They don’t even know themselves

The authoritarian push for a singular, quantifiable identity with which to credit the Peoples of these islands is a paranoid backlash to a perception that we’ve been too accommodating of too many cultures, for too long and that this has polluted rather than inspired our national character. But how does that actually happen to a whole community – a whole nation – unless you have let it? How does that happen to a strong sense of self unless the sense was either already fragile or false? For sure, this is no small nor simple thing but it is no one’s fault, save ours.

The discourse around freedom of movement, particularly of people, did not and still does not make sense. Despite getting more oxygen than anything else, the EU referendum campaign managed to turn immigration into an incoherent manifesto for xenophobes. I could not – cannot fathom the magnitude of such vague loathing. Besides an overwhelming indignation at how it was my freedom of movement being threatened – and yours – I kept thinking: which is it, then: the numbers, the quality or the culture? But these were never properly broken down and challenged, perhaps because of fears that it would legitimise the racist platform; maybe because the populists were stronger and reliant on keeping things nebulous.

We were a land fit to bursting. A never-ending throng of undesirable unknowables kept getting in the way and selfishly absorbing our best stuff through osmosis. They were coming to take our houses that haven’t been built and they were more likely to be our doctor than in our queue to see one. What’s more they seemed possessed of a magic art, simultaneously able to be idle benefit scroungers but also to steal our jobs and undercut our wages, so it was probably their fault that unemployment has never been so low a gig. Just one more person would surely upend us into a sea, so the tens of millions of Turkish Muslims who have no passport but were definitely on their imminent way to ask Farage to borrow copious cups of sugar would absolutely sink us, even though not a one could simply wander in because we are not even in Schengen and anyway, we’re also an island, so there.

One minute we are told there are too many people and accusations fly about the poor having too many children born with their hands out and fear-mongering about religious devotees being the ones most likely to do so and too, raise children to challenge British values. The next we’re an ageing population so, please, have more babies but no more than two; we only pay for two. No, wait: we need more people, NOW, to do the jobs that, apparently, we won’t do and even more people to do the jobs we are told we can’t. Then they accuse our children of being fat and lazy and imply that people from outside of the EU have higher economically productive value but that Brexit will be brilliant because these islands teem, innately, with can- and derring-do. Yes, we’re all technical-arty-mathematical-entrepreneurial-scientific-innovative geniuses here… All that talent, brawn and skill yearning to be exploited, if only the dear leaders believed in their citizens enough to actually invest in them.

All this othering has been peddled to demographics made increasingly, desperately angry enough to be vulnerable to their own gullibility. Whether paranoia-steered, arrogant imperialist or unashamedly, outright xenophobe, fascism arrives by invitation and there have been a lot of RSVPs.

Yet you may hear a few Brexits emphatically declaring how they welcome fresh blood and its free movement. They don’t ‘see colour’ and ‘some of their best friends are Muslims’. These most patronising, hypocritical know-nothing Brexits will be the most protected from the consequences of their snake oil agency. They are all about the points-based ‘quality’ of people: the more, the merrier men. Ironic, really, because those who sell us that line about a metropolitan/liberal elite being the enemy of the people’s “Will” are intending to upset the it’s the numbers Brexits by liberally selecting immigrants for elite metropolitan types. Probably with dark skins, which will definitely upset the it’s the culture Brexits.

What audacious cynicism that warns us to be terrified of foreign tongues on our crappy trains, as Brexits flee to where the foreign trains are better and you get to turn the volume of your Estuary English up to eleven. We’re told to be confident and proud to buy British but there’s an ardent Brexit over there, fine-dining on tax incentives and stronger yields in any other field but Blighty’s.

And how shall the other people’s quality be defined? How shall we know them? What of the extraordinary qualities it takes to sneak yourself through half a dozen countries and across a couple of seas, mostly on your own nerve and initiative and start your life over, from scratch? And what of our quality? Are we red tractor stamped Are we good enough for our leaders and fellow citizens? Who, among us, will be found wanting and where, then, shall you and I be put?

And how do we square religion and culture with the post-Brexit geography of Commonwealth and Middle Eastern princes? Was it purely about the global equality of right to enter and not about the numbers, at all, or have we come to looking at every black or brown face with a need to know if it’s Muslim? I haven’t. Do we not trust in the secular nature of our system or not understand that spiritual orthodoxy is just politics with added conviction, having a left-right spectrum, where most sit as moderates around the centre? Or do we believe, just because the fascistic section of ALL religions would settle for the end of the world in the absence of global domination, that one’s own spirituality is therefore threatened and one’s god lessened? I hope not, for that is a fool who makes god small and does not respect even their own Self.

If our culture has been undermined or diluted and I am not claiming it has, then it is the fault of the collective weak character that let it happen. Harsh, perhaps but, if our country has been accommodating to the point of its detriment, then the people, their institutions and their governments should have had a better sense and firmness of social boundaries and the application of sound law and sensible policy. For example: why do we complain about segregation, misogyny and fundamentalism but persist in the encouragement of faith-based schools? How can we recognise the dangers of ‘fake news’ and discern that everyone needs access to a body of common knowledge yet allow certain schools to opt out of teaching about vital subjects, such as evolution and sex/relationships to the very generation that will be running ‘Global Britain’ and checking us for bedsores, one day?

Those most vehemently guarding their cultural identity are busily pursuing purity and mass compliance, baring their teeth and flexing paraphobic muscles. Thing is: they have no idea of who they are, never mind of the whole country and, really, who wants to comply with the most psychotic faction of the United Kingdom’s personality disorder and symptom of its nervous breakdown?


How it should be

Theresa May is putting the conservation of self-preservation of the Conservative Party before the better interests of the United Kingdom. Jeremy Corbyn is putting the Labour Party’s chances at winning power in an unscheduled snap General Election before the better interests of the United Kingdom. It’s obscene.

Government and her Majesty’s Official Opposition occupy some of the highest offices of State Power and responsibility. It is the duty of all Parliamentarians to conduct themselves with integrity, as they go about representing all of us, in our well-being at home and our reputation abroad.

Public service requires honour and sincerity. It is both a privilege to serve one’s country and her citizens and a vocational endeavour of noble cause. Officiates of governance – creators of Law and policy, by which we all are bound to live – should serve with a grace and humility that expresses the dignity and intelligence of their authority and respectfully affords the same to the country, her citizens and her guests.

At least, that is how it should be…

Re-reading my pre-Brexit thoughts…

When that Binary Choice was upon us – June 22, 2016

I did not need this referendum on the European Union. Not at this time. Not over the issues of immigration, the economy and red tape and not even over sovereignty and democracy, now that I’ve informed myself sufficiently.

I wouldn’t vote to join the EU now, not least because of the compulsory Schengen and Euro elements but that is not the choice we are making. I do understand the desire in trying to regain absolute self-determination but it’s quite unrealistic. The only way I’d entertain really going it alone – enough to vote for it – is if I truly thought there was no alternative for our well-being or perhaps if the rest of the world’s nations were isolating themselves, too. Albeit there’s been a rise in pro-secessionist regions, I don’t see all the world’s parts simply turning away from collective cooperation. I can’t see them deliberately choosing a self-ghettoising course and then making a success of it. Such a disconnecting seems a bit late in the day to be even possible; like not being able to unknow something.

I think being forced into making such a simplistic in/out choice over a jumble of complexities is an unnecessary and reckless distraction. I resent it. It’s having to pre-empt and then try to control not only what Britain and the European Union will look like in the future but the entire globe. We’re a small world, irrevocably intertwined and we are all dancing on a rapidly shifting carpet. There are conflicts at every turn, vital resource scarcity, environmental challenges and great shifts in individual and collective consciousness. No one knows how anything of the world will turn out, beyond that nothing happens in a vacuum and that there will be multi-dimensional consequences that will become tomorrow’s causes.

I know that Remain has played some aspects rather badly – many of my alignments have been coincidental and conditional and barely have my personal reasons been represented. But that Leave campaign: well, it’s all a bit much, really, isn’t it? To the Right we’ve got authoritarian Gove with his disdain for experts, IDS with his bulging hubris and record of contempt for the disabled and working poor and Boris who doesn’t give a fig for facts or accountability. Then we’ve got the likes of Gisela Stuart and Kate Hoey on the Left, who naively believe that everything will be alright because they are putting their trust in people voting sensibly and the possibility of a Labour government. And bridging the sides of Brexit, the hollow keystone that is Farage, with his shamelessly irresponsible propaganda and populist nostalgia. He started this reckless, ill-informed, pseudo-patriotic nonsense that has turned the country against itself.

Nearly every mess that Brexit wants to “take back control” over has been created by the socio-economic ignorance and injustice of our very own governments, not immigrants and the EU. They are our governments who have undermined good will, public services and vital infrastructure. And, just because a load of people are repeatedly proclaiming “take back control” doesn’t mean any of it will be given to the electorate, or that it even will be used in our interests. Just because they are promising to spend (the same) money on everyone’s pet projects while upholding, nay, increasing current funding levels in key services, doesn’t mean that they will be able to or always want to. Social justice? Simply look at the last few years.

Of course the EU and the Euro zone are both in need of reform. The Euro zone is in a sorry state but that’s because the same relentless, neoliberal, false economy nonsense has been meted out there as here and exacerbated by its currency union. But we’re not in the Euro. And we are not in Schengen. We have vetoes and protections; we have trading clout. We’re not even attached by land, except by way of the two Irelands on another island. No one in the EU is arguing against reform and neither are their minds solely and unanimously fixed on “ever closer union” as the solution. For Leave to say it is not reformable is disingenuous. Have our MPs ever seriously and earnestly tried to lead a proper, EU-wide campaign for reform of its institutions, structures and processes? Or ever even tried to explain them? I’ve witnessed decades of them mostly carping from the side or flapping over relative mundanities. We could easily make a much more effective fuss about what we want and decisions we don’t like. We could even just refuse to comply when our interests are compromised. What would happen? A court fine? A meeting to plan a meeting to talk about sanctioning us? We could leave at the drop of a hat if we thought we were in actual danger. Despite effort, I can’t find a risk in being in the EU that Brexit’s champions would properly solve. And anyway, if a credible risk does ever present, enough to invoke a Treaty mechanism or to warrant immediate escape, then, THEN a referendum might be justified – if not already rendered moot.

Given that we appear not to have enough actors with the experience and capacity, let alone the integrity and wisdom required, what confidence can we have in their ability to untangle the political, diplomatic, legal and technical knots involved in leaving? All that while simultaneously trying to create new deals and relationships? While simultaneously managing the day-to-running of a country? And an impatient electorate’s understandable frustration and much incited but unrealistic expectations? Personally, I can’t afford another lost decade, especially after the last six years which have seen enough time, money and opportunity wasted.

Demanding people make an unnecessary, ill-informed choice, based on neurotic sections of the Press and the hyperbole of political fools and charlatans, likely undermines our already fragile democracy. The BBC should have commissioned an Open University series that explained the EU’s structure and processes and broadcast them on BBC1 at peak viewing time. That would have cut through a great deal of rubbish and provided a commonly known foundation for much better questioning. What we’ve had, instead, are historical rhymes and speculation, non-issues and appeals to baser instincts, little-challenged opinion-by-rote and facts either given erratically and too late to make an impact or flimsy find-them-yourself signposting.

But it’s too late, now: the binary choice is upon us and I have to hope that the turnout is high and that the percentage of whichever side wins is great enough to be considered definitive, otherwise the nasty divisiveness that we have already endured in our communities; the tawdriness that has diminished our social fabric and reputation: they will be mere prologue.

What is amusing, perhaps, is that, regardless of which side prominent people declare for, they can vote the opposite, once at the polling station. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Boris Johnson stepped into the booth on Thursday and voted ‘Remain’ once he’d got his little pencil out in private. I shall vote to remain. I want to wrest control from Brexit. I, too, want my country back.

Even Brexit can’t eat itself

Most Brexiteers are frustrated to find their designs meeting with constant and apparently unforeseen difficulties. Having purposefully narrowed, thickened, diluted and padded the national discourse with poison and wish potions; having pushed and pulled and bullied and blackmailed the agents until all available options are made completely unpalatable and untenable to all sides, they are all over the ether expressing their solemnities and indignations on discovering that their elastirigid red lines are, indeed, universally indigestible.

Many Brexiteers seem so frustrated by the complicated, expensive, risky, time-consuming nature of their futility as to be now acknowledging that the Brexit that they and the other seventeen point four million somehow indivisibly want is really not beneficially possible but, because they are wholly insistent that wanting it badly enough means that it surely must be possible, they still prefer to dig their heels in instead of sensibly addressing all of the demonstrable and connected whys it isn’t. This is because it would mean them having to not just give up, give over, give in but to openly accept and express that staying in the European Union and engaging in shaping it so that it fits and suits us better is not only necessary but pragmatic and even somewhat desirable‬.

The best way that Brexiteers could both save some face and save the UK would be for them to start acknowledging the democratic, no-brainer merit in passing the final say back to the people. Then, when tangible sense is returned and brightens our horizon, Brexiteers can pretend to be the vanquished valiant and spend their public lives saying “if” a lot or they can fade into the graceful obscurity that they will not have earned but that the rest of us will certainly deserve..

The Burden

It’s the normalisation of the base; a place
Made coarse, clothed with the crass.
It’s the lowbrow certainty; the sweep
Of false memory and a collective pride‬
That adds mass to need
In the voluntary stripping away of dignity
And a will to be less without becoming lighter.



Right to Remain

Most Remainers would like to be wrong about Brexit. Wouldn’t they? Much as Brexit voters might find this a difficult notion to absorb. For all the scorn and horror and bitter resentment, most Remainers did not become so out of any great fondness for the European Union. Their lack of positivity and inability to make an enthusiastic, emotional case to stay in, during the referendum campaign, is often remarked upon. The official Remain campaign was dull, inadequate and complacent but Remainers, generally, were pragmatic about their EU-scepticism when they voted to stay in. They weren’t sold on the EU but they certainly weren’t buying the snake oil of Leave.

Not only was the EU not an important issue to Remainers but Leavers’ reasons were not even logical, unless they were framed as disconnected factors which, of course, is impossible. As is being borne out, Sovereignty, Democracy, Law, money, security, border control, etc, etc cannot be thought of and managed in isolation, as though they were simply independent of each other.

Project fear was and still is Leave’s automatic call and response to any awkward question and inconvenient analysis. And here, Leavers continue to miss the point: that Remainers’ lack of enthusiasm for the EU paired with a pragmatism that supports the EU would strongly indicate that Remainers were much more capable than Leave of being objective when interpreting the devilish details, choices and consequences. They still are. Remainers simply were not attached to an ideological outcome sought by tribal agendas. They were more attached to practical wisdom in a real-world setting. They still are.

If Remainers seem fond of the European Union, now, it is because, over the last two years, they have learned more about it and come to appreciate, value and respect its purpose and its import, not just to this silly little island outcrop but to the shifting body politic of the entire shrinking world.

If Remainers are wrong and Brexit really does become the huge success it was peddled as, it will be the result of a quite undeserved luck, being as far away from good sound judgement as it is possible to get. It will be a flaming miracle, in fact but, rest assured: most Remainers will breathe as big a sigh of relief and cheer as loudly as Brexit’s most prolifically vacuous leaders.


Brexits think there’s a plot afoot
To scupper their long-held dream
But they forget it is they who won
And they can’t get over the fact that they won
And they have no faith in what they have won
So it seems…
And we who voted Remain:
Who are we to stand in their way?
Who are we to complain?
Poor lambs;
We must remind them every day,
What they have done.


There’s no secret plot.’ – Democracy did not end the day after the referendum

Ian Dunt: ”The idea of an international elite secretly trying to thwart the people’s will is core to the Brexit narrative.”

James O’Brien: “Barnier is having to explain to the British people what the British government is doing!”