“The screens, nurse! Quick, the screens!” is a catchphrase deployed by Major Bloodnok, a cross-dressing womaniser who was prone to virulent wind (and a recurrent character in The Goon Show).
I’m grateful to Messrs Milligan et al. for creating the Major; neurotic hysteria coupled with galloping flatulism being not a bad hook at all for a piece about liberal Britain and its celebrity Brexit refuseniks.
Everyone knows about Professor A C Grayling: it is his feverish tweets which most often call Major Bloodnok’s phrase to mind, and whose Twitter timeline is a who’s who of actors, comedians, barristers. Some of his fans accuse Theresa May of being some sort of anti-democratic Henry VIII-cum-Hitler tribute act, at the same time that they insist the Prime Minister should overturn the EU Referendum result. You might find the idea of “Hitler” deciding to ignore a referendum a tad far-fetched, but you’re not a brilliant academic, of course.
The lachrymose complaints of famous people who voted Remain wouldn’t be worth bothering about — it’s a free country; anyone who’d like the UK to stay in the EU has the right to campaign for anything they wish. But there’s a flavour, a tone, to the sleb-complaints, which provides an insight to the mindset of self-entitled rich people, as well as a warning for those designing the Tory fightback.
Here’s Andrew Adonis, Baron something or other, appointed by George Osborne to chair the National Infrastructure Commission:
I’m writing to Lord Hall, the BBC DG, to suggest that Andrew Neil no longer be a BBC politics presenter because of his pro-Brexit bias
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) September 3, 2017
Because if at first you don’t succeed, there’s nothing that satisfies as much as a spot of censorship — especially when it’s arranged between two unelected “peers”.
And here’s Emma Kennedy, of whom I’m aware only because she turns up to eat food on MasterChef:
It’s getting to the point where I’m not sure I’m ever going to be able to forgive anyone who voted for Brexit.
— Emma Kennedy (@EmmaKennedy) September 8, 2017
That whole thread is worth a read; there are some lovely responses from the cook’s many fans, one of whom is so furious he’d “strip [Brexit voters] of the franchise on principle”.
In fact, there’s an aesthetic developing among the Remain faction: self-congratulation, a readiness to deploy Nazi slurs (while trying to over-turn a free public vote), yet, never far from the surface, the reek of outrage. How dare the plebs not do as we tell them!
Look: I don’t actually care about Brexit; I’ve never felt bothered one way or another and voted Leave as an act of defiance (against Juncker et al). Stay, go, who cares. Which is sort of my point to my Remain friends (unlike Emma, I do still talk to people who disagree with me): life will go on. The EU isn’t a religion; it’s just a set of committees which produce rules on bits of paper. We can make other rules on other bits of paper. Seriously, take a breath.
But the Remain aesthetic worries me for reasons beyond the EU. You probably noticed that this year the Conservatives failed to win a parliamentary majority. Again. Even when the alternative was a property-snatching Marxist who laughs gaily as Venezuela burns and who never met a terrorist from whom he’d withdraw his “friendship”. What made Labour so effective on polling day?
The Left — all of it; the Momentum Marxists and the liberal Remain brigade — have discovered an effective campaign tactic. It combines vandalism with an aesthetic of disdain.
Since the high-minded liberals monster the Tories, the more low-minded of the Left are given psychological permission to go further than a well-ordered society should have to bear. The day after the election I got on the tube in still (only just) Tory Barnet, and looked at the home-made posters that Labour activists had plastered the ad-screens with: “To delete the NHS vote Tory. To save the NHS vote Labour.”
It wasn’t the blatant ignorability of facts which bothered me; I’m 47, and therefore inured to Labour election lies about the NHS. It was the ferocity of the message, spread by socially unacceptable behaviour — vandalism, basically. There were similar cases reported all around the country: Tory posters defaced with Nazi scrawls and so on.
Blind eyes are turned to this behaviour, in part because of the psychological and emotional cover it has been given by the high-minded; those famous academics and actors who tweet their spiritual pain at Brexit and their shame at living in Tory Britain.
To vote Tory, to vote Leave, is beyond distasteful; it’s so disordered that it’s reasonable to consider over-turning votes, to “strip [such voters] of the franchise on principle”. Given that, who’s going to be het up about a vandalised tube carriage pushing an untrue message about the Conservatives on polling day?
So with apologies to Major Bloodnok, laughing at the pretensions of the millionaire Remain set isn’t sufficient. The Left in the UK are fighting a culture war, are fighting it shamelessly and — remember polling day — fighting it effectively. Their aim is to make the Conservative idea unconscionable, and — this depresses me almost more than I can type — quite the least effective weapons with which Tories can respond are those of intellect or reason. (Imagine trying to persuade the tube vandaliser that the NHS isn’t being “deleted”, or how Emma would react to the news that actually quite smart people also voted Leave. You think they would listen?)
There isn’t enough time to build a Tory hegemony in the cultural world between now and the next election; the most to be hoped for are some stop-gaps to stem the tide.
Tory HQ: find the (still existing) Tory academics and playwrights and actors and pay them whatever it takes to have them raise their own voice in opposition to the liberal high-minded chorus of disdain.
Prime Minister: sack anyone who works for the Government who is publicly critical of your Government’s policy. Start with Baron Whoever. Show the BBC you mean business in this area too: it’s an obscenity for licence-payers to be funding Lineker’s Maoist claptrap.
All of us: stop ignoring the low-level vandalism. I was so furious with Theresa May that day on the tube, so miserable at the Tory majority being tossed away, that I turned a blind eye to the socialist triumphalism with which the carriage had been decorated. Shame on me. I should have ripped it all down, every last shred of it.
The rebuilding of a Tory cultural vanguard will take longer than a couple of years, but I’m convinced it’s more important than any other factor in staving off the Corbyn oblivion. We’ve let nurse draw a screen round the Marxist vandals and their high-minded liberal friends for far too long, their joke is no longer funny.