When a ‘populist’ looks more like the creep you try hard not to find yourself alone with at parties and, because few in your circle seem to be willing or able to properly stand up to them, makes you feel uneasy, even when they’re absent, because you now can’t help but question your peers’ judgements and boundaries on a whole host of other things.
It is because I love this land that I despise
Your dirty rag. It is because I love this planet
And humanity in all its hues that I have never
Purchased you. And yet your reputation,
So preceding is it, that I’ve never needed to,
For what you do and say is parroted from every
Right-wing quarter every day and poured into my
Eyes and ears by all your corporate, mainstream
Peers as though your narrow, xenophobic tract
Did constitute empirically known fact.
But you are everything you claim to hate –
So rabid in your enmity of citizens and State.
You make your living sieving any information
That ingratiates you to the racists, homophobes,
Misogynists, elitists and the nationalists who’d
Have us in our places. You are bigots with a
Passion for a petty use of microscopic focus;
You are locusts to the fields of understanding,
Tolerance, compassion and perspective; an
Invective to goodwill and unity and common
You are the dumbest form of patriot, besotted
By false flags, nametags and high-horse myths
With which to moralise. It might be funny if your
Preaching wasn’t reaching the messiahs set on
Profitable power and the happy-to-be vacuous,
Enthralled and tooled up with perceived consent.
Yes, you’re a self-important vent to fundamental
Imprecision and pernicious propaganda for a
Willing and uncivil baying mob that sees a virtue in
The seizing of some value from your puritanic gob.
“Let’s not re-run the referendum campaign” – Those that say this might have a vaguely reasonable point if a rational and more honest campaign had been run. The reason that arguments still need to be had is because they were not actually had at the appropriate time; because politicians and journalists did not know or understand the substance requiring consideration nor their various consequences, any better than voters. And because some simply did not care. But the electorate needed to know all manner of what questions to ask and precious few people ever asked them.
If you think about it, every plebiscite re-runs arguments. It’s part of the messy, ongoing nature of Democracy. Politicians do it all the time – and social media, too, now. Hell, people are re-running arguments from decades, even centuries ago. Whether or not they are helpful or even relevant, still. This one is.
I don’t particularly want to want another referendum, either. Certainly not several (Scotland and Ireland.. Wales..?) You know I always thought the first EU ref was reckless and unnecessary and that the result was swung by a misdirected hissy fit. But, seriously, Brexit: what the heck did you expect? That Remain would cave and go quietly into catastrophic but preventable repercussions?
And it is foolish and weak to cry voter fatigue when, short of Parliament coming to its senses and riskily circumventing the People’s much-fêted Will, another public vote is the best available solution to settling something properly. Anyway, it serves ‘us’ right for not doing it properly, in the first place. We could have had a double majority. Cameron said no. We could have had a minimum differential. Cameron said no. We could have let 16/17ers vote on their futures. Cameron said no.
That cross in the box: it was just the start. Now comes the hard bit. A healthy democracy requires ongoing engagement and active participation. What a sorry lot we are if voters can’t take some responsibility for the “will of the people” and the downside of political choices and show keenness for a better understanding and a sharper attention to detail. After years of voters protesting that politicians don’t listen, it is surreal to imagine people preferring to make sure they don’t.
If all things now have a Brexity lens and if Brexit suddenly looks and sounds more complicated than sold, well, too bad. It always was going to be and if clarifying “the will of the people” sounds like too much effort, too threatening, too divisive or patience-testing, especially after having actively supplied the need, then, tough shit. Can’t willingly open cans of worms and then complain about the tangled fallout because “people are tired of elections”. Another tedious plebiscite is surely more sensible than simply rushing into a permanent mistake.
And it has to be a referendum rather than a general election, not just because the choice needs to be clear of party promises but because the latter option gives us no viable, electorally palatable alternative. No matter the demonstrable tunnel-vision and incompetence of the Tories, Labour offers a demonstrably incompetent ideologue. Both have bought into Brexit. Faced with yet another least-worst-option choice, the Conservatives would likely get another mandate. And then they will be Brexit on Viagra.
[PS: If any anti-Brexit moderates of the Conservative and Labour parties should conclude that their party is a democratic dud and decide to stand up for the best interests of a United Kingdom by giving their numbers to the Lib Dem benches – and voters a real choice, thereby – I reckon I could live with that.]
Little Kingdom of England
Too big for its boots
Shoots from the hip
As it limps in pursuit
Of the means to equip
For its own ill-repute
More slightly goes Blighty
Reduced to pipsqueak
By the hubris it conjures
With dumb overreach
Into each unforced blunder
And liturgy preached.
The rump of the islands
Small-minded in blue
Getting fancy-dressed up
In its great-aunt’s red shoes
But they’re too big to dance in
And stained with mildew.
Little England in stature
Gone large with its yapper
Gone charging in public parks
Mad like the clappers
Tail-chasing in neighbours’ yards
With larger snappers.
The times are crazy, so, perhaps it is not surprising that those who deliberately frame Brexit as an act of patriotism and every reasonable challenge to it as being anti-democratic would be the same people who are actively undermining both. Still, it is shocking. Depressing enough that Brexit was allowed to be framed this way, in the first place. But, since it is…
The dumb vitriol and intimidation of our wilfully ignorant right-wing press is a disgusting assault on intelligence and the shortsightedness and selective deafness of our MPs and certain celebrity lobbyists beggars belief. Almost.
Hardened Brexiteers who cheer Theresa May on, as she and her team rush to craft our cultural and economic suicide and who bay indignantly, at all thoughtful doubters; influential Brexiteers, who manufacture, insist, threaten and coerce, in order to act, self-evidently, against the national interest and well-being of the citizens. They are neither democrats nor patriots. They are nihilists.
It is also difficult to stomach those politicians and journalists who spend their print space and airtime expressing very real concerns over all aspects of this Brexit foolishness, only to vote, anyway, with those who are intent on driving us as deeply and quickly into it as possible. Would-be Remain politicos who buy into Brexit’s illogical crap, for fear of a mythologised Will, are turning themselves into the sorry enablers of Britain’s treacherous course.
Adding to this vainglorious chapter is the cognitive dissonance of ’ordinary’ Leave voters who, impatient or bored already, suddenly cannot fathom how Brexit is now the default prism through which all our social, political, economic policies and debates – domestic and global – will be expressed for at least another generation. This, despite their own stuck record insistence that they all knew, absolutely, exactly what they were all voting for, all along.
Hubris and Denial continue to need scapegoats for the myriad political betrayals that they could have smelled, with or without a referendum. Not surprising, perhaps. After all, scapegoaters scapegoating is what started this folly. Still, it is shocking.
I can’t stand it.
The democrats and the patriots are those who are openly resisting or at least earnestly trying to mitigate a national act of completely unnecessary self-sabotage. You’d have to be very cowardly or arrogant, indeed, to think that their caution, scrutiny and counsel are bad things. Or a bit thick.
Funny how the will of just over half of the electorate, on one specific day, translates as an overwhelming majority, signifying the fixed and absolute will of the people. Funny how Parliament cares so much about respecting the will of the people.
Funny how the will of the people for a well-resourced, easy-access NHS, free at the point of use, is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for affordable (free at the point of use), compassionate, dignified and accessible social care is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a decent, guaranteed state pension and a dignified old age for all is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people to have justifiable rights to end their lives and receive assistance to do so is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for state ownership and control of an affordable, reliable, interconnected railway system is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for local authority-run libraries, pools, parks and recreation is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a national network of local, comprehensive post offices is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for state investment in council/social housing is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a visible police presence and 24/7 local stations is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a national programme of ‘green’ investment and jobs is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for personal privacy and data security is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a fair and responsible tax system is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a reliable, liveable income is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for a compulsory national school curriculum is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for local state schools to be so good as to be the first choice is not respected.
Funny how the will of the people for even a simple, weekly rubbish collection is not respected.
What do you mean: not everyone wants those things?
Led the charge
Of the Left Behind
And ideologically devout.
All forward together
No margin of error –
Apart from the half
They left out.
Lull me a lullaby
Sand in my eyes
Buy me a mockingbird
Give me the sky
Betcha by golly
Wow, build me a folly
Bring me some Kool Aid
And fill up the trolley
Sprinkle the pixie dust
Set up a blind trust, go
Short of a picnic
And cut off the crusts
Pipe me a loony tune
Red, white and blue my shoes
Kansas is dying
Jump over the moon
What are we?
Who are we?
What have we become?
What have we done
But that we strut and curse
With Human ignorance
We sew pockets of hell on Earth
And fret when it’s too late
And still yet tell ourselves
That any fiction is infinitely better
Than to fess up; than to face our
The World weeps bloody tears
And suffocates under fractious clouds
That wreck and reek to retching
Sick, the planet heaves,
Clamouring for more glamour
And belief’s cold sweats
Out of disconnect
Selective fear and fury
Stalks the Psyche
Into frozen thought and feeling
The whole world is reeling
Dancing to discordant tunes
Tectonic Titans crunching
Scraping scraps with blades
All is percussion
World made glass and straw
And poisoned shores
In hearts and thoughts
The whole world wrought
To overwrought and overwhelm
And all for nought.
Blighty writ BIGLY
Engorged and enraged
Spilling forth from the lips
And the hate-filling page
Where it quickens the blood
Of the worried-well age
Churning faith into crud
Turning Will to blind rage
Slinging mud to obscure
To excuse and conflate
All the nonsense it wages
That darkens the State.