Here we are. The Post-Brexit world, the birds are still singing, the pound has stuttered, Labour capitulates, it’s still raining and one Etonian PM looks set to be replaced by another.
The divorce was bound to be one of anger and disbelief and we must offer a little grace to the bewildered 48% that woke to a country they didn’t recognise, myself included. Already we have heard calls for a second referendum, protests over the voting age at both ends of the spectrum and stark lines being drawn between far removed sects of society. We have received confirmation from the Leave campaign that those coolly worded claims about our new independence weren’t quite what we thought they were. Free movement of labour may continue, our newfound funds may not find themselves supporting welfare after all.
What we can be sure of is that if we pat ourselves on the back, congratulate each other on democracy robustly applied and assume our submissive roles again the status quo will remain and the issues that bred a working class resurgence will be buffered by a return to the norm. As Boris Johnson and Michael Gove ready themselves to take the helm we can’t expect anything else; our housing crisis will escalate alongside our shortage of teachers and communities that have been stripped bare and abandoned for decades will continue to deteriorate. Relationships between the young and the old, between domestic and migrant populations and across divisions of race, class and birthplace will sustain and grow as a long as we turn a blind eye to their causes.
So what are the causes? And how do we make sure that the poisonous flow of inequality, poverty and disillusion is cleansed at the source?
We must seek to return a legitimate and representative government to the commons, engage our population again in the decisions that affect us and stem the insecurities set upon the working class that have led to the demonization of the other. In eliminating the causes and prevalence of fear, perhaps it is possible to lay the grounds for a closer and more prosperous society.
In the final days of the referendum from each camp came the same rallying cry; that this was not like a general election, that every vote mattered. They said your vote could make the difference, that we are valued as a country, not as constituencies. What a farce this is, that we might hail such an occasion as we do; its opulence casts our democracy in the shade.
We cannot as a nation rail for sovereignty and then go quiet when a verdict arrives. If you are to pursue independence in a referendum that only serves to lay its foundations you must come out swinging on the other side and carry your convictions. An exit from the EU will not grant the people of the United Kingdom self-determination, for that we must delve deeper, we must review and deconstruct the systemic vessels that carry in them the ever tightening concentration of wealth and power and all it fashions. By way of our referendum we have turned our continent onto choppy straits, if we take our hands from the wheel now it will be retained by the same institutions that lead it to the precipice, the established position will be consolidated and nothing will change.
In doing so we can rid ourselves of the myth that democracy is an entity that we are allowed to engage in every five years, one in which we reluctantly pick the candidate we think will do us over with a little less vigour and a little less spite. A resurrection in direct action and locally-led decision making can lay to rest the anger entrenched in the 52% of our population that felt this power had been taken away.
During the campaigns built around our referendum each side swore to economic figures and statistics on immigration, they hysterically reported on swathes of refugees and pointed to our buckling NHS whilst neglecting to offer any legitimate context at all. The BBC and their cohorts dare not mention military intervention or the climate crisis as to why we have seen these symptoms bubble to the surface and across the Mediterranean, it is not part of the script and is casually, carefully omitted from our screens and papers.
On a vote that found itself with its stall set on immigration, it is clear we are a country afraid. In order to look outward again we must seek to distinguish this fear. We have not found ourselves in a country terrified of migrants because we are inherently racist, we fear they are taking from us, our jobs and our welfare. It is stoked further still in the fear there may be terrorists among them, that they carry dangerous, foreign ideologies, are here to do us harm and to topple our way of life. In order to eradicate these misconceptions we must pave the way for objective, information based broadcasting. As long as we allow organisations to escalate these fears and sell us half-truths and alarmist propaganda our self-determination will always be vulnerable, if not entirely false.
Well publicised drawings of rats among immigrants published by spurious outlets are of the same ilk as the disgraceful, if unsurprising comments made by Sajid Javid yesterday morning. When asked if he believed the words he uttered a few weeks ago, his response was as follows “I think it’s wrong to accuse anyone on either side of dishonesty, it was a robust campaign there were a lot of emotions on all sides, the campaign is now over… …that issue is over”. The pictures posted by the mail and the entire campaign is being swept under the rug, the deceit by politicians is ‘rectified’ to use the euphemism adopted by Orwell’s Ministry of Truth and until we hold this deceit to the light and demand restitution we cannot possibly engage in autonomy.
This is not of course to say that the very real weathering of our derelict welfare state is not a cause for concern, nor that international terrorism can be ignored; we fear a future in which the home-owner is a relic of the past, in which a world leading, efficient NHS dissipates and our schools burst at the seams. In order to relinquish from our hearts those last remnants of fear we must build a road map that insists our housing, our health service and our welfare are supported, that our communities are restored as places that can offer a community, that we stem the sources of international terrorism, condemning, not supporting those nations that fund it, we must stop selling weapons to the perpetrators of alleged war-crimes that so fan the flames of hatred and we must stop supporting unstable factions in a conflict waged on a separate continent of sovereign nations. When we are no longer in the business of destabilising entire countries and stoking conflict across a desperate region we might begin to slow the cycle that has led to growing suspicion and a scramble for security at home.
In order to encourage such a cultural shift we will need patience and secure funding, both are at our disposal. Come the end we might find ourselves in a warmer and more welcoming place, one fuelled by security and shared values.
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