Earlier this week I brushed past a Guardian article by the writer and comedian David Baddiel, concerning a pro-Brexit pop video that entirely pilfered the hit football song Three Lions, originally written and performed by Baddiel with Frank Skinner and The Lightning Seeds. History has ably demonstrated that it’s damned hard to write a decent football pop song, but Three Lions managed simultaneously to be warm-hearted, funny, emotionally stirring and massively singable. If it was mine, I reckon I’d be hopping mad if someone nicked it for political ends, regardless of the angle. But the general tone of Baddiel’s Guardian piece suggested he’s pretty chilled-out about it. Which is nice. But it’s not really my concern. What bothered me was something Baddiel wrote in his penultimate paragraph.
The truth about Brexit v Bremain is that most people, myself included, know Bruckallaboutit… Whether or not we should stay in the EU is something that politicians and journalists get remarkably wound up about, but most common folk are either bored of the subject, or, more likely, feel excluded from the basic information they might need to decide about it.
Sorry, but isn’t that rather alarming? This is one of the most important decisions the people of our country have had to make, and he claims to know “Bruckallaboutit”? David Baddiel is a presumably urbane, intelligent, cultured and worldly fifty-something parent who works in the international entertainment industry. If HE hasn’t got the Bruckingest clue about the Brexit question, then really – what hope do the rest of us have?
It says one thing to me rather loudly. That neither the In or Out campaigns, and associated supporters, are doing a particularly good job. Scaremongering from the In campaign, which puts people off. Gung-ho, everything’s-gonna-be-all-right bluster from the Out campaign, which puts people off. Badly written, over-complicated polemic pieces of writing, which no one can be bothered to wade through. Well-written, well-reasoned and nicely concise pieces, but by people (e.g. Lord Mandelson) that the public stopped trusting a long time ago. Surely it must be easier than this. Baddiel states that he’s not sure what to do because “he hasn’t read the 237 pages of the Treaty of Lisbon”. He’s having a laugh, of course, but his joke reflects a worrying situation: people think they need to read a diplomatic document hundreds of pages long in order to form a fully balanced view of the situation. His article links to another Guardian piece, in which the writer, bemoaning the lack of clarity, claims that “we need some detail”. Actually I think that’s the last thing we need. There are plenty of intrepid souls out there who pore haplessly over facts and figures, many of which are conveniently presented to virtually cancel each other out, but mostly, swathes of the country probably do feel thoroughly disconnected from the issue, because they’re unable to tell what a Brexit or a Brstay really means for them.
Because it does mean something. It is worth “common folk” forming a strong opinion on it. How will it affect your job, your wallet, your hospital, your doctor’s surgery, your local cafe, your favourite restaurant, your holiday, your weekend break, your foreign business trip, your German, Italian or Slovakian friend who lives round the corner, your foreign property, your children’s worldview, your opinion of the UK’s position on the planet? Because the EU Referendum will affect all of those things, very deeply. If, hand on your heart, you claim to not give a shit about any of them, good luck to you. But forgive me if I don’t believe you.
And the shame of it is: a writer like David Baddiel giving his opinion on how an In or Out vote would affect his life is exactly what either campaign needs. He may be planning to bring himself up to speed over the next few months and write a scintillating article in May, in which case, bravo. But I fear time is running out. Personally I’m both lucky and unlucky: lucky in the sense that I have a very strong, personally and professionally-influenced view on how I will be voting on June 23, and unlucky in that I’ll feel very nervous about the outcome and the far-reaching effects it will have on my life. I’m sure I’ll be writing something about this between now and voting day. But it won’t be enough. We need more clued-up people to give their view, and I’m not talking about journalists and politicians. We need artists, business owners, filmmakers, doctors, lawyers, musicians, actors, market researchers, scientists, IT consultants, chefs, lorry drivers, police officers, and dozens of other professionals I haven’t thought of, to come out and say how they think an In or Out vote will affect their day to day existence. No more facts and figures; we’ve had enough of those. It needs to get personal, and right soon. Bring it on.
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