The fourth of May was local election day hereabouts. As in many rural areas, the people of Norfolk are conservative with a small ‘c’, distrustful of change and suspicious of (and sometimes hostile to) strangers. That’s why some farming folk keep it in the family and one or two get way too close to their livestock. It’s called Normal for Norfolk. Unsurprisingly, as a rainbow city marooned in a sea of blue, Norwich itself voted for a weave of red threaded with yellow. Norwich isn’t Norfolk, just like Bodrum isn’t Turkey. Apart from the liberal retirees of North Norfolk, the rest of our green and insular county voted Tory. The only crumb of comfort was the damn good thrashing meted out to the right-wing UK Independence Party which, right across the realm, lost all but one of their seats. After all, as Britain heads for Brexit high on the illusion of sovereignty, what’s the point of UKIP anyway?
Next month’s the big one – a general election – where the great British public give their verdict on the road ahead. I’ve always (foolishly) lived in the hope that common sense prevails in the end. But then I picked up the Metro, a free newspaper no better than a celebrity comic but distracting enough to read on the bus. It featured an article called ‘The Baffled of Britain’, a survey listing the things that most confuse the average citizen. Some get me scratching my head too, such as:
The offside rule in soccer
Getting out of IKEA
What women see in Benedict Cumberbatch
How Trump is president of the USA
But way up there at number 3 was…
Gawd help us all.
Before we voted to remain in the European Union, we went to see Independence Day: Resurgence. Typical of expensive sequels, the blockbuster was poorly scripted, overblown and inconclusive. Not a patch on the original – just like the referendum.
Let’s face it, the European Union is hard to love – the faceless eurocrats in smart suits who run the show (Jean-Claude who?), the savage treatment of Greece (to keep German banks solvent), the every-man-for-himself response to the migrant crisis (not very communautaire), the expensive nonsense of moving the entire EU Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg just to vote (to keep the French happy), the initial refusal to allow the UK Government to zero-rate sanitary products (only a man would be so stupid). I could go on and on.
Finally, the EU referendum is nearly upon us. Thank the Lord it’s almost over. With every passing week, the arguments on both sides of the campaign have become more hysterical. No, I don’t believe the sky will fall in if the UK leaves the Union. It may get rocky for a while – divorces rarely end sweetly – but common sense will prevail because it’s in everyone’s interests that a deal is done. Yes, I do think high levels of migration to the UK caused by alarming levels of unemployment in some parts of the Eurozone has put pressure on housing and public services. But there are better ways to solve this than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I must confess, I flip-flopped for a while. It’s an incredibly important decision and I’ve tried to weigh up the pros and cons as best as I could. But I cannot in all conscience vote on the same side as the likes of Nigel Farage and his acolytes of little-Englanders blaming migrants for everything that moves or the unsavoury troupe of neo-liberal Tories led by bonkers Boris whose only answer to the funding problems within the health service is to privatise it. And yes, I do believe there is a link between the cowardly murder of Jo Cox by a fascist nutter and some of the more extreme voices in the leave campaign. You don’t have to pull the trigger to load the gun. Just saying.