Where do we go from here?
It is the question (actually it's one of several) that I have been asking myself for the past week, ever since 16 million of us didn’t get what we wanted and 17 million did. You can tell the ones that didn’t – they’ve been wandering the streets with a dazed look on their faces, as if their ears are ringing from an unexpectedly loud noise.
In the past week, there have been petitions and marches, suggestions that ‘whiners’ should suck it up, tears, rises in racist abuse and calls for unity. The Lib Dems have promised to campaign in the next election on fighting Brexit, Theresa May says Brexit is Brexit, Labour is eating itself alive over the Corbyn question and good old Boris is saying, well, very little now that the MacGoves have unleashed their weird House of Cards/EastEnders/Macbeth mash-up (I’m not entirely sure who is giving Gove media advice right now, but the sight of him sniggering on air about how no one could ever accuse him of glamour doesn’t so much yell ‘next Prime Minister’ to me as much as ‘Beavis and Butthead’.) Oh yeah, then there is that God-awful man who thought it might be nice to declare that the leave campaign won ‘without a shot being fired’. Go tell that to Jo Cox’s family.
Omnishables doesn’t even begin to describe the chaos that our political establishment is in right now. It’s like someone ripped down the back curtain in a theatre and they’re all running around half naked asking if anyone’s remembered to bring the script.
I have no sympathy for any of them, because at worst they all lied - from the now infamous £350 million a week for the NHS, to Osborne's 'oh yeah, about that emergency budget...' - and at best they were so busy trying to feather their own political caps that they used us. I’m glaring at you BoJo. And they continue do so. I dislike the bullying nature of Labour’s attempts to oust Corbyn and there's no arguing with the huge mandate upon which he was elected. Equally, in any other situation where 80% of your colleagues didn’t feel that you were performing the job that you are paid to do, at the very least there would be questions asked. And the longer this drags on, the angrier everyone becomes, when what we need more than anything right now is a strong opposition.
It is fair to say that I am conflicted on this one. One thing that I'm very certain of, though, is the existence of something that I like to call the karma cloud. It’s black and stormy and hovers about waiting to land on a suitable candidate’s head, meting out karmic justice. Right now, my cloud’s co-ordinates happen to coincide with MacGove’s head. Apparently even the ‘nasty party’ has a line and Beavis (or is he Butthead?) crossed it when he stabbed Banquo, I mean Boris (God, the storyline is complicated, although I do rather like the idea of a pasty-faced Boris helping himself to bacon and eggs as MacGove trembles behind his breakfast table crying ‘Avaunt and quit my sight!’), in the back, front, head and knees.
At the moment, he’s looking highly unlikely to win the Tory leadership election. My glee at this has nothing to do with his much-mentioned Etonian upbringing. Frankly, a pompous know-it-all is a pompous know-it-all in any walk of life. MacGove seems to think he’s better than everyone else and that we’re all just too stupid to know it. Hopefully he's about to be taught what I have named the Brian Cox law of audience: always 'treat them with respect'.
I don't expect everyone to agree with this, but personally, I think we have all been betrayed by this process: no matter which side you voted on it’s becoming pretty clear that there was a complete lack of *any* apparent plan for a post-Brexit world. Boris was rather hoping we’d all vote stay and MacGove seems to have been too busy making a list of his principles and dreaming up increasingly extravagant ways to claim he wasn't interested in the top job to worry much about the details of the thing.
Yes, Brexit might well mean Brexit, and yes, yes, yes, this was a democratic vote and we must now all get on with it, but the problem is – as far as I can see – that no one knows what ‘it’ is and so people sign petitions and march marches because right now no one knows what else to do. Protest is as much about democracy as voting.
The one silver lining out of this dog’s dinner of a process is that people have become engaged, on all sides; they care about what happens next, they care about their politics, their beliefs and their communities.
Just three weeks ago - although it feels like a lifetime - my community had a street party to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. Not everyone was a fan of the royal family. But, we came together to do something positive, to share food, drink, laughter and to celebrate what binds us, rather than what separates us.
God knows we all need those bonds more than ever now.