The morning after a senseless tragedy which has appalled the whole of Britain I’d like to ask you a simple question:
Is there any depth to which you will not stoop in order somehow to snatch victory in this EU referendum?
The answer I’m getting from some of you is: “Nope. None.”
Here’s Alex Massie in the Spectator. Having generously acknowledged that “Nigel Farage isn’t responsible for Jo Cox’s murder. And nor is the Leave campaign”, he then suggests that no, actually, they were.
But, still. Look. When you encourage rage you cannot then feign surprise when people become enraged. You cannot turn around and say, ‘Mate, you weren’t supposed to take it so seriously. It’s just a game, just a ploy, a strategy for winning votes.’
Let me precis for you, Alex, what you’re trying to say in your oh-so-subtle way: “Vote Leave. Vote Fascism. Vote Murder in the Streets.”
Here, is the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee playing a similar game.
First the disclaimer:
There are many decent people involved in the campaign to secure Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, many who respect the referendum as the exercise in democracy that it is.
Now the inevitable “but…”
But there are others whose recklessness has been open and shocking. I believe they bear responsibility, not for the attack itself, but for the current mood: for the inflammatory language, for the finger-jabbing, the dogwhistling and the overt racism.
Here is a Tweet – subsequently deleted – by former Daily Telegraph columnist and PR man Chris Deerin
— Jonathan Harris (@lardconcepts) June 16, 2016
Here is EU Commissioner for Migration Dmitris Avramopoulos (see: there’s at least one Greek for whom the EU hasn’t been a complete financial disaster)
Jo Cox murdered for her dedication to European democracy and humanity.Extremism
divides and nourishes hatred.Solidarity with her beloved
— DimitrisAvramopoulos (@Avramopoulos) June 16, 2016
As we reported yesterday at Breitbart, there is plenty more where that came from. The reason I quote the particular examples above is that, clearly, they are not the whacko opinions of random idiots in lonely bedsits. These are the views of journalists, PR men and politicians – opinion-formers with large audiences. Right now across social media their verdict on the significance of Jo Cox’s murder is being shared enthusiastically and sanctioned by further figures of influence like Kevin Maguire, broadcaster and columnist at the fiercely pro-Remain Daily Mirror.
"Events have a multiplier effect." Anybody offended by Alex Massie should take a long hard look in the mirror https://t.co/olw60OW7QU
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) June 17, 2016
One of the few voices of reason so far in this ugly affair has been editor Brendan O’Neill:
I don’t have very high expectations of the British media. But even I am shocked at the speed with which sections of it have sought to make political mileage from Jo Cox’s death. Pro-Remain journalists, swathes of the broadsheet set, are already discussing her death as a consequence of Brexit campaigning, as a foul spin-off of foul politics. They’re saying that of course Brexiteers aren’t directly responsible, but… that wretched “but”, which means “but they are responsible”. Remainers are already pointing a collective finger at the “political climate” cultivated by Brexit and suggesting it nurtured this murder. I thought they would wait, a day perhaps, before marshalling this tragedy to their cause. But no.
Politically exploiting a murder, morally blackmailing Brexiteers to tone down their campaign, and inadvertently diminishing the culpability of the killer by suggesting “the climate” bears some responsibility for what he did — I think it’s possible the British media has just reached a new low, the lowest low.
O’Neill is right. In the savannah, the vultures usually leave it at least a few hours before descending to feast on carrion. This lot, though, just couldn’t wait to get their beaks dirty: all – and this is the really contemptible part – while pretending they’re still up there, soaring high in the sky, owning the moral heights.
Another question I’d like to ask you Remainers to put all this in context is this:
Do you think there’s a single person in the country right now on any side of the political argument who feels the death of Jo Cox any less keenly than you do?
Two children have lost their mother; a husband has lost his wife; parents have lost their daughter; colleagues have lost a friend. Everyone in the country is empathising with that loss, recoiling at the senselessness, randomness and brutality of Cox’s death and feeling for those she left behind. “There but for the grace of God go we,” we all think – because if it can happen to a 41-year old MP doing routine constituency work in a quiet West Yorkshire village, it really can happen to any of us, man or woman, young or old, Remainer or Brexiteer.
One more question – tougher one for you to answer honestly, this, I suspect: do you genuinely, sincerely believe that Thomas Mair, the suspected gunman who killed Jo Cox is representative of the 50 percent or more of British people who believe that our country would be a better, freer, more prosperous, secure and democratically accountable place outside the EU?
We know from a number of sources that Mair has had a long history of mental illness. We have heard from his half-brother that he has an obsessive compulsive disorder and cleans himself with Brillo pads because he is “obsessed with his personal hygiene” and that “he has never expressed any views about Britain, or politics or racist tendencies.” (The half brother, Duane St Louis is himself mixed race and reports they “got on well”).
It’s quite possible that more details will emerge showing that he did have political sympathies of one kind or another – even that in his confused way he imagined he was advancing a cause. (Though, if you think about it, you’d need to be seriously mentally ill to imagine that killing an MP in cold blood was going to advance that cause, whatever it was)
But suppose he did? Are we seriously being expected to believe that this act of violence by a deranged loner represents a statement on the political climate of Britain of which we should all take note?
Are we supposed to take it as evidence of some kind of “far-right” terror campaign, of which this strange sad bloke with the white baseball cap, the red gardening gloves, the camo jacket and the remote stare is but the first of many agents?
If you actually believe this then I’d say you’re not much less deranged and paranoid than Thomas Mair himself.
And if you don’t believe it but are suggesting it anyway in order to make a cheap political point then I’d say it makes you almost as dangerous as Thomas Mair – for what you’re in fact attempting to do here is undermine the very fabric of British democracy in the most dishonest, devious, unscrupulous way imaginable.
What you are doing is trying to exploit the horrible, random, senseless death of a mother and the lunatic act of an unstable individual in order to bully and guilt-trip the British people into acting against what may be their best interests.
You are effectively suggesting – as Alex Massie, Polly Toynbee, that Greek EU Commissioner and many others on the Remain side of the argument have already done – that if you are intending to vote Leave you are no better than the nutcase who killed Jo Cox.
I can scarcely think of a more appalling aspersion to cast on the millions and millions of thoroughly decent people out there who have been campaigning for Leave and are intending to vote Leave: not because they’re racist or far-right or Little Englander-ish or selfish or xenophobic or any of the other aspersions regularly cast at them by the snooty, self-preserving Remain elite; just because they’ve listened to the debate, considered the issues and decided that on balance, Britain will be a happier, more fulfilled, more stable and more democratic country if only it can pluck up the courage to a supranational organisation which has long outlived its useful purpose.
There’s a reason why, up till yesterday, the Leave campaign was gaining ground and looking likelier to win this referendum. It’s because for all its blips, the Leave campaign has generally been conducted in a tone of optimism, good nature and positivity, while the Remain campaign has been an almost relentlessly negative exercise in fear mongering and lies from a succession of figures from a democratically unaccountable elite whose primary mission is to make damn sure they remain a democratically unaccountable elite.
Remain has thrown everything into their propaganda war: the weight of the supposedly impartial Civil Service, dire economic forecasts from the Governor of the Bank of England, his paymaster George Osborne and their fellow travellers at the IMF, David Cameron’s threat of a Third World War, the wisdom and insight of President Obama…
None of it has cut any ice with the British people – the demos whom democracy is supposed to represent. With their characteristic good sense, a good many of them have seen through the desperate politicking and made up their minds that no, it’s in their own interests, and even more so their children’s and grandchildren’s interests that Britain should regain her sovereignty.
There are so many powerful vested interests with so much to lose in the case of a Leave vote that is no wonder that advocates of Remain are fighting so hard and so dirty to keep their tainted status quo intact. First came Project Fear; then Project Lies; now – the most cynical and exploitative of all – Project Grief.
But it would be an awful, awful shame if the most important democratic decision any Briton is going to face in his or her lifetime should come down not to the facts or the arguments or people’s instincts as to what is truly right for Britain – but simply to crass speculation as to what a madman may have intended when he killed an innocent working mother in the street.