Thursday, 14 September 2017

The Brexit Game

I invented a pub game on my holidays. Truthfully, it is not a very good game and players will quickly tire of it but despite its low entertainment value I'm going to devote the entirety of my first post-holiday blog post to an utterly pointless discussion of The Brexit Game.  If you'd like to play the game in your local hostelry I'm going to describe the rules but they're not hard and fast or anything like that so feel free to customise them to maximise your enjoyment. When you've finished playing the game it might also be fun to chat about the patterns that you observed and see if you can draw any conclusions. I've only played a handful of times (and I'll probably never play again because, as I said, it isn't really a very good game) but it was fun to gamify what I was already obsessively doing with every waking thought.

If you want to play along, the game is quite simple to play. The game hinges on the idea that literally everything can be categorised as Remain or Leave. Some might say that is a spurious notion but I like to make bold, binary statements because a) exaggerating differences allows us to work out what they actually are and b) let's face it, it's more fun that way. The idea of the game is to propose a cultural figure that most divides opinion about their Brexit status. Play begins by agreeing the play order of all participants and the number of times you intend to cycle round. The first player then takes up the mantle of the nominating player and proposes a famous individual. That is followed by a vote of all players on the Leave/Remain status of the chosen celebrity. Points are awarded to the nominating player by subtracting the difference of Leave and Remain votes from the total number of players. The next person in the play order then takes on the role of the nominating player and so on until the chosen number of rounds are complete. The winner is obviously the player with the most points.

Let's try out a trial round. I reckon about 6 people read this blog so it makes sense that there are six players in our imaginary scenario. To get the ball rolling, I'm going to start by nominating Paul Daniels, 70's magician and all-round cultural reactionary. Was he Leave or Remain? Let's all vote and let aggregate opinion settle the debate once and for all. The scores are in and it turns out we're almost in agreement but one of you lot thinks he would have voted Remain. Oh dear, I don't think everyone is as familiar with the Gesamtkunstwerk of Paul Daniels as I originally thought. Anyway, let's work out that score. The difference between Leave and Remain votes is 4 (= 5 Leave - 1 Remain) so I score 2 points (= 6 players - 4 difference). I hope you can all see how it works. If I had proposed a celebrity that completely divided opinion I would have scored a maximum of 6 points. On the other hand, nominations that generate clear agreement of either Leave or Remain lead to nul points. Let's pass on to the next nominating player. Did I hear Tony Blackburn? Wow, good choice.

The game can be extended as much as you like. Personally, I found it slightly less tiresome when I tried to categorise literally everything into culturally Remain or Leave rather than just focus on voting intentions of humans. The great thing about that is that it allows bands, films, TV series and even snacks to be included. Is it even possible to categorise the cultural leanings of crisps? I don't know, to be honest, but let's at least give it a go because there are no quitlings on this blog. What do you all think about Quavers? I reckon they are Leave but I'm equally certain that Space Raiders are Remain. Howzat for brinksmanship?

After playing a few times and thinking about this most important topic for a few minutes I came up with another variation. This time the game is called "The Brexit Partners Game". The idea of the game is to come up with perfect Leave/Remain partnerships. To be honest, I couldn't didn't bother to come up with a scoring mechanism but that doesn't really matter. I'm guessing something that maximises points for the most divergent pair but the hard part is to agree what constitutes a legal pair. Here's a few I prepared earlier to give you an idea just in case anyone is inclined to take up the challenge of turning this into a playable parlour game that is guaranteed fun for none of the family.

Leave Remain
John Lennon Paul McCartney
Oasis Blur
Sid Little Eddie Large
Bill Wyman Mick Jagger
Joe Cocker Jarvis Cocker
Paul Daniels Phil Daniels
Ernie Wise Eric Morecambe
HP Sauce Soy Sauce
Stilton Gruyere
Dire Straits Sting
Morrissey Johnny Marr
Grant Mitchell Phil Mitchell
Sherlock Doctor Who
Quavers Space Raiders
Gary Numan Human League
Jerry Tom
Terry June
Cilla Black Sarah Greene
Michael Caine Roger Moore
Adele Amy Winehouse
Lewis Morse
Liverbirds Robin's Nest
Sex Pistols X-Ray Spex
John Cale Moe Tucker
John Humphrys John Snow
The Liverbirds Girls On Top
Ray Barraclough Les Dawson
The Goodes The Ledbetters
Jonathan Ross Graham Norton
Bruce Forsyth Tess Daly
Ken Barlow Deirdrie Barlow

I bet you're probably all impatient to hear the highest scoring nomination over my holiday break. Even if you're not, I'm going to go right ahead and tell you. It was Gary Numan and it was proposed by my fantastic friend and fellow idiot Mothra de Suave. On the one hand, Numan's music is futuristic. Gary Numan was a electronic pop pioneer who wasn't afraid of replacing mechanistic human effort with devices better equipped for the job. Removing all that drudgery of heavy guitars and faulty amplifiers and sore hands and broken strings freed up more time to focus on the core task of writing and recording a great song. More than that, synthesisers democratised the creative process so that everyone with a good idea could quickly participate. Reducing the barrier to entry (all that tedious learning of chords, finger exercises, scales training, expensive equipment) meant that ideas came to the fore. Isn't progress all about letting as many ideas as possible percolate through society and letting as many people as possible take part? Gary Numan was borrowing from Kraftwerk (Germany) and David Bowie (another planet altogether) and punk (London) and New Wave (New York). His output was nothing less than a cultural melange that contained a message for the whole world. That all sounds quite Remain, doesn't it? It certainly does but we need to look at that message a bit more closely before passing final judgement. Numan's music conjured a vision of a fearful and lonely future. His was a future where the machines were in control; human friendship had been electrified and would by now be entirely digital; solace and safety could only be found behind the locked door of a car. That all sounds like Leave to me. Yes, that all sounds like someone who wants to turn the clock back rather than look to the future; someone who shuns the green experience of shared transport for a solitary trip on a polluted motorway that used to be the home of frogs and rabbits. It's more than a tad Leavey. Well, this is vexatious. Are there any other clues that might help us settle it? Well, there is always the story that he came out as a Tory back in the 80s. Does that help? Not really because it might not be true and even if it was I'd say that historic party allegiances serve poorly as a Brexit benchmark. The clue that eventually tipped me towards Leave is that poor old Gary left the UK due to a sense that society was breaking down after some cheeky kids yelled at his wife.  He moved to Santa Monica, a city that might appear polite on the surface but actually has a significant problem with deadly gun crime, car theft and, as it turned out, a high rate of anti-social behaviour. He didn't think that through, did he? That is pure Brexit so I'm tipping Gary for Leave but I could be easily swayed back by anecdotes that point the other way. If anyone can beat Numan please let me know.

What have we learned? Not a lot, to be honest, but at least Brexit brought us all a shit pub game. That's honestly about as good as Brexit is ever going to get.

Over and out,


PS It probably took longer to think up this rubbish game than most Brexiters spent trying to understand even the basic operational details of the EU.

PPS If the Daily Express can attempt to categorise every substance in the world as cancer forming or cancer curing then I can do the same with Brexit. In keeping with that spirit, my next blog post will be about Princess Diana.


  1. Good game, good game, as some old knight of the realm might have said had he still been with us.

    Well, we know what he would have thought! I wonder if he worked without pay though!

    But, anyway, you'll like this, but not a lot, Paul Daniels died in 2016 before the vote took place; before even postal voting, so unless he used magic to vote from beyond the grave (yeah, right), he didn't vote.

    So, yes, it's a bit like all the plans that Davis has come up with.

    But, with your inventive genius and Mr Davis's ...erm ...indefatigability (well at least for ten minutes) you should get together and devise another game.

    Good game, good game.

    Anyway, Nice to see you back; to see you back, nice.

    1. That is an astonishing song. Expect more of that after Brexit!

      I think Brucie was quite focused on remuneration when he left The Generation Game for ITV. Maybe he was more innocent when he recorded that most catchy number.

      Despite Paul Daniels being a bit of a reactionary I didn't honestly mind him. Now that I view everything through the prism of Brexit (the way Tommy Sheridan frames everything with class struggle) I'd probably have changed my view had he lived longer.

      Here's an equally astonishing song poem by Hughie Green reciting an almost fascistic litany of national glory

      I wish I could find the clip where he recites the poem at the end of Opportunity Knocks while the camera pans to a navy battleship. ITV sacked him over that. If only that kind of good sense would prevail today.

      I'm away to play the game with Everard and Slack Alice before we put the scores on the doors.

      This blog has gone in the wrong direction.

    2. OMG. That's some scary, tasteless, nasty, cheap sh*t. And Green was a particularly oily character. I noticed some comments on that Youtube clip that suggest there was another darker side to his character.

      I recall that mMy granny liked his "Double Your Money programme. Along with Michael Miles' Take your Pick, it was the highlight of her viewing! Even as a little boy his voice made me shudder.

      I wonder that the producer/director of Opportunity Knocks would let him do that without checking with management. Still, I suppose it was a very popular programme. They probably thought they, and he, were untouchable.

      I'm Backing Britain was actually written by Tony Hatch, one of his least successful pieces... As the Wikipedia piece shows. Forsyth, Hatch and Trent and the musicians took a cut in their fees/royalties (not done for nothing, then) and it sold for around 65% of what a single would have normally cost. Despite this it sold only around 7,000 copies: a bit of a flop all-in-all.

      I wonder when the IOM was included in Britain, and I laughed at the line "buy a British car and look for the sun"!

      The overall campaign seemed to be a lot more successful than Sir Forsyth's singing (no wonder) but came in for criticism when the prime minister backed it, arousing suspicion that it was all a scheme to get people to work for less... which it was!

      It seems that Britain is always getting itself into messes that the people are told they must pull together to beat, whilst each time the top people are sitting at the top tables, and possessing nuclear deterrents, punching above their weight and feeling important.

    3. Hi Terry, welcome back.

      If you're looking for a direction, what about this EFTA wheeze being proposed by the EFTA's own court president?

      I had thought EFTA membership for Britain was something the Norwegian government viewed as undesirable. I mean, look at this pair of google search results:

      Norway or no way? Can Efta fix it for Brexit Britain? | Letters | Politics ... › World › Brexit
      13 Jun 2017 - Let us be absolutely clear: the Norway/Efta/EEA option requires adoption of ... and its case against the EU is similar to the left's case in the UK.

      Norway may block UK return to European Free Trade Association ... › World › Norway
      9 Aug 2016 - By opposing a British return to Efta, where decisions are made by consensus, Norway would in effect block the UK's chances of accessing the ...

      Note the dates. *rolls eyes*

    4. Hughie Green was a particularly dark character. There was a fascinating BBC4 drama about his life with Trevor Eve in the lead role. He was more of a monster than a human being. It's hard to imagine what drove him to being so utterly cruel to those around him.

      The wiki page about the I'm Backing Britain campaign describes a lost world. It's the kind of world that a lot of Brexit supporters are keen to resurrect. Quite unbelievable, really.

    5. @alan

      Great idea. There's a series of excellent articles by Ian Dunt about EFTA over at just this week.

      Joining EFTA and negotiating EEA membership would require a herculean diplomatic assault by the UK. It strikes me that the UK is unable to do any of that right now. EEA membership would require 30 nations to agree to a treaty. The EEA 3 have significantly more legal freedom in the way that they implement court rulings but none of that has ever really been tested. The UK's belligerence suggests that letting them in would lead to a severe disruption to its smooth running. Besides, it is probably already too late for any hope of EEA membership because it requires treaty change that would be put to public referendum in several member states. The windows of opportunity ended the day the UK delivered the A50 letter without a plan. Wasting months on an election and then further months on cabinet leaks and debriefing and character assassination killed it stone dead. I'm not a lawyer or expert on this but I don't even see a path for EEA-lite as a transition any more. Fox/Gove/Johnson/Davis would never accept the obligations of the only offer that could logistically ever be made.


    7. That's the one. Ta for the link. Might even watch again tonight.

  2. Terry, as one of your 6.2 loyal readers (you forgot to include my cat who never fails to read one of your missives, and I think she qualifies as 0.2 of a person), can I just say, "welcome back!" & inquire whether you had an enjoyable holiday?

    Are you intending putting the cat - not mine, find your own cat - amongst the Brexit pigeons by attributing Leave or Remain predilections to the beloved Saint Diana (Peace Be Upon Her)?

    1. Achooo. Achooo. Sniff. I'm allergic to cats so I'm glad the internet doesn't transmit olfactory data.

      I reckon Diana would score high in the Brexit Game. On the one hand, an establishment upbringing suggests Leave. On the other, her subsequent hatred of the establishment and Charles (surely a Leaver) suggests Remain. This is a conundrum. My most definitely metaphorical cat among the pigeons is for Leave but only just.

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