Brex-Shit (by )

I've made a colouring sheet, the first in a series I have planned of political satire. The series is going to lay everything bare and brutal, including both sides' prejudices.



I am on the remain "side" but know the horse has bolted revealing horrible maggots of racism, classism and a few other isms which I thought we had mainly vanquished. I feel I no longer belong in my home, rejected by my origin, and yet "my" side mock where I come from.

My home/origin - I am ashamed, Romford, ASHAMED!

Out has ruined my kids future; Remainers did not listen when I said you are alienating the working class. Hell, they were alienating me!

I belong to no one and nothing now - not even Europe with the likely sources of funding for my Science-Art and the outreach I like doing with poetry etc... being scrubbed out I am not hopeful for Cuddly Science nor The Muse Monsters Literary stuff. The government does not have a good track record of funding these things, ie Science and Art; the EU did.

It wouldn't be so bad if they were actually going to give the EU money the NHS as they said they would, but they've already back pedalled on that one.

All I wanted to do was help the next generation see that, regardless of background etc., science was for them, that they had a future. And now I am not even sure they do have a future. So yes I am angry and I am struggling with forgiveness because there was a fight down our street, outside my house, which there has never been before.

Our nearest Tesco's has had racists shouting at the tills, I'm having to explain what is going on to my kids. I am having to assure them it will be fine but I don't know if it will be. I am trying to check my neighbours are ok because they are eastern europeans and there is hate swirling around - they are the best neighbours I've ever had and they are my friends.

I have had arguments I thought I would never have, seen the ugly fascist belly of people I call peeps, people I trusted and love. I feel my country is in ruins, my future, my kids' future dashed, I watch as the people I went to university with face their research - some of it life saving - being axed.

For the first time ever I am thinking of moving out of the country; 52% voted out, that is half the population and out of that half I do not know what proportion are the scary flag-waving fist-punchers and who are the bystanders and who are the secret agreers and enablers of this hatred.

My husband has a non-English sounding name, he speaks what sounds like a foreign language - I almost did not allow him to learn it as I feared a time like this as the warning signs began to appear when I was pregnant with Jean. But we will not be cowered and so I encouraged him with it and he teaches the kids. It is a constructed language, but bigots don't know that, and nor do I think they care. So I now fear we'll get more than a house egging and more than the verbal rant in the chip shop as people mistake him for an immigrant. And he's lucky because he's white so they don't know until he opens his mouth or they see his name in full.

When your eldest asks you worried questions about refugees because the playground talk has been ugly about them being dangerous when you've been collecting clothes for the refugee kids... you know something is wrong, so very very wrong.

I should have been more verbal before the referendum but I did not want to fall out with people, I just told them quietly how our livelihoods were tied into the EU and I stupidly thought they would listen.

No one listened to me, not on either side. So yes I am angry and mainly I am angry at the politicians who took to the public vote something that they should have been brave enough to decide themselves. Now there is a hornets nest shaken and stirred and the hornets are stinging.

It's a mess, a right royal mess or is that sovereignty? What ever it is we now have to exit Europe because to not do so makes a shame of our democracy - whether we can or should go back in is something else.

And I watch the pound drop, I watch the knock on effects across Europe and try to shut out the parallels with world wars and I see trillions wiped off the global economy and think about how we will be really lucky if we are not, all bar the super super rich, a hell of a lot worse off.

As I said I am struggling with forgiveness, I feel my husband is now in danger as well as my neighbours, I am seeing bullying on all sides. The UK is broken, shattered and I can't see how it is going to recover - I hope it's quickly.

I want my country back, not this nazi nightmare.

So I am doing the only things I know how and that is trying to make the world a better place and creating art about these issues.

There are daemons of my own like the knot of feelings over working class and university - and the unique mix of these thing that is me, but that is for another time.

Enjoy the colouring.

Better, Broken and Betrayed (by )

Love, Hope, Perseverance and Serenity

My Britain is broken,
but I shall try to fix it,
though it may have to be in a shape new,
Scotland I want to keep you,
you are a part of me,
but I think you should go,
for your own sake,
though I scream don't leave us behind!
Maybe North and South can make piece
be whole and Ireland will be an Island once more.
Wales won't be far behind, Cornwall?... the isles?
well you think on it ok.

It's fractured from a blow,
not sure where the crack propagation will end.
The EU they say is sinking, disintegrating,
and I look on History and see how World Wars begin
I shudder.

And I hope that you are right and I am wrong,
because if you are right then the consequence...
are that I look silly,
and lose the career
I have been building for a decade or more,
but I will swallow that if the Nation,
if the world is better off.
I hope you are right but I fear
yes I mean FEAR, you are wrong.

For I am petrified with what I have seen,
in this referendum,
how natures spill and split,
becoming vengeful with spite,
my own included

But what ever the outcome,
I will be kind
as I can make the world as good as I can,
here in the now in this place.
I picked up the smashed wine glass at the bus stop outside the polling station so the toddlers would not get cut,
I removed the jagged glass bottle,
cracked into caltrop from the step of the hair salon,
so delicately sandled feet would not be cut.
And though I feel isolated and stabbed in the back,
by family and friends who knew...
I needed the EU funding but voted the way they voted,
crowing about it,
that they did that anyway,
Knowing me, I - part of them needed this thing,
I, not some amorphous "other",
But ME
And all the rejection and hurt I feel...
I am going to lengths to try and not fall out,
though the anger is bubbling over,
and I feel betrayed and bewildered
and worried.

Worried that I have two kids to bring up within this mess.
I hope it's all worth it, I really do,
but I feel we are all in free fall
I'm not sure there's a parachute packed.

I painted these pictures to remind me not to hate:
Perseverance and...

but they are chaotic,
as we know not the way the wind will blow.

Public perceptions (by )

Let us consider two arguments.

  1. Immigration drives the UK economy, creating more and better-paid jobs, and cheaper products and services. This is supported by actual data obtained from tax records and other reputable sources; immigrants have tended to come here in pursuit of work, to fill demand that is not being met locally, so have provided a valuable workforce for industry to grow upon, and consumed less benefits than native people. Growing industry creates more jobs and provides cheaper products and services, and a growing population creates more demand for products and services, which also stimulates industry.
  2. People are poor, due to unemployment or having to work for low-paid jobs as it's all they can get, and benefit cuts because there's not enough money to go round. So why are we letting foreigners in to compete for our jobs and benefits?

Clearly, the former is a more correct argument, as it's backed by facts; the latter does note cite its sources at all (Are people really poor? Compared to what? If so, is that really why people are poor? Are the "foreigners" actually competing for a fixed pool of jobs and benefits? Are there enough of them that it would actually make any difference if they weren't "competing", or are there much bigger issues we should worry about?)

Yet recent events suggest that the latter argument has swayed the public opinion better than the former.

Why is that? Why is my opinion of the two arguments so different to what the majority of my fellow Brits make of them?

I come from a culture (nerdy, educated) that values arguments backed up by data and mathematics. This seems self-evident to us: "But it's measurement of the actual world, processed through well-tested statistical techniques! What higher standard of generalisation about the world can we have than the Scientific Method?"

But what if you're not from our nerdy, educated culture, who've sat in classrooms and been shown the wonderful things the scientific method has given us?

Imagine yourself being presented with two arguments. One is given by a person who's not like you (they're all nerdy and they talk posh). It appeals to mathematics and science, which you found boring and irrelevant at school; you much preferred English, French and Art. That doesn't mean your stupid; you have applied your skills as a signwriter, and your work is highly respected, leading you to now run a thriving small business. But the nerdy woman saying that her maths show immigration is great reminds you of the kids who liked science and maths at school, and you didn't get on with them well.

The nerd is upset you don't seem to respect her viewpoint, and starts to explain that the evidence is all valid, but it's just a sea of numbers. She says the maths show a correlation with a great confidence level, and when you ask what that means, it quickly becomes apparent that you'll need to sit through maths lessons to actually have it all explained, and you had quite enough of that at school.

Meanwhile, somebody else gives you a short quip. "People are poor" (yeah, you can see that) "due to unemployment or having to work for low-paid jobs as it's all they can get, and benefit cuts because there's not enough money to go round" (yep, that the sort of thing you've heard from friends and family, and seen in the papers) "So why are we letting foreigners in to compete for our jobs and benefits?" Hell yeah!

The nerd might start complaining about the problems with that statement, but it makes perfect sense. The sort of person who comes up with sensible observations like that is clever, but not brainy. They're somebody who's cut through the bullshit and spotted the simple truth at the heart of a problem; not somebody who's built up a complicated argument with maths and abstract theories. You can respect that sort of cleverness, and want to hear what they think about other problems people face. They offer simple common-sense solutions.

And that, I think, is the problem us nerdy types have with public perception. Our methods produce correct answers, but the way we justify those answers to the majority of people who don't have backgrounds in the scientific method and statistical analysis is way off the mark. And while understanding this stuff suggests intelligence, not understanding it does not suggest absence of intelligence - yet the implication that it does is embedded into our culture, making us sigh and shake our heads at people who don't understand. "Oh, just trust us," we say. "We've worked it all out."

We need to keep using science and maths to find the truths of the world; and those scientific arguments are the best way of justifying our conclusions to each other. But having done so, we need to find better ways to explain and justify those truths to the world.

Brexit (by )

I think the best analysis of the possible consequences, whichever way the referendum went, was this: Martin Lewis' guide to voting in the EU referendum.

In other words, nobody really had any good arguments as to which was better - in or out. The EU has costs and benefits. The problem is, the referendum wasn't about whether Britain would be better in or out; it was about whether Britain should remain or leave, which is a slightly different point. The differences is: the cost of change also enters the equation. Given that the consequences of being in or out are unclear, the question becomes: Is it worth the costs of leaving?

Personally, I don't think so: Even though the consequences either way were unclear, I suspect that the average outcomes are probably slightly better if we'd stayed in. All the talk of immigration (we still need immigration to afford to look after our ageing population), sovereignty (the British parliament is hardly more accountable to us than the European one), and £350m a week were largely red herrings, spectres summoned to try and mislead the population; the real issues were far subtler and more pedestrian.

But that difference between the best predictions of the impacts of staying or leaving on our quality of live are small compared to the cost of change. Today's drop in the value of the pound and British shares is not a measure of the predicted economic weakness of a non-EU UK; it's a measure of the uncertainty as to how effective British business will be, and how easy it will be for multinational corporations to operate in Britain. The world cannot predict how fiscal and commercial relationships with Britain will be in five years, let alone ten or more, and those are the kinds of periods over which major investments are planned; so that investment will be directed to safer places. Maybe Britain will become a new economic powerhouse without EU regulations - or maybe it will become a dingy backwater. The world doesn't know, so it's moving its money elsewhere. Funnily enough, that reduces the chances of Britain being able to become an economic powerhouse, because we're poorer to begin with.

Another effect that's far larger than any predictions of the effects of being in or out is the effect of the referendum process. We are now in a situation where half the country is furious with the other half for having ruined their country, and possibly the world. Meanwhile, that half is furious with the first half for having nearly prevented them from saving their country, and possibly the world. This is a rather toxic and explosive situation to now be attempting to plan what's going to happen over the next five years. Many decisions will be made based on personal grudges rather than rational consideration. Meanwhile, in the populace at large, a lot of resentment is simmering; if living conditions drop in ways that are attributable to our leaving Europe, the half of the population that voted for it will be considered personally responsible for ruined lives. That could get nasty.

Another effect of the Leave result that probably dwarfs the actual cost of not being in the EU is that the result has emboldened the more right-wing figures in British politics. Folks who have traditionally acted in the interests of big business and the rich, while cynically appealing to the fears of the masses in order to get their way. I'm concerned that their influence - previously more rhetorical than actual - will grow in the political changes coming, which could have negative long-term consequences.

So, I'm sad on many levels about how this referendum turned out; but I wouldn't have been very much happier if we'd voted to remain.

Remains (by )

They queued up one by one by one,
They laid their necks upon the space,
That had been blunted by generations,
Of freedom so the blade above was forgotten,

They spewed anger into the streets,
Again and again with blood letting,
Pulverised the apples
They left the rotten core,

They queued up one by one by one,
Lost and afraid and turned to fear,
By those seeking scapegoats and straw men,
The burnings began with a flag not a book

Luckily it failed
As the fires that would be - failed
All those flames that would have wiped out homes
Families - tamed by regulations
And yes that is a double edged blade
But one that can be honed and perfected
If not mangled and melted

They burnt the homeless mans tent
All he had within
by the KFC
They... wanted out
They... feel powerless, they are askewed
And I told you treat people like shit
They will believe in that shit
They will become that shit
They will cling on by finger nails of reasoning
They are reactionary
They are not stupid
They are in survival mode
Be grateful if you've never known it

You drove the wedge
Sinking it deeper in financial lines
You laughed at expletives used as words
You decided that those there, they are beneath you
No education, no prospects,
No realisation of the rights they posess,
But you don't know how hard it is to climb out
You don't see the hollow cheeks of despair
The despised in the food line
Aggressive architecture to stop the homeless resting
The charity warehouses and centres closed

People on the edge
People growing weary
People ready to bite
They bit
The hate is unleashed

I vote remain
They vote go
You vote maybe one way maybe not

And the fists are primed
And we are the meat
All of us are the meat
Pounded and pulverised
The meat
That's US
Us within or without
But within at least we wont be cut
As much

Don't be brave
Brave people do stupid things
Don't vote with your heart
That again is a reactionary thing
Stop... look and think!

What do I want?
What about the other?
Crack down the wall of us and them
Tribalism is cannibalism
Don't condemn the opposition
Let them speak
Listen and...
Then debate
No name calls
Or flotillas on the Thames
Amusing as it all is
It is dire in it's consequence

We queue up one by one by one
We queue....
We wait
What ever the result
I hope we have not unleashed the plague
Of Fascism.

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