So the latest bright idea from the remain camp is as follows: crowd fund £1000 to buy thousands of EU flags, distribute them to audiences at the Last Night of the Proms this Saturday (after calling the police and telling them that you need protection when you hand them out), and send a message to the rest of the world about how pro EU all cultured Britons are.
Ostensibly the protest is about celebrating music in the EU and warning that Brexit might be bad for music within the UK:
“We are passionate about remaining in the EU and worried about the damage that leaving the EU would mean for music in the UK. The Last Night has always been a joyful celebration of music and our national identity.
“For some of us, our EU citizenship is an intrinsic part of that identity, and it seems natural to us to want to celebrate our European citizenship alongside our British citizenship.
Sigh. There’s nothing really wrong with this as a form of protest – it’s non violent and likely to make a strong impression upon many well-educated and influential people. But it would be nice if the protestors could be a bit more honest about their motives. They want to oppose Brexit and kick up as much of a fuss as possible – if any idiotic thugs turn up on the night to fight them and cause trouble, they will be the ones who come out of it looking like martyrs.
Of course, these are smart tactics, but implying that leaving the EU is automatically going to remove the UK from European artistic and cultural life is just another way to polarise the debate and take time away from useful discussion of what we want our relationship with Europe to look like.
Can’t we be having a nuanced discussion about which ties to the EU we want to strengthen and which we cannot tolerate? Of course nuance is what’s been missing in the Brexit debate from beginning to end. But given that the Remain camp have been spending weeks telling us the leave campaign was founded on lies, it would be nice if they could stop pretending that once we’ve left the EU no British person will ever get a job, go to University, or play music in another European state ever again. But no, they’d rather stage pathetic point scoring events and spend their time waving baguettes in the air.
Brexit MP Peter Bone has argued that the Last Night of the Proms is not an event that should be politicised:
“This is not an event that should be turned into a political rally and it seems to me that it should be kept as normal as possible – there is potential for it to be a total disaster.
“Wise heads should prevail – we should have political arguments in Westminster. It seems unfair to people who want to go along and enjoy the music.”
It’s a sad fact that people will inevitably feel a little on edge as they wave either their Union or EU flags on Saturday night. Will the people next to me be judging me? Do they think I’m a bad person? Is the camera going to do a close-up of me with my flag? Am I going to get hate for it? Maybe many will decide not to wave any flags at all and perhaps enjoy the night less than they would have done. This could all be a sad little metaphor for what’s going on in terms of political debate in our country. But who knows; when I’ve been to the BBC Proms in the past the audience has always been decidedly grey-haired, so there may be fewer EU flags waving than the Remainers might like.