June 24, 2016

Horse 2129 - Oh Britannia, What Hast Thou Done?

In case you hadn't noticed, 2016 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year Of The Howling Moron. To celebrate this, people are encouraged to do the most brainless and fundamentally idiotic things that they can think of. Russian football fans have taken this to mean causing ruckuses (ruckii?) in the streets of France, New Zealand held a flag referendum to choose and then reject the wrong flag and China has thought it worthy to engage in a spirit of bravado by declaring that it owns a bunch of islands that would otherwise be worthless to anybody.

The United States has done its part by rejecting the only half way sensible candidate for President in a generation and has thrown up a man who appears to have a gerbil resting on his head and a lady who doesn't remember where almost 3000 of her emails went; even if they were related to bombing raids in Benghazi.
In Australia, our Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decided to hold a double dissolution election over an issue which was so monumentally boring that literally every news outlet has forgotten about it and furthermore, we've had a series of debates between Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten which have been so dull that there is video of someone in the  audience watching MasterChef right in the middle of the debate.
The other major power in the Anglophone world (sorry New Zealand and Canada, you have both proven yourselves to be sensible and therefore intelligible to take part in the IYHM) is the United Kingdom and they have truly outdone all of us.

The United Kingdom has held a referendum to decide whether or not to remain in the European Union. The UK was always the nasty child of Europe; having spent almost 20 years whinging to join what was at first the European Coal and Steel Community and then the European Economic Community. France and Germany both originally objected to the UK joining the EEC because they saw it as a proxy for the United States to dump a whole bunch of manufactured goods and agricultural produce in Europe. France at the time was busily subsidising their inefficient farmers who wanted to spend their time living the good life and Germany was in a state of rebuilding itself and generally applying for readmission into the civilised world following the unpleasantnesses of the first half of the century.
From about 1979 after the Thatcher Government did its level best to kick what was left of British industry in the head until it bled, after John Major spent six years apologising for simultaneously not being Ms Thatcher and not fixing any of the resulting problems caused, after  Blair and Brown led the country into two wars based on the premise of lies and David Cameron still not caring about a generation who were still affected by decisions from thirty years' previous, the economy of the UK reorganised itself so that the only truly profitable industry was as a result of moving the giant pile of money around between various buildings in The Square Mile and Canary Wharf.

It is in this environment that Cameron promised a referendum on Europe because part of the deal with his reelection was a continuing of the narrative that it wasn't the fault of various governments nor The Squares Mile or Canary Wharf that the UK's star had fallen so far out of the sky, but all those confoundin' immigrants coming over here and doing the jobs that Britons won't do; at reasonable rates.
The debate for the last few weeks has been a stellar mess of microwaved bile and acid, all served in an indigestible right-wing formula with a name which itself sounds like a cure for constipation - Brexit.
Meanwhile the unglamorous Remain campaign has been mostly drowned out with its broad message of please don't throw everything in the garbage bin and then expect us to eat our dinner out of it later.
Brexit has mainly been headed up by Boris Johnson who trades on his buffoonery and I suspect is himself using this as a training exercise to unseat David Cameron in Number Ten, and Nigel Farage whose name autocorrects to Nigel Garage and who doesn't appear to have any tangible idea of what he wants to do post referendum if the UK actually does decide to leave. The Remain campaign has resorted to listing people who think that staying in Europe is a good idea, in lieu of the fact that trying to persuade people with well reasoned argument is about as useful as putting a pumpkin on top of your motor car - you could do it but there'd be little point and no one would care anyway.

After all of this, the British people decided to leave Europe. I suppose that you could argue that democracy has won the day but really all this has proven is that provided you can whip up enough xenophobia among a populace, you can make them do anything. Nigel Farage might claim that he has been right for a lot of years but really the winners are The Sun, The Daily Express and the Daily Mail, for whom this fits in with their existing narrative.
I don't really know if this vindicates Charles De Gaulle who didn't want the UK to join the EEC in the 1960s, or whether this shows that Britain was never really committed to the great European experiment, or whether the UK is the first of the rats to jump off the ship of Europe before it sinks. What I do know is that at some point, the UK lurched to the right and the racists found that suddenly they were being taken semi seriously.
Ironically what this does mean is that Nigel Farage, who has been the most vocal supporter of leaving Europe, will certainly lose his job as a Member of the European Parliament. This could very well mean that having achieved the only tangible thing that his party, UKIP, ever wanted, that there's literally nothing left to fight for and he and his party will fade into obscurity.

Another thing that this has proven is that the British really people like to complain about things. Complaining about things is easier than the idea of actually having to do something. This is a nation of people for whom standing in queues is a sacred pass time and when the Olympic Games were held in their own country in 2012, won all of their gold medals in sports where the competitors were sitting down.
Britain loves the idea of complaining about Europe because as an island nation, Europe as a concept is nebulously "over there" and it's always easy to complain about things in the abstract. It's fun too.

As we continue in this the International Year Of The Howling Moron, the next events to be held are our own Festival Of The Vote in Australia where we will choose between two men who promise to be the most boring Prime Minister in history while continuing with sets of policies ranging from the cruel to the crazy, the Olympics in Brazil where even if you don't win a medal you still win a case of the Zika virus, and of course the car accident of the United States Presidential race where whatever happens we all lose but can't look away.


One of the strangest results of the whole referendum was that the people of Liverpool and Manchester both voted to Remain while places around them voted to Leave. If I recall correctly, Liverpool and Manchester agreeing on anything is one of the signs of the Apocalypse and I fully expect that a bridleway will be opened between the two cities so that a particular Four Horsemen can make use of the facilities. The paperwork and filing of the legal documents necessary to open the bridleway is being handled by law firm War, Famine, Pestilence, and Death as I understand it.

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