Saturday, 2 July 2016

More thoughts on 'Brexit'...

Things are calming down on the Brexit front as people start to realise that 'democracy' has spoken and we've just got to get on with it; although, that said, there's a lot of tension out there as the country has clearly split into those who voted remain and those who voted out and neither side particularly like one another. The remain camp don't like the Brexiters because, they say, the battle was fought on the basis of immigration and the likes of BoJo and Gove and Farage lied to the public and now we're out of the EU. But the Brexiters believe that immigration is the big thing, they talk about how the country can't accommodate a constant influx of both EU and non-EU migrants and that an Australian points system would be best for the country. Remainers cite trade deals and the future for our children, unity and so on. It's one of those 'six of one, half a dozen of the other' arguments.

I admit that I wavered a little bit on polling day – or rather just before polling day. It's really odd, because in many ways perhaps I should have voted out. I'm always getting annoyed about the bankers and 'big business' and that whole notion of the EU being undemocratic. The way they have treated the Greeks, the uncertainty surrounding the Euro, the fact that 'free borders' has meant that places like Bruxelles and Paris are inflicted with the scourge of terrorism – there are lots of reasons to vote out. In fact, to stick it to the man, perhaps the best thing would have been to vote out.

Never trust anybody who bears a slight resemblance to Orville...
There are so many paradoxes. In many ways, the EU should be a 'left wing' thing – something borne out by the fact that bands at Glastonbury this year used the occasion to make their feelings known about 'Brexit', saying they were against it. In times past, the rock establishment has always come out against right wing politics and policies. But 'left wing' also in the sense of the EU being a huge bureaucracy, a massive 'machine' that takes an age to decide upon anything. The left, traditionally, likes 'the state' whereas the right is all for 'small government' and deregulation. There's also stuff around workers rights that attracts the left, which makes it odd that Jeremy Corbyn is a 'fervent anti-European' and I found it odd to discover that Lord Owen was the same. Perhaps I'm not as left wing as I think I am, but then I've always been middle-of-the-road politically. I can see the wisdom of the thinking on both sides, but I do tend to be 'left leaning'.

I seriously thought about voting out, a lot of the time wondering what would happen if we did – a bit like switching off your car headlights for a split second in the dark while driving along a country lane. Now that's scary. I like the idea, to a degree, about taking a step in the dark, although, ultimately, I think it's a bad thing – or rather it is at the moment. Things might improve, but I'm not holding my breath.

Walking to work of a morning I've started to play a new game. Spot the Brexiter. It's easy. Anybody who is old and gnarled and bad tempered-looking and any thick-set bloke with tattoos, a shaven head and a football shirt. And that, of course, is the other interesting thing about the Brexit vote: it's the little man standing up to the political elite. Big business has lost out. Soros (and others) have lost millions and that gives me a strange degree of satisfaction as that whole thing about the EU being an elite club, foreign workers being shipped in to bring down wages for the fat cats and so on. In a way Brexit is a kind of revolution, although I can't help but feel it will be short-lived. People forget that they're dealing with Tories and the Conservative Party (the party of 'business'). And we all know what 'business' is all about; it's about hiring and firing, making a profit, saving money, keeping wages down and so on, and the EU is designed to make life easier for business and fat cats.

But what about democracy? What about 'the people' of Europe? Remember Cecilia Malmstrom, the chief negotiator – or one of them – charged with the task of making TTIP happen? She told the Independent newspaper, not that long ago, that she didn't take her mandate from the European people, an odd thing to say, and it was concluded that she took her mandate from corporate lobbyists. There's a lot of corporate lobbyists in Bruxelles and I've always felt a little uneasy about that.

So perhaps going it alone is a good thing. Only time will tell. What lies immediately ahead, of course, is the negotiations, but with the country divided and it's political system in turmoil we need to get our act together first. I can't say I relish the prospect of the country being led by any of the Brexiters, certainly not Gove or Leadsam – and I'm glad that BoJo is out of the competition and has no chance in hell of reaching the 'judges' houses'. My favourite would be May, although, ultimately, I want the Labour Party to get its act together, appoint a 'proper politician' – like Alan Johnson or Hilary Benn – and boot out the Tories once and for all as they've made a right mess of things.

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