Brexit - what happens when the big guy sits the wooden bench; he brexit? A slightly modified version of Yorkshire humour that dropped into my inbox from a friend across the border in Barnsley. I'm in Rotherham; Barnsley's another town and yes, it has its own dialectic variations and there is a border. Well, a boundary sign that says welcome to Welcome to Barnsley, going the other way it says Welcome to Rotherham.
Not quite another country, but that moment is a treasured one in the reams of opinion, comment, vitriol and abuse I've waded through since the 24th June. Now, before I go any further, I have no crystal ball to tell me the reaction of those who voted to leave had the vote gone to Remain, it may have been exactly the same, but one thing does come across abundantly clear from my lofty vantage point "Oop North." London woke up to find itself out of touch with a large proportion of the country to a greater or lesser degree. Leaving Scotland and Northern Ireland aside for a moment and you can check the figures here
; London voted Remain. Voila, hey presto, the mainstream media have most of country tagged as racist, xenophobic ignorant knuckle-draggers.
The Publishing Industry has had its reviews and articles, International Publishing
unpacks some perspectives on nationalism in its articles, according to one contributor Scottish independence was OK, but when the English do it, it's the dark side and the inevitable fascist reference pops up somewhere? One commentator in the article did make the valid point that both sides involved in the campaign could have done it better and the poster boys and girls on both sides left a lot to be desired, To solely blame the campaigners for the media output is disingenuous. Editors and Publishers reveal their own bias in what they print, so put the responsibility where it belongs. Not unexpectedly the establishment favoured a continuation of the status quo, but they failed to prepare for not getting their way. The agent Diane Banks has her own take on the situation and is worth looking at in the Bookseller
, Her comments on the intellectual property of this country and its economic growth rate raised a smile.
Whatever the argument you have for casting your vote they way you did, for the former prime minister, Tony Blair to suggest we saw it as a protest vote reveals the distance between the political elite and the populace. I know it wasn't a protest vote, nor a rehearsal; as I said in a previous blog it was a vote I'd waited a long time to cast. For myself, and no doubt many others, the campaigns didn't always help. The information required for a decision had been gathered, dissected, analysed and weighed in the balance over a long period of time. I gave the European Project a chance, and it was found wanting. The Slovakian Prime Minster, Robert Fico remarked on the 1st of July as his country stepped into the presidency of the European Council there is "too much Brussels in the EU."
Already, the Brexit blame train is under way, market fluctuations, trillions lost off the share value in the stock exchange, all the fault of the Brexit, and amongst the milling throng the ones who hold their cool, wait and mop up after the panic buying and selling calms down. The whole thing was a chance, an opportunity to shift money around and they knew it was coming, and they took it. Give it six months and the market value will be back where it was before, wait and see.
The Leave campaign is being slagged off because they haven't got a plan, no more than it was Remains charge to have a plan for after the vote. Parliament asked the question, Parliament should have a plan, Plan A (Remain) and Plan B (Exit), although the way the screaming hissy fit emanated from London in the wake of the vote you could be excused for thinking they had gone straight to Plan F - ($#!? they voted to go we've got to do it; Plan F; go on, work it out).
Judging by the reaction Plan A went something like, Relax, put the kettle on, have a cup of tea and a digestive.
Plan B was equally simple, standard government buff file with a single piece of paper - Exit; really, you're joking?
You could be fooled into thinking someone had actually started a war, an actual blood and thunder war by some of the media coverage; that we were on the brink of the end of the world as we know it. Strangely that may be so, the world as we know it changed, the relentless march to ever closer political union hit a wall. The establishment walked straight into it and came away with a bloody nose, and the world experienced a WTF! moment.
Commentators have discussed at length the pitfalls and travails that await us as we move forward from the vote, Toxic negotiations with the EU about how we trade with the single market, demands that we go now, or from the Lithuanian angle, clarify the situation regarding the vote, is it binding?
The majority paint a picture of gloom and despondency, dare I say, blood, sweat and tears?
In life there are many things that come down to timing, on the morning of the vote a BBC reporter, Katya Adler asked the European Commission President if this was the end of the European Union
?. She got a curt one word answer before he left the podium.
A question considered unthinkable a few years ago, but explored in a recent BBC The Inquiry
podcast, but maybe now is the time, the euro-sceptic is as widespread across the continent as the Euro-phile.
Historians will pick over the bones of the 23rd June and the months and years ahead, aided by the forensic glare of hindsight, weighing up the odds, balancing the pros and cons seeing the whole story laid out in the tapestry of history, weighing up what Churchill actually meant when he discussed a United Europe, whether he saw us part of it or allied but not bound by it, as a sponsor not a member.
Perhaps it is a question of timing, June 23rd now has another entry for this day in history, then look at the month around it, from the British point of view and its historical relationship with Europe. Topped and tailed by iconic events, It begins with a miraculous escape and ends, as beautifully commemorated by the Ghost Soldiers
who drifted through Britain's railway stations one hundred years to the minute after their countrymen had gone over the top, with a name synonymous with death and destruction.
Tinkering with the psyche of a nation can have strange consequences, book-ended by such iconic events with memories that touch deep personal emotions maybe June was the wrong month, perhaps there isn't a right month to ask the question, especially where the English are concerned.
Immigration may have been the top media topic, but accountability and the democratic remit was also there, Emily Hill writing in The Spectator
explores a social media angle and honesty about revealing voting patterns.
I had chat with a friend the morning of the vote, he'd nipped out for a few minutes to ponder on the result and admitted to feeling like the only one who voted Leave. I told him he wasn't, the Leave vote had been definite in Rotherham, but I know how he felt. It didn't take long to be left feeling the whole of Europe was against us, that we had few friends left in the world, and then the remarks from Commonwealth countries appeared, who didn't seem too upset by the vote.
Familiar tale, stuck on the beach with your back to the tide, all the world against you and nowhere to turn? Does a nation possess a collective psyche, a shared history, a memory that becomes embedded?
The eyes of the world were upon us, we made made the choice and the consensus was that we we're doomed, Captain Mainwaring, Doomed! The pollsters and experts, who got it wrong over the General election and the Referendum were queuing to cast their entrails and bones.
I don't know where it came from, we shook hands and I said to him, "We've stood on this beach before." #littleships
Maybe Churchill can have the last word, whatever the experts may say, "this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning."