TELEVISION PROGRAMMES... A Word With Alf; Warren Mitchell pictured as Alf Garnett, the character created by writer Johnny Speight.

No one has really teased out how an entire party…the DUP, for example, including those members in the farming community , decided as one bloc on a “Leave” strategy in the recent Brexit referendum. Did every DUP voter simply vote on the “leave” ticket simply because Arlene the nominal First Minister and some of her more vocal , “expert” Democratic Unionist Party ministers said so? Did these voters actually give it any real deep thought to come up with such a studied ,universal group opinion and vote as one mind or did they just follow the party leader and give it no thought at all? How well have they done in the past forty years by being part of the EU? Many feel that being in the EU was the making of the farming community and agriculture in Ireland as a whole island, for example . It’s not as if the fishermen’s fishing quotas are ever going to change either, so why might they have voted for leaving? The ideas of The Common Fisheries Policy will remain much the same if fish stocks are to remain sustainable, so fishermen will hardly see much benefit from leaving . Many things will very obviously stay the same. I can just about remember a time before those EU grants that the then SDLP and Ulster Unionist Party members hustled for the region , away back in the 1970’s.Ireland was generally a much grubbier , rat-arsed and shabbier place back then . Never mind the ongoing “Troubles” and the casual economic destruction of the bombed buildings in the cause of the” revolution”; the road-system was abysmal and the farming community certainly did not sport all the wondrous agricultural paraphenalia and multi -thousand £ mechanical tools that they do now.I dare say they couldn’t afford any of that before the 1970’s and the then era of the wee grey Massey-Ferguson tractors. What now for another generation without those gratifying grants? Then again memories in Norneverland are very selective to the point of barely remembering historical fact, in any case.The very origin story of the causes of the Troubles has been disputed by some with memories sieved full of holes.
Of course the instability that would follow a “leave EU” vote was never talked about at all. All you saw was “vote Leave” stickers, as if that would suddenly solve all and every ills.
It took such a lot of effort, from well-wishers across Europe and the world , to achieve a loose form of stability here after years of mayhem. It had barely bedded-down and they seem prepared to toss it all away to a completely uncertain future which has the potential to revive dissent not only here but across their beloved “Britain”.
It’s not 1968 here now and it will never be like that again. There will never again be an armed- wing of unionism patrolling the porous and percolating border.There will be no revival of the B-Men ; there will be no wall and watchtowers built along the length of the division between the fractious six counties and the twenty six below.If there ever was the case ,it would only be an excuse to start blowing things up again….the start of another Troubles. What better way for another generation with no memory of the horror and a bloodymindedness and desire to free a mythical Old Ireland ,than to blow up a lovely big watchtower or border -post?That’s not something that will happen anytime soon, if anything has been learned from past mistakes, so there’ll be no new jobs for the boys at border posts or late- night armed patrols to supplement that day-job…if such a day-job is even available in future times.
If sense prevails , the border will remain “soft” ,for the present, a blurred tarmacadum vague non- entity known only to locals and the “real “border between the EU and the England will be established at the docks and the airports as people queue to get on boats and planes, flashing either their Irish EU passports or their new British(Little Englander) ones issued from London. As has always been the case in the past , the Irish travelling abroad in Europe will be treated a little differently from the English anyway .They always have been . They are simply viewed differently as can be seen by the fact that the Irish were recently given the freedom of Paris for their perceived good-manners and bonhomie ,whilst abroad.That kind of thing hasn’t happened to English football supporters that I can ever remember.It’s just the way peoples are viewed abroad. The English think they own the place and the Germans think they own the deckchairs.It was ever thus.
Britain is in a social shambles now, overseen by what is being called a “Zombie Government”, like the title of some new HBO or Netflix box-set, nominally ruled , but actually in suspension ,by a party much -divided ,and an Opposition similarly divided in political ethos; and people across the land are still very much in shock, whether they voted “leave” or “stay”. The only ones who have no apprehension are those who literally had nothing to gain or lose in the first place . As Bob Dylan said..”When you ain’t got nothing , you’ve got nothing to lose”. Some simply don’t give a fuck…..not to put a fine gloss on it.
Many living in England and Wales , believe anecdotally ,that there is now a complete demarcation line between the hard -right and anyone on the left ….literally a line between those of a liberal open-minded bent and the fascist/racist/bigoted ones who might shoot first and ask questions afterwards .That’s the awful truth, based in part on the murder of the “pro-stay” Labour MP before the referendum. That is how it seems to many. It might not be true or very accurate but it is the very thing that has irreparably damaged and divided families and neighbours , like some throwback episode of the 1960’s TV series “Till Death Us Do Part”, where the racist, misogynist,homophobe character “Alf Garnett”, as acted by Warren Mitchell, spews his Little Englander venom, echoing the pages of the “Daily Mail” with his Enoch Powell inspired rants at “those foreigners”,while his more open-minded, younger family members stand aghast and poke fun at him and his idiocy. Now the clock has been turned back fifty years for a generation who never experienced this easy racism and political uncorrectness before and they are in a state of shock to realise that such horrors actually exist in their midst and might very well be living under their very noses or the roof of their homes, or down the street in the local shop.Another distraction and split is that the hard-left also think it is a good thing to have voted to leave the EU. There is an oddness there that the DUP and UKIP who are at the extreme end of right -wing should share such left-wing bed-fellows with such ease .Who could have predicted that one? It has left many scratching their heads in bewilderment; but then many had no idea why or what they voted for in the first place .You might call that a patronising attitude but it is true nontheless.
The sense of a united country does not exist any more and on top of that many are fearful for their jobs and their children’s future and sense of identity.Many firms are openly talking about re-locating away from Britain and are already discussing the possibility of workers moving away to Dublin or somewhere else in Europe.The main thing that is being felt in places like Liverpool and London where they voted in huge numbers to stay , is the thought that they have been gaoled into a smaller world by the Little Englander mentality and that their sense of their own social freedoms of thought and mores has been stolen from them . It’s the kind of thing we have experienced here in Norneverland for such a long time that we almost take it for granted .It is a very new feeling for many young people in England and it frightens them .
There has always been a line in the sand here too. It’s not necessarily about Catholics and Protestants or even Nationalists and Unionists. it has always been about a conservatism of the mind ,primarily. We have seen it with the locking down of swings in children’s playgrounds on Sundays…We’ve seen it with the po-faced gay-cake debacle and the anti -gay rights agenda . We’ve seen it in so many closed-mind ways in the puerile censorship of plays and in the racist remarks about the Irish language , about immigrants and especially lately, about Muslims.There has never been a sense of “live and let live” in Norneverland. We’ve lived with the Flat-Earthers and anti-intellectualism of the mad Creationists in government ,who believe that the earth is 6000 years old ,no matter the evidence to the contrary in front of their eyes and ears. The fact that the sciences will be the first to suffer from lack of EU input and funding, will be seen as a joy to those who, medievally, think that science is the work of the Devil anyway and that the Age of Enlightenment was a licence to destroy belief in god.We’ve lived with that awful stench of foolishness and arrant bigotry for so long that surely some of us can identify with that same sense of lock-down and loss that the more open-minded are experiencing in the more liberal cities of Scotland and England.Those people should be our natural friends.
The economy might be the important thing for everyone’s well-being but there are also other factors of life and death to consider too.This dumbing- down of knowledge and the rise of small-mindedness as opposed to openness to new cultures and new ideas, is the real fear facing us.