Brendan O’Neill

Tony Blair is the messianic Remainer here to save us from ourselves

Tony Blair is the messianic Remainer here to save us from ourselves
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Here they come, Tony Blair and his tragic chattering-class army. The former PM, whose rictus grin and glottal stops still haunt the nation’s dreams (well, mine anyway), is on the march with his pleb-allergic mates in business and the media. Blair and the Twitterati, linking arms, united in their horror at the incalculable stupidity of northerners and Welsh people and Essex men and women and other Brexiteers, their aim as clear as it is foul. They’re here to save us from ourselves. ‘Tony Blair is trying to save Britain from itself’, as one report put it. Excuse me while I pop an anti-nausea pill.

Yes, Blair, the political version of Michael Myers, the nutter in the Halloween movies who just cannot be slain, is back. Again. Remember when PMs were dignified and would bow out into their cobwebbed corner of the Lords when it became clear the British public had had a gutful of them? Not Blair. He’s considering a return to the frontline of politics, according to reports, because he wants to halt Hard Brexit. He feels so ‘passionate’ about this, he says, that ‘I almost feel motivated to go right back into it’ — ‘it’ being politics, public life, our daily lives. Make it stop, please.

Blair has rattled the Corbyn clique and got the broadsheet media’s Brexit-weakened pulse racing with giddy expectation by saying he’ll get stuck into the snap election. He wants everyone to vote for candidates who are Brexit-sceptical, who will demand a final say on the Brexit deal, who will basically wail and splutter over Brexit until eventually Parliament says: ‘Oh bugger it, let’s stay in.’ He’s even suggesting people should vote Tory or Lib Dem rather than Labour, if those candidates are ready to put the reins on ‘Hard Brexit’.

Blair joins Open Britain, Gina Miller and of course the Lib Dems — who are running almost entirely on a ticket of opposing stupid, evil Brexit — in seeking to use the election to smash or at least slow down the loudest democratic cry in British history. Ms Miller’s claim that she only launched that legal challenge to Brexit so that Parliament could have a say on it has been shattered into a million tiny lies by her launch of a crowd-funded effort to back Brexit-suspicious candidates in the election. (A crowd-funded campaign against the idiocy of the crowd? Too much.) Open Britain, a movement against a ‘hard, destructive Brexit’, is shortly publishing a list of Brexitphobic candidates it thinks we should support. Blair is these people’s idol, their big hitter, the messianic Remainer come to derail Hard Brexit and restore sanity to the land and ‘save Britain from itself’.

Let’s leave to one side that when Blair and his acolytes previously saved nations from themselves, unspeakable horrors ensued. Let’s instead ask what exactly Blair and Miller and the Twitterati and angry Tim Farron — my favourite spectacle of the year so far — want to save Britain from. We all know the answer to this question, but there’s a reluctance to say it out loud. They want to save the nation from me and you (if you’re a Brexiteer). From our stupidity, from our opinion, from our political preferences. They want to save Britain from that swarm of Britons who said: ‘Let’s leave the EU.’

There is so much dishonesty in the elite reaction against Brexit. In fact, we currently live under a tyranny of euphemism, where nothing is named honestly and frankly. What is ‘Hard Brexit’, for example? As far as I can see, it is just Brexit, the radical insistence of the people that we cut our ties with the Brussels oligarchy. What do elite Remainers mean when they say the Leave lobby infected the referendum campaign with lies? They mean the public is gullible and we were hoodwinked. They mean we are stupid as much as they mean the Leave lobby is nasty. What do they mean when they complain about ‘low-information’ voters, who acted on ‘imperfect knowledge’, in Blair’s words, which must now be turned into ‘informed knowledge’? They mean we don’t know what we’re doing, and we need enlightened, better, decent people, people like them, to tell us what to do.

Strip away their bland buzzwords, their progressive poses, their PC spin and bluster, and you’ll see that this is a campaign to restrain democracy. And that it is motored by the same prejudices that have motored every ugly, top-down rage against democracy in history: the public is ill-informed; the people are easily brainwashed; we can’t really trust their ‘imperfect knowledge’; and so we need clever, switched-on people to step in and sort things out.

Why can’t they be honest? I’d have more respect for them if they were honest, if they just came out and said: ‘Look, we know better than you, by virtue of our education and our social standing, and so we are going to wield our considerable political and economic clout to try to reverse that daft decision you made last June.’ At least then we’d all know where we stand, and that this snap election is a battle between those of us who love democracy and those who fear it. In hiding behind euphemisms, Blair and his crew only show that they’re dishonest as well as sniffy about democracy, the great value of the modern political era.