Sunday, 26 June 2016


I've always been a proud Englishman, but that pride is not bound up with the usual motivations for it, or expressions of it, that typify such an animal. I've always, for example, absolutely detested the flag-waving, tub-thumping spectacle of the last night of the Proms. Instead it's come from the fact that I've always thought us an island of open minded, tolerant, modern-thinking, creative, culturally significant people.

That belief has, obviously, taken something of a dent these past few days. Immediately on hearing the referendum result, my reaction was pretty sanguine. Just accept it and get on with it, I thought. But what's been happening since then has served only to make me think that, frankly, we're a nation of idiots. Look at this piece in the Indy, for example. The morning after the vote, and only once the result had been announced, there was a surge in Google searches for what happens if we vote to leave. I'd thought, rather naively as it turns out, that this is the sort of thing you looked for before you cast your vote. Accepting that some of these may have been worried Remain voters fearing the worst, if you don't even know what it is you're voting for, should you really be in the damn polling station in the first place? I guess it's possibly because many Leave voters were busy fretting about being robbed by a conspiracy to alter the results by erasing the pencil marks beforehand. Perhaps they didn't have time to actually consider the other stuff.

Then there's the quantity of spoiled ballot papers - over 26,000. Of course the bulk of those are people making some form of personal protest, but over 9,000 of these were rejected for both boxes having been marked. What the fuck? How much more simple does it have to be to enable people to vote correctly?

The post-vote response of some people has been startling, too. A workmate told me that more than one of his friends had said they 'didn't think their vote would count'. Apart from wondering why they bothered to vote in the first place if they genuinely believed that, you again have to ask how they thought this process was going to work if some votes counted and some didn't.

There's no room for voter remorse, and no point arguing the result. No matter how huge the petition grows for another vote, it's pointless and doomed to failure because it's asking for retrospective legislation. There was one vote, and it's done.That's how democracy works - the people have spoken and now have to deal with the consequences. Consequences that we're seeing all too quickly. An apparently broken PM resigning, the only thing he could do in the circumstances. The Parliamentary Labour Party rebelling against its leader and, in the process, showing that it doesn't think the same way as the bulk of its voters - in the north at least - because Corbyn, who better reflects what those northern voters think, was too lukewarm in his support of Remain. The prospect of Boris Johnson or Michael Gove taking over at Number 10, in the process giving us an unelected leader that I rather thought was the type of thing the Leave campaign were against. The two of them may at least have managed to sound gracious in victory, but it's hard to ignore that they were doing so when a nice spot in Downing Street had just opened up.

We're also seeing the first noises being made in what could ultimately lead to the break-up of the supposedly United Kingdom (what a joke that name looks like now, given the enormous division in voting). The Scots were already pissed off about the failure to deliver on promises made after their own devolution referendum. They're positively livid now. And what's going to happen on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic? Surely they're not going to want to return to the days of patrolled borders, checks to get across etc, which would be horribly reminiscent of the Troubles they've worked so hard to leave behind.

Meanwhile, Leave are busily distancing themselves from much of the stuff they'd campaigned on. The £350million claim, for example, which I described as already discredited in my previous entry, has now been called a 'mistake' by none other than Farage himself. The version of Britain for which Leave voters thought they were voting never existed, and never could. I wonder if they're beginning to realise that for themselves now.

I confess that, living in Lambeth, with its second highest pro-Remain vote in the country behind Gibraltar, I'd been optimistic that it would go the way I wanted. I hadn't seen a single Leave sticker, window poster etc, in my area. It was difficult, as that's all I was seeing, to see it going against Remain. I thought people would vote with a 'better the devil you know' nervousness about what would happen if we left. I was very badly wrong.

So - and I realise this is sour grapes, since that bitter taste in my mouth must be coming from somewhere - over 17 million people, plus the 28% who couldn't be titted to vote on the most important matter in our lifetimes - have forfeited their right to complain about what happens in future as a result of this vote. They've made the bed, it's just a pity that the young, the Scots, the Northern Irish, Gibraltarians and Londoners, the majority of whom all voted to Remain, will all have to lie in it with them.

And that pride in being English I was talking about? Well, during the General Election people turned out in their droves in Farage's constituency, some of them openly saying they were voting tactically specifically to keep him out. That's the sort of thing I was talking about making me proud. It's a pretty good thing they did, because his lack of class in victory was quite incredible. Then there's this sort of thing. I don't feel a great deal of pride at the moment. I feel ashamed, to be honest.

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