Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Compulsive Reading

I must admit to being an avid reader. I primarily read fiction of all genre, and I read about chess, my main hobby and passion (and work). I prefer paper books to kindle or other e-readers but I'll also read online. I belong to the group that like to read more than one book at a time. I am currently reading "The Cuckoo's Calling" by Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) and rereading "Never Let Me Go" by Kazuo Ishiguro. I also have a number of chess books open, but I won't bore you with them, or remind my wife to nag me to clear some of them away.

The online coverage of the Brexit referendum in the UK has been compulsive reading for me over the past week. I've tried to stick to news sites, but have sometimes been waylaid by opinion pieces, and non expert analysis. To be honest, I haven't been gripped by anything such as this since the 9/11 World Trade Centre destruction dominated the news on TV's. And once again, reading about it has been just as depressing from an outsider's point of view. For living in Australia now, though still a UK citizen, that is what I am, an outsider. An outsider with a distinct perspective.

Let's get something straight. If I'd have voted, I'd have voted to remain in Europe. Does this bias my opinion? Probably, but I guess everyone has a bias, and some certainly have more of an agenda to push than others.

So my justifications for remaining in Europe:

- I prefer Internationalism to Nationalism, and have started to appreciate Federal systems, while I am certainly against Monarchy as a form of rule in any sense, even as a rubber stamp.

- I was concerned about the elite economic community warning about the likelihood of recession in local and probably global terms.

- I was wary of the leave campaign's emphasis on immigration which struck me as close to racist incitement when it was being presented.

I must admit, I did have some sympathy for some leave policies, but overall I was in the remain camp. From what I've been reading, the majority of people are like me. There were 2 or 3 issues that swung the situation for them, and they voted on that, one way or another.

The aftermath has been absolutely gruesome.

The nation is divided and seems to be going through some sort of crisis. News media outlets are swinging between leave to remain support on an almost daily basis, and even individual writers and journalists are changing tune depending on situations.

The Parliamentary parties are really struggling at the moment. PM David Cameron made possibly the biggest blunder in recent UK political history by agreeing to a referendum that in his arrogance, he thought he'd win. When the vote came against him, he resigned within 24 hours, leaving the country and the Conservative party without anyone to fulfil the task of seeing the Brexit decision through to it's logical conclusion. The Labour party are equally divided with an all out coup from the centre of the party currently trying to put pressure on leader Jeremy Corbyn to step down. Opinion polls I've seen have shown the parties running about equal at the moment, but with leadership changes coming from both sides who knows how that will affect the way the country votes at a next General Election.

Financially, the UK and Europe (and the world) face an unsettled time. I've read about stock market crashes happening around the globe, wealth destroyed in the UK, pensions threatened for the future, and worries over trade agreements. If the news has it right, then it would appear that the EU do not want to treat kindly with the UK on its exit.

Socially, it is just as concerning. Racially motivated hate crimes are up by nearly 60% since the Brexit referendum according to police. Social media has been very strong about this issue, and to an outsider like myself, it appears very worrying. However, taking that aside, the news sites have shown enough worrying material to be concerned. The vote to leave seems to have galvanised those groups and individuals with racially motivated agenda as if they feel they have now a right to peddle their trade.

And linked to this, there have been accusations and generalisations which have polarised the public. People calling the race card are offending leave voters without racially motivated intentions. Older voters have been accused of swelling the ranks of leave voters, but again this is a generalisation. My 88 year old Mum and Caroline's 87 year old Mum both voted remain. Basically, generalisations about every group have not helped with the unity of the country. Regionally, Scotland won the Remain vote by the biggest majority but that still left nearly 40% voting to leave or in real terms, still a little over a million people. Meanwhile, many leave voters seem to be accusing remain voters of being bad losers, and telling them to just accept the situation. While there are always going to be loud advocates for both sides, being told that your opinions are unwanted when you are worried about racial harassment and how it might affect your family is somewhat intolerant. Calls by members of both leave and remain camps to show unity at this difficult time are a farce. The country is clearly not decided, with leave voters openly admitting they made a mistake.

It's sometimes said the worst thing is not knowing, and that seems to be the situation in the UK at the moment. Which way will things go? Will a Government invoke Article 50 and leave the EU or won't they? Will there be an economic crisis in the UK? Will the right wing grow in strength? Will the Tory and Labour parties suffer losses? Will the member countries of the UK leave? Until there is some resolution of these fundamental issues, I don't see that the UK will be sorting anything out, and the longer it takes to decide these issues, the worse things are likely to get.

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