The British have just had a general election. One of the worst possible people ever to hold a position of power was elected, over the other worst possible person to be in charge of anything.
Quite why the Labour Party decided to have the most toxic member of their ranks as leader is hard to fathom.
Most of his own party can’t stand the man, so what madness was it to expect the electorate to choose Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister?
Boris on the other hand, comes across as a bumbling buffoon, a Tom Brown’s Schooldays Flashman character for everyman, the sort of toff the left mocks rather than reviles. Like Flashman though, Boris is an opportunistic bully, a liar and an entitled elitist. Boris is a tousled terrible human being.
However, Boris was/is prepared to deliver Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn wasn’t.
How did we get to Brexit? How did so many turkey’s vote for Christmas? Let me give you a tiny snapshot of the Britain in the street. Not your street, not your middle class, middle Britain street. But the street of the poor, the ignorant, the very large number of British who live in the places people like Boris only visit on the campaign trail during an election.
Let me take you to the inside of a London Black cab in 1991. I was a 26 year old Kiwi after 6 months in the UK. 6 months into a 22 year stay. The Cabbie had a strong cockney accent.
I remember the conversation well enough to quote it largely verbatim, our chat has become more and more prescient as the years have passed, with the outcome last night in the UK bringing the messenger pigeons from decades ago, home to roost. It’s an extraordinarily simple thing. Which shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone who was in that black cab. Unfortunately, there were only the two of us.
“What’s that accent then son? You an Aussie or a Kiwi”
“I’m a kiwi”
“Good on yer son, you been here long then?”
“About 6 months”
“Really? What made you want to come here for, when you could be in New Zealand, you must be bloody mad!”
“I’m just doing my OE, having an adventure, I’ll see how it turns out guess”
“How’d you get on getting in to the country then? Did we give you a cup of tea and a biscuit at the airport, given you Kiwis and Aussies are our best mates in the world? Or did they make you jump through a bunch of hoops?”
“Oh, heaps of hoops, I had to buy a return ticket, bring 2000 quid and promise I wouldn’t stay for more than two years”
“Is that a fact?”
“That’s not right is it? You’re our best bloody mates you are” Did your old Granddads fight in the war”
“One did and one didn’t, he got away with being too young for the first one and too old for the 2nd” I don’t know what my dad’s father’s involvement in the war was though. He died many years ago” “I also had uncles who fought in North Africa”
“Bloody heroes, did they survive?”
“Yes, thankfully” You know of course, we’ve been along to all Britains wars, ever since we’ve been a country, even I spent some time in the army, I didn’t have to go to war though.”
“You signed up to serve Queen and country, you put your name on the line to serve her Majesty, god bless her?”
“Yes, I suppose that’s what I did”
“ What a bloody hero son, god bless you.” How come is it that you can’t just walk in the country you and your family signed up to fight for, your ancestors fought and died for? What’s that about ay” You should be allowed to come here and stay as long as you bloody like, no questions asked” It’s not bleeding right that you can’t. Mind you, why would you want to ay? This place has gone to the dogs”
(He clearly had a point he was getting to)
“You know what you should have done though?”
“You should have been born the grandson of a bleeding SS Panzer tank commander, you could come in, bring your whole bleeding family, buy up as much of the country as you like and make yourself at home! That’s what you should have done? When did we start cozying up to our enemies? How did that happen?” It’s not bleeding right!”
We parted company soon after that; he’d timed his delivery of the conversation perfectly.
I’ve told many people that story, and the majority of Brits I spoke to agreed with the cabbie.
I met few people while I was there that were happy with the influx of Polish in particular, and Eastern Europeans in general. They were seen as a threat, rather than a benefit. Very few Brits are aware that the Poles made up the 2nd largest number of pilots in the Battle of Britain, as an aside, New Zealanders accounted for the 3rd largest number of pilots in the Battle that turned the tide of the 2nd World War.
The Brit in the street has long been suspicious of the Europeans. The people who like Europe and who holiday on the continent would never have believed the Brexit referendum would be lost, given that it was such a nonsense, so they wouldn’t have even turned out to vote. So those who were suspicious of the Europeans did turn out to vote, they wanted their country back. Cheered on loudly by Boris who didn’t think the leave vote would win and Farage who is an attention seeking snake oil salesman.
Very few Brits could tell you who their MEP is, or have the first clue what they do.
Those in the poor parts of the South, Midlands and the North though, they’re suspicious of Johnny foreigner. They read the Daily Mail and digest the relentless diatribe of xenophobic rubbish. They saw the Eastern Europeans coming in and setting up businesses and taking the work that the idle Brits weren’t prepared to do. Stealing jobs they were, although that’s a fantasy, when the jobs had been there, they just weren’t attractive to the locals. You have to wonder what life must be like in parts of Poland or Hungary when washing cars in a British supermarket car park, or picking lettuces in a freezing field for a tiny wage is better.
Boris ‘Flashman” Johnson was prepared to sign of on getting Brexit done. Getting shot of Johnny Foreigner, sticking one up the hated Europeans and taking their imagined country of the 1950’s back was the primary ideal of the downtrodden who held their collective noses and voted for a charlatan over any sort of hope for all the stuff their ancestors had fought for, died for and believed in for generations. It was inevitable. For my part. I would have voted Conservative while holding my nose.
It’s a travesty. The centre right and centre left have gone. Replaced by the extremes where most reasonable people don’t live. It seems the middle ground has gone, at least in Politics. Britain will most likely have some sort of alternative facts, Trumpian style dystopia on a smaller scale to deal with now. It’s very sad and very concerning.
I don’t know what happens next.