One of the Tory party’s more distinguished parliamentarians told me last week, in deadly seriousness rather than satire, that he thought we lived in a banana republic. He believed there was some truth in a story, going around Westminster, that the Prime Minister would create 25 peerages for those “supportive” in the referendum campaign.
Certainly some of the recent ennoblements have seemed like barrel scrapings, pitching into the Upper House for reasons of tokenism people who, a generation ago, would have been lucky to get a job cleaning the place.
More shocking even than this banana-republic doling-out of sweeteners to useful idiots was a question asked of me in a Brexit debate in which I spoke in Hampstead last Tuesday. An entirely sane, rational and articulate man asked whether I thought the vote would be rigged. … Yet I worry that I live in a country where suspicion of ballot-rigging and bribery can exist. When the man asked me that question, others in the audience nodded their heads and muttered agreement. Another cited the outrageous decision by the Government to spend £9m of taxpayers’ money on a thoroughly dishonest leaflet for every household in the land, moments before restrictions on spending in the referendum were brought in.
hat-tip Stephen Neil