A couple of nights ago I was celebrating the end of my working week in that ‘rock n roll’ way I tend to do now – by watching a bit of telly with a glass of wine. The evening got even more ‘rock n roll’ when Question Time came on (I thought ‘hey at least Huey Morgan who I once saw performing as part of the ‘Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ is on it’) and so I settled down to catch up on the goings on of the week.
And then it happened. All the raw emotions that I had felt very early in the morning of 24th June 2016 came flooding back (see this post about how I dealt with arguments over Brexit that weekend). The feeling of despair at how disjointed and fractured our country appears to be, washed over me once more. I watched with growing sadness the views about that day’s ruling on Article 50.
The following day my mood further plummeted when I saw the Daily Mail’s headline, branding the 3 judges who had ruled that our Prime Minister must secure parliamentary approval to invoke Article 50 which formally starts the Brexit process, as enemies of the state (sparking the #DontFundHate campaign). The feelings of wanting to emigrate that I had felt in those weeks after Brexit returned, along with the anxieties I have about the rise of the extreme right in
our country the western world (with the Trump presidential campaign unfortunately continuing apace).
Now I know I do have a tendency to catastrophise – think the ABSOLUTE worst of a situation (something Mindfulness has really helped me with) and I am History teacher who has spent way too much time teaching about Nazi Germany so tend to look for comparisons very quickly so I do recognise that this may not be the case. However, I do also see that politics is very different in 2016 to what it was twenty years ago when UKIP was barely a twinkle in Nigel Farage’s eye and Tony Blair was just paving the way to his entry to No. 10.
So much of what was said on Question Time on Thursday night I disagreed with and found upsetting. However, instead of being dismissive of these views (as I used to be) I was left trying to work out:
- where this hatred of Europe and the British judiciary
- and this horrendous social divide sometimes deeply malicious (with someone seemingly ready to wish suffering on children) had come from?
Firstly this situation appears to be symptomatic of the fast-moving news reporting of the digital era. Very few people actually look behind the headlines (and this is not a dig at people that some have labelled ‘uneducated’, this is true of anyone from any background in 2016) as we just glimpse the headlines online and that is it. Because the headlines reported that the ‘Remainers will now put the brakes on Brexit’ and that the 3 judges who reached the decision were to blame for this, then that was what many people believed. No critical thinking, no questioning, just acceptance.
Actually, as many will know, the judgement was more nuanced than this and stated that Theresa May alone cannot trigger Article 50 (read the full judgement here).
Secondly, it taps into, as one of the leading people behind the challenge – Gina Miller – comments, “all the isms”. Despite being part of a larger group of people who interestingly consisting of both those who had voted Remain and those who had voted Brexit in June’s referendum, the ‘face’ of the challenge, has faced a horrific level of abuse including rape threats and threats of beheading. I can’t help but think would this have happened if she weren’t a highly successful, wealthy woman, deemed ‘attractive’, and originating from Guyana?
So, as usual, Mindfulness has helped me to monitor my thoughts, feelings and emotions about this extremely serious topic and try not to be consumed by my ruminations.
It’s also helped me to re-direct my anger away from the average Brexiteer. Those politicians who rapidly left the political arena this summer as they knew they had not drafted adequate legislation for the referendum are instead to blame.
The education system (of which I am part of) that has not adequately taught people what parliamentary sovereignty and parliamentary democracy actually look like is also to blame. The fact that people can misconstrue the effective use of a robust, transparent and democratic judicial system as unjust and undemocratic is a sad indictment of the level of understanding there is about different political systems. For this, society is to blame. As Miller states:
“What we’re saying is, very simply, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t talk about getting back a sovereign Parliament and being in control but at the same time then bypass it.”
Though writing this post has offered me little relief from my thoughts on this subject. I do now feel more at ease about not placing the blame for this current situation on a certain stereotype of a person. The situation we find ourselves in is complex. Therefore it stands to reasons that there is a complex set of reasons for why people felt, and still feel, so strongly about putting a cross in the ‘leave’ box on the ballot paper. As the title of this post suggests, we must be mindful of playing the ‘blame game’ for this topic, or for any other for that matter.