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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Brexit and The Dreyfus Syndrome - By Patrick Brigham


At the turn of the 20th Century, much of France was in turmoil. In 1894, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, a Jewish French army officer, had been found guilty of treason, and sentenced to life imprisonment, on the notorious Devils Island. A well known story, which revealed rampant Anti-Semitism within both the ranks of the French army, and generally within French society, it was cause to divide whole families.


Those for and against Dreyfus were often at loggerheads, as they took sides within their own family groups, and French society was split down the middle. Often provoking violence, and inevitably causing public angst, in the end Dreyfus was exonerated of all charges in 1906, and continued to serve in the French army, retiring with the rank of Colonel. But what has this got to do with Brexit?


Before the referendum, Great Britain was a fairly homogeneous country, although divided by the haves and have nots, most families followed traditional party lines. Especially the Tory shopkeepers and the professions, who would rather cut their ears off, than to take any political side roads, and vote against their tribal customs. Because, Brexit was not just a political choice as such, but more a question of ageism.

Whilst cotton top politicians espoused the wonders of leaving the EU, most of the younger generation disagreed with them. Described as promoting a better future for the UK and for future generations – by which time the majority of the Brexiteers would be dead in any case – the young people; who they claimed they represented, heartily disagreed with them.


Although the referendum in its initial stages encouraged lively debate, many families became split down the middle, as the frequently unreliable, and wildly inaccurate rhetoric was bandied about. When the referendum was complete, and the 4% leave margin established, these family arguments continued. Especially during the most recent General Election, when the Tory mandate was finally declared. Because, despite May’s promise for a fairer society, there was little real evidence to support this proclamation, even in the Queens Speech.

Young people are not fools, quite the opposite, and with eons of political and economic information on the web, in the recent election, they very cleverly made up their own minds about how caring Mrs Mays team really was. Having practically lost the election, and with the Tory party in disarray, very few British youngsters believed that the tedious mantra, “The best possible deal,” meant anything at all.

And they are not the only ones who think that Mays team are a bunch of losers, because so do the Scottish Nationalists, UKIP, and New Labour – granted not all for the same reasons – and in particular, the European Union itself. But, why does this divide continue when we are told it is all so final? Well, you will have had to have gone to the Glastonbuty Festival 2017, to find out.


Is it that there are too many immigrants in the UK picking strawberries? No, it is about well educated EU professionals, taking skilled UK jobs, because there is no other commercial choice. In most of the EU, education at all levels, is free. So, is it any wonder that British youngsters view the student loan system as obnoxious, and unnecessary? How would you like to be lumbered with a 50,000 GBP debt, for the rest of your life – on top of a mortgage that is – and why on earth would any government wish that on today's eighteen year olds?

Any eighteen year old student, fortunate enough to be studying Economics and Politics, will tell you that both subjects are not an exact science. Clearly a matter of fact at the present time, and as Dreyfus was once pilloried by French society with families divided by prejudice, so the pendulum swings on the subject of Brexit, towards the middle ground and amicable consensus.

Will the neo-colonialists and traditionalists accept a compromise, or will they hark back to the 18th century and Great Britain's place in the world? And, will they stop telling everybody what is good for them, when it is clearly not! Will we see a change of direction, when the present team retires, and a new political group emerges from the scorched remains of David Camerons famous referendum, or can we rely on good old British common sense to find a way?
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