Après nous le déluge

EUREFFriday was a miserable day.

I was firmly in the Remain camp. There wasn’t one single Leave argument that I found compelling. Yes, the EU requires reform, but leaving rather than staying to try to fix the problems doesn’t seem a sensible (or honourable) solution.

So much has been said, and will be said, about the consequences of this vote. So much of that is speculation. The term ‘post-factual’ is being bandied about. There seems to be an aversion to speaking plainly – ‘post-factual’ generally just means ‘lies’ The Leave campaign lied about the £350 million, they lied about the NHS, they lied about immigration figures, they lied about Turkey being about to join the EU. Whether people believed those lies and voted accordingly is hard to know, but what is certain is that the political parties are so far from their grassroots that they have no idea what they believed, or felt, or wanted. The Remain campaign wasn’t much better. It was weak and patronising and very poorly managed. The Conservative Party and the Labour Party have failed their members. To a very large extent this vote was a vote against the establishment. This was a vote against, a vote against the establishment, a vote against the political elite, a vote against the EU a vote against immigration…

It’s not a vote for anything. Business will suffer, education will suffer, healthcare will suffer, infrastructure will suffer. I fear for what this may mean for Northern Ireland. This is a negative vote. It achieves nothing. There are no glory days to return to. There is no Empire any more to prop up this island on the edge of Europe. The island is itself divided, not just into Scotland who voted to Remain and England and Wales who voted to Leave. Urban and rural Britain is divided. There are no positives here at all.

In the spirit of hope over expectation I’ll spend the afternoon watching Ireland play France in the hope that at least one result this week will be a good one.

[Edit: disappointed, if not surprised, that Ireland lost…am clinging to the faint pleasure I got in the fact that both Dublin and Westmeath won in the Leinster football championship…very small pleasures in the grand scheme of things!]

Thinking aloud

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This isn’t usually a forum for any political commentary. However, the current political climate, not just in Britain, but much more broadly, makes it hard to stay silent. I’m researching and writing about the growth of nationalism and terrorism in the late nineteenth century at the moment and the rhetoric of the 1880s is depressingly similar to that of today. Discussion of the superiority of one nation, one colour, one creed over another is sadly familiar. The lack of empathy, the inability to see that another’s difficulty could be your difficulty, but for luck and circumstances. Then and now there should be room for more kindness, generosity, compassion, understanding, sympathy and empathy. The ferocious desire to identify as being part of one group, one tribe, one nation leads to an inability to see the richness, value and importance of all other groups. Continue reading