Thursday, 30 June 2016

As the dust settles

If you know me, you’ll know that I am the embodiment of the eternal optimist. My son planned to have “There’s some blue sky over there” engraved on the back of the watch that my family bought me for my sixtieth birthday and my glass is usually not only half full, it’s full to overflowing.

Unfortunately, since Thursday night, my glass has been empty and I have been under a deep and very dark cloud of depression; a cloud that seems to be taking a very long time to lift. 

“You lost, get over it.” I hear my critics say. “You, sir, don’t respect democracy” someone said to me on Twitter. Nothing could be further than the truth. Of course I respect democracy and, had the public been given the truth before the referendum, I would simply congratulate them (albeit begrudgingly) and get on with my life.

But as the days go on, and the Labour party disintegrates before our eyes and the country loses a prime minister who spoke truthfully whatever your opinion of him, we are seeing politics at its very ugliest and a Leave leadership with not a clue of what the hell they are going to do and showing clearly that there was simply no cohesive plan. 

I’ve already written about the lies that were the foundation of the Leave campaign and my outrage at allowing such falsehoods to be peddled as truth. When I put the £350m lie to my own MP Dan Poulter this is how he responded 

This implies that the £350m claim was not gross misinformation, just “silly and inaccurate”. Well hah hah hah. The country has made the most important decision of the past forty years on “silly and inaccurate” information. You really could not make it up.

Okay you might say that this was not the main argument. Perhaps it was not. BUT, if it was the main argument for just 4% of Leave voters the result would have been a tie. 4%. Think about it.

I won’t touch on many of the other negatives that have come in the aftermath of the vote – just one.

This man stood up in the European Parliament and made the most jaw dropping, artless, arrogant and puerile speech I have heard in my life. Had he thumbed his nose and said “nah nah nee nah nah” he would not have been more embarrassing. This was done with a union jack on his desk and shamed everyone in the country - this from a man who called the result a victory for “decent” people. If 52% of the country was happy to let this person speak for them, the country has declined immeasurably in my estimation.

I don’t think the EU is perfect – far from it. There are migration issues - which David Cameron had gone some way to easing (concessions that have now been withdrawn) but for me the EU is about far more than money, immigration and trade. It is about togetherness and unity. Our country has become so much more interesting, vibrant, exciting and cosmopolitan since we joined. We started to travel to Europe and feel part of it. Now we are back to being as welcome as a nasty smell.

As all this unravels over the next few months, I want things to go well for Britain. I want things to go well for Scotland too. I’m not going to make any outlandish forecasts of doom and gloom but after years of feeling part of a big European community, European first, British second and English third, I now feel part of a country that is small in size, small in outlook and small in mind – not Great Britain but Little England.