I’m struggling to express what I’m feeling right now about the decision for England to quit the EU. Anger. Mostly. And I’m trying not to overreact. I’m trying to remain calm, rational and considered.
As the owner of a fledgling business which sells a premium service to retailers and manufacturer who depend so much on a strong, stable currency, I have to be rational and put a plan in place to ensure that it continues to grow. This isn’t easy, but it can be done. In fact I started a while back – always plan for the worst. We’ll battle through it, but I’m struggling to understand why any small business owner would have voted to leave the EU. I know quite a few who did. Having open access to a market as big and strong as Europe, with restrictions that primarily exist only to safeguard the quality and delivery of goods and services into that market, is a good thing. Right? Or did I miss something? Am I being too naive?
Anyway, the business thing is difficult enough. I don’t like it, but I can weather it. The business will survive. It has to because I’ve spent too much time, money and energy on it to watch it unfold.
Outside of the business, however, I’m furious. I feel sick and ashamed, horrified even, that the future of this country has been herded into a sociological blind alley by a tremendous campaign of fear and hatred stirred into rage by the blatant lies and false promises of the fuckwits who stand to make considerable political gains out of it. I am ashamed of the ignorance of the millions who engaged with their propaganda, who pored through the inflammatory stories in the Daily Mail and found connections to something within themselves, and that they believed it. And I’m ashamed that the European Union and our Government allowed these sentiments to fester unchecked for whatever reasons for so long, oblivious to the reality that as many as half of the country’s population were being sucked into a black hole of suspicion, fear and hate.
It was easy for the Leave-campaign to target these feelings kept simmering by the rhetoric of the tabloids.
Freedom of Speech has its price I guess and the Leave-campaigners certainly exercised their right to it.
Is that too strong? Surely the Leave-campaign had more to say about leaving the EU than ‘take back control of our borders’ and ‘keep the foreigners out’. Surely their campaign involved far more intelligent poster-messages than the one Farage put up which showed a Photoshopped line of dark-skinned ‘immigrants’ winding their way across England’s lush green fields, ready to take away our homes and our jobs, to fill our schools with extremist dogma and backpacks stuffed with explosives.
I thought about re-posting that image when I saw it – complete with an expression of my shock and horror that the Leave campaigners had stooped so incredibly low – but I couldn’t do it. I woudn’t do it. Such images truly deserve to be burned, not shared. Invoking the horrors of a very real Apocalypse to tap so cheaply into the emotions of disaffected people is something I never thought I would see in what I used to think of as a progressive, 21st Century country. Shameful, frankly, on so many levels.
I don’t think there was more to the Leave-campaign than that. I read the literature. I mean plenty of it dropped through my letterbox and now I wish I hadn’t thrown it all away because I’d quote it here. But I remember reading angrily the ‘warnings’ being made to me about the ‘evil of Turkey’, and that the £350million we paid into the EU each week could fund so many schools and hospitals. I’m sure it certainly would fund plenty schools and hospitals, but the implication in the rhetoric was clear: by leaving the EU it most definitely would be used to fund schools and hospitals – a claim Farage denied this morning on national TV when he was questioned about it by an incensed Susannah Reid on ITV’s This Morning programme.
They even had it plastered across the side of a massive fucking bus!
On a more sombre note, last week saw the brutal murder of Jo Cox, a rare politician and mother of a young family who practised the liberal values she preached in her constituency. And when her murderer stood in court and gave his name as “death to traitors, freedom for Britain” maybe then the Leave-campaigners paused for a moment to reflect on the toxic effect of the words they’d been spinning in ever-darkening layers around the country. I’d like to think that many of them woke up to their responsibility and regretted what they’d done.
In the end, I can accept that some people are distrustful of a faceless European Bureaucracy blamed for making all the laws we don’t like, (whether in fact they make them or not) and I can accept that maybe it served our government to perpetuate this image of a monstrous, restrictive Brussels strangling us with red tape because it deflected so much attention and blame away from the halls of Westminster. But that’s not a good thing, not for us, the people of Great Britain. I wonder if the civil servants and spin merchants of Parliament are regretting some of that now.
I doubt it. They’ve still got jobs.
Talking of jobs… I’m stupefied as to why anyone would vote to put their jobs and lifestyles in jeopardy. In 2008 there was a world recession which forced redundancy on me. It was a scary time. I was just a month away from losing my house before I eventually found another job and I wouldn’t wish that on anybody – I certainly wouldn’t fucking vote for it to happen.
But of course it isn’t going to happen is it? Because we’re making all up. For Remain read Doom-Merchants. The Leavers labelled the Remain-campaign Project Fear, gave it a hashtag and maintained that the Remain camp was whipping up an increasingly outrageous list of nightmares that had no basis in reality. At all. Claims of division and socio-economic collapse had been engineered by a bunch of scaremongers, they said, not business leaders, experts and authority figures. No no, they continued, it’s just a stream of bullshit propaganda designed to scare ordinary people who have nothing to fear, everything to gain. Don’t listen to them, howled Boris Johnson and his cohorts. Fact is, said the Leavers, no-one knows what will happen, and so all this dribble about a divided United Kingdom, a currency hit by sudden devaluation, a stockmarket crash followed by a recession, the resignation of the Prime Minister and the installation of a buffoon in Parliament, was nothing more than a bunch of ridiculous, outlandish fairy tales.
Poppycock! As Boris might say.
Here’s a selection of news stories from today.
Stock market panic
Sterling Value Crashes
And finally, I’m annoyed by David Cameron for starting this thing off in the first place. He didn’t have to do it. But he promised a referendum on the EU during his campaign in the last General Election and it cost him his job.
I guess we’ll have to design a new flag – it’s very likely that Scotland will leave the United Kingdom. And maybe Northern Ireland will join Ireland: it’s either that or they start building walls and checkpoints on the borders again.
England could well be governed towards the end of the year by Boris Johnson, who cultivates an air of innocent buffoonery to mask his ambitious, calculated political deftness. Going forward, maybe in the US we’ll have Donald Trump before long too, making good on his own polemic of hatred and isolationism – although surely the Americans aren’t as dumb as we appear to be are they? And let’s not forget Putin and Kim Jong Un, building their totalitarian Empires on the fringes of sanity. And lest we forget, there are whole populations of people being massacred in the Middle East, and desperate survivors of horror risking their lives in their search for new homes, for somewhere safe to live. That’s not going to change. But I guess that, once England ‘takes back control of its borders’ we can let them die on the other side of our walls without a thought or a care.
And this is the world my children may grow up in. So yes, I’m fucking angry.