Britain has awoken to find that, what it thought was some vote about membership of the European trade club, quickly morphed into musical chairs for the Eton-educated elite. Exiting the EU was never more than a flag of convenience for the tea-party fringe of the Conservatives. “Taking back our country” was a rallying cry – a big idea, but it was always about semantics. To truly enact Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty would be national suicide leaving Britain on the wrong side of history. The Leave campaign never imagined they could win. There was never an execution plan. It was a playground stunt – a power game, the sort of grand posturing that reminds one of a recent election broadcast by the Green party. Our political classes courted a pretty bright young thing on the dance floor last night in an intoxicated haze. Today they pulled back the sheets to find their latest conquest was a geriatric – missing teeth and sporting Swastika tattoos.
Yes Britain – you got played. If it wasn’t so catastrophic you could laugh. How easy it is now for social media to endlessly lampoon the hopeless morons who frequent the Daily Mail Online comments section. How naive these people were to imagine for one second that their Newspaper of choice and the Politicians they believed were doing anything other than lie to them.
Brexit was engineering by a Westminster elite as an exercise in moving pieces around a chess board. It wasn’t meant to change anything. It was a cynical political exercise that showed the utter contempt with which the main stream media and politicians treat the voters. The exercise was so cynical it ate itself whole in its own contradictions. Voters are so used to being lied to by politicians they couldn’t recognise the truth anymore. They gambled only to find they had backed the wrong horse. Democracy has never been about real choice, not for a long time. It is a Shakespearean tragedy in which we all play our parts. Politicians lie and we pretend to believe them. The EU Referendum was nothing more than displacement activity. A distraction. If we had really wanted to solve the problems of our nation we would have voted for progressive politicians through a system of proportional representation years ago and today enjoy the economy of a successful Scandinavian country. But our political system is not about creating success. It is about winning.
As such the big guns are wheeled out at every vote to convince the turkeys to cheer-lead for Christmas. They are very good at it. They have had a lot of practise. So much so that it has convinced voters that they cannot believe anyone and it doesn’t matter who they vote for. So disenfranchised is our electorate that they no longer care who they vote for in any meaningful sense. Nobody thinks about it – there is no point.
Our tragedy is that the EU Referendum deserved a lot of thinking about. Nothing since the PR Vote has deserved so much serious thought. Yet we are a nation slowly losing our capability for seriously-reasoned & analytical thought. The institutions of Law, Science, Academia & Economics lined up with our international friends & allies to deliver a near-unanimous verdict: Brexit would be an unmitigated cluster-fuck. Not could – would. Yet still the public didn’t listen. Gove infamously sneered at all the experts and told people to vote with their hearts not their brains. Doesn’t that just sum up everything wrong with politics & society today.
Most young people voted to stay in Europe. It is all they have every known. Our young represent the most educated tier of society as most now have been through a University. Whilst the pollsters concentrated on the influence of age upon vote I have yet to see analysis of how education changes opinions. To really understand Europe you need a command of History. Britain was taken into the EEC as an early step towards modernity. This was a form of globalisation that was launched at the end of the post-war settlement. That settlement became unravelled in the 1970s as the Bretton-Woods Agreement was junked and the dollar came off the gold standard. In simple terms: if Britain was to survive in the world it had to think bigger. A lot bigger. Margaret Thatcher understood that.
Ignorance about these basic matters of history are commonplace. A common theme I hear is that Brexit “will be alright”. People genuinely think that it doesn’t matter who you vote for – the outcome will be the same. They have essentially invoked the Blitz Spirit as a reason to invite the RAF to bomb their homes. The logic is perverse. It is the logic of people who feel they have no power to influence history. They are all self-made victims. It reminds me of the taxi driver who ignored the motorway signs telling him that the road ahead was closed. He could have chosen another route but did not. I sat with him, locked in traffic going nowhere (and missing my flight), in disbelief. When asked why he chose to ignore the evidence he shrugged his shoulders and said “we’ll get to the Airport inchalla” (God willing). Today people genuinely think that “it will be alright” as we can just go back to the 1970s because “we survived back then before Europe”. What a dismal failure of rational thinking that represents….
1970’s Britain had exchange controls. There was no internet. No Thatcherism or Reagonomics. No mass Privatisation. Our GDP per person was much much smaller even accounting for inflation. We had manufacturing industry and a much smaller financial services sector. Fewer people owned their own homes, there were no house pricing bubbles, nobody had a credit card. There was no internet, no joined-up world, no globalisation. Inequality was at its post-war minimum. The world of the 1970s is almost unrecognisable yet the older generation has forgotten all this. Gone are the sad memories of stagflation and the IMF bailout of the UK economy. They imagine halcyon-days free from stagnation, inflation and industrial strife. The modern world we live in has changed forever. The resource curse of North Sea oil decimated our manufacturing sector and the City arose to take its place. We survived because we were plugged into Europe. The Common Market is written into our DNA and we can not un-invent it anymore than the DNA in my body can un-invent the nose on my face.
Thus the European Community is not understood by most. We have become like a fish that complains that all its problems are caused by water we swim in. It is for good reason that a pre-Brexit article in the British Medical Journal likened the Leave campaign to Anti-vaccination campaigns. The people of rich northern countries live long healthy lives free of the pain and suffering so they have become complacent. Amnesia has set in. Since there is so little else left to kill you we start to blame minor ailments of anything foreign entering our bodies – including life-saving vaccinations. That is what the EU has always been. A life-saving vaccination. We can bicker about its foreign intrusions into our lives but our world would fall apart without it. Only our increasingly-loose grip upon Enlightenment reason has allowed this self-obvious truths to be ignored.
Our amnesia goes back even further for we have lost sight of how far Europe has come. It is instructional to familiarise yourself with a little post-war history of Europe BEFORE the “Marshall Plan” and the Cold War. Once there was the “Morgenthau Plan” under which the destiny of Europe was to be very different from the one we think we know today. Britain, Russia, France and the USA agreed at Potsdam to turn back the clock on defeated & divided Germany by some 200 years. It was to be turned into an agrarian society living peacefully in lederhosen as the city folk starved to death. Despite some attempts to re-invent this period of history or banish to the memory-hole it remains an inconvenient truth in the birth place of modern Europe. Maybe a million German POW slave labourers were destined to die in Allied camps after World War Two of starvation & typhus. The scenes in the camps were likened to those at Belsen.
Today this is all forgotten. The modern Europe is a remarkable turn-around on those dim, distant, and very dark days of 1946. Although a creature (like NATO) of Cold War suspicion the modern Europe was an inoculation against division and strife. Sadly it was effective only against Communism. Fascism was another thing. The Brexit vote is not only an economic disaster but also a social one. It has validated the deepest perversions of the neo-Nazi movement. Out they spilled onto the streets of Britain. The leader of the British National Party proudly claimed on social media how his movement had been campaigning to get Britain out of the EU since the 1980s: “well done everyone” he tweeted. This EU Referendum has opened an ugly wound that should never have been exposed. The outcome is utterly toxic – like opening Pandora’s Box it unleashed an evil that has set us back thirty years. We’ll spend the next thirty years desperately trying to screw down the lid on that box. Just enough time for us to forget the damage done and for another bunch of dim-witted agitators to start the process over again for their own short term political objectives. All the time people will die. People are already dying.
Let us not forget (although most will) that there was a country in Europe that launched this experiment a few years ago. A country right in the heart of Europe rejected the outside world and forged its own way in the world. It was an enormous success for six years and the global community (as it was then) applauded that nation’s charismatic leader. Of course it all went wrong for Hitler and the experiment nearly destroyed Europe.
In these modern days of globalised financial markets the freedoms that Nazi Germany had open to it in 1933 are no longer there. Now we follow an Electronic Herd and fit a Golden Straitjacket. We won’t get a six year honeymoon. It took six seconds for our financial markets to crash. Markets will finally recover but we will never make back the ground we lost. Brexit was a vanity project but now the damage is done. Britain is a laughing stock – a global village idiot. All for nothing.