A song (or two) for Europe

On Friday I felt like a shadow. Everything looked real, but I didn’t feel real. The world had changed –  but yet it hadn’t.

Today I feel like a puppet on dodgy strings. One minute I’m acting my part as a human being, the next a string breaks and I’m not sure of anything.

I had no idea it would be like this, leaving.

But then, I didn’t really think it would happen.

No. That’s not quite true.

As voting day drew near, a creeping sense of doom did begin to infiltrate my psyche.

And when I cycled down to the polling station and saw the clogged car park, I think I knew.WP_20160623_11_54_30_Pro

We were going to leave the EU.

Writers are meant to be observant – or so I tell myself when I’m being nosy.

I watched. And felt as if I knew how most of the people were going to vote.

It was their demeanour. A defiant look. A  ‘who-are-you-looking-at’ challenge,  spoken by their faces, their posture. And this in an urban village that’s usually very friendly.

Dejected, I set off for the village shops, but then I saw the library. And the dust. And the digger.

The footpath used to lead to the library door

The footpath used to lead to the library door

I stopped. Took out my phone to record the evidence.

An elderly couple stopped to chat. The two of them were very small, seemed fragile.

I knew they’d been to vote and suspected I knew which way, so stuck to safe ground.

How sad to see a library being demolished.

The result of council funding cuts, imposed by central government, I added. Of austerity.

They shuffled off at that, not sure at all.

That's him, the blue shirt, walking round the site

That’s him, the blue shirt, walking round the site

I moved to capture a different view and as I took the first picture a black 4×4 drew up. A man in a blue shirt came over.

‘All right?’ he said.

He had an infectious smile, a convex belly and a face that was invitingly jovial.

I took off my bike helmet.

It was hot and sunny and I had a feeling I was in for a ‘well met, stranger’ event.

It turned out he was the man who owned the demolition business – and he was on my side. He volunteered, without any prompting, he’d been to vote – and voted remain.

Then he frowned.

‘I was the only one in there voting remain.’

His polling station had been buzzing with people, all of a like mind.

We chin-wagged for about fifteen minutes and I made my way home. Happier for the sun and a fellow remainer.

A friend texted me. Help! Everyone’s voting out, I’m worried. Don’t worry I said, it’s a seaside town, it’ll be different.

On Friday morning I woke and hesitated. Did I really want to know?

I went upstairs to our kitchen and saw my husband’s face.

‘No.’ Was all I could say.

In that instant, I felt as if my world had changed forever.

I remembered as a child singing ‘Puppet on a string’ with French children at a summer language school. The song had won – oh, rare event – the Eurovision song contest.

We had not yet joined the European Economic Community, but even then, as a child, I had no doubt where I lived. As I wrote in many a battered storybook:

book page

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There was only one universe then, btw.

But on Friday morning the nation had said, we’re leaving you. It’s over. Goodbye. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.

Keep your refugees, your regulations, your workers’ rights, your bloated parliament and let us take our country back.

Sorry, the anger is finally beginning to trickle through the paralysis.

Not everyone voted as a protest, or out of anger. Many read every last word written and listened to all the debates. Agonised over what was for the best. But then they voted out – and, yes, some of them now regret it.

We didn’t think it would happen, people said, to camera, on Friday.

It happened.

I’ve cried once, when I tried to read this aloud:

After Housman

Into my heart an air that kills
From Wales and England blows
Who put the poison in the wells?
Whose razor wires are those?

Theirs is the land of lost content.
They see it shining plain.
The fortress-isle old lags lament
And hope to build again.

Blake Morrison

[Published in the Guardian newspaper 25 June 2016]

A suitably moody day, but still the sea comes in

A suitably moody day, but still the sea comes in

But life goes on.The sky is still the sky, the trees are still the trees, the sea still laps the shore.

It’s just that I’m no longer allowed to be the person I was.

The person who was comforted by the blanket of Europe, with all its imperfections.

A member of a clan of all sorts of people, who’d somehow managed to keep together through a lot of thick and thin.

And now.

I wait for the bitterness, the anger, the bile that was summoned up by cynical politicians, serving their own ends, to erupt into yet more division and strife.

I hope I am wrong. I hope we all learn to live with it and cope.

But I’m sad.

And I leave you with the words from another song, this time from the Sound of Music.

‘Adieu, adieu, to EU and EU and EU.’

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24 Responses to A song (or two) for Europe

  1. Miz B says:

    Even on this side of the pond, in the middle of what bigshots call “fly-over country,” things feel strange today. It’s like we’ve had a death in the family. Life feels profoundly changed, and, yet, when I look around, people are going about their business, and things look quite the same.
    Writer-to-writer, I liked the way you grounded the essay with the physical destruction of the local library. As sudden as changes feel right now, they’ve had a long prologue we’ve mostly ignored. I wonder how your vote there will affect our vote in November?

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    • Ah, thanks Miz B. It is indeed like a bereavement. I wake up in the morning as usual, then comes that sinking feeling, things are not the same, never will be again. But we must cope, work to heal wounds and carry on. If only our politicians would do the same. They toy with the truth and with people’s lives yet it all passes them by – the misery out in the real world. As for the USA and its elections – I think it is a lesson to the left to take the poor, the disenfranchised (not literally) and the hopeless seriously. What do you think will happen? I have always believed that Trump could win in the same way I believed the UK could vote us out of Europe – we have the clownish Boris Johnson, you have Trump – and they share the respect of those for whom no one else speaks. They say the things others dare not and it maters not a jot if they are telling lies. Sigh. I’d love to hear your views. I can’t face reading other people’s blogs at the moment so apologies for not engaing. And, thank you for reading and commenting and feeling my pain.

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  2. Rebekah M says:

    We voted to join the E.U. 1994. It was extremely close, so the country was pretty much divided afterwards. Eventually it quieted down, but we’ll see what happens now, after this. Could be dire times for the E.U. ahead.

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    • Hi Rebekah, yes, one of my major reasons for voting remain was the stability of Europe. What a mess. Now we have both of our major parties squabbling and the architect of this fiasco (George Osborne, our Chancellor) having the nerve to carry on. It may come to pitchforks after all. Certainly the bigger parties don’t seem to be coping with the population’s issues. Like I said to Miz B, I do apologise for not reading and commenting on others’ blogs at the moment but my mind is in turmoil. Keep up the good work though! How many days to go?

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  3. Our son, who is the process of buying a house, rang on Friday morning in absolute shock and dismay saying exactly the same thing “I feel as though I have woken up in a different country this morning.” He cannot believe that the British public can be so insular in their outlook and is worried that prices may fall if there is a recession and that he could end up in negative equity.

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    • I know, Ron, a friend of a young friend is in a similar quandary. And Osborne struts out this morning as if nothing much has happened, ready to rip the fabric of society apart (she says, dramatically, but I fear the worst … It won’t be the rich who pay.) And as for Ireland, as we discussed before…
      We have to hope a superhero/ine will arise and save us, don’t we? Can’t see one from here though…

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  4. mud4fun says:

    Hi M,

    I feel compelled to comment on this even though I fear the comment may upset you and I don’t want that. I am really reluctant to post this. Equally however I would like you to hear my thoughts as one of your blog followers and as somebody you know is willing to open up to you.

    I voted to leave and I have absolutely no regrets.

    I am however totally disgusted at the response of the largely university educated political class who have shown a serious lack of grace in accepting the result of a democratic process.

    The fact that they now have to suffer the consequences of a referendum where a majority of voters disagreed with their views is quite frankly, tough. There are millions of people in this country who have suffered the loss of their jobs, their homes and their communities because of decisions taken by governments or bodies that represented opposing views to theirs. They had no alternative but to accept their fate as they were told it was democracy at work.

    It seems to me that the political elite only want to accept democracy where the result is weighted in their favour. Now for the first time in 40 years the British people have had a chance to vote on an issue that has caused grave concern to them and they voted in a majority. While politicians may like to believe the result was very close, they are making the same mistake that got them into this mess in the first place because ignoring Gibraltar, Scotland and Northern Ireland who were always going to vote remain, I believe the English results were more like 56% to 44%? That would be considered a landslide victory had it been for a general election. It is not a close result at all.

    London and its immediate commuter belt does not represent the views of the rest of England and this has never been more clearly demonstrated than by the stark variance in results between London and the rest of England, especially the North. The UK as a whole and certainly the North of England has suffered for decades from government policies that were London-centric.

    I would expect those in government to accept the democratic choice of the people and get on with implementing policy change. Instead we have a group of spoilt brats, throwing their toys out of the pram, arguing amongst themselves and accusing the MAJORITY of voters of being racist, uneducated, northern bigots, plebs and peasants. At a time when the country needs strong and decisive leadership they have instead thrown the towel in, buried their heads in the sand, demanded a second referendum or decided to hold leadership elections so they can spend the next 6 months furthering their own careers.

    While I did not go to university (I chose not to go) and I am genuinely northern as I was born in Liverpool, I was grammar school educated, have ten O levels and four A levels, a HNC in mechanical engineering, a wealth of specific qualifications and I’m in the top 5% of UK wage earners. Until recently I worked in one of the top one hundred wealthiest UK businesses. I live in an 1850’s character cottage, have an AGA and own four cars including three classics. I have worked throughout Europe, have had two French girlfriends, one of my best friends is Polish and I successfully ran a team of Indian developers based in Kolkata. I am currently working towards setting up a locally based manufacturing business that will produce parts that will be shipped worldwide. I am hardly a racist, a bigot or ill-educated.

    True, I am not university educated and I can’t talk or debate with the eloquence of the university educated ‘elite’ which means I avoid getting into political debate with such people. They very often use their superior articulation of language to beat down and bully those they see as being beneath them. This of course has led to the majority of people keeping their resentments bottled up and it only partly shows itself in votes at general elections. In this case a referendum where every vote counted (unlike a general election) has simply allowed more people like me to make our vote count.

    The vast majority of my friends and work colleagues voted to leave too. They are of similar background to me. They are not racists and indeed many of them are not northern either!

    There was a myriad of reasons why I voted to leave. Migration, or rather the effects of mass uncontrolled migration, was a serious concern but it was just one of many concerns.

    I am the last engineer in a family of engineers stretching back over 150 years. My Father voted for and supported the common market as at the time it was a trading relationship. At the time he voted for it 65-70% of GDP came from primary and secondary sectors. My Father always warned that if these two sectors were not maintained and protected then it would have catastrophic consequences for the future. An economy based on tertiary sector was not a secure one. This was not just about the financial aspects. He was always very clear that the population needed to be skilled. Skills attract higher earnings but also allow workers to have career progression and take pride in their work and themselves which has a knock on effect to the general and mental health and wellbeing of the nation.

    While there will always be a percentage of children that are better suited to academic routes through education there are probably more that need to follow a vocational path. Successive governments, aided by the EU, have eroded support for our primary and secondary sectors and with it the vocational training those industries required. Instead they have put all the emphasis on getting a university education.

    To make matters worse they have put in place a culture in politics and media that regards those without a university education as some sort of ill-educated diseased horde that deserves little respect.

    I am in the early stages of setting up my newmanufacturing business. I want to design mechanical parts myself, I want to have the patterns made in the UK, cast in a UK foundry and machined in a UK machine shop and wherever possible using UK sourced raw materials. These processes required highly skilled people. In order to pay to employ them or train them I would have to charge more for my products. The UK economy and population as a whole would benefit the most from this option but I would have to adhere to reams of employment legislation and I would make less profit.

    As it stands, being in the EU means I can import very cheap labour that already has those skills OR more likely I can simply get my products made elsewhere in Europe. This allows me to charge less for my products and at the same time make more profit. While government tax revenue may on paper be similar on this option, it doesn’t tell the whole story as I will not be training up UK workers with good skills, they won’t be benefiting from higher wages or fulfilling careers and they won’t be spending those higher wages on more UK made goods so this option is not as good for the UK population.

    If we remained in the EU I would have no choice but to go with the second option.

    My Father chose the former option and his businesses were decimated. His customers opted to put cost first, bought the cheaper products and were content to see skilled UK workers lose their jobs. He got no support from the UK government. His situation has been echoed countless times across the country.

    While I do not agree with protectionism per se, I do think that governments need to start asking more questions and looking at things from a much wider perspective. For example, is it better to support a loss making steel industry through a period of global instability thus protecting jobs, skills and community or do we let it fail and then have to pay out vast sums of money in benefits to support unemployed workers and their families, break up communities and lose valuable skills that can’t easily be replaced in future.

    While those workers are employed they have pride in themselves and their industry and are less likely to succumb to the temptations offered by far right movements.

    A European or Global trading game unencumbered by red tape and borders sounds great on paper but the reality is that unless every participant plays by the same rules it leads to unfairness, cheating and resentment. A nice experiment but it is time that governments woke up and realised the consequence of their actions.

    Regards,

    Ian

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    • Ah, Ian. Nothing here surprises me at all. And much of it I agree with. I hope you have not included me in your anger at those calling people racist, thick and ignorant. This is what I said:
      “Not everyone voted as a protest, or out of anger. Many read every last word written and listened to all the debates. Agonised over what was for the best.”
      And I also said this:
      “I wait for the bitterness, the anger, the bile that was summoned up by cynical politicians, serving their own ends, to erupt into yet more division and strife. I hope I am wrong. I hope we all learn to live with it and cope.

      I’ll take your comments paragraph by paragraph. I may have misread some of them but, anyway, for what it’s worth, here goes …
      1. I am not upset at your comments, just sad and wishing it could have been another way.
      2. I respect your vote – you did what you believed was right.
      3. I am university educated, as you know, but accept the vote, although I wish it had not happened and we cannot change that.
      4. Agree with all you say here. I am no fan of UKIP but I do believe that the first past the post system has failed us all. The votes UKIP garnered in the last election should have resulted in representation, They did not. Ditto the Greens.
      5. Whether the vote was close or not is beside the point now. If there had been an acceptable level of participation and winning margin set that would have been different. What I cannot condone is the outright falsehoods – £350 million a week for the NHS? Oh no, we never promised that… Curtail immigration – well, no we can’t. If we join the economic area like Norway we have to allow free movement of people. People who were right to be aggrieved at successive governments’ failure to work for them were misled. It will create more strife, already is doing.
      6. Hear hear. A hobby horse of mine which has upset one of my Twitter followers who works in London. But it is as if there is an opaque wall in their understanding. I believe all MPs should have to live in a constituency for several years before being qualified to stand. As I have written before, I also believe politicians and media from London should spend time (every day for a week at least) in downmarket shops in middling towns in the north (and south west/Wales/N Ireland) and observe. As one acquaintance of mine found recently in a charity shop, £2.50 can be the difference between eating and going hungry for one person up north while for a Londoner it may not even buy a cup of coffee. Over 5000 people fed by Southport’s foodbank in one year … (Shorthand, I know it is more complicated than that). BUT not all the north voted out – Liverpool region including Sefton where I live voted remain, as did, eg, Leeds. Why? More affluence? More EU funding? I don’t know, but I do know that there are places that voted out near here who also voted BNP in the Euro elections not that long ago – another vote of protest, frustration and fear perhaps?
      7. Agree.
      8. Understood. And impressive, though I know that is not why you are telling me.
      9. If it’s any consolation I am Oxbridge, which should mean I am an eloquent debater… however, not only am I female but also ‘of a certain age’ and my views expressed in meetings are most often ignored, talked over or repeated by a young man who then gets taken seriously. Oh, and I also have to listen to people ranting in my presence in very derogatory terms about people like me. I accept that I have an easy, privileged life in many ways but it doesn’t mean I like the abuse. I think of it as pay off for my luck. Which, I fear, is not going to hold when it comes to retiring on a rubbish pension….
      10. Yep, I know – many people I know are as you describe.
      11. OK
      12. Why are you the last engineer? I thought you had daughters….? 😉 Seriously, I think I agree – successive govts, starting with Thatcher, have ignored manufacturing, skills and training. A service economy may sound good but it isn’t the backbone a nation needs imho. Changing technology, though, poses serious issues for future employment even at privileged middle class levels ….
      13. I thought techs and polytechs were terrific and think degrees have lost value anyway – now an MA is the queivalent of a BA. At one stage I wanted to do PR for improving non-academic status. Why should an academic qualification be in any way superior to a practical one? I like the German Dr Ing title … I wish I had done something more practical myself, I was swept along by a father who valued scholarship probably above almost anything else, as a result of making his way to university from a working class background in a mill town in the industrial north.
      14. Totally agree. And whatever you may feel about Corbyn he has no degree….
      15. If you need any help with any of your marketing materials let me know (just joking, I think you will manage fine on your own).
      16. Yes.
      17. I just wonder if you really think this is going to change in the short term? Or even the long term? Perhaps only if he eocnomy declines and wages decline still further?
      18. I am sorry and know it is far from a solitary case.
      19. All for a bit of protectionism myself when it comes to people’s lives. Investment in infrastructure projects instead of austerity would have helped.
      20. Yep.
      21. Can’t disagree with that.
      All in all, I believe this is ultimately down to the failure of our democratic institutions and processes.
      Have you read my posts about the Lancashire mills on here and on my Maid in Britain site? I am furious. But I voted remain. And as a loser, I think I have the right to be sad. In fact, whether I have the right or not, I am. I am trying to work with the political system and rapidly bouncing off it – or being bounced off it.
      Thank you so much for this response. It shows me we have more in common than divides us. I have not mentioned the murder of the MP Jo Cox so far as I did not want to ‘use’ it. Her constituency, a place I used to know very well and where many friends lived, seemed to be genuinely impressed by her and grieving at her loss – yet they voted out. That speaks many, many volumes. But our ‘top’ politicians do not seem to be reading them.
      With best wishes
      Mary

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  6. mud4fun says:

    Hi M, thanks for the reply. Yes I read most of your posts. I don’t always comment though. In this case I had some time as I quit my job two months ago and last Friday was my last day there. I enjoyed the first relaxing weekend for many years and it was nice to have a chance to actually reply to one of your posts! 🙂

    I would not put too much emphasis on the lies, it may have swung a minority of voters but speaking to all of my friends and colleagues it was clear that we all knew the true facts and figures and it made no difference to our decision. Please do not forget that the remain campaign lied heavily too, in fact from my perspective the lies were even more absurd and I would imagine the lies from both sides largely cancelled each other out.

    In all honesty I doubt much will change. Certainly from the behaviour of the politicians over the last few days, it seems they have still not accepted the message the public gave them and are using any excuse to avoid accepting the fact that thirty years of lacklustre or London-centric politics from all parties has left the country divided. We need strong decisive leaders and we urgently need a new strategy for regeneration of primary and secondary sectors to promote jobs and skills, especially in the North. Basically the country needs a better balance of wealth distribution.

    I can only hope that out of the ashes of the referendum we will see a move towards supporting heavy industry, manufacturing and its workers.

    We also need a more coherent long term policy for welfare, health, roads, housing and schools. The existing infrastructure in many parts of England can’t cope with one more immigrant let alone thousands. If the government had invested in these areas, commensurate with the levels of immigrants moving in, the stresses on the system would have been significantly less and resentment would be less. If people were employed in rewarding jobs, could find and afford housing, get prompt treatment in a hospital and get places for their children in their desired schools there would be far fewer reasons for them to be attracted to far right movements. I think you will find there are actually very few racists amongst those that voted leave. It is always easy for the intellectual elite (politicians and media) to blame racism rather than admit to the serious cracks, flaws or even chasms in government strategy, planning and policies.

    The thing I find most sad in all this is that it has shown up just how out of touch our politicians are and how disgraceful their behaviour has been at a time of national crisis. It is a damned good job we hadn’t gone to war, what would they do then? call for a leadership election to decide who presses the button? I am truly disgusted that they have chosen to play petty party politics at a time when the public needs to see strong and coherent leadership.

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    • And re my response to point 12?
      I get the feeling this was your response to the world not to my post! But that’s fine 😉
      I do fear demons have been conjured – yes, by both sides – there is a report saying racists/hate incidents reported to the police have gone up. Maybe a blip, maybe a symptom of something more pernicious. I hope a blip.
      Good luck with your new enterprise – I am putting the final nails in the coffin of my ltd co over the next few weeks.

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      • mud4fun says:

        Ah, sorry forgot. I will do my very best to give my girls the opportunity and skills in order to choose whatever career they wish. However my comment was really relating to the industry. I did a proper engineering apprenticeship in a very large company. At the time it had pattern shops, foundries, welding and fitting shops, very large and diverse machine shops and even a packing department.

        The guys I learnt my trade from all retired back in the early 90’s. There are very, very few manufacturing businesses left in the UK that have the entire process on site in one place, so my girls are unlikely to ever experience what I did (and my father, grandfather etc).

        Most manufacturing businesses that do still machine parts here will very often import castings from Asia. The pattern making and foundry processes were amongst the most skilled jobs but they required decades of experience. We lost those skills as a country years ago and there is not much chance of ever recovering them. They are the sort of skills that get passed down and we have now gone for a generation that missed out.

        Even if the government decided to reopen foundries and poor financial support into apprenticeship schemes there would be nobody to pass down the skills, it is too late. 😦

        Not true! Seriously I would not get involved in political debates with just anybody. You however, while having differing views to me, have always put your views across with such wonderful eloquence, compassion, warmth and poetic elegance that I felt I had to comment even though I didn’t really want to get involved.

        Of course, after 3 hours of typing I realised that I had typed a wee bit more than I originally intended so in that respect maybe you are right 😉

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        • Lovely. Thank you! Always ready to debate with you.
          And I feel as you do about the loss of skills. But the world has changed so much and machines do so much, fewer and fewer manual jobs and soon to be fewer white collar jobs (to be done by AI machines, algorithms instead of thought and training) I am concerned that the inequality of wealth distribution we see now is just the tip of what is a growing iceberg. I hope I am wrong about lots of things though! 😉

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          • mud4fun says:

            In my opinion, one of the big issues with migration has been the effect it has on keeping wages low especially with those in low skilled jobs, of which there are now many more in our largely Tertiary sector based economy.

            While I know you are a passionate and caring person and your view is that we should help those in more need than us, I don’t believe the politicians have that same motivation. They use immigration to keep wages low. This really took off under Gordon Brown back in the 90’s. A population of skilled workers commanded higher wages and that often led to high inflation and instability in the economy.

            Gordon Brown realised that the combined swing away from high skilled manufacturing jobs to low skilled service sector work coupled with allowing high numbers of largely unskilled or semi-skilled workers to flood in would keep wages low and hold inflation in check. It worked very well and has done for the last 20 years. It has meant we have not suffered the high levels of inflation we did in the past and has made managing the economy an easier task.

            I have no figures on the percentage of immigrants with skills that we actually require (and can’t find within the UK population) but I would hazard a guess that it was actually quite a low percentage of the net 300K immigrants last year. It certainly looks to me like the bulk of those immigrants are low skilled. The politicians will of course argue that they contribute to the economy but I’m not so convinced. Of course in the main they will pay taxes so in that sense yes they do contribute. However as we’ve spent decades destroying industry and ‘re-training’ once highly skilled workers to instead work as low skilled shop assistants, warehouse staff and office workers it means that a surplus of low skilled workers for any given job position will by the laws of supply and demand, keep wages low especially when there will always be a ready supply of immigrants wiling to work on the bare minimum legal wage. Is it really an acceptable policy to deliberately keep wages to such low levels?

            I suspect this is the root cause of most resentment to immigration levels. With unemployment running at what, 1.5 million? I find it hard to accept that we need to import unskilled workers. I doubt very much that there would be any resentment if we were only importing workers that had skills that we did not possess or where we had zero unemployment and we had to import unskilled workers to fill new positions.

            My eldest daughter, even with some qualifications, up to last week was only earning £11K in an office/clerical job and she assures me that despite going for dozens of different jobs, they all paid pretty much the same amount and had hundreds of applicants for each position. Such a low salary meant she really struggled to survive, could only rent a poor quality flat, had no car, ate badly and had a fairly miserable existence. To put that salary in perspective I was earning 11K as a newly qualified engineer way back in the 80’s when I was the same age as she is. I find it disgusting that 30 years have passed and wages for low skilled workers have been kept at the same levels of 30 years ago while the cost of living has increased significantly since then meaning the quality of life for those on low incomes has deteriorated dreadfully. Thankfully she has just managed to get a job that required higher qualifications and pays a little more at £15K but I think that is still poor.

            While I don’t believe for a minute that coming out of the EU will fix this issue I do hope that the politicians will make serious efforts to build in a more coherent ‘free movement of workers’ into any trade negotiations.

            Norway is not a good example. Norway has a very high cost of living (my Father had to visit Norway many times as part of his pipeline business) and a less generous welfare system than the UK so it was always a fairly safe bet that they would not suffer high levels of immigration from signing a deal that allowed free movement of workers. The UK is an entirely different situation.

            I am very certain that if we get to three years down the line and the government has ended up signing a deal that is to all intents and purposes the same as we had as part of the EU there will be civil war. Immigration (or rather unskilled immigration) needs to be largely curtailed as quickly as possible until the government has dealt with the root causes of the resentment and division that resulted in the vote to leave.

            It will take decades to get the infrastructure and re-distribution of wealth implemented though and I’m not convinced we have a political class that understands the problem or has the willingness to do what is required.

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            • mud4fun says:

              Let us also not forgot that with a weak Labour party and non existent or largely powerless trade unions there has been nobody to fight for workers rights, high pay and the preservation of heavy industry and skilled jobs in the UK. Tony Blair was regarded as the most popular labour leader but he was also more blue than red. I should know as despite being a Tory I voted for Blair in two elections! Had he been the current Labour Leader I doubt the vote would have swung to leave which is slightly ironic considering that the Labour government under Tony and Gordon continued the policies of the previous Conservative government, wiped out even more industry and allowed even higher levels of immigration to force down wages!

              I like Corbyn but he is not a strong leader. The Labour party needs somebody with a strong character, natural charisma and with an industrial heritage that can ignite some support for manufacturing in the largely academic echelons of parliament.

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              • Trouble is, where is she or he? I think the pitchforks are out – after years of ‘family’ members of Labour (not arrivistes like me) putting up with posh boys taking over their home and staying loyal nevertheless, they have clamped their hands firmly on JC and are not letting go. Don’t believe what you hear in the media – the force is strong with him! I try to be as objective as I can and even allowing for some unwitting bias anyone who spends any time lookng will find that the media really are biased against Corbyn and have been from the outset, along with many of his colleagues. Today it appears that Angela Eagle set up a domain name ‘Angela4leader’ on the 25th, though she said she resigned because of Hilary Benn’s exit on 26th. And as for the things they say he said that he didn’t … well, never mind, the examples are legion and it can’t be helped, it’s the way it is. I like the man’s principles and in my ideal world he would anoint a successor who would soothe each side, be brilliant and charisamtic and forceful and principled and decent and a northerner – but … Hey ho. I am waiting for the end of times now! The one thing we definitely have as common ground, Ian, is passion for improving the lot of the north. 🙂 We’re off to Bronte country for a short break soon and I am hoping that will reset my mind to normal (whatever that is!). Thanks for engaging in this – good to have you back! Oh – and sorry it’s taken me so long to reply.

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                • mud4fun says:

                  Don’t worry M, we have the same problem with the Tories.

                  Despite what people think of Boris (even I don’t think he is leader material), at least he gambled his future career on the leave campaign and won so had some ‘right’ to take a senior role in the government. The last thing we need is Theresa May as Tory leader. She put her career first and backed the losing side despite claiming to be Eurosceptic and wanting to stop the uncontrolled immigration. Now thinks she can present a united leadership. I can’t stand her and I doubt very much the Tories will win an election with her at the helm as she stood for something that the majority disagreed with. I think Labour stand a better chance of winning an election with Corbyn as Leader than the Tories do with Theresa May as leader! 😉

                  I would certainly vote for Corbyn over May.

                  Enjoy Bronte country. We did a tour around that area with the children a couple of years back. Wonderful countryside and great industrial heritage to visit.

                  Like

  7. jilldennison says:

    This was hauntingly beautiful. So much so that it brought tears. I can see that Brexit is truly as divisive and as emotional for you across the pond as Trump is for us here in the U.S. The world, as I have often said in the past year, has turned upside down and it is sometimes hard to figure out just how we fit in.

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    • Ah, thank you Jill. It seems to subside as an issue then something causes it to resurface. It’s hard not to feel resentment, knowing what we do now. But the world turns and perhaps some good will come of it in the end. And of Trump. The women’s solidarity with the Washington Women’s March rally I went on in Liverpool on Saturday was a lovely experience. I hope there will be more of the same sane friendly, non-violent responses to the inevitable challenges over the next 4 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jilldennison says:

        I am so happy to hear that you attended! And yes, as long as we can keep the violence and ugliness out of them, I think these protests have potential to do some good … eventually. Progress moves slowly …

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