Why I voted to leave the EU

So today’s the day. For most of my lifetime, the UK has been a member of a series of organisations that with the triggering of Article 50, we now start to leave.

I admit I was stunned by the outcome. It was reasonable to expect that the status quo would prevail in such a momentous democratic opportunity. But as we know, that didn’t happen. Despite (or perhaps more likely, as a result of…) all the scaremongering and utterly depressing lack of confidence in this country from the remain campaign, the British people delivered their earth-shattering verdict on the EU with the biggest voting turnout in 25 years.

Within my circle of friends, and arts industry people I follow on Twitter, I was absolutely in the minority (well at least among those who made their feelings public). For many weeks after the result, social networks were awash with high emotions, anger, and mourning along with lazy and inaccurate character assasinations of leave voters. So on this historic day, I need to get something off my chest.

Despite how much of the media and some remain supporters like to label leave voters as a simplistic stereotype, voting to leave the EU does not make me:

  • Racist
  • Xenophobic
  • Anti-Europe
  • Anti-immigration
  • A ‘Little-Englander’

It means just one thing; I voted to leave the EU. 

I don’t believe that the UK should be a member of the EU (or the inevitable future United States of Europe) because I very simply think we’re a terrible fit. It’s irrefutable that the UK has always had an awkward relationship with the rest of the EU as a second-class-not-fully-engaged-always-wants-special-concessions member and I honestly think that after 44 years of this strained relationship, an amicable divorce is the best way forward for both of us.

The majority of politicians soon realised that going against the unexpected result would be tantamount to political suicide, so we saw much illogical handwringing from Labour MPs successfully tying themselves in knots over ‘personal convictions’ vs ‘will of the people’ for the Article 50 bill or in Diane Abbott’s case, having a timely migraine. Meanwhile as the anti-Brexit party, the Liberal Democrats have put themselves firmly on course to being even more irrelevant (and I say that after 30 years of voting for them).

Leaving the EU does not mean the UK cannot continue friendly and co-operative relationships with other European countries. It does not mean we cannot continue to work together on important matters of security etc. I don’t doubt for a moment that many areas will be more challenging than before, but where there are mutually beneficial reasons to do so, it is plainly obvious that countries will co-operate. We won’t stop being European after leaving the EU. The EU is not Europe.

So now the day has come, let’s leave all the pessimistic doom and gloom behind and move forwards with a positive vision of what this country can achieve in the future within the whole world, including the rest of Europe.

Amazing or Creepy?

Yesterday Google launched their street view option in Google Maps UK. I’ve used the option on US maps for some time but it’s a different feeling being able to see around places closer to home. In many ways it is amazing but also slightly creepy and I started thinking about why I have that reaction.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the street view is raising the ‘slightly creepy’ reaction because it is showing us the world in the way we directly experience it every day. When Google Maps came out with satellite photos everyone was amazed, yet also less creeped out. That makes sense because it showed us an aerial view of the world that we never experience, just like seeing an X-ray of your arm.

The narrower that gap gets between our own human experience and what’s publicly available on the web, the creepier things will get.

* this has been a Blog from a Bench

I am a Very Bad Blogger!

Yikes it’s been ages since I wrote anything on the site, so here’s a catch up:

Saw an excellent new version of Sunset Boulevard before Christmas at the Comedy Theatre. I’ve long been a fan of the show – I saw the original production at the Adelphi twice and then also on tour in Birmingham. This one is very, very different and far more captivating. Directed by Craig Revel Horwood (he was milling around in the bar with friends on the night we went) the show follows the tradition of the Watermill Theatre in Newbury by having actor/musicians on stage throughout. The original production was all about spectacle, glamour and glitz. This time round it’s dark and claustrophobic which breathes a new lease of life into the show. Highly recommended.

Also before Christmas I saw Tim Minchin at the Queen Elizabeth Hall. My sister had seen him perform in Cheltenham and said I must go and see him. Quite unlike any performer I think I’ve seen before. Definitely not one for a lazy night out – “you mean I’ve got to think about what is being said on stage rather than just laugh along?”. Here’s an example of his brilliance recorded on of the London nights.

In January, I saw previews of Milk and Bolt 3D at BFI Southbank. Both completely wonderful and followed by Q&A with Gus van Sant and John Lasseter. I saw The Times of Harvey Milk documentary at the BFI last year and thought it was amazing. Sean Penn puts in a spellbinding performance.

Finally, this month I took my mum out as a birthday treat to see An Inspector Calls at the Birmingham Rep. I’d seen the production at the NT in the early nineties with Kenneth Cranham as the inspector and remember liking it but I think this production made a much bigger impression. It’s such an amazing show. Not just for the cinematic quality of the staging but the performances are wonderful – the Inspector and Shelia in particular. It’s on tour around the country until June 2009 and I’d urge you to go and see it if you can. Theatre at its absolute best.

Izzard by the Sea

I went to see Eddie Izzard last night as part of his Stripped tour at the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea. I’m not sure why but this great talent seems to have passed me by. I’ve only ever seen bits of him on TV…you know a toe poking through a fishnet…(at least I think it was a toe).

Oh my goodness me he’s funny. A recurring phrase last night was “I’ve decided there is no God” which is a subject very close to my heart these days. A particular highlight was the rant about the impossibility of Noah’s ark. After setting it up by stating the perfectly reasonable “you get a pair of lions and tigers in an ark and there would be nothing left” he follows it up with a mock news report.

We’re just waiting for the people and animals to come out of the ark. Should be any moment now.Yes here they come…there’s two lions…and two tigers. [pause] Well I’m sure the others are just getting their stuff together.

Priceless. So now I’m an Eddie fan and have a lot of catching up to do.

Tunnel de L’amour

At the end of last year, St Pancras International became the swanky new home of the Eurostar terminal in London after 13 years at Waterloo. Soon after the closure of the Waterloo terminal, Eurostar put up a hoarding plastered with a bunch of facts and figures on the passengers carried over the years.

I’ve been walking past this hoarding for months but only yesterday did I notice this (very Virgin Atlantic style) cheeky little figure at the bottom…

If my maths is correct, that works out at an average of one shag per hundred trains. The million dollar question is whether this figure and the one above it are somehow connected?