Tough times. Good to see campaigning for the EU Neverendum (as BBC Four’s News Quiz recently labelled it) halted, in respect for the tragic death of West Yorkshire MP Jo Cox, in her own constituency. Doubtless she would have felt completely at home there. Safe. Amongst friends. Such a beautiful young woman, so clearly loved by family and friends and respected by colleagues, whatever shade the rosette in their buttonhole.
So much has been written about Jo, in a very short twenty-hours since her death, tributes paid by all points of the political spectrum. I’m not qualified to speak about Jo – I’d simply be repeating what others have said – but what I can do is talk about my own reaction, because it seems I wasn’t alone in it.
Yesterday evening, a handful of our little gang of campaigners got together to drink Prosecco and, somewhat belatedly, commiserate about the loss of our green bits at Strawberry How. Having had a brief moment of hope, on 16 March, with the arrival of a letter from Brandon Lewis MP (responding for Greg Clark, the Secretary of State), stating that our request to consider revoking planning permission was ‘under active consideration’, our hopes were finally dashed against the spraint-spattered rocks of Tom Rudd Beck with a further letter, dated 22 April.
The Secretary of State had ‘carefully considered all the representations and available evidence’ and concluded ‘that it is not expedient for him to revoke the permission’.
Our thoughts on the decision can wait for another blog post. The point I want to make is that we only got as far as we did, through the pinball machinery of government, all the way to the Secretary of State, thanks to our own local MP, Sue Hayman. Sue may well be reading this so I hope she will forgive my focus on her for a moment.
As we raised our glasses in commiseration, it was hard not to reflect sadly on the events of the day. And to discover that, to a person, we had each thought of Sue as we heard the news. Like Jo, Sue was new to Westminster last year. Both have worked hard for their constituents, in pursuit of a ‘better world’. A fairer world. For acknowledgment, even, that their own corner of the world exists and where! Willing to get stuck in and make a difference. Approachable.
Whatever we might say, about any of our politicians – and whether or not we share their politics – none of them deserve to be singled out with such brutality. All our thoughts last night were with Jo, and Sue, and all those who put their heads above the parapet for our sakes. And the families who support them in that journey. Thank you.
While we’re on the subject… roll on next Thursday. I know that won’t be the end of it – whatever the result – but can we at least hope for a key change? What really bugs me isn’t the reasoned argument (where you can find it), but the insult slinging and rants which we’re subjected to on a daily basis on social media. I told myself I wouldn’t do this but what the heck. So here’s a little rant of my own.
If I vote to leave, apparently, I’m an insane fool, lacking in any level of intelligence, a fanatical xenophobe only interested in turning the clock back to a rose-coloured, post-war era when men were men and women knew their place. My ill-thought-through vote will unleash the Four Horses of the Apocalypse (that’s War, Famine, Pestilence and Death, by the way), the economy will instantly plunge into recession, taxes will rise stratospherically, the health service will crumble and any hopes I might have of a comfortable old age will sink inexorably behind the distant horizon. And IT WILL ALL BE MY OWN FAULT!
On the other hand… if I vote to remain, I’m… oh hang on, what’s this?… an insane fool, lacking in any level of intelligence, who is effectively cancelling out everything our fathers and grandfathers fought for. My ill-thought-through vote will unleash the Four Horses of the Apocalypse… et cetera, et cetera, et cetera… (as King Mongkut of Siam might have said, back in 1956).
In fact, if I don’t vote at all, I’m an insane fool… oh you get the picture.
All of which might, of course, be true. Either way. So, whichever way I vote – or don’t vote – it seems I’m doomed. We all are. But at least I’ll have no one to blame but myself.
Can I go lie down in a darkened room now?