It hurts. It will always hurt. I wanted my nephew and niece to grow up, unconditionally both British and European. I wanted some kind of blow to the smug triumphalism of the Right. I loathe Bojo, the unprincipled, power hungry opportunist and master of the volte face and despise the values of Farage, the schoolboy Nazi turned populist spiv.
But I am but one person, one life’s experience. And that life is pampered, and steeped in metropolitanism. And I cannot seriously expect an entire nation to share my values.
Left wing journalists, commentators and comedians are often accused of smugly wallowing in their own echo chamber. Well I don’t. For four years I was in a relationship with a guy whose primary political passion was to expose the unwieldy bureaucracy and frequent corruption of the EU. My comedy touring frequently takes me into the heart of Brexitshire, where the common ground taken for granted in London, is not necessarily shared. I am quite the veteran of hosting industry awards, be it the Vending Machine, the Bathroom Supplier, the Electrical wholesaler. Being needy and in search of approval, I often drink into the small hours with these people, hear their opinions and tales.
For quite a long time now I have realised, with sadness, that a lot of very good, hardworking people, with not a racist bone in their body, want out of the EU.
Of course, a lot of pricks wanted out as well. It would take no time at all to list a rollcall of infamy, a catalogue of truly appalling human beings who want out. This is exacerbated by a media and twittersphere wanting to make the appalling people emblematic of a larger whole. How can anyone vote on the same side as Britain First, Marine Le Pen, Katie Hopkins and Donald Trump? I couldn’t in a million years. But I don’t run a small business, or live in a forgotten town, or have a family to run. I am but one person and one life’s experience.
I don’t think intolerance of opinion, or gracelessness in defeat is particularly a left or a right thing. In fact, the proportion of dickheads on twitter who send me graceless tweets, who are also Brexiteers is quite high. But it breaks my heart to see, as I have seen in the last two days, friends and colleagues dismissing the opinions of “The 52” with arrogance, contempt and the kind of simplistic stereotyping that your average racist would find obtuse. Not least when one the key issues is that Jeremy Corbyn’s complete lack of leadership ability has left a political vacuum on the left, which the right have been only too happy to take advantage of.
I know this blog will not make me popular. Right now, people are hurting and with good reason. A lot of people are saying that they are ashamed to British, ashamed to be English. Well, this country has been amazing to my family and to me. It has allowed an openly gay Asian man to pursue unusual professions. Yes, it has its share of idiots, and liars, and racists and misogynists and homophobes. Every country does. Yes, I believe with a passion that Brexit was wrong-headed and that the consequences may be disastrous. But I am not going to be one of those who insults the Leavers. They had their reasons, however much I disagree. And I am not losing faith in a country just because, on one day in 2016, 52% of them had a different approach to how to deal with a corrupt, unwieldy bureaucracy than I did. Heartbroken, yes, but still standing. x