Shot on X100F
I should warn you now, this post is going to be political. I know it's not about photography, but the issues it discusses may impact my ability to actually afford new cameras and lenses in the future, and affordably enjoy the practice of taking photographs overseas. So there's that. If you don't want to read it, rest assured I only post about this sort of thing in the odd dedicated post, and the rest of the blog is mostly packed with politics-free fun for you to read. Unless I make it clear otherwise. Like this. I mean hey, I haven't even titled it 'Second Referendum with the Fujifilm X100F'. If you want something else, wait until the weekend when I hope to get something special and deeply photography related up.
Now, with that disclaimer on with the post...
London on a hot day in June and a march of a hundred thousand to demand a second referendum. There was an element of the usual carnival atmosphere to the march, but there was also anger. It made for reasonably good photography, true, but the reason why I'd travelled down to London was because I shared in that anger, and I wanted to make my voice heard.
Two summers ago we were told that there would be great economic benefits to be found in leaving the European Union. Now Jacob Rees-Mogg, chief Brexiteer, tells us that it may be fifty years or more until we will see any dividends.
We were told on the side of the Brexit bus that there would be £350 million in savings that we could invest into the NHS, every week. Now the government's own non-partisan Office for Budgetary Responsibility - established in 2010 to provide fiscal forecasts - say that there will be no funding boost post-Brexit. Indeed, the chancellor Phil Hammond says that taxes will have to go up to pay for increased funding for the NHS, and the US President is threatening to use trade talks to force the service to pay more for pharmaceuticals.
Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox told us that it would be "the easiest thing in the world" to secure a trade deal with the E.U. Now we find it is practically impossible. The Leave.Eu website now claims that, "We do more trade with the US than with the EU, and that is by World Trade Organisation rules." But that is a lie, we in fact do twice as much trade with the EU than we do with the US, and that trade is done by according to a European Union agreement, not via the World Trade Organisation. Far from better deals, other governments such as Japan are advising us that we will get worse deals than our current single market.
We find that Brexit is jeopardising the Northern Ireland peace process as well, with the Good Friday agreement threatened by the spectre of a hard-border brought on by Northern Ireland's exit from the Single Market. As of yet, no solution has been provided nor an answer as to where Northern Ireland will get its three and a half billion euros a year in subsidy from the E.U owing to its weak economy and high unemployment.
And the 'Project Fear' warnings of damage to British industry are now beginning to manifest, with the car and aerospace industry under threat from the broken supply chain caused by leaving the EU and the investment uncertainty under the shadow of a 'No Deal'.
Far from the giddy 'jam tomorrow' promises of the Leave campaign, we're now being told by the Brexiteers that it's going to hurt before it gets better, that jobs may have to be sacrificed, that we'll have to deal with a measure of austerity before we're back on our feet - but that it'll be eventually worth it. There's something horribly glib about such people talking about sacrifice, they won't be the ones to be laid off when the factories close. From 'Take Back Control' Boris Johnson's new motto unveiled in an outburst to horrified representatives of BMW and Airbus was 'Fuck Business'. Nigel Farage was equally dismissive, stating that manufacturing was only "ten percent of the British economy." Hard luck on the ten percent working for it out there then.
The vote was won on an assumption that the government knew what it was doing and could competently and quickly negotiate a settlement with a chastened Brussels, that the concerns of business, industry and NHS experts were mere manifestations of a 'Project Fear' and that it would be enacted in a calm, orderly, 'strong and stable' government that wasn't riven by civil war in the cabinet, at the mercy of hard-line DUP MPs propping up the government and who's future wasn't threatened by an anti-Capitalist Labour opposition.
Look, I can accept the mistrust of a bureaucratic organisation that failed to provide answers to the economic devastation brought on by the financial crisis and I can appreciate the instinctual patriotism that feels that all law should be drafted by a nation, for a nation - both honest underpinnings of a need to 'take back control'. The red-tape of the EU has been at times heavy-handed, certain policies unfair. But the future of Brexit is being dictated by a set of dangerous fantasists, men like Jacob Rees-Mogg who when they espouse the ripping up of 'regulations' really mean the laws that protect our environment, our hard-won worker's rights, the rules that maintain and enforce the safety of the food we put in our mouths, the homes we live in. Indeed, Jacob Rees-Mogg has publicly espoused that our regulations should be brought in line with India. These are the demagogues who pretended that we can just jump off the back of the Euro-Bus, even as it's tearing down the motorway... that it'll be okay as long as we run really fast when we hit the ground. Now the government is making emergency contingency plans to stockpile food and medicine in case of a 'No Deal' hard-Brexit. (Oh, and incidentally in late-breaking news, it's just been announced that the EU is bringing in regulations against the offshore holding companies that allow Jacob Rees-Mogg and his friends to avoid paying tax, you know, the sort of funds that would come in handy in this time of perpetual austerity.)
We've been lied to every step of the way by the hard-line Brexiteers. They broke the laws on campaign spending. They cry up sovereignty while holding government hostage. Their claims are discredited, they say one thing one day and another the next. Eighteen months after Article 50 our erstwhile negotiator David Davis has washed his hands of the mess with an inexplicably smug grin, having done practically no work in the preceding negotiations beyond airily assuring us that it'll all be mysteriously worked out at the eleventh hour as he glibly kicked the can down the road week after week.
Because of all this, I feel most passionately that a second referendum should be called. The state of affairs in mid-2018 is utterly and completely different to that in which the vote was held, and that of which we were promised. In fact, the current situation is like verbally agreeing to buy a house from a dishonest estate agent and after viewing the property with its rising damp, subsidence, faulty electrics, bad plumbing and location seemingly in a demilitarised zone deciding to go ahead and sign on the dotted line anyway because hey, you promised and no take-backsees.
I'm under no illusions. While I think you should all write to your representatives demanding answers and petition in support of a second referendum, I have that awful feeling we're just going to drift into calamity. I'd love to be proven wrong. Honestly I would. I'd love to be proven wrong about all the above, and the hundred other things that I fear will be brought into play by a hard-Brexit. But that's where we're being dragged by that Conservative minority and I fear that they will remain unchallenged by the country at large. Yes, I know I'm wearing my heart on my sleeve and Christ, I don't even have the comfort of agreeing with Jeremy Corbyn's course at this time of crisis, but this has been eating my heart out for week after week and month after month now and I just had to, just had to post about this.
Because we're being lied to. And the guilty in high office and the likes of the Daily Express who are spreading and perpetuating these lies won't be the ones who pay for it. It'll be us.
Well that's me. I've said what I've had to say. You won't find me slipping in allusions in other blog posts in tiresome not-so-hidden-agenda fashion, when I'm political I cram it all into the overt angry blockbusters of the sort you read here, so don't worry about the negativity upsetting my regular blogging. But I hope you understand why I had to get all this out there, if only so as not to bottle it all up in quiet and helpless distress. Back to the regular Pete Takes Pictures show.
Now go and enjoy something lovely like Calvin & Hobbes or a Jeeves & Wooster or something.