I think this from MP Adam Holloway summed it up for me:
“If Britain’s future as an independent country is not a proper matter for a referendum, then I have absolutely no idea what is.”
Neither do I. People can draw their own conclusions.
I don’t have a TV, so if the Commons debate was being broadcast, I couldn’t have watched it. But I do have a radio, and I turned it on this afternoon for the first time in about a year. There was no mention of the debate, but I ended up listening to BBC Radio 4 or 5 anyway.
They were reverently interviewing some American who’d just brought out a new book or something. He was called Michael, and they were almost begging him to visit Britain. He seemed quite an affable guy, but after he said that the top 400 richest Americans earned more than the 150 million other Americans put together, I guessed that he was probably from the left side of the US political spectrum. And when he added, a bit later on, that Marx and Jesus believed pretty much the same things, I guessed he was from the pretty far left of that spectrum. And when he mentioned the town of Flint, Michigan, I finally realised that it was Michael Moore they were interviewing. He was the unshaven fat guy who made Bowling For Columbine some 7 years ago, back when I regarded myself as a bit left wing. I hadn’t listened to him for so long that I’d almost forgotten his name.
What makes someone flip from left to right, and has them stop listening to Michael Moore and start listening to Pat Buchanan? In my case it was the smoking ban. Nothing else. I didn’t really mind if doctors told people that smoking was bad for them, and they should quit. Doctors are entitled to their opinions. But everything changed the moment the doctors started demanding that smoking to be banned everywhere, and set out to try to force me to change my ways. They weren’t going to let me make my own choices, but were instead going to make them for me. Exactly like our elected representatives in Parliament have decided that they’re not going to let the British people decide whether to be in the EU or not, because they know better than we do what’s good for us. Freedom is something that maybe only becomes precious when it’s taken away. A bit like air.
Anyway, Michael Moore then recounted a story about the current bunch of Republican presidential wannabees. It seems that they were all asked whether they “believed in science” or not, and that only one of them raised his hand. Moore said that this just went to show where the Republicans were at. But when I asked myself whether I “believed in science”, I couldn’t help but think that “belief in science” entailed believing whatever scientists said, much like people once believed everything that popes and bishops and priests said. It was the same belief, but in science rather than religion. And these days if climate scientists say that the global climate is warming due to human carbon dioxide emissions, then the people who “believe in science” will believe them, because that’s what they believe. And that’s the whole problem with science these days: it’s become religion.
Then there was a programme about food, the gist of which was that it wasn’t the calorie content of food that caused people to get fat, but the kind of calories they were. Calories in high-calorie processed foods like biscuits were bad (fattening) calories, and calories in high-calorie foods like nuts were good (non-fattening). I started to get irritated at this point because the physics I’m familiar with doesn’t have good and bad calories. Finally after a few more minutes (when they started interviewing the woman bodybuilder, to be exact) I’d had enough, and switched off the radio, and went and dug out a packet of Rich Tea biscuits, and scoffed the lot. I’ve been doing this sort of thing for 50 years, and I can eat an entire pack of biscuits in an afternoon, and falsify the bad-calories-make-you-fat hypothesis every time. Freedom is maybe like air, but it’s even more like biscuits.
In this manner, I was given a sharp reminder of exactly why I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio any more: I just get too angry too quickly. I wondered what the chances were that I’d turn on the radio just once in an entire year and find the BBC interviewing Michael Moore. But then, since it’s the BBC, I wouldn’t be surprised if he has his own 4 hour long daily show. But I do know what the chances are of hearing a smoker saying how grim pubs are now that smoking has been banned: the chances of that happening are approximately zero.
I didn’t turn the radio back on again after that. So I never got to hear the debate, if it was being aired. Which is probably a good thing, because if I had I would have only got angry all over again. And anyway, why should I want to listen to people who don’t want to listen to me?
So I’ll go back to not listening.