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Opinion

Paul McNamee: Don’t be dogged by Brexit

Don’t allow a few weeks of political navel-gazing to distract us. The important thing is what comes next...

Within hours of the General Election being called, The Big Issue social channels were buzzing. There was one story dominating. Dogs.

This is not a thinly veiled Trump-inspired attack on the political class. Rather, it’s because a story about dogs went viral. A charity in London is offering veterinary and canine behavioural services for the pets of homeless people. And Big Issue readers love it (click here to see for yourself!).

Dogs can, of course, offer more responses than politics. You can’t throw a ball in a park and ask a manifesto promise on a pension triple lock to bring it back. Regardless of how good the biscuit offered.

It doesn’t follow, though, that Big Issue readers are removed from reality, more keen on canine capers than the key questions about their country.

We know this election is about Brexit because the great phalanx of political commentators tell us it is

We know this election is about Brexit because the great phalanx of political commentators who have barely had time to do their washing since the last election/referendum/change of government tell us it is.

Despite the fact that none of them knew a damn thing about the election coming until the moment it was called.

Nothing dominates debate more than Brexit, and Theresa May does appear to want to crush a weakened Labour Party and then have a government majority so large that she’ll get the elements she likes through parliament.

A good number of Big Issue readers support Brexit, a good number don’t. Both sides tell us they want it sorted out. But there are other things going on too.

The other big story to dominate Big Issue readers in the afterglow of Theresa’s talk was libraries. As part of our campaign to save libraries, we’ve heard from many, many people – librarians under threat of losing jobs, people for whom the libraries are a lifeline, readers who credit libraries with being the engine for their social change. Also, our piece on the shameful debt spirals that council tax-missed payments are sending millions of people into has also got readers angry and calling for change.

During elections, especially with the frequency we’re having them, reason and common sense play truant, only to reappear later, smirking, claiming they’d been there all along. It’s intoxicating to get caught up in the gossip and the supposition, the belief that bacon sandwich-munching, or nuanced language and the subtext to the language, mean more than they do.

Alfred Hitchcock frequently spoke about the MacGuffin in his movies. We think that it’s the plot but it’s not. It starts that way but it’s simply a means of getting us to the ending. It’s a clever distraction.

This election is a MacGuffin. We must not forget that. (And it’ll be less exciting than North by Northwest). The important thing, as Big Issue readers like you know well, is what comes next. Libraries kept open, a society that protects those who need protected, those in poverty offered a chance to break the cycle and be all that they can be. And dogs.

Don’t allow a few weeks of political navel-gazing to distract us. And neither let us feel it’s a foregone conclusion. In the sage words of Kenny Rogers: “Don’t count your money, when you’re sitting at the table.”

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