So. My first, and I suspect last, political rally. What a ghastly, disheartening experience.
A crowd of about 500 I guess, only about half of them safe out without a minder. I got there early and tried chatting to a few people and in most cases wished to God I hadn't. More than once I thought to myself, 'Who'd be an MP, if one has to represent and eat rubber chicken with people like this?' Not a good start. Weakens one's commitment to democracy, meeting the demos en masse.
After an awful lot of sodding about, the speeches. They were, on balance, worth hearing. Dan Hannan spoke movingly and Roger Helmer to the point with refreshingly brutal punch. A Danish MP whose name escaped me announced that a sufficient number of Danish MPs have now signed a motion in the Danish Parliament to force a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, under Danish constitutional law. This got a huge cheer. The Metric Martyr spoke and got a few laughs.
Tom Wise MEP provided a liveried battle bus. Chap from Eurofacts was standing by it, handing out samples of his organ. Good read. Wise said he and Hannan (or he may have said Helmer) find it extremely useful. Fortnightly newsletter, written on planet earth and fact-checked. Bargain at £28 per annum for hard copy or free as PDF (backnumbers) here.
All good stuff.
But, oh, my dear. The crowds, the people... the fucking idiots.
Two daft old cows in fancy dress, one of them got up as (oh, dear God) Britannia. If we get on TV - and there was sod all worth broadcasting, more's the pity - you can bet they'll be in the front of the shot. There was a conspiracy theory group waving the biggest banners of the lot and handing out a professionally-produced anti-EU 'newspaper' which, going by its hysterical and, shall we say, idiosyncratic take on all things political, was produced on Planet Fayed. They're all in it , you know. All the party leaders, including Cameron, are Marxists. To a man. And woman, if she's a fast-track senior police officer. Redwood [ I am not making this up... they are ] is the Euro-bastards' chief spokeman. All Brussels goons put in positions of power... to destroy us. Utterly, utterly barking.
Quite a few Ukippers (I spotted DK) and a couple of (real) Liberals. There was a Scottish piper with an English-accent and a big mouth, which he should have kept clamped to the stick thing on his instrument rather than hurling inanities at the speakers - who couldn't be heard much of the time because most of them did not know one end of a bullhorn from the other. Sigh. One of many, many Bufton Tuftons wanted to re-fight the Battle of Maastricht with Hannan instead of listening to what he had to say. There were lots of extras left over from the cast of Remains of the Day and a lone BNP yob treated us all to a Nazi salute when he finally decided to curb his rant because no-one was listening. Amusingly, there was a rival bullhorn right in front of the speakers, in the hands of another 'hang the Tories' merchant, this one aged approximately 75. Not a single trade unionist speaker, not a single first rank MP. Not even a Z-list celeb.
What a bloody shambles.
I began to lose the will to live, thinking I was the only normal person present. Only a light peppering of under 40s who seemed relatively normal (looked like the brighter sort of CWF) and some bloggers whose faces I recognised from 18DS gave me any reassurance that I was not the only person present who wasn't on day-release from the funny farm. And a few, just a few, very angry, very sad normal people who are as depressed by the electorate's suicidal political apathy as I am.
Dan Hannan rebuked those absent from the rally for sleepwalking into a future without freedom and self-government because they simply didn't pay attention. He's right of course. And after today, I despair for the United Kingdom. Not because of who was there, which, with a few cheering exceptions (Helen Szamuely, the MPs and MEPs, the bloggers) was dispiriting enough. But because there were not several million of the ordinary people of the UK, alert to the danger we face and prepared to do something about it.
Gordon Brown? He can afford to sleep easy. He hasn't got a fight on his hands. He can sign the treaty knowing that no-one much in Britain gives a toss.
Fuck. Oh, fuck.
I was relieved when the rally was over. I walked back to Victoria, fancying a coffee and a Calvados. I have just been in Switzerland, a civilised country awash with civilised cafés where one can satisfy such a small wish in clean, relaxed surroundings and be served by professionals. In fucking England, you can't. It's a crowded stand-up pub where you are served by some harrassed type who doesn't care if you die of thirst and just wants you, basically, to leave the premises, or the greasy spoon with no alcohol licence, or a chain 'restaurant' like Prezzo where it's a full meal or bugger off. And out in the street, litter. Victoria station is a crying disgrace. You are greeted by gum-stains and fag ends on the ground and announcements threatening fucking prosecution for breathing in an unapproved manner.
It was impossible to get on a tube because, two out of three lines being closed, the press of the crowd at the top of the only escalator was intolerable. The sub-humans clustered around the bus-stops scared the shit out of me. Had to be a cab. I talked about the EU constitution to the driver who listened in what seemed to be bemused silence. I concluded with, 'In short, you have a very worried passenger in the back'. To which he finally replied, 'And I can tell you, mate, you now have a very worried driver up front.' I will never know whether he was worried because he thought he had a nutter on board, like those I'd seen at the rally, or whether I had made a convert who will now think hard about the EU.
Jesus, I am getting sick of England, for what my fellow countrymen have done to it, are doing to it, and are about to do to it with this fucking Treaty, without even knowing or caring about any of it.
Makes me wonder why I fucking bother.
No. No. I bother because it's my fucking home.
Later: changed the attendance figure above from 1500 to 500 under advice. I am lousy at that sort of thing.