Sunday, 19 June 2016

A question of who we are

The problem with these data journalists and economists is that they suggest we should slavishly follow the conclusions of the data come what may. Putting aside for the moment that all of their models are flat wrong, what if they are right that Brexit really will cause a year long recession? Are there no values to which we subscribe that we elevate above a mere balance sheet?

We are a people who endured two world wars and rationing for a higher purpose. So why is it we should cower in the face of a short period of increased hardship, resulting in no tangible decrease in lifestyle quality, when there is so much more to gain?

You could only make a case that the numbers must be followed were you immersed in miserable certitude. This is a position devoid of ambition, spirituality, vision and courage. That is not the Britain I want us to be. Away with such sterility.

What we can say is that there will be a period of turbulence and uncertainty. Let us not shy from that. But we do it in the hope of something better. What we endure is an investment. The future the EU promises us, even if it is successful, is to be diminished on the world stage and a mere province in a greater body - one which has an inherent aversion to democracy.

What it cannot promise is anything over and above pedestrian growth. The growth we have seen has largely been numbers on a page as far as ordinary people are concerned. For many, there has been no recovery from 2008. But then for the most part, for what was billed as a serious economic incident, most have come through unscathed. Whatever they say Brexit will do, it will not be of a similar magnitude.

The future before us in the EU is one of continued economic stress, and continued political toxification. The boil must be lanced. What Brexit offers us instead is a fresh start. A clean out. What we pay for it will be an investment in our home. Creating the conditions for growth and a reset of our political and public life.

It will not be free of incident. We will have to speak to our allies and friends. We will make compromises. We will have disputes foreign and domestic. We will need our wits about us. But we do so in confidence and in pride and in self-knowledge that we are more than we seem.

And in fact, that is the choice on the ballot paper. It is an estimation of ourselves. Are we a nation in our own right capable of self-rule as so many others do, or are we a miserable dilapidated island full hopeless serfs in need of EU benevolence? If we believe the latter, we deserve to be treated as such.

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