Martin and his namesake Hans, the affable Nazi sergeant in Hogan’s Heroes, are different and similar at the same time.
They’re both bungling Germans, but Martin isn’t affable. Both are corrupt, Hans personally, Martin institutionally. Hans oversaw a POW camp, Martin oversees the European ‘parliament’, a setup founded on similar principles.
Hans’s stock phrase was “I hear nothing, I see nothing, I know nothing!” Martin, however, believes he knows everything. It’s in that spirit that he elevated political science to stratospheric heights.
The Brexit referendum, he declared, was divisive. He left it for us to extrapolate that exactly the same thing can be said about all elections. Extrapolation complete, one begins to comprehend the bottomless depth of Papa’s insight.
Whether the electorate chooses between two candidates or two propositions, the outcome will surely divide those who voted one way from those who voted the other. Only elections like those in Stalin’s or Putin’s Russia have no such detrimental effect.
Stalin’s elections featured only one candidate, ‘the bloc of communists and non-party members’, which guaranteed landslides. Putin bars meaningful opposition but employs hordes of volunteers to stuff ballot boxes just in case. A landslide again ensues, marginally more modest than Stalin’s but just as assured – with no divisiveness anywhere in sight.
No doubt Papa’s ideal of democracy gravitates towards one of those models, what with their unifying effect. Who’d argue that togetherness is better than alienation?
Having made that seminal contribution to political science, Papa doffed his philosopher’s hat and donned Sherlock Holmes’s deerstalker. In that new capacity he solved the murder of Jo Cox, the MP killed a week before the referendum.
The simpletons among us thought she was murdered by a madman, Thomas Mair, who gave his name to the magistrates as ‘death to traitors, freedom for Britain’. But Papa would have none of that.
‘Death to traitors’ might have pulled the trigger, but he was acting as a humanoid robot. The real culprit was the “damaging and dangerous” rhetoric of the Brexit debate. It hardly needs saying that this outrage was committed by one side only, those wanting to leave. Jo Cox’s blood is on their hands, intimated Papa.
One has to congratulate Papa on his moderation. While confidently identifying the provenance of the homicidal animus, he kindly refrained from naming specific names.
Putin’s chief mouthpiece Dmitry Kisilev, affectionately described by some Russians as ‘Putin’s Goebbels’, wasn’t so reticent. He directly accused Dave Cameron of murder – and he converged with Papa by also accusing our then PM of divisiveness.
According to Kisilev’s investigation, Dave tried to prevent Brexit by “a sacral sacrifice: the murder of MP Jo Cox… And what now? He divided the country, even spilled blood, but lost ignominiously.”
The dummy to Putin’s ventriloquist didn’t clarify whether Dave murdered Jo personally or by proxy, Putin-style, but in either case it’s a shame that the British media failed to inform the public at the time that Russia was openly accusing the British PM of violent felony.
Emulating his Nazi namesake, Papa then issued some empty threats. Britain’s export of goods and hedge funds to Europe, he growled, would be vetoed should Theresa May be so bloody-minded as to limit the influx of foreign workers.
“There will be no à la carte menu,” thundered Papa. Go the whole hog or go hungry. No country can control its borders and still expect to trade with the EU.
One has to assume that, say, the US and China satisfy the free-movement requirement. After all, they export more to the EU than we do. And they don’t even have the good fortune of belonging to the single market. Surely Papa isn’t suggesting Britain should be singled out for punitive detail?
Papa’s animadversions were neatly harmonised with the background noise coming from different quarters. Some came from various European countries, especially those whose GDP would be severely dented if their nationals weren’t able to send home the money they make in Britain.
If Britain insists on being bloody-minded, they’ll block Brexit, they threatened. Even Papa didn’t go so far: he merely said the EU would block British exports.
One wonders how the recently communist chaps are planning to stop us leaving. Fences of electrified razor wire? Guard dogs? Watch towers complete with machine guns? The camp gates could be painted brown or red, but that’s the general idea.
Other noises sounded not so much threatening as threatened. They came from European manufacturers, many of whom live or die by exporting to Britain. Would the camp guards led by Papa be prepared to cut off their manufacturers’ noses to spite Britain’s face?
Correct me if I’m wrong, but we can’t be prevented from leaving. All we need to do is activate Article 50, then walk out in an orderly manner not at all reminiscent of a daring escape.
We could then negotiate with the EU all sorts of deals, covering trade, cooperative law enforcement, travel requirements and whatnot. All in good faith and with no divisiveness whatsoever.
Then we could get on with our life, gleefully watching from outside as Papa’s bailiwick falls to pieces. Nothing personal, Papa. Just business – in fact, very just.