What now?

There is actually something curiously liberating about having been crushed so utterly in the General Election. I don’t know who first said “It’s not the despair that kills you, it’s the hope”, but it’s very true. The UK I now live in bears so little resemblance to the country I thought I lived in, and that I loved, that I find myself now emotionally numb to the pain it’s going to put itself through — I have finally attained the ability to think of it as Somebody Else’s Problem.

Our youngest son leaves home for university next year, and some time after that we will will probably move house to downsize. We don’t know where we will move to, or whether we will stay in the same area. Now I’m thinking perhaps Scotland would be a more civilized destination than remaining in England. I don’t know how citizenship and passports will work when Scotland attains independence from the UK and rejoins the EU as its own country, but I hope it will at least be an option for the emigrating English to become Scottish.

22 responses to “What now?

  1. antlerboy - Benjamin P Taylor

  2. Just this guy, you know?

    > when Scotland attains independence from the UK and rejoins the EU as its own country

    Careful. That’s hope. I’m not at all convinced that 1) Scotland will be allowed a referendum 2) Independence would be the result of the referendum if one were to be held 3) Independence would be a good idea (but speaking as a resident I’d probably vote for it anyway, because things are going to get worse anyway so they may as well get worse on my terms).

    But by all means move here. It’s lovely.

  3. @antlerboy: I remember Clockwise well — is that actually the origin of this saying?

    @JustThisGuy: you may be right that I should try to avoid hope in Scotland. Still, I think given that all the reasons that came close to delivering independence in the previous referendum are still there and much stronger now, it’s likely that a new independence referendum for Scotland would say “Yes, we prefer to be our own country in the EU rather than being a minor province of Little England”. Will the Scots be allowed a referendum? In the end, you can’t hang on to a country that wants to be independent. If no binding referendum is allowed, a non-binding one will surely arise — and we all know how they end up.

  4. Also living in Scotland, I also wonder whether we’d say Yes next time. Fingers crossed we do!

    And I feel the same way you do. Blog post over here https://andrewducker.dreamwidth.org/3796069.html which basically said the same thing – it’s now Johnson’s Brexit to deal with. He’s going to make a disaster of it, but it’s no longer my responsibility in the slightest.

  5. As an outsider (with limited free time who has basically been fatigued by Trumpers and Brexiteers and given up on social media and news and TV in general..) I checked the news and.. what the holy heck happened in the UK?! I didn’t expect that.
    So whats next?
    What are the over-under chances on a crash out brexit happening?
    Goodness gracious :O

  6. “it’s no longer my responsibility in the slightest”

    How will we carry on without your invaluable direction?

    As for this page – what a load of self righteous cant. Did you truly love your country, with all the variation within, or just a fantasy version where everybody thinks like you? The particular strand of remain that wanted to overturn the original referendum has just bumped into a general population that still adheres to antiquated notions like the importance of democracy. Patronised rural and poor remain voters found the idea of a second referendum disgusting, and good for them. The notion that a second referendum wasn’t a revolting idea worthy of a tinpot dictatorship got the kicking it deserved and I’m absolutely overjoyed by that, even if it is accompanied by an election victory for a complete chancer.

  7. Actually, I think you’ll find that the public voted for Remain/Second Referendum parties. Conservatives+Brexit parties got 46% of the vote. But because of the UK’s anti-democratic voting system the Conservatives get a huge majority out of a minority of the vote.

  8. Well I guess you won then – congratulations!

    First things first – you’ll need to sort out our terrible trade deficit with Narnia.

  9. Craig Macfarlane

    I can entirely relate to your feelings. In Australia this year voters returned one of the most incompetent and corrupt governments we’d ever had while rejecting an extremely talented and well-led Labor party that had a clear vision for the future. Many people were crushed by the implications of the result: that the Murdoch media machine, along with tens of millions of dollars spent on social media campaigning, directly from the pockets of mining magnates, can still buy an election result.

    Another 3-6 years of Coalition government in Australia will see it slide further to the right: increased government secrecy and surveillance of the Australian population, the final crushing of the union movement, further unravelling of environmental protections on development and further dismantling of public welfare, and continuing to embed policies that run down public services like health and education while concentrating wealth in the hands of the ultra-rich through tax reductions and awarding of government contracts to party donors.

    And, of course, legislating to give religious people the right to discriminate against others – no I’m not joking:
    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/dec/17/what-would-jesus-do-things-youre-allowed-to-do-if-the-religious-discrimination-bill-passes

    The social democracy that Australia once was, and used to take pride in being, will be gone forever. This is what the people voted for.

    It’s sad to see Murdoch roll out the same formula across the world and to see it work every time. Trump in America with fear of Mexicans and his wall; Morrison in Australia with fear of Muslim boat people and Australia’s tacit support for the concentration camps that we lock them up in; Johnson in the UK with the fear of eastern European immigrants and Brexit. Murdoch has worked out that if a populist politician can tap into the racism that is latent in everyone then they can gain government and implement pretty much any policy they like (generally far-right ones) under the cover of nationalism.

    The next nation to fall to the Murdoch strategy will be Italy. Sky Italia is Murdoch’s only foothold in mainland Europe and it just narrowly escaped a far-right government led by The Lega’s Salvini, whose popularity is driven by chest-beating on Muslim boat people (same strategy used in Australia decades earlier – Australia is where Murdoch pioneered his approach) and amplified by Sky Italia.
    https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/aug/09/how-matteo-salvini-pulled-italy-to-the-far-right

    My reaction to it all has been to admit, as Leonard Cohen once put it, that “Everybody knows that the war is over, everybody knows that the good guys lost”. It’s everyone for themselves now.

    But as you say there’s a certain sense of release from it. The war is lost so there’s no need to care anymore. I’ll look after my own family and ignore the news from now on. I’m lucky enough to have the means to do that, and a nice house near a nice beach to retire to. And a second passport. The turkeys that vote for Thanksgiving can reap their reward.

  10. @rjubber: My problem with the argument about the importance of democracy is that it (a) fails to understand how our system works (we elect representatives precisely because binary plebiscites are not a good guide), (b) fails to understand how our system works (“bills” in Parliament aren’t decided on the basis of a single vote) and (c) fails to understand how our system works (debate and discussion is about establishing how something will work in the long run, not about Daily Mail headlines or Facebook adverts.) Oh, and (d) fails to understand how our system works in every other possible way too.
    But apart from that, I agree with you entirely.

  11. @Jeff: “What are the over-under chances on a crash out brexit happening?” Very high, now, especially as Johnson is trying to legislate to make it impossible for us to request an extension to the transition period. I would estimate it’s 90% likely now that, one year after we leave at the end of January, the transition period will end and we’ll fall into no deal.

    @rjubber: “Did you truly love your country, with all the variation within, or just a fantasy version where everybody thinks like you?” Probably the latter, if by “thinks like you” you mean respecting facts, acknowledging experts, requiring truth and integrity from politicians, and not being xenophobic or racist. I honestly thought those things were baseline requirements for being a functioning adult in a civilized country, and it’s now apparent that I was wrong. So: do I love the country that it’s now apparent I live in? No, not really. I love plenty of individuals in it, sure; but the country as a country? No.

    @andrewducker: Yes, the FPTP system really does seem like literally the worst way to run a democracy.

    @Craig: I am so sorry, I had no idea all this was happening in Australia, too. (Yes, I should arguably be more aware of world news; but UK news alone has been to grindingly, remorselessly awful that I have no energy for anywhere else. I’ve not even been keeping an eye on the Trump impeachment.)

    @Scurra: You are quite right that rjubber’s understanding of what “democracy” means — or at least the understanding he is affecting to possess for the purpose of this discussion — is woefully naive. Sadly, the way the Tories managed to couch the discussion around Brexit and the election, it’s also the understanding that a lot of the population took on. It’s Strictly Come Brexiting, or I’m A Brexiter Get Me Out Of Here: democracy by phone vote.

  12. Scurra: Your rather ad hominem heavy argument is terribly confused and sidetracks itself (something about the Daily Mail? What point of mine do you think you’re countering?). Point A is just plain wrong, from a historical perspective if nothing else. Elsewhere you’ve confused principle with process, without even understanding the process.
    Nothing you have said is actually a counter argument. It’s not even germane to the issue at hand. Our system of democracy is just one of many approaches – it has no divine mandate. The categorical issue is that once a plebescite has happened, the result should be honoured, or you’re advocating tyranny. I don’t think you should be nearly as proud about that as you are.

    If you believe in the primacy of MPs, then when those same MPs pass a bill allowing a plebescite I don’t see how you can sanely justify treating that referendum as somehow separate from the normal democratic process. If the MPs passed a bill sending us to war, or raising the minimum wage, or adding 5 percent to VAT, I assume you would treat those as a natural consequence of a parliamentary system. The referendum was part of a manifesto, it was discussed and voted on in the house (more than once), and passed any and all legal barriers. Why do you treat it as somehow different to all the other decisions MPs can make? Is it because you lost? It feels like it’s because you lost. If Remain had won, would you still be discussing the validity of the referendum four years later? Of course not. As an aside, it’s not even close to being the first referendum this country has had. Those referendums are either at a local level (local government act 1972) or under the auspices of the Electorial Commission and a 2000 act voted on by Tony Blair’s government. Again – MPs were involved at every step.

    @Mike – my understanding of democracy may be naive in your view, but it still accords with every definition I can find. The courts agree (the wrong kind of experts for you, I assume). You also categorise the UK (or perhaps just people who voted differently from you) as racist and xenophobic – which is a delightful condemnation of a vast quantity of people. A recent World Values Survey cited in the Washington Post finds the opposite to be true. Wrong experts again I imagine.The results of that giant survey necessarily aren’t definitive and are of course open to interpretation and criticism, but the UK scores highly; certainly in the same broad range as most of Western Europe, and certainly better than our immediate neighbours across the channel.

  13. Jeez, rjubber, have a little empathy. You’re on a blog post that is about how defeated a large proportion of the population feels, and you can’t even be quiet and let people lick their wounds.

    I think the point is that Boris et al have won, and all that can be done is to watch the show and let history be the judge. Let’s just do that.

  14. Right.

    We lost.

    All that remains for us now is to get over it.

  15. The interesting thing about Mr @rjubber is that his side won, but he is still angry. His side won overwhelmingly, but he is still angry. Over the next ten year, his side are going to get their clean break / no deal Brexit and a lot of things which the Right have wanted for decades: caps on immigration, repatriation of minorities, gradual introduction of charges into the health service, abolition of health and safety legislation, repeal of human rights act, referendum on hanging, abolition of the BBC, bendy bananas, corporal punishment, blue passports… And they will still be angry. Because angry is what they do.

  16. @Charlie – I have no problem with people licking their wounds – less impressed with the high handed dismissal of the country as unsaveable. Assuming the people were desperately calling out to be saved in the first place. The histrionic ‘I’m too good for this country now’ stuff sticks in the craw. Ironically, considering your complaint, it might be the perceived lack of empathy I’m responding to. But I am annoyed specifically with Mike. In his recent Mike’s Letter to the Corinthians series of posts I felt frustrated at how hard it was to get any kind of response, no matter how I phrased the questions, from Mike on the subject of the advisability or not of calling for a second referendum. Of course he doesn’t have to engage with anybody who responds. I voted Remain, but really was frustrated that some other Remainers thought a second vote before the first had even been implemented was somehow noble. It wasn’t, and to be honest, I’m genuinely glad that particular course of action has been taken off the table decisively. The ‘People’s Vote’ campaign team has collapsed in acrimonious dispute since then of course – perhaps I should have just assumed that would happen. The fault is also mine when it comes to being frustrated with this issue – I have clearly not found the words to communicate to Mike just how pernicious his approach was, at least to some other Remain voters. And certainly to people who voted Leave. But maybe you’re right. Maybe I should just let people have a big cry together – but surely a blog post with a particular stance invites a response?

    @Andrew – you write a great deal of nonsense. I didn’t vote Tory by the way. My wife is Polish. I don’t want a cap on immigration. I don’t want charges brought into the NHS (although with an inflation rate consistently greater than the larger economy, I do think the NHS shouldn’t be treated as a shibboleth that can’t be touched, or one day we won’t be able to pay for it with our current resources – that’s basic mathematics. We should at least be able to debate it with more intellectual honesty than currently). I don’t care about the repeal of the human rights act – because it’s based on English common law. Most of that stuff is already with us in some form. Moreover, in order to trade with the EU, we’ll end up with a lot of it as precedent or on the statute. I suppose if it wasn’t so very tiresome (and self-defeating) I’d be angry with your simplistic pigeon-holing of so many people – but perhaps I should let you get on with it. If you can’t learn from the attitudes that got you here, you’ll doubtless just repeat them.

  17. @rjubber

    I think you sound angry. Does anyone else think he sounds angry?

    You won. You should be happy you won, not cross.

    We lost. We feel sad and are not making any secret of the fact that we feel sad.

  18. Chris Grey, in his excellent Brexit blog has written about this several times. His thesis is that Brexiters were never angry because we were members of the EU, they were just angry — and the EU happened to be the thing that was in their sights. He correctly predicted that if Brexiters got what they wanted they would still be angry.

    And of course they’re going to get a lot angrier still over the next five to ten years.

  19. I think you sound angry. Does anyone else think he sounds angry?

    Being condescended to often makes people angry, you might find.

  20. It seems to me the anger has a rather deeper root than that.

  21. He sounded angry before I said a word. I have never knowingly condescended to Donald Trump and he sounds angry all the time.

  22. Pingback: I’ve been an idiot for three years; or, goodbye Brexit, hello Open Access! | Sauropod Vertebra Picture of the Week

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