Sunday, June 26, 2016

Brexit, stage left

As a West Brom fan and Labour voter I’m fairly accustomed to losing. I’m used to the pit-of-the-stomach dread that accompanies the diminishing light of night and the harsh glow of dawn once the polls have closed and the floodlights switched off.

It’s no better when you know it’s going to happen. Anticipating defeat doesn’t make it any easier. Often I’ve placed money in bets for the results I feared, hoping that this would soften the blow. It never does but at least my Brexit ‘winnings’ enabled me to buy a few beers to help me forget the outcome, temporarily.
I first wrote about my fears for this Euro-referendum two years ago. It seemed painfully obvious to me that if no-one explained the benefits of membership then the constant drip-feed of anti-EU sentiment would go unchallenged and we’d skate out without a second thought.

So it was. Of course it was considerably more complex than that. Faced with domestic challenges it suited our political overlords to lay blame at the door of the EU rather than accept their share. Rather than delivering a northern powerhouse they’d given us a northern poorhouse. Yes, the economy is faltering and we don’t make or own very much but here’s a story about bananas and some misplaced fear of immigrants to distract you.


All the anti-EU campaign had to do was adopt the Conservative election trick of nominating a large fiscal number, incomprehensible to the average man but relatively small in the scheme of international finance. It didn’t even matter if it was true, truth is the first casualty of war and corrections can be made in small print.


Since we all like big numbers so much perhaps we should’ve concentrated on the £35bn balance of trade deficit in the first quarter of 2016. We import more than we export and one of our main sources of generation is services, some of which will be lost by an exit vote. No-one seemed to be making these salient points, leaving the bulk of the electorate to their own prejudices.

It probably wouldn’t have mattered; most people’s minds seemed set some time ago. Impervious to reason or rational debate, almost everyone I encountered was absolutely intransigent. Britain does have a history of voting for punishment, as if the electorate are wilfully masochistic like the criminally insane Leavers of Ebbw Vale. It seems always to have been that way, just as in the 80s when we’d have been better voting for a party to protect industry people chose tax cuts and the free market instead.

Perhaps they were right. No-one has any plans to revitalise British industry. British business owners just want to move manufacturing abroad and rape/abandon the pension fund. Like many in the out camp they had their own interests considerably ahead of our best.

Boris didn’t even want to win. Under a year ago he’d rubbished the thought of leaving Europe noting, correctly, that it would tie Government up in legal and procedural knots for years. His was political opportunism of the worst kind, he only wanted to destabilise Cameron to get a chance at being PM. He may have got a lot more than he bargained for.
It was a game of chance, trying to judge the risk against the outcome. On that very basis it was foolish to give the choice to the largely uneducated. That’s democracy I’m told. Long may we revel in it.



Only sorrow, no tomorrow.

 

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