Friday, 3 June 2016

How would James Bond vote in the EU referendum?

An article in The Times this week reported on a YouGov survey, which polled 1,700 adults about how they thought fictional characters would vote in the upcoming EU referendum. The results suggested that the respondents projected their own voting intentions on the characters. Thus, in the case of James Bond, those in the leave camp imagined Bond would vote for the UK to leave the EU, while those in the remain camp thought that he'd vote to stay in.

So, with this unclear picture in mind, just how would James Bond vote? Well, it depends which Bond we're talking about. The literary Bond might well vote for the UK to leave. After all, he's deeply patriotic and is quick to defend the county against any criticism.

For instance, in You Only Live Twice (or is that EU Only Live Twice? as one reader of the Times article put it), Bond is stung by Tiger Tanaka's accusations that England has thrown away a great empire, that Suez was a pitiful bungle, that successive governments have handed control to the unions, and that England is generally declining in fortune. Bond counters, somewhat lamely, that England isn't doing too badly and that it still beats people in sports and wins Nobel prizes.

Bond hears a similar case in 'The Hildebrand Rarity', when boorish American Milton Krest tells Bond that England is a diminishing asset in the world, though he responds simply that he thinks Krest's view oversimplified and naïve.

Evidently, Bond considers that the UK (or, rather, England) still has what it takes to stand on its own. On the other hand, with his Scottish ancestry, proudly claimed in The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond might ally himself with majority opinion in Scotland, which appears to favour a remain vote.

The film Bond might lean towards a leave vote ('So does England', says Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me in response to the Log Cabin Girl telling him that she needs him). But then again, today's Bond is not so much a lone wolf, as part of team that increasingly depends on intelligence and cooperation from different agencies. Bond might view Brexit as a threat to those arrangements. No more Monsieur Aubergine. 

That said, spy chiefs appear to be sanguine about the impact of leaving the EU, given that the EU has been less important in intelligence matters than the 'Five Eyes' alliance of the US, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the UK. Former MI6 chief David Dearlove has suggested that the cost to Britain in the case of Brexit would be low, while former CIA director Michael Hayden has said that the EU was not 'a natural contributor to national security'. These are opinions that one can imagine Bond sharing. But, as the Guardian's Ewen MacAskill suggests, the need for cooperation and intelligence-sharing across the EU is only likely to increase. 

So, if you want to know how to vote, don't ask Bond. He's as confused as the rest of us.  

1 comment:

  1. Late to the debate, but....

    I think Bond would've been as confused as anyone else. Bond was a great believer in Empire and the British people; but, in TSWLM, he did tell Viv that maybe the young (internationalist) people should have a chance.

    The challenge in the question is that Bond is very much a product of Post War England, and the contemporary condition of the world would be alien to him. But, for all of that, I think instinct rather than insight would carry the day for him, and he would've voted in favor of exit. (I too, were I in the UK.)

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