I suspect that, in years to come, people will ask you where you were when this referendum result was announced in the same way that people ask you what you were doing when JFK was assassinated. We went to bed on Thursday night convinced that it would be a close result but that the UK would vote to remain in the EU. But we were wrong and I cannot believe what the people have done.
Putting my prejudices aside for one minute, I was appalled by the reasons people gave for leaving. It was just as if they believed, and understood, the fallacious arguments in the tabloid press. When Bill Clinton announced that "It's the economy, stupid" he was never more right. Without a stable economy there is no money to do what needs to be done, and in the end it is all down to money.
Social class and the envy it evokes played a big part in this referendum and the working classes cut off their noses to spite their faces in order to cock a snook at the metropolitan elite. In getting their own back (as they would see it) they cut their own throats. Areas where billions of euros have been invested by the EU, which in post-industrial Britain has enabled them to survive, voted to leave. Why? Well "it's immigration, innit" was on everyone's lips, and of course it's not possible to get an appointment to see the doctor or to get their children into the school of their choice. Why? It must be the EU's fault. Keep telling the unthinking the same thing over and over again and they will eventually believe it.
The agricultural areas, where the infamous Common Agricultural Policy enables British farmers to keep their heads above water, voted leave. Unbelievable. The poor will get poorer, and the divide in British society will get wider and wider. I can remember talking at a conference years ago about the growing educational underclass. These poor souls had been let down by schools and trendy teaching methods and comprehensive education in equal measure, and left school with no regard for the enormous benefits that education can provide. No, a few years later, they were having families of their own. And, you will not be surprised, their children had even less regard for education than their parents. This underclass has been spreading, and has been let down by successive governments of whichever party. The result is similar to dropping a jar of molasses on a hard floor. It's impossible to clear up, and just spreads and spreads.
When Pandora opened the box, that was that. Once open it was not possible to put back what had emerged. And so, in modern Britain, the genie is out of the bottle and cannot be forced to return. Having been away from Britain for nearly four years I had forgotten how inarticulate and thoughtless so many of my fellow countrymen and women are. They did not understand the issues, they did not think the issues through and were led by the nose by the media moguls who have an altogether different agenda.
Reading this, it may come across as elitist and snobbish. Of course I am influenced by my background and education, and the years spent teaching the advantaged in any number of fee-paying schools. But I despair and worry for the future of my country nevertheless. Quo Vadis?