For a period of about three to four weeks following EU referendum polling day, the political news agenda in the UK was epically mental. Every fifteen minutes there was a new, huge story: someone had resigned from something, every political party seemed in meltdown mode, careers were up and then down and then finished within the space of 24 hours. We arose every morning to the experience that people who wake up from a lengthy coma must have, with the country completely changed.
Eventually that was going to subside and so it has. There is still plenty going on, particularly given it’s August: a new Labour leadership contest underway, one guaranteed to end in tears no matter who wins; UKIP entertaining self-destructing (again); the Three Brexiteers going around saying wildly stupid/inaccurate things. Yet the come down from late-June/early-July feels very steep. I find myself feeling disappointed when I check my phone in the morning only to find a story about Larry the Cat leading the news.
Of course, during the meltdown period all I wanted was for the whole thing to stop and for reality to go back to being relatively normal. Welcome to the human psyche: when things are exciting we want them to be less so, but as soon as they are again, we crave the thrills.
For the record, I do not want the country to go off the rails once again for the benefit of my adrenaline withdrawal. It is objectively better, for instance, that the Tories got themselves together and installed a new leader who was actually competent enough for the job. But one can’t help but dwell every so often on just how catastrophic the premiership of Andrea Leadsom would have been, and how that would have changed British politics.
I suppose I should keep my head up. There is plenty of white knuckle stuff headed our way. I’ve never been this excited ahead of a Labour conference ever, to take one relevant example (I feel like how all those nerdy kids must have done when they bought their cinema tickets for “Phantom Menace” in 1999). I’m going to be in Liverpool for all of it – and I can barely wait. I guess I just need to find some way to get through the next few weeks. Any chance someone could very quickly write a Man in the High Castle style novel about a post-Leadsom Britain which is roamed by zombies? That just might do the trick.
Phil Beesley says
Nick: “We arose every morning to the experience that people who wake up from a lengthy coma must have, with the country completely changed.”
Hmm, the reverse Life on Mars scenario. We assume that things change a lot over 40 years, ignoring how much stays the same. The nudge, nudge, wink, wink racist/sexist/homophobic “joke” of the 1970s is still around in the form of presumed-anonymous Twitter comments. Gentrification has improved many urban areas but others haven’t changed apart from the graffiti. Flared trousers were going out of fashion in both eras of Life on Mars.
Has mainstream politics changed much post-Brexit? I suspect that the same sort of people are running political parties as five years ago. Some of the people running Corbyn Labour and Momentum units are very unpleasant but that was true for some people running New Labour. Political motivation may have changed but bullying behaviour, procedural manipulation, personal abuse etc (from all sides) will be uncomfortably familiar. Faces change but the same sort of people run things.
We’ve just gone from a period where everything is happening by the minute to one where everything is just over a fuzzy horizon, but you know something will surely happen…
The government hasn’t decided what kind of Brexit it will negotiate yet, probably won’t make its mind up for months. The Labour party may split, just not yet. The Conservatives are surely just about to start kicking off about Europe, but seem settled for the time being. Across the Atlantic, there could be a disaster with Donald T coming to power, but not for a few months. The economy might fall off a cliff due to Brexit, but we won’t be able to see it till 2017.
Anyone know where I can get some kind of crystal ball to look into the future?