In another sharp turn towards posh twattery, the Times‘ Matthew Parris has argued that the Vote Leave battle bus — which suggested up to £350m a week could go to Britain’s National Health Service after Brexit — was “philistinic” because it didn’t promise the money to “arts councils”.
Parris — in his 346th (or thereabouts) column bemoaning Brexit since the referendum — wrote:
As Enoch Powell once disgracefully put it in front of an audience of cheering Tory rightwingers when I asked him if he ever felt embarrassed by the racism of some of his supporters: “In politics you take support from wherever it comes.”
I thought of Mr Powell’s chilling reply at an event in London this week. The word “idiot” tends to create a little shockwave at a public meeting. And so it did as I answered questions in a discussion at the Rose and Crown pub in Southwark. The liberal Conservative research institute, Bright Blue, had organised a debate on “Brexit and the Arts” and I was on the panel alongside representatives of a group who call themselves “Artists for Brexit”. The Leave storm-troops had turned up, the room was packed, and it made for a lively debate.
Philistinism, I argued, is an enemy of art. There’s a reason why that bus Boris Johnson so admires promised £350 million a week for the NHS rather than for, say, the Royal Opera House, or our arts councils, or universities.
Presumably Parris would have voted in favour of Brexit if the Leave campaigns had pledged billions for the Tate Modern while turning their noses up at the working classes and the services they need. I imagine a conversation with Parris would go something like this:
Me: “But Matthew, basic public services are failing.”
Parris: “The plebs should go private!”
Me: “Um, okay. But people can’t get appointments at their local hospital.”
Parris: “Nothing a little look at Lowry can’t solve!”
Me: “Seriously though, some people can’t even afford bread.”
Parris: “Let them eat ca..”
You get the point.
Raheem Kassam is the Editor in Chief of Breitbart London