I don’t usually get political. Yes, I think all politicians are either corrupt or power hungry and I’ve said so, but that’s where I leave it. I have to say, though, living in England for the past 11 years has given me a new look at politics. Government politics in Canada is always a dull, forgettable affair, unless it’s between French Canadians and the rest of Canada. The same cannot be said in Britain. In fact, the political scene here is actually quite entertaining and very funny.
I say this on the day that Britain votes to either stay in the European Union (not to be confused with the old European Common Market) or leave that ‘union’ and go it alone. I put the word union in parentheses because what we have in Europe is anything but unity. That, in the first place, is laughable. The French intensely dislike the English. For that matter, everyone in Europe hates the English. I say English instead of British. That’s because the English that go over to the continent have a habit of annoying the shit out of everyone else.
The Germans look through their monocles down their noses at the rest of Europe, knowing that whether through war or ‘peace’, they alone carry the burden of economically unifying the unwieldy beast called Europe. The new idea out of the land of the Hun is that since the fall of the Roman Empire, we are all Aryan at heart and probably genetically too. Even the British monarchy are of German decent.
Italy just wants to party….on its own. And it still thinks the Roman Empire will make a comeback. Doesn’t matter where you are in the world, Italians still think they are Italian even if they are born in another country. Inside Italy there is, of course, the usual regionalism as in all countries. It’s a wonder anybody , anywhere in Europe gets along. Oh, wait a minute, no one does. Not even at football (soccer) matches. The Croatians lobbed lighted flares at each other and their own players during a UEFA EURO match against the Czech Republic. Not surprising given their history, but silly nonetheless.
Sweden? Fine thanks. But hard pressed to find solidly good reasons to remain in the union. Their neighbours, Norway, are doing very well without it, thank you very much. I bet Sweden wishes it had followed Norway’s path.
Then we have the Greeks. They want it all and they want it now. They tried to stop spending but are now worse than bankrupt. Same with Spain, except the Spanish are more clever. They finesse their way out of trouble, acting like wealthy clients while actually being broke, skint, brassic. The Greeks are not so subtle. The world sees the results. Cultures clash and unity flies out the window. Nice idea, unity, but bureaucrats aren’t interested in the unity of the species, just the GNP bottom line. It’s the corporations who win in the end, not the corner grocer, the office slave or me.
Now throw into the mix all the old Soviet Union satellite countries in what we refer to as Eastern Europeans and the whole system gets mired in an economic stew that offers no way out. Except that the lingua franca of the world happens to be the one native only to Britain (if you can call Cockney or Geordie english).
Yes, learn a few english phrases, as the world does, and then come to Britain because the economic system in place has been a generous one. If I were Romanian earning about £1.10 an hour (minimum wage) in Romania, why not go to the UK….because I can….and work for 7 times that amount per hour. Even if my employer gives me less than minimum wage, let’s say £3 less, I’m still ahead. I can rent a room with several other compatriots, work 3 different jobs (I’m young and don’t need a lot of sleep) and still have money to send home to Romania. Most of those old Slavic states are in the same predicament.
There is no good or bad here, just economics. It doesn’t mean Bulgarian or Polish workers come to the UK for the sake of unity and good will. As I said before, no one likes the English anyway. I have spoken to a number of economic migrants (usually in restaurants, hotels or bars and pubs). They, naturally, tell you how bad the weather is and want to talk about their homelands. Perfectly understandable. I have only met one who does not want to return one day to his native land. That’s because he’s gay and his country takes a hard line against homosexuals. He still has national pride, though, drummed into him from birth.
Over here, in the land in question, the English are the ones pushing for a vote to leave the EU. Not all, mind you. The polls show that the race is close. And herein lies the humour of the whole damned thing. No one has a clue what will happen if Britain leaves the EU. So, to convince the electorate which way to vote, the politicians (sometimes on opposing sides of the same party) use scare tactics to convince us to vote this way or that. It got crazy. Leaving risked war. Staying meant open borders and losing national health. Leaving meant we’d all go broke. Staying means we can’t trade with whomever we choose. Leaving means free movement of labour will be stopped. Staying means we can’t deport even the hardened criminals and terrorists.
It goes on and on. Finger pointing. Name calling. Even John Cleese of Monty Python and Fawlty Towers fame has waded in for the Leave campaign. There has been a comedy of errors and uninformed and uneducated opinions on both sides. There is nothing more comical than Englishmen losing their wick. Especially posh ones. Obama came over to plead with us to stay. Michael Moore, the documentary film maker said it would be insane to leave. Normally, the English don’t give a shit what Americans think, but the Remain side have fallen over bacwards to accommodate their views.
And so today we voted, my best friend and I, torn between agreeing we have to leave while agreeing perhaps we ought to stay. I’ll not say where we put our ‘X’. Meanwhile, in typical English style, the heavens opened and flooded some areas of London and the south east. Older voters who would probably have voted to leave couldn’t leave their homes to exercise their franchise. Some are claiming the Remain campaign planned it this way, seeding the clouds. The Remainers just laugh into their Belgian waffles.
I have talked mainly about England. The Scots say they’ll vote to stay and if we leave they’ll leave the UK….again. The Welsh are divided. They will probably vote to Stay just to stick the middle finger up to the English. The Nothern Irish are too hungover after making it into the final 16 at the EUFA EURO football tournament in France to bother voting. Whatever happens when we wake up in the morning, two things shall remain clear. The Glastonbury music festival will be ready to roll….in the mud as usual….and Wimbledon shall go on as usual next week.