So, as you may have heard, news came on Sunday of Britain’s doomed fate: article 50 will be triggered by March 2017, and assuming the negotiations take the 2 years they’r expected to, Britain will be out of the EU by April 2019. I don’t think I need to re-state my position on the whole thing. If, for some bizarre reason, you’re interested in my ranty opinions, then you can read my post on why voting to leave the EU was an objectively moronic decision here.
Since June 23rd, the British politics has been in complete disarray, with a battle of rich, white people deciding who gets to run the country, culminating in the our evil overlord Theresa May undertaking the role; a coup in the Labour party, whereby MPs have decided that Brexit was all the fault of Jeremy Corbyn and he must be ousted at all costs; and a scandalous Labour leadership election that involved making up new rules about who is allowed to vote for the party leader. But the prevailing question within this political mess is one of blame. If we accept Brexit as the colossal British fuck up that it is, then who’s at fault?
On the one hand, Corbyn’s critics seem to believe that he is completely incapable of swaying the public towards his ideals, while on the other they assert that Britain voting to leave the EU was a direct influence of his slight skepticism towards Europe. This is ridiculous. The man will probably need a miracle to win a general election, but it’s not because he brought about the worst decision Britain has made since its invasion of Iraq. Aside from the fact that Labour voters were majority remainers, at no point did Corbyn do more than vaguely suggest that he wasn’t that keen on Europe. Not a very convincing force compared to the aggressively nationalistic Leave campaign, right? Which brings me to the next…
Farage & Gove, the repulsive faces of a repulsive campaign?
There is no doubt that the fact that UKIP have been granted such a prominent voice on this issue, without a huge amount of moderation on whether what they’re saying actually has any basis in reality, and that this has certainly contributed to the public consciousness of Brexit. The nationalistic nostalgia for a bygone era of greatness appealed to a huge number of people, even those who have never experienced life without an EU. But a huge number of their claims were false, the spreading of fabricated statistics and figures that suggested a more prosperous and valuable Britain, the empty promise of extra money being invested in our NHS. One of the most sneaky tactics of the Leave campaign, perhaps, was convincing people that it was foolish to listen to the experts, that we live in a society no longer in need of them, because it is incredibly unbritish to be reliant on the advice of people who know better than you. So yes, we are able to apportion an amount of blame to the people that effectively duped the British public, but the question remains of why the public needed to be duped in the first place? And after this comes the favourite question of the regretful Leave voter… ‘Why were we given the choice?’
Our former PM has been a part of some deplorable governmental decisions, and for many, arrogantly calling for the referendum concerning Britain’s departure from the EU has been the worst of these. It seemed suddenly apparent, once the markets started crashing and the Leave campaign started back-pedalling on their promises, that the public simply had not known what it was letting itself in for. And for many, the response to this chaos was that there should never have been a referendum in the first place; that such important discussions are to be had by our MPs in parliament and not left to a naive and media-influenced public to decide for themselves.
Maybe Cameron should not have called for this referendum, especially with the assumption that it would be a foregone conclusion, that nothing would change, and he could happily return to his weekly hog roast behind closed doors at number 10. But my question is this: why do we live in a society that seemingly cannot be trusted with major political decisions? Why is our mode of democracy failing to represent the full spectrum of society and why are we so uninformed that we get taken in by any sensational headline batted our way by the predominantly right-wing media? The real responsibility for Brexit, it seems, is in Britain’s failing education system. Oxford university may have just last week been ranked the best university in the world, which falsely suggests a kind of great British success in education, but this does not by any stretch of the imagination reflect the wider sphere of society. Aside from the generally poor state of British education in terms of literacy, modern foreign languages and mathematics, our schools let us down with their distinct lack of socio-political education as well. With generations of people having limited access to fair, free and equal opportunities within schooling, we have managed to collectively produce a nation of morons – the kind of people who actively resist the need for experts, the kind of people that are simply uninformed about the impact of global politics and unaware of the resources available to them that could help to inform them. The national ignorance that Britain collectively holds is, in my view, a fault of the state for its failing and misguided attempts to rejuvenate the education system, which has resulted in the undeniable xenophobia, bigotry and nationalism that led to Brexit.