Leaving Europe – Live on ITV
10th June 2016
The ITV EU debate was – as predicted – a shouting match of cliché and soundbite interjected with some fleeting moments of exasperated reality from the audience. The Leave side repeated ‘take back control’ about a billion times and Nicola Sturgeon tried in vain to introduce some politics about the lies and distortion of the Brexit campaign and the realities of austerity Britain. The audience looked confused. As Dara O’Briain put it: “This talk of sovereignty and accountability feels a little moot after Nicola Sturgeon drops the ‘ahem House of Lords’ bomb.”
But for all Sturgeon tried to face Boris Johnston with his actual political record, the audience was hostile and you could watch that programme and see Britain sliding out of Europe on a sea-tide of nostalgia make-believe and dog-whistle politics. The hostility to Sturgeon wasn’t just evident from the studio but on social media beyond where anti-Scottish rhetoric merged seamlessly with some pretty sickening misogyny and abuse.
These are some of the nicer comments.
Apart from the dreary predictability of this hatefest, the actual quality of the debate was (again unsurprisingly) super-low. Somebody called Andrea Leadsom (anyone?) argued the line that immigration was destroying the greenbelt. It’s an argument that smacks you in the face as its presented on yer-actual-telly-news with a straight face.
Is this actually happening?
Yes it is. In. Slow. Motion.
Other aspects of relations are also exposed. As Alec Finlay notes: “Reading Boris’ attempted slap down, “The SNP are keener to be ruled by Brussels than Westminster”, I know I am not alone in weighing that phrase carefully, firstly for the sense that relations to Scotland can only – in his eyes – be “ruled” over, not an alliance, secondly that , yes, on the whole, I probably would prefer Brussels as a partner, and thirdly, Boris and his ilk are the reason why.
Like our General Election result, our views do not matter. If this happens, and it looks like it really will, I predict a riot, and not just in Marseille.