Collateral attractions: Mike Bartlett on Brexit

In the New York Times.

~ by Servetus on July 6, 2016.

12 Responses to “Collateral attractions: Mike Bartlett on Brexit”

  1. That was an interesting article, Servetus, and the responses weren’t all quite what I expected. However, I did note that everyone except the chap living in the States, came from London or Oxford. They need to get out and about a bit. Like Pullman, I saw Brexit coming too. But, IMO, it isn’t about racism or xenophobia. Racist incidents have mounted as the far right creep, momentarily, out of the woodwork. But that will soon settle. For instance, good news for RA and the 3m migrants as Parliament votes, 245-2, to let EU migrants stay in the country. A decent gesture when they could have been used as bargaining chips in exit negotiations with the EU.


    • Hmm. All this article was intended to do by its venue was give five important cultural figures the opportunity to say how they felt about it. I posted it because Bartlett is the author of Love, Love, Love. You seem to be broaching an argument where none was intended.

      But since you want to have an argument, this is what I think about what you said: Whether that “gesture” was “decent” or not will probably be a matter of disagreement from many perspectives. It’s true that a UK outside of the EU owes its suddenly “marooned” EU residents nothing, at least in a technical sense. Anyone patting themselves on the back for not using human lives as bargaining chips, however, is a bit like me saying “oh, how good of me that I’m not being a racist” when I note that members of other ethnic and racial groups in the US are exercising their rights. I think it should go without saying. I understand that it will be legally necessary to renegotiate the status of EU citizens in the UK, and that this vote carries an emotional valence, but as far as I know it’s as non-binding in terms of actual policy as the recent referendum. That the MPs signaled their good will is hardly an indication of virtue and if that news counts as “good news” then we should all be frightened.


  2. I’m a Guardian reader and have been for years but RA and others have been quoting it as gospel and it is giving a very biased POV. That’s an aside.

    I often feel, as I read your comments and responses, Servetus, that we have somehow missed each other’s points, that somehow your American brain is not aligned with my British one. Yes, I know who Bartlett is and I thought he might have mentioned LLL since it is about the generation gap and that’s what Brexit has partly been about: the supposed different choices of the young’uns and the wrinklies. I enjoyed the points that these artists made because they were all quite different, one from the other, and I thought it was interesting that they were asked if the referendum would or wouldn’t inspire a piece of work in the near future and what they thought of that. I especially look forward to reading Pullman’s novel that he outlines here and hope he gets to write it.


    • Is it or is it not true that the motion Labour voted for today is non-binding and has no necessary effect on the ultimate policy? Is it or is it not true that the government abstained from the vote? These are not POV issues. They are facts. It’s either binding or it isn’t. That’s pretty binary. Even I know there are 650 MPS. 245 in favor isn’t even a simple majority — even counting 5 Tories who apparently voted for it. This was a nice thing for the loyal opposition to do, on the assumption that the UK is in such a horrible place now that basic principles of human rights need to be affirmed by minority vote. If I were a Tory I would read this as a gesture of desperation.

      re: Guardian — it’s not the only UK paper I read. I’m a regular reader of the Independent and Telegraph (until I use up the free articles), and the FT (three articles per day). I occasionally look at the Mail, Sun, Mirror, and Spectator. And I’m an inveterate reader of the Economist — best reporting even if I disagree with its editorial position much of the time. The Guardian was the first paper I saw treport the story, which I had seen tweeted much earlier by Andy Burnham. Here is the same story on the BBC: : “The motion is not binding on the government.” The story is being reported in multiple news outlets now.

      re: brains — you have a way of speaking that I accept (based on having worked with people from the UK in close quarters for ten years) as typical in the UK and it involves cultural attitudes. But I don’t think our disagreements are a cultural matter, frankly.


    • Jaydee, you make interesting points and seem very well-versed on the subject of Brexit, and I’ve gotten something from your Brexit point of view; but I find it difficult to take a debater’s argument seriously when she throws around pejorative terms like “wrinklies.”


  3. No, it’s not binding but, “With this emphatic result, it is impossible to see how the government can now reverse what is the clear will of the House of Commons.” I think it will reassure the EU migrants but will also mean that the Government will not have laid all its cards on the table before some very tough negotiations. Very sensible.

    Yes, I think it’s something to do with our ‘ways of speaking’ to each other and it’s also cultural and it’s also the fact that we beg to differ on an awful lot of things. I spent two years in the States and worked a further 3 years with American colleagues, but I still don’t quite get you and I don’t think that you quite get me. Perhaps we should accept that because, although I read your blog every day, I seldom join in after constantly saying something that you misread or which appears to offend you. Or perhaps vice versa.


    • It’s not the clear will of the House of Commons if 245 of 650 MPs vote for it. It is the clear will of the opposition, though. If I were a EU migrant in the UK, I’d hardly be reassured. Rather, I’d be looking at the rules for immigration to the UK and possibly soliciting legal assistance — something that at least three of my friends in this situation are already doing. I wouldn’t be waiting for Labour to win a general election that isn’t scheduled until 2020, assuming Labour’s ranks haven’t been totally decimated by UKIP at that point.

      I don’t make you comment here, jaydee.


  4. […] see comments here – it doesn’t have much […]


  5. No, you don’t make me comment but I want to comment sometimes, especially if you’re discussing something to do with the UK – and something vitally important too. My comment on this thread started with a sort of thank you to you for putting up an interesting article that I might have otherwise missed. And yet somehow, this intention was misunderstood. I suppose I’d better go back to lurking because I always feel so unwelcome even when I’m trying to be nice. I’m still not quite sure what goes wrong with our exchanges.


  6. You’re free to comment as long as you follow the comment policy.


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