The Judge RANTS!
"We 'Ope It Rains! We 'Ope All t'Donkeys Are Dead!"
(From the preamble to Talking Blackpool Blues by Mike Harding)
This piece has been simmering away in the background for a good few weeks now, but I can think of no better day than that of Chairwoman May's Great Leap Backwards to turn up the gas and bring it to the boil.
I'll put this as plainly as I can:
I want 'Brexit' to fail.
I want it to fail catastrophically.
I want it to crash and burn and hurt.
I want my Arma-rah-rah-geddon and I want it...well, actually, I don't mind waiting a year or so.
Despite appearances to the contrary, I'm not really all that misanthropic; I leave that to those who have mastered that arcane skill, such as Philip Challinor (who has yet another book out, by the way). But recent events and the sight of people who are supposedly sufficiently rational and intelligent to be able to put one foot in front of the other without shooting themselves in either one cheering on the reckless driver who's just about to send the Big Red Bus they're all riding on over a cliff in the name of a mass delusion have been sufficient to induce a sense of revulsion towards my fellow human beings in the mass and in the round which even the most hardened of hermits would consider a bit much.
I could say that there were three elements to my desire for cataclysm; the moral, the political and the sociological. The three intersect in places to form a Venn diagram of Vituperation and Viciousness.
Firstly, there is the moral dimension (or, given that the word 'moral' has unfortunate connotations as being the term commonly used for opprobrium towards others by self-righteous and usually superstition-soaked individuals who hope that no-one will ever explore the wilder shores of their own unusual activities, perhaps I should instead use the word 'ethical'). Either way, I want to see 'Brexit' disintegrate because it is a stupid, repulsive and utterly destructive notion which was sold on a prospectus which those promoting it knew to be fraudulent.
Besides which, it's a vile word - albeit isomorphically so, describing as it does a vile concept - which offends against communication, culture and taste in equal proportions.
Secondly, there is the political element. It was the weakness and cowardice of politicians which started all this off, with David Cameron - a sort of shiny Anthony Eden without the gravitas - not having the degree of simple courage required to face down the hooting and baying extremists of his own party and dare them to do their worst. That and the need to settle old playground scores on the widest possible playing field, of course; that of a whole country.
Having set that myxomatotic rabbit loose (*), it was duly pursued by a pack of mad, yapping mongrels, led of course by that most patriotic element of the British Press which is owned by foreigners, convenient non-doms and other dodgers. With the half-breed jackals in full cry, the scene was set for a smörgåsbord of screaming headlines, frothing columnists and Union Jacking-off which devoured the moon and blotted out the sun for months; and not even the murder of a Member of Parliament almost on the eve of the vote was able to bring a degree of abatement to the fever of fatuity which bedewed the frowning brow of the land's body politic. With all the flag-waving (and shroud-waving) we were in the presence of a sort of millenial cult; one which could not be forestalled by any appeal to rational thought or even a sense of general self-preservation. The Cause Was Right; The Cause Was Righteous; The Cause Was All.
Naturally, this was all followed (and 'followed' is, I believe, the mot juste here) by politicians of almost every wing of the Great British Consensus, from the frothing Right to the pooting Left (†), from those who saw the EU as a conspiracy to water down the sacred bodily fluids of the British Race to those who viewed the organisation as a mere plaything of The Boss Class™. From the Monday Club to the Morning Star, extremists at both ends promulgated their spectacularly monocular views. And, caught up in their wake, bobbing along like turds on a seashore in the days before all those nasty foreigners made us clean our beaches up, came the so-called 'mainstream', 'respectable' politicos, most of them far too frit to say boo to a goosestepper for fear of being labelled 'unpatriotic' (in this wise - as in many others - our polity has come ever more closely to resemble that of that great Failed Experiment across the water; at least here, they don't invoke Jesus...yet).
Those few who were willing publicly to break ranks with this phalanx of phalange-phellators were, of course, under-reported when they could be heard at all. Volume and certainty (even if that latter attribute had to be faked) counted for everything, and the word 'expert' became a term of vulgar abuse.
And opportunism ruled, naturally; from allegedly 'progressive' politicians such as the German-born Gisela Stuart backing Retreat to the famed Boris Johnson switching sides as soon as he realised that that would be the most advantageous to his inveterate status-seeking.
Between the fundamentalist shouters on the one side and the faint-hearted and faint-voiced on the other, they managed to persuade just about enough of the electorate to vote to eat their own children alive (it's The British Way!). Which is why I look forward to the possibility (even if it's no more than that) of the opportunists and cowards alike each getting the electoral equivalent of a lamp-post and a length of rope of their very own.
This brings me to my third and final element, the one which has caused my contempt glands to swell up to grapefruit dimensions.
The Great British Public, taken individually, are much like people the world over; some are near-saints, others are condign arseholes, and most are on the sliding scale inbetween. En masse, however, they have never been quite as enlightened or thoughtful as they have deluded themselves into thinking themselves as being. As they have proven most conclusively in the last nine months or so. It has taken scarcely one whole year for them to reveal themselves in their true narrow, provincial, atavistic and hateful colours. The huge upswing in racially-motivated attacks in the aftermath of what will - with 20/20 hindsight - be known to historians as That Fucking Stupid Referendum; the tabloidese crowing of the True Believers as they rail on social media and elsewhere against 'Remoaners', 'liberals' and 'enemies of The People' (completely oblivious to the obvious irony of their use of a hard-left cliché to damn those to the left of them); the classification even of those who voice a slight degree of doubt about the wisdom of the One True Way And Life as 'traitors'. All of these manifestations lead me to wish a malignant fate on them all.
And so I desire for Nissan to walk away from Sunderland and leave a few thousand more people up there scratching around for a living; I want the big finance firms in that most mephitically malign of metropoleis (‡) to up-sticks for Frankfurt, Paris or Dublin; I wish for the people of such backwaters of bitterness as Lincolnshire to find out what it is like to be forced on pain of penury to toil in those cabbage fields for next to no income because all of those who have been doing the back-breaking work there for years have been kicked out at their behest (**); I want the population of that increasingly mythical entity calling itself 'Wales' to discover that, if they thought that Brussels was bad (despite EU funding being the only thing which has kept their towns viable for decades), that is nothing compared to what a no-longer-constrained, parsimonious and openly contemptuous Westminster has in store for them, especially if (or when) not only Scotland but Northern Ireland decide that communal self-immolation in the name of a 'Union' in name only is A Bad Thing.
I want it to hurt, and hurt badly.
Why? To teach a few lessons. The lessons we learnt the most fully and deeply are often the ones the learning of which has caused us the most pain.
And so, the pain caused by the full ramifications of the Glorious New Age Of Great British Independence upon which we have now embarked might - and even so, I admit it's a long shot - usefully instruct The People Whose Will Must Be Acceded To Even If They've Gone Collectively Batshit in a few important respects:
- They might realise that the ills of their society are almost wholly the fault of the élite against which they rail, but whom they have just further empowered,
- It may occur to them that they are far too easily manipulated by those intertwined Boys In The Bubble of politics, media and commerce, and that those with power know this full well,
- That it might be perceived even in the fabled 'Wales' - yea even in the storied and sacred Valleys thereof - that being a good little doggy to Westminster and Dying For The Queen only leads to your having your tail docked, your balls cut off and finally being put down when you become an inconvenience or an encumbrance to them. Instead of (to use Victor Lewis Smith's formulation for this last event) Timmy the dog having "gone to a farm in Wales" as a way of covering up his trip to the knackers' yard, Timmy the dog is Wales and the same euthanasia awaits,
- And finally, that the lesson might finally hit home that - for all the unwarranted sense of entitlement, for all the feelings of unsustainable superiority, for all the warm feeling of considering themselves The Favoured Ones - actions have responsibilities which cannot be evaded and that - in future - no-one should treat either an election or a referendum as if they were just voting someone off a fucking game show.
I have no very great hopes for all this, of course. It will be all too easy once again for those wishing to protect their power, wealth and privilege to get The People either to fight one another like rats in a sack, or to turn their rage on the Other Of The Week, however harmless the members of that Other may actually be.
I want it to hurt them. But I want it to hurt us, too. 'Us' in this case meaning those who claim to have firm progressive ideals but seem to hold back from expressing them and promoting them with the proper force out of either cowardice, or fear, or of thinking that it isn't quait polaite to be so forward. We have let our enemies take the lead, take the field, almost take the whole war. In getting ourselves nettled, therefore, let us learn that the battles must be fought, and fought with all the means at our disposal. Otherwise, we deserve what we get - and worse.
(* I know that the standard phrase in English is "set the hare running", but hares don't get that disease, and one should never pass up the opportunity to use a word like 'myxomatotic' even if one has to invent the bugger oneself).
(† to be distinguished from the Vladimir Pooting Left).
(‡ I didn't make that one up).
(** hence the satirical 'Brexit' Valentine's card which read, "Roses are red, violets imported/You voted to have the florist deported").