Thursday, May 28, 2015

A rant about eurosceptics

Don't think I've had one of these for a long time but it is time I did. This is not about euroscepticism in general but about eurosceptic organizations. As it happens, another one of them had a conference this morning about Brexit. It was under Chatham House rule (why?) so I could not tweet about it. The rule says that I can use the material but no reference to the details of the event or the speakers. Well, I shall not refer to the details or the speakers and using the material will not be of much use since everything that was spoken has been spoken many times, mostly in the same words and often by the same people in the years I have been attending such meetings and conferences. (For understandable reasons I do not do as much of it as I used to. There is only so often one can listen to the same words, knowing that they lead to precious little.)

Suffice it to say that as seems to have become the norm for these meetings, discussions and conferences, the panel was entirely male though there were six (out of about thirty) women in the audience. Since one member of the panel had rather pompously and condescendingly informed us that we needed to win the women's vote, which was not going to be easy as women preferred the status quo (though how he knew was a mystery) someone did ask how they intended to do this without, apparently, bothering to have any women speakers.

The chairman, no names no pack drill, said even more condescendingly that the questioner, as a woman, should be able to answer that question better. Upon which I suggested that perhaps we can make tea and stuff envelopes. I am not convinced the audience quite grasped the sarcasm behind the comment but I did insist on discussing the problem for at least a couple more minutes. Precisely, why are there no women speakers? Are there no women who understand the issues of Brexit and have something to say on the subject? What, none at all? Answer came there none.

Quite separately, I have been working on an article about a leading Conservative suffragist, Primrose Dame and political activist, Lady Knightley (1842 - 1913) and, therefore, reading about women, mostly on the conservative but some on the liberal side, fighting for various political and other rights. It is not exactly surprising that I should find it depressing that similar fights have to go on more than a hundred years later. Nor am I too impressed when told that there are no women speakers because these are chosen on merit and not as a result of positive discrimination. No women of merit at all? Might there be something wrong in the eurosceptic movement.

As it happens I do not think that putting a token female at the head of the whatever NO campaign we might cobble together will do. But then, I do not suppose anyone will listen to a female voice, anyway.

Incidentally, there was also an issue about eurosceptics sniping at each other and what a bad idea that was. The recent media coverage of UKIP was, according to one speaker, very unfortunate. Well, of course, what was really unfortunate was UKIP's idiotic behaviour but, it seems, that not sniping is being interpreted as never disagreeing or criticizing because up with this we must not put. It is good to know that Soviet rules of political behaviour are being imposed on us all even before we have started.

Rant over, you will be glad to know. Normal service will resume tomorrow.


  1. John ShakespeareMay 29, 2015 at 7:17 PM

    For what it's worth, I attended two rallies in Birmingham prior to the 1975 referendum. At one, the sole speaker was Enoch Powell. The other was addressed by Anthony Wedgwood Benn and Audrey Wise. All three speakers were excellent. I can't say what the audience's gender mix was in either case. In neither case were sandwiches or tea provided. Just saying.

    1. Delighted to hear it but not entirely relevant to the present debate. Sorry if that sounds curmudgeonly but I am rather cross. (Just in case you missed that.) Incidentally, Enoch Powell and Wedgwood Benn probably helped to lose that referendum. Just saying.

    2. John ShakespeareJune 1, 2015 at 7:12 PM

      No, not strictly relevant, but I said it to show people read what you write. I'm baffled by the suggestion about Powell and Benn.

    3. Actually, I am rather pleased when people comment. As you say, that shows people read what I write and no blogger can ask for more. So, thank you. As to being baffled by my comment about Powell and Benn, think back to the political scene and to the number of people who found one or both of those difficult and unacceptable. Benn, in particular, would have lost a good many votes as he represented all that was going wrong with the country and all that people thought, mistakenly, could be solved by membership of the EEC.