It was a bright day with no hope, it was the March for Europe and it was the politest march I have ever been on and I’ve been on a few – even the teachers were more rowdy. There was the sense of Hamlet about it. The desperate need to do something about it, followed by the indecision that dogs the decent. It may be that betrayal “most foul” had taken place but how do the 48% sweep to their revenge? Do they even want to? Not really, the young people on the march in London this week, understood, perhaps better than anyone in this debate so far the damage of division, and yet for the second time in a few years this generation has been sold down the river, first tuition fees, now this.
The problem for the 48% is that they did not fall for the deceit by Leave and they understand that a call to violence will destroy more than it maintains, and yet Rome burns while leaders do little more than watch. In 1979 Margaret Thatcher came in on a wave of change and one of her catch phrases was that she did not want to listen to what she called the “chattering classes” people who wanted to discuss the implications of action before actions took place. Michael Gove perpetuated that opinion in the Leave campaign, by proclaiming that we were all fed up with “experts”, it was probably the only honest thing he did say. The push for direct action is understandable, the push against bureaucracy is also understandable, but thinking things through has its benefits.
Perhaps a little more thought about how to run a referendum, set a decent majority – a super majority as they have for referendums elsewhere might have given us the flexibility to manoeuvre in this situation without destabilising the country, the economy and the future. Perhaps there is a legal case for Parliament to vote this down, Professor Michael Dougan of Liverpool University is both vocal and dispassionate as he discusses the dismal decline of the UK into obscurity and decay.
Perhaps, as some suggested on the march yesterday, perhaps Britain deserves this. The British Empire was cruel, our relationship with Europe was always obstreperous, the former Empire and the people of Europe will do a whole lot better without the interference of a self important country, that bases its authority on a history we all need to refute. Trevor Noah, now of The Daily Show, reminds us that we may overestimate our reputation.
On the March for Europe the conversation was about loss, about where to now, literally, in some cases, about where to? Out of the UK, find a job away from here, before it gets locked down, chivvy up that dual nationality and use it. The struggle for a path in this leaderless vacuum leads only one way for many of this generation, out of the country. Young people with their science degrees and doctorates, their creativity and entrepreneurship will leave in their droves because they can – and the people who voted them out will be left in poverty struggling to divide up ever smaller spoils. The 1% will indulge in some quick profiteering of the back of disaster and then ensure their assets are protected elsewhere.
Yesterday the speakers exhorted the crowd to be careful of stereotypes, to reach out to the Leave voters and try to persuade and to reconcile; to be aware that there is not the huge division between old and young that is perpetuated by the talk of division in the country; many in the crowd sported their years with pride. Clever placards and a wry sense of humour demonstrated above all that the Remain voters were quintessentially British along with their stiff upper lip. But the prospects are bleak, Hamlet’s call to “sweet revenge” ended in disaster. The poisoned chalice and the poisoned dagger (sword) made victims of all, including Hamlet and as Europe looks on the fallen politicians on all sides, they are met with the same dismal sight.
…….And, in this upshot, purposes mistook
Fall’n on the inventors’ heads. (Hamlet, by Shakespeare)