Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Cheer up Peter Hitchens

This is adapted from my reply to Peter Hitchens article here.

I am a great fan of much of Peter's writing writing but this wallowing self pity and out of hand defeatism is simply unworthy.

Yes, the cards are stacked in favour of a vote to stay in, and will be judiciously stacked again in the coming months, but if you believe simply that the votes will be fairly counted in each polling station (and if you don't believe this, then as you allude to it is time to take up arms) then everything is still to play for.

You may not have the platform you would like, but you have a huge platform and a huge following compared with most of the thousands of bloggers and campaigners who are broadly in agreement with your aims, and inparticular the aim of secession from the European Union.

Deposing the Tory party was always a hugely ambitious aim, even at their lowest ebb. Even at their lowest ebb they remain a proven party of government (bad government you may argue, but there are many worse) and a huge political organisation. And as you have scathingly said of UKIP they have not been a viable alternative at a general election at any time in their short history.

There remain genuine secessionists in the Tory party, even if you don't agree with them on anything, and it's not unimaginable that John Redwood, David Davis, Daniel Hannan and others could actually form a front bench that would indeed take Britain out of the European Union. Or that some arrangement with UKIP on the model of the Canadian Unite the Right movement could take place before 2020, and harvest the 15 million votes these parties won between them at the general election into a genuine movement in the right direction, if not to exactly where you would like. Politics, and indeed living in the same polis require compromise as well as a rigid vision of how things should be.

Lastly, if the SNP have shown us anything at all it's that losing a referendum is not the end of a movement. From 6 MPs who secured a referendum they did indeed become a viable party of government at the general election, securing a massive majority of the MPs returned by Scotland.

Even if you privately don't hold out much hope of a victory in the referendum why not take it as a huge and potentially very effective exercise in galvanising together the disparate groups who believe in a future outside the European Union and hammering out this case as a starting point for a new political movement.

Political climates change slowly and to imagine that one journalist could banish the Conservative Party from government forever was fanciful at best. To imagine that you could act as a focal point for one strand of opinion in the forthcoming referendum is not nearly so ambitious.

To sit on the sidelines and laugh, while ordinary men and women with far less influence and ability is simply not becoming of the passion, sincerity and subtle optimism in your work.