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Saturday 25 June 2016

My thoughts on the referendum result and the future

I wanted to take time to summarise my thoughts on the referendum result and the future for the UK after the momentous decision to leave the EU.

This is my personal blog and these are my personal opinions. I'm not at all an important person and I'm not claiming to hold any monopoly on common sense, decency or intellectual capability. 

If you don't agree with my thoughts then that's fine I accept that - please accept that I have a right to my opinion - however unimportant it is in the grand scale of things - to anyone else but me.

This is the status that I put on Facebook when the result was finally declared:

I am utterly appalled and dismayed at the result today. I am ashamed and embarrassed to be 'British'.
As the economy crashes, and the politics of hate have become acceptable, it looks like the United Kingdom (once Great Britain) will truly become Little England. We will lose all international credibility and the process of decline in our global status will accelerate.
I have two hopes. First that if you voted to leave you will accept responsibility for what you have done in the future and not try to pass on the blame.
My second hope is that I am totally wrong and Brexiteers are right. Never have I hoped to be wrong so much.
Cornwall needs its own assembly - but, given the result in Cornwall, does it deserve it?

That was an initial reaction to what most people agree was a shock result. Do I stand by it now? Yes just about every word. 

I admit that as I wrote  'As the economy crashes' - while it was accurate at the time that I wrote it - it was (perhaps understandably?) hyperbola given that I knew and understood that the capitalists and speculators were out in force trying to make a quick buck and that it would bounce back almost as quickly and to almost the previous level. Indeed I had discussed exactly this scenario with my son as the poll was being conducted - though I admit the scale of the dip and recovery was beyond what I expected.

But let me explain some of the other parts.

I am still ashamed and embarrassed to be British - the politics of hate have become acceptable. 

This is not because of the result of the vote - we had a referendum and I accept that a majority of people wanted to do something that I disagreed with. That is absolutely fine by me. As Leave campaigners now keep pointing out we live in a democracy so have to accept that result. 

(Though as an aside I find it incredulous that there are so many people lecturing me on democracy and the triumph of the will of the people being heard. Incredulous because just the day before many of the same people were claiming how the vote had already been rigged and that a remain victory would not be a democratic statement by the people at all?)

I have no problem in accepting the fact that, as a society, we have voted to do something.

What I have a problem with is what this decision and how it appears to have been reached says about our society.

As I see it there are three types of Brexiters. 

First there are the people (almost certainly the majority) who have actually thought long and hard about the decision, respected its importance and carefully weighed the evidence before voting to leave.

I respect and applaud these people - I may not agree with you - but you have exactly the same right to vote leave as I have to vote remain.

The problem is that there are two other categories - probably sub-groups of one basic group.

Many people (and this is admittedly a purely subjective opinion from what I have personally witnessed) have voted because they agreed with what they thought were the two fundamental propositions of Brexit: 1 - There will be £350m per week which we can spend on the NHS and 2 - We will have complete control of immigration and only those who we think are 'acceptable' or 'necessary' will be 'allowed in'. 

Why I think there are two groups here is because it was absolutely clear that both of these propositions were outright lies and falsehoods designed to con people and to subliminally appeal to more latent qualities of selfishness and prejudice. 

That they were lies was always clear to any critical thinker. 

The ink wasn't even dry on the declaration of the result before Farage and co were carefully explaining how:

'actually - you know that £350m for the NHS - it was a mistake - er.. sorry'   


'you know what - we never said we were going to stop immigration - just that we might be able - in some way - at some point in the future - be able to say - in some way - that we have allowed an immigrant to come here without actually changing anything whatsoever'

Two central lies exposed within hours!

That is why I think there there were two groups. 

There was a group who didn't really think about anything much - but allowed themselves to be taken in by a promise of 'getting our money back to spend on the NHS' or 'stopping all these foreigners coming here and ruining our country' This group is exemplified by the reports in Friday evening newspapers of hordes of voters admitting that they had voted leave and now wished that they hadn't.

Then again there was a group that knew that lies were being told and knew why the lies were being told. They went along with the lies and reinforced them. This was done because they preferred to condone this in order, for whatever personal reason, to ensure that leave would win. In my mind this was the more cynical and rather more nasty element who have put personal gain or bigoted opinions and principles ahead of what they know to have been the truth. Should the leave campaign leaders and groups like Britain First be included in this category? You decide.

So why am I ashamed to be British? Not because we have had a democratic vote which has led to us leaving the EU but because what it has revealed about a significant element of our society.

We have politicians who are prepared to lie and cheat. We have people who are prepared to back them in full knowledge of what they are doing. And we have people who aren't prepared to look at bit more closely at what is being offered - but are prepared to be duped time after time.

Now you might say this is nothing new. Correct! But it doesn't make be proud to be British and each time it happens it makes me that bit more cynical and ashamed that, as a society, we are letting these people get away with it.

It looks like the United Kingdom (once Great Britain) will truly become Little England. We will lose all international credibility and the process of decline in our global status will accelerate.

There are so many people saying how Britain can now be Great again. I don't think Britain was ever particularly 'Great' and leaving the EU will only accelerate any respect and standing that we have had in the world.

'Great Britain', as I understand most people seem to allude to, was something built on the colonial rape and pillage of societies for the benefit of a ruling elite. Of course, we have all been 'educated' along the way that we were bringing 'civilisation', 'modernisation' and even 'salvation' to 'backward savages' but the truth is that a few people got very rich by using  one lot of  people to murder another lot of people and then stealing all their stuff. 

Does this make us  'Great' - I don't think so?

Even if it did, the colonial era ended a century ago. What might have made us 'Great' a century ago doesn't apply to day does it? 

So what could make Britain 'Great'? Surely it has to be about working together to get rid of 'bad things' from the world. Surely it's all about co-operation, understanding and tolerance for betterment of all. For me it is.

The 'Little Englander' mentality does not make Britain Great - it makes us morally impoverished and isolated.

Our 'Greatness' in the nineteenth century is long gone. We are now just another, fairly wealthy, state which is comparable to many others. If this is a decline from our nineteenth century status of global superpower then that is simply the way it is. We're never going to change it back - even if we really wanted to. Our global status and the respect which the world community pays us has deteriorated steadily since the first world war. It is because we no longer have an empire and the military might to hold it, yet there are those that seem to want to maintain an empty imperial arrogance in our relationships with others. 

Leaving the EU won't bring back the empire. There will be plusses and minuses. If we do better at one thing then we will do worse at something else. There will be no reversal of our our colonial decline and, worse still, it reinforces the international view of our imperial arrogance.

Then again we stand to lose even more. Scotland will almost certainly leave the UK and Northern Ireland may well follow. That's a 'Great result' isn't it? 

I have two hopes. First that if you voted to leave you will accept responsibility for what you have done in the future and not try to pass on the blame.
My second hope is that I am totally wrong and Brexiteers are right. Never have I hoped to be wrong so much.

Now I'm sure that the element who gave the issues serious thought about Brexit will take responsibility and will admit if it shown that they were wrong. 

On the other hand it already apparent the the leaders of the leave campaign are already trying to find ways of doing exactly the opposite. 

No doubt we will have the 'wrong type of Brexit' - even when (or if) it becomes clear we have made a mistake, one thing for sure is that it won't be Farage and co's fault. 

I really do hope that I am wrong and that Brexit will be a massive success. I can't see it at the moment - but if I ever do then I will own it. 

Of course I want our society to be the best it can be. I hope you Brexiters are right and I am wrong. Time will tell.

But at this point it should be worth noting that the democracy, which Brexiters claim calls on us all to pull together to make Brexit a success, actually means that I am liberty to disagree. In fact, if I wished, I could actively campaign and seek to persuade people that we should rejoin the EU. I could form a 'UK in Europe' political party and seek support for re-entry. That is what democracy is all about and shouldn't anyone, who claims to love democracy, agree that I have the right to do so? Surely it doesn't mean blithely accepting any democratic result for the long term. You're only as good as your last result!

Just saying ....


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