Brexit crawls on at soul-destroying pace. The UK is slowly but surely tearing itself apart. Friends and families are divided and those in power, the Tory Party, turn on each other with the ferocity of zombies at a vegan buffet, in petty attempts to deflect blame and silence critics.
Many, myself included, have had bitter rows with friends and family. I no longer have any contact with my first cousin once removed; someone, who until the build-up to Brexit, I’d gotten on with very well with; and last night I made a point of not mentioning Brexit to a friend at a works do which seemed bizarre as we’d both describe ourselves as ‘lefties,’ but have very different views when it comes to Brexit.
Those of us on the left, left of centre, and even those in the centre (bloody fence sitters) all agree that the benefits of remaining in the EU far outweigh any negatives. We pretty much all agree that remaining members of the EU, and changing it from within, is the grown-up thing to do. From within the EU, as full members, we have a voice and can influence policies, laws, procedures etc. and we benefit from the freedom of movement of people and goods, and generally being part of something that is bigger than us alone – there is power in a union.
However, as we saw in the lead up to the referendum those of us on the left can be very blinkered in our reading of a situation. Just because we can see beyond a shadow of a doubt how beneficial our membership of the EU is that doesn’t mean that the average UK citizen can. Us lefties tend to live in cities where we are used to sharing ideas and living alongside other cultures; we can see through the fear-mills of the Daily Mail, Telegraph, and The Sun. When we see a post on social media about cities such as Birmingham, where I live, being no-go-zones for non-muslims we laugh at the ridiculousness of it all, but the average white UK citizen living in Lowestoft, Ipswich, Skegness, Hemel Hempstead, Swindon, and so on (disclaimer: I’ve just plucked those names out of thin air. However, I do believe there was a large proportion of pro-Brexit voters living in predominately white areas) believe it and fear for their own communities. These are the people that the pro-Brexit campaign has targeted and they haven’t gone away.
There have been lots of calls from those on the left and elsewhere that are pro-EU for the Labour Party and in particular Jeremy Corbyn to do something regarding Brexit. I know people who have torn up their Labour Party membership over this that they feel so strongly about it. But what can a Party in opposition do other than weaken its hand by sharing it? Those of us in our Brexit-bubble see this battle as won. We’re making the same mistakes that we made during Ed Miliband’s election campaign and during the Brexit campaign. The average white Brit is still eating and drinking in Wetherspoons. So what? Visit one; I did today. I’m feeling a bit worse-for-wear after a night’s drinking and dancing and decided to go and have a cooked breakfast down the high street and was lured in by the very reasonable prices. I wasn’t shocked by what I saw more reminded of how far I’d come.
I was brought up in a loving white working-class family. There was mild racism, sexism and homophobia, but generally, the view was that if you worked hard, everything would be fine. I knew black and Asian people, but you could count their number on one hand as my school was predominately white. I had a paper-round from a young age and soon discovered there was a big difference in incomes/aspirations within my small area. When I was older I worked with my father briefly on building sites lugging slabs and sand. The workers were once again mainly white and The Sun and Daily Mail newspapers were handed around in the hut when the men shared tea and stories. What never ceases to amaze me is that these men believed what they read in these papers. Today, it isn’t just newspapers where people get their news, but these groups of people still buy these papers and still swallow their lies whole.
I digress. Back in Wetherspoons today I was struck by the very narrow band of the clientele: white men in their late twenties to late fifties, some of them drinking lager at ten o’clock in the morning. I ordered my breakfast and found myself a table. “Newspaper here if you want it, mate?” said a white male in his mid-thirties wearing paint-spattered clothing. I thanked him for it, sipped my black coffee and did something I haven’t done in years, opened up a copy of The Sun.
I was pleased to see that Page 3 had gone. There was still an attractive/glamorous/young/vulnerable woman on Page 3, but she was not displaying her naked mammary glands as if they were a tray of sweets that needed to be licked. She was still highly sexualised and displaying a lot of cleavage for such a cold day, but I digress again.
I chucked the paper away and started to eat my breakfast, and I spotted something that I had a vague recollection of hearing about but had never seen. On the table, along with the menus, was what initially I thought was another menu, but was, in fact, a four-page booklet that waxed lyrical about how great things will be once we leave the EU. It mocked Theresa May, (easily done I know) and banged on and on about how wonderful things will be when we have free-trade with the rest of the world and escape the evil EU. If you’re feeling brave go onto the Wetherspoons website. The top half of the home page has nothing to do with food or drink. The first half of the home page is pro-Brexit and carries the headline: No Deal Is Better Than A Deal.
So what? These people are idiots. I prefer to think they’re poorly educated and that it’s easier for them to think in black and white terms and to be able to blame one bogeyman for all their ills. Whatever their reason they’re still out there and they still believe that the EU is responsible for all the shit in their lives and they will still vote for Brexit.
So, where the hell was I going with this? I think, in my own rambling way, I wanted to point out that once again we’re living in our Facebook bubble and assume a war is won before we even decide what weapons to take. This sad and sorry shit-storm is far from over. I like to believe that Brexit will be stopped, but I really don’t know at this stage. One thing I do know though is that blaming it all on the Labour Party only helps the shits who created this mess in the first place. Stay united. Stay strong and remember…
Sung to the tune of Billy Bragg’s North Sea Bubble.
“We’re living in a Brexit bubble, trying to Facebook our way out of trouble…”