I was going to start this post with “sometimes, life just gives you so much to write about, there’s no time to actually write it,” but then I realised that was both pretentious and made my life sound far more interesting than it really is. So, instead, I give you – “Sometimes, there’s just too much news to easily pick just one topic for your blog.” So much, in fact, that I’m breaking this post down into sections.
1. The EU Referendum/Brexit
Having remarked in a previous post about how not many voters seemed interested in this, I feel I’ve really won my spurs as an insightful commentator on the matter. OK, clearly I didn’t expect there to be such a high turnout or for the electorate to opt for “Leave”. In my defence, I don’t think most of the politicians or the financial markets did either, which explains some of the chaos that’s followed.
I voted “Remain”, although to be honest that was less out of deep affection for the European Union than deep suspicion of the motives of the people who were keen to leave it. I always thought of the EU as basically an organisation designed to make wealthy corporations wealthier, with the nice side benefit of putting brakes on the seemingly limitless desire of some British Conservatives to remove any obstacle to businesses doing exactly what they like. Having seen a few revolutions and general strikes, European corporations are a bit more sensible about not relentlessly grinding their workers into the dust.
Who was backing “Leave”? Why, those very same Conservatives , of course, plus various people who are basically racists in different degrees of denial about it. Also, the sort of financiers who you could compare to Jimmy Saville, if Jimmy Saville’s main interest in life had been money, not under-aged girls. They’re creepy, predatory weirdos, and everyone else realises this and is just waiting for the big scandal to see exactly how nasty their nasty secrets are, but in the meantime nothing’s provable and they’re too oblivious to get any of this. Not a team you would really want to cheer for.
But, hey, they won, and given the uncertainty about where exactly this will end, I think it’s too early for some of the more hysterical “this is the end of Western civilisation”-type reactions that some people have come out with. The victors of Brexit aren’t fated to now have everything go their way just because they (narrowly) got their way on this point, and nor was the EU ever quite everything its supporters claimed.
The EU is a tariff organisation with political bolt-ons which, it turns out, didn’t bolt on so well. It’s never really been the guarantor of peace in Europe, because the reason there were devastating wars in Europe wasn’t lack of free movement of goods or labour or lack of a European Parliament, it was the political instability of various declining Empires that have now declined out of existence and Franco-German territorial and national rivalry that doesn’t really exist any more either. Anyone who objects to Brexit because of how much of a European they feel is (a) fairly pretentious, (b) voicing sentiments they could probably have voiced at any point since the Roman Empire, EU or no EU and (c) not really much better than the ordinary sort of nationalist they would claim to despise.
It is an important historical change, but not inevitably one for the worse.
2. The Tory leadership race
When others used to argue that Boris Johnson was “cleverer than he looked”, I would always say “No, he’s actually just as big a clown as he seems.” I feel that particular debate has now been conclusively settled in my favour.
3. The Labour “leadership race”
Although I suspect his views on the EU aren’t a million miles from mine, Jeremy Corbyn should now resign as Labour leader because of them. Why? Because I’m an opinionated git on the Internet and no-one cares what I think, and he’s trying to lead a Parliamentary party most of which clearly isn’t happy with what he thinks (and what he did because of it). Sorry, Jezza; life is unfair that way.
4. The future of UKIP
I haven’t read anyone who’s mentioned this so far, but for all Nigel Farage’s triumphalism, exactly what is the long-term future of his party, and him? They wanted withdrawal from the EU, and they’ll be getting it. They wanted greater control on immigration, and they’ll presumably be getting that too. Is there anything left but doubling-down on the anti-immigration and ending up on the fringe far right like the BNP?
EDIT: A couple of days after I posted this, Farage resigned as leader of UKIP, so it looks as if he may have been thinking along the same lines.
5. And finally – football
Once again, an England football team flatters to deceive, although for me their exit from the European Championship is a blessed relief because all the football bores will now have to shut up (well, about football – most bores are dedicated enough to being bores that they’re prepared to bore on about other sports, or even politics, once deprived of football).
The most irritating thing about football fans generally is the way they don’t get mocked as roundly as Star Trek fans, Doctor Who fans or obsessive followers of Benedict Cumberbatch do, in spite of having all the same flaws. We accept that it’s ludicrous for grown people to build their identity on hobbies in this way, and can see how it destroys all sense of proportion, but the footy boys and girls, like other sports fans, somehow have the sanction of tradition for behaving in the same way.
You could say that at least football fandom gets you out of the house and is social, but there’s a double-standard even there. Group of nerdy guys head off to a fan convention dressed as anime characters – laughable weirdos. Bunch of big fat blokes head off to a football stadium wearing shirts with the name of their favourite player on it – normal. And anime cosplayers have never, to my knowledge, started a full-on riot.