Jill and I voted by proxy and with our feet, so we spent the day of the referendum firmly in Europe. During the day, we exchanged our estimates of the majority for Remain with fellow ex-pats and with French friends. That night, having watched the Red Sox beat the White Sox 8-7 in extra innings, I reflected that the referendum result might be equally tight. 52-48 Remain seemed to be the consensus.
At no point had it crossed my mind that the Leave campaign would win. In England, only one friend had confided that he was going to vote that way. In France, I know no-one of any nationality who thinks that the the UK would be better off out, nor that Europe would be better off without the UK.
It started slowly. Gibraltar voted Remain with an unanimity which would have put Stalin’s Soviet Union to shame followed by Newcastle – tight but pro-Remain. The egregious Farage appeared with inside information from his ‘mates in the City’ who had told him Remain had edged it.
Then came Sunderland. Then Sheffield. And we all knew we had lost it.
We had lost it because, despite the evidence of the General Election, we had failed to understand that the austerity imposed by the Tories had left the working class throughout the north and Midlands without hope. “How can it get any worse?” asked a woman in Hartlepool to a bemused BBC journalist, who was patronizingly attempting to explain the economic case for Remain and the Osborne-briefed consequences of Leave.
As we have noted many times before, the present government has imposed an economic policy which owes nothing to economics and everything to political ideology.
To ensure and reinforce the hegemony of a privileged and super-rich elite, Osborne has bought the middle-class. Literally.
People like me have colluded with them. And while we may embrace the EU in the same way as we embrace our multi-cultural and multi-racial lifestyle, we need to remember that for many years the Tories have made the EU their whipping-boy. Boris Johnson, in a previous life as a Brussels correspondent for The Daily Telegraph, a newspaper, famously invented and exaggerated scare stories. But despite his best efforts to appear so, he is not daft. He knew the way the wind was blowing.
Cameron did not. A shallow chancer, he has no idea of the world beyond his circle. And every time that I saw the leaflets and social media posts listing those who were pro Remain and those pro Leave, I knew it was losing us votes. Lined up to encourage us to stay were the great, the good and the loaded of the establishment - all powerful individuals, almost all millionaires or more. They were the leaders of political parties, governors of banks, CEOs of multi-national companies who paid less corporation tax than I do, non-doms and tax exiles who nonetheless control vast swathes of our economy.
Even I, a passionate European, was occasionally tempted to register my protest against this overwhelming show of force from the haves against the have-nots. I didn't. Remain and reform was my position.
I regret the Leave vote, but I do not blame the Leave voters.
Most are not racist, nor are they bigots. They are certainly not fascists, nor are they unthinking. They are people who have experienced a simple truth of the class society.
“When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose.”
Today from the everysmith vaults: Some variété Française - Cabrel, Greco, Debussy.