Yesterday’s fresh new crime fiction, The Incident Of The Churchill Bust, proved to be an illustrative, if irritating, episode in showing just how crass and puerile both side of the EU Referendum debate in this country are becoming.
Keen to discredit Barack Obama’s recent intervention in the referendum campaign – which saw Obama firmly endorse a vote to ‘Remain’ in the EU – and paint the President as embittered and anti-British, the ‘Leave’ side pushed a narrative in which he had ordered a bust of Winston Churchill to be removed from the Oval Office to to cop a snook at the United Kingdom. In response, the ‘Remain’ side put about that this never actually happened, referring to it as a ‘myth’.
The truth of the matter, of course, was neither one thing nor the other. Obama himself seems to have confirmed that he did in fact have one of the two Churchill busts in question removed – but that this was not out of any disrespect for Churchill, or for Britain generally. And yet, both the Leavers and the Remainers have seized upon this completely innocuous, barely relevant story and wrung its neck until it appears to support their case.
With a full two months yet to go in this campaign, it is depressing to see both sides fixating on such a triviality. If every tiny murmur of a story is going to make both camps work themselves into a lather simplifying and twisting each detail to make it appear favourable to their cause, I don't know how much more of this I'll be able to take; far from ‘engaging’ me in a question of national importance, such petty bickering over nothing makes me want to knock all their heads together and call the whole thing off. Oh god, can’t it just end?