Haven’t written here for a while, because I would only have been writing about one thing and would simply have been repeating myself. In fact, I did repeat myself.
If I remember wise old me was advising everyone who would listen and many who wouldn’t that of course Britain would remain a member of the EU and that the whole referendum business would bring home to the other 27 members just how much they needed Britain and what a tight escape they had had when Britain voted to remain. I quoted odds - they were along the lines of 4/11 to stay and 7/2 to leave - and wise old me pointed out that anyone can tell ‘the polls’ anything, but that when folk are prepared to part with money to follow their beliefs, the pointers are pretty copperbottomed.
Well, they weren’t.
To everyone’s surprise, including the gang of politicos who were urging Britain to ‘seize its destiny’ and ‘regain control’ - both slogans are vague enough to mean nothing but stirring enough to do the job - Britain voted to leave. That many of those dubbed Brexiteers were simply not expecting to win the vote has become apparent over these past six or seven days in that none seems to have a clue as to what to do next.
My position, I might remind you, was ‘to stay, but through exceptionally gritted teeth’, and I still doubt whether there will be any economic advantage to Britain in the short and medium term by leaving. And, as Maynard Keynes said, in the long term we are all dead (another quote which means less and less the more you try to understand it, but which sounds good).
I have to admit, too, that over these past six or seven days I have come to realise that I don’t give a monkeys either way: the rain will still be wet, the poor will still be shat upon, many a politician will be caught with his dick up the wrong arse, and, as the Arabs say, the dogs will bark and the caravan will move on.
In the few days after the ‘shock result’, I came across two rather good pieces in the Guardian which both go some way towards explaining why large parts of Britain voted to get out. They also tend to kill off the myth that the Brexiteers were racist, xenophobic scum.
Some, of course, might well be, but many, it would seem, were not. Many were simply fed up with not being able to find work - this was especially true in the North of England - because EU citizens from member states, eager to make a new life for themselves in Britain, were willing to take jobs at low wages here in Britain simply because those wages were often damn sight higher than those they were paid in Lower Ruritania. A headline which appeared this morning in the Daily Mail sums it up perfectly:
You might think I have now gone over to the dark side. I haven’t, but after reading this piece and this piece in the Guardian, I did find myself viewing the whole matter a little differently. Read them and perhaps you might do the same. And it is worth pointing out that, as you probably know, the Guardian is not some Tory apologist rag like the Daily Telegraph. Bear that in mind when you read them.
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As for what is going to happen really is anyone’s guess and I, for one, my fingers well and truly burnt by my ‘it’s a cert that we will stay’ prognosis, have taken off and thrown away my Mystic Meg hat. Truly no one can no how this will all play out. And what happens next week or next month or even in six months will still probably be no indication as to the final outcome. If you meet someone who gives you a rundown of how it will all develop, give him or her a wide berth (it’ll almost certainly be a ‘him’): they are talking complete bollocks.
Over these past few days Britain has been turned on its head: more or less all of Labour’s MPs have told their party leader Jeremy Corbyn that he’s a useless twat who could’t organise a piss-up in a brewery and that he should leave. He’s refusing to. In the Tory party several are vying to take over David Cameron’s crown, after the Prime Minister - very, very wisely - announced he would resign at the October party conference.
A certain Boris Johnson, who has long seen himself as a Prime Minister in waiting, although few others have, was favourite to take up the crown yesterday, but today was stabbed in the back by his best friend and putative campaign manager and has announced he will not be standing. There are few tears, especially as Boris had previously stabbed his best friend David Cameron in the back but ditching the Remain camp and joining the Brexiteers in what was all too obviously an opportunistic move to get seat on the bandwagon.
Well, he choose the right bandwagon, but today it was made clear to him that few like him and fewer were prepared to support his candidacy. Exit one Boris Johnson.
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As for the Liberal Democrats, reduced from several thousand MPs to just eight at the last General Election, they are making noises about making opposition to leaving the EU a central plank of the manifesto for a general election everyone expects to see called once the Tories have their new leader in place. That way, the Lib Dems calculate, a great many of the Tory or Labour supporting Remainers will for once throw in their log with pink pussycats through the land and the Lib Dems can regain some of their previous clout. Who knows? I don’t - see above about making predictions.
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Labour are in a very odd state: Corbyn, a principled lefty of not much consequence, was elected leader by pretty much a landslide over four identikit Blairite candidates. The point was that he didn’t even then have the support of many of his parliamentary colleagues but became the darling of the college left and right-thinkers up and down the land.
Despite a vote of no confidence in him yesterday, he is refusing to resign and even if a new leadership election is forced, he says he will stand again and, some fear, might well win again, meaning the party is back to square one and, more to the point, still unelectable. I don’t think that will happen. The trades unions are not daft and no a loser when they see one. And Corbyn is that loser, so I really don’t think he can count on their support.
As for the millions of idealist lefties who are expected to rally to the banner again, I rather think - admittedly going on only the comments of on once-ardent Corbyinista who is ‘disappointed’ in the man - that isn’t going to happen. But still leaves the problem of who to elect as Labour Party leader. So there you have it, disarray all around.
. . .
As for the jilted bride, the 27 remaining EU members to whom it was made quite clear by Britain that the relationship it had with them was merely a marriage of convenience which, to be blunt, Britain no longer found convenient, matters are not as rosy with her, either. ‘Europeans’, supporters of ‘the project’, like to portray the club as in good health and that any upsets are minor matters. But they aren’t. There are more than enough eurosceptics to go around to make life rather less comfortable for the suits in Brussels, there have been several calls for more referenda on membership elsewhere, and the euro crisis is anything but over given that unemployment among the young in the Med member states is still over 50pc.
What makes it all the more uncomfortable for the suits is that however much they might resent what amounts to a British V sign - such gestures do not go down well with what has become the new European aristocracy - they are keenly aware that Britain’s membership helped stabilise the ship. Without Britain, ever the pragmatist, it might be rather less easy to balance interests. At the moment - the V sign was only flashed seven days ago - there is a lot of fury from the jilted bride and dire threats of how she will never speak to us again, but in time, when push comes to shove, and tempers have calmed, I do believe she might come to be a little more reasonable.
The trouble is that however much lip-service is paid to ‘the free movement of labour’ being on of the pillars upon which the EU rests and however much the Germany or France might be tempted to conciliate a little on that score, the president of Lower Ruritania and his other ex-Soviet bloc fellow members will have none of it, for the simple reason that having their young folk head for Britain to work is just what the doctor ordered: those young folk send money back home and with those young folk out of the country there is less pressure on jobs back home. Britain’s loss - pressure on housing, schools and our health service - is their gain. And why give it up? Why indeed.
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Then there’s the ticklish problem that Scotland, itching for independence from the English bastards and Northern Ireland, much of which is itching for reunification with the Republic in the south both voted, by some margin, to stay in. And both are saying . . .
good Lord is that the time? And I have not yet even told you about my short trip to Hamburg. Well!
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After posting the above, I went on the net looking for a suitable cartoon to nick to illustrate this piece. And bugger me if all the ones I found on Google images do not somehow miss the point by a country mile. Take this one:
OK, it seems to say something - the Britain is in a dire state and it can only get worse -but it wholly misses the point: it isn’t just Britain which is in dire state which can only get worse, the EU is, too, and that means Europe. Unless there is a hell of a lot of fancy - and intelligent - footwork and dollops of that supposedly quinessential British quality ‘compromise’, the EU is fucked. I said I had thrown away my Mystic Meg hat, but let me put it on again briefly just to repeat the point: it isn’t just Britain which is in a very bad place at the moment.