It’s no accident that I’ve been exploring stories about times of change in British history on the eve of the referendum on Britain’s remaining in the European Union.
My initial response to the news that the vote to leave came top was not a pleased one.
I made my own mind up about why I wanted to stay, eschewing the manipulative fear and fiscal based arguments.
Economy is not the most important factor for me. Its prioritisation is behind much of what is wrong in our world. But unlike most on the left, I don’t see a single nationalised system as the way to run a country instead. I will put forward my alternative another time.
I voted to stay to stop our own government being its highest authority. I want to ensure that the articles of the Europeans Human rights act remain in force here. I want there to be somewhere to appeal to about our flawed court system. I want a decision for good to affect a continent – and one that is likely to be noticed by other countries too. I also want to enjoy a close and free relationship with other nations.
The Socialist Worker spoke in favour of leaving, but with a different voice to the often xenophobic and naïve and uncouth cheer on the extreme right. I find the SW a naïve and emotive voice, but it is sometimes interesting to read. It balanced the disappointment with the vote’s outcome of those who ought to be part of its family, but who the socialists often shun.
The Social Worker points out what Europe has done wrong and claims that this leave vote gives us a chance for change. The Greens point out what Europe has done right and what might be achieved with its reform.
I read some papers outside of my country to see what they said about today’s news. I’d enjoyed the German Der Spiegel before (eg re the Prism revelations) but today, this supposed quality paper from a fellow European country felt gloomy. It spoke of nothing that either the Socialists or the Greens did, but about economy and how the pound has fallen, how we’re distant and shrinking…
The title of article was good – “Fear and Loathing in Britain” – yes those emotions are behind much of the campaign and the voting ethos – and the reaction to the vote. But I do commend Caroline Lucas, Britain’s Green MP, for saying she wants a country “where hope is always more powerful than hate” – a speech that Will Ladislaw would have commended. The rest of her article was copied by the other Greens speaking today, but their wish for uniting division and their avowal that the rights the EU has given us must be protected is commendable.
I am angry that the Stop The War Coalition convoy of aid to Calais was largely prevented last weekend, on grounds of “state of emergency”, “terrorism” and “football hooliganism”. I find it disgusting that support for the crisis we’ve helped create is something that authorities want to resist. I do not want yesterday’s vote to support that mentality.
The vote result doesn’t have to mean immediate, or any action, and I believe what it means should be thought about, not pressured or held to, for it was ‘won’ by a small margin and the 4 million name signature petition which I signed shows how strong feeling is that this referendum does not reflect the people’s views. How did this vote come about – what forces were whipping it up? What does that simply yea or nay represent? Many see that general dissatisfaction is being shown, and that the oldest and currently leading party is in disequilibrium, which could open a way for a new balance.
As I continue my reviews of my latest reading and watching, I’ll be considering those decisive moments of votes that they represent in the light of this one.
This isn’t just a matter for Britain or Europe only. Distinctness is not an excuse for division, nor division a cause for divorce, detesting, damnation and despotism.
We need something very different, but I’ve not seen anyone offer it yet. As Will Ladislaw says, we want peaceful reform not extremism, for long held barriers to be eroded, and for a system that does not simply benefit the few and puts welfare before wealth.
And if you don’t know who Will Ladislaw is, read my next but one article to find out.
You may also want to read my earlier article – No axes, no strikes, listen to Hegel – which is relevant to today’s news.