Something struck me as odd about the crowds in London's Trafalgar Square protesting in the midsummer drizzle against the result of last week's (23 June 2016) EU referendum. Painted on umbrellas, crayoned on cheeks, daubed on cardboard – damp banners bursting with love for the EU.
One girl held a placard saying 'Hug a European' and did good business. It wasn't your everyday show of political support – it was an outpouring of emotion that left politics playing a distant second fiddle.In the dense, adolescent mathematics of 'ME 4 EU 4 EVER', which one young fellow's banner declared, there's no room for reasoning.For many, the referendum stopped being anything at all about systems of government or accountability or democracy – the question became simply: Do you hate or love?As Matt Healy put it, a vote for Remain was a vote for "compassion, social responsibility, unity, community, everything like that.It's interesting to hear Healy describe the Leave campaign as "anti-compassion".
A lot of effort on the part of Remain went into reinforcing this kind of emotional opposition: the referendum was spun as "leave" versus "love"."If they made an application to join the EU as an independent state, they would find themselves rebuffed next time as they were rebuffed in 2014."So, the SNP seems to have had some sort of love affair with the EU and they are so entranced by it that they are incapable of looking at it and seeing it for what it is - an undemocratic organisation run by an unelected elite." Nigel Griffiths, the former MP and Scottish co-ordinator for Labour Leave, warned the "terrible and toxic" Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) talks between the US and EU could lead to the privatisation of the NHS and publicly owned utility Scottish Water.We were witnessing the gushy triumph of – summed up perfectly in the words of another young man's placard: 'I WANNA BE INSIDE EU'. Thousands more protesters, many of them students and young people, are set to gather in Trafalgar Square on Saturday (2 July 2016) to proclaim their love for the EU and hug each other.It might seem incongruous: a warm and fuzzy love-in for a supranational institution that employs 55,000 civil servants and has an annual budget of €145bn (£121.7bn, 1.6bn).But for many young people, this referendum wasn't about the political reality of the EU – it was simply about what they .