The image of Nigel Farage the UKIP leader unveiling a poster at the weekend is unintentionally comic as well as racist. A small, slightly apologetic, sad man (what we would describe in Scotland as a “wee bachul”) stands in front of a picture of hundreds of vibrant human beings about to burst into a Greek field. He is telling us that this will destroy life as we know it. This swarming mass of needy people in Greece will trample the Union Jack, abolish private education, occupy our parking places with their camels, close our ale houses, defeat us at football, force our men and possibly our women to grow beards, and deliver the editor of the Daily Mail to be martyred by crazed ayatollahs.
The end of the world will arrive if we don’t vote leave on Thursday.
On the other hand, a responsible man in a suit with a very red face – can he really be our PM? – assures us that on the contrary, all the rich humanitarian policies of his government- constant reductions in welfare benefits, cutting down on the huge numbers of costly people with disabilities and throwing alylum seekers into detention centres – these shining examples of social justice will be no more, unless we vote remain on Thursday. If we vote leave, the floodgates will be open for hordes of slimy alien creatures, led out of the sewers by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, to terrify the nation in a feeding frenzy of right wing ruthlessness. Most of these treacherous creatures will be indentifiable as Tory MPs and colleagues of the honourable PM.
If we do vote leave on Thusday, the end of the world will arrive.
I have always been attracted to the apocalyptic utterances of end of the world prophets. I loved the dismal street preacher of my youth, who would stand in Sauchiehall Street on a wet November afternoon giving the punters the glad news that the end of the world was nigh. Most of his damp audience looked as if they would consider this outcome a blessed release. I particularly liked the transatlantic group who knew that the world would end at midnight on 31st January 1983, at which hour they gathered on Mont Blanc, as instructed by their prophet. By breakfast time on 1/1/1984 scores of bedraggled creatures were back at ground level, lamenting the fact that they would now have to pay their hotel bills.
Given the poor record of all such prophecies, you might think that even the loopiest orators would avoid them. But no, all we need is a political, moral, religious or ecological crisis, like for example the possibility of Turkey joining the EU in 50 years time, for the manic street preachers to grab their placards and point to Armageddon.
Jesus entrusted his followers with the task of announcing the arrival of God’s Rule, which some saw as an apocalyptic event, but He saw as the robust communication of God’s goodness here and now. Knowing however that there were plenty loopy prophets around, he counselled them to pay no attention to the voices saying, Tomorrow in Jerusalem, or Next Week in Damascus, and to continue abolishing poverty, healing the sick, welcoming the outcast, and staying hungry for justice.
I hope the UK votes to remain in the EU, for, degraded as it is, it remains a reminder of a generous vision and a stimulus to a fraternity that might lead to greater liberty and equality. Political choice is often a matter of achieving small gains or preventing small losses.
But if it votes to leave I shall not be closing down my blog and getting my climbing boots on for the ascent of Mont Blanc. Like the 8-05 Scotrail from Dundee to Glaagow, the end of the world will have been postponed again.