Like lots of people I’m in two minds about Britain’s EU referendum. The arguments presented by both sides seem so powerfully convincing.
On the one hand, there are the Brexiteers, who point out that the EU economy is shrinking, that its regulatory burden is holding back our business; that outside the EU we’d be richer and freer; that we’d regain control of our borders and be in a better position to protect ourselves against the wave of potential terrorists that Angela Merkel is determined to make EU citizens in order to punish us all for what Germany did in World War II; that we’d no longer be controlled by democratically unaccountable, faceless, supremely untalented apparatchiks who, in their own countries wouldn’t be deemed fit to take the orders at Domino’s Pizza, but who thanks to the EU, in the case of Baroness “Who?” Ashton got to swan around on £400,000 a year like she was some major international powerbroker; that it’s a nonsense to argue that Britain needs to belong to a crippled, spavined, sclerotic, inefficient, wasteful, monumentally corrupt socialistic superstate when, actually it used to do perfectly well for itself for two hundred odd years when it ran half the world. For more details on this see, for example, the very excellent Brexit The Movie.
But I’ve been listening to the arguments advanced by the Remain camp with Prime Minister David Cameron very much setting the dignified, civilised, intelligent, measured, thoughtful tone – and they’re very compelling too. Here are some of the best: Boris Johnson’s wife may have had an affair – or if it wasn’t her, it was possibly someone a bit like her – or maybe not; Boris Johnson used the word “Hitler” in a newspaper article and if you use the word “Hitler” you lose automatically; Boris Johnson smells of poo-poo and wee-wee and actually loves the EU and only says the opposite because it’s opposite month and also because he just wants the job of Prime Minister, so there; David Cameron has agreed to pose looking self-conscious and awkward for a Remain campaign publicity shot while walking across the zebra crossing at Abbey Road which is amazing because it’s just what popular beat combo the Beatles did on one of their most famous album covers and the Beatles wrote Strawberry Fields and Eleanor Rigby so Remain must be a good thing.
So you see, it’s been a tricky one. Which is why, for some time now, I have been looking for guidance one way or another from the sort of people whose gravitas, clear-sightedness and deep knowledge I can rely on.
The blond lefty actor who played one of the wacky DJs in Richard Curtis’s collectably lame The Boat The Rocked, say. Where does he stand on the EU referendum?
Or the anti-fracking mad catwoman who virtually invented punk by realising that instead of using giant safety pins for just nappies (that’s diapers, you American readers) they could also be inserted through leather jackets or even parts of your anatomy.
Or the guy who played Alan Turing in that somewhat trite movie which turned the Bletchley codebreaking story into one about gay martyrdom – and who loves to sound off on all sorts of Social Justice issues, as you would, when you’re from the rough side of the tracks having only been educated at Harrow, not Eton.
Or that woman poet laureate that no one much rates?
Or the spy author who hasn’t written a good book since the Cold War days – unless, of course, you think the greatest threat to global security right now are sinister Big Business interests working with the American secret service, in cahoots with the wicked Israelis, and posho Englishmen in pin-stripes with posho accents because they’re really posh, in which case of course, you’ll love everything he writes because it’s the same every time?
Or that good-looking actor who shags everyone?
Or the Social Justice campaigner – another Old Harrovian – who actually wrote The Boat That Rocked?
Or the priapic comedian who used to do funny stuff till he realised his main mission in life was to destroy the freedom of the British press?
Happily this morning my prayers have been answered – in the form of a letter to the Telegraph signed by all the above and many, many more of the kind of people – actors, designers, indie pop stars, artists and suchlike – known by some cruel souls as “the Wankerati”.
Geoff Longly, George Want, Glenn Brown, Greg Hilty, they’re there too to swell the numbers – 279 signatories in all – and though I don’t recognise all the names, I find their argument unanswerable.
Never mind immigration, economic security, democracy, sovereignty, liberty or any of that nonsense. The reason we should stay in the EU, they explain, is that it makes us more “imaginative and creative.”
Also, they argue, vibrancy.
And what would “Out” really mean? Leaving the EU would be a leap into the unknown for millions of people in the UK who work in the creative industries, and for the millions more at home and abroad who benefit from the vibrancy of Britain’s cultural sector.
“From the Bard to Bowie, Britain inspires the world,” they say, warming to their theme with some top notch alliteration.
But I can’t help noticing that Shakespeare actually predates the invention of the European superstate. Also – and I realise I’m out on a limb here with my wild speculation – but in a parallel universe where Britain did not have its toasters governed by 250 regulations from the European Union and a 28 star flag flying outside the Financial Times, I do believe that it’s entirely possible that David Bowie would STILL have written Life On Mars, painted that zigzag on his face, had sex with Mick Ronson’s guitar, hung out in Berlin with Iggy Pop, done the Ashes to Ashes video with Steve Strange, and recorded Blackstar without any of that vital “imaginative and creative” input from our EU membership.
Then again, what do I know? I’m just a journalist too busy doing boring stuff like reading about politics to hang with the Wankerati snorting lines of MDMA from the rim of my Mojito glass while being fellated by dwarves, or whatever it is the Wankerati do in their downtime when they’re not dressing up in costumes pretending to be someone else and getting paid gazillions for it.
Jamie Bell, on the other hand, sang Electricity while doing girlie dancing in Billy Elliot; Brian Blessed was in Flash Gordon and climbed Everest; Jenny Agutter set a whole generation’s worth of males’ hearts aflutter in The Railway Children.
So I suppose if 279 rich, pampered celebrities, lounging on their Eames chairs inside the celebrity bubble where you don’t speak to anyone but other celebrities, (all of them left wing, obvs, because why would you talk to anyone else? – all they’d do is ask you to pose for a selfie with them), tell us with the benefit of their wisdom and insight that we should stay in the EU, then I guess that that’s my mind finally made up.
How about yours?
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