“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone … At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation”.
Anyone not recognise that? The opening words of the speech given by Winston Churchill on the 4th of June 1940, which is better known as the “We shall fight them on the beaches” speech. Eloquent, determined, resolute, stirring, Winshton may not have been the most tactically astute or knowledgeable politician, but his very presence suited the mood, and the need, of a nation with its back against the wall.
Sadly, the eloquence and determination he showed has proved impossible for the obscenely overpaid yet woefully untalented pundits now trying to stir the nation to oppose a new foe, perhaps because the new foe is a figment of their fevered imagination and there is no war, no matter how much they pretend there to be.
All of which brings us to the strange world of the has-been that is Tony Parsons, confirming in his latest Sunday Sun rantfest that any idea of laying off the vicious and needless demonisation of anything to do with the EU that appeared yesterday was a mere chimera, an aberration along the road of hatred generation and abuse dispensation.
“The average Brit has only affection and admiration for European culture. We love German cars, French wine and Spanish sunshine … Millions of us have fond memories of Paris, Venice, Barcelona, Berlin or Amsterdam that we will treasure for ever. Our bonds with Europe are strong and deep … There were 16 Polish squadrons in the RAF during World War Two” he offers, before the red mist descends and demonisation begins.
“It is not Europe we are leaving. It is the European Union”. Ey up, exhume the dead horse and flog it one more time: “Love Europe, hate the EU”. Another meaningless soundbite. Then comes the abuse: “We will not be the last nation to leave the failed, undemocratic, job-destroying EU”. Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk are juxtaposed with Adolf Hitler and the Spanish Armada, before Parsons misses the point spectacularly.
“I visited Eastern Europe when it was a grim satellite of the Soviet Union, Spain when it was under Franco’s Fascist boot and Greece when a military junta was in power”. Yes, I too remember Spain under Franco, and a mightily joyless place it was. But accession to the EU has brought all those sovereign nations together. Anyway, do go on.
“All the signs are that the European Union wishes to viciously punish us for having the nerve to leave the EU”. No citation, and none will be forthcoming, but facts are not really the point. The equating of the EU with past demons, characterising the Union as Bad People Who Would Do Us Harm, is the name of the Parsons game.
Then, inevitably, comes the back-stop of those who inhabit the Baby Shard bunker - the belief in their own propaganda: “This is a toxic cocktail of petty spite - Brexit confirms that their federalist experiment has failed - but also hard-hearted pragmatism … If the British do not suffer for leaving, then everyone will be packing their bags”. The same lies that Trevor Kavanagh was pushing on Newsnight last week - the idea that the EU is universally hated throughout its member states. It isn’t, but Parsons and his fellow Sun pundits can’t let their readers know that. The illusion must be maintained.
So on with the abuse it is: “Soon we will be presented with a divorce bill of around £52billion - the diplomatic equivalent of revenge porn … And that will be just the start … It seems insane that the peevish, jumped-up little nobodies of the European Union are reacting with scorn and threats to Theresa May’s attempts to make this a civilised separation”. No threats have been made - unless you count Ms May’s security threat.
Then comes his chance to emulate Churchill, and it is fair to say that he flunks it in no style at all: “The Spanish Armada, Napoleon, Hitler, the IRA and Islamist terrorists have all tried. And look what happened to them … Our Prime Minister will not be pushed around and neither will her people … But the signs are that things are going to get very nasty, very quickly … The UK will inevitably become more pro-Brexit when we see the true face of the hateful, small-minded, money-grabbing cabal we are leaving”.
Winshton’s speeches had the effect they did because he was straight with the British people. He put the perilous situation facing the country directly. The threat of Nazism was a real one, the consequence of failure in that endeavour too dreadful to contemplate. By comparison, the EU and its negotiating team are just a group of professional politicians and diplomats - as are our side - charged with doing a job.
Their job is to carry out negotiations following our triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. There is no warlike intent or consequence to the process. No threat of destruction, of imposed dictatorship, of mass imprisonment, torture or execution. Everything that Parsons rails about is imaginary. Worse, all he will accomplish is to keep his readers ignorant and make the job of our Brexit team that much more difficult.
Unlike Churchill, Tony Parsons has none of the eloquence, none of the strength of purpose, and worst of all, none of the honesty. He is a whining nonentity, walking into a pub and trying to pick a fight with the quietest and most inoffensive presence at the bar, just for the hell of it. He is a waste of space. No change there, then.