After church this morning I decided to canvass several of the folk who were loitering near the door. I asked about Obama and his so called ‘intervention’. Now, the area where I live is one of the strongest Tory Constituencies in the country and I know that all of those I spoke to were Tory voters. I was heartened to discover that all were Brexiters, and several went further by saying that they had come to see DC as a fool of the highest order. Furthermore, Obama’s intervention was no such thing; it was an impertinence and an intrusion.
We are not stupid.
I have to take issue with those who have been posting downbeat comments and who appear to be disheartened by what has taken place over this past week. To each one I say that if you are feeling demoralised, then you are feeling precisely how Cameron wants you to feel. Project Fear is more complex than shouting “Boo!”. There is a concerted campaign to scare the electorate but also to undermine its confidence and to push it towards the notion that all is lost. It is not. The Battle for Britain has hardly even begun and those who feel that we might as well throw in the towel have already been duped by the psychological warfare that is emanating from Downing Street and its environs.
Personally, I do not give two figs what Obama thinks. I do not give three figs what Clinton thinks and I would bet four figs on the likelihood that their words will not make the slightest scrap of difference to the outcome of the Referendum. That is because I believe that the majority of voters will already have made up their mind on the matter, and it is not a question of Trade Deals, or economic challenges or what shape this or that will have to take in the future. The matter is decided in the gut.
Patriotism is a river that runs deep. Some might say that is why it is potentially dangerous. I disagree. It is unbridled nationalism that is dangerous. By that I mean the concept that you and your race are superior to any other and that you therefore have the right to stake your claim to the highest peak, even if that involves violence. Such has been the cause of so many wars in past years. This is not about nationalism, it is about patriotism, and patriotism is concerned with an emotional attachment to the land of your birth, or the land that you have made your home. It is about the place where your loved ones are, and where your dreams and hopes are fixed and centred. Patriotism is the realm, the place or the family of people for whom you would give your all if the need arose, the object of your deepest affections; the place of which you are proud to be a citizen and for the good of which you will endeavour, and strive and fight, if need be.
This Referendum will be fought and won not on the field of suppositions about the shape of things to come, but on the emotional plane.
That is why it matters only to a degree how we spell out the issue of Trade Deals and financial implications. Nobody knows for certain how these will unfold. Guesswork will apply on both sides of the argument. It may be that a small and insignificant number of voters will apply themselves to these arguments with rapt and academic fascination. The rest, like me, and I believe many of you, will vote with the heart. I say, that is a good thing to do. Love for one’s country is not necessarily a rational thing. It concerns issues such as sovereignty, pride, freedom, self-determination, tradition, culture, heritage; so many things that are cherished not because they are in any way quantifiable, like sovereign pieces or profit and loss accounts, but are seated deep within that zone that is decorously referred to as ‘the gut’.
In your conversations with those who are inclined to discuss these matters with you, take them to this place. They call it the heart. Take them inward and ask them to contemplate the land in which they live, a far from perfect place, but a place that we can still say is ‘ours’ and is precious above all others.
England, with all thy faults, I love thee still
My country! and while yet a nook is left
Where English minds and manners may be found,
Shall be constrain’d to love thee. Though thy clime
Be fickle, and thy year, most part, deform’d
With dripping rains, or wither’d by a frost,
I would not yet exchange thy sullen skies
And fields without a flow’r, for warmer France
With all her vines; nor for Ausonia’s groves
Of golden fruitage and her myrtle bow’rs.
To shake thy senate, and from heights sublime
Of patriot eloquence to flash down fire
Upon thy foes, was never meant my task:
But I can feel thy fortunes, and partake
Thy joys and sorrows with as true a heart
As any thund’rer there. And I can feel
Thy follies too, and with a just disdain
Frown at effeminates, whose very looks
Reflect dishonour on the land I love.