31 March 2019
On Monday, BA’s flight BA3271 from London City Airport to Düsseldorf landed at Edinburgh by mistake (cue irresistible headline “Whisky Tango Foxtrot: ‘Welcome to Edinburgh’”). According to one report, the pilot asked passengers who were expecting to be in Düsseldorf to raise their hands and got a unanimous ‘yes’, so they refuelled and took off again. What baffles me is that the weather was clear and Edinburgh is north west of London while Düsseldorf is east but none of the passengers wondered where the Channel had gone, or why the sun was behind them instead of in front of them.
I’m getting increasingly irritated about references to “the will of the people”, even though these have been rather toned down after more than 6 million people (so far) have signed a petition and a million strolled through London last weekend demanding our notice under Article 50 be revoked. Admittedly, several hundred people walked from oop north to Parliament Square where several hundred (perhaps even a thousand) more joined them on Friday and Nigel Farage arrived to spout something inflammatory about betrayal while the crowd bayed “Nigel, Nigel, Nigel” (which, in my head, morphed terrifyingly into “Adolf, Adolf, Adolf”). The comparison between 6,000,000 and 500 (perhaps even a thousand) throws a rather different light on what ‘the will of the people’ actually might now be.
My trouble is that the referendum was three years ago and their passing has changed ‘the people’ quite dramatically. Of the 46 million people eligible to vote in 2016, about 4.8m will have died and another 5.5m will have become eligible to vote so “the people” will now be about 23% different from “the people” who voted in 2016.
We know that about 64% of people over 65 (i.e. those most likely to have died) voted to leave compared with only about 30% of people aged 18-24; the list of people eligible to vote is therefore now likely to include a significantly higher proportion of remainers and the outcome of another referendum indicating “the will of the people” could be completely different.
I do understand that any electorate will change within days of any election or vote but over the short time usually involved, the change is unimportant. However, in three years, the change is so great that the 2016 vote can no longer be claimed to represent “the will of the people” today, which is why I believe we do need to ditch the May deal to avoid going off at half-cock. Remember even Onan defied instructions and spilled his seed on the ground (OK, so he was killed for doing this but we needn’t go that far).
Tomorrow, Parliament is possibly going to debate the ‘Revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU’ and do some more ‘indicative’ voting. Because I signed the petition, the Government has promised / threatened to send me a video and a transcript of the debate. It also sent me the Government’s official response which just summarises the position May took in 2016 and which she has since repeated again and again, and again, and again … O tempora o mores.
Last week, I said I’d added Jacinda Ardern to my list of heroes so it was comforting to see how many other people feel the same about her, from marchers last weekend carrying a poster with her picture over the words “Watch and learn, Theresa” to a report that thousands of signatures have already been collected to nominate her for the Nobel peace prize.
(Isn’t it curious that many of the placards and posters that people carried on the big demonstration were funny while those on the small one weren’t.)
Anyway, May bribed the DUP to give up their votes to become honorary Conservatives. Do you think Ardern could be bribed to come to Britain and take over from May (or, even better, from April)?