The Cliffhanger

Day 2. With the dust still settling, the hangover begins.

This all feels a bit like The Italian Job cliffhanger, except the British economy, and its civility, sits roadside, and it’s the disenfranchised and elderly walking over the edge.

I wonder if now the consequences of this decision are clearer —in part thanks to the furious googling, embarrassingly, after the event – would Joe Public still shuffle to the other end of the bus?

Brexiter Mandy Suthi and family wouldn’t. “The facts are coming in now and our eyes are actually open” she bemoaned. Only the facts were there all along for those who sought them, though in fairness they were less exciting than the fervour-inducing mis-truths Leave sensationalised.

“The most dangerous creation of any society is the man who has nothing to lose”, warned James Arthur Baldwin. Here lies the real issue – the Tory-Remain camps utter failure to admit the suffering rolling austerity continues to have on those micro economies outside its prospering capital have ultimately been its, and our, downfall.

‘This was a working-class revolt, but it is not a working-class victory. That’s the tragedy here. The collective howl of rage from depressed, deindustrialised parts of the country bled white and reckless by Thatcher, Blair and Cameron has turned into a triumph for another set of elites. Another banking crisis, another old Etonian in power – that’s what we’ve got to look forward to as Scotland decides when to let go of the rope and the union splinters into jagged shards and we all realise we’re stuck on a rainy rock with Michael Gove, forever.’

The realisation that this is more like self-destruct than victory for the ‘ordinary, decent people’ Leave championed starts to sink in with market volatility likely to significantly impact both state and private pensions and the uncertainty impacting employment and business investment. Within hours of the verdict, Leave leadership demonstrated the lack of integrity transparent to Remainers all along, with the referendum verdict being used to tear down what is left of the left and build up what is rising, far right.

Interesting that a referendum is not binding, and is actually more of an extraordinarily expensive opinion poll, according to Anthony Hilton in the Evening Standard. Despite leave cries that Parliament has lost ‘sovereignty’, it has plenty enough to veto the vote and return to status quo. Though, the loss of public trust would be but one of the consequences of ignoring the mass’ will. Shop windows would surely follow.

Should social media accept a sizeable portion of responsibility here? A busy population increasingly relies on Facebook for news and current affairs – how many of us were lulled into a false sense of security by its algorithms, delivering only what we wanted to hear? Or has have we built this narrow frame of reference ourselves by associating with people that share (and share) our point of view? Unlikely this accounts for anywhere close to the 28% of no-shows, but political internet conspiracy theories are not new, with Harvard Law Professor Jonathan Zittrain exploration into how Google and Facebook can manipulate elections and the recent accusations of Google manipulating Hillary’s searches. Tin foil hats at the ready…

One thing I am grateful for over the past fortnight, and Facebook can accept some praise here, is how it now feels as though an apathetic generation has been politically awakened. Every act of democracy matters —people died for this right – but democracy needs to be honoured with effort. Truth often need to be sought out, as facts are not always forthcoming, which has been evident throughout these campaigns. The residual feeling of helplessness, disappointment and frustration will no doubt live on beyond June 24th through posts such as this, and as a consequence perhaps the Mandy Suthi’s of this world will take their responsibility a little more seriously next time.

I have read more on this subject than I could possibly share in one go – the gift and curse of a workaholic on vacation is idle time. But if you read just one of the articles linked in this thread, I suggest this post in The New Statesman: ‘I want my country back’, by Laurie Penny.

“I believe we can still be better than this. I want my country back, and it’s a country I’ve never known, and getting there will take more strength, more kindness, more resilience than this divided nation has mustered in living memory.”

I feel even more helpless writing this from Greece – as London burns, I shall now return to my lounger to do the same. I’d like to promise this will be the last of me on this subject but, with 7 days left in paradise, and the enormity of the problem back home, it probably won’t be.

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