Frogmarched by commenters, this post should be the first one of mine that goes out on Twitter. I seem to have acquired a few followers there even before posting a tweet. So if anyone sees one by me, I’d appreciate it if they dropped a little comment under the blog, saying “I saw it! And it was this big! And it was coloured green. With blue flecks around the edges. And then it flew away.”
And in another new move, I’ve signed up on Richard North’s EUreferendum blog forum, which was opened up today for new commenters. This is something that only happens once a year, as far as I can see. So it is in effect a semi-private forum, and any trolls that have managed to get in can soon be evicted.
I’m not sure what they all discuss, so I’ll probably sit in the back row for a while, just listening. I’m supposing that it will be about the EU, and the possibility of a referendum to get out of the damn thing. But they had a conference in Harrogate last weekend, in which they were trying to frame six demands to government, in the spirit of the Chartists. Which sounded interesting.
I, of course, come at it all from the perspective of a smoker who has been expelled from society by the EU-driven smoking ban, so I utterly loathe the EU now. And, as I’ve said many times before, I can see no future whatsoever for a political organisation that promptly makes second class citizens of a third of the people in it. That would have been like America’s founding fathers excluding Virginia from the Union, because they were all smokers or tobacco farmers there. The USA would have been stillborn. And the EU has been stillborn.
Which reminds me of a recent article by Vaclav Klaus, in which he wrote:
We should also stop the constantly expanding green legislation. The Greens must be prevented from taking over much of our economy under the banner of such flawed ideas as the global warming doctrine. And we should get rid of the centralisation, harmonisation and standardisation of the European continent and start decentralising, deregulating and desubsidising our society and economy. It should be made possible for countries that are the victims of the European Monetary Union to leave it and return to their own monetary arrangements. And we should forget such plans as a European fiscal union, not to mention anti-democratic ambitions to politically unify Europe. We should return to democracy, which can exist only at the level of nation-states, not at the level of the whole continent.
I agree with pretty much every single word of that.
I’ve not been much of a political animal most of my life. And if I’ve started getting engaged with it now, it’s because things have been going badly wrong, and something’s got to be done about it.
It’s really only when things go wrong that people start taking an interest in anything, whether it is the spin-dryer or the State. And I guess that in Britain, until 5 years ago, the spin-dryer was working perfectly well, and so there was no need to get exercised about it.
And, for most people, everything still seems just fine. They weren’t smokers, and so they weren’t expelled from society. Life carried on as normal. And even if they were smokers, they very often managed to persuade themselves that the smoking ban didn’t really affect them, didn’t really bother them, and that they really quite liked standing outside in a howling gale with water dripping onto their heads, because, well, “It’s so much more sociable outside now.”
I can understand this. People try and look on the bright side. Particularly us Brits. Nobody wants to think: This is just totally awful. But some of us have been moved out of our comfort zone, and are never going to find our way back. We have become permanently disenchanted.
But while people manage to look on the bright side, they’re not going to look critically at the world around them. They’re going to carry on voting the way they always had, just like I kept on voting for 25 years for the Liberal Democrat party because I was under the misapprehension that they were a) Liberal, b) Democrats. I had just read what was written on the tin, and I hadn’t looked inside. Because I was quite content, and wasn’t looking critically at anything much, and was taking everything on trust, looking on the bright side.
But then, even if you can no longer see the bright side of anything, you can always convince yourself that there’s nothing that can be done about it. As Lynn wrote in the comments earlier:
they bleat with a shrug of the shoulders ‘there is nothing we can do, we are stuck with them’
This was something I encountered frequently in the immediate aftermath of 1 July 2007. “There’s nothing we can do about it. Nothing’s going to change. It’s the way things have been going for a long time, and it can’t be undone.” It was a grim fatalism, a surrender to whatever fate had served up. They wouldn’t even pen a brief note to their MP articulating their dismay. “It’s pointless,” they said.
It’s one reason why everything’s gone wrong. People won’t engage, and so the people who do engage – i.e. all the politicians – are able to get away with murder. Because nobody will stop them. Nobody will even protest.
Maybe I’m wrong, but I have the sense that things are about to get very much worse for everybody quite soon. And those people who will do anything for a quiet life, and who always look on the bright side, will maybe start finding that there’s no quiet life to be had, and no bright side to be found.
I don’t know what motivates the folks over on EUreferendum. But I get the slight impression that they’re probably not Lib Dems. And that they don’t always look on the bright side. Or think that nothing can be done.