Tuesday, 28 June 2016

All in it together.

This has been quite possibly the five most depressing days in the life of the British body politic.

Well, it seems the Prime Minister was right when he said 'We're all in it together'.

It was just that he crucially omitted to mention what the 'it' was.

It seems I may well have been right when I said that senior politicians were playing a game with the referendum, but it is now apparent that the Opposition also need to pile in and play Silly Buggers, too.

There's an Ex-Prime Minister, presumably pining for the fjords of Chipping Norton or whatever, meekly bending over in Brussels to have his bum deservedly kicked by other European leaders; Labour's front bench resigning and Jeremy Corbyn so desperate for a cabinet that he's phoned IKEA; Boris Johnson and Michael Gove looking as abject and useless as a pair of opened condoms in a lesbian orgy; Farage shouting Ya Boo Sucks in the European parliament; and only Nicola Sturgeon seems to have any form of plan, although even Baldrick is looking askance at it.

Away from this shower, back in the real world, the financiers are shoving more coke up their noses as the markets tank and the pound crashes, there is a very real sense of tension in Northern Ireland, and most distressing, report after report of racial abuse and attacks coming from round the country, as the facists now feel facilitated and empowered by everything shouted and said over the last few months. A weak government, a divided opposition, a split population, a weakened economy, accusations pointed at everyone but ourselves - this is the rich tilth from which dictators spring.

I am sick and ashamed.

This isn't who we are. Remember the 2012 Olympics? That's us - the real us, not the 'us' represented by the poisonous drip-drip-drip of rhetoric we've had this year.

The problem is that we never, EVER, really had any chance for proper, grown-up debate, not in public anyway. All the soi-disant debates on television and the radio were nothing more than politics as spectator sport: Bear-baiting for a world drowning in shouty tweets and opinionated, unsubstantiated Facebook pages. We have come to see the House of Commons as little more than Britain's Got (No) Talent with added suits and plummy voices.

Go and find the debates on Europe from the 70s: go and find the one with Tony Benn and Roy Jenkins. No, I'm not giving you the link - do the bloody work yourself. They're in a room remarkable only for its superfluity of beigeness, and Tony Benn smokes his pipe, and they talk and talk and talk. Bloody hell, it's long, but it's also polite, thoughtful and DEEP.

THAT'S what we needed. That's what we deserved. Instead, the entire campaign, on both sides, became dominated by whichever person could shout the loudest, shout the longest, and bend the truth the most - in other words, we were conned by demagogues. I'm not surprised Jeremy Corbyn was such a lukewarm advocate for Remain - this was politics as far removed from his aim for a kinder, more inclusive and respectful kind of dialogue.

It's no wonder that people have started regretting voting Leave - so many of us were barely informed, and the realisation that No, we won't be spending £350 million a week on hospitals and Milk and Honey, and No, you won't be getting more money in your pocket from now, has contributed to the despair and anger.

Ladies and gentlemen of Westminster, you have truly excelled yourselves on this one. But at least now We Are All In It Together.

Now excuse me while I go to find something to use as a paddle.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Honour, Respect, Dignity.

Three little words that mean so much to so many - and yet are used to mask so much.


It's coming up for midday on the post-Referendum UK now.

I can't pretend I'm not deeply affected by the outcome. Disappointed, yes; Somewhat angry, yes, but calmer now; Truly surprised? Not entirely.

And that honourable man, David Cameron, has done the honourable thing and respectfully, with dignity, has proffered his resignation.

Because, as we all know, David Cameron is an honourable man. Indeed, this covey of triumphant politicians - Mr. Duncan Smith, Mr. Gove, Mr. Farage, and above all Mr. Johnson - are all gentlemen of honourable intent.

The Prime Minister has said 'The British people have voted...and their will must be respected'. And he is a respectful man.

Mr. Johnson has said 'This is a glorious opportunity...for the UK'. And he is an honourable man.

Mr Farage has called today 'our independence day', with all his usual reserve and dignity, and with the candour that comes from his honourable nature has rebutted the claim that the money that goes to Brussels will now be spent on the NHS.

Honour, respect, dignity.

Oh, one word I omitted: Courage.

The PM courageously sanctioned a referendum that was wanted, in reality, by very few, apart from the honourable, respectful, dignified, courageous gentlemen on the right of his party and that honourable, respectful, dignified and courageous purveyor of media, Mr. Murdoch.

When the votes were cast and the results read out, Mr Cameron strode in dignity to the lectern outside no. 10 and, respecting the fig leaf of the National Will to hide his honour, resigned, courageously leaving the job that, in all reality, he has been trying to get out of for at least the last two years with his own, self-regarding dignity intact.

Honour, respect, dignity, courage.

Mr. Johnson, that honourable gentleman who enthralled us with the dignified manner in which he descended a zip wire, is a man of great respect - for his manifest belief that he should lead this country.

Mr. Farage, a man who has never known want, or fear, or insecurity, respectfully stands in front of a poster of a line of refugees, and courageously lies and lies and lies.

Mr. Gove maintains his calm dignity in front of each camera, and demands respect, and lies and lies and lies.

These fine and honourable gentlemen shall sleep soundly tonight, convinced of their worth.

I would not buy their treacherous honour, their trifling respect, their flaccid dignity, or their hollow courage for all the money that allegedly goes to the EU, and which they sold their souls for.

Honourable gentlemen all: You have sold your country for the sake of your personal aims, and a terrible day will come when you truly realise what you have done.

Still, done it is, so now my friends, we must consider what we should do next.
Let us take back these words - honour, respect, dignity and courage - and let them be our watchwords for the day ahead.
Let us add one more: Love, because that is what we need above all these - what we all need.
Let us not be fractured as a nation of nations by the greed, by the vanity, by the hubris, by the mendacity of these few honourable gentlemen.

Monday, 6 June 2016

EU In or Out?

...or doing the EU Hokey-Cokey, part two.

Right. I am now officially fed up of this bloody campaign.

I am fed up of these stupid, overfed, overentitled, immature morons treating this referendum as if it were some silly little game played out on Eton's fields, a game that will end with a 'well played, old chap' and a handshake, and nothing more.

I am fed up of the culpability, moral blindness, and sheer vanity of the politicians who have been most prominent in the media.

I am fed up that you do not understand whatsoever that you are playing with the very real lives of very real people, and all you can do is muster up false outrage, false claims, and false rhetoric. You splutter at the claims of the other side: it is false spluttering. You rebut a lie with another lie, and it is nothing more than a game of Risk played on a very real field of conflict.

You are a disgrace to us all.

Instead, I have talked with people in all sorts of places, and had real conversations about the real issues - and some of them are staunchly in, some are resolutely out, many are impossibly conflicted, yet all of them share this: We do not trust you, we are weary of you and we think you, ALL of you, probably couldn't find your respective bums with a map.

The conversation is going on, but it's frequently quiet, as if we feel we should not be involved, that somehow someone will be along in a minute to tell us off. And especially, it is conducted with perplexed, troubled voices.

Let me go off on a tangent for a moment and explain why I haven't been writing as frequently on here as I would like.

At the beginning of April, my dad had a bad accident that saw him hospitalised in Faro, Portugal, pretty much as far south and west as you can get in Europe. My mum was with him at the time, and my sister and I flew out several times to help out. The first time, I jumped on a bus, then a train, then into a plane, and within four hours or so I was at my dad's bedside. I stayed a few days, even managed to sample a few of Faro's restaurants and bars in between visits to the public hospital where dad was being looked after. My sister, quite brilliantly, dealt with the insurance companies and helped mum with her hotel stay. Mum showed a resilience and core strength that I think may well have surprised her, and dad, with those crucial first few days of care from the dedicated and overworked team at Faro Hospital, started pulling through and showed his power and determination to get through. Indeed, he returned to the UK several weeks later, and finally came home nearly two months after his accident, and is making an amazing recovery.

So, my point?

It's this. My father's treatment would have been ruinously expensive without the EU. The resources that were in the hospital, the training that the doctors and nurses received, would  have been much less available without the EU. My sister and I would never have been able to travel so freely had we not been in the EU.

It's also this. The grit and determination my parents exhibited are the very qualities we can all proffer, whether we stay In or go Out, and we will bloody well have to show them if the vote goes the latter way.

Yet these little freedoms we enjoy  - they were fought for, for us, by our own kith and kin. They were struggles won, and yes, it is absolutely right to say that there are many things that are rotten in the state of Europe. But these are struggles and battles to be contested and to be won by all of us, united. This is the real game, not the one waged by the buffoons on their playing fields. This is our country and our Europe - and our world. Let us not lose it by walking away, because I fear that if we do, some future historian will point at that exit and say, 'and that was the first domino to fall. After that, as we all know...'