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Britler

In October 2010 the British Government decided that “because of the sovereignty of Parliament, referendums cannot be legally binding in the UK, and are therefore advisory.”

In June 2016, approximately 37% of the UK's citizenry voted in an advisory referendum, stating their desire to leave the EU.

Of those who voted, the breakdown was 52-48%, a percentage Nigel Farage considered marginal, 'unfinished business' and potential reason for a second referendum. But that 52% went his way, and suddenly this non-legally binding advisory poll became business finished well enough, touted as a must, a landslide win, a mandate for Brexit,and the vote-free, manifesto-free, election-free ascendancy of the most right wing government in Britain that I have ever lived through -  and that's saying something considering that I was around for the Thatcher years.


The use of Hitler as a hyperbole-inducing thought-terminating cliche, (Godwin's Law/reductio ad hitlerum) indicating the worst of all possible things, turns his name into an effective short circuit in any debate. Yes, attitudes harden, anger rises and that's the end of that. But despite that risk, I don't think parallels can be ignored. There can be no damnatio memoriae regarding this man, the steps he took, the people who followed him and how it all happened. I think it was in 1918 that Jung first warned of Germany's 'blonde beast,' ready to burst out. Speak to many Brits about that and they would nod, enjoying any sense of the world wars as their victories  on a historic tribal level. But they would not see how they could be repeating the same phenomenon tailored to their own idea of a national archetype/ideal.

There are worrying resonances; in Britain the divide between rich and poor has grown in an ethos  punitive towards the most vulnerable. This has led to massive resentment, ignored by the establishment, with the result of a popular seething anger at the 'haves,' elites and cliques perceived as corrupt and untouchable, while so many suffer under a system that sneers at their poverty and allows no way out of it. These cliques are considered to be pro-Europe,pro-profit and pro-self. The hardened resentment of those with no hope found an outlet in voting against the dull facts and figures of these Weimar-esque caricatures.

Among the dispossessed and downtrodden, the message of the far right seems empowering, removing the previous blame and shame of poverty. It became the fault of foreigners taking our money and our houses and our benefits, leeching off the system while good honest Brits got left behind... a myth but myths have power, this one as toxic and addictive as tobacco.

Many do not read, do not know, do not want to know. They want, instead, a story about how great they are, how outsiders are the real enemy, infiltrating, eroding our values, destroying our culture.

And yes, they could read a book  but which book would they choose?

Earlier this week I received a death threat,not from some anonymous troll but a person with a real identity on FB. He told me that if he was asked to clear these islands of 'traitors' like me, he would do so in a flash. I checked out his profile. It was no surprise to see, among his photos, a copy of Mein Kampf very proudly displayed.

An ugly compliment that such a creature should see me as his enemy.

Brexit may/may not be a catastrophe, but  to my mind, it is not the very worst thing that could happen.  I suspect the worst thing that could happen would be for us to become effectively a one party state chopping and changing legislation as suits any given government. Now we see the danger of an uncodified constitution.

May wants Brexit to be considered a done deal,beyond debate, which is why she is is trying to claim the Royal Prerogative. She's terrified of parliament voting on whether or not to go through with Brexit at all, of alliances being formed that split her party and  minimise her majority.  Of course, it's a possibility but it's just as likely that MPs will follow the party line, and be mindful of their pro-leave constituents. What is interesting is not how they vote, but the attempt to stop them voting. Our prime minister is prepared to rip up the constitution to prevent MPs from having their say. If she succeeds...Well...

Someone may find that a useful precedent some day.

.

Comments

( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
benicek
Oct. 25th, 2016 10:28 am (UTC)

I had this book on my shelf for years, unread, written during the war by a Hungarian journalist exiled to Britain. It had a miserable title: 'Epitaph for Europe'. After the Brexit vote I decided to give it a go. It turned out to be highly entertaining, recounting his often amusing experiences and conversations in different European countries in the 1930s. He spent a lot of time in Germany and was a fluent German speaker. What was most interesting was how people he knew; artists, writers, some of them proto-hippies, just ended up climbing on the nationalist / nazi bandwagon because, well there was nothing else, and sometimes it paid well too. And his description of the casually hate-filled newspaper-driven popular mood in Hungary might as well have been a description of the Daily Express now.

smokingboot
Oct. 26th, 2016 04:38 pm (UTC)
It sounds very interesting despite the title.

I'm going to look out for it.
smokingboot
Oct. 26th, 2016 05:04 pm (UTC)
Cheers!
benicek
Oct. 26th, 2016 05:12 pm (UTC)
Oh there's my review on Amazon too. I'd forgotten I wrote that.
smokingboot
Oct. 27th, 2016 12:02 pm (UTC)
It's a great review. 5 stars! I think I have to buy the book, but am worried that it will just add to my pessimism about the future...
benicek
Oct. 27th, 2016 06:43 pm (UTC)
It might a bit. On the other hand it has got a load of funny stories in it and some great quotes.
velvet_the_cat
Oct. 31st, 2016 04:45 pm (UTC)
I started watching a TV documentary, 'The Rise and Fall of Hitler', sort of by accident a few weeks ago, but have ended up being a bit mesmerised by it because of the parallels, not just with the Brexit debacle, but also the US election terror.

Disenfranchised masses looking to follow someone that says that they will make it better. No regard for how, just they will make 'Germany'* great again.

*insert Britain or America and oh, such a similar message.

Scary, scary times.
smokingboot
Nov. 1st, 2016 08:14 am (UTC)
I agree. I read an excellent article a while back, focusing on American politics but it could just as easily have been written about GB, unfortunately I lost the link. It spoke about the American White Working Class and its slide to the bottom, where there's no-one to punch down, no-one to feel 'better than.' I think there is more than an element of that here too; but I think in the UK, the search for the scapegoat is more popular than the search for the messiah.

It is very worrying.

Edited at 2016-11-01 11:45 am (UTC)
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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