In a week when the concept of a trustworthy politician has truly become an oxymoron, we are left choking and reeling in the noxious fumes of duplicity and plotting. The schemes, and counter-schemes, the double-dealing – all mostly all in the name of personal gain and ambition. This referendum was nothing to do with the ‘choice’ of the elecorate, the confused and worried people who were lent a pencil on a string in a voting booth last week. It was not a real ‘choice’. It was a media-accelerated descent to dystopia. Weak leaders, devious henchmen, outright liars, ambitious meddlers, corrupt media barons, promoters of sedition – choose your own label – fused into a demonic machine that has wrought a web of the vilest sort to choke the heart of British politics. Subsequently, the fall-out – like acid etching – has revealed ever more unpleasant aspects to the grisly, dirty story. The narrow vote for Brexit has brought Britain to the doorway that – if opened – could lead us to the edge of an abyss, politically, economically and socially. One could argue that we have already reached it. Yet, we have no statement from our government to explain why this badly-thought referendum – an ‘advisory’ not mandatory process – has left us with no apparent option other than to get out of the EU. They have the power in parliament to veto it. Given that it was neither statistically convincing as a result, nor indeed representative of the demographic that will have to deal with it, why is our government not standing up and saying – OK we get the idea, but we can’t just leap out of the EU without a proper plan. Maybe we could listen to your griefs a bit harder and convince you it is better to stay, and if we were to exit, then we could do so in a manner that does not sever Britain’s arteries, and those of its allies in the process. We have had no apologies from the deceivers who led the brexit capaign, no statement of action, nor apologies from the Prime Minister nor his government, just a series of ever-uglier revelations. A statement from the Chancellor that we will have to do more austerity – the very thing that caused the unhappiness and dissent in the segments of British most disadvantaged by Tory policy and encourage a vote to ‘leave’. It was a non sequitur. But the rational connection of cause and effect has been eroded by mistrust in our government.
We live in a society where we have free speech and can elect our government and – to some extent – affect the decisions our government makes. We need to be able to trust our government to do things for the best advantage of our society as a whole (there is much more to be said, but that is outwith the scope of these few paragraphs.) How each of us chose to vote was surely not wholly a rational decision, but partly an emotional one. That is natural. I voted ‘remain’, not only because I can see many social and economic benefits of being part of a bigger pan-European society, but because I wanted the security of being amongst a bigger group. I see myself as English, British and European. Many other ‘remainers’ assuredly felt similarly. Our emotions drive us more than we like to think – it is part of being human. Some of us were so unhappy and angry with our lot in life we are told that a ‘leave’ vote was a shout of anguish and digust at the government. Others have some idea of a British independence ranging from a nostaglic hankering for a romanticised past, or an idealism of Britain that would not survive the fundamentals of far from ideal human beings as we are seeing now. I have heard other views as well, but people’s reasons are never without emotional attachment. But – again – that is not a bad thing, just a consequence of the human process. We are driven by instinct. The moral ideal is impossible and undefinable – it is itself illogical. Our politicians have shown us how truly ‘idealistic’ we can be when we have a motive. (I am being satirical here.) What has happened with this referendum is precipitous and dangerous. One cannot simply re-make a country overnight. A few days in, we are already seeing shadows at the edge of our vision, as certain people feel that the nominal brexit vote has validated their views on ‘immigration’, precipitating racist behaviour against those who are seen as ‘unbritish’. Compassion is needed for both those who are abused, and for the abusers. Without compassion, we are at real risk of fracture and conflict. It is a time for reflection and tolerance, and restraint.
I was in France at the time (I had voted postally). I was treated kindly by the French people I met, who seemed to look at me as one bereaved. Many of my ‘remain’ friends cried at the result. I suspect that had the result swung a little the other way, no one would have cried at all, just got on with things as usual, because in a nominally free and open (if imperfect) society – we can. The thing that has done for our leaky little ship is Captain Hubris, blown by the Winds of Fear, pulled along by The Currents of Greed, thrown off course by the False Compasses of Corruption and onto the rocks – just bloody rocks. Oh, and he didn’t have a map.