|James Wallbank on Fri, 18 Jan 2019 17:06:33 +0100 (CET)|
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|Re: <nettime> notes from Brexania in limbo...|
Thanks for this summary David, I'd suggest that it's broadly accurate.
Some of you may have noticed that Brexit has pretty much incinerated my social media presence (which used to focus on the impacts of digital engagement and transformation on the arts, culture, and locality,(plus a smattering of green issues). Now its focus is almost exclusively the madness of Brexit, which I can only interpret as the national equivalent of a nervous breakdown.
Many commentators have suggested that "The North" and "The Midlands" were the seat of Brexit - and they may be mathematically correct, but interpretationally quite wrong. I grew up in The Midlands, and I now live in The North, and in my view the "leave" vote was NOT driven by extreme nationalism, nor hostility to the EU, nor by hostility to immigration - core themes grasped onto by Theresa May, who insists that they are key. Sections of the Conservative party are preoccupied by these ideas.
I believe that the Leave vote was primarily driven by hostility towards Westminster itself. Voters listened to what the vast majority of Members of Parliament asserted, and decided "You people have been running Britain against our interests for years - so we'll vote for the opposite of what you recommend.". That thought was, I suspect, most usually suffixed by the phrase "You scumbags!"
Recently the output of BBC News has not been that of a balanced, reasonable or fair broadcaster. It has been incredibly (almost comically) influenced by Conservative Party advocates of a Hard, or No Deal Brexit. There are numerous examples that I won't review here. How this bias has been introduced is not clear, but it is noteworthy that key senior BBC roles are now undertaken by people who have previously been Conservative activists, or who are known to have extreme neoliberal or nationalistic views.
However, I can recommend a recent, very low-key documentary "Brexit: Bewitched, Bothered or Bewildered" by BBC broadcaster Adrian Chiles. Chiles grew up in The Midlands, and immediately after the Leave vote, went to his home area, Erdington, and interviewed Leave and Remain voters. This documentary is a return to those same interviewees, and other local people, two and a half years later. The interviews reveal surprisingly nuanced views, and I was surprised by the overall balance.
I recommend it.
There's a copy of this documentary on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXy6IwgqZkQ
You can find the official copy of it on the BBC here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0001v00
This brings me to the question of "National Nervous Breakdown".
I think I've said on this channel before that I'm starting to see the roots of Brexit in the supercentralism of the UK - all media, politics, cultural amplification and state interventions are MASSIVELY centred on London. Centred to the extent that, despite London being the richest metropolitan area of the EU, and despite many of the poorest regions in the EU being located in the UK, governmental intervention cultural and infrastructure spending is massively focused on London.
Transport infrastructure PER HEAD of population is massively biased towards London, as is cultural spending. An order of magnitude greater expenditure per head is made on Transport, and the Arts Council spends more than ELEVEN TIMES the amount PER ARTIST on artists and activities in London. These are just two examples - but there are many more. The "anti-regional strategy" of successive UK Governments has been evident for several decades.
In my view, it is objection to this supercentralism, not, perversely, anything whatever to do with the European Union, that motivated the Leave vote. It is worthy of note that the British "First Past The Post" electoral system effectively denies most voters an audible voice, so when a referendum was agreed, voters seized on the opportunity to roar with rage.
There is no other nation like the United Kingdom.
You may imagine that this is a rhetorical flourish - but I invite you, as evidence, to examine the National Flags section of Emoji.
What other nation manages to claim not one, but FOUR flags?
The Union Flag, The English Flag, The Welsh Flag, The Scottish
Note that this is weird enough, but there is no Northern Irish Flag represented, DESPITE the UK's claim that it is an equally valid one of four nations that make up the UK.
What's going on here? To me, it has become clear that "The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland" is SIMPLY NOT A NATION STATE in the modern sense. It's an atrophied, shrunken Empire in miniature, with the imperial capital in London. The supercentralism I previously identified is a remnant of imperialism, and regions outside London are treated as occupied dominions.
It is this weirdness, this lack of coherence, this failure to engage with modernity and globalism, that has caused the current breakdown, and until it is resolved, I suggest you will see more and more of it. In my view, only profound and genuine reform, with regional parliaments and true and profound decentralisation, will save the UK. That, however, is, in my view, vanishingly unlikely.
I now (extraordinarily!) fully expect to outlive the UK. Already
I am living in the UKINO. (United Kingdom in Name Only.)
On 17/01/2019 16:28, David Garcia wrote:
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