On 23 June 2016 I voted to leave the European Union, there were many reasons for this vote but here are my top 5.
- Democracy: EU is anti democratic with only a consultative body directly elected and it allows member governments to enact important laws and directives without accountability
- Free Movement: Fortress Europe gives primacy to the generally white Europeans and blocks the rest of the world.
- Corporatism: EU is a machine of regulation that creates barriers to prevent innovative people from competing in the marketplace
- Austerity: The central banks allowed countries into the Euro Currency with immature economies and then imposed draconian austerity regimes on them for the rest of time enslaving half of the continent
- Self Determination: The EU with 500 million people and 28 different countries is not a viable governing unit unlike Britain with its shared language, culture and history
Not an unreasonable point of view in my opinion and one shared with MP’s both Labour and Consevative and a staple of much left wing thinking ever since we joined (even shared with the economics editor of the Guardian). I understand that there are counter arguments to this and it’s important that people make them to enable us to make a decision. Which raises the question.
What is democracy?
The debate around the EU has been raging ever since we held the referendum to enter the European Economic Area in 1975, a move was opposed by the Labour Party for some of the reasons above. This culminating in 2015 when the Conservative Party offered the country an in / out Referendum mainly to prevent the Labour Party doing likewise and to mop up the surge in support from Eurosceptic parties that still got over 4 million votes. The elected government duly passed legislation supported by 81% of MP’s to give the decision to the people in a referendum. There followed 8 weeks of intense debate where ideas and facts were scrutinised and all citizens given one equal vote each to decide the outcome. There you go, that established the will of the people which was 52 % to leave the EU.
So far, so sober, sensible and for society important to have a way of making the big calls without throwing punches, bricks and generally killing each other. All good?
Well maybe not, the decision challenged many powerful vested interests which predictably started working against the popular will on all sorts of different levels but perhaps most surprisingly on the cultural level.
Now let’s get this straight a politician calling 52% of the people (including me apparently) racists (step forward Diane Abbot (good luck with that election campaign Labour)) is fine, after all they are in the public eye and every word they say can be challenged and they are held account for it. But what about musicians, comedians or other artists who have a platform where, by and large, they do not give a fair and reasonable right to reply.
Immediately after the referendum Glastonbury went into meltdown with artists and Noel Gallagher queuing up to express their hysterical grief and their shared sense of existential shock. The preceding debate showed the intrinsic value to a society of challenging each other with respect to arrive at a decision yet the day after the decision Noel used his platform to tell us “99% of this country are as thick as pig shit” , then Damon Albarn told us “democracy has failed we have been misled”. Now a right of reply would have sought their answers to many of the points raised above. But no, that band wagon was already rolling as one after the other queued up to grab this historic moment and add their voice to the condemnation with a memorable twist if possible. PJ Harvey read a poem by John Donne from 1624 which many people may not have been familiar with but which I like totally got. Performers like Adele, Billy Bragg, Coldplay and Ellie Golding all made comments about the general sense of tragedy and dismay about what “they have done to our country”. To be fair as a long time paid up indie fan boy I didn’t like the people mentioned here (OK PJ Harvey has a couple of good tunes) but it seemed like this echo chamber was much bigger than that.
Onto the Edinburgh fringe festival a place where this indie kid spent many an hours watching the comedic parallel politics of 80’s left wing radicalism play out. The comedians reacted with predictable outrage at the outcome with my erstwhile spiritual leader at the head of the charge. Now I had not heard Stewart Lee ever make any comment on the EU before and I was looking forward to him performing a couple of months after the Referendum. I couldn’t go in the end and my fellow wizards advised me that I had taken a wise decision not to attend as myself and the 17.4 million people who didn’t agree with him were his target stating “not all people who voted leave are racists but they are all cunts”. But how so, was Stewart not the democratic and freedom loving comrade I thought he was? Well reading Stewart’s recent output I can see what the Wizards meant Lee branding the vote a “national anti-immigration referendum“. Elsewhere 80’s punk poet Atilla The Stockbroker questioned the nature of democracy arguing that the referendum was not the will of the people because the people who couldn’t or chose not to vote didn’t count. Curiously Atilla has been advocating leaving the EU for much of his political life and changed his mind during the campaign, there’s another name for that “Bottling It”!
Where does that leave the indie Brexiteers? Are we now condemned to a cultural life of attending gigs and comedy shows waiting for slights and insults from the stage. Having Twitter feeds filled with condemnation from The Future Of The Left or The Fat White Family. Well maybe not, one central icon came to the rescue, Morrissey who called the referendum result “Magnificent”. In the only spectacle of cultural push back I have seen Morrissey concluded his Manchester show by saying:
“Many years ago I wrote a song and the lyrics were I have been dreaming of a time when the English are sick to death of Labour and Tory and now they are! Whatever happens now. I love you!
View Irish Blood English Heart Manchester 2016 here.
Thank you Mozza maybe there is still a chance to go back to the old house.