Saturday, 25 June 2016

Message to Vote Leave - we won't be going away

Within a few weeks, I suspect that the date to which most people will want to revert to is the 22nd June 2016.  Forget the golden age of Empire and the delusional era of British supremacy.  A decision of monumental perversity has been taken, and although now the requirement is both to accept and make the best of it, that does not mean that those of us who opposed it need to alter our views or shut up.

Watching the economy shrink, credit ratings destroyed and the confirmation that this is all about the Tory Party does not give any pleasure. As the UK has already moved from significant power to helpless bystander within Europe, and will have very limited options going forward, I cannot see positive sides to the current crisis.  To support remaining in Europe was a mixture of idealism, pragmatism and a position arrived at by weighing up arguments.  Accepting the defeat of this position does not change the fundamental point.

That the leave adherents are now engaging in triumphalism and telling us to either get over it or shut up is a sign of weakness.  There is no plan, no direction of travel and their dog-whistles on immigration and the NHS have proved to be hollow propaganda lapped up by the credulous.  Not exactly a brave new world, and not one endorsed by the majority.

However the  catastrophe and chaos develop , the patriotic duty of engaged citizens remains.  This does not include rolling over and accepting that a plebiscite,  narrowly won without a crushing majority of the electorate, defines the terms of political debate.  The issues remain as they were.  I have the same right to describe crass, duplicitous stupidity as such even after ending up on the losing side.

One of the reasons the leave camp are so worried is that we represent an educated, articulate anger.  Our weakness in the campaign has been assuming that rational argument can be deployed against propaganda, lies and a manipulative emotionalism that bore no relationship to the likely outcome of the vote.  Now that we are liberated from defending the status quo, I expect that the response to the self-destruction and madness will become focused, militant and will take the battle to the enemy.

What we should learn is that a vicious, mendacious and well-resourced cabal can capture people's votes against their own rational interests.  This does not mean aspiring to the same degree of evil that we have been brought down by,  but to recognise that where the damage and destruction take place we should not hold back our venom and we should call out those responsible for it simply, immoderately and repetitively.

There is a need to salvage what we can for us, and our fellow-citizens, from the wreckage.  If that means endorsing secession of the constituent parts of the country, so be it.  If that means disrupting the folly of the elites, so be it.  If that means stooping to the level of the gutter politics that won the day, then so be it - it might even be enjoyable and cathartic.  Without the responsibility of having to defend Cameron's treacherous co-option of progressive forces, the chance to mobilise, articulate and modernise can be taken.

The leave campaign won - and therefore now takes responsibilities.  Those of us who wanted a different outcome must now lick our wounds, work through our anger, grief and incredulity and analyse what needs to be done to move forward.   The leave campaign have claimed insurgency, and now they have their foul paws on the levers of power they cannot expect a red carpet to be laid down for them.

It may actually be liberating, as it will enable engagement on the same terms as the racists, xenopnobes and liars have engaged with up till now.  The wider realities of life in post-Brexit Britain will be unpleasant, febrile and unpredictable. We will not go away, nor is there any need to moderate our criticism, wrath and invective to spare the sensitivities of the crooks, liars and spivs we are likely to have to tolerate before a new settlement can emerge.

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