Friday, 24 June 2016

So i guess now we leave.....

So in the time since vote leave won, Farage has already distanced himself from the £350m for the NHS claim and used the sentence "without a bullet being fired" in his victory speech. An insult to Jo Cox's memory and a testament to how truly despicable a human being he is. It was not a sentence he needed to use or an image he needed to conjure, he chose that line and in doing so managed the seemingly impossible, he made me loathe him even more viscerally than before. And because he’s not even an MP he’s under no obligation to deliver on a single promise, there were never going to be any consequences for him, win or lose, so he was free to lie with impunity.

Meanwhile Daniel Hannan MEP has said immigration won't fall. The pound has fallen to the lowest level in my lifetime (would you look at that, maybe we should have paid a bit more attention to those experts Michael Gove was so quick to dismiss) and nationalist parties in Ireland and Scotland are, somewhat understandably, gearing up their exit strategies from the United Kingdom.

It's almost as if a bunch of right wing arseholes decided to throw the rest of us under the bus for short term political gain and had no issue spouting lie after lie to do so. And what's worse is people lapped it up, caught up on a wave of cheap soundbites and jingoism that occasionally revealed itself for the full blown racism it usually conceals. 52% of people nationally, 51% in Sheffield, my home and a city I love dearly.

Throughout this referendum I’ve kept telling myself we are better than this, that people would act rationally and not sabotage our own economy and our international reputation just to stick two fingers up at the rest of Europe.

Once I’ve finished this post, once I’ve got out at least a portion of the anger and disappointment I’m feeling right now, the work begins on avoiding this becoming a permanent me or us v them scenario, of letting today’s decision change my fundamentally optimistic view of this nation and democracy as a whole. But right now there’s a bitter, angry part of me that feels that when the economic impacts of this decision are felt in places like the north east and jobs are lost and families forced into poverty, that they voted for this. They wilfully chose to ignore the evidence in front of them and trust that the very people who destroyed the working class in the first place would suddenly have their best interests at heart. Similarly the portion of the population over 50 who voted to leave, saddling the younger generations who emphatically voted to stay with the consequences of their actions, will get a little less sympathy from me right now as their saving are hit and the value of their houses collapses.

That’s never been the nature of my politics or my personality and it reeks of the kind of snobbery and lack of empathy with other’s opinions that I despise. So excuse me this rant, this uncharacteristic break from my usual love of diplomacy and respect, it’s a release valve for the deep well of anger, fear and frustration that set up shop in my stomach around midnight last night and refuses to leave.

I’m sick of watching so many Brits repeatedly prove themselves all too willing to accept the lies of The Daily Mail and The Sun at face value. I’m sick of us choosing fear over facts and hate over hope. I’m sick of having to keep telling myself that we’re better than this when faced with so much evidence that we get precisely the politics and press we deserve.

I’m going to pick myself up in a bit and start the process of reconciliation, of making the best of the situation we find ourselves in. Of finding ways to speak to the fears that drove so many voters into the arms of UKIP and Vote Leave, without ever compromising on my belief that immigration is a force for good and that pandering to racism and xenophobia even a little is a dangerous precedent to set.

This is the most crushed I’ve ever felt the morning after a vote. When the Conservatives won in 2010 and 2015 I comforted myself with the fact that there will be another election and we can come back from this. That’s not the case here.

We’re stuck with the decision that was made yesterday, a decision based seemingly on equal parts lies and prejudice, and it’s my belief that we are a lesser nation because of it. The economy will stabilise eventually and we’ll figure out our place in Europe and the world, but we are forever worse for abandoning the union, however imperfect.

So for now I’ll indulge my anger ever so slightly, if only to feel something other than despair. The next job is finding some hope for our politics and our people again.

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