Dan got up this morning, before six, did his chores and sat at his desk for another day of writing his latest opus. He’s enjoying this one; he can’t stop talking about it, and he’s constantly reading the research, very cleverly suggested by his buddy Steve White. Steve knows a lot of stuff about a LOT of stuff. He’s the kind of polymath I can’t help loving.
It’s New Year’s Day, and it’s not just the beginning of a new year for us. It’s the beginning of a new era.
I’m old enough to remember joining the EU, and old enough to remember ridiculous arguments about the curve of a banana or cucumber, and even more ridiculous arguments about using the metric system.
I have always been British, but I also grew up European. I will continue to consider myself European, despite Brexit.
Sometimes it’s about words, isn’t it?
I haven’t thought much about that word, although it’s been in our heads and on our lips for years, now.
It’s a hard word, final, unyielding, but it trips off the tongue only too easily.
I don’t know who came up with the word, but it was a clever choice. It absolutely does what it says on the can, and it does it with bite. The right couldn’t have chosen a better word to describe their policy on Europe, and the masses couldn’t help but be drawn to it.
It’s an ugly word, whichever way you slice it.
‘Brexit’ connotes all the jingoistic, isolationist claptrap that our right wing politicians have spouted for centuries. Sadly, it appeals to a majority of angry, impoverished citizens, who, because they can’t catch a break, are easily pitted against each other and against anyone they consider ‘other’. They’re right to be angry. Many work long hours on zero-hours contracts, and still live from pay cheque to pay cheque with no financial safety net. Many live in homes they don’t own at rents they struggle to afford. Many pay regular fees for being overdrawn, or high rates of interest on hire purchase and credit cards to afford to live, especially during the winter when their utility bills rise, and they want to provide some sort of comfort for their families at Christmas.
It does not surprise me that these people rallied to the Brexit cause. They were made promises that their lives would be better by politicians who should know better, and who have no concept of what it means to be working poor.
It seems to me that the middles classes have declined to such an extent that almost everyone is working poor. If you’re not in the one percent, then you are of the 99 percent, and there are an awful lot of you.
Our Conservative government has no interest in the working poor, because they represent their power base. Since Thatcherism tore down the unions and sold off social housing in the name of capitalism, our society has gone into a steady decline that was always going to end in a fiasco like Brexit.
We were set up for this, and we took the bait.
I do not know what is going to happen in the weeks, months, years to come. I have no hope that things will get better for the working poor. Right now, with the pandemic, things are clearly getting worse.
I did not vote for this government. I have never voted for a right wing MP. I have also never returned my candidate in an election.
The older I get the more of a socialist I become, yet there is no political party that reflects my view of the world.
I want what my parents’ generation was promised. I want a minimum wage that can maintain a family in security, if not comfort. I want free, high-quality education, and I want the best, most easily accessed health service in the World. I want all work to be fully contracted, with benefits, and I want unpaid internships to be abolished. I want public sector workers to be adequately compensated.
When I was a child, my father worked in the public sector. HIs housing was secure, and his single income maintained a family of seven. Our standard of living wasn’t high, but it was sustainable on only one income.
Thatcherism changed Britain forever. It made us all poorer and less secure.
For what it’s worth, I also want to be able to call myself European.
Today is the first day in fifty years that I cannot call myself European. It is also the first day that we cannot reap the benefits of being part of a wider society. It is the first day we do not have a voice, or a seat at the table.
Last year we saw the Coronavirus emerge, and watched a global pandemic unfold. If we ever needed to be part of something bigger it is now. If we ever needed our voices to be heard, it is now. If we ever needed a seat at the table, it is now.
It is New Year’s Day. Traditionally, it is a day of new hope, new beginnings, and resolutions.
Today, I lost part of my identity.
My hope, my resolution, is that one day, that part of my identity might be restored.