The devil and the deep blue sea

22 February, 2016 (23:59) | All articles | By: Stuart Fraser

Here the devil, there the deep blue sea. Here the frying pan, there the fire. Here David Cameron and George Osborne. There Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith. Christ. What a choice.

For the first time in my life I feel like not voting.

I’m deeply opposed to the European Union –  not necessarily to the European Union as it was conceived, a trading organisation whose principal aim was to put communication above confrontation and therefore institutionalise peace, but to the European Union as it has evolved, an enabling body for corporations and bankers with ideas far above its station.

So I should vote for us to leave. But that is unthinkable. That would be to empower the little Englanders who elected the Tory ferrets now fighting in a sack, to empower the tiny jealous minds that want to turn Britain’s back on the world with a peevish, grey whine.

No. Even for a veteran socialist like me, the only vote is ‘Yes.’ If I don’t like the way the European Union has become a corrupt and inherently unfair institution – ‘yes’ to everything the rich Britons or powerful Germans want, ‘no’ to the needy pesky lefty Greeks and Spaniards and their ilk – then I must be in it to win it over.

And it is the European Union that continues to campaign for human rights of some sort; the EU that has set maximum working hours for the week for the benefit of working people, an idea of fairness that is anathema to the little Britons. Indeed, in a country that permits, for just one example, the bullying coward, the lying liar Iain Duncan Smith to drive the disabled to despair with his unjust policies, the European Union becomes our hope against injustice.

Europe aspires to social justice and equality of opportunity: it just makes a pretty ham-fisted mess of ensuring it. It is bloated, bureaucratic, inefficient and damningly shamed by its inability to make collective action count in situations such as the present refugee crisis. In the way it has sided with the banks and big business against the democratic will of the people, as in Greece, it has behaved appallingly.

But it still stands for hope – the idea that we have strength in numbers, success through collective action (and oh, the delicious irony of hearing Cameron and Osborne utter such statements).

You know me. I go for hope. Every time.

Especially when the alternative is represented by intellects as towering as Chris Grayling and Boris Johnson and Iain Duncan Smith, the sort of little Englander who wants to pull up the drawbridge and return to some sort of fantasy of independence in the world. Nobody’s independent in the world now. We’re all inter-dependent. It takes a very special sort of narrow mind to suggest an England of Muffin the Mule and Brough Superiors, of jolly good chaps and the Church of England, of tea for two and larks in the dorm, could thrive in this modern world.

So I shall leap into either the arms of the devil or the cool embrace of the deep blue sea, but as I leap I shall be shouting, a la Meg Ryan in When Harry met Sally, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’



Write a comment

You need to login to post comments!