At a debate on democracy earlier this year columnist and former MP Matthew Parris registered an eclectic complaint about the state of our governance. Manifestos, he said, are too bloody long, and increasingly so. It would be better for politicians to give fewer specifics during elections.
The Brexit Party might well have taken this advice if any of their members were at the Institute of Economic Affairs that night. Since launching in January, Nigel Farage’s latest vehicle aims only to fulfil the referendum mandate to withdraw Britain from the EU, and will only produce a manifesto after the European elections.
As long as humans live there will always be an instinct to smother dislikeable ideas. And it’s unsurprisingly that some progressives have been emboldened in that pursuit by the sacking of comedian Danny Baker, after he unwittingly made a joke that could be interpreted as racist about the latest Windsor sprog.
That same Thursday many noticed that Nigel Farage, former Ukip leader and now leader of the Brexit Party, was due to appear on Question Time. Nesrine Malik, a Guardian columnist, put it starkly: “Since sacking Danny Baker only yesterday the BBC has hosted Melanie Phillips, Nigel Farage, and now the actual Ben Shapiro.”
The royals, even to their defenders, are a kind of entertainment. The leader in this week’s Spectator described royal lives as highly relatable, with the “rhythms of royal news … so much more aligned with our own life experience” than tales of grubby politicians.
Others, myself included, think the Windsors are more circus than soap opera. And it was in this vein that the comedian Danny Baker tweeted a black and white photo of a young simian held between two poshos. The caption “royal baby leaves hospital” was in response to the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor, son of Meghan Markle and Harry Windsor.
Of all the surprises in the Westminster soap opera that have followed from the British public’s vote to leave the EU, none matches the rise of Europhiles to the forefront of British political life.
During the referendum the remain campaign was, much to the retrospective regret of its chiefs, big on the economics and small on the emotion. England, it was unsaid, does not love the EU. Our marriage was one of convenience – in migration queues, for roaming data fees and for those Britons who wanted to live abroad.
The march of the remoaners on Saturday is, for that reason, something special.
Even in these times where the well-heeled and well-certified are happy to bemoan how the oiks vote, it is rare for somebody to openly advance new means of restricting the franchise. But it has happened.