A Labour party activist aboard Bob Geldof’s anti-Brexit boat yesterday has slammed the “billionaire being condescending to fishermen” who used “his money in order to drown out” “working class people”.
She said the “condescending” musician had “harmed” the Ramin campaign. Mr. Geldof, who is set to appear on BBC Question Time this evening, has defended his actions by comparing leaving the European Union (EU) to taking the UK into the war in Iraq.
Bethany Pickering – a self-described “socialist, feminist, environmentalist” – walked off the anti-Brexit boat yesterday in “disgust”, “apologis[ing]” on behalf of the Labour In Campaign.
Last night she described the scene to LBC Radio. “We didn’t expect it would be a billionaire being condescending to fishermen. And we didn’t expect that it would be as vicious as it was.
“There was a lot of negativity… and that’s something I’m really disappointed in as a Remain voter and someone who has campaigned for Remain.”
Ms. Pickering added: “I think potentially Bob Geldof did a lot of damage [to the Remain campaign], especially among the fishing communities that weren’t sure how they were going to vote.
“Again, it was a very patronising thing. It was very much mocking the issues that they had.”
Many observers had described the spectacle of small wooden boats manned by working men, facing off with shiny new speed boats filled with students as an appropriate metaphor for the EU referendum campaign so far.
Ms. Pickering said that “it was at the point where we [approached] small fishing boats, that were obviously [sailed by] concerned working class people with legitimate reasons to be concerned – and then it was the jeering at them and trying to drown out their issues.”
Her disgust was very much directed at Mr. Geldof, who “was using his ability and his money in order to drown out what they had to say… He personally swore at some of the fishing boats… and made swearing gestures at them as well. So did a lot of people on board.”
Admiral Geldof nautical semaphore. This, I presume, is the sign for anchor. Or something like that. pic.twitter.com/MpomiWuYbx
— Michael Crick (@MichaelLCrick) June 15, 2016
However, the fishermen were more civilised. “To be honest, in the beginning, a lot them were just waving at us… it was quite friendly in the beginning,” she said.
Defending his actions, Mr. Geldof told the Mirror: “I was invited to come with the ‘In Crowd’. Someone needs to make a visible effort to stop this nonsense.
“It reminds me of pre-Iraq where there doesn’t seem to be a plan and we woke up one morning and realised we were in a terrible disaster.
“I think we could wake up on June 24 and realise we’ve made a properly historic mistake, for all sorts of reasons.”
It is thought that Ms. Pickering was part of Momentum, the hard-left faction of the Labour party who coalesced around Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership campaign.
The groups had promised to “make themselves known” at the flotilla, but many have since distanced themselves from Mr. Geldof and his actions.
— Momentum (@PeoplesMomentum) June 15, 2016