43-year itch

maxresdefaultI went to bed on Thursday night complacently believing that the British people would have voted decisively to remain in the European Union. In fact, during the day itself, I began to believe that the result wouldn’t even be close. As I read the bedtime YouGov poll, showing Remain on 52%, I even said to myself, it’ll be more like 55-45 in the end, a 10-point margin.

Which is why, on Friday morning, I had the odd experience of literally not believing my eyes when I picked up my phone and viewed the result. It didn’t help that the Guardian had chosen a pale yellow colour for the Remain side, so I couldn’t quite read what was on my screen. But, yes, I actually rubbed my eyes, convinced they were lying to me through the bleary insomniac dawn.

Part of me, not a small part, is enjoying the resulting chaos. I currently owe more on my mortgage than I’ve ever saved in my pension. My take home pay and my pension have been steadily eroded over the past 10 years, and my future prospects were already bleak. So what if the currency crashes, if there’s inflation? I already live beyond my means. A little inflation would help reduce the relative value of my mortgage debt, and if some of the pain of the austerity years could be visited – finally – upon those responsible, I’m up for that.

To see the hated Cameron depart, to see the foaming, flaming Tories tearing each other apart: this is high-quality spectator sport.

I’m not surprised at the outcome. And I’m not surprised at the general fallout. In or out, makes no difference to most people; to those of us living with frozen pay, venal managers, looming threats over job security; or living in the zero hours land of the living dead; who fucking cares, stick it to the man, burn the whole shit house down.

42 years ago, in The Towering Inferno, Steve McQueen is told he’s going to have to go into the building to blow the tanks on the roof to put the fire out. When he realises he stands very little chance of getting out alive, he just says, “Shit,” and goes in.

That’s where a lot of us live. We’ve already, years ago, looked at our future prospects and said, simply, shit. And we carry on.

Because there’s very little chance we’ll come out of this well, is there? You know how I know? Because here, now, is the moment for a strong and principled opposition to step forward and – as a first order of business – bring the government down. Force a general election, pull something out of their asses like Harold Wilson in ’64 and ’74. Kick the Tories while they’re down and keep kicking until they stop twitching. But instead of doing that, they (the Parliamentary Labour Party) saw an opportunity to replace Corbyn. And they’re doing it, not just because they really hate Corbyn, but because they can see a scenario in which he could win a general election and prove them all wrong. And they can’t have that. A Labour victory now would expose them as the morally bankrupt careerists they are. They’d rather keep losing. They have to destroy the village in order to save it. And the most astonishing thing is, it was obviously planned that this would happen now. All the tin soldiers were in place, waiting for the moment.

Like the MI6 and the KGB during the Cold War, there’s a moral equivalency between the Tories and the majority of the PLP. They all voted to cut welfare. They all voted for the Iraq war. They’re all conniving careerist cunts.

Burn the whole shit house down.

In or Out?

FishChips_Poster_720x430px_1I’m on record saying that the EU is profoundly undemocratic and so we should leave. It’s one of the ironies of modern politics that ultra-right wing Enoch Powell (for younger readers: a kind of better educated and less spiv-like version of Farage) and the renowned leftie Tony Benn were both on the same side of the European debate.

It’s enough to make your head spin. The EU is lots of bad things. There are too many appointed officials, commissioners, officers etc., who all owe their positions to patronage. Meanwhile, the actual EU parliament is toothless and pointless, populated by chancers and opportunists who have taken advantage of widespread public indifference and low turnout. The EU enshrines an unfair economic system and forces countries that join it to operate under the same, narrow set of neoliberal capitalist policies. It owes too much to the banks and the corporations.

EU environment is afflicted by the common agricultural policy, which has, over decades rewarded rich landowners who do shitty things to the land, destroying topsoil, chopping down hedgerows etc.

All of that is why I’ve always been kinda against our membership.

But when it comes to it, I’m voting in. And I’m not sure my reasons are solid, but here they are.

Firstly, if we are resigned to living under capitalism, and if capital (money) has free movement, then it stands to reason that people should too. I’m not just in favour of migration within the EU; I’d do away with passports and border controls all over the world. If the money can move, the people should follow. And if you want to restrict the free movement of people, then you have to restrict free trade. Which means tariffs and taxes and limits and quotas.

Secondly (which is still firstly), I hate this country and want the option, when I retire, of living elsewhere. That’s my selfish reason.

Thirdly, as bad and as undemocratic as the EU is, our current government is worse. Without the restraints offered by enshrined working rules and workers’ rights, businesses in this country would be able to treat their workers even worse than they currently do. We don’t do worker’s councils and workplace democracy like the Germans. If we did, I wouldn’t be so worried. I don’t understand why we don’t (except in the basest terms: that British bosses are cunts, always have been and always will be, thanks to the class system), but we, as workers, get more protection from our employers in the EU than we would out of it. We’re also signed up to the European Convention on Human Rights, which is nothing to do with the EU, but is probably in the sights of the Brexiters.

So, one, two, three: but one and two are the same: free movement. And three: workers’ rights. Limits on working hours. Maternity and paternity leave. Holidays. Sick leave. Weekends. Just think: everything working people had to fight for over 100 years or so. How quickly would it all disappear if people like Mike Ashley, Boris, Gove, and Philip Green were given free rein?