While we’re all still struggling to decipher what was actually meant by “Brexit means Brexit”, given that the narrative from propagandists jarringly shifts depending on which Brexit induced calamity needs to be spun as something people supposedly voted for, the prevailing mood behind its victory has always been painfully apparent.
It was a simple enough concept. Certainly succinct enough to cultivate a considerable bandwagon, ready to steamroller it’s way through the foundations of our political structure and shatter the complacent zeitgeist.
Pride. Specifically national pride – manifesting itself as an unshakeable belief that we are Britain and absolutely nothing, not even reality, can stand in our way from achieving global dominance on the back of a foundation of glorious, self governing independence.
At least, until somebody says something a bit mean. Then we lose our fucking minds.
Soon both the press and social media were awash with indignant invective. Politicians, pundits and citizens alike were incandescent with rage towards Donald Tusk, with many on the Brexit side of the fence indicating that the unfathomably disgraceful slur he’d unleashed upon our innocent nation showed exactly why we had to leave. I mean, how dare he?!
It’s quite easy to get caught up in the hysteria, not least when your homeland is being slighted from afar.
Unless of course, you bothered to read what Donald Tusk actually said:
Not so bad when you take a look at the actual quote. In fact you could go as far to say that he’s bang on the money – the debatable existence of hell not withstanding of course. Further to this, the only people who should have taken any degree of offence to this were the duplicitous, cynically populist chancers his comments were directed towards.
So naturally – duplicitous, cynically populist chancer Nigel Farage was furious.
Though none of this fallout was the least bit surprising, at least not from the hardline Brexit camp. A propagandist is going to do what a propagandist is going to do, seizing upon the slightest slither of controversy and discontent and twisting it to suit their agenda. Beyond recognition if needs be.
However this wilfully disingenuous indignation wasn’t limited to the obnoxious bluster of plan deficient hucksters – portions of the mainstream media were all too happy to fan the flames of confusion with curiously broad summations of what Donald Tusk actually said.
Namely the BBC:
Just why the BBC chose to present Tusk’s comments in such a way is a matter known only to them, but if you were to say it was a cynical ploy to attract clicks and potentially stoke up a feeling of anti-EU sentiment ahead of Brexit D-Day, you might not be a million miles away from the truth.
In any case, such slack reporting was an absolute gift for Theresa May and her faltering government, gleefully pouncing upon the dominant narrative and allowing them to further craft an “us against them” dichotomy all of their own – presumably with the aim of snuffing out any lingering remain sentiment amongst the populace.
You could argue that perhaps Tusk was unwise to be so blunt, especially given that he was acutely aware of how it would be spun over in Britain. It was certainly no slip of the tongue, though one suspects he was long past the point of worrying about optics. It’s not as though the British press have ever been especially complimentary to those “bloody unelected eurocrats”, apparently holding them in a similar disdain as they do the truth.
Not to mention that, even leaving partisan media establishments to one side, British politicians haven’t exactly been exemplars in courteous diplomatic relations either.
Ultimately this entire shambles caused by one comment, as laced with scythe as it may have been, has provided a timely object lesson in how easily a deceptive narrative can be spun. It matters not that the actual quote is easily verifiable to anyone who has ten seconds spare to check Google, a scurrilous seed had been planted and the rot wasn’t far behind to overwhelm the discourse with bitter cries of vexation – all over a simple, justified comment aimed only at a small subsection of the most deserving.
You can’t help but wonder how this verbal skirmish will be perceived in the decades to come. It’s often said that history is written by the winners – and at this point the side in the ascendancy is riddled with unscrupulous liars.Follow @grahamlithgow