Is There Anything to Be Done?

Please help.

All this time I’ve taken it on faith that the United Kingdom’s “Europe” debate has primarily been an internal Tory affair, to which the ruling party has held the rest of the country hostage. But yesterday the wider parliament, acting as the collective decision-making body for the country and comprising all the parties, failed to muster even the minimal political dexterity to stave off crashing out of the EU without an agreement.

It looks as if the entire political class is unable to govern. It looks like a shambles.

Anybody?

7 thoughts on “Is There Anything to Be Done?

  1. Bill, sometimes in the past I have been embarrassed to be a Brit because of the shenanigans of our politicians… and I go back to the Thatcher-Reagan years and beyond. Now, I am embarrassed once again, but also just very, very sad for what this generation is bequeathing to our children and grandchildren. Really, just sad. We have gotten through many conflicts in Europe and just when you thought stability and the threat of regional wars like in the former Yugoslav federation were gone for good we start on another stupid conflict. At least it’s only political this time. Pompous, imperial, insular, stupid, arrogant, deluded is the kindest I can say of our politicians, and people come to that. A slim majority of voters said leave, (voters, not the country) most politicians want remain, and we now have idiots spouting the “will of the people” and thinking that we are superior to the voices of 27 other nation states. So thank you for being so kind and only applying the word “shambles” to this debacle… I would use other, stronger terms. You, friend, are a wise man with a global eye which I appreciate. Wanna be our PM? (trans POTUK)

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    • Thank you Pete. You’re sounding a note I was going on about in the Weekend Reading post last Friday, being angry at “global leadership, which is well aware that big steps need to be taken but unwilling to take them.” That was about climate change but it chimes with what you wrote about the legacy we’re leaving.

      My wife and I were interested in Brexit, so we went to visit friends in Wiltshire in the run-up to the referendum back in 2016. I wonder if you had a similar experience: We and they all felt certain that Remain and, as we saw it, good sense would win out, and we were all utterly shocked when Remain lost. I’m not sure our friends even knew anybody who supported leave.

      This was a few months pre-Trump, too, of course, and if we felt temporarily superior, that didn’t last long.

      There was one curious thing we brought home from our Brexit trip. I think the best argument I heard from both sides was, really, the same one. Our friends had a daughter approaching college age, and they wanted to remain in the EU in part so that she wouldn’t have any problem attending the school she had her eyes on, in Amsterdam. The most persuasive Leaver I talked with, whom I’d never met before, wished to Leave because his son wanted to become a teacher, and as he told it, immigrant eastern European teachers had flooded the job market, driving down the salary his son hoped to earn.

      Each wanted opposite results for the same reason – their children.

      Now, I can’t speak to the job market for U.K. teachers, but whether this man – or our friends – were right or wrong, surely you can’t argue with them for wanting the best, as they saw it, for their kids.

      As to where we are now, I can’t think of anything that excuses this dysfunctional non-governing. I’ve been happy to put it all down to internal Tory squabbles and hopeful that Messrs. Gove, Johnson, Duncan Smith, Grayling, Farage and the whole fun-loving lot of them might be held to account for, well, anything.

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  2. Gee you have such amazing, in-depth knowledge here, Bill. I am a teacher and can say categorically that anyone who thinks that “immigrants” may be taking our jobs, in a profession where there is a shortage of people willing and able to do this work, is unaware of the fact that in no imaginable way would teachers in Blighty be threatened by “immigrants” and anyone who may say so is talking out of an orifice not normally associated with verbal communication. I have worked all over the world as a teacher and I was more of a threat to other countries than teachers coming here could or would ever be. Additionally, if people came from another country are offering to do a better job than locals in any profession, or we can not recruit qualified professionals here to do such jobs, than I would say welcome; shame on us for not educating our young ones to do the jobs we need them to do, or shame on us for not paying our citizens enough, or valuing them enough that they want to qualify to do these jobs, shame on us for not recognising that other people from other countries may actually be better at doing some jobs than we are. But then we are British, so we don’t do that. What prats we are. That is what people here forget or are ignorant of. They still ride on the phantasmagorical wave of colonial superiority. That is why I am ashamed of my country. But I remain in awe of your global outlook and knowledge. Next time you are in the UK let me know. I am hospitable by nature.

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    • Well as I say, this was a fellow I’d never met before, this Leaver, and maybe it should have been a tip-off that he was going on about immigrants. I appreciate your putting me right on that argument. And yes, by all means, next time we’re in town, I’ll be sure to show up needing a beer. What part of the country would that be, Pete?

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