The guesthouse was full, of English, German and Dutch walkers, who apparently come in large numbers to enjoy the delights of the walking on offer. They were delightful company, with much in common, happy to share their exploits and their intentions. Walking around Lynton, to sample the many restaurants in the evenings, showed that there were many, many more who were happy to sample our English hospitality.
So we went to bed, having had an enjoyable, if challenging walk, discovering some challenging hills, even on supposedly “easy” rambles. It was the beginning of discovering that some muscles were to be regularly challenged.
It’s made me think of a variety of analogies, the first, fictional, being with George Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the pigs take over the farm, after getting rid of the farmer, leaving the rest of the animals to do the hard graft.
As a people, we seem to be very good at getting involved in a fight, but perhaps less good at seeing the broader picture, considering the consequences of actions. Simplistic soundbite trumps strategy. Sadly, this can be seen all too clearly in education, with academisation and free schools having been promoted heavily, seen as a simple solution to a small number of complex issues.
Perhaps we are where we are today as a result of celebrity politicians seeking greater and greater control over our lives. Power is everything. Local councils, and local politicians have been effectively neutered, apart from a few rump responsibilities. Yet, the system only works if it has local impact. Institutions and areas go through change as a result, often, of decisions made by ever more distant managers. A factory is closed, the local hospital, police, fire service are “reorganised” for efficiency, either by the global need of the international organisation, prepared to move production to cheaper countries, or because the country is seeking to save more and more money, in the name of austerity.
Change is uncomfortable, often it can become debilitating, of there does not appear to be an alternative, no jobs within easy reach, or medical help easily accessible. In that instance, anger and isolation can develop into local action. Sadly, in many ways, the ground was fertile, within the recent past, for “the people” to see a variety of scapegoats, aided and abetted by rhetoric from some quarters that was inciting anger and resentment, against people who had done nothing other than come and fill available roles, which would have been available to everyone who wanted to apply. The significant “othering” of everyone who wasn’t “one of us”, is deplorable, and I hope, will result in criminal action against the perpetrators. As far as I am aware, the referendum did not rescind laws governing racial hatred.
The other sadness, as an “older person”, soon to get to 64, not quite yet ready to stop being an active member of the workforce, is that, where the world has changed for people of my generation, from one where we were able to enjoy free education up to degree, or, in my case to teacher qualification, then to come out and find housing at a cost of four times a teacher starting income, the same house would cost twelve times the starter income today. I know that this causes hardship, and a loss of future dreams and, in order for children to get into housing, I have had to give substantial help to do so and have been lucky to do so.
I could adopt an “I’m all right, Jack” approach, as many older people seem to be prepared to do, but the future, for me, brings concern. The ageing population will require support, medically and financially through their pensions. Already the pension age of young people has been raised, significantly, to nearly 70. Some people, currently at that age, will have been able to retire in their mid to late 50s, with good pensions. It’s not a case of them having “contributed all their lives”. It’s what people do; work, pay taxes and National Insurance, so that the essential infrastructure of the country can be sustained. For what it is worth, I’d rather have seen a “graduate tax” imposed, rather than student loans, where everyone with a degree paid a little extra into the general pot can also see the need for immigration to continue, to undertake the work being done by people who will retire in the next ten years, tipping the balance of working vs pensioners.
Like many people, I am a member of clubs. I pay a membership, there is a constitution, or rule book and, when signing up, I am agreeing to those rules. If I was to break any of the rules, then my membership can be rescinded. The annual general meetings of the clubs allow for questions and challenge to outdated or unnecessary rules, or the creation of new rules to cover developing events. The EU, to me, is essentially a large club, with a membership fee. With so many members, it may not always suit every one of them, and, from time to time, might take actions that annoy a section of the public. That is common, even in small clubs, where a few people may be elected to take the lead and make the day to day decisions. In general, and for most purposes, where the club runs smoothly, everyone is able to get on with things, even if the rules require some paperwork occasionally to achieve specific things. It may well be that our membership of the EU needed a tweak at the AGM.
Today, it is clear that large swathes of life that we have been able to take for granted have been tilted, or may even have been overturned. The chaos of everything being in limbo, or in a state of flux, may suit some, who will have the financial resources to be effectively betting by the minute on exchange rates or other commodities. The people who have been bankrolling the chaos are likely to be in a position to do so. Another analogy is insider trading; have we all been manipulated so that a few can profiteer?
It is also clear today that those behind the “democratic coup” have no real plan for tomorrow, next week, or even for the next two years.
Those with little will be even more vulnerable, as money buys less as prices rise. So much for the promises of “milk and honey”, riches for everyone, immediately. How long before the currently disenchanted become even more so, as they see things getting even worse?
We need a positional statement, with a strategy and a timescale of defined actions, with contingency plans in case of further adjustments needing to be made. None of the people currently riding high on the euphoria of their success has ever run anything as large as this, none are prepared, nor have they a plan.
Show us the plans, now, please., so we can really picture our futures.
If this goes horribly wrong, Johnson, Gove, Farrage et al can all just resign, walk away and settle into a gentle obscurity, as they are sufficiently rich to do so, to be replaced by whom?
The rest of us, our children and grandchildren will be faced with the mess for years to come; it may take the rest of my lifetime for things to really settle down again and for the next generations to benefit. My life started at the end of rationing; I still have a childhood memory of the walk to collect the powdered milk.
I like England’s green and pleasant land, as it was on Wednesday of last week. A financially and morally bankrupt country will be nothing to be proud of.