I’m writing this the day of the EU referendum result, and I might actually cry. It’s not merely that as I sit here, the British economy is having billions wiped off its value – as is the European. It’s not just that the currency is in free-fall and no one has any fucking idea how we’re gonna muddle by from here on in.
No. I might cry because today, again, my country chose an utterly insane path for itself. Not merely of anti-information – not merely of rejecting every informed, intelligent opinion that was put forward because it didn’t feel right, not merely of saying no to reasonable debate and the tyranny of truth – no. We’ve chosen a path of bigotry, parochialism and narrow-minded isolation. We’ve decided that ideas such as the brotherhood of nations, the unity of peoples, equality and co-operation don’t matter to us half as much, as stopping foreign people who we don’t like coming to this country to work. We’ve decided to respect media frenzy and outright lies, to believe in half-baked bullshit with no evidence whatsoever to support it, and to go it alone, because that’s what Britain needs. Somehow.
This country is being gentry prized apart down the middle. The cities and the young are voting for liberalism, integration, multiculturalism, for left-wing policies that are in stark contrast with the older and countryside voters, who are frankly blaming immigrants for what’s wrong. And we’re now on the verge of a massive recession, if not depression, courtesy of that choice.
Which isn’t even the point. I get British values, I get all the cultural gumph, I get the fear of change – but fundamentally I do not understand how liberalism is BAD. I do not get how it is anything less than a badge of pride to be part of a community of people, to draw closer together to our neighbours and work as a union to better us all. I do not accept that inequality between nations is either desirable or inevitable, nor that it is smart to reject the 97% of expert voices that speak constantly things which we do not want to hear, simply because we do not want to hear them.
I remember the day that Tony Blair got into office, after living my childhood through Tory rule. There was dancing in my family – that didn’t last long, especially after Iraq. But even though New Labour was a broken promise, there was a sense that liberal ideas were still somehow valued, that this was a country where multiculturalism was a good thing, and which was moving towards a future where perhaps, the barriers between all peoples would grow thin.
Now I feel like I’m living in a country of walls. Endless, endless walls. And it’s fucking heartbreaking. And I feel ashamed to be British today.