Friday, 24 June 2016

The truth will always be

Goodness me this is a tough morning. The pain of losing a general election is nothing compared with this. That the vote was so close, 52% for Leave is no comfort because the argument is lost. At some point in the future the UK will leave the EU, perhaps in couple of years but really we have already left. We now have no say, no voice except to plead for special terms as we rip up the special terms that we have just rejected. As the chants ring out, "we have taken back control" the Tories lurch to the right with it's small government agenda and much thumbed prospectuses for NHS sell-off. For the vast majority of those who voted leave there will be no increase in "control", in fact quite the reverse.

Time of course will tell all, the financial market chaos we are experiencing this fine Brexit morning may be a harbinger of the bleakness to come or, hopefully a short term blip of uncertainty. At least we have the comfort that Boris Johnson has promised to apologise if we do go into recession. Well that's all right then. One thing we do know, the decision has been made and whatever the outcome, whatever the subsequent spin, The truth will always be


Yes I am in a sombre mood this morning so I write this listening to Pat Metheny but it is scant comfort. Thinking back to that last referendum on the EU, or the Common Market as it was then called, there was an entirely different dynamic. I was in my mid twenties and unsure of what to do with my life. We had just experienced a disastrous 4 years of a Tory government that was hell bent on fighting the unions. The casualty in that war was the economy as Ted heath declared the 3 day working week and jobs which had been plentiful started to disappear. Then came Labour and membership of the Common Market was seen as a way for the UK to prosper and for a time we did. The Thatcher years brought yet more hardship as manufacturing jobs fled our shores and the much vaunted UK service economy was born. I can still remember the comment of a colleague in 1979 who declared he was voting Tory because, "vote for Maggie and she will give us the jobs". How hollow that proved to be. We look back on those times and, with hindsight, know the truth of it because whichever way our politicians like to interpret events, "The truth will always be". Somewhere, behind the hyperbole, not far beneath a distorting headline or just audible as an offstage whisper as ODS tells yet another whopper, that's where the truth will always be.

I fear that we are in for yet another dose of reality. yet again a Tory government has delivered chaos. You cannot get away with demonising immigrants or state that membership of the club of nations that is the EU restricts us from controlling the flow across our borders and then expect people to vote to remain in that club. I am struggling for a metaphor to describe the stupidity of Cameron but all I come up with is "finger in the dyke" or "chickens coming home to roost" .......... I think you get where I'm going with this. Eventually, politicians that say one thing but do another are found out but unfortunately they are usually found out after the damage has been done. We used to call them birds of passage and in my years on this planet I have seen many of them come and go. They arrive with a big idea but as that idea falters they hurriedly depart leaving those that follow to clear up the mess ............. but they in turn have their own "big ideas .......... and so it goes on.

Thinking back once again to the early seventies I remember how I teetered on the brink of dropping out. Self sufficiency was in vogue and taking yourself off to some far flung valley to grow veg, to home-school your children in make-shift communes and perfect a miniscule talent you had for playing a guitar. I never quite made that leap. Meeting my wife and taking on family responsibilities made me realise that I could not turn my back on society so I became a fully paid up member, happily paying my taxes, attending parents evenings and saving up for a washing machine and a car. The EU was part of the society that I bought into, satisfying the internationalist that I instinctively had become. I loathed nationalism and being a part of Europe was an effective antidote to the jingoism that was espoused by those on the far right. It can be a difficulty explaining to one of the emergent English patriots what the philosophy of internationalism exactly is as they assume that this entails a lack of regard for your country of birth. Nothing can be further from the truth. Nationalism inherently carries the seeds of exclusion and breeds intolerance for alternatives of thought or lifestyle. I am not here saying that all those who voted to leave the EU are nationalists in the sense that I have described it but the referendum has supplied the fertiliser for that seed of intolerance to grow. I still have hope that the UK will continue to be a land of tolerance and fair play, in fact still be the country that I have spent my life being proud of. Oh yes I still have that hope but it does not burn as bright as it did yesterday.

I started this post in a decidedly melancholy mood, the act of writing proving to be less than cathartic because I now feel even more depressed. The fact that the vote in Amber Valley was 60% for Leave with only 40% for Remain is yet more bad news.(Later edit: a comment from a reader of the blog that the vote in Belper was split 50:50). I now feel decidedly out of place in my own neighbourhood. I take comfort in the fact that 29,319 of us did vote for the EU in the borough but we are in the minority. It appears that we may now face a renewed call for an independence vote for Scotland ......... to leave the UK. That we have chosen to leave the EU is bad enough but to lose our ties with Scotland as well I just unthinkable (as I write this a news flash on my screen says that Nicola Sturgeon is beginning the legal proceedings for a second Scottish referendum).

Shoreline on the Isle of Mull Photo: BelperStuff

The idea of dropping out has started to resurface, over 40 years after I rejected the thought. Moving to Scotland is attractive; getting a small patch of land and a crofters cottage; dusting off the Self Sufficiency book (it must be on the bookshelves somewhere); sitting by my turf fuelled stove; in the evening reading by the light of an oil lamp and glancing occasionally out of the window at the atlantic waves breaking upon a moonlit shore.

Or do I stay where I am and fight the county council elections in May 2017? 

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