This Is The Road To Hell

I grieve for the UK’s place in Europe. Can the Kübler-Ross model help me through?

SHOCK: It seems so long ago already but, only last Thursday, after remaining as objective as I could throughout the Referendum campaign, I finally reached what was always in truth going to be my conclusion, and voted a heart-felt “Remain” in the EU Referendum. I blogged at some length about the reasons why this was, for me, the only and obvious conclusion to reach. As the voting booths closed and Dimbleby began his traditional marathon Election Night coverage, I settled back on the sofa for a long night to see where everyone else’s conclusions had taken them. By 1:30am my tired, old body was flaking and I headed upstairs 3-and-a-half hours into proceedings that had diligently stuck to the ‘too-close-to-call’ narrative, but Leave was doing better than expected and my fears were pretty strong by the time my head hit the pillow… Britain might just be about to monumentally shoot itself in the foot. After waking, grabbing my iPhone, and seeing the result the only word I could muster was a rather disconsolate “Fuck!”, and I tried to process the fact that those fears had become a reality. I went downstairs, made a coffee and tuned in to see what just what had happened. For about an hour, all I could manage was half-hearted tweet that read “Just woken up. Feel like I should go back to bed. WHAT THE HELL HAVE WE DONE?!”.

DENIAL: As the shock subsided, the immediate aftermath was full of questions, not so much as to how and why this came to pass, but more questioning that surely this can’t be real and what can be done about it. The case for Leave had been so jingoistic, calling upon primal, nationalistic urges to “take our country back”. Neither from where it was coming, nor into what we were supposed to be bringing it, seemed to matter one iota. The “Plan”, simply, did not exist and that was clear for all to see (or not see, as the case may be). And yet, this flawed narrative managed to encourage 17 million of my country folk to think it was a good idea. We’ve seen widespread ‘regrexit’ (which is almost a clever bit of word play on ‘regrets it’ but doesn’t quite work) and we’ve seen a petition from deniers that is, as I type, happily trundling up to 4-million signatures, asking to go through the whole vote again. Failing to come to terms with reality after the event, is the sort of behaviour I wouldn’t usually condone, but holy shit, surely there must be something that can be done?! The Referendum was not binding, only advisory. The vote was not strongly enough in favour when taking turnout in account. The delay from all sides over submitting much talked-about Article 50 is probably indicative that something wrong is afoot.

ANGER: The road to hell, it is said, is paved with good intentions. I’ve spoken to Leavers who’ve talked about genuine opportunities for a country unshackled from bureaucracy, about economic prosperity that could result from freedom from the policies that leave them hamstrung in red tape, and about an accountable sovereignty with whom we can engage and who we can either elect or vote out at our own behest. These are honest, good, passionate people and I bear them no ill will, nor begrudge them victory… despite my total disagreement with their views. The consequence of the Leave vote was not exactly unpredictable. Indeed, Nick Clegg managed to write an article for the i-paper on the eve of the vote that was a scarily spot-on prediction of what would happen should the unthinkable come to pass. Tragically, a vote to Leave was also seen to deliver a misguided mandate to those ignorant fuckwits whose spiritual forefathers used to smear “Paki go home” in excrement on the cars of anyone vaguely Asian in appearance back in the 70’s. This pernicious, anti-immigration rhetoric that has polluted our both our press and our communities for too many years to count has taken hold with a minority of small-minded, hate-fuelled yobs and we’ve seen deeply unpleasant accounts reported way too many times since the result was announced. Obviously, anyone with half a brain rightly condemns any such behaviour but not all of them can remove themselves from culpability.

BARGAINING: This is where we are now: a nation divided; a nation in need of leadership. However, the Conservative Party is leaderless, rudderless, and undoubtedly partaking of some serious backroom negotiations on the why’s and wherefore’s of either the “Coronation of Boris” or a sedate, conciliatory leadership election. The much-reported theory that Cameron’s resignation was the first manoeuvre in a strategy to not fulfil the will of the people remains a conspiracy theory, albeit a compelling one, but one about which I remain thoroughly unconvinced. The Parliamentary Labour Party is in a state of civil war with one faction seeming to have laid the blame squarely at the feet of Jeremy Corbyn’s lacklustre input to the campaign. Threats of no-confidence votes were already being voiced before Friday lunchtime. It was as if this result was simply the opportunity to oust a leader with whom the PLP never had faith in to begin with (despite the huge mandate with which he was elected) and little to do with the vote itself. The Green Party and the LibDems seem to be wringing their hands and unsure of their next move. Meanwhile, as I have said before, the gloss of victory for the UKIP ideology will soon fade to insignificance because *every* UK party now has to have its own independence policies to accommodate Brexit. Hopefully, this will mean the far-right party will become the exclusive haunt of racists and xenophobes while more subdued independence-mongers will return to the relative comfort of the major parties. The SNP seem to be only outfit who had a strategy to roll-out in the event of this result and who’s to say that the Nicola Sturgeon juggernaut won’t now be stopped until another Union comes under threat?

DEPRESSION: Uncertainty is the watch-word of the day and, in all likelihood, it will remain a watch-word for the UK for days, weeks, months and years to come. Uncertainty as to where our political leaders go from here. Uncertainty as to how, or even if, businesses will invest in the UK and subsequent uncertainty about jobs. Uncertainty about the markets with the pound taking a bettering and stock markets (and therefore our pensions) getting a kicking as well. Uncertainty as to whether we will able to slow the tide of intolerance and hate. Uncertainty as to whether this means that the economy, which still hasn’t recovered from the 2007 crash, will simply be pushed into another recession and/or further austerity, creating more poverty and the systematic dismantling of our national institutions.  Still, I’ve always got the opportunity to enjoy the football… oh!

ACCEPTANCE: Nope. Not there yet!



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