Thursday, 23 June 2016

On Brexit and Good Deeds.

I’m becoming a little nervous about tomorrow’s vote on whether Britain should leave the EU. It bothers me that the whole impetus of the Leave campaign has revolved around the notion that free movement within the EU is causing Britain to become a ‘mish-mash’ of different ethnic groups. In other words, people are frightened that Britain risks becoming more cosmopolitan and that this will result in some sort of degeneration in our perceived national characteristics.

Frankly, I welcome Britain becoming more cosmopolitan. I got used to living in a cosmopolitan city for nearly ten years before I moved to Ashbourne, and when I arrived here and found that everybody was white and spoke with a Derbyshire accent, I felt uncomfortable. It all seemed so one-dimensional, so weak and pale and pasty. It was then that I realised how much more colourful and vibrant cosmopolitan cultures are. And the fact isn’t lost upon me that, for all its faults, America became the most powerful country on earth on the back of a cosmopolitan culture. And it’s still recognisably American.

One of the local farmers has a sign by his gate saying Vote Leave. He’s a nice man and I like him, but he’s an elderly white man who I’m sure remembers the days when Britain had an empire, and is still convinced that Britain is a major force in the world. This is another leading component of the Leave mentality: Britain used to be great, and can be again if only we throw off the yoke of European bureaucracy.

Let’s face it, Britain stopped being a major force after WWII. We are still a significant player in world affairs, but no more than that. And the world has changed immeasurably in that time, becoming ever more internationalised. Much of Britain’s economy is based on foreign investment, but it isn’t Britain foreigners want to invest in because Britain isn’t big enough; it’s the European market they want.

And so tomorrow, we – a little island off the north-west coast of Europe – might be set adrift and forced to go it alone in a world run by the big power players of America, Europe and China, and all because of small minded xenophobia and hopelessly outdated delusions of greatness. And by the way, Noam Chomsky – one of the foremost minds on the planet and an American to boot – says that if Britain leaves the EU, it will come more under the influence of America. He went on to say that this is probably not a good thing.

OK, so let’s add something to the farmer’s notice:

Vote Leave
Become America’s Poodle


But maybe I shouldn’t care. I’m an internationalist at heart and I expect I always shall be, so maybe I won’t.

And do you know what? I had a reply to one of my comments on YouTube last night. It said: You make me ashamed to be English. Oh well, that’s my good deed for the week.

*  *  *

And on yet another unrelated note (see last post), I came to the aid of a damsel in distress today. As I walked across the car park I saw her trying unsuccessfully and with mounting frustration to get a bike out of the back of her car.

‘Would you like a second pair of hands?’ I asked her.

‘Yes please.’

And so I got the bike out of the car. It was actually quite easy, and I do so like helping damsels in distress when it’s actually quite easy.


Della said...

I understand your sentiments exactly. We are all very surprised over here about the vote. I don't know what exactly the trade, tax and movement implications of this will be, but imagine there will be a lot of wasted time (and money) now with politicians negotiating new agreements perhaps only to arrive at similar results. Such a close vote, too. And what about Scotland? Selfishly, I was happy to hear nothing will change with my daughter's situation throughout her term at U. of Edinburgh (they've sent out a nice email this morning). The worst bit is the symbolic nationalism of the measure, the uncharitable 'us vs. them' attitude. It's a growing concern all over Europe and I'm so shocked that we seem to have learned nothing at all from history. Anyway, it doesn't seem like it, but maybe something good will come of this, eventually.

JJ Beazley said...

See my later post, Della. I'm so glad that your daughter and others like her won't be innocent victims of this affair, although I think there will be innocent victims of one sort or another.