|'Oh what a circus, what a show'
Sometimes, you have to 'take one for the team'. Thus, on October 14th, one brave Remainer, David Chalmers manfully donned his incognito anorak and went along to see what the other side was up to. This is his verdict.
"Yesterday afternoon I attended the "Brexit Roadshow" in Torquay. I had reservations about donating £5 to a cause that I obviously don't support and guess I could have watched the event online, but I wanted to get a feel of the atmosphere first hand. I am glad I did. The event was supposed to be sold out, and to be fair, once I was in the hall I only saw the occasional spare seat. The only person I saw under 40 was the man in his twenties, who took my money on the door.
That was the first thing that struck me - the lack of any young people in the audience and that I was probably amongst the youngest in the hall. The hall contained approx 1,500 grey haired men and women - mostly in their 60s and 70s - with far more people in their 80s and 90s than in their 20s and 30s. These are the people, taking it upon themselves to demand the right to decide the fate and future of the rest of the country. It was quite shocking, and I reckon that were the cameras to have panned the audience it would brought home to the rest of the country just what is going on here. An older generation trying to take the country back to some fantasy land of their childhood with no desire to look at reality or to accept the future.
|What does this remind you of? (clue >>)
Tim Martin of Wetherspoons, Farage and Rees Mogg were the main speakers, but before I comment on their individual speeches, what was apparent was that no-one was going to give any real facts. All speakers reverted to simple statements with no explanation or detail. We have heard - "take back control, take back our fisheries, make Britain great again etc" all before, but their was no attempt to deal with all the challenges that the reality of Brexit has thrown up. In fact when they did address those issues they chose to trivialise them. Martin actually claiming that the trade across the Irish Border was small and trivial, to be easily sorted. Rees-Mogg joking that a NO Deal would mean a rise in the cost of caviar and that a few lorries might get delayed for a short time at Dover
This was an audience that really believes that life will be better on our own, because they have no understanding of how the world works in 21st Century - and neither do they want to know. There is an obvious mistrust and dislike of Europe and all things European, in contrast to the cheers when the Commonwealth was mentioned. But that does raise the question of what parts of the Commonwealth ? - bearing in mind that I saw not one non white face in the hall.
That Tim Martin , a man who runs a chain of pubs. puts himself forward as the spokesperson for British business would be laughable, but these are not times to laugh, and the people listening to him didn't seem to care. He talked of switching to non European products being served in his bars, as if this would solve all the problems Brexit poses for British companies. He even called for a general boycott of EU products and talked about upholding democracy. The best thing anyone wishing to defend the democracy of our country could do, would be to send him a message he would understand, do as I have done for the past two years and not set foot in one of his establishments.
Farage is ever the showman and he knows how to play an audience. His jokes about Theresa May did cause great laughter, but I was surprised that Rees Mogg - although not on the stage at the time - was prepared to come on after the harsh criticism of his party leader.
Farage wants to revive "The People's Army " and called on everyone in the hall to write and go to see their MP - whose contact details were on a sheet on everyone's chairs. They hate Sara Woolaston and they hate the Chequers Deal and regard Theresa May as betraying the result of the Referendum. They just want to Leave the EU - and don't want to hear what this might mean in reality. To them they have achieved this wonderful thing, which they have all been striving for, for the past twenty years and don't want another Referendum - the people have spoken - now the politicians have to just get on with the job and make Brexit happen.
|Unfortunate facial shadowing
When Farage suggested that the Remain side were the aggressive ones - I wanted at that point to shout out - "Remember Jo Cox" and recall the number of times two years ago that I had a fist put up to my face.
After Farage, Rees Mogg was quite a come down and his speech was much more subdued. His job was to tell the audience that Brexit was really a very simple thing to do and that it was being prevented from happening because his colleagues in Government were not really in to the task. A NO Deal scenario would not cause any long term problems. Obviously !!
So there you have it . The message is one of betrayal - as on the side of the bus - and they just want Leave and don't believe or want to know what this could mean for our country. I felt people were there for the entertainment and nostalgia as much as anything else. Not once were young people mentioned - there was no talk of opportunity, or the future. It felt like a mixture of attending a meeting of the flat earth society and the revival tour of a fading rock star. What we need to do is expose them to the rest of the country and put forward our vision for its future. We have to win this!" ....