On Friday morning, almost half the UK’s voters are going to wake up disappointed that the votes they cast were overruled and people couldn’t see self-evident truth, and the other 50-and-a-little-bit-per-cent will wake up delighted that, thank the Lord, the obvious reality of the situation has won people over. I know how I’m voting but I don’t know who’ll win – nobody does – so I can’t predict whether I’ll feel delighted that (what I think is) common sense has prevailed or despondent that (what I think is) foolishness has won out.
However, I think that the vast majority of people can have two reasons to be cheerful on Friday.
Firstly, it’s over! Well done, you made it through. Aside from the occasional accidental meeting with a pollster, journalist or campaigner (who’ll no doubt stare off into middle distance and co-opt phrases used by veterans of ‘Nam – “I’ve seen some stuff, man.”), it’s over. Yes, there’ll be wrangling and arguing and everyone on Question Time will be giving their views on what the vote will mean, what changes should be made and how the decision will affect us but… it’ll be over. The decision will have been made and we can all go back to our lives without the threat of a global recession & £30b budget or swathes of swarthy immigrants hiding in the back of vans and pushing in the queue for the doctor. It’ll be over!
Secondly, there will, I fervently hope, be another finality, and one that will bring relief across the land. UKIP will be over. Re-read that; drink it in; rejoice: UKIP will be over.
No politician spreads and deserves revulsion quite like Nigel Farage, and, whatever the outcome of the referendum, he & his single-issue party can bugger off back under their rocks: win or lose, we can finish UKIP.
If we vote Remain, we can put the EU question to bed – for a bit at least – and say “Well, we’re in this so what can we do to make it better?” The answer to that question is to not vote UKIP and not vote Farage.
UKIP’s MEPs are dreadful. They complain about the EU being un-democratic yet are the party across the whole of the EU least likely to use the democratic mechanism and actually vote in the EU Parliament. Nigel Farage is the bloke inside the tent pissing in, covering his fellow campers in piss and sticking his head out the tent flap shouting “Everyone in here’s covered in piss – it’s disgusting!”
A vote to Remain will mean we have to, finally, think carefully about who we elect to the European Parliament and choose who’ll do our bidding in the EU. We’ll have to think about personalities, policies and people, asking ourselves who’ll do the best job of directing the EU in the direction we want it to go. That’s hard and you’ll probably just vote for the party you usually vote for, which is fine as their view for the EU’s future is probably similar to yours – but maybe you’ll pay more attention to who you’re voting for after you’ve realised that they’ll be speaking for you in a pretty important institution.
A vote to Leave is more problematic. Of course UKIP can bugger off as they’ve done what they came here to do: a poisoned well and a scorched earth in the rear-view mirror, they can drive off into the sunset, their single-issue fulfilled. Rejoice! for what is a single-issue party without its single-issue?
However, will Farage and his bumbling brigade of doom merchants be happy that they’ve done what they came to do? Will UKIP be simply fade into the background? I fear not – so we must make them. If Farage is victorious after leading the charge out of Europe, he can and will claim to be a real political leader who should be respected, rather than a man born out of his time who should be ridiculed then forgotten.
We must not fall for this.
The very real danger of a Leave vote is that we elevate this pompous caricature to a place where he has real power. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove – the loveable monkey and malevolent organ-grinder of Vote Leave – have suggested putting (unelected) Farage in the cabinet or in the (unelected) Lords, places where he could make a real difference to our lives. True, if his former record is anything to go by, he’ll sit there and do nothing except complain but, theoretically, he could be shaping national policy.
We must resist this.
After Brexit, let’s abandon his fear-mongering and hatred: there’s a whole world out there we really, desperately and quickly need to make nice with. We’ll have to build trade deals with nations we’ve, at best, a potted history with, and people who look like the people on UKIP posters; we’ll have to convince people to buy stuff we make despite we’ve just voted to keep those people out of our country. Nigel Farage is not the person we want front and centre at this point – we want him at the back, far-right.
But, to return to the beginning, Friday should be a cause for celebration. Win or lose, Leave or Remain, the Referendum will be over and, if we play it right, so will Nigel Farage.