I fear the future, for the first time…
“Systematic overthrow of the underclass
Hollywood conjures images of the past
New world needs spiritually
That will last
I’ve seen the future and it will be
I’ve seen the future and it will be
I’ve seen the future and it will be” (The Future, Prince)
Today the UK goes to the polls to make its will known as an electorate, as a people, with regard to our relationship with the European Union. It is no exaggeration to characterise this day as the most significant day in my country’s recent history, say the last forty years, in terms of geopolitics, in terms of our short and long term economic future and most importantly in terms of our national identity.
I am a long way from home. In January 2015, I brought my family out to Manila, in The Philippines, to pursue a job opportunity and the experience of living not just abroad, but in a completely new part of the World, in pursuit of a broader horizon. That decision, that move, has had wonderful and not-so-wonderful results, but overall it has been and continues to be good, and maybe at some point I will write about that some more, but there is one defining truth about this experience for me. I am no longer in any doubt that a very large number of British people have no idea how good they have it on the following fronts:
- The Rule of Law.
- Freedom of Movement.
- Unrestricted Trade
I am not going to go into a great deal of detail about each of these, you can almost certainly fill in the blanks for yourselves, and while I accept that numbers 4,5 and 6 could and indeed should, be better, you had better believe that they could be an awful lot worse.
So, as I look back at my country, and I see the shameful rhetoric employed by the Leave campaign, those plucky Brexiteers fighting to persuade the people of Britain that “taking back our country” has any meaning at all, I am sad and scared and filled with rage that this has even been allowed to come to pass.
For the sake of a meaningless political point that seems only likely to serve the wealthy (and I mean the disturbingly wealthy, not the comfortably off here), the financial industry and the right-wing media, we have allowed the political landscape of our country to slew so hard to the right that even the crypto-racists are really just racists now and I find myself on the same side of the argument as David Cameron. Really, aside from the leftie echo-chamber of my Facebook circle it would appear that Britain just has the Right, the Far Right and the Further Right to pick from, and somewhere along the line it became acceptable to move from patriotism to jingoism and xenophobia, and from discourse to lies.
I am watching from afar, terrified that my country may be about to make two terrible mistakes in one, with the casual, unprepared, thoughtless and ignorant ticking of the wrong box.
Not only would the UK leaving the EU be disastrous economically for the UK and Europe alike, but it would trigger a hard tilt to the Right in our Government that would likely then proceed unchecked until at least 2020. By choosing to Leave, by voting for Brexit, the British electorate would be ending David Cameron’s time as Prime Minister, and almost certainly elevating a Demon made Flesh* to the highest office in the land with almost no viable option for re-call until another four years have passed. The existing moderates in Government would be cleared out to make way for some of the most disturbing NeoLiberal ideologues that British politics has ever seen, and the post-coalition austerity horror (that was a bad enough shock after the 2015 election stripped the government of its Liberal limiter) will seem like tea and cakes in the park on a summer’s day compared to what will follow. If you want to blame someone for the state of Britain’s infrastructure and the NHS and the schools, look to the NeoLiberal policies of the last thirty years and the post-recession policies of the last six. Europe has got nothing to do with it, we voted for what we have now; we brought it on ourselves.
All of this on a roll of the dice. All of this to ensure a majority government by offering a sop to the Far and Further Right as a reason to vote Conservative instead of UKIP in last year’s election. I am in dismay that David Cameron had the arrogance to assume that he would win this with room to spare and so set it up as a straight 50/50 majority referendum.
I am clinging to the glimmer of hope that in the moment, in the calm of the voting booth, the more moderate Middle-England voters will veer back to safe ground and even though they don’t like Brussels telling us how to make our sausages** they don’t like the look of that Gove chap and can’t imagine Boris as PM, so perhaps the Devil one knows and we can always leave later on anyway, right?
My country needs to stop believing that we can all become rich by allowing the rich to live unchecked. My country needs to accept that no one needs to be so wealthy that they are beyond the reach of countries to control, and that re-distributing that wealth while still allowing for people to be financially successful and secure based on their efforts is not a bad idea. My country has to stop believing that the media has any kind of allegiance to the public or the truth, as a whole, or that any issue that affects the lives of our people and the people living in the rest of the World can be properly communicated in a ten word answer, or a slogan, or a warcry.
I am scared, and I do not want to be.
I want to believe that my country and hopefully soon after the rest of the World is ready to go to the next level, ready to embrace the idea that what we have we can share, and that doing so is not weakness but strength. That we are all one people, that while our disparate cultures and traditions have value they do not need to divide us, and that the future is only going to be worth living in if we start behaving as though getting things done and making everyone’s lives better is more important than climbing onto a pile of gold and then worrying endlessly about thieves.
Vote, at the very least don’t be one of those people that could not be bothered, but if you want to live in a World built on cooperation, and freedom and decency, please vote Remain, even if you don’t like the current structure of the EU, because it is a better hope for what you want than the UK pulling up the drawbridge and trying to go it alone.
* Boris Johnson, former Mayor of London and famous professional liar — I am not actually saying he is an infernal being, I am borrowing from the late great Bill Hicks when he railed against “demons let loose upon the Earth to lower the standards”
** This, along with most of the claims levelled against the EU by the Leave campaign is utter tosh, but things like this are still trotted out by bumbling half-wits who don’t seem to realise that the EU actually does more to preserve cultural heritage and things like unique foods and cuisines than any individual government ever would.