Born in Portsmouth but brought up above what later became the Granita restaurant in Islington, Marcus Median was one of the architects of New Labour. Elected as MP for Milton Park South-North-West in 1997, he served in the Blair and Brown administrations as Undersecretary of State for Burying Bad News, Vice Chief Czar for Best Value Diversity Deliverables and Lord High Parliamentary Project Manager for Interfaith Understanding, Global Change and Aerial Bombardment. Despite describing himself as ‘Britain’s most devout Remainer’, he resigned from parliament in 2016 because, as he said at the time, ‘Corbyn wants to make us too much like other European countries – or at least the bits of other European countries that are too left-wing.’ Today he shares his thoughts with S&C readers about Brexit, the election and other issues important to right-thinking centrists.
Hey there guys, are you as miffed by the coming election as I am? We’ve got ugly cynical populist extremists on both sides making crazy promises they’ll never keep and dividing the good people of Britain ever more. For the love of Tony, where did our shared values go? You know, stuff that every single citizen of Cool Britannia agreed on until Chairman Corbs took over my old party, the Referendum happened or Trump got in – one of those three, anyway.
Whatever happened to aspiration, leadership, innovation, malevolently insincere grinning, forward-looking-ness, state-of-the-art-ness, social justice (for certain groups whose votes we wanted), equality (within sensibly narrow parameters), flexibility (of our main principles as and when required), ‘being intensely relaxed about getting filthy rich’ (while pretending to retain a conscience), a global perspective (which followed without question that of the United States) and bombing the living pooh out of people overseas (in the hope of persuading them to believe in all of the above)?
In James O’Brien’s name, Brexit’s a debacle and I’ll keep saying it because, if nothing else, it’s an easy ‘like’-getter on Facebook. Plus we all concur with the sentiment. Well, 49% of us anyway. As ever, I’m a realist about the whole thing: if we all vote Lib Dem on the 12th December, they’ll win and we’ll stay in Europe. Job done!
For Chuka’s sake, don’t listen to the doom merchants who say the Golden – well, Yellowy-Orange – Ones will split the vote and let the Tories back in to deliver their hard-bottomed Brexit. (I used to say ‘hard-ass’ back in the ‘90s until Alastair told me it was inappropriate cultural re-appropriation or something like that. Alastair was so sensitive towards other ethnic groups that – like me – he was mightily keen on bombing the merry parp out of several such groups in the Middle East).
But, you know guys, the whole in-out-shake-it-all-about argument has nothing to do with facts and evidence and that sort of rubbish. Rather, it has everything to do with appealing to the public’s base emotions with a narrative. I should know: Alastair, Peter and I – you’ll remember the Spin Doctors, our band from the ‘90s – practically invented the approach. And you thought it all began with The Donald. Ha!
So we need to have a conversation, a big conversation about identity. The only way to oppose these Brexity dinosaurs and their romantic, homogenising and unchanging notion of British identity is to get behind an equally romantic, homogenising and unchanging notion of European identity. We have to harp on about how Europe has always and only ever been about democracy, liberalism (social and economic – you gotta love both!), human rights, secularism and fine dining, while either ignoring or somehow justifying 500 years of imperialism, 400 years of slavery, 300 years of religious wars, a couple of world wars, Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Russia (luckily only 40% of Russia is technically in Europe, so easier to brush that one under the carpet), Italian and Spanish fascism, and lampredotto sandwiches (cow stomach? Really? Look, my third home is in Tuscany and I love the place, but there are limits).
This is not the time for soundbites. If we’re rudely awakened from the European dream by the cold leather glove of hatred gripping us by the shoulder, hauling us out of bed and then giving us a Prescottian right hook in the maw, we will lose everything that we cherish. Everything.
Like what? For one, the ability to crush one of our member states when they refuse to get with our neoliberal programme. As Owen Jones – no friend of mine, of course – wrote in 2015, ‘The destruction of Greece’s national sovereignty was achieved by economic strangulation … It was German and French banks who recklessly lent to Greece that have benefited from bailouts, not the Greek economy.’ Funny, old Owen seems to have changed his tune about the EU since then.
Then of course if we leave the European brotherhood – and sisterhood, of course – and Jezza’s Pinko Politburo wins the election (yeah right!), they might start nationalising things. Ouch! Good centrists like us love the EU because they insist on boosting competition within industries like transport – and you can only do that with privatisation. Duh.
One thing I don’t get about the Brexiteerios – see, I gave them a foreign-sounding name just to annoy them – is why they want to quit an institution that has done so much to keep out refugees. Just because we attack countries like Libya, why should we suffer the inevitable influx of displaced people from said countries? It’s not our fault, for John McTernan’s sake! I hear the International Criminal Court wants to prosecute the EU for its policy that ‘intended to sacrifice the lives of migrants in distress’ in the Mediterranean Sea, ‘with the sole objective of dissuading others in a similar situation from seeking safe haven in Europe’. Come on, guys, we’ll get nowhere playing the whole boring blame-game of who’s responsible for breaking international law.
Isn’t that right, Tony?