Friday, June 24, 2016

the day after

This says it all: a remain flier, crumpled, and in a drain;

flags from a Remain party that people who live opposite my parents had yesterday (yes, I can see that's a Norwegian flag);

the dismal sight of the newspapers at LHR when I flew in this morning, after a long, long night of on-line watching;

the poster at a local church (always good with its posters), bringing the referendum and Wimbledon Tennis together;

and, well, Englishness.

I'm still processing the whole thing, because there are so many moving parts behind the Brexit vote.  It's brought out very, very plainly the two-nation character of this country - or the several-nation, given that Scotland may well vote for independence down the road: this was in very large part a Trumpish revolt against what's perceived as ruling-class arrogance and Experts (but then - factor in the paradox of both David Cameron and Boris Johnson being Old Etonians).  There's the globalized wonder and delight that is contemporary London, versus, broadly speaking, the rest of England, apart from university towns and their hinterlands (and no, NYT, Newcastle on Tyne is not "a university town" - that's a bit like calling Detroit a "college town.")  The voting stats show very clearly that the lower people's level of educational achievement, the less likely they were to vote Remain.  And the older they are, the more likely to vote Brexit.  To be sure, there's a good deal of nostalgia for familiarity there.  My parents are good (and educated) examples, I fear: they want to be able to buy vegetables in pounds and ounces again, not in kilograms (and my mother needed to be put straight that the EEC hadn't been responsible for making us adopt decimal currency).  My father voiced his disdain for having decisions that impact the UK "imposed" by numerous (foreign) bureaucrats in Brussels.  So the slogan of "Take Back (Democratic) Control" has a lot of resonance.  But then - there's a nasty, small minded, angry nationalistic component to all this - easy enough to see that this comes from de-industrialization, and lack of local opportunities (as well as resentment against, say, Eastern European vegetable harvesters) - with no realization, seemingly, of EU subsidies that cushion some of this economic woe.  And it's this component that is going, I fear, to feed fires within Europe (as well as the US).

And so much more.  I'm exhausted, but more thoughts will follow - because there are, as I say, so many other pieces in motion.  And yes, it's all emotional in a very visceral way - my own relationship to my own country, to Englishness and European-ness, has just received a big bad jolt.  

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