Posts Tagged ‘ Brexit ’

Welcome to Ruritania

Well, here it is – the day that most of the country never expected would come; nor would we have seen it, had more of us bothered to vote. As it is, 17 million people ( many of whom are now regretting their decision) have radically changed the future for the whole 64 million of us. Why did they do it? Frustration and a sense of lacking control, certainly. Undoubtedly bigotry and ignorance motivated some. The majority of my generation (and above) chose to leave, heedless of the wishes of their children and grandchildren. Was it nostalgia for the golden mornings of their lives, when half the map was still, just, coloured pink? You might be forgiven for thinking so, when our ridiculous Foreign Secretary is seriously proposing the purchase of a new toy yacht for our toy royal family. In our Houses of Parliament, with their mock-medieval fantasy architecture, our toy MPs (with a number of honourable exceptions, I’m pleased to say) vote dutifully according to the wishes of our toy Prime Minister, herself bobbing up and down at the behest of the Daily Mail. We want to feel important once again? Let’s have some very expensive submarines fitted with nuclear weapons – alas, no toys these. Meanwhile the adults on the other side of the Channel continue to battle against the resurgent forces of neo-fascism and authoritarianism, while trying to cope with an ever rising tide of refugees. But what does that matter? These aren’t our problems any more, are they? For the next two years we shall hold the proud position of Europe’s stupidest country. But none of this matters, so long as the Tory Party can be kept united and in power. We were once a successful manufacturing economy. A previous Tory administration did away with much of that, preferring instead to make London into the financial centre of Europe. Well, that is going to disappear too – to Dublin, to Strasbourg, perhaps even to an independent Scotland – and what will be left to us then? A country that is not so much split as fragmented, however much May pleads for unity.

Along with well over 100,000 others I marched last Saturday to mark the EU’s 60th anniversary and to celebrate the peace it has maintained for over two generations. There was much sympathy from onlookers. We laid flowers and held a minute’s silence in memory of those recently killed and injured by a British-born madman, before hearing a series of passionate speeches. These were not solely by politicians, but also by students, NHS workers, immigrants and representatives from the rest of Europe. This was where true unity lay, among people who could not be more diverse but shared their aspirations for the common good.

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From time to time we hear the Brexiteer’s jeering taunt “you lost – get over it”. The answer is “Yes, we lost – and so did you, so will your children and so has Europe”. We will not ‘get over it’, however. If you haven’t already, join one of these organisations and fight on.

That Vote . . .

Many years ago I taught English in a foreign language school. We were told that anything could be discussed except for three topics; religion, politics and sex. Since starting my now very occasional blog I’ve followed the same rule, which I now propose to break. I have nothing to say about religion, except that I find myself increasingly irreligious as the years pass. Politics, though, are inescapable at the moment. I’m British and lucky to be so. Britain is a country – several countries – that I love, in spite of its many failings. I love its landscapes, its architecture, its literature, its art. However it’s not these things, important though they are, that make a society. It’s the people of Britain, whose kindness, generosity and tolerance of strangers have been, and remain, a byword among the dispossessed and desperate of the world. That so many wish to come here is the greatest compliment a nation could receive.

I hadn’t intended to talk about immigration. The refugee crisis is huge, and is only one of many crises facing us all. I do not believe that we can solve these matters in isolation. You’ll correctly deduce from this that I believe we should remain part of the EU. I can’t comment on the economic arguments for doing so, though they seem overwhelmingly in favour of our staying in. More important to me is the hope of continuing peace in Europe. My parents’ generation, and my grandparents’, both fought in appalling wars. My generation has never had to do so, largely because the nations of Europe chose to unite in spite of their differences. I want my children (and one day, their children) to live their lives in peace.

Looking around the political landscape we can all see the resurgence of right-wing parties, gross inequalities of income, unemployment and an aggressively nationalist leader in Russia. We’ve been here before, of course, and we know how that ended. This time there is something different, and it is called the European Union. It was created in the hope of a better world. That hope and ambition still remains at its heart. How can we reject it? I urge you, for my as yet hypothetical grandchildren and for yours, to vote Remain on Thursday.

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Oh, and the third topic – sex, you ask? Any questions – see me afterwards

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