Sunday, 26 June 2016

I was going to write something like this... then something else happened

I went to bed around 11pm on Thursday evening. Perhaps a tad later. In any case, at that point it looked for all the world that the Referendum was going to be won by the remain campaign. Close - almost neck and neck even - but in the end it seemed that the early forecasts after the polling stations had closed were indicating that the UK was to remain in the EU.

Well, I felt depressed. As I have previously mentioned, I am a fan of Europe, but not the EU. I felt that there was something exciting and invigorating about the idea of stepping away from a failing system, abandoning the expensive and bureaucratic project and re-forging our path forward in the modern world. As the campaign went on, I felt that the official (and unofficial) leave campaign had won the crucial battles and had the weight of momentum with them. I felt that the country could actually do it. I felt nervous and excited... only... only for some strange things to happen in the final week. And as we hit the final few hours, it seemed that the country had lost it's bottle. That project fear, project grief, project intellectual left, project Richard Branson, project Eddie Izzard, project whatever had combined to sow sufficient doubt in the minds of voters, who had ultimately responded by backing the status quo.

Damn it, even I felt some nerves as I entered the polling station. Am I really going to do this? Do I really want to draw a cross in that particular box? Well, it was of course only a momentary doubt; rather like the doubt one has when handing in one's notice, putting a house up for sale, or deciding on whether to ask someone out for a date. It isn't an indication that it's the wrong thing to do, more of a confirmation of the significance of the decision. In these cases I think it's absolutely normal to feel nervous and to doubt oneself, after all these sorts of decisions require deep though, double-thought and extra treble-thought. Anyway, I came through and stuck to my guns. It seemed, however, that a high number of others had allowed their doubts to change their decision.

So there I was, feeling a sense of emptiness, a sad, hollow sensation altering my mood and creating a dark cloud that crept into my thoughts. This was the chance of a generation and we had bottled it! I sat in front of the television, opened up my iPad and began hammering words as the BBC and Sky News channels continued to blare out the inevitable predictions in the background. I typed frantically for around ten minutes before realising that I was just tired. Tired from the past few weeks of sleeping on the floor of the playroom (long story, separate story) but more importantly, tired of the whole Brexit thing. I just wanted to turn the television off and go to bed. Which is what I did.

I had little idea that I would be woken around six hours later by my wife to tell me that 52% of people had voted to leave the EU. Stiff-limbed and bleary-eyed, I spent several minutes digesting the live reaction on Twitter and then a few more minutes smirking at some of the more farcical comments on Facebook. The world had changed and, though the outcome had been the one I wanted to occur, it had come to pass in an unlikely and dramatic way.

But more of that to follow. I thought I would at least post those words I had started to pen the previous night. They are unedited, somewhat ranty and probably in need of a strong edit and more flow. They are as follows:

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Project Grief. The new left intellectuals win. Out of touch celebrities win. The UK gets what it deserves.

So this is it, we as a nation have fouled up the most amazing opportunity in a generation to rid ourselves of this ridiculous and needless burden of the European Union. It was there on a plate and rather like Stuart Lancaster’s effort at last year’s world cup we have tripped, stumbled, fluffed our lines and collapsed in a pathetic heap right outside the door of hope, only to be swept away in a rubbish cart. It was close – boy was it close – but in the end we failed and it is one single point that matters: we will remain in the wretched thing until it (and or the UK) collapses.

It is easy to dissect why. Too many people lost their nerve at the final hurdle. The legions of rich businessmen, scared and self-interested MPs and out of touch celebrities helped to force opinion, helped along by the murder of Jo Cox and the way that piece of news was processed by the media. But in truth I blame the left and their cynical campaign of preaching that has infiltrated the soul of their country and claimed the centre ground of argument on this topic. The disperate group of people who vote for left wing parties such as Labour, the Greens and such like have all display such degrees of hypocrisy on the topic of democracy and democratic principles that I wonder where it leaves us with any future debate in this country on any topic.

Take the concept of the vote. They criticise the “first past the post” system (because it doesn’t get the results they would prefer), they talk about media bias (despite political correctness being the staple of mainstream media) and they talk about minority representation – women, gay people, faith groups and such like. However, when it comes to the idea of the UK remaining in the European Union, which is an unelected, undemocratic (and bureaucratic) system, led by white middle aged men (all of whom are on massive salaries), they are fully supportive of this principle. Why? Because they don’t like some of the people involved in the Brexit campaign, they hate the ideal of national pride, they are prepared to prostitute their principles for the titbits of policy at the table that match their ideals and they assume that anyone who has the slightest bit of concern regarding immigration must be racist.

Take the concept of immigration then. The United Kingdom, by comparison to most other countries (and certainly those in the EU) over-populated. To break it down further, if one looks at England within the UK, this has a population density higher than even Netherlands. Germany would need to take around 8-9 million migrations just to draw level with the UK, such is the extent of our population growth. The pressure on roads, rail, schools, hospitals, housing and public services is unsustainable. Councils cannot cope with existing cost structures. Road and transport systems are gridlocked. The NHS is creaking. And yet, if we talk about immigration being a cause of over-population, we are branded racist.

The flaw in the left’s “hold my hands over my ears and shriek lalala” approach is that it is of course possible that many of us advocating leave are not actually blaming immigrants. I for one do not. How can you? They are simply filling their boots, taking an opportunity that is presenting itself to them and gaining work where it exists. The blame sits partially with our government in allowing immigration levels to get to the point where our population levels are too high. To a greater extent it lies in the fact that the EU has free movement of people as a central and untouchable policy. This means that the masses will head towards the most attractive locations and that includes the UK (never mind the fact that we are much smaller by landmass than France and Germany). There are still those on the left who would then add that it doesn’t matter if our population density is high because we can still build on green fields and fill in the gaps that remain between cities, towns and villages until we create one huge, sprawling metropolis. These same people campaign to save trees, to stop roads being built and to stop fracking. Conversely they block nuclear power stations and champion hundreds of square miles of green belt land and shorelines to be littered with ineffective wind farms. They turn up in the mud at Glastonbury with their hippy banners and set up roadblocks by gypsy encampments. They don’t know what they want, other than the opposite of anybody not on their side.

We could of course look at the notion of terrorism, extremism and the recent discussion around hate and divisive politics. Over the past week on Twitter I have seen many lefties in outrage at the way that Jo Cox’s death has been covered by the media and in particular comparisons being made with the murderers of Lee Rigby a few years ago. However, one observation I have made is that the general reaction from many of these people in the aftermath of Lee Rigby’s murder was “these people do not represent Islam. Do not tar all Muslims with the same brush.” With Jo Cox’s killer it was “disgusting right wing divisive politics have caused this. Blame Nigel Farage. We must remain in the EU.” Hardly a balanced or consistent viewpoint and hardly a fitting conclusion. Moreover, even Brendan Cox has spent more energy in the week that followed using his wife’s murder to gain points in the remain argument. Cynical doesn’t even cover it. Hypocrisy doesn’t even cover it. I am convinced that somewhere out there is a secret stash of “How to be a Contradictory, Inflammatory and Irritating Lefty” books with a chapter dedicated to stock responses following major news stories. I’d love to get my hands on one...

We could then look at the economy. This idea that if by leaving the EU it means some short term disruption to trading and by extension our economy, it isn’t worth the risk. Really? Are we that short-sighted that we cannot stomach even a tony blip in the long-term interests of this country? Do we really think that Germany and France will stop exporting to us? Do we really think that these trade agreements are worthwhile? Do we really thinking that the economic value of the EU is greater than the US, China, Russia, India, the Far East, South America and others? Do we think that the scale and multiples of the EU actually even exist when one considers the countries likely to join in the future? Turkey? Albania? Do we really think that the single currency has been anything other than a disaster when tied into various economic lifecycles of countries so diverse in their socio-economic makeup, GDP and economic balance that all it is doing is requiring constant bale-outs? Well now, of course if you are left-wing you ignore all of this because the only things that matter from an economic standpoint is that we spend huge amounts of money on welfare, we raise taxes for anyone earning a modest income of higher and we burn effigies of Tory and UKIP MPs. I constantly read people posting about how “if Michael Gove and Nigel Farage are voting out then I’m voting remain.” Do me a favour – are we that bitter and twisted these days that we have to play a childish game of opposites just to score mind points against populist figures of hate? Isn’t that the very idea of divisive politics that lefties are against? Then we have the absurd “if we vote to leave then we vote for Nigel Farage as our next leader.” Hardly. For one, he isn’t even an MP. Secondly, I would question the need for UKIP to exist as a mainstream party if we voted out. Thirdly, the point is that you at least have the choice. You can vote for him and his party or you can vote for someone else. With the EU you don’t get a vote.

This referendum was always going to be close. In the end the remains won. But I’ll say this... there will be many people – in fact a huge number of those who voted remain – who in years to come will rue their decision. Perhaps they are young and with experience they will look back with regret. Perhaps they have children and they will have to look back and explain to them how they failed them. Perhaps they will suffer as a result of failed public services or a lack of housing. Perhaps they will suffer even greater economic hardships when the EU eventually collapses.

And I will have no sympathy. People of the UK – you got what you deserve.