My 34th year so far – Brexit and Chilcott


On 11th June I turned 34. It’s fair to say that more has been packed into the month since then than in the entirety of my 33rd year.

England played their first match at the European Championships against Russia on my birthday. If anything, we should be thankful for the England football team, because so far they are the only thing that has maintained consistency, i.e. disappointment. For the money those lads get paid, that’s the least we can ask for.

As the joke goes, only England could leave Europe twice in the same week. We had the referendum on 23rd June and against the odds, we voted to leave by 52%. I myself had argued for a Leave vote from a left-wing, anti-racist, progressive position as detailed in my last blog.

Whilst I stand by my arguments, I wasn’t quite prepared for the sheer levels of despair it would inspire in many who voted to Remain. For them, over half of those who voted were throwing away the future of this country, persuaded by a campaign based on racism and lies. It was a victory for bigots and the narrow minded.

The impact of the result was felt immediately, with the pound crashing in value, and a significant spike in the reporting of racist abuse. David Cameron resigned, and Labour MPs manoeuvred to force out Jeremy Corbyn.

This was a hard time for many. Many who voted Remain were openly grieving. Social media was full of complaints saying that all leave voters were racist. This started to develop, in the face of protests by Leave voters demanding not to be attacked in such a way, into an argument that a Leave vote was one standing alongside racists, and in so doing gave them confidence. As such, anyone voting Leave was in some way responsible for the rise in racist attacks.

Traditionally the far left and the far right have been against the European Union, and its forerunners. The right from a narrow nationalist point of view, and the left as they see it as taking democratic control away from the people, and that it acts in the interests of capital.

In the 70s, as well as revolutionary Socialists, you had leading figures on the left taking a stand, such as Michael Foot and Tony Benn. In short, the left was much better represented and visible in the debate than today. Leading up to the latest referendum, the left only featured through a small number of Labour MPs, and they did themselves no favours by standing alongside arch-bigots like Nigel Farage.

Perhaps had Jeremy Corbyn not been Labour leader, there may have been a better progressive argument for Leaving the EU, with him, McDonnell and others taking a role. Not that I think Corbyn would definitely have been for a Leave vote though. He made a very strong, nuanced argument detailing the faults and weaknesses of the EU – perhaps he may have fallen behind a Remain vote, if critically.

I think anyone who thinks that leaving the EU is a complete disaster or a miraculous breakthrough do not understand what it actually is. On balance I think we are better out of the EU, but that’s not to say that there wouldn’t be a downside as well.

It was clear that the markets would be affected, and they have been. Only time will tell how badly the impact will affect Britain, and I’m guessing that will be in part down to how much it hits the global economy, as well as the UK directly.

The other noticeable difference has been the increase in racist abuse and attacks. Race hate crime reported to the Metropolitan Police daily was higher following the referendum result than prior. Whilst that’s horrible, half again than normal doesn’t sound like an epidemic. However, 5 times as many hate crimes were reported to the Police nationally, and that figure is more worrying.

I don’t think there are suddenly more racists than before, it’s the same nasty minority. However, they are certainly being more vocal. Many blame the result itself, and while it will definitely have had an impact, I think the nature of the campaigning leading up to the Referendum plays a role in and of itself – led by official Leave campaigns, with the complicity of the Remain campaign. Cameron can bemoan the figures, but he’s been stoking this poison for his own gain for years.

Part of the fallout, as I’ve said, has been the emotional well being of many who voted for Remain. I’ve seen a number join the Labour Party, and some joining Trade Unions. If it pushes more people into activity, that can only be a good thing. Hopefully it doesn’t just mean people paying subscriptions hoping that someone will change things on their behalf – you have to get involved yourself.

I know saying “good for you” for joining a union can come across as a condescending pat on the head, but it is a good thing to do. Everyone should join a union, it’s such a basic thing we can all do. But I have been a Union member for over 10 years, and as such, know it’s not a walk in the park. There are still aspects of bureaucratic activity that bamboozle me and also, as with any democratic institution, there are many arguments along the way.

The EU referendum to one side, I always argued that the real enemy were our own ruling class. Yes, to have a greater democratic control over those that make the laws that govern you can only be a good thing, but we all know the current government are not the friend of the vulnerable or workers.

If there is a positive that could come from this result, it’s seeing the Tory party weakened through their own infighting. As this happens what do Labour do? Try and fecking implode!

The Parliamentary Labour Party have used the referendum result as an excuse to attack Jeremy Corbyn. Personally, I think Corbyn might have played a blinder. He was a critical supporter of remaining in the EU, and as such has the potential to address concerns from people on both sides of the debate.

Whilst the Labour right want to try and out Tory the Tories by being anti-immigration, Corbyn could make changes that would genuinely help people in poorer working class communities, such as re-nationalising public transport, improving services, building more homes. People blame immigration as being the cause for the lack of resources, but it’s been a political decision to under-fund in these areas that has caused the problem. He’s the only potential leader who could genuinely address this.

I understand there are Labour members who genuinely worry about his ability as a leader and to win a general election. But then, the fear of letting the Tories in is what made so many of them fall in line behind Blair, despite leading us in to the Iraq War.

There were many good things Labour did whilst Tony Blair was leader. Mostly in his first Parliament before he managed to strengthen his grip even tighter to squeeze out any of that troublesome Socialism that was left hanging around. But the war wasn’t just wrong – to stand by and let that happen was absolute treachery against any standard of human decency.

Cameron’s austerity will have led to the deaths of hundreds. Blair’s reign lead to the deaths of millions.

The Chilcott enquiry (after being thoroughly spell checked for the best part of a decade) was not the whitewash many feared it could have been. It confirmed the war was not a last resort, the evidence regarding WMDs had not been properly interrogated, and that Saddam was not an immediate threat to this (or any) country.

Tony Blair appeared on TV and you could tell from his voice that he was genuinely wracked by emotion, almost on the verge of tears. He apologised completely and sincerely, before adding the caveat that given that chance, he would do it all again.

Squirrel whaaaaa

He used the word “apology”, but it was not one. I realise now that the emotion in his voice was not because he thought he done something wrong. It was the equivalent of being at school and the teacher pulling you out in front of the whole class and forcing you to apologise for something. He was upset because he had been told off.

And what do you do with naughty children at school who have done something wrong? You send them to detention. For Tony Blair, this would be sending him to the Hague to stand trial for war crimes. it’s the only way you can make world leaders learn…