Brendan O’Neill

The anti-Boris demo was a screech of middle-class rage

The anti-Boris demo was a screech of middle-class rage
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Last night’s ‘F**k Boris’ demo in London really was an extraordinary spectacle. It felt almost historic. For what we had here was a gathering of radicals raging against a new Tory PM for threatening to upend the political status quo. Yes, these supposedly edgy, rebellious, pink- and blue-haired haters of Conservatism were essentially pleading with Boris not to be so revolutionary. It was bizarre.

There may have been music and dancing and weed — the soulless whiff of that deadening drug was everywhere — but this was fundamentally a conservative protest. Small-c, natch. It was a plea to keep Euro-technocracy intact and not to cave in to the demands of the hoodwinked masses who voted for Brexit. 

The real target of the implacably middle-class marchers’ ire was No Deal, and Brexit more broadly. Some waved the EU flag. Rad, man. One placard asked if 52 per cent really represents a democratic mandate (er, yes?).

There were people with ‘Remain, Reform, Revolt’ banners, which is the maddest political slogan ever: there is nothing revolting about pleading to be members of the neoliberal, anti-democratic, anti-working-class, Greece-bashing, elitist machine that is the Brussels oligarchy.

So intense was the Brexitphobia of the assembled small-c conservatives that when a man turned up wearing a pro-Brexit placard — legend — he was rounded on viciously. A bunch of protesters surrounded him and screamed ‘Nazi’ and ‘scum’. One woman said, ‘YOU C**T’.

These people affect to loathe Boris but what they truly hate is that Boris has promised to enact Brexit. It’s Brexit they fear. It’s the throng who voted for Brexit — those 17.4m plebs, those dimwits who probably haven’t even read any Gramsci — whom these Fisher-Price radicals cannot abide and want to overthrow.

‘F**k off back to Eton, Boris!’, they chanted, but their placards and flags and general Brexitphobic agitation suggested that the people they really think should f**k off are those voters in Stoke and Wales and Essex who backed Brexit.

The protest didn’t only stink of weed — it stunk of entitlement, too. It felt like a march to defend not only the political status quo but also the privileges that it affords to certain sections of society.

The demo was painfully middle class. It was made up of predominantly white, youthful, urban professionals, the sort of people who haven’t clapped eyes on a working-class person since the time that bloke from Canvey Island came to fix the boiler in the east London flat their parents help them rent.

EU membership benefits these people. Its post-national, post-democracy institutionalisation of the globalist ideal furnishes middle-class city-dwellers with cheap labour in their local sandwich shops and opportunities to study and work abroad.

When these people say they fear what the consequences will be if we ‘crash out’ of the EU, what they mean is that they fear their comfortable, cushioned lives will be upended. And all at the behest of uneducated, xenophobic voters who don’t even live in London. So unfair!

This is why the demo was so sweary and degenerate; why it was all eff this and eff that and placard after placard about Tories ‘f**king pigs’ and how Boris Johnson is not ‘the kind of BJ I like’. (Get it? They mean fellatio, which is good, unlike Boris, who is bad.)

Because this wasn’t a serious, considered demo demanding concrete political change — rather, it was a bourgeois tantrum, a screech of middle-class rage, a cry for the preservation of privilege.

‘Sexist’, ‘Racist’, ‘Fascist’, ‘You filthy, goddamn, pock-marked fascist asshole’ — these were the slogans on the protesters’ placards. Such juvenile, historically illiterate sloganeering tells us nothing whatsoever about Boris, who clearly is not a fascist or a racist. But it tells us a great deal about London’s modish middle classes and the blind fury they feel that their lovely lives are being rattled by Brexity oiks.