One last Brexit post then, before the Chilcot Report reveals all the Mistakes that Were Made, and to what extent they were Made In Good Faith.
On Referendum night, I overheard half a conversation between a friend and her Dad. I got the other half later:
Friend: How did you vote then, Dad?
Dad: I voted Out.
Friend: Dad! Why did you do that? The economy will crash! It'll cause chaos!
Dad: That won't bother me hen, I'm retired.
Friend: But it'll affect me! What about me?
Dad: (Long silence).
And the more that I talk to people about the Referendum, the clearer it's becoming that for many, the calculation was a lot less This is a make-or-break moment for the nation than it was the eternal response of the bored teenager:
This film's crap, let's slash the seats.
I was thinking about all this when I was reading Rafael Behr's unintentionally hilarious article about the Remain disaster, in which he details the difficulties that the Tories had in fighting against other Tories and assorted right-wing cranks. It leaves me with the bizarre impression that the Brexit disaster isn't really David Cameron's fault at all, and that the real problem is the strange, alien and suspiciously liberal province of "Remania".
The longer version of it is: Cameron and his campaign fought a brave, principled but doomed battle against an incredibly corrupt and extreme opponent. They fought nobly but were defeated by the might of the tabloid press; by the chicanery of their adverseries, and finally by their own remoteness from the anger of the ordinary voter, because Remain supporters are all a bunch of pointy-headed, ivory-tower, middle-class, la-de-da woofters who don't understand the populace's manly rage. Shame, shame on us all.
The short and more accurate version: It never occurred to Dave and his mates that their own shitty tactics might be successfully used against them, and now politicans and journalists don't know whose arse they should be kissing.
Behr produces a cast of cross-party characters from Remain to express disgust and astonishment that Leave not only turned the EU Referendum into a celebrity bunfight between Johnson and Cameron; not only that they openly lied to the electorate with an actually-racist campaign, but also that the press allowed them to get away with it:
"...More infuriating still was the amount of air time given to claims from the Leave campaign that were either grotesque distortions or flagrant lies - the fiction that EU membership cost £350m per week; the pretence that Turkey was close to EU membership and the denial that the UK had a veto on that point..."
"...Papers normally do so much of the work in a campaign, ripping policies apart," noted a No. 10 source. "There was nothing new about the (idea of introducing an) Australian-based points system, but the papers just gave it a free pass..."
"...We underestimated their willingness to be mendacious and xenophobic", ("Stronger In" head of strategy Ryan) Coetzee said".
You get the idea, and it's probably worth allowing the sheer preposterousness this claim to sink in: that the Remain campaign were surprised to discover that it's possible for British politicians to tell whacking great lies, and that they were astounded to discover that the British press enthusiastically repeats those lies. Even the racist ones!
Who could possibly have foreseen this misfortune?
Now obviously, nobody in the Remain campaign was really surprised to discover that Johnson is a liar or that Farage is a fervent racist. Seasoned political campaigners are not often shocked by the scummery of the tabloids, and any that were should be coerced into committing Seppuku with an EU-mandated straight banana.
Ultimately, this is yet another attempt by various Remain figures to dodge responsibility for their own ineptitude. The loudest cry from any losing campaign is always We Wuz Robbed. This is no different, just with a long additional whinge about the alleged death of the supposedly sensible centrism that gave us the damn referendum in the first place.
Nonetheless, it does offer us a glimpse into the real story of the Referendum.
For a long time, the Tories kept their socially conservative faction - a crinkled crowd of resentful sexual shut-ins and retired colonels with unphotogenically racist tendencies, like Fawlty Towers crossed with 28 Days Later - in check with regular pantomime displays. The type of people who wouldn't trust the government to run a power station, but fully expect it to dictate acceptable rules on procreation and parenting to the populace. You know the type.
Mostly, the Tories kept these people and much of the rest of us in check by draping themselves in the Union Flag, winning wars, jailing louts, baton-charging protestors and loudly disapproving of the deviancy and profligacy of modern youth.
Meanwhile, the party's money faction - the part that actually takes all the decisions - set about ripping up every British service and utility that they could find, then flogging them all out of the back of a van to their financier mates.
And this suited everyone who mattered, for decades - the money men got rich and made sure that kickbacks flowed into the right purses, and the blue rinse brigade at least got to feel like they were in charge. Whenever the scam got too obvious - which was most days - it was necessary to invent whole menageries of enemies to terrify the crinklies into compliance.
So invent they did: great cackling cavalcades of communist hobgoblins; flocks of privilege-checking metrosexual students; ravenous, swan-munching Poles and legions of foreign politicians with big funny noses, all of whom had malign designs on the public's money, their nifty cars and their lovely little hobbit-holes.
But nothing lasts forever.
"This was the first time Cameron experienced what it would feel like to fight a campaign with most of Fleet Street lined up on the opposing side - to receive the kind of ferocious treatment usually reserved for Labour leaders..."
"...Anyone who expressed a view on the hazards of leaving the EU was painted as the hostage of a corrupt Brussels-worshipping establishment... As one Cameron aide puts it: "If anyone on the left had ever said the Bank of England was corrupt and shouldn't have a view, they would be incinerated, but the BBC gave a free ride to the rubbishing of institutions".
And so on, with the children of the revolution eating the original revolutionaries. As you reap, so shalt thou sow. The monster is throttling fuck out of Dr Frankenstein, you get the drift.
The upshot here is that this has precious little to do with the remoteness of the political class - or the 48% of voters who wanted to stay in the EU - from the public, or any of that malarkey. This is more like the financial crisis of 2008 - the scam got so big and so unweildy that it could no longer be controlled, and it's now blowing up in the faces of its architects and enablers.
And as with previous crises, one government or another will eventually bring it back under control, and we'll return to something like business as usual, only poorer, angrier, more vicious and more mean than ever before. Then, the whole cycle will repeat itself, in an uglier and louder fashion.
But for that to happen, it's going to be necessary to create some new bogeymen to share the blame.
Going by the general tenor of this week's opinion pages, including Behr's article, those bogeymen are going to be disproportionately urban, young, and suspiciously fond of foreigners and wanky cuisine. Metropolitan hipster types, you know, the sort who might want to force 52% of the population to listen to the diktats of hated auslanders like, say, the European Union.
Just as in the financial catastrophe of 2008, it looks like some folk would far prefer it if we all
accepted our own share of responsibility for causing this fresh debacle.
The alternative would be to admit that our sensible, centrist government screwed up badly, and that the nation was swallowed by the scam that they and their friends had created. That might include taking a hard look at our supposedly centrist politicians, and at the people who report their innermost thoughts.
And we could hardly have that.