The unforgiving minute approaches
At the conclusion of The Leave Alliance’s recent highly successful TED-style talk, in which Dr. Richard North walked through the Flexcit staged plan for leaving the EU, a number of the alliance’s Bloggers Army and other audience members stayed behind afterwards to explain their own reasons for voting Leave on 23 June.
Here are a selection of those reasons – including a contribution from yours truly.
The Leave Alliance is comprised of a diverse group of people from across the political spectrum, some who have been devoted to this cause for decades and others for whom it is a much more recent obsession.
I have the honour of fighting the EU referendum campaign alongside this excellent group of people – a group which comprises Dr. Richard North, surely the foremost authority on the European Union in Britain, Pete North, a writer of very rare ability, the Bloggers’ Army, whose various research and writing talents all far eclipse my own, and our very generous readers and supporters. It is a singular honour to be associated with them all, and to make even a small contribution toward our common goal.
Things are not looking good for the Brexit cause right now. The list of unforced errors, media howlers and general acts of incompetence committed by the oh so politically savvy leaders of the official Vote Leave campaign grows by the day. By clinging stubbornly to disproven statistics and flat-out false arguments, Vote Leave squander credibility faster than we can possibly hope to win it back. Indeed, fighting this EU referendum with the likes of Boris Johnson as a figurehead for the Brexit cause is like trying to swim the English Channel with a ball and chain clamped to one’s ankle – strive though we might, we are inevitably dragged down beneath the waves.
It should be noted that nearly every single one of the official Leave campaign’s missteps and key points of criticism could have been avoided by heeding the advice of The Leave Alliance – not least in terms of the importance of having a robust Brexit plan to lay before serious opinion-formers and influencers.
But we fight on, and we fight to win. Though the path to victory for the Leave side is now very narrow indeed – essentially resting on significant unforced errors from the Remain campaign or major external political shocks, as this blog now argues – we must continue to make the bold, globally-engaged case for Brexit, and stand ready to quickly capitalise on any good fortune which comes our way.
This blog will be working flat out for the next month to achieve the impossible and secure a vote for Brexit in the referendum on 23 June. David Cameron managed to say one true thing during his round of media appearances this weekend – that this referendum campaign is indeed more important than a general election. And so it is. It therefore demands the best of all our abilities.
In his famous poem, “If”, Rudyard Kipling wrote of filling the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds’ worth of distance run. Well, the final month ahead of us between now and Referendum Day will certainly be unforgiving. We are behind in the polls, we have nearly the entire political and cultural establishment ranged against us screaming hysterically that Brexit would somehow usher in the apocalypse, and the man generally recognised as the figurehead of our movement is, for all intents and purposes, a malevolent lunatic.
So – that should make eventual victory having overcome these challenges all the sweeter, no? We at least owe it to ourselves to try, to work tirelessly for victory but also pragmatically so that we are positioned to turn a bad result into the best possible starting point for our next attempt. And when we feel despondent, let’s remember that these are not ordinary political times. One year ago, who would have said that Jeremy Corbyn would be leader of the Labour Party, or that Donald Trump would be the presumptive Republican Party presidential nominee?
So let’s fill the unforgiving minute. Let’s leave it all on the field, as the Americans say – or on the pitch, if we’re being particularly British.
Who’s with me?
While normally it might be considered unbearably trite to quote Kipling, a close reading reveals that in fact there is barely a line which is not highly applicable to those of us struggling to voice a thinking person’s Brexit message in the hurricane of the national referendum debate. And so:
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
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