FEBRUARY 2020. It is a cold Saturday morning. Thousands rub their hands together against the chilly morning air. Some take sips from tea and coffee, the steam dissipating with their sharp intakes of breath.
There is chatter, much stamping of feet. Flags and placards display their messages high above the crowd. There are banners from many different organisations and parties, but it is the messages from the placards which draw attention.
‘Corbyn Out!’ some proclaim.
‘A Red day for our country’ says another, painted in fake blood, small handprints dripping underneath.
‘A hung parliament’ declares a third, with a picture underneath of the Commons chamber tipped upside down, MPs dangling limply from drawn-on ropes.
Other posters simply have the odd word written on them in black and red – ‘traitors’, ‘dictators’. Random placards are scrawled with ‘enemies of the people.’
These protesters have been out on the streets since November 2019. Friday the 22nd, to be precise. The day after Labour was elected to government. They believe the party lied in its manifesto and put forward promises it could not achieve or even legislate for. They also believe Labour is a danger to Britain.
Since Corbyn’s election, the protesters have been campaigning, for wont of a better word, against the decision. In short, they have engaged in vandalism and harassment of other voters, as well as MPs. Those who voted Labour have been labelled thick and fascistic.
Sounds familiar? It should. Because – obviously in different circumstances – this is the scenario the country has endured since the 2016 referendum vote on EU membership. Remainers have been out on the streets decrying the result and insulting those who expressed their democratic will to leave the bloc.
Leavers have been attacked, harassed, milkshaked (with one so-called comedienne recommending using something stronger) and labelled for having the temerity to vote the way they did.
Called racist, fascists, xenophobes, ignorant – simply for having a different opinion. The media following and supporting mass rallies calling for the vote to be overturned; a celebrity fest for our national broadcaster to purr over. A second referendum gaining more and more traction.
The people were, apparently, lied to. But I ask this – what is the difference between the claims made on this decision and practically every election we’ve ever had? False promises are made at every election, the candidates become MPs, the party with the most votes is elected and all of them are built on a mountain of lies.
The Lib Dems, in 2015, suffered from this, having been elected as coalition partners to the Tories in 2010 on a promise of free tuition, which they then didn’t deliver on. The voters made their feelings known by casting them out.
In 2017, Labour and the Conservatives received more than 80 per cent of the vote share, having promised to deliver on the result of the referendum. And now one party is calling for a second vote while the other is offering Brino (Brexit In Name Only).
Will both parties suffer for their lies? I doubt it. Go back to every election we’ve had and you’ll find manifesto promises which were never delivered. So why are the people currently protesting on the streets of London against the 2016 referendum result not also campaigning about the many elections we’ve had where politicians made greater claims, none of which were ever enacted?
They’d say there is a world of difference between general elections and the 2016 referendum. But I see little difference. If the protesters want to see the 2016 vote overturned, they have an easy option at the next election. Vote for a party that will overturn it. Just as Leave voters have the option of voting in a party who will enact their decision.
Of course, we had the opportunity in 2017 to do just that and voted, in the main, for two parties who promised to do it, but lied to us. What a shocker! Where were the protesters then? Outside Westminster, telling us we were lied to and campaigning for a second general election vote? Their silence was deafening.
Politicians have built their reputations lying to the public. We’ve always known that but, it seems, some people have only just woken up to that fact.