Sunday, 26 June 2016

They f*****d it up

That admirable human being RuPaul - to whom I've tried to apply something approximating to the colours of the EU flag - sent out a Referendum Day message with his/her famous catchphrase for the standoff at the end of each episode of RuPaul's Drag Race: 'And remember - don't f**k it up'. Sadly, the 52 per cent who wanted out were not in lipsynch with the r(R, Ru)emaining 48 per cent of us. Anyway, a good deal fewer of those want out now that the consequences have begun to hit so very quickly.

I'm told I should pity the disenfranchised working classes of the north and understand that they lashed out at the government, at a political elite which was bad but, for God's sake, not nearly as bad as the ones who manipulated them. Should they have been guided better? Certainly, but I still ask if it was too much for any of them to check the facts since one side failed to spoonfeed them sufficiently and the other constructed a campaign entirely out of lies.

The few Brexiters I've spoken to in recent days - anything but working class, like so many who voted for Brexit in areas with few or no immigrants - just parrot the lies and look startled when you tell them the truth. 'I had no idea' now becomes a refrain along with 'I didn't think my vote would count'. Sunderland 'had no idea' that £35 million from the EU kept their part of the world from collapsing completely once the government left them to rot. You couldn't make up the black comedy of the Cornish, having voted out, wanting the money the EU gave them to be continued by the Brexit regime.

So I cry shame on the whole pack of them, and have only one word, J's favourite as it happens (what a prophet!) - deluded. And I have no qualms about calling all, cynical leaders and misled populace alike, 'idiots' because the original word in classical Greek, ἰδιώτης, has the literal meaning of a person preoccupied with self-interest and just not concerned with the democratic good (the Athenians knew something about that). Don't forget - the one on the right is just as unprincipled and immoral, if not quite as stupid, as the one on the left, and not funny any more, if he ever was. 

No way can he allowed to become Prime Minister (Theresa May and George Osborne aren't vastly better alternatives, either). Instead, the chance of a general election early next year should force the opposition to join forces and make sure we don't get another government even worse than this one. Just a reminder of one of the many things BJ wrote before flipping a coin.

And let's lay responsibility at tragic Cameron's door for thinking he could stifle the rabid fringes of his party.

I fear that the world will lump us Brits together as many of us did the Americans when George Dubbya became President. And yet we will protest that 48 per cent of us voters don't deserve that. I am proud to be a Londoner under Sadiq Khan's (so far) wise leadership. Guess on which side the person was here who turned his back when Khan was elected.

I'm especially proud that our borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, led by our superb Labour MP Andy Slaughter, voted 70 per cent to remain (56, 188 to Brexit's 24,054 - a 40 per cent majority, and again around 70 per cent for the turnout)*. I'm proud of my godchildren's generation, who voted 73 per cent to remain, and apologise to them from the bottom of my heart that a lot of selfish old people who are going to die soon did them over yet again** as if the last two governments haven't done enough. My 85-year-old, Daily Mail reading mum, I'm proud to say, wasn't one of them, and was heading that way anyway.

After the walking-on-air after ENO's electrifying Jenůfa (the mob versus Laura Wilde's desperate heroine pictured above by Donald Cooper) on Thursday night, Friday was one of the worst days I can remember. Went to bed at 1.30am in despair at the Sunderland result, had only the most superficial of sleeps, woke up again at 5am to worse. The physical nausea I felt, part ascribable to tiredness, seems to have been shared by everyone I know who's been in touch. There were two points of catharsis - one finally catching up with the most impassioned speech of the campaign, Sheila Hancock's, which maddeningly can't be shown on YouTube but is at the bottom of the page here. The other was meeting Claudia Pritchard after an indifferent Royal Opera Werther - diverting, no more - and having a cleansing rant and hug together.

But with the brighter dawn of Saturday morning came the realisation that the fight is back on, whatever happens in the forthcoming week. J, who has been remarkably phlegmatic throughout, took me for a belated birthday lunch at Pizarro on Bermondsey Street - perfect food in an unpretentious setting, with pork to die for. Fine Spanish wines, too.

The area is yet another which merits exploring - this is the row of houses and the Strawberry-Hill-Gothic church opposite the restaurant.

and I was wondering when someone would have the chutzpah to call a cafe this.

Storm building over the City and St Paul's as I crossed London Bridge

to reclaim my bike, left at Covent Garden the previous night because I was too exhausted to cycle home.

And then I got caught up, to my delight, in the Pride march.

Hadn't planned to go this year - copped out when the whistleblowing got too loud and a BBC producer I know got tinnitus when an ex-boyfriend blew one in his ear - but it was just the tonic. How far we've come since the police used to glare at us - one stepped out of line to propose to his man this year.

Plenty of displays of solidarity with immigrants, who are already having a hideous time, at least outside London which will always welcome them* (OK, so it's the Socialist Worker, but good on them).

and Euroflags, not least the one by this woman - J says he knows her - who was yelling furiously 'six million Jews murdered' over and over.

And yes, I see that the path to extermination camps and guns and violence starts here. We can't let it happen. Half the world doesn't want anything like this, let's bear that in mind - and fight to the very best of our abilities. More flags by way of hopeful finale.

*Yet I just read of a graffiti attack on the Polish Cultural Centre just down the road in King Street, Hammersmith, something that hasn't happened in its 50 years until now. And racist tweets are being catalogued diligently by the Polish community. All should be reported to the police as hate crime.

**Yet a great many didn't. One of my students just reminded me of this before today's class, when Linda Esther Gray came to talk about Isolde and Goodall. Linda, as a Scottish socialist, is passionate on the referendum fallout, and so were the students who joined us at lunch. They have so much energy and indignation, it feels as if we're of the same generation - I've had this sensation before when sharing lunch with my (then) 94 year old friend Elaine Bromwich and her American pal Tom Cullen, who left America because he was, like her, one of the communists when the name denoted noble ideals.


Susan Scheid said...

Bravo, David, so well said! So that I don't descend into (yet another) rant about what you've suffered there and what we're encountering over here, I'll just note two things: "Certainly, but I still ask if it was too much for any of them to check the facts since one side failed to spoonfeed them sufficiently and the other constructed a campaign entirely out of lies." Do I EVER agree with that. As I wrote over Laurent's way, I am beyond sick and tired of being held captive to people who act out of mindless rage without regard for the consequences, while all the rest of us pay the price. The lot of them ought to be mandated to complete a rigorous course in remedial civic education before being able to cast another vote. (Oh, see, there I've started already to descend into a rant, so I better move on to the other thing you noted I particularly wanted to highlight: "I fear that the world will lump us Brits together as many of us did the Americans when George Dubbya became President." I've seen a comment or two around starting to do that, and I was glad to see people set the record straight. There is no one now who can be suffering more than you and the rest of the Remainers who DID bother to check the facts and understand the issues and voted sensibly, so it sure doesn't make sense to blame all of you—any more than it did to blame we who voted consistently for good Democratic candidates over here and then get stuck with the dumb and dumber Bushes. Time to get bumper stickers made up: "Don't blame me. I voted Remain." It does indeed seem that the fight is still on—and may it continue! There has GOT to be a way to turn this around. Perhaps we should send over our magnificent hero John Lewis to make "Good Trouble" about this disaster, too.

Well, perhaps this is all just a way of conveying how much we empathize with your situation. I said to J just the other day that the only other political calamity I can imagine bringing us as low as this one has is if we awakened to an election catastrophe here. At 3 in the AM here the day of your vote I became wide awake and worried, went to look at the results, saw the horror, and felt as if I myself had been hit in the solar plexus. If I felt that way, I can’t begin to imagine what this is like for you right now.

We, too, as you did, landed in the Pride Parade in NYC, unplanned. After a lovely lunch with a friend who's not been doing so well, we realized we could just make the last hour or so, and we're glad we did. It was indeed a tonic to be reminded how many people of authentic good will exist in the world. As we walked along behind a marching band (we somehow got right into the parade route, instead of along side), people behind the barricades reached out their hands to give us high fives. Everyone was waving flags, and the color alone was dazzling. It made me feel hopeful again, as I hope it did you. Happy Pride Day!

David said...

I can see this is driving so many people like yourself to brilliant invective - so many good phrases I don't know where to start. But I love the idea of 'a rigorous course in remedial civic education'. And yes, the bumper stickers are a great idea. I blush to ask who John Lewis is (we only know it as the name of our 'never knowingly undersold' score who proved so useless recently).

Yes, it was a physical reaction on day one. Then on day two we simply realised there is much work to be done. Frankly I'd put Johnson, Gove, Farage et al in the stocks and pelt them with rotten fruit. J suggests bundling them up and hurling them into a shredding machine. But the black comedy of the broken promises hasn't taken more than a day to unravel. 'Never promised £350 million a week to the National Health,' say that Gisela women et al, the quote put up on a thousand FB and Twitter posts with pictures of them standing by the campaign bus with that very declaration. And I must get the exact words of the repulsive Ian Duncan Smith to the effect that 'our promises were only possibilities'.

Well, now the rightful anger is ours, we're the opposition and we can make sure for a start that an election gets called if Johnson gets anywhere near PM. But the sad fact is that no-one except perhaps Farage and the hatemongers around Europe will do well out of this. Trump, by the way, in one silly sentence proved he had no idea what the hell had been going in.

Do keep ranting! It's a good forum for ideas. As for Pride, boy, was I proud! As you say, so much colour - the rainbow appropriation was a rather good idea all those years back - and nothing but good humour from my perspective.

Susan Scheid said...

But I do need to learn to close my parentheticals, even when ranting! I've sent you some info on John Lewis, but I think you'll know immediately when I say he led the sit-in in the House on gun control. One of those Democratic shills for the rich Comrade Sanders rants about. (Now there's someone (I mean Sanders) who wouldn't know a revolution if it knocked him down and ran him over.)

David said...

Yes, of course, THAT wonderful man was John Lewis. I'm sorry we didn't hear more about what happened - I saw the photos, of course, but so much was eclipsed by our Referendum. Convinced that thinking eyes weren't so much on him the other day was why Putin re-escalated the bombing of Aleppo. And of course Russians are delighted because the ruble's increased one per cent in value while we lose our AAA status. Again, no surprise.

Talking of Sanders and 'integrity', of course Corbyn has been a huge disappointment. They're not even sure what he wanted. Talking about being '70 per cent in' was a huge mistake when a battle needed to be fought. And this man did appear on Russia Today... He, too, reveals a massive vanity, like Sanders, by insisting on staying now. A complete cleanout of the stables is the only option.

John in the Lot said...

I fully agree with your analysis and your reaction to the Brexit referendum, even down to the slight feeling of nausea that it created in me for the first few days after the result. During the campaign, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove have deluded the nation with deliberate lies and unrealisable promises. Johnson in particular has understood, from his time as the Telegraph’s Europe correspondent, that if you hit the right resonant note with an untruth that people want to believe, you can overwhelm any amount of reasoned argument.
But then Boris Johnson is a shameless liar, who when challenged shrugs his shoulders and makes a joke. I don’t risk any legal action by saying this because his history of lying is in the public domain, along with a recorded telephone conversation with Darius Guppy, an Old Etonian chum, in which Johnson agrees to get the address of Stuart Collier, a News of the World journalist at the time, so that Guppy could send round someone to beat him up. I assembled the relevant videos and links into a blog piece here. Listen for yourself and then circulate it to your friends and relatives!
If there was a petition for “Anyone but Boris” I’d sign straightaway! We certainly don’t need this apology for a politician, with his brand of post-truth politics, to become the Prime Minister!
John Preedy

David said...

Yes, I remember the Guppy conversation, which should persuade people that one can smile and smile and yet be a villain - but folk have short memories. Not sure I actually heard the recording, will be delighted to circulate. It's not feasible that a man who should be in prison could be Prime Minister. Theresa May and, God forbid, Jeremy Hunt lesser evils...

'Post-truth politics' is certainly a new phase of life in our so-called democracies.