BREXIT- Disaster or Opportunity?

We are now in uncharted waters and our country faces the biggest constitutional crisis for over 500 years. This is bigger than the abdication crisis in the 30’s because we have a huge proportion of the population (under 40 years old) who have always been European and British.

The debate whether intentionally or not opened up the deep schisms in our society and the fault lines lie along age, wealth, education, race, social mobility and opportunity.

It is a very blunt instrument when one is in the privacy of the ballot box to place a cross because of personal anger based on lack of housing, jobs and job security, a good education and self esteem based on the fear and blame of “other”, or to place a cross which says, “I’m alright Jack” I own my own house, my kids go to a good school and I know they will have unlimited opportunities to be a success both personally and professionally.

Is it any wonder that if people like Farage, Gove and Johnson who conflated constantly during the debate, the racist attitude towards people from Europe, that the electorate will also do so, not realising that the fault clearly lays with the national politicians that they put in power in the first place. Who then pursued a policy of ideology of small government, big business, tax avoidance and evasion and low personal taxation which stripped our public services, which of course they do not use and only wish to put in place as cheaply as possible, irrespective of the service they provide, because actually they want everyone to pay for them directly.

This has never been a one-nation government and quite clearly it has always been a part nation government. A government of the haves, of the educated, of the homeowners, of the specialist holidays, of the professional elite, of the internees working for nothing, of those who exude privilege and entitlement. Is it any wonder that the other half of the nation, because surprisingly it is half the nation, have stuck up two fingers to indicate very clearly, NOW are you going to listen!

What of the future?

As an analogy, in any divorce, if people indicate they do not wish to live together, they separate tout suite, there are no long goodbyes because both parties feel hurt, rejected and worthless. So you don’t want me anymore, then be gone and you are not having the car, the house or the kids and believe this, I will fight you tooth and nail for all those things that we built together with so much love and care because I sweated and toiled to create them. They are more mine than yours.

Europe has already indicated how hurt and angry they are. This constant carping child we raised for the last 40 years has now come of age and we are no longer responsible for what they do or say, so be gone. This is my house, my money, my family and you are no longer welcome. But can I come back periodically please and have the benefits of your food and shelter, of your money and friendship? NO! Go and set up your own house, earn your own money and create your own new family! That’s the nature of a divorce.

Our “new’ Prime Minister is then going to go to Brussels and beg to be allowed into the EEA but significantly reduce the free movement of people. The “Brexiteers” still do not understand that that is nonsense. The fundamental purpose of the EU is Free Trade and Free Movement of Workers and our PM will be negotiating from a position of weakness. What exactly is it we have to offer that cannot be gained from elsewhere within Europe?

If I am a tomato farmer in Spain, will I sell my produce to a marketplace of 26 countries and 450 million people with little or no encumbrances or into a marketplace of 60 million where it will be difficult to sell because of trade barriers? That is just the economic case.

What will happen in our home?

Scotland has indicated very clearly that a 2nd referendum is on the cards, as they do not want to leave the EU. It may or may not be successful for the SNP but what leader did not see this precipitation of future possibly cataclysmic events?

The Tory party will lurch to the right because that is the heart of a BREXIT government. There will then need to be a General Election, no new PM can govern for a further 3 years without a mandate. This creates huge uncertainty in the negotiations with the EU.

We do not have a credible opposition or government in-waiting under Corbyn, so again more uncertainty.

Irish Republican politicians are taking the opportunity to move for a United Ireland. This is perfectly understandable in the circumstances, and so we may see the break up of the UK within 5-10 years.

How has this hubris been created?

  1. Lack of political leadership.
  2. Lack of engagement with Europe.
  3. Lack of engagement with the electorate.
  4. Individual posturing of an egocentric and ethnocentric without precedence.

 

What needs to happen?

  • There needs to be a period of calm.
  • We need a stable coalition government.
  • We need to make peace with our European partners.
  • We must not leave the European Union and the next government must manage that process.

 

Can we draw a straight line between now and the perceived imperial nature of our long history? I believe we can and some of the things I have heard over the length of the campaign lead me to believe that the xenophobia and sense of superiority over others is reflected in these words.

 

An Englishman

The Zulus have their thumping impis, crushing the baked earth under stamping feet.

The Germans have their phalanxed formations of marching elite,

But an Englishman, is just English

The Indians philosophise and bring us nearer to nirvana,

The Americans have their raucous Stars and Stripes reminding all of Boston and that party.

But an Englishman, is just English

The Australians have their sports stars, driven by chipped shoulders draped in green and gold,

The Arabs have their God who they say is very bold.

But an Englishman, is just English

The West Indians have their cricket and tinkling steel drums,

The Canadians have their quiet and unassuming aplomb.

But an Englishman, is just English

The Irish sing and reel endlessly for the craic,

and the Scots Ceilidh from the first light until the sky is black.

But an Englishman, is just English

The Welsh have their boyos crossing the try line,

And the French have their tricolour gaily entwined,

But an Englishman, is just English and inexorably apace,

has trod in all those places, of earth’s great space.

 

Tod O’Brien September 2013

Newly Published Poem

I wrote this poem for my mother in law Christina McDonagh nee Brown shortly after she died in 2003 aged 82 years. She was an inspiration not just to me but to all her 10 children and was known throughout the community in North London where she lived as a good and kind woman. She had led a hard life being a scullery maid “in service” in her youth in Scotland and she never had a great deal of money throughout her life but taught me the value of things that money cannot buy. Family, love and friendship. She was a marvellous woman, one of the unsung heroes who never complain but do the best they can with what they are given and the hand they are dealt. She had a profound impact on me and certainly was prominent in shaping who I am today.

Her favourite tune was “Time to say Goodbye” which was played at her funeral and even now nearly 10 years later reduces me to tears.

 I subsequently entered it for a national poetry competition and although it never won it was selected for publication in a new anthology of poems called “Uplifting Moments” published by United Press Ltd this year.

“Mrs Mac”

Mrs Mac

I never knew how much I loved you,

Until you’d gone.

Christina, Chrissy, my Mrs Mac.

My surrogate mother ,who never chastised,never held back,

Always laughed, never criticised.

So many things I never said,

And too late to say,

When I came to say goodbye.

You asleep in your bed of dreams,

Drifting gently heavenwards,

Where else?

Leaving all sloth and care behind,

And now it seems, what was left unsaid,

Is spoken aloud , a soft gentle sound,

In that beautiful Scottish burr,

Of lochs and glens and tatty scones,

As you say to me,

Yes, of course I loved you

My son.

Tod O’Brien 2003

Fugue for my Father

I am at an age when peers,colleagues,friends and family are passing away more often it seems and both my parents and mother in law and several other people I know have passed away recently.This is the time of life to be enjoyed and as one’s own mortality becomes one,then a piquant frisson is added to life which makes for a much more  interesting time.

Interestingly though, I have noticed particularly with people who are old and have lived a full life, whether that be happy or not, that  towards the end  there comes upon them a peace and realisation that their end is imminent and in fact in several conversations now with people close to me they have said “I just want to go now,I am tired” 

I never really understood this, the first time I heard it from my mother in law who I loved very dearly, probably because I was still too young, but my last or one of the last conversations I had with my father shortly before he died was on this theme. Although it was hard to lose him it also made it so much more bearable and when I was privileged to speak the eulogy at his funeral I wrote these words for him which I hope will bring comfort to others at the end of their loved ones lives.   

Let me go gently, into this long sweet sleep,

I am ready and there is no need for you to weep.

Let me go, gently from this mortal coil,

For I am ready and will be cushioned softly by welcoming soil.

Let me go, gently, and I will always see,

All those I have loved and we will always be,

Together,now and in the years ahead.

Let me go gently and always remember me and words of love,

I have said.

In memory of Noel Cuthbert Gardener O’Brien. 1925-2010 An Anglo-Indian gentleman.

English Summer

English Summer

When swallows swoop and dive,cross azure skies,

and golden orb sheds shafts of warm light to kiss,

green still leaves in strawberry field.

Then English summer is full here.

As I languidly lay myself on carpets green

the more to soak myself in nature’s gift

of cossetted warmth and human burrow.

Then what is seen?

This wonderful country, that is my country,

spendidly nurturing me and mine.

So,what more should I desire?

but gorgeous isolation in nature’s field

of small creatures and rustling leaves.

For, have I not peeled the greatest time

from this firmament, that is mine?

 

Tod O’Brien 2007