Brexit

Saturday 25 June 2016

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I won't attempt to express all the thoughts that have gone through my head in the last 36 hours or so, therapeutic as that would be. But given that the UK's decision - or do I mean 'decision' (sic) - to leave the European Union has to be one of the bigger, more seismic events in the Anglophone cultural world in recent months, perhaps the following might be useful to raise with your students...

#1 ... The force of history. It seems that the effect (indeed much of the purpose?) of the Leave decision is to take the United Kingdom back to the glorious days of 1940, when Britain stood alone, defying the Continent. But there's more...

If Scotland seeks a second referendum on leaving the United Kingdom (as seems "highly likely" according to Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's first minister), the Scots will choose independence within the European Union. Which would take us even further back into England's glorious past - to the late 16th century, when Scotland was an independent nation, and Elizabeth I was on her own doing the defying of the Continent and all its evil foreigners.

Three cheers for nostalgia ! (And who cares about the 21st century?)

#2 ... The force of gray power. I reproduce a chart from the BBC's page on facts and figures of the referendum results - see http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-36616028 : worth going through the rest of the statistics with your students, to see how they might interpret the information.

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Might this have anything to do with a taste for nostalgia? For the wistful desire to recreate a glorious past (65+)? And compare that vote with those concerned to create a glorious future (18-24)...

As life-expectancy extends, all of our societies have more people in the 65+ age bracket - is the power of the Gray Vote a healthy thing, or not? (And I speak as pretty Gray myself.)

And have a look at the chart which discusses the strength of the Leave vote in the top 30 areas with (a) most elderly people; (b) fewest graduates, and (c) most people identifying themselves as English.

#3 ... Trump & Boris. The image at the top of the page was reproduced in El Pais a few days before the referendum. I think it's a magnificent example of a really acute grafito, superbly realised and pointedly effective.

Essay question:  Compare and contrast Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, with particular attention to their appeal as populist leaders.

Nightmare of choice - Trump as President and Boris as Prime Minister. Now there's a special relationship...!

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