There's a great episode of the Simpsons (it's the 22nd episode of Season 9, according to Wikipedia) where Homer strives to become Springfield's sanitation commissioner. The incumbent, voiced by Steve Martin, is a a dull but dutiful man providing a dull and dutiful service, and when Homer campaigns against him it is on a platform of catchy slogans ("Can't somebody else do it?") and insane promises on what extra services his Sanitation workers would be able to provide.
As a final campaigning word, Steve Martin says to the people of Springfield, "If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises about garbagemen cleaning your gutters and waxing your car then by all means vote for this sleazy lunatic." Cut to -
Of course, Homer's plans are completely unsustainable and burns through a $4.6m dollar budget in a month. His only option is to go through some terribly morally wrong decisions in order to
When I was at school, and to this day, the history and tragedy of World War I is often illustrated by the final episode of Blackadder to provide a funny and engaging hook for students. I have a feeling this Simpsons episode could be used in a couple of decades to explain just what the fuck happened in Britain in 2016.
I'm at a loss to explain the result of the referendum. The only good things that made me feel better on Thursday morning was that the lead was tiny, and that my Facebook feed was filled with concerned, intelligent, lovely people that confirmed great people were still out there, and I knew a terrific selection of them <3
But what I feel bleak about is how let down everyone is going to be. The immigration issue is not one I consider an issue, but I know it was for a lot of people. However, already Leave campaigners have said there wouldn't be a material change to numbers coming in. They heavily suggested the money we end up not sending to the EU could be spent on the NHS. It baffles me that anyone bought that Tories like Boris Johnson, Ian Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage would be in any way interested in spending money on a public service, but they did, and this has now been shot down by Duncan Smith. It was sold on the fact that we were world's 5th strongest economy, and before lunchtime on Friday we were already 6th, letting France nudge ahead. Who knows how far we'll fall when we actually start the process of leaving (a process no-one actually seems to want to start, perhaps because although the majority of the people in the country want out, the majority of polticians think it would be a Bloody Stupid Thing to do, which must include Boris Johnson; I can't imagine that a former Mayor of London would really think this was the way forward, given how much that city depends on it's EU Passport and international links)
Essentially, the Crazy Promises that Leave made will be shown to be lies and unsustainable just like Homer's grand ideas, and we'll have shafted our economy, our place in world, and worst of all any indication that we want to be an outward-looking progressive nation for nothing.
The worst of all this is the vindication of a deeply unpleasant wedge of British society; for years, a small but vocal and vicious minority of racists have felt their views represent a silent majority. They felt that this majority were hamstrung by the EU imposing rules on political correctness, rules that never actually existed like the banning of England flags etc, and argued we should leave to take "our" country back. As the EU referendum was framed from the Exit side explicitly on the notion of immigration, toyed with people's fears, and co-opted the language and mottos of the far right ("take control back", "make Britain great again"), that victory now feels like a massive vindication of their beliefs, as they feel the silent majority they always felt they represented have no spoken, in force, in their favour. It's very sad.
My solution? A quick look at the results shows this isn't Britain's decision; it is clearly and firmly the decision of England and Wales (don't get me started on the abject stupidity of a country as dependent on EU hand-outs for it's economy as Wales voting to cut the purse-strings). In England, only London really voted to Remain with any real fervency.
Now. They say the amount of money London generates subsidises the rest of the country to a large degree. But this money generation is down to institutions, not geography and in a global, technologically augmented world, geography is malleable. So, relocate all London businesses that want/need to stay in the EU to Edinburgh. Offer an amnesty period that anyone who wants to stay in can move up there on an assisted immigration plan, and declare independence. Scotland's independence referendum in 2014 was dogged by the suggestion that it couldn't cut it economically without getting money from London/England, but with the financial powerhouse of London operating within it's borders, and that money being spent purely
in Scotland and not across the rest of the UK, the country would suddenly become ridiculously rich. Northern Island and Gibraltar can then decide if they want to join up with Scotland, work out their own plans, or hook up with the Republic of Ireland or Spain respectively.
Wales, Cornwall, Sunderland, Norfolk and all the rest of what was the UK can then get on with the business of making Britain Great Again without the hand-outs and subsidies from the EU and London.
Nicola Sturgeon (who was the only politician I had any respect for on Friday morning, and left me feeling not for the first time that the SNP should start fielding candidates in England to snap up disollusioned Labour centre-left voters) should be making overtures to London companies reliant on the EU with aggressive tax relief offers to relocate up north, while nudging the EU to allow an independent Scotland to inherit the UK's membership on a fast-track basis.
Of course, it's not going to happen, but it makes sense to me at least.
Dark days ahead, I think. Whatever happens, we're going to be worse off and the poorest in society will once again lose out, albeit at their own hands this time. People who want Out generally don't consider us Remainers as being patriotic, but to me Britain stands for proud, liberal values, an all-encompassing multi-cultural culture, and a proudly non-insular global outlook. That's the sort of Britain I love, and I grieve for it because if not dead, it's certainly not got much life left in it :(