But that was then, this is now. Liddle’s “chavmonkeys” have been redeemed by the Brexit referendum. Their “fugue of idiocy” is now a swelling symphony of reasserted sovereignty, their “dumbed-down culture” a fount of wisdom. The man who saw a “the moronic inferno” now champions the people against the “stereotype of the decrepit moron Leave voter”. For now, apparently, it is liberal remainers who commit the unforgivable sin of calling those voters stupid, “uneducated thickos” – and racists to boot. The evidence for this contention, as for everything else in Liddle’s polemic, is vanishingly thin. Yet the claim is central to his diagnosis of “a grotesque and unprecedented betrayal of the country” by the BBC, parliament, the judiciary, the civil service, Theresa May’s government and of course the “Irish spite” embodied in that “oily little shit”, the taoiseach Leo Varadkar.
The book is exactly what you would expect from Liddle. It is a no-holds barred account that literally throws readers into the lagoons of exasperation, anger and disillusionment that stretch across Leave Land. It is not a book that remainers will enjoy, but in our polarised times it is definitely one they ought to read. Liddle, a leaver, comes closer than most to describing the world-view, the concerns, the values and the intense worries that led so many to reject another status quo campaign. Once you get past the gags, his diagnosis is also broadly accurate. He has clearly read the research.
Liddle chronicles the “fugue of whining and complaint” against Brexit in chi-chi London, particularly at the BBC. The Beeb’s “reality checker”, Chris Morris, is given a good tonking and there is a description of Kamal Ahmed, a former BBC economics reporter and now news executive, bearing a physical resemblance to “a pencil that has been sharpened to slightly beyond its optimum length”. The book could have done with more of that cheerful impertinence and rather less of Liddle’s heavily demotic “whodathunk it?” interjections.