How we come together


I need to write something more about the response to the bushfires.

There have been millions of dollars pledged to support services from both in Australia and internationally. Everyone has come together, from kids in the street baking and selling off cookies to raise funds, right up to big-name sportsmen, entertainers and business figures donating millions of dollars. There’re charity drives and auction events, as well as one-off concert and sporting events with all proceeds going to the supporting charities.

Offers have flooded in from governments abroad offering any assistance possible, and fighting the fires is a multi-national force of firefighters from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada, and doubtless others.

At my work, as it is the case for hundreds of other organisations, we have set up hotlines for those affected. We’ve begun fund-raising events across the business, with the company pledging to match our donations dollar for dollar. Business’ across the country have made donations or pledged profits.

I’m part of a local community group coordinated through Facebook that has been quickly put together. I watch with wonder as they organise the different activities. Initially, it was donations of food, water and clothing. Then a whole battalion of people hopped on their sewing machines to make pouches and mittens for the wildlife injured in the fires. Others are making protein balls for the injured animals, thousands of them, and sourcing gum leaves for the koalas to feed on. Food packs are prepared for the firefighters, each with a message of support included in them. Others volunteer to deliver all this to those who need it. And this is just one community group – there must be dozens more.

I’ve done not much else but watch and offer my moral support. I know that a lot of people think me cool and nonchalant, and I’ve been guilty of being cynical over the last year – but I’m inspired by this activity. We see the best of human nature when our community is threatened, and instinct drives us to help each other out.

I needed this. I doubted, but now much of my faith has been restored. These are terrible times, but the response has been glorious,

In the classic words of Jeff Fenech, I loves you all.

The hollow man exposed


It’s raining today. It’s only light rain, but it’s been falling on and off for the last few hours. It’s been a dry year and rain is always welcome in Melbourne, but it’s really needed to the east of here, and in heavier doses.

After the horrors of yesterday, any weather relief is welcome for the firefighters. There are still many communities under threat, and loss of property is widespread. I heard it was raining in Canberra today (after their hottest day on record yesterday), and it seems the more moderate weather conditions will prevail over the fires in the east of the state, and over the border. It will come as some relief, but it’s a long way from what is needed.

It’s a strange time. There was heavy smoke from the fires on Thursday, and since to varying degrees. We’ve been subjected to the eerie lighting that often comes with bushfires, and fiery sunsets. There have been fires on the outskirts of Melbourne, but we’ve been largely untouched. Life might almost be normal except there’s not a soul here that isn’t caught up in the unfolding catastrophes.

I find it difficult. I watched the cricket yesterday, but I was continually checking the news on the fires, either on the ABC or twitter. I reckon I’d have done that every five minutes. The pleasure of the game was much diluted because of that. Regardless of what Morrison says, it’s times like these you get a true perspective.

It seems incomprehensible that I could be sitting there safe and sound while at every moment the fires consume the land and property. In Victoria alone, there’ve been a thousand firies fighting the blazes. There’ve given up their time, and many of them have lost their properties and there on day and night and I’m sitting there watching the cricket.

Every day I have tears in my eyes, and not just once but 10-12 times a day – with every news report I read or see, every development.

I’m inspired by the resilience of the people on the ground. It’s a terrible time but – with notable exceptions – this has brought out the best in our community. It breaks me up every time, and it has restored much of the faith I’ve bled in the last nine months. People are good when they’re allowed to be. They’re strong and generous and decent. It’s such a cliche, but it’s true – this is the best of us.

We’ve had thousands of people displaced by these fires, many of them stranded and requiring rescue. No complaints anywhere. Everyone looking out for each other. It’s a terrible experience but there’s no time for self-pity. We’re all in it together.

The community response, in general, has been incredible and heartwarming. Stories of Sikh and Muslim communities travelling to affected areas to cook and provide food for firies and refugees. Homes being thrown open to take in those who have lost their own home. Shops giving away food and supplies to those who need it. And hundreds – if not thousands – who have donated food and supplies to the effort. To top it all off has been the donations made to the relief effort not just here in Oz, but across the world.

Then there are the firefighters. Most of them are volunteers. Many of them have been fighting fires for months now. These are people you work with and see in the street. They’re normal folk with a strong sense of duty. They fight on, getting little rest, facing horrendous conditions against an implacable foe. Their lives are at threat. As I said, there’s many who have lost their own homes in the fight. And yet they go on. I’m humbled by them.

I don’t know if they’re fighting a losing battle, but they won’t give in. These are terrible fires though, and that adds to the drama and the emotion of it. We’ve had terrible fires before, but generally they’ve been contained and extinguished within a few days. Even Black Saturday, when 173 people died, all the damage was within a devastating period of time. These fires haven’t stopped though, and listening to one of the CFA commanders yesterday he reckons we’ve got another eight weeks of this. Remember – we’ve yet to hit the peak of summer.

It almost feels as if we’re doing battle with a malevolent spirit. It feels – to me at least – like a battle between virtue and cruel indifference.

For all the good, there is also a woeful tale to tell – the Australian government.

I’ve complained about them before today. I’ve been complaining about them for years really, and much of their response hasn’t surprised me all that much. It’s a terrible government led by a shallow and opportunistic mediocrity. There’s more, though, and the latest even surprised me.

At long last yesterday, the government announced that the ADF would be drafted in to take an active role in the fight and that firefighting aircraft would be brought in from abroad (finally). It was very late – a month ago, and much of the damage inflicted might have been prevented – but at least it was happening. Morrison attempted to portray himself as the man in control, and in doing so had no shame in throwing the NSW government under the bus by suggesting they hadn’t sought the assistance he was providing. I’m not a fan of Gladys, but unlike Smoko at least she’s turned up every day and tirelessly did all she could in the effort – but she was expendable.

Then it became very clear that the government’s motivation wasn’t the welfare of the people or even doing the right thing. No, this was all about damage repair and saving some political skin, and maybe even gaining some advantage out of a horrendous situation.

Within minutes of the announcement, they’d released an ad onto social media extolling their efforts, as if it was they who had taken control of the situation. To compound it the music chosen for the ad was upbeat and cheery at a time when large swathes of the country were on fire, people were homeless, and some perished. But wait, this wasn’t an announcement but a paid political ad for the Liberal party complete – I kid you not – with a link to donate money to the party.

It was obscene, and goes to show how absolutely out of touch the PMO is with the sentiment of the nation – and how morally bankrupt Morrison is. I’ve always believed that his first priority as PM was to seek political advantage, and everything, including the Australian people, came second to that (at best). This stripped it bare, though. This, transparently, was all about him. He’d recognised he was in deep shit and tried to extricate himself in the most clumsy and tone-deaf fashion imaginable. Not surprisingly, the world came down on him, including vicious words from measured and moderate commentators. I can’t bear the sight of him. As a human being, he’s a disgrace. As prime minister, he’s a coward and a traitor.

I think my views are shared by many. In the last 24 hours more bitter and violent reactions to Morrison have made it to air. I find this unusual. TV news is generally conservative in this regard, but I guess they’re read the tea leaves and assessed the mood of the nation, even if the PMO hasn’t. To make it worse, it’s the firies now spouting vitriol, calling him fucking useless, and worse, and another – a seemingly mild-mannered middle-aged woman in the RFS – urging him to stand out. This was his fault. That’s what half the country thinks.

I don’t think he can recover from this. His only chance would be a mea culpa, pleading some forgiveness. That’s not in his nature though, and with so much of the country afire I don’t the nation is in a forgiving mood. (Don’t rule out a spread in a Woman’s magazine in the next few months looking to humanise him and explain his inner/secret torment/pain).

The Australian public have finally seen Morrison for what he is – a weak, ineffectual human being without scruple or humility. Basically, a scumbag.

In the meantime, the fires continue.

The man without empathy


While we’re in the midst of a national disaster, the backdrop to it has a perverse fascination. The big fires traverse both NSW and Victoria currently, with state leaders and authorities responding to the calamity. The fire services in both states have been immense. They’re tireless and unrelenting in the face of what is an unrelenting foe. Likewise the emergency services in general, and more recently the ADF in Victoria (but not called on in NSW).

Leadership in NSW has been problematic. Dealing with something as daunting as these fires doesn’t come naturally to Berejiklian. She appears a stiff, dogmatic character, decent at heart, but limited. She has least turned up day after day and done her best, though she must also take some responsibility for how the catastrophe has unfolded – she defunded both the RFS and Parks services in the most recent budget, and has refused to ask for help from the ADF. All of that will come out in the wash later, but it’s not a pretty picture.

Unfortunately for her, she pretty well stands alone. Her Emergency Services minister – an utter lowlife – has been on holidays in Europe since Christmas. Safe to say that if the services of an emergency services minister were needed, then it’s right now – and he’s buggered off to the northern hemisphere. The Deputy Premier is also on holiday. I understand it’s the holiday season, but none of the firefighters is taking time off and in the meantime people losing their homes, and some their life.

It’s a different story in Victoria. We’re more used to bushfires, and the CFA is better equipped. The premier, Dan Andrews, is pretty much the polar opposite of his NSW counterpart. He’s made his name by getting things done and is a sensitive character with natural compassion. He’s taken the lead and been proactive, calling in the ADF for assistance, cutting through the red type, and announcing a state disaster. The contrast to the Prime Minister is absolute.

The Prime Minister has done nothing – offered no leadership, provided no resources, and his behaviour has been more distracting than supportive. He’s been tone death in both what he says and what he’s done, mouthing platitudes and falsehoods and refusing to accept the horrific gravity of the situation. Seriously, he’d have been better off staying in Hawaii.

Like the rest of Australia, I’ve been watching and listening. I’ve been desperate for him to do something. We’ve all been waiting for that, but clearly, he’s out of his depth.

He’s reticent because he fears that if he admits to climate change, and to the full desperation of the situation, that it will be seen as a backflip. You would think a petty consideration like that would go out the window at a time like this, but that’s who he is – a small man of limited ability.

I’ve been reflecting on his situation. We wonder sometimes how we would cope when we’re put to the test. That seems a supreme measure of the man, and all of us would like to think we’d step when we had to. We might not all be like Churchill, but we’d do our bit.

That’s the challenge Morrison faced, and he’s been an abject failure. What’s puzzled me is that he’s hardly even attempted to be the leader we need. He’s been absent and disengaged with an excuse for everything. I couldn’t imagine what it must feel like to be such a failure.

Yesterday I think he tried to head off some of the criticism of him by visiting some of the burnt out townships for some photo ops, but boy, it sure didn’t go as he planned.

In the first, Cobargo, he ties to shake the hand of a woman who isn’t offering her hand. Rather than letting it go, he reaches down to pick her hand up and give her an unwilling shake. It’s terribly awkward to watch. Then she starts talking to him, asking for help, asking for the fire services to be properly funded, and what does he do? He turns his back on her and walks away.*

As he leaves the locals harangue him, calling him useless, a cunt, telling him they don’t want him there, and so on. It’s pretty full on, but what do you expect? Half these people are now homeless because of the fires, while Morrison has hosted parties on NYE and spoken about the cricket team and sowing himself to be both utterly useless and completely out of touch.

Another clip emerged this morning from another town. He’s approaching some firies slumped over with exhaustion. He goes to shake the hand of one of them sitting down. The firey says he doesn’t want to shake hands. Morrison grabs his hand anyway. The other firey, forewarned, picks up a mug of tea and a spoon, clearly forestalling any attempt to have his hand shaken.

These clips have gone viral. It’s very clear that the PM is despised by these people. They know he’s done nothing while they’ve given everything, and for some, lost everything. And they know that for the PM these visits are intended for political consumption, and want nothing to do with anything so contrived.

I watched and I was horrified, but I admit to feeling some pity for Morrison. He deserved the reaction he got. But what I observed was a man without an ounce of empathy in him, and he knows it. He doesn’t feel what we do, and so it all becomes an act to him because nothing is natural. Maybe that’s why he’s avoided these interactions till now (compare him to Dan Andrews, who exudes compassion).

He got off that helicopter in Cobargo and didn’t know what to do. Most of us are smart enough to know that if someone won’t offer their hand to you, then don’t push it. Most of us in that situation would have felt overwhelmed with humility in the face of such desperation and loss. Most of us would have put are arms around these people, if not literally than in a metaphorical sense. And surely most of us know not to be mealy mouthed to utter platitudes about keeping your chin up, and so on. In a situation like that, it isn’t about us.

Morrison doesn’t know that because he lacks that quality. He may be a sociopath in the classic definition, for all I know. None of that excuses him. He went there for the wrong reasons to start with. And a man incapable of humility or empathy isn’t fit for office.

I wonder what this will mean for his tenure. I’ve been watching and reading the reading the disaffection expressed across the airwaves and social media, and I knew that it should be taken with a grain of salt – twitter isn’t the electorate. But then it seemed to break free of those constraints, and I was more hopeful. More journalists were commenting, and the commentary from abroad has been scathing. But again, I was a pessimist – this translate into anything.

But now this and I think he’s now lost so much authority I wonder if he can recover from it. He’s been shown as being weak and ineffectual, and the subject of ridicule. Australians have seen other Australians make a judgement on him.

The next election is more than two years away, more’s the pity, but I think he’ll take a big hit from this – especially given how the opposition leadership has been so strong through this period. His bigger threat is a spill, however, not that any of us can get excited by that. Next in line are a couple of more sociopaths (Dutton and Porter), and a nuff nuff in Frydenburg.

In the meantime, Australia burns. There’s much more at stake now than party politics.

 

*On the radio this morning Morrison has attempted to re-write the narrative, claiming that he stopped to talk to her rather than walking away. This is a deliberate ploy and very meta. No matter there’s video to prove otherwise, the idea is that if you say something long enough and loud enough without varying from it, then enough people will begin to doubt the evidence of their eyes. Fake news becomes real news, it’s the modern way. We know Morrison is a well established liar, but he can claim inspiration from Trump.

 

 

What is truly bizarre is how or why he has acted this way – his absence from any practical contribution goes way beyond anything political.

The fires of hell


Every news bulletin has a report on a bushfire in Australia, and quite often multiple reports on fires in different states of the country. It’s been like that since October, since before summer began. I don’t know about others, but I’m finding it hard to take. It distresses me every time.

I feel an overwhelming empathy for the people forced out of their homes by the fires, and the utter sense of displacement and loss they must feel. Their lives have been fractured, and hearth and home taken.

Then there are the volunteer firies. This is a role borne out of community, by necessity, and often family tradition. They pitch in through the year, preparing and training, with the expectation that they may be called on come the summer to deal with a bushfire or two. In a bad year that might be a big fire that draws upon all their resilience and resources, but generally, it’s over soon enough. This year, some firies have been fighting fires for months.

Imagine the stress and exhaustion. Imagine the demands on their life, their families, their finances. These are volunteers. They don’t get paid for it. They do it because it’s the right thing to do and no complaints. In an average year, they shrug their shoulders and get on with it. They’re getting on with it now, but it’s far from a normal year, and many are trying to juggle work with family and fighting the fires. Others have taken leave off work altogether – there are crews from interstate, and even overseas, fighting these fires. They are tested around the clock, have worked through Christmas, through day and night, pulling their weight – and with fuck all support.

These guys epitomise what heroism really is, but I can’t express how disgusted I am with the government who stands by doing nothing. It’s only last week, after intense pressure, that the federal government agreed to offer some compensation to firefighters who’ve taken time off work to fight the fires. But then, it’s very selective – if you’re from NSW you’re in luck, but only if you’re a small business owner. The rest of you, the rest of Australia, can go stuff yourselves. That’s the petty, cowardly nature of our government.

These firies have had to scrounge food and fuel in many instances, and sometimes equipment, to continue the fight. The government could’ve called in the ADF to help, but hasn’t. It could’ve put the SOS out across the world to get in firefighting aircraft, but hasn’t. It could’ve converted Hercules aircraft, but hasn’t. The list of things it hasn’t done is immense. What it has done is go on holiday. Literally.

These people aren’t fit to be in the same room as the firies. They turn up for photo ops, they pontificate to the media, they obfuscate and deflect and blame, but they take no responsibility and do nothing to help.

This is a great part of my distress. My heart is breaking for the country and the good people there, but our politicians look smug and refuse to consider that may have some accountability for this.

I think the fire fronts may have been better contained had the resources been provided to do so, and the dire situation we face now may not have evolved so desperately. The fires are different now, though. The scale and ferocity is beyond previous experience. It’s like a juggernaut that can’t be stopped, but perhaps only slowed if lucky. It gets in your head. There’s a sense of abject impotence being at the complete mercy of the elements and of nature. We pray for rain and cooler weather, but the days get hotter, they remain dry, and if anything storm fronts whip up to make it worse.

We’re out of our depth – and the government sits like a deer in the spotlights. Do something!

I wonder if this how it’s going to be from here on in? Is this our future? If there is anything good to come of this, it must be that many more are now awake to the critical nature of climate change. There’s always been a clamour, but it’s building to a frenzy now. Surely, it can’t still be ignored?

In the meantime, the fires rage on. In East Gippsland, it looks like a scene from the apocalypse. Much of it has been evacuated, but many stayed, and the fires are out of control. Four are reported missing, and overnight another firefighter died when the wind overturned his fire truck. That’s how it is.

There were even fires encroaching yesterday on Melbourne suburbia, including a very urban suburb I lived in briefly 30 years ago.

In NSW the fires ring Sydney. What if they converge? That would be catastrophic. If nothing else, the government should be mindful of the huge economic impact of these fires, and the effect on tourism. Surely that should motivate them to do something? Not likely.

And in Tasmania fires are out of control there as well.

There’s an immense amount of territory on fire, and in different places across the country. The damage is catastrophic, and the toll on wildlife is enough to make you cry. If there’s a hell on earth, then these days it’s in Australia.

Another scorching day


When I was a kid, I used to love the hot weather. The hotter, the better. You’re pretty carefree as a kid, and I took the baking summer days as an excuse to hop in the pool and splash around. In a funny way, I was pretty patriotic about it, too. I loved it that we had it hotter than most places on earth, and believed it made us more rugged and hardy as a people. When you’re that age, you have a pretty immature grasp of the world, and it comes to you simply – which is much of the charm of being a kid. I guess they call that innocence.

When I cast my mind back, I can recall many a hot day, the sky a pure blue and the sun blazing down. Every year for ages we’d go down the peninsula for our summer holidays straight after Christmas. For the most part, we stayed in Blairgowrie, which remains a great spot today. Hot days then were an excuse to go to the beach, and mostly the surf beach at Gunnamatta. I was a good swimmer and would go out beyond the breakers and look back towards the beach as the swell would gently lift me before crashing down upon it. I’d swim in then, body-surfing the last bit of it, and it was a thrill.

Back home we’d play street cricket or go on long bike rides, or else hop in the pool. We had the only pool in the street, and the neighbour’s kids would often join us for hours of shenanigans. It was an above ground pool, four feet deep, and I can remember dad putting it up bare-chested in the summer heat. In my small way, I helped – wielding a shovel as dad excavated the ground before levelling out the surface, and then holding things in place as dad put the pool up.

My last memory of those hot days are the meals mum would prepare. Often it was salmon patties with salad. I hated salmon patties. More often, it was a straight, seventies style, salad. There’d be a hard-boiled egg, grated carrot and (Kraft) cheddar cheese, a slice or two of tinned beetroot, maybe some potato salad, a selection of cold cuts, and the tomato, white onion, cucumber combo steeped in vinegar. How many people remember that?

It’s many years on now, and my perspective on hot days has switched around completely. I dread them.

We’re looking at another 43-degree day today, which is a total waste of time. Unless you’ve got a pool or are at the beach, there’s nothing to do, and it’s probably even too hot for that. Instead, you’re confined indoors, the air-con going steadily and the blinds and curtains drawn shut to keep the heat out. It’s gloomy and artificial.

I’ve been out, and for the rest of the day, I expect to take it very easy. I reckon I’ll end up pretty bored, but I’ll probably do a bit of reading and, if I can rouse myself, maybe some writing.

Quite aside from being unpleasantly hot, in recent years the heat has brought with it angst and existential pangs. The simple days of my summer youth now seem very innocent. Times have changed.

On days like today, when it is windy as well as hot, I fear what else it may bring. The bushfires are ongoing in NSW, another has sprung up in WA, there’s the risk of the SA fires re-igniting, and here, in Victoria, an area the size of a small US state has received evacuation orders because of fire. I fear for and pity the fire services once more called out to deal with these catastrophes, and I hardly bear to think of all the wildlife that will perish.

There’s no such thing as just another hot Summer’s day, anymore. Each day is loaded with portent. Summer has become an existential test. Where this is all heading I don’t know, but I’m not optimistic, and often I find myself wondering “what have we done?”.

And with that comes blazing anger, pointless and impotent. The leaders we elected to act on our behalf have betrayed that trust. It’s not the first time that’s happened, but this has disastrous consequences: our very future rides on the decisions made by these people. But leadership is either absent, inept or inherently corrupt – or a combination of all three, as we experience it here in Oz. I can’t overstate my contempt for these people. One day, I hope, they are held to account for they’ve done – and didn’t do. That may be small satisfaction as chances are, come that day it’ll be too late to do anything about it.

The ruins ahead


Last night, watching TV, I was flicking between the test match and a repeat of Notting Hill. The cricket was bloody good, but I kept going back to the movie, which is good-natured and amusing and captures something very English. There was a sense of nostalgia watching it as this was one of a few movies made around the same time that struck a similar chord – including Love, Actually (soon to repeated near you) and For Weddings and a Funeral. They portray an England decent in its essence, nice, sometimes bumbling people who wish for and want to do the right thing for each other. It was a prosperous, optimistic England, full of character and charm. Of course, it’s highly idealised, if not stylised – most Brits don’t live like that – but it was true in an aspirational sense. This was the England England wanted to be, and the England, the rest of the world, hunkered for.

When I went to bed about an hour later, I quietly wondered if that England – or even the possibility of it – was now gone forever. It was a sad thought, but I imagine quite demoralising for the remaining English who believe in such a place.

The poms were on a hiding to nothing in the election just held. No matter which way they voted, they lose, so it seemed to me. It’s an election that should have had foreboding theme music because if Brexit wasn’t going to doom them, then Corbyn would.

In all honesty, despite what many of the pundits said, Labour was never going to get close. I’ve learned to discount the social media chatter because the loudest voices are those most engaged (and/or crazy), and most of them come from the progressive side of politics. It’s unrepresentative. Better to listen to the small voices in between rarely heard. Half the problem is that they’re seldom heard until they roar their dissatisfaction at the ballot box – hence we have Brexit; hence we have a coalition government in Australia.

There’s a lot of argument bout why the Labour defeat was so comprehensive. Many blame Brexit. Others say it’s down to Corbyn. And the bitter and twisted blame the media.

Let’s start with the media and accept that we live in an era of dysfunctional, frequently corrupted, media. They don’t help, but I’ve come to accept it as a matter of fact. Was it the media’s fault? No, though it was bloody twisted.

Then there’s Brexit. Of course, that was a big part of this result.  Brits want things done with. They’re sick of the uncertainty and the mindless, circular debate, and so they voted for the certainty of a resolution against the risk of a hung parliament.

What’s interesting is that it appears leave and remain positions are inconsistent with traditional political divisions. The rump of Brexit support is in the British working class, while many remainers are in the traditional conservative demographic. But it was the conservatives who championed leave, while Labour was ambivalent about it.

Which brings us to Corbyn. He might have had a stronger chance had he come out in support of Brexit – he might then have got the vote of the traditional Labour base at least. Even so, he was never a chance.

I’m a progressive. I’m open-minded. I’m liberal and left-leaning. I’m not stupid, though. I may be far away in Oz, but for the life of me, I can’t understand why Corbyn was even a candidate.

I have a soft spot for Bernie Sanders in the States, maybe because he’s much more charismatic than Corbyn. He’s far to the left, like Corbyn but, unlike Corbyn, he appears to have a grasp on reality. I’d expect Sanders to be reasonable and responsible if by some chance he becomes the Democratic candidate (though my vote is for Warren), but not in my wildest dreams could I believe the same of Corbyn.

Not only is Corbyn without charisma, or in fact, any facility to charm the electorate, he strikes me as being dogmatic, unimaginative, and unreasonable. If I was English I’d have no confidence in him, and fear he would ruin the country.

The country is ruined anyway, now, but given a reasonable and personable leader Labour might have had a chance in this combustible atmosphere – but they never gave themselves that chance. Corbyn was proven to be unelectable, but it was no news to anyone but the hard core, the feeble minded, and the English labour party administration. To have any chance, English Labour had to replace him, and they didn’t.

Now they get Boris Johnson and Brexit. They’re fucked. Johnson is an opportunistic clown. Even without Brexit, I think England would be fucked. Years of austerity have crippled the country, and while the haves got richer, the have nots are sleeping on the streets. Don’t expect Boris to change any of that.

The problem is, with Brexit, that I reckon many more poms will end up sleeping on the street. They’re handing back their golden ticket out of a misplaced sense of national pride and racism. And stupidity.

Which brings me back to the original question: is that golden England lost forever? I think likely it is because I don’t know how they come back from this. Even if, by some strange quirk, England are re-admitted to the EU in years to come, it’ll be as a much weaker economy. In the meantime, the national fabric is being shredded. There’s a rude awakening ahead for those who foresee prosperous independence, for so much of what they have taken for granted will be taken from them with Brexit. And it’s a nasty piece of work.

But then…the movies of Richard Curtis came in a golden era where England was bountiful and prosperous. It was even cool for a while. And all of this came after the crushing, grey years of Thatcherism. Anything is possible.

I find it hard being an Australian these days, but if I was Brit I’d be despairing tonight.

The corrupt leading the blind


The UK election is on in a couple of days and I, for one, am hoping for some resolution to come out of it. I think everyone’s sick of Brexit.

My perspective from afar is very different from what it would be if I were a resident of England. I’m sure I’d be just as sick of Brexit, but my stake would be much more personal.

I think the whole concept of Brexit is insane. It’s crazy to have even contemplated it as an option, to actually vote for it beggars belief (though the days of me being surprised by election results are on the wane). I think by voting for it that Britain has condemned itself to a second-rate future, and as a resident, I would be desperate to get that overturned by any means possible.

I understand their pain, but from where I sit, my perspective is more measured. For a start, I think what the UK needs above all else is a resolution to an ongoing crisis that is crippling the country. This state of indecision and inaction I reckon is probably worse than Brexit itself. You can’t move forward without certainty, and even if that means Brexit, then you can plan around it.

The more fundamental issue is democratic. I wonder at the rightness of overturning the majority decision of the people, regardless of argument. If more had have turned out to vote in the 2016 US election, then odds on the Democrats would have won – but they didn’t. I’m sure many in Australia now regret having voted the Libs back in, but that’s not enough to justify another election. Fact is, probably 50% of election results will be disagreeable to you, but that’s what democracy is.

In this case, I think there would be fighting on the streets if, for some reason, a second referendum was called.

The choice of options is awful. From afar, it appears a classic no-win scenario. If I were that resident in England, I’d be checking out my options to emigrate somewhere more friendly. In the meantime, the election is a contest between deplorable options.

As someone against Brexit, I don’t have a clear option as the opposition to it is fragmented and disorganised. Corbyn represents only a second look at it, but he seems virtually unelectable to me. The rest is dribs and drabs.

Historically, I’d be more likely to vote for the Libs in Australia than I would the Tories in the UK. But then you’ve got Boris Johnson, the strangely charming buffoon they have for PM, a man, I suspect, without any true convictions or principles. He’s not an anonymous Tory stooge, he’s an opportunist writ large.

This is what the English voters face. I expect the Conservatives to win pretty handily, and I think that will almost assure Brexit getting across the line sooner rather than later – finally, though I can’t rule out another twist.

If that happens and I’m a Scotsman, then I’m agitating to leave the Union quick smart. Brexit has been a disaster all round and may see the dismantling of the UK as we know it.