Where do I start?
Increasingly it looks like the leaders of the LEAVE campaign had no real intention of actually winning.
It was maybe about three things.
A chance for people to vent about Europe. And a battle for Leadership of the Conservative Party.And Migration.
For Britain (Greater England) has never warmed to the Common Market or its successors. Newspaper headlines like “Up Yours Delors!” and unlikely stories about EU and straight bananas set a public mood.
This weekend I have been thinking about my late father. Way back as a schoolboy (circa 1963)the Tories were in government and Edward Heath was chief negotiator trying to get Britain into the Common Market. Famously General de Gaulle said “Non!”.
My father said that England could never join an organisation they couldnt control.
And since joining the EU, Britain has hardly been enthusiastic supporters of the increasing political union.
Yesterday Jean-Claude Juncker apoke of a divorce that was not amicable following a love affair that was never deep. That about sums it up.
But the result tells a lot about England.
Racism exists in every society. If the Referendum result had been an overwhelming victory for LEAVE, the Racism factor would not matter very much. But the closeness of the result means that Racism was certainly a factor.
Certainly the London-based Media have lost no time in heading into unchartered territory…the north of England to get quotes from working class people about migrants from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania etc. And the Media heads into the east of England to get quotes from the elderly about “taking our country back”.
It runs deeper. A case can be made for marginalised people in a post-industrial society feeling pressure on jobs, school places, hospital appointments and blaming the newcomers. And marginalised older people cant escape the Eastern European accents when they do their shopping in Tescos.
It was not supposed to be like this.
The 1960s was a strange transition in British society. They had lost an empire (and the sense of superiority). Enemies like DeValera, Makarios and Kenyatta were ruling in Ireland, Cyprus and Kenya…McMillan spoke of a “wind of change” blowing across Africa….good old Smithy (Ian Smith) declared Rhodesia independent and there was latent support for “kith and kin”.
The Common Market was supposed to be about Britain finding a new role for itself.
But Britain never really lost its sense of superiority.
But it never really mattered within Britain itself. The British could show some superiority over West Indians, Asians,Africans and of course the Irish. But by 1990, political correctness had kicked in and there was no opportunity for shows of superiority thru comedians like Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning.
But there was always the opportunity to snipe at “foreigners” thru abuse of “Europe”.
Imperialism casts a shadow over everything English.
The “Upper Class” do not apologise for the fortunes they made from Indian tea, Jamaican sugar, Malayan rubber, South African diamonds and West African slavery.
But part of the legacy of Imperialism is the way that the English working class were encouraged that however lowly their station, they were better than Africans, Asians, west Indians and the Irish. And their military might underscored that the English were better than the Germans, the French, the Italians and the Spanish.
But Imperialism also affects the English liberals. The Guardian readers. Yes they regret the Imperial history but never regret it enough.
Because it is all in the “past”. It is “history”
The great and the good…Stephen Fry,Patrick Stewart, J K Rowling and the rest can take full page adverts in The Guardian to implore Scottish people not to vote for “independence”. The Scots should move on.
Well the only people entitled to call on the Scots to move on…are the Scots themselves.
But England seems to have dealt with its European headache by taking a loaded pistol and blowing its collective brains out.
So David Cameron included a Referendum in the 2015 Tory manifesto. He clearly believed that his cosmetic display of re-negotiation would be enough to win the Referendum. But Cameron lost and must surely go down in British history as the most unsuccessful Prime Minister ever. This is as bad as losing a war.
Holding on to power and not serving the divorce papers until October, when a new Leader is in place.
So that Prime Minister will be Teresa May (who clearly has been keeping a low profile to position herself as Leader). Or Boris Johnson who led the LEAVE campaign. But Johnson only ever intended to become Prime Minister having lost the Referendum.
Yet the headline tonight is about chaos in the Labour Party.
If there is chaos in Government and Opposition …then thats chaos in the DisUnited Kingdom. Only Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister of Scotland seems to have a plan…a lot of plans …and she is mischievous and I love her for it.
As Alex Attwood (SDLP) tells us at every opportunity, the best politicians in these islands are the Scottish Nationalists.
A petition is launched (three million signatures so far) to have a second Reverendum. Some say they were conned by the blatant lies of the LEAVE campaign. But mostly these voters conned themselves. Their votes were intended as protest votes and they ended up winning. Oops.
Did anyone really expect Labour voters in the north of England to bail out (as they saw it) a faction of the Tory Government? This the Government that launched savage attacks on the most disadvantaged people in Britain.
Probably the best tactic the Labour Party was to tell the Tories at an early stage they would not actively campaign for a REMAIN vote. Use it to wring concessions from the Tory GOvernnment.
There was also something odd about people who had a lot to lose thru Brexit telling people with little to lose to vote REMAIN but in itself, that does not explain the disconnexion between Labour MPs and their constituents. But maybe it is something to do with Leeds Central being represented by Hillary Benn, Stoke Central by Tristram Hunt and Doncaster by Ed Miliband.
Too many dazzling southerners parachuted into north of England.
There is however sad about it all.
British nationalism has had a bad few days. Scottish and Irish nationalism have had a good few days.
A lot of ordinary decent British people feel are fearful.
And they have lost a perception of their country.