Looking back over the 73 Christmases I’ve had, I doubt that there has ever been a yuletide as unsettling as this. The world we hoped for decades ago never quite materialised, and what remained of those dreams has now been vaporised in a tornado of disunity and hatred. For example, early in November I read a heartfelt letter in our local paper from a local man who was rightfully concerned with the rapid swing to the far right in politics and the way in which dialogue and balance had been overtaken by sheer hatred and bigotry. This was my response:
Will people recognise the dark future we are entering as suggested in Leon Duveen’s letter. In my opinion it seems doubtful. Following David Cameron’s naïve and over-confident decision to offer Britain a referendum on Europe, the fires of simplistic populism continue to be stoked daily by a rabid media (owned mostly by tax-avoiding billionaires domiciled outside the UK) and a cabal of unscrupulous politicians with duplicitous agendas.
Thus, on June 23, the People had their say, and the victorious 52% no doubt expected us to be out of the EU the following day. Now we find ourselves in a new era; it’s called ‘Post Truth’. It’s been created by people like Donald Trump, (whose new supporters include the Ku Klux Klan) Nigel Farage and others, and it means that veracity (albeit never the sharpest knife in a politician’s toolbox) has been replaced by a loud and proud dishonesty. Now you can say what you like, invent bogus ‘facts’ on the hoof, and be as insultingly incorrect in all areas as you wish, providing this keeps your followers enraged. To maintain this carpet-biting indignation, all we need to do is ignore and refuse to read any genuine facts which oppose our vitriolic frame of mind.
For example on June 8th, 2 weeks before the referendum, David Cameron’s father in law, Lord Astor, said “The EU referendum is merely advisory; it has no legal standing to force an exit. Parliament is still sovereign.” Perversely, it was that very ‘sovereignty’ which we’d never lost that everyone was voting to ‘restore’. When three High Court judges are consulted on the Parliamentary Law relating to UK sovereignty, and come up with their hapless answer, they are dubbed ‘Enemies of The People’. Meanwhile, Cameron, in the wake of his badly conceived mess, has bitten the bullet and sloped off into a well-heeled country supper oblivion, whilst his austerity ‘slash and burn’ colleague Osborne is doing a well-paid ‘Blair’ on the US lecture circuit. The new and seemingly clueless Westminster cartel have been left to clean up their mess by pandering wherever possible to the bigotry and xenophobia which increases day by day.
As Mr. Duveen’s letter suggests, we are indeed at the top of a slippery slope into social and political darkness. Will this threat subside when we thankfully leave the EU and ‘take our country back’? I doubt it. Politics and democracy have been injected with a powerful, deadly poison; hate. It is the same virus which infected Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 30s. There is no longer any room for compassion or alternative opinions. The new, growing breed of trolls who infest social media will not tolerate the sentiments expressed here, for they see their ill-informed anonymous cowardice as some form of strength. However, we should remember the words of the American philosopher Eric Hoffer: “Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.”
I will not re-run here the responses I received, some nasty ones on Face Book and one especially in the paper concerned, from a correspondent who, in his haste to dismiss everything I’d said, finished by accusing me of the same hatred and told me more or less to ‘lighten up’ and that tomorrow, ‘the birds will still sing and the sun will come up’. In effect, his crudely dismissive response to my points proved more or less everything I’d suggested.
After a life where I’ve always been immersed in the support of progressive politics, I’ve come to the end of a road; this life has been a cul de sac, the wall at its end built by proud ignorance, irrationality and lies. With the despairing emotions this situation induces, the idea of a festive season based on ‘Good Will to All Men’ seems pointless and facile. My letter writing days are done. All I can say is that I am pleased to be in the final years of my life. What awaits in the decades ahead, and especially after 2017, will be a curse for those who come after me, even though the next generation will regard their social existence as the norm. No more debate now, no more dialogue. Just a good book, the odd film, a glass of beer and the occasional smoke. If fascism can grant me that, I promise to keep my head down.