boarded a hired boat fattened with a sound system.
The raucous Remainers harangued passing fishermen with expletives. The song playing? The 1960s hit, “The In Crowd.”
Those fishermen had their lives quite literally destroyed by EU quotas. Multimillionaire Geldof told them to bugger off. Not before reminding them of who apparently is more dignified.
Drowning out the pained words of the beleaguered fishermen, were the lyrics:
I’m in with the in-crowd
I go where the in-crowd goes
I’m in with the in-crowd
And I know what the in-crowd knows
A gross spectacle.
That photo captured the Brexit debate, shrinkwrapping millions of words and conversations and slogans and protestations into one inscrutable glance.
Over three-and-a-half years ago. The visual remains priceless.
The debate, though ambered in those pixels, has not ceased.
This week, Labour Party lawmakers hoped in vain to capture a slice of visual history with their own stunt. Following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s suspension of Parliament, the oh-so-brave lawmakers refused to leave, holding aloft hand-daubed signs: “Silenced!”
Which, dear reader, you’ll be familiar was a hark to moments in history when actual brave people did actual brave things.
Today, progressives “fight” on behalf of the status quo they beseech all with ears that they are against.
Silenced! Yes. Labour lawmakers’ selective mutism also failed them when they refused to “overthrow” a “fascist” prime minister offering them, for the second time, a fair and free election
They want an election. Just not right now. And when they do get their election, they’re going to win. Then, as the risible plan goes, they’ll renegotiate a Brexit deal, call a second referendum in which they will campaign against their own deal. Or something.
That, of course, is an absinthean mental flutter. One: because polling suggests their leader Jeremy Corbyn is as popular as weeping herpes. Two: Because it looks like Boris Johnson may have cracked the uncrackable.
Yes. Though it is early days, “movement” on the intractable Irish border issue is allowing some to conclude that a Brexit deal is near.
And let’s hope it is true. After all, the Remainer Last Stand, episode 1,176, has spooled into a glib rejection of what 17.4 million people—many of them first-time (and perhaps last-time) voters—elected. It’s getting rather tiresome.
Having failed to convince “the people” of their grave mistake, Remainers turned to the courts.
A Scottish court this week declared illegal Boris Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament. The Supreme Court makes its judgment next week.
A group of more than 70 pro-Remain lawmakers and peers behind the legal challenge then called for Parliament to be reconvened immediately. Doubtless, they are “fighting for democracy.”
A democracy they find palatable that is, and one, I hazard, which disregards those named “Vince” in lieu of those named “Jolyon.”
Vince fixes Jolyon’s heating system. Jolyon, during such anthropological encounters, endears himself to Vince with talk of “the Football.” Jolyon, giddy on his proletarian theater, employs the improper terms—exposing his true love of bourgeois tennis.
Vince, cringed-out, finishes his job. He hands Jolyon an invoice. He thinks Jolyon is a tosser. Both get on with their lives.
Which is what we, and indeed even a sizable portion of Remainers would like to do.
But the Jolyons aren’t too keen. They’d prefer the proles knew their place. If we left the EU, Jolyon would have to pay his au-pair a proper wage. Imagine the horror.
Yet, the Jolyons resist with sulfur the will of the people. They wrongly assume that will issues only from those who fleck their macchiatos and mend their Maseratis.
The myth, like that of Trump’s rise, lies in the belief that the grossly termed “left-behind” lashed out.
In truth, Brexit is as prosecco as it is pitchfork, with a sizable chunk of Leave voters forming part of the shrinking middle.
In truth, both revolutions (as history will stamp them) are not the work of “fascism” but the quiet insistence of that shrinking middle.
Which is why such legal chicanery, parliamentary protest, means little. Like the fishermen, like the rest of us, Bob Geldof and the In-Crowd get one vote.
And there’s more of us than them.