One day someone will catalogue all the plagues of Egypt confidently forecast to punish Britain for having the temerity to leave the EU.
Some sort of rating system would come in handy, assigning points for the forecasters’ creativity in coming up with imaginary dystopic scenarios.
In anticipation of that development, I’d like to nominate for top prize The Evening Standard and its editor George Osborne. This, even though George had a head start on the competition.
At the time of the referendum, George was Chancellor – and one of the most fanatical campaigners for staying in the EU. In that capacity he was already coming up with ingenious scares at a time when others couldn’t yet think of anything more interesting than the promise that we’ll all freeze hungry in the dark.
Having lost the referendum and his job, George had a soft landing at The Standard, owned by the career KGB officer turned ‘businessman’ Alexander Lebedev or, to be needlessly technical about it, by his son.
There George quickly built on his early lead in the scaremongering stakes, eventually leaving everyone else in his wake last year, when he published an article prophesying that, without the EU, we’d have no defence against a pandemic of gonorrhoea.
The article escaped my attention then but, now I’ve unearthed it, I’m in its thrall. For the subject is extremely close to my heart – and do wipe that lascivious smirk off your face.
I no longer revolve in the circles where VD is common currency, and in fact never did. What interests me no end isn’t the putative pandemic of venereal disease, but the real pandemic of mass idiocy, manifest in particular among our politicos, hacks and those who take them seriously.
The article in question quotes Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, who describes the post-Brexit threat of gonorrhoea as “significant” and “disastrous”, what with the imminent collapse of any cooperation with continental health bodies.
Yet in the next paragraph he effectively self-refutes by correctly, if clumsily, stating that such cooperation is unlikely to cease because both parties have a vested interest in it: “The only positive is that we can say this is not only about UK patients, it is about European patients who would be affected as well.”
Score one for idiocy, and I mean not the argument itself, though God knows it’s bad enough, but the way it’s made – in one of our oldest newspapers. And the paper, using Mr Dickson as its mouthpiece, quickly runs up the score.
“Diseases do not recognise borders,” continues the quote, and one has to agree: indeed they don’t. But the carriers of diseases do, and – I don’t know how to put this without offending anyone – such carriers are more likely to come from the Third World and the low-rent parts of Europe (which, due to free movement, often amounts to the same thing).
This observation is so blatantly racist, xenophobic and probably also homophobic, misogynist and global-warming-denying that one would understand it if the paper had refused to entertain that affront, or else only used it as an illustration of the Leavers’ beastliness.
That would have been logical, whereas the article’s next sentence is again self-refuting and therefore inane: “Meanwhile outbreaks of measles in England and Wales have repeatedly been linked to those in countries in eastern Europe…”
Right. So outbreaks of contagious diseases, such as measles and by inference also gonorrhoea, are directly attributable to migration from the countries I so unkindly describe as the low-rent part of Europe.
Since, as we’ve agreed, diseases don’t recognise borders but their carriers do, logic would suggest that limiting such migration would lower the incidence of nasty infections.
Coincidentally, limiting immigration is exactly what Brexit is designed to do, at least in theory. (In practice, this falls into the category of things I have to see to believe.)
It’s then not immediately clear why the post-Brexit risk of VD will increase, rather than diminish, especially since Eastern European girls are disproportionately represented among Britain’s practitioners of the world’s oldest profession.
(I assume, and John Bercow may wish to correct me, that a man is more likely to catch gonorrhoea from a prostitute than from his wife.)
Once again, my point here isn’t political but purely logical. It’s true that I have yet to hear a single cogent argument in favour of the EU in general and especially our membership in it.
However, a certain deficit of cogency isn’t identical to rank idiocy, as displayed by making mutually exclusive statements in almost every sentence. This is yet another reminder that, though the words ideas and ideology are cognates, they are opposite in meaning.
P.S. As I finished writing this, news came in that the Supreme Court had found Johnson’s proroguing of parliament unlawful. I wish someone could do the same to our newfangled Supreme Court. Can we retrieve Col. Pride’s DNA?