Non,je ne regrette rien
This blog was first published on 22/06/2016
I’ve never considered myself British. That might appear an incendiary statement on a day like today, but it’s true. I don’t do Union Jacks, bunting or royalty. I’m partial to a Victoria sponge but that’s cake. I neither have nor admire a stiff upper lip, I think God Save the Queen is a dirge and I instantly recoil when faced with any of the above. Except the cake, obviously.
The tone of this campaign has been dreadful, from both sides. On the Leave side, it has been less about a democratic deficit which it can be argued exists within the EU, and more about a tangible racist surplus which taints many of its followers and leaders. On the Remain side, a line up of Tories, business ‘leaders’, big banks and the IMF are lecturing us all in a patrician, ‘Father knows best’ style. Both put me off, but the former is worse than the latter.
I’m not accusing everyone who is thinking of voting to leave of being a racist, far from it. That is too simplistic, and as someone who voted for Scottish independence in 2014, I understand a vote for change, just change. But Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Michael Gove will not spend the money they claim will be saved from EU membership on hospitals and public services. They will do as they always have and cut, slash and punish those less well off and give tax cuts and breaks to their mates. You only have to look at what they have done before and the party to which they belong.
There is a left exit case to be made, but it hasn’t been. I’m far from comfortable with issues such as TTIP, the treatment of Greece and youth unemployment figures across Europe. Reform is needed, but consensus is the key. Not leaving in a fit of pique, like the spoiled child who begs for a birthday party and then sits it out because it hasn’t gone exactly how they want it to.
Also, Europe hasn’t been at war in my lifetime, unlike in my parents, both children of WW2. I know which way they would be voting. My mum, who was a lady from her tootsies to her fingertips, only ever sneered when she saw politicians lie to the populace. She reserved a special contempt for Thatcher. Wonder where I got that from.
And I like being European, it feels loose and edgy and fun. It feels like sitting outside in a cafe in Barcelona, eating tapas and drinking a cerveza. It feels like this and it feels free. The British image we are asked to prescribe to feels narrow and constricting. Pipe down. Know your place.
Sorry folks, not for me. Never has been, never will be. I’m remaining.