Every so often a prominent member of the political class says something that they actually believe. The legacy media typically refer to such moments as “gaffes”, though various media agendas compete to determine which “gaffes” become “news”.
It is unlikely that the words spoken by Alastair Campbell on BBC Question Time to describe the prospect, let alone the actuality, of a referendum regarding Britain’s EU membership, will become “news”, so it is incumbent upon people such as myself to bring the matter to broader attention.
Unwittingly and unthinkingly, Campbell revealed what a substantial portion of the political class actually think about the views of the British electorate and its idealistic pretentious to be living in an open, free and fair democracy, when he said: “even having the debate is dangerous”.
In what sense is debate dangerous? Is debate not the very essence of democracy, and one of the essential chacteristics that distinguishes a free society from a totalitarian despotism? Campbell and his ilk regard views that differ from their own with utter contempt, and they lack even the self-awareness to understand just how closed-minded and authoritarian that makes them.
Not that it matters a great deal. David Cameron has promised the British people a say on the matter of their country’s EU membership, and it will not be for the likes of Campbell to decide whether a supranational treaty organisation—which serves the interests of politicians very well—should continue to play such a prominent role in the nation’s governance.