Monday, 7 November 2016

Standing up to bullies

Imagine, just for one brief moment, that the outcome of the referendum on June 23rd had been the other way round – same percentages, but with Remain winning.  Does anyone believe, for one moment, that those who believe that the UK should leave the EU would have simply shrugged their shoulders, accepted defeat, and moved on?  Or that UKIP would have dissolved itself (through a formal process rather than the chaos with which they currently seem to be achieving the same end), and Euro peace would have broken out in the Conservative Party?  It’s a nice thought, but it’s well divorced from reality, isn’t it?

But, effectively, acceptance that a one-off decision is final and irrevocable is what the actual winners now expect of the losing side; they expect others to display an approach and attitude which they would never have displayed themselves.  ‘The people have spoken’, they declare, and everyone who disagrees must now shut up and throw themselves with enthusiasm into achieving what the majority decided. 

That would be bad enough if it were only coming from the extremists in the Leave camp; but it isn’t.  Even the UK Prime Minister is saying much the same thing, despite having claimed in advance that this outcome was the wrong one for the UK – and not just saying it, but going out of her way to try and close off any options for reversing the decision.  Even worse are the headlines in some of the tabloids; intolerance of dissent on this issue is rapidly becoming the accepted norm, even to the extent of pillorying judges for the ‘crime’ of upholding the constitutional position that domestic UK law cannot be changed other than by act of parliament, which is, in essence, all that they actually decided.

It increasingly feels as though they’re trying to take us back into some sort of ‘golden age’ where people knew their place and believed what they were told to believe; a time when Britannia ruled the waves and the sun never set.  Restoring that overseas ‘glory’ is, fortunately, well beyond their capability (even if they don’t yet all realise that), but domestically, we’re seeing what amounts to a form of bullying of anyone with an alternative view, as a means of achieving that end.  But the way to tackle bullies isn’t by giving in to them.


John Dixon said...

Jonathan said:

I think it goes deeper, to an old, old English hostility, which does not apply in Scotland and used not to apply in Wales. Culture, rationality and principle do not appeal to the powerful in England. These things were beyond the warlord types who vied for and got power in England, and were joined by mercantilists too dim to do medicine, law or the church. Statements of principle or ethics were something they did in France or the Catholic Church. Result? Civics never got on the curriculum, and the ethic of the Bible fell out of it. We never got a rational Constitution.
I am not advocating a hegemony of mandarins or brahmins. But I am interested in how a whole population deals with difficult constitutional issues.
In the US, where I write this, everybody is taught and can quote chunks of their Constitution and, for better or worse, they know their rights and they know the rules, checks and balances etc.
Not in Britain.If we had rules these rules would say "Referendums are not binding and can be revisited" whereas "General Elections are binding for 5 years". And we would not have the present confusion. It does not help for the anti-rational English establishment simply to make up rules as it goes along in a dim anti-rational grope, though in fact it always has done. The result is trouble, as you have pointed out.
Cheer up, the actual history of the EU includes myriad examples of "anti" votes which are revisited and end up "Pro". We should take advantage of the confusion to grab our country of Wales back, and keep our Europe-protected civil rights from being trashed.
NB – this comment has been slightly edited compared to that submitted. The comments about one of the presidential candidates in the US may well have been true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re not libellous.

Spirit of BME said...

Shame about the editing. Jonathan`s view of Mrs Clinton would have been interesting.

John Dixon said...


I'm sure that you would find them interesting. And I can tell you that Jonathan is equally keen to expound on his views, having submitted a detailed comment in response to yours. However, this thread isn't about Hillary Clinton, nor is it about the US election, and I'm not allowing it to be diverted onto those topics.