Giles Fraser writes:
These are curious political times, creating unusual and uncomfortable bedfellows.
Leftwing Brexiters find themselves crawling into bed with Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson, and leftwing remainers with David Cameron, Jeremy Clarkson and Goldman Sachs.
For a while, at least, we are all sleeping with the enemy, and comforting ourselves with the justification that it’s just a temporary fling and all for a good cause.
Close your eyes and think of England. Or the UK. Or Brussels, as the case may be.
Personally, I find it amazing that progressives are so keen to offer support to a remote and undemocratic bureaucracy that locks in a commitment to neoliberal economics, and prices out poor African farmers, and whose track record on immigration from outside the EU is patchy at best, and getting worse.
From where I sit – and from where many of the left used to sit, including Jeremy Corbyn – the EU is not a natural love match for the left.
But while both sides are playing away, lefty Brexiters are accused of an especially egregious form of infidelity because of the racist memes that have been invoked by the out campaign.
As someone who believes in open borders, I regard Vote Leave’s cheap scaremongering over immigration as particularly irresponsible and downright nasty, and that Labour is wrong to follow its lead.
But even so, I am still going to vote leave.
Indeed, I’d vote the same way as the devil himself if that were the way my conscience dictated. It’s not who you vote with – it’s what you vote for.
What some people seem to forget is that no one is voting for a political party called Vote Leave or Britain Stronger in Europe.
It’s not like a general election. There are no candidates here, or policies. A vote to leave is not a vote for Farage or Johnson. It won’t make Nigel an MP or Boris the PM.
This is not a vote about the next government of the UK, or whether the NHS is safe in Johnson’s hands.
That’s why Vote Leave has absolutely no authority to make future spending commitments. How dare they promise farmers their subsidies will stay the same?
But although this vote isn’t about personalities or policies, the debate is getting excessively personal, especially on social media, where our usual echo chambers have temporarily stopped reflecting back to us the things we already believed.
That’s why the blue-on-blue and red-on-red debates make for a particularly uncomfortable dynamic.
It’s been instructive for me personally to hear from friends (and I use that in the Facebook sense) who believe that those of us who think differently from them are clearly liars, idiots or wrong ’uns.
It feels as if I’m travelling in someone else’s shoes. And from here I can see why the self-righteousness of the liberal left can be so infuriating.
But hey, it will all be over soon enough, and then normal political service will be resumed. We hope.
Or will the nastiness stay in the ground like the consequence of some terrible nuclear accident? Will we have poisoned the wells of civility for a generation? Who knows?
But healing is for later. For now all is to play for. And things are about to stay nasty until the war is won or lost.
For this is a battle of the heart. And battles of the heart are rarely clean or fair.