And that’s kind of it, really. Having started this series in the aftermath of Brexit, it seems sadly appropriate that I should bring them to a close in the week that Theresa May triggers Article 50 and starts the process of taking us out of the EU. I haven’t come to many conclusions other than the ones that are kind of motherhood and apple pie if you’re a leftish liberal: be nice not nasty. Accept that most people are trying to do their best. Don’t fall for snake oil salesmen, whether of the left or the right. Support the pillars of a free democracy like the judiciary, an independent media, and the unions.
Which means that I’ve produced an awful lot of words to come to some conclusions that are not exactly earth-shattering. On the whole, though, perhaps it’s not really surprising, given the disarray that the left and centre-left currently finds itself in, at least in this country. Zoe Williams has written recently about the fact that that the right has become resurgent via the tried and trusted, albeit appalling, method of creating an enemy to blame for everything and then promising to defeat it, whether it’s immigrants, the liberal media, or unions. Even the judiciary gets tainted by the overwhelming drive of the right to find someone to blame for everything.
The left, meanwhile, struggles to find a similarly compelling narrative, although the further left elements seem to have solved this via the depressingly predictable method, for the left at least, of blaming the “establishment” in the form of anyone on the left who doesn’t entirely support them. And thus the right goes unopposed while the left and the centre fight each other.
I really don’t know what to do about this, other than what I’ve already cited in this series. I wish I could believe that the left is in the process of rebuilding itself, but it doesn’t feel like that, at least as far as the Labour Party is concerned. Maybe then the answer lies outside the Labour Party, in the newer political organisations such as the Women’s Equality Party, the Green Party, More United, Open Britain, and so forth. I can hope so. Maybe the answer is also in demonstrations and marches, which are useful not because they necessarily change things in themselves but because they bring people together, let them see that they are not alone and, supported by social media, enable them to form links and connections so that they can work together for real and lasting change. Maybe we are moving towards better times, despite all the depressing signs.
I wish I had a better, more hopeful ending, but I’m afraid I don’t. Right now, nine months after the Brexit referendum, I just feel sad. However, I’ll finish with a couple of poems which I may have posted on this blog before, which do contain their own brand of hope; I find the second particularly encouraging today.
Sometimes things don’t go, after all,/ from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel/ faces down frost; green thrives; the crops don’t fail,/ sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.
A people sometimes will step back from war;/ elect an honest man; decide they care/ enough, that they can’t leave some stranger poor./ Some men become what they were born for.
Sometimes our best efforts do not go/ amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to./ The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow/ that seemed hard frozen; may it happen for you.
Everything Changes – Cicely Herbert
Everything changes. We plant/ trees for those born later/ but what’s happened has happened/ and poisons poured into the seas/ cannot be drained out again.
What’s happened has happened/ poisons poured into the seas/ cannot be drained out again. But/ everything changes. We plant/ trees for those born later.