Down With Dictators

The Brexiteers have many slogans. We Remainers need to dream up counter-slogans.

May I recommend a must-see seriously contemporary movie: Triumph Des Willens, (Triumph Of The Will), Leni Riefenstahl’s 1935 masterpiece, one of the notable cinematic achievements of the 1930’s.

July 1, 2019. On the Today Programme John Humphrys managed to get Matt Hancock, a supporter of Boris Johnson, to admit he would not oppose Johnson if Johnson prorogued Parliament in order to ensure a no-deal Brexit. Humphrys reminded Hancock of a previous speech where Hancock had said doing this would be to shame the veterans of the D-Day landings.

Triumph Des Willens
Triumph Des Willens – Leni Riefenstahl 1935. Photo ©

To prorogue Parliament is to smash a crucial part of the unwritten British constitution, central to which is the supremacy of Parliament. By declaring his intention to prorogue the sovereign parliament, Boris Johnson declares he will assume dictatorial powers. King Charles I, by doing this, unleashed the English Civil War.

Ever since the referendum of 2016, the Brexiteers have talked of The Will Of The People as Roman Catholics talk of papal infallibility, using it as justification for governing Britain dictatorially.

I have to admit I am somewhat in favour of referendums — Switzerland-style. The Swiss have many referendums, and some of them require complicated legal knowledge from the citizens who vote in them. The Swiss are practised in voting for referendums. Theirs is a democracy of adults; ours, by comparison with Switzerland, is football terrace tribal screaming. Cameron, in a Ukip-induced panic-attack, ordered the 2016 referendum like a rich father buying his son a seventeenth birthday-present Lamborghini, while failing to pay for driving lessons. So the birthday boy drove off at speed, crashed, and killed himself.

British people pour scorn on the South African government, forgetting the South African constitution has been in action for less than thirty years, while the British have had centuries in which to make political mistakes. The South African constitution decrees that major change (constitutional change) requires the winning of a two-thirds majority. This rule has saved South Africa from being a one-party state. The idea of changing a central element of British politics with a simple majority is evil folly. Clement Attlee, perhaps the best British Prime Minister of the last century, did not approve of referendums. He declared them “the device of dictators and demagogues”. This was quoted by, and sometimes wrongly attributed to, Mrs Thatcher, acknowledging Attlee’s wisdom.

It's Not The Will of These People
Photo: Paul Wontner

Attlee was thinking of Hitler. Hitler did not gain his final dictatorial power through a referendum. But he encouraged the Nazis to elevate The Will Of The People with capital letters into a kind of supernatural force which enabled a minority of Nazis to take over a nation. The Brexiteers and the Tory party, whether unconsciously or consciously, are following Hitler. Watch some clips of Hitler speaking, and then watch Farage.

Triumph Des Willens, (Triumph Of The Will): the complete movie is available for viewing on YouTube. It is brilliantly shot, brilliantly directed; its stirring music will thrill you. It glorifies The Will Of The People, and the Farage-Johnson-Hitler leader-figure who has taken it upon himself to be the personification of that Will. It is a wonderful movie. It is utterly evil.

Johnson’s willingness to prorogue Parliament, and thereby assume dictatorial power, does give us a slogan: “Down with Dictators.”

Leo Aylen

Leo Aylen