Oh, Oh, Woe What A Lovely Referendum!

Last week I heard someone say, without deceit: “Why? What did she do?” when told Hilary Benn had been sacked. I think that person might really be on to something! Better just cut yourself off from the news and politics for years – and now more reason than ever!

This multidimensionally disastrous mess has happened for very simple reasons. There are three sorts of people who have caused it: the ignorant; the cynical exploiters for power; and the good guys were repeatedly ineffectual. Take Wales as an example of the first. Although no-one I’ve spoken to in South Wales voted for “Out”, Wales as a whole did. The main issues in the minds of the “Out” voters were: immigration, which has impacted Wales hardly at all, compared to for example London with great experience of immigrants but less objection (and similarly the much more mixed Cardiff voted Stay vs the valleys voting Leave); and money. Wales was a net beneficiary Europe-wise to the extent of £400 million per annum, which it will now lose… and those who voted to lose it didn’t bother to find out about it first.

So the people in Wales voted to lose financial benefit they didn’t know they had, and to avoid a problem they knew nothing about, and which people who did know about weren’t so bothered about.

This Gary Larson cartoon seems apt.  Do make sure you pick up The Far Side where this is to be found, or his latest compilation of all his work.  It's a substantial tome in weight and other ways but you'll never find a better item to leave lying around your house to impress and tickle up visitors! Click for the Gary Larson site.

This Gary Larson cartoon seems apt. Do make sure you pick up The Far Side where this is to be found, or his latest compilation of all his work. It’s a substantial tome in weight and other ways but you’ll never find a better item to leave lying around your house to impress and tickle up visitors!
Click for the Gary Larson site.

The others who caused the problem were at the other end of the spectrum: those who had power already and wanted to increase it. Right wing newspaper owners like to influence. What do they want to influence? What have you got?! Dumping Europe gives them one less potential competitor for influence, but there is also the Proud And Bigoted Old Englander identity which they adhere to since they know a certain type of reader will engage with that to bolster their own identity… while buying more papers.

Then there are politicians – some going for personal gain, and Ghod, the winner of the Westminster Fat Pig competition looks to be Boris Johnson. A few weeks ago he wasn’t sure which side he was on; now, jumping the right way has set him up to be prime minister. Makes you proud to be British (YUK). Nigel Farage is an interesting case. Is he motivated by a clear and sound view of an independent way for the UK to change and prosper? No. He’s driven by his discovery that he can gain influence, as so many cynics have always done, by forcing people to make sudden knee-jerk decisions based on the simplest most revolting group psychology. It’s pure groupism, and if you can harness it, you’re driving the power wagon. It is of course nasty to the point of very dangerous. Not just are complex decisions concerning long-term economics, international politics and the environment short-circuited by xenophobia, but he actually doesn’t care that he is destroying the entity his party is named to support! THERE WILL SOON BE NO UNITED KINGDOM – because The United Kingdom Independence Party will have caused the Scots to choose Europe over England. So now on top of everything else there will be a massive mess over deciding where to put the nuclear fleet and then moving it, and massive expense when it has to move, and a massive argument all over again over whether it’s worth having. It’s interesting that Farage didn’t go to university. His style of “always the knee-jerk decision” couldn’t have survived in the way it did if he had.

Then there’s new shit not many of us foresaw though perhaps we might have: serious increases in victimisation of minorities, now the chanters of “Give Us Back Our Country” feel they’ve been mandated. I’ve known a lot of Polish people and I prefer them not only to British bigots but even just to the average Brit. They’re just much more civilised. How many revolting nutters do you know who can play the piano?

The tory and Labour leaders weren’t in either of the first two categories that brought this about – at least Cameron didn’t want to make hay by supporting Brexit, though he did gamble the country in the hope of a slight gain for his party – which of course went horribly wrong, and which his photos now grimly show he has realised. Labour is to blame for exhibiting another another deadly principle that contributed: not exactly the principle that if you have no power you can’t do anything, but that fate, which they now suffer, has been a result of giving power to idiots – which I’ve mentioned already. There is a very nice person I know, who is obsessed with hating the tories, and who therefore thinks that getting the most anti-tory leader is a good thing. She should have listened to Douglas Hurd. He often used to say: “Think it through.” Just predict step by step what will happen in the end if you do what you’re thinking of doing. Then ask yourself if that’s what you really want to happen. Democracy! Democracy! The more you extend it the better you’ll be! Actually, reducing the MPs’ power to elect the party leader, extended it to people who didn’t realise Ed Miliband and Jeremy Corbyn would zeroise their power. If David Miliband had been elected, as he would have been by the MPs, he at least would have made a good fist of rallying Labour around the Remain standard (and who knows, he might even have won in 2015.) Individual members of the Labour party caused the disaster as much as anybody. A political leader needs to be an inspiring figure. Caroline Lucas was a passionate preacher for staying – better than any major figure in any other party – even more than Nicola Sturgeon. Why does Labour not understand the need for charisma in leaders? Because Labour now gives its big decisions to idiots.

There should never have been a referendum on this issue, for the same reason that there never was and never should never be one on hanging, or on anything where the unthoughtful will outnumber the wise.

I cannot understand why good arguments for staying were seldom put forward well. Someone had to shoot out a set of crisp, pithy, convincing one-liners to match the Brexiteers’ but they did not. Sometimes the good, thoughtful guys have to use the Devil’s style.

In science and in politics there is no substitute for thinking. We don’t decide scientific issues by giving the vote to the ignorant, because when we do we end up with something like cladist absolutism. This Europe vote has shown that in politics, pure mindless principle can take you only so far. You must vote for what you can get – half a loaf is better than no bread, even if Maggie said it. If the good guys say nothing, or if they don’t think things through themselves, or aren’t grown-up enough to understand the importance of practicality, then we’ll allow the ignorant and evil to take us to hell in a hand-cart.

Oh well. If I do turn the news on, at least I’ll have the spectacle of Corbyn vs Johnson. To go with Trump vs Putin.

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