My Swedish citizenship should come through soon. In the meantime I’m wondering whether I should bother to hold on to my British nationality any longer. Of course I shall – there are practical reasons for me to keep a foothold in the old country – but I’m finding it more and more difficult to identify with Britain as she is increasingly projecting herself.
It’s a depressing image: ungenerous, unwelcoming, shockingly unequal, stupid, racist, isolationist, selfish, her people constantly spied on, food banks, the poor demonised, the ruling classes corrupt and sexist, her footballers overpaid, her venerable Parliament crumbling to dust, fixated on the one (mainly) ‘good’ bit of her past history (WW2), whitewashing over or even rehabilitating the dubious bits (the Empire), utterly delusional about her prospects as a ‘free’ agent in the wider world now that she has irretrievably lost the attributes that made her an imperial power (her manufacturing industry and trade): all provoked and encouraged by a newspaper press that is possibly the most cynical and amoral in the world, and tolerated by an apathetic, irrational, uninformed and grossly misled electorate. (I’m sorry if that sounds élitist. It is, of course.)
Now I’m sure Britain still has her good qualities as a nation, as a vast number of her individual citizens certainly have; and her proudest achievements, inherited from the past – the BBC, the NHS, cricket, steak and kidney puddings – have not been totally undermined or destroyed just yet. But some days it’s difficult to espy them beyond the putrid smog that seems to be enveloping us (I remember real smogs, in the 1950s and ’60s: it’s just like that), and over my fears of something like the fascism of the 1930s breeding deep within it.
Brexit, the passions it has both revealed and aroused, and the grotesque ‘populist’ leaders it has thrown up, are all part of this. My application for Swedish citizenship was of course triggered by that, as the only way I saw of reclaiming the prized European identity that’s about to be seized from me. But in a way that’s a coward’s way out. Really I should stay and fight for what I believe in, here in the UK. According to the Brexiteer Press, however, that is akin to treason. ‘You lost. Get over it. The people have spoken. One referendum is democratic, but two is not.’ (Eh? There’s a wonderful comment on that here: https://www.facebook.com/1014500498590274/videos/1949502718423376/.*Another good reason for keeping the House of Lords.)
The question is: how far should I go, in my weak and elderly state, to stop the monster that is Brexit? Because I believe Brexit to be essentially unconstitutional, I’m certainly prepared to go extra-parliamentary. In Barthélemy’s day (see last post) they’d have erected barricades. But I can’t really see today’s Remainers blocking Parliament Street with pitchforks and muskets. Nowadays the only barricades in London are put up by the police. Another sign of our national decline?
*Bugger, it won’t come up, and I can’t find it on YouTube. But I seem to have posted it successfully on Facebook. It’s worth hunting out: Lord Lisvane with a brilliant analogy. Very funny. Sounds (and looks) like Gerard Hoffnung.
Later: apparently it’s working for some…