FRIDAY night . . . early-evening drinks in Soho’s Groucho club . . . and an unusual suggestion – join a group heading down to Westminster to attend a Brexit Party event? Hmm, I haven’t told them in the Groucho that I am a paid-up Tory, and they might think the Brexit Party is beyond the pale, but why not? There was a spare ticket and before 7pm I was seated with a thousand others in the Emmanuel Hall waiting for Richard Tice to introduce Brexit party members.
On our seats was a shiny Brexit banner to wave if we felt in the mood, and a free copy of the Sept/Oct issue of Workers, the Communist magazine extolling the joys of leaving Europe: ‘Take control, build the new Britain’. Clearly a mixed crowd – on the young side of middle-aged, slightly more men than women and not a swivel-eyed loon to be seen.
This was the tenth event run by the Brexit party, who are not having a dreary conference in a wet and windy seaside town. They, by contrast, have taken the party to the people. No train fares to Manchester and exorbitant conference fee or bed and breakfast costs, but instead an invitation to a party with the party. Nor did this mean scary populist propaganda, but good-humoured entertainment with some politics thrown in. This was one professional gig. All the microphones worked and the set didn’t collapse. We were given short videos and pop music and not one of the speakers was boring – Ann Widdecombe at her best, Brexit MEPs with horror stories of EU excesses, and the candidates who are going to stand for the Brexit party at the election on show.
The event cleverly used entertainment tropes – the speakers running down the stairs and bouncing up on to the platform like TV game-show hosts, and the audience encouraged to cheer or boo as if it were a pantomime. Last on the platform was Nigel Farage, who knows how to entertain a crowd. The organisers added party (the social gathering) to the party (the formally constituted political group) and it was a sell-out. When Nigel left the platform it was to spend time with the 300 people who couldn’t get into the hall in a spill-over room.
There was no sense of ‘us and them’, but a group of enthusiastic and energised individuals all working together to ensure a clean Brexit.
And the politics? Nigel made it clear that he will work with Boris to secure a clean Brexit. He doesn’t want to let Corbyn’s Labour party slip through the gap. With an election expected in November, that was enough for me. A cheerful evening with an optimistic crowd of friendly Londoners, none of the people that Boris calls ‘gloomsters’. All will be well.
There are 3 more events in the Brexit Party Nationwide Tour:
October 10, 7pm
The Langley Banqueting & Conference Suite, Gade House, 38-42 The Parade, High Street, Watford WD17 1AZ
October 14, 7pm
Carn Brea Leisure Centre, Station Road, Pool, Redruth TR15 3QS
October 18, 7pm
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE