Other is the mother of evil

We can handle a crisis here in Birmingham UK. Coping is in the DNA of the place, and although dreadful things happen here as surely as they do elsewhere, it’s a multicultural city and we’re good at conflict resolution. Anything less would feel like social and economic suicide.

Enter Brexit. Enter Chilcot. Enter a rudderless ship of state where the mainstream media profits from the strident, nefarious narratives of difference and division. These things challenge the delicate balance of local communities, threatening to detonate the cultural bridges people have worked so hard to build over generations. It’s a cliche, but a forest takes centuries to grow and just a few months to chop down.

Recent upheavals have created a change in our mental weather. Not long ago the outlook was sunny, but storm clouds are gathering on the near horizon, and a cold front begins to divide Remain from Leave, Have from Have-not, Homed from Homeless. More worryingly, perhaps, it divides Christians from Muslims. The apparently educated from the great unwashed. Fingers stab across the margins of society.

Some people have already stopped talking to each other and are asking, ‘Was it you? Did you do this thing?’ I thought you were my FRIEND! This is extremely dangerous. Social and economic divisions are slow, invisible poisons. They begin with the green-eyed language of suspicion and soon erupt into verbal or physical violence.

Birmingham is still haunted by the dripping spectre of the 1974 pub bombings when the Provisional Irish Republican Army, who have never formally admitted responsibility for the act, murdered 21 people. We’re wonderful when we’re pulling together for the common good. Yet do I fear our nature.

When the drums of division beat, innocents die. Those innocents rarely matter to the mainstream media or people living in the Westminster bubble, until it’s far too late.

Oh, they’ll condemn random acts of violence against ‘decent, hardworking property-owners’. Not that they’ll dress it in those terms. That would be tasteless. But not as tasteless as their tacit support for the mechanisms of social division which define so much of our lives. Red top papers, Sky News, lapdog journos on the fat payrolls of power brokers.

We must all do something to challenge the corrosive language of otherness before it overtakes and destroys everything we hold dear. A storm is brewing.


Are your Brexits sore?

True, we’re all heartily fed up to the back teeth of Brexit, but discussing our options now that Leave ‘won’ the debate (quotes are deliberate) is strangely addictive. And, as you know already, highly speculative.

No-one has a clue what will happen next, but I’ve done some reading around the issue and I have a very rough idea. Forgive the lack of hyperlinks and evidence. This is a blog article, not an academic treatise.

Legal commentators have already stepped in to offer their views, and some of their ideas are frankly unreadable to someone like me, with a non-legal mindset.

What’s clear, however, is that it’s quite hard to press the big red Brexit button without involving a Parliamentary debate, repealing the 1972 European Communities Act, and possibly introducing new legislation to incorporate the terms and conditions of our brave new world.

This referendum was entirely advisory, meaning that the government doesn’t have to pay any attention to it. Hordes of Twitter trolls descended on me when I mentioned this, asking:

‘Would it still be advisory if Stay had won, you leftard faggot?’

Thereby confirming my suspicions that Leave voters aren’t very bright. Or maybe the clever ones are far too clever to comment. I wouldn’t be surprised. Clearly the answer is a resounding ‘Yes’. Referendums are often advisory, and my views have precisely nothing to do with that. It’s just a bald fact.

In any case, new legislation is likely to lead to a Parliamentary vote, possibly kicking the Leave vote into the long grass or saying, ‘The will of the people has prevailed, so we’re definitely going.’ That’s one scenario, and I’ve already written to my MP asking her to vote Stay in this eventuality.

It’s also possible that an incoming PM will invoke Article 50 independently of Parliament. I didn’t know this was an option until a few days ago, but it may be risky given the lack of solid data showing a wide range of impacts. ‘No further debate is needed, we’re leaving.’ It could happen, but there’s a third scenario which legal geeks seem to be ignoring.

Member states could see the Leave vote as an automatic trigger for Article 50, and they may simply evict us from the EU, citing their stability as more important than our long term well being. The Order of the Boot would further diminish our status as major players in the global arena, and we’d probably never manage to claw our way back into the EU, even if we wanted to. Which, apparently, we don’t.

Whatever happens next, it’s pretty obvious that one vote leads to another. The UK Parliament’s sovereignty will be brought into question if our next Prime Minister acts independently. This is ironic, given that sovereignty was part of the reason the referendum was called in the first place.