IT WAS WITH great disappointment I read the other day that my alma mater, Leeds University, is providing counselling to those of its academics suffering from Brexit anxiety. I can understand they need to reassure non-UK staff that there is no reason to expect instant deportation but there is a whiff of psychologised panic about it. I can’t imagine this sort of response back in my day (harrumph, harrumph).
Nottingham University has also offered help and guidance for academics overwhelmed and sleepless at the recognition that the majority of the country doesn’t agree with their pro-EU mindset. Get some rest, say the counsellors, eat properly, don’t get obsessed with news. And practice some mindfulness.
Mindfulness: now there’s something to chew on and spit out. It usually appears alongside its trusty companion, wellbeing. It’s one of those words that lets you know you’re in the world of bureaucratic psychobabble, full of compassion, concern and complete inanity. If the bureaucracies that run most universities really cared about their academics the first thing they would do is call a halt to the endless administrative burden they dump on them.
THE BREXIT DEBATE continues with a momentum of its own. The country may not be as starkly and aggressively divided as the media sometime make out but the establishment, with a bit of help from millionaire Gina Miller, has found a way to render us comatose, presumably as a means to get us to forget all about it. The government’s appeal against the original legal ruling obtained by Ms Miller — that parliament has to vote on whether Article 50 can be triggered — is being ground through the Supreme Court at this moment. It’s rather like a test match without the exciting bits.
The drama of listening to recondite legal precedents and proposals is lost on me, though it is faintly amusing to hear the learned ones trying to work out whether the documents under discussion are labelled as volume three or part three or have a separate nomenclature when provided in an electronic pack. Whatever the supporters of this legal challenge say about democracy and the sovereignty of parliament, however, is hypocrisy. We know the challenge was launched to sabotage the Brexit process either by stopping it from happening or by causing damaging delays.
Putting a stop to all this democracy nonsense is just what Lib Dem leader, Tim Farron, wants. And he’s doing it under the banner of patriotism. When Theresa May said she wanted a “red, white and blue” Brexit, Timbo the Terrible immediately Tweeted back with a fine example of political virtue signalling, complete with the correct vocabulary: “This is just jingoistic claptrap. The Union Jack represents an open, tolerant and multicultural Britain.” Funny how these anti-UK politicos have rediscovered this previously untouchable emotion of patriotism (the right sort, that is, theirs). If Farron had an ounce of perception he’d admit that the multicultural scam perpetrated on the British people by himself and the political class contributed to the Brexit vote.
At the moment he’s buoyed up by the LibDem by-election win in Richmond and thinking about a revival in his party fortunes. He’s not going to get that in my neck of the woods, where there’s a by-election to replace Conservative, Stephen Phillips, who resigned unexpectedly last month. This is a safe Tory seat so the drama will be in who gets second place. Last time it was Labour but Ukip were only a thousand votes behind them. Farron’s pro-EU, anti-Brexit stance will not go down well with the Yellowbellies of Lincolnshire. They actually like that “jingoistic claptrap” round here. They’re very mindful people.
Currente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.