Those deluded and pseudo-patriotic enough to support EU withdrawal love to accuse people like me of “whataboutery”, an insult which hurts sufficiently that I try not to accuse others of it (although in some cases, on other, largely unrelated issues, it is almost unavoidable, as for example when alleged Marxists dismiss the victims of the Iranian state as “inconvenient”). Those who believe EU withdrawal is a universal national panacea rather than the Union-unravelling chimaera it would actually be love to invoke the concept of “the art of the possible”; that what they talk about is possible and what I talk about isn’t. They don’t always even deny that the EU is in no way or sense whatsoever the greatest threat to our “sovereignty”; they simply say, in that nauseating shrugged-shoulders way (in no culture but that of England could a party like the modern-day Conservative Party even exist), that they are concentrating on threats that actually can be reversed or turned around and I am not.
Apart from defining the terms and criteria of the anti-EU whingers – the cynically anti-political nature of it all – it also reveals their desperately narrow political horizons. The other, far more profound and far more total, changes could still, even now, actively be reversed if only anyone had the will. Reversing the tides of media deregulation and American-led pop culture, and of the hollowing out and stripping to nothing of our public culture and institutions, would of course require a deeper and more profound effort, a far greater commitment to changing every aspect of our lives, which is precisely why the whingers aren’t prepared to commit themselves to it – the only change they’re prepared to make is one which involves ticking one box on one day and then just doing everything exactly the same way they’re used to, which is a big part of the reason why their cause is so useless, hollow and empty. But it is all perfectly possible. It would simply require a genuinely patriotic government at Westminster, and we have not had one of those which was strong or potent enough to do anything on those lines, whether in the Tory or Labour traditions (if indeed we have had one at all, in either tradition) for thirty-six years.
But that’s not my fault. It’s the whinging Europhobes’ fault, absolutely, entirely, 100%. But I’m not going to be blamed for what I am (which is really another way of letting them define me, which I have fought against for so long). It’s not my fault that they can only see what is directly in front of them, not what might be. It’s not my fault that their outlook on the world is so mundane, banal, predictable. Above all else, it’s not my fault that they are not prepared to think the unthinkable.
(apropos what I wrote below, it occurs to me more and more that the strange and overnight resurrection of Williams’ career and his first solo TPL entry, which did absolutely no business at all for its first two months, was a direct response to the wheels dramatically coming off the Oasis bandwagon at exactly the same time; in other words, he filled the gap Liam had left, and probably would always have left once the Blair government actually existed. No doubt TPL will get to this and come up with a reasoned analysis of it, when the time comes. But enough of that.)