Since Brexit there’s been a lot of vitriol flying around. I’ve kept out of it, but I’ve certainly given it a lot of thought.
Part of my puzzlement has been that, according to the media, many people voting for Brexit were of the older variety – by which I take to mean not my generation. In truth, I am approaching 50, and my generation were the vainglorious crew who took us to the precipice and pushed us off the edge in the first place, so there’s small comfort in that thought.
So let’s be clear, demographically at least. The young (under 30s) if they bothered to vote were more likely to vote remain. The old (the baby boomers, post 60 year olds) were more likely to vote leave. There will, of course, be many, many exceptions to these broad statements and I am personally related to a few.
What I have been puzzling over is that some of those voting to leave must surely have been those who may very well have voted us in to the Common Market, in 1972. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away… or they simply changed their minds after a 44 year experiment. Chin chin.
Until I took a bus trip. And I heard old people talking to each other about such things. Their words threw a bedraggled doily over the tabletop of the referendum – of course we want our children to have a better world than we did they said… But the truth was the table itself was built of bitter wood. Cerebrally these people wanted the younger generation to have the world as their oyster, but emotionally they begrudged it. They begrudged it to their flesh and blood, and they begrudged it to anyone who had not earned it. Our parents had no help they cried. Why should they?
Young people: you have been robbed. Some of the contingent that makes up your grandparents and great-grandparents (unknown) have voted because they suffered, and many of them don’t see why the rest of us shouldn’t too.
They avow that they do not want the young to have it all on a plate. So that’s what that was about people. Now we know.
Edited to add: I can accept that those who voted to join a common market in the 1970s felt that by now they had got more (and less) that they had bargained for. I can accept that they wanted to rectify their perceived error. What I find harder is the general fuck you too from people who won’t be so affected (determined by income and life expectancy) by the very real consequences.
#Whingers #Whiners #TantrumThrowers
This is how the Marchers for Europe were described by the ‘critics’ quoted on the BBC website yesterday. I don’t mind that especially. It’s an inaccurate characterisation, of course, but most of everything to with Brexiting was inaccurate too, so no point expecting a leopard to change its spots.
Yesterday I saw no whinging, or tantrums. I saw (for the most part) an apolitical, peaceful diverse group of individuals coming together with good humour. I saw people stepping away from their devices, to stand together in technicoloured 3D reality and simply say
‘We Love EU’
Loving a union of diverse peoples is not to say we are uncritical of some of the political aspects of the union – who could not look on in abhorrent horror at the treatment of refugees and migrants around the Mediterranean over the last year? Who could not flinch at the treatment that the Greeks have experienced as the Germans turned the screws on austerity? Who could not wonder at the gravy train that people like Nigel Farage have lined their pockets with over the years, even as he uncoupled the carriages?
No, a desire for the values of unity is most certainly not a rubber stamp on anything that those who are appointed to govern decide to do.
Yesterday was an opportunity to express the values of unity in a positive way. Yesterday was a chance to be with people who were not prepared to overlook the incipient xenophobia (if not racism) of the Leave campaign. Yesterday was a place to go and be accepted – it was a time to demonstrate that we have more in common than what divides us.
I have two quotes I reach for, often:
We cannot step into the same river twice – Heraclitus
Every wall is a door – Ralph Waldo Emerson
I did not march for a new referendum (Heraclitus). I did not march to turn the clock back. I marched because I expect those people who are elected to represent the people in our democracy (because, despite the referendum we do not live in a direct democracy) to listen to the views of those who elected them going forward (Emerson).
That many of our elected representatives are too busy saving their own skins, or promoting their own careers is a disgraceful consequence of the referendum. This will pass. When the feasability of untangling the UK from hundreds and hundreds of EU laws made over decades (up to 20% of the civil service’s workload for up to 4 years at a cost of billions according to some reckonings) kicks in, so will a reality check – across all sides of the house.
The next general election will feature, I predict, an even angrier electorate than that which delivered the ‘unpredictable’ Brexit result. This anger will be predicated on everything that made the electorate angry enough to believe Farage/Johson/Gove’s pack of lies plus more austerity, a depressed economy, just as many immigrants as ever before, and a recalcitrant EU governing body.
The UK will find itself to be a collector’s live butterfly, twisting on a pin of its own making. The countries that make up our Disunited Kingdom strung over barbed wire fences like dead, short-sighted moles as a warning to others busy digging their own holes across Europe.
I will regret this. I imagine so will those I marched with yesterday. In our minds we tried to save the Brexiteers from themselves, but it is too late.
Like it or no, post-referendum, we are finally all (Scots, Northern Irish, Welsh, Gibraltarians, English) in it together, now.
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…)