Archive | March, 2019

Is this country crazy?

13 Mar

proxy.duckduckgo.comI can be a little slow sometimes, so let me try and understand where we are.

A couple of years back we voted – by the slenderest of majorities – to leave the European Union. Despite the fact that those who voted to leave represented a minority of all the people actually in the country, and certainly a minority of those affected by the decision, such was the process of democracy and accordingly, despite the fact that it was a gnat’s whisker of a result, the cry went up that ‘the people have spoken’ and so the process began to separate ourselves from the European Union. All the while forgetting – or ignoring – the fact that Great Britain helped create the European Union in the first place, and have been key in making it what it is. So we’re actually separating ourselves from what we created. Did we get it so badly wrong that we want to wash our hands of our own creation?

We also seem to have forgotten in all the rhetoric that it isn’t a case of ‘Europe vs the UK’. We ARE European. We might be on a tiny island off the mainland, but sheer geography means we are, actually and inescapably, in Europe.

In order to manage this feat of political chicanery, the government decided that they would select someone who apparently didn’t want this to happen to manage the process. This was necessary because the prime minister who had thought the whole idea up realised what a shit storm he was bringing on himself and resigned. However, the new prime minister went to work to try and work out the best possible way of implementing ‘the will of the people’ despite the fact that she didn’t want it to happen in the first place. In fact, the majority of the people who had been (democratically) elected to steer the country actually thought it was a bad idea too. But: ‘the will of the people’.

Polls seem to suggest that the majority for remaining in the EU is now three times as large as the original majority to leave was: perhaps something like 56% of voters now want to remain in the EU. Add to that the fact that, simply due to mortality rates amongst the older voters (who voted by a greater proportion to leave), the percentage voting to remain is likely to continue to rise as time goes on. YouGov produced a survey back in January which suggested that the margin for remaining in the European Union is now over 12% – 56% for remain, 44% to stay.

It rapidly became clear that most of the promises of the people who wanted us to leave were outright lies, and all manner of experts spoke up to voice their professional and considered opinion that, rather than being in a better position after leaving the EU, Britain would actually be worse off. Much worse off. It was likely that businesses would leave Britain for bases elsewhere in the EU. It was likely that trade would become more difficult. It was likely to lead to supply issues hurting the common man in the street. And it was likely that rather than being ‘free’ from the European Union, Britain was going to become a lone voice losing influence in the world but still subject to many of the constraints and limitations of being a small nation trading with larger ones.

As time has gone on, we have begun to see that much of what the experts have said is in fact correct. What’s more, it seems to me that it is likely to actually lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom: Scotland feel betrayed in their own referendum for independence, as one of the reasons for voting to remain in the UK was their continued membership of the EU. Northern Island feel betrayed because the simple solution to the border with the Republic is threatened, and we face a possible return to ‘The Troubles’.

What’s more, it is becoming apparent that those who voted to leave are actually expecting things to go on as they are, apart from those things they didn’t want, with no reflection of the fact that leaving the European Union has, well, implications. Which is reflected in the fact that no-one seems able to work out an arrangement on leaving that will not cripple the United Kingdom for years to come.

As the practical outcome of an exit from the European Union became clearer and clearer, more and more people have realised that perhaps they were over hasty with their vote to leave. So it seems now that ‘the will of the people’ has changed from being a majority for leaving to being a majority for staying. In particular, the young people who have the most to gain or lose are increasingly of the opinion that we should stay.

And our government can’t even come up with a proposal that is acceptable and workable.

But apparently ‘the will of the people’ cannot change because ‘that’s not democratic’. Apparently the government is afraid of riots should there be a decision to cancel the process. but are prepared for riots should there be food shortages. Apparently a democracy is not allowed to change its mind, although it is built into the law of this country that we must have a vote on the government of the country every four or five years, and that it is OK to change our minds as to who we want governing us.

Some of my friends are definitely in favour of an exit from the European Union. I respect their opinion, even if I feel that it is not the right answer for this country. A far greater number (as far as I can see) are certain that they want us to stay. Those with relationships and marriages and partnerships that cross national borders are 100 % certain that they want things to remain as they are. If I talk to those that I consider to be the great thinkers in my circle of friends, then with one or two exceptions, whose opinions I do honour, they want to stay part of this great European community. My sons – and let’s face it, they are going to have to live with this for far longer than I am – are absolutely seething with rage that this is being forced upon them.

So… the government knows it is on to a loser – that whatever they manage to negotiate with the EU, it will leave the country – and its people – worse off financially, with less freedom of movement and with less influence in the world. It may even lead to an upsurge in violence both in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK.

The people are coming to the conclusion that they may indeed have collectively made a mistake now that they know the true reality of the situation and are gloomily looking forward to many years wandering in the wilderness. They are starting to recognise that the reason why the powerful and mighty want to leave Europe is because, free from EU control, it gives them a better chance of screwing over the average UK citizen. They are increasingly realising that they were lied to, deceived, misled and hoodwinked.

Businesses are looking at the uncertainty of the next few decades and deciding, in a world where location is flexible and globalisation is the trend, that they would rather be based somewhere – anywhere – else, without all the uncertainty and projected difficulties of trading in the UK.

And yet it seems no-one in government is prepared to face the simple truth: "This Is Stupid". When asked, even the proponents of a departure from the EU cannot point to a coherent set of benefits beyond ‘sovereignty’ and ‘making our own rules’. Neither of which are actually threatened by our membership of the EU. I’ve written repeatedly to my MP about this, and still receive nothing that resembles anything than a set of myths.

Meanwhile, the issues that face us are no longer national issues. They are no longer issues that can be dealt with in isolation. The issues that face us are not issues of profit and loss or even sovereignty. The increasingly important issues are whether or not humanity has a place on this planet. Whether we can return from the brink. Whether we can roll back from the increasing escalation of military might. Whether we can feed and clothe and provide healthcare for the citizens of the world. America seems to have staked its claim on ‘America First and screw the rest of you’. Britain seems to want to hide in a corner and sulk.

We have bigger things to worry about than this political spat. No, really, we have. We need to wake up, realise where we are and work together as a planet to solve some of these things. Global warming. World hunger. World peace. International crime. Racism and xenophobia. The rise of automation and AI. The increasing threat of technology to undermine our democracy, our financial systems, our infrastructure. And we in the UK are busy playing so damn small, when we used to be great at thinking big.

All of which causes me to ask a simple question: "WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING?"

As far as I can see . .

– increasingly, the majority of the people don’t want it to happen

– with a few bloody minded exceptions, UK businesses don’t want it to happen

– global businesses definitely don’t want it to happen

– financial experts don’t want it to happen

– the majority of the government ministers don’t want it to happen

– our EU partners don’t want it to happen

– the rest of the world think it’s the stupidest thing we have ever done

– we are jeopardising the future of our country and our planet with this attitude of separation and thinly veiled xenophobia

– and we can’t even work out how to make it happen anyway.

So, again… why on earth are we continuing to pursue this suicidal path?

Lemmings don’t actually all follow each other over a cliff – that’s a myth. But it looks like we are going to do exactly that.

Let’s not be fucking stupid.

PS if you agree, then sign the petition here: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/241584

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