I attended the Grassroots Out (GO) campaign meeting at the QE2 Centre in the heart of Westminster last night. The event - as shown on TV news bulletins and in the press - was packed to the rafters. Standing room only. As I attended on my own, I found a good single seat near the front and so could watch all the speakers with ease. Even take a couple of pictures and videos.
Most of the press attention seems to have focused not on Farage tearing it up but on George Galloway being the surprise mystery guest. A few self-indulgent journalists and political hacks have made subsequent fools of themselves by saying they walked out in protest. Hundreds, said the Telegraph. Well, as I say, I had a good seat and I didn't see this. It's the nature of these large events that people are constantly getting up and down, to the loo, and so that's what it appeared to me.
I only found out about the 'mass' walkout later when I read about it. Which prompts me to ask, who makes history - those who were there or those who write it up? I guess we know the answer to this question. Hence my blogpost.
For what it's worth, Galloway made a rousing speech that won over his audience. He was probably conscious that although GO is an ecumenical, all-party leave group, the audience in the room would comprise mainly of Kippers and old-fashioned Tories. It's a trope to say that although you don't agree with Galloway, you can see he's a good orator and worth watching. Well, I tread the line on consensus on this one, pleased that I've seen him in the flesh winning over a potential hostile audience with rhetorical flourishes, historical allusions and old time tub thumping.
I wonder if he'll become the new - and canonised - St.Tony Benn (who he name-checked effectively last night). In his day, 70's and early 80's, Benn was despised by friends and foe alike. Later he became cuddly Uncle Tony, democrat and preacher of the old time socialist religion. Maybe this is George's future?
As an interesting aside, as the queue to get out was so long, I elected to go down the back stairs away from the throng awaiting the lifts. Walking down a service corridor guess who I should bump into? Only Gorgeous George himself.
"Great speech George," I said.
"Thanks," he said.
It is in such moments that history is written. Did I tell you I met Madonna once?
Power to the People!
- BTW, my attendance at the meeting and my views of the referendum will be coming soon to this website. I tried to write these thoughts earlier but got lost up my own backside somewhere around The Peterloo Massacre, The Rochdale Pioneers and William Wilberforce. I'll work on brevity!
- To see Galloway's speech, but alas not me, paste the following into your browser https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S8cF93B58Vw
- Amusingly - in the pub opposite the QE2 - I stood next to Mike Reid the former Radio 1 DJ. Thank Christ he wasn't the mystery guest!