The most dishonest demo I’ve ever seen

The #StopTheCoup gathering was a protest against democracy, not for it.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill

Topics Brexit Politics UK

I’ve been on many protests in my time. Some stirring, some damp. But I’ve never been on one as dishonest, even despicable, as the ‘Stop the Coup’ gathering in Westminster this evening. This is the first demo I’ve ever seen that is the polar opposite of what it purports to be. It was dolled up in the noble garb of defending democracy but its chief cry was for the crushing of democracy. Under the banner of preventing Boris Johnson from launching a ‘coup’ against parliament, the protesters were calling for the continuation of the reactionary chattering-class coup against Brexit and the 17.4million people who voted for it. That is, against democracy.

It was clear from the outset that this was no neutral get-together, concerned simply with the future of parliamentary democracy in the UK. It was awash with EU flags. Virtually everyone I saw was wearing a ‘Bollocks to Brexit’ sticker. Dogs – why do middle-class people bring their dogs everywhere? – were adorned in the blue and gold of the Brussels oligarchy. ‘Stop Brexit’, placard after placard read. There were people in EU t-shirts, EU flag-cum-capes, EU berets.

This was not a pro-democracy or pro-parliament protest. It was a pro-Brussels gathering; a creepy outpouring of love for European bureaucracy; yet another public statement by the metropolitan elite of its fealty to foreign technocracy over national democracy. To the extent that these people were saying ‘Bollocks to Boris’, as some placards did (though far fewer, strikingly, than said ‘Bollocks to Brexit), it isn’t because he is proroguing parliament – it’s because he backs Brexit. It’s because he thinks the 2016 vote should be acted upon. Such was the transparent cynicism of this protest: it pretended to rage against Boris because he is anti-democratic, but, in truth, these people are furious with Boris because he is pro-democratic, pro pushing through the largest democratic act in UK history. ‘Don’t destroy democracy!’, they cried at Boris, but their real demand was: ‘Don’t respect the democratic will.’

This cognitive dissonance – to be briefly generous – was summed up in the placards being carried by numerous people. The text said: ‘Defend democracy… Stop Brexit.’ And there you have it: defend democracy by crushing a massive democratic vote; defend democracy by overriding the wishes of the demos; defend democracy by killing it. This is an Orwellian-level misuse of language, where ‘democracy’ is invoked by protesters to the cynical end of stopping democracy in this country. They don’t want to stop the coup, as they refer to Boris’s suspension of parliament; they want to intensify the liberal elite’s coup against the millions of ordinary people who voted to leave the European Union.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

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Isabel Cooke

1st September 2019 at 6:18 pm

Mr O’Neill is funded by the far-right Koch brothers whose intention is to spread despondency and confusion and ensure the rich prosper no matter what. They hate democracy.
Mr O’Neill’s comments are tripe.
In no way is suspending Parliament democratic. The person who’s done it was elected by 90,000 Tories, mostly male, pale and over 60. His party had to bribe a party with links to para-militaries to stay in power. An unelected Head of State confirmed this man in power.
He will push forward the interests of hedge-fund bankers and a small section of the ultra-rich, who will make money gambling on how far the pound will fall.

Jerry Owen

3rd September 2019 at 9:13 am

Isabel Cooke
That’s a very shiny tin foil hat you have there, is it new ?

Blane Williams

14th September 2019 at 12:02 am

The fact the remain campaign was bankrolled by three American banks seems to have passed you by. Why would Goldman Sachs, CitiBank and JP Morgan Chase bankroll the remain campaign, think about that. And while you are thinking about that, wonder why George Soros would pour in millions to try to overturn brexit.


31st August 2019 at 9:07 am

You forgot “defend democracy by staying in an organisation which forces laws on us made by unelected, unaccountable technocrats.”

Isabel Cooke

1st September 2019 at 2:14 pm

After reform over the years, the EU is now headed by a President who is elected by the EU MPs, whom we elect.
That’s a long way from how we fetch up with our Head of State. Isn’t it?

Mike Hawk

3rd September 2019 at 6:56 am

Funny as I don’t remember von Leyen being a candidate set forth by MEP’s.

Jerry Owen

3rd September 2019 at 11:27 am

Isabel Cooke
MEPs ( not European MPs ) have no power. They can advise they can propose. Ultimately they cannot formulate laws.

Blane Williams

14th September 2019 at 12:05 am

There was only one person allowed to stand. The one the commission picked. Oh what a surprise she won.

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