I’d apologise for interrupting your regularly scheduled knitting and/or crochet programming, except that I’ve never been much good at keeping to a schedule. However, instead of updating you on the endless flow of shawls and socks falling off my knitting needles, I feel the need to chunter because, frankly, I’m so hopping mad, casting on a sock just isn’t going to cut it.
Firstly, the fact that a referendum was held at all. When I look back at the myriad of broken manifesto promises made by party leaders of all political flavours over the years, why the hell couldn’t this have been one of them? We all know that political parties will promise the electorate practically anything to secure their vote in the run up to a general election. Personally, I gave up expecting manifesto promises to actually be honoured not long after I stopped believing in fairies and Father Christmas.
If David Cameron had bothered to ask my opinion, I would have told him that I believe that an issue like leaving the EU was too important to be decided by a referendum. I believe that such a monumental decision should only be taken by parliament, after a careful examination of all the implications, having considered expert advice (I’m looking at you, Michael Gove), and being fully debated. While I don’t think that Westminster is a haven for reasoned argument or, for that matter, the truth, I do think that the worst of the blatant lies would have been challenged more effectively.
As always seems to be the case these days, the facts don’t seem to matter. What matters is who can run the most effective campaign, who can put the best spin on a story, who can garner the most air time, come up with the most eye-catching headline. If you’re not photogenic, if your presentation isn’t slick and polished, if you don’t/can’t deliver your message in short, snappy soundbites then it doesn’t seem to matter if you stick to the facts and tell the truth.
I’m so glad I turned out to vote on Thursday. I almost didn’t. It seemed inconceivable that the majority of voters would vote to leave the EU. But I was brought up to believe that voting is important, and I felt very strongly that Britain should remain in the EU and I wanted to put my cross in the box and register that.
To say that I was stunned to wake up on Friday to the news that the (small) majority had voted to leave the EU would be an understatement. Apparently I wasn’t the only one. Neither the government or the Leave campaign actually seem to have considered the possibility that they would win. We are now in a strange limbo where no-one appears to know what should happen next, especially the people who should know what happens next.
The government asked us one simple question last week and all our collective answer has done is raise a multitude of other questions that no-one can or will answer. All the referendum is, is an opinion poll. It’s not binding in any way. Then there’s that pesky article 50. How do we trigger it? There doesn’t appear to be an easy answer. Is it as simple as the Prime Minister, whoever that turns out to be, making a declaration? Does it require an Act of Parliament? If it does, would the majority of MPs follow the wishes of their constituents and pass an Act to get us out of the EU, or would they follow their own inclinations and keep us in?
The Leave campaign seem to have been labouring under the delusion that they can negotiate to their hearts’ content, then, when they’ve got everything they wanted, trigger the exit clause, only to be told by the EU, No, Non, Nein! Exit clause first, then negotiate, which puts a slightly (very!) different slant on things. It’s a bit tricky really, because the Leave campaign really wants to trade with the EU on favourable terms, just like we do now, but to do that we have to give as much money to the EU as we’ve ever done, we still have agree to free movement of people within the EU, but we have no say in Europe any more. So basically, the same as now but with no representation and no vote or veto.
Aha, but sovereignty! Oh yes, we’ll be able to get rid of all those pesky laws that protect our human rights, our employment and the environment – all of which are better than the protection our own government would give us. Still, maybe when we’re all on slave wages and zero hours contracts with no employment rights at all, maybe people like James Dyson will move their manufacturing back to the UK? Isn’t it nice to have something to look forward to?
With all this, we can still look to the opposition, Labour, to provide some answers, right? Well, maybe we could have done except Jeremy Corbyn has been stabbed in the back so many times since the weekend, it’s a wonder the man can still stand up. I’m even angrier about this than the whole EU fiasco. For almost a week now, I’ve been reading articles about how a large portion of the Leave vote, didn’t really care one way or the other, they’re just so disillusioned with Westminster that they voted to upset the apple cart. And the Shadow Cabinet’s response is to set fire to it.
If they truly disagree with Jeremy Corbyn, that’s their right. I’m all for having the courage of your convictions, but there is a time and a place, and this is not it. It’s a shame they didn’t nail their colours to the mast when he offered them their jobs in the first place. You know all those people disillusioned with Westminster? I’m one of them and I’ve been one of them since I stopped being able to tell New Labour from Conservative, about 5 minutes after Tony Blair won the election in 1997.
After 1997, I stopped voting Labour. I voted once for the Monster Raving Loony Party, and when they didn’t have a candidate, I spoiled my vote. When Jeremy Corbyn was elected as leader of the Labour party, it finally felt like here was a Labour party I could get behind. Corbyn isn’t slick or flashy, neither is he patronising, and I don’t believe he’s lying every time he opens mouth. We keep getting told he’s ‘unelectable’, by precisely those slick politicians peddling their sound bites, that I’m so heartily sick of.
Personally, I think he’s so ‘electable’ I joined the Labour Party this week. If there’s a leadership contest, he’s got my vote and he’ll have it in a general election, even if it means I’ve got to vote for the back-stabbing MP that resigned this week, who currently represents my constituency.
Last, and by no means least, of all the things that have me grinding my teeth this last week. When did the BBC get taken over by the Daily Mail? Their interviewers are just awful, and the negative and aggressive questioning of Jeremy Corbyn at the weekend by Peter Snow left a very sour taste in my mouth. If you want to put words in someone’s mouth, don’t bother interviewing them, just make it all up like Laura Kuenssberg did in her piece about Corbyn’s office ‘sabotaging’ the remain campaign. I have to assume she made it all up as she hasn’t presented a shred of evidence.