Monthly Archives: June 2016
I am taken aback by how angry I am. I wake with a ball of it in my chest.
My anger is this: that perfectly reasonable people see fit to insist (all over the internet) that whilst they are not racist they did indeed vote #Leave and now they’d like to forget all about it to be friends with people like me who are not racist either and wanted to #Remain.
This is the bit that they overlook in their playground haste to make up and ‘be friends’ – that the campaign #Leave ran, and they endorsed with their X, was (at best) racist in both subtext, inference and tone and on occasion overtly so much so that even Michael Gove ‘shuddered’.
Leavers parade their friendships with ‘foreigners’ as evidence of their non-racism, forgetting that one swallow does not a summer make. That being someone’s friend at an indiviudal level does not negate the ability to be racist at an institutional or political level.
That’s what I can’t take – the unthinking prejudice laid bare that we can’t even talk about. Because any #Leave voter will hotly protest their innocence in this regard, whilst failing to see that their X endorsed that distasteful aspect of the Leave campaign whether they like it or not.
So for a Remain person, it’s full on cognitive dissonance when trying to relate to Leavers. Their actions and their words are *incongruent and the majority won’t even say so. Unfortunately, the only ones who are congruent are those shouting on the streets at immigrants to return to ‘their country’, or sending hateful messages to Polish residents in Huntingdon.
As a Leaver you may say, rightly, that you abhor this kind of thing. But it is your failure in overlooking this aspect of the campaign you voted for that has sadly endorsed it. It may be an unintended consequence, but it is a consequence, and I do not see enough people taking responsibility for it. Rather I see Leavers berating Remainers for pointing it out.
And yes, that makes me angry.
*(The incongruence continues on an economic level too: Wales, Cornwall, Yorkshire – all huge beneficiaries of EU money and now wanting assurances that their funding will continue…)
Well, I would say that wouldn’t I? I was on the #Remain side of the referendum fence after all. If you were for #Leave you may bear with what follows, or not, it’s up to you – it’s a free world after all, isn’t it?
I have to confess that today I feel a little less free, because some of my freedoms are, as a result of a #Leave win, going to be removed.
I will be less free to travel, settle, work, study and, perhaps, trade. I may be less free to retire to a warmer clime, and receive my pension. It will no longer be free to fall sick on a European holiday and use their health services. I will be less free to appeal to a court made up of wise men and women beyond the shores of Blighty. When I go to France, or Belgium, or the Netherlands, or Portugal I will be a foreigner, an outsider, no longer a European by right – merely by fact of geography.
If a real European were to spit in my zuppa, frankly I wouldn’t blame them.
The European Union has many faults, I agree. Like any diverse organisation, differing views and perspectives have to be accommodated. It is complex too – most people barely understanding its functions or workings in a way that they could articulate.
Easy then perhaps to get rid of something that you don’t understand?
This I get. It is the other stuff that I struggle to find a space for in my mind:
A #Leave campaign led by two former journalists and a commodities broker. Two with private educations and one who went to a grammar school (where he doubtless gained a superiority complex and an abiding love of the 1950s which is key in a retrograde movement like Brexit – trust me on that).
Journalists are quick-witted, skilled communicators. They deal in angles and overarching emotive themes. They construct a narrative. On this occasion, these two journalists (with the able assistance of Farage, who I cannot help thinking of as Toad of Toad Hall) have hit headline gold.
TAKE BACK CONTROL
IMMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION, IMMIGRATION
So far so good. The architects of #Leave have got the attention of vast swathes of England, already pissed off by austerity and the decline of industries are now able to ‘other’ immigrants as job stealers and benefit tourists. That the two labels are conflicting is neither here nor there because neither logic, nor factual debate holds the least bit of sway in this particular forum.
#Leave up the ante. They start to lie. They promise money, in the millions, that is not theirs to give. The NHS, Cornwall, the potential #Leavers own wallets. All will be well, they state, we are just TAKING BACK CONTROL.
This is not the first time a journalist has lied or misled the public interest. Some may even have been sent to prison for it if their actions involved breaking the law. Yet these protagonists have led an electorate to the edge of a cliff and persuade them to jump off, into the unknown.
This I do not understand, but I can see how it happens, in today’s tawdry world where the consumer is sovereign and talk and thought is regularly cheapened.
Leaving to one side the Johnson, Gove and Farage platitudes about the ‘glorious future’ a post-Brexit, post United Kingdom will enjoy, there #Remains one facet to some who voted that I will never, never, never understand.
It is that the offspring of immigrants vote to #Leave. They, who presumably are grateful to their own forebears for piling their own plate high with opportunity, are desperate to remove the same opportunity from others. Those who have benefitted from their own parents hard work, judge that other lately arrived parents are of a different ilk: back to stealing our jobs or skanking on benefits.
I can’t see that this attitude is anything other than selfish. Just as I can’t see that a vote to #Leave is anything other than selfish – removing as it does the freedoms of many and the potential economic prosperity of generations to come.
Still, it is done. I have to live with the democratic decision. So do my children. And whilst I feel that people are entitled to their opinions, even if they have been uncritically led by the nose by people who have no qualms about lying in public (often), I also feel that this was a selfish act for which many others who wanted no part of it will pay the price for many years to come.