Do you remember when those almost naked people superglued their backsides to the glass in the public gallery of the House of Commons? Do you? Back then, back last Monday? Do you remember? It feels so long ago now.
We looked at it, some looked more closely than others, some looked away quickly, and then we all had a bit of a shrug and moved on.
This is remarkable. It’s not the first superglue stunt by climate protesters. In 2009, four campaigners superglued themselves to the base of Viscount Falkland’s statue in St Stephen’s Hall. They were clothed. And they did it on the anniversary of a Suffragrette chaining herself to the same statue in 1909, famously damaging it. Famously! There was both historical precedent AND a big news story.
But by last Wednesday, naked glueing in full glare of the world was little more than a footnote, a curiosity to break up the ongoing Brexit attrition.
I feel terribly sorry for students in the not-too distant future who have to learn modern history and politics. How in under god will they get it all in?
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Previously, you could draw lines between cause and effect, between generational shifts, a battle or a plague or a piece of technological advancement that would help craft an understanding of why things moved.
With Brexit, it won’t be a matter of dates, but times, within the same day. And none or all of which could be seen as vital. The very public statement of togetherness by Varadkar and Merkel – was that significant or window dressing? May’s request for a brief delay until June? Was that serious or a message to her supporters even when she knew it wouldn’t fly? And where does this sit in the bigger picture? What is the bigger picture? Are we all living in a computer-generated dream inputted by a mischievous Armando Iannucci? None of this, none of it, deals with the core question – why did so many people felt so disaffected that they decided they had to leave the EU to sort things out? It’s the one that sits like the third rail. Touch it and you’ll get zapped.
The rebuilding will come from the bottom up (so to speak). And you don’t have to look too hard to see it’s already started
I don’t believe that everybody who voted to leave was swayed by lies on a bus and conflated fabrications and expensive, targeted Facebook ad campaigns. That, questionably, had an influence. But it’s not all. Neither, on the other side, do I believe that an intense look at the exit by Members of Parliament betrays the wishes of those who voted. I also believe that a number of those who voted to leave have changed their mind. You don’t have to look hard to find polls to support that belief.
But all of this, all of the debate, all of the delay, all of the shrugs at arses stuck to glass panes, allows us to avoid the central, and vital, question – why?
Much of that lies in the austerity shakedown. Areas that needed most government help and intervention as the post-2010 cuts bit hardest frequently got least. The poorest carried the heaviest weight for a problem others caused. And as living standards slid, the blame game started. It helped the agenda of those who’d love to scorch the EU, come what may, to point a finger.
Theresa May, latterly, started offering bribes when she felt she could get some MPs in areas that needed a financial boost to back her deal (that was a few weeks ago, that detail may be lost to history). Which leads to the question – if she understands the reality, why has she done so little to address it? This is moot. We’re stuck in a Brexit loop for now. I repeat again, as we at The Big Issue have done before, there are good people in local areas doing things to fix problems caused by government breakdown.
Rather than get obsessed by parliamentary process minutiae, we should focus on celebrating them. It’s much less wearisome and could inspire positive change. The rebuilding will come from the bottom up (so to speak). And you don’t have to look too hard to see it’s already started.