It started with the demonisation of the lowest paid and those on benefits. The poverty porn TV industry, maybe well intentioned in concept, simply depicted the extremes as the norm, complex lives and poverty carefully edited and presented in a simple way for judgemental public consumption. “They can’t be that badly off they have a mobile phone and a packet of fags”.
We saw the effects of austerity, the bedroom tax, making lives difficult for the disabled and sick whilst those in the top echelons of banking who caused the 2008 worldwide crash with their use of our economic system as a personal global casino seemed to simply bounce back and get even further ahead than they were when they started. No penalties for these guys.
Then the summer of 2015 came, I remember it so well, I had been gradually more and more alarmed to see the dehumanisation of refugees as the crisis of the summer unfolded. Cameron talked of people swarming. The hysterical newspaper headlines caused unnecessary fear and terror in the hearts of people, a fear fanned by commentators of hate and contrarians on tv radio and social media. We all know who they are. Complex human stories distilled down into a binary presentation for judgemental public consumption.
All this against the backdrop of Cameron running around talking to the EU at the behest of the ERG in his own party. Having promised his eurosceptics progress, he brought home concessions they all howled at, but they were always going to howl. That was the point of them. If they did not shake their fists angrily from the sidelines in tandem with Farage and UKIP what was the point of the them? Cameron was trapped by his own cleverclogs game playing. Having unexpectedly won a majority in the election and having pandered to the right of his party he was cornered and forced us into the EU referendum we didn’t need or want.
Well you know the rest of the story. Disenfranchisement, lying, cheating and hatemongering got the brextremists over the line, just.
So now we are here. After 3 years, it’s become so crystal clear that leaving the EU is a rather stupid and damaging idea that the Brexit cultists terrified of losing their precious have now doubled down and turned it into a mission of brexit purism and national do or die and played into the the darkest parts of the our society, exploiting divisions, exploiting peoples prejudices, exploiting people’s apathy and boredom and getting in the way of sensible debate. They have filled parliament with doom and gloom, paralysed it because it is torn apart by the reality of what is right for the country and the angry emails from constituents who think the EU stopped them having their fish and chips wrapped in newspaper, or maybe constituents who just want to stop seeing foreigners on their bus but they don’t want to admit it and seize on the Brexit lies about bananas to cover up their their own lack of self awareness.
There is no form of brexit which is good for us as a nation. Everybody in Parliament knows that. Some don’t care because it is good for them or they see it as a route to something they want. Thats the bottom line.
The cultists look to the USA and point and say what a wonderful deal we can do there. But look now. A presidential rally descended into a fascfest of chanting the most famous racist trope every. No more dogwhistles there. Only naked racism and prejudice. I hope the Americans get a grip of this slide into this type of politics but the point is we have absolutely no power or say in that, we have no votes there. We have no influence no matter what the Faragists and ERG say. We have no idea where the US are going or where they will end up. We are not partners. We are not members of a trading bloc with them. We have history but it seems to me the current occupant of the White House isn’t much interested in history.
The US president has shown himself to be unpredictable when dealing with other nations. His administration is America First in instinct. There could not be a worse administration to be trying to do an FTA with. Let’s be honest if our negotiators couldn’t even negotiate a Withdrawal agreement with the EU which parliament is happy with, I am unsure why brexiters, particularly the no-deal adherents, are so sure they will be hugely successful in getting an advantageous deal from a world power which is interested only in growing its own power and influence and domestic employment and wealth.
No-deal Brexit is a failure, it’s the manifestation of the weakness of the position brexiters themselves put us in trying to chase rainbows down for that illusory pot of gold. My guess is when talking to the US, the negotiations would go on for some years and in the end we will have to give away too much in return for too little and it will either fail or we will give in to truly the worst deal in history. At that point we will be wondering why we left the EU where we had influence and voting rights and a part in historic decisions about our European direction and protection of our liberal values in the first place.
It’s often said where America goes we follow. There are concerning signs that we are going somewhere we don’t want to go. Steve Bray the peaceful Anti Brexit activist was told by Mark Francois MP that October the 31st would be his “death warrant”. The Sodem protest was threatened, disrupted and damaged by EDL and Robinson supporters and only today Steve tweeted that a man thought it was okay to tell him he should be taken out and shot. There is a wholesale disregard for the adage, language matters, influenced by what is said by big names on our screens every night on the news and in our social media timelines by blue ticks, amplified by an army of bots automated and partly automated paid for by god knows who.
There are questions about why Sajid Javid was excluded from the state banquet against the norm even though he is Home Secretary which even now have not been satisfactorily addressed. Boris Johnson the likely next PM refused to give support to the US ambassador after those diplomatic communications were released? Why? I don’t think it was incompetence. He knew that question was going to come up and therefore he and his team must have prepared for what he was going to say. It was deliberate. He didn’t want to be pushing back against Trump.
Many EU27 citizens were denied a vote in the EU elections through overly complex bureaucratic procedures which were unnecessary. Why?
All this makes me feel more strongly than ever that we have to Stop Brexit. This will send out a message to those who just want to push us around more and more and turn the world into a series of nativist enclaves that they cannot win by lying and cheating and threatening and discriminating. It will send a message that peaceful political disagreement and campaigning is part of democracy. This is not a time for us to give up. This is not a time to fight amongst ourselves either. It was bad enough seeing air raid sirens used in a Brexit political rally, I don’t want end up seeing the burning torches and hear racist chants at a British mainstream political rally because some Remain organisers were scrapping like children and messed up our morale. If we don’t stop ourselves going down this disastrous path, where will it end?
This is a time for us to be cementing our place within Europe, using our history , our partnerships and influence and strength there as a protection against the poison of extreme nationalism. This is a time for us to be celebrating the protections we have created together in the way we run our lives, protections for workers, for consumers, for citizens. It’s a time to embrace the liberal and consensus building nature of the EU. Yes there are some in there who try and bend it into something else but the spirit of the EU is stronger than ever, it is a project of peace and partnership and friendship. It’s not just a trading bloc, its a life. The EU is not something outside of us, we are the EU and holding on tight to our friends and partners is important in a world where the most powerful man in it is so unpredictable. Instead we are stuck in this ridiculous Westminster political paralysis. Only stopping Brexit will do. Only stopping brexit will allow us to breathe and rebuild again.
Please support the march tomorrow, whether you go to the march or whether you donate or whether you simply look out for the pictures and posts and share them with your friends and your MPs. We need to stand firm together. It’s a pro EU march, its a march for changing the conversation and language BACK to that of responsible liberal open internationalist politics.