Boaty McBoatface: tyrants have crushed the peoples will | Stuart Heritage

Admittedly, calling a boat Boaty McBoatface was a bad idea, voted for by idiots. But it was our bad idea. It was the British character writ large, and this cruel government killed it

Boaty McBoatface was too beautiful to live. He was a rare and precious flower, simply not cut out for these ugly times. We created Boaty McBoatface. We created him after our own image, in a rush of optimism, deluding ourselves that he was ever worth a damn. Boaty McBoatface was a perfect idea in an imperfect world. He was all that we were not. He was strong. He was resolute. Truly, he was Boaty McBoatface.

Boaty McBoatface is dead. The government killed him.

Actually, thats an exaggeration. The government has strongly hinted that its about to kill Boaty McBoatface, for it understands that vanquished hope is a more powerful tool than relentless despair. Present the people with an idol, then smash it before their eyes. Soon they will learn that resistance is futile, and the states power is absolute.

Even though it won four times more votes than its nearest competitor in a public poll to name the Natural Environment Research Councils new polar-research vessel, science minister Jo Johnson has suggested that Boaty McBoatface is such a stupid idea that it doesnt deserve to count. The new royal research ship will be sailing into the worlds iciest waters to address global challenges that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people, he said. Thats why we want a name that lasts longer than a social media news cycle.

How dare you, Jo Johnson. What gives you the right to trample over democracy like this? More than 124,000 people voted to ensure that the boat would be named Boaty McBoatface. Yes, admittedly, almost every single one of these people was a tedious wet-mouthed ninny who found themselves stuck in the self-administered clutches of pathetic arrested development. Yes, admittedly, the name would have turned a multimillion-pound research vessel into a jumped-up Innocent smoothie carton, a vehicle so infuriatingly twee that it might as well grow an ironic moustache, learn to play the ukulele and get cast in a commercial for all the poxy good it did.

And, yes, calling such an esteemed ship something like Boaty McBoatface would have destroyed its crews morale so comprehensively that they would have almost certainly driven the bloody thing headfirst into an iceberg on its maiden voyage, leaping overboard at the very last minute to spell out YOU DID THIS, INTERNET DICKHEADS against the ice with their shattered corpses as a permanent warning against irresponsible ship-naming.

But, still, Boaty McBoatface is what the people wanted. Johnson cant just march in after the fact and enforce his might, willy-nilly. Thats what dictators do. Thats the sort of thing that happens in broken states.

So, its a bad idea. So what? People vote for bad ideas all the time. Look at the defeated alternative vote referendum in 2011. Look at every single simperingly anonymous reality show winner, hoisted to victory by an army of inert television viewers who think the height of fun is clapping along with a theme tune.

Look, for the love of God, at Johnsons brother, Boris. Boris Johnson is a terrible idea. Hes a egotistical twit in a child-sized Sia wig who keeps filling London with insane foreign-owned monuments to his own genitals, but people keep voting for him anyway. Nobody stepped in after the last election to tell everyone to stop being so silly. Nobody overrode the results and installed a more sensible mayor. It didnt happen then, and it shouldnt happen now.

Jo Johnson should be proud of Boaty McBoatface. Its a symbol of a small and very British rebellion; the sort of thing that sets us apart from the rest of the world. Boaty McBoatface would have been trampled by the might of the state had it been suggested in mainland Europe, while the gonzo patriotism of the US would have left the poll only containing options that sounded like Bruce Springsteen albums Soaring Eagle or Thunder Avenue. Here, though, it was left to thrive. Its the strip of turf on Churchills head in Parliament Square. Its the 2012 Olympic opening ceremony. Its the thought of spending millions of pounds to fund the Eurovision song contest, only to deliberately scuttle our chances with Scooch and sarcasm. Boaty McBoatface is an awful name, schemed up by idiots, and it would instantly turn this country into an almighty laughing stock. But thats the point. It is the British character writ large. We are British, it says. We have terrible ideas but, God bless us, we stick to them.

But oh no. We all need to face up to the desperate fact that our voices are doomed to be forever unheard. The anti-war demonstration in 2003 was ignored by the government. Protests and marches and movements are routinely ignored by the government. And now we cant even give a jaunty name to a sodding boat without the government blowing it up in our faces.

Did the government learn nothing from the Arab spring? Deprive the people of a voice and they will surely rise up against you. No doubt Johnson thinks hes behaving in the public interest, but there will be riots about this, and property will be destroyed, and Johnson will have to make peace with the fact that it will be his face on the Boaty McBoatface Riots Wikipedia page, which will be the second most embarrassing page on Wikipedia after the one about the man who died having sex with a horse.

Boaty McBoatface is a godawful name for a boat, and anyone who voted for it deserves to be stripped naked and fed poison in a dungeon for the rest of time, but the people should get what the people want. Can you hear us, Jo Johnson? Je suis Boaty McBoatface. Nous sommes tous Boaty McBoatface.

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