Celebrating Xmas on Plague Island with a Shit Brexit Deal

France stunned the UK this week by revealing they could unilaterally close their borders to another state while still remaining in the EU. That other state being Britain. NASA confirmed you could hear the sound of Brextremists' minds being collectively blown from space.

Don't get me wrong, this is not an ultra-remainer piece for supporters of Mr Brylcreem (who has incidentally turned his back on People's Vote to support Johnson's "shit Brexit"). No, this is more of a Christmas message for the sensible people who voted for either Brexit or remain, and who find themselves stuck on Plague Island with Brextremists on one side and condescending "centrist Dads" on the other. If we can console ourselves with one thing this year, it's that both extremes have been made to look like mugs.

The Brextremists are finding most of the petty things they wanted, like blue passports, could've easily been done inside the EU, and most of the other stuff they wanted comes with the severe consequences that "Project Fear" warned them about.

The "moderate" ultra-remainers, on the other hand, have found themselves completely and utterly shafted by Sir Keith Starmer who is now whipping his MPs to back Boris Johnson's calamitous deal. This would be the deal they couldn't possibly back in 2019 because they knew it would be so incredibly awful (and also the deal which caused Boris Johnson to resign from his post as Foreign Secretary in protest). 

The centrist Mams and Dads had the option of a sensible compromise with a customs union, but they rejected that idea because they wanted Harriet Harman or John Major to be prime minister. It was more important for them to humiliate Corbyn and make him unelectable than protect the UK from a catastrophe. And these people had the nerve to suggest the left were the extremists. When it came to Brexit we were, rather ironically, the centrists. Fuck, I feel dirty typing that!

I'm a remainer, if that wasn't already clear, but I certainly don't want to start a war with the sensible Brexiteers out there. I would've taken Corbyn's compromise Brexit deal in a heartbeat, and they would have too. We, after all, are the "grownups in the room," or rather the grownups on Plague Island, surrounded by petulant children on both sides, who were prepared to let the country burn while they threw their toys out the pram. It truly is soul destroying.

But Brexit is obviously not the only major issue right now.

Christmas was cancelled for millions this week when Boris Johnson decided to dump them into Tier 4 at the last minute to compensate for his complete and utter failure to manage the Covid crisis, backed every step of the way by the so-called leader of the opposition. Remember the "no ifs, no buts" on schools reopening in September? Well, that position was directly responsible for the second wave, so well done, Keith, and thanks for the "meaningful opposition".

So many had made plans to see friends and family, and while we can debate whether that was a good idea, I think we can all agree that clearer communication, earlier action and a consistent strategy from the Tories would have made things a whole lot easier. Heartbreakingly, I've heard stories from people who are terminally ill and furious their last Christmas has been stolen from them by the government. It's just not fair.

The statistics show a clear correlation with infection numbers plummeting while schools were closed and shooting up when they reopened, but it didn't take a genius to understand schools are breeding grounds for this virus. School was certainly where I caught Covid.

"We owe it to the children," Johnson repeatedly said, like he gives a shit about a generation whose youth services he slashed, whose school meals he stole, whose higher education he keeps unaffordable, whose career prospects he destroyed, and whose climate he won't save.

It's painful to point out if we'd locked down hard and fast early, we could've been celebrating a proper Christmas like New Zealand - the magical land at the other side of the world where they get to call Jacinda Ardern Prime Minister and are literally our polar opposites. 

What the fuck do we have in Britain? Boris and Keith. And cemeteries which can't keep up with burials.

Let the history books remember we were one of the last countries in Europe to be hit by Covid-19. We had clear warning. We had the data on which approaches were working and which were failing, which countries were getting it right and which were getting it wrong. We, or rather they, spent weeks slaughtering Italy for their fuckups and then proceeded to do a much worse job. They literally ignored a scientific consensus and did absolutely nothing until it was far too late. 

From there, they only made matters worse with policies like Eat Out to Help Out, which really was equivalent to corporate manslaughter, but politicians are never held accountable for culling the plebs.

How many more people have to die because of Tory failures before we wake up?

On a personal level, I was among the first people in the country to catch Covid-19. This was before the first lockdown, at a time I was toying with keeping the kids off school. I actually missed the start of lockdown because I was self-isolating and I'll never forget venturing out to the shops for the first time. It felt like I'd entered a different world. I wandered through the deserted streets to Tesco and every person I passed near the entrance, who'd presumably given up on shopping that day, warned me about the queue. I got around the back to see they weren't kidding. 

Forty-five minutes I stood in a socially distant queue with some people wearing actual gasmasks. I was in the post-apocalypse and as a science-fiction writer, that's as much a dream as it is a nightmare. We got into the store and washed our hands and followed a one-way system with staff sternly watching our every move, making sure we stayed apart and no one backtracked or went the wrong way, and it felt like I could have been in 1984 or A Handmaid's Tale, but in a perverse way, I almost enjoyed the experience. It gave me writing material, if nothing else. 

I certainly do not wish to make light of the enormity of the tragedy though - that was with me every step of the way. I remember the feeling of being infected with Covid when it was so new and unknown and just thinking to myself, I'm carrying something inside me which will kill millions. It was chilling. And even though I never felt too ill during the initial infection and wasn't afraid for myself, the experience really messed with my emotions.

When my infection cleared, I'll never forget how the sun shone for three weeks non-stop and those blue skies were just what I needed. The sun never shines in Tyneside, but it certainly shone then, and here I was still suffering the after-effects of the illness and I just said to myself, I'm going to enjoy this sunshine. I sat unapologetically for three weeks on a deck chair and it was amazing how quickly the days passed by. The cars were off the roads and industrial activity had slowed down and I really believe the clear skies were due to the planet being able to breathe again. To breathe while so many of us were unable to breathe. I needed a rest from capitalism and the planet needed a rest from humanity. It was like we came to an agreement to make this as easy as possible on each other and it was quite beautiful in its own way. But always in the back of my mind was the question of who among us will not make it through the year. And that's one of the worst thoughts I've ever had. 

I've been lucky that I haven't lost many, but I've certainly witnessed tragedy, and many have suffered far worse than I have. My heart goes out to them.

Nine months after my initial infection, I still suffer from long Covid and have felt like an old man all year, despite starting 2020 as a reasonably healthy 37 year old. Long Covid affects around 20% of sufferers, by the way. Anyone who tells me we should return to normality because Covid is "no worse than flu" can fuck off and fuck off again, as far as I'm concerned. We don't know what the long-term health effects of this thing are, but I've heard of many young people having heart attacks and strokes, including my childhood friend and father of three who devastatingly lost his life this year. 

RIP Wayne

So yeah, I think I can be forgiven for my anger. We all can.

Things could have been so much better.

Our Brexit humiliation and our Covid mishandling have combined into a perfect storm, turning us into a nation of pariahs in the process. Remember when Nigel Farage kept saying "it's not like other countries will just stop trading with us after Brexit?" Well, they literally did! We have queues of lorries stretching back tens of miles in Kent, and I'm pretty sure many are carrying Brexit refugees, desperate to seek a better life in France. And who could blame them?

It's hard to believe it's been twelve months since the Labour Party's devastating general election defeat, which centrist wreckers in our own party made damn sure would happen. Well, I can't say "our own party" anymore because I've sadly left Labour, effectively forced out. I couldn't remain in the same party as this lot, after spending three years giving everything I had to a cause they deliberately sabotaged. They will never get my support or my forgiveness.

I came into this fight as a normal person who didn't consider myself too political. I was one of the working poor who just wanted options, someone who would listen to our concerns, a light at the end of the tunnel. We could've had that in Jeremy Corbyn, but now he's been replaced with a knight of the realm who sees us as "part of the problem" and wants to ignore the crises we badly need to address, hoping to win over the working class with racist dog-whistles. How incredibly insulting to the working class.

I remember sitting up late on December 12th 2019, feeling a combination of optimism and nervousness. I hoped so badly we would win, but I was being fed information about the bleak internal polling. I kept myself in denial until those results started coming in, and honestly, I felt like I'd been battered by Mike Tyson. For weeks after I was numb, directionless, and all I wanted was the opportunity to fight back, but Sir Keith even stole that from us.

All I want for Christmas is a new political party, and Jeremy Corbyn could very easily go from "Magic Grandpa" to Santa Claus if he were to deliver that.

I can't help thinking how much better 2020 could have been, how many lives could have been saved, how many relationships maintained, how many jobs protected, if we'd had a PM with a sense of compassion and a willingness to listen to reason. Someone who was prepared to put the people before capital interests. And we could have had that in Jeremy Corbyn. 

Nothing makes me cry, but if something was going to make me cry, it would surely be that. Shit, we could have transformed this country forever, we could have secured the future of our children, but let's not kid ourselves, the establishment forces who made damn sure Corbyn lost, would've stopped at nothing to destroy him. 

You need look no further than Latin America and how so-called moderate politicians (over here and over there) are so keen to assassinate any leader who won't sell off their resources to western corporations. That's how corrupt the establishment is. It's murderous. It's the reason we ask why we can't have the nice things other countries have. And we can never change that until we change, or destroy, the mainstream media. That's where alternative media outlets like ours come into play. Next step will be supporting Corbyn's Peace and Justice Project and seeing what it can become...

If 2021 turns out to be as calamitous as feared, the one positive is the public will be crying out for an alternative, and Sir Keith Starmer, who has broadly agreed with the Tories every step of the way, is hardly going to offer an inspiring vision. 

Step forward Jeremy Corbyn and a Peace and Justice Party with no centrist wreckers and with a plan to formally counter MSM smears. Imagine what such a party could become in such an unstable political climate. 

If ever we socialists are going to seriously push for political revolution, surely the time is now, when the economy is collapsing and ecosystems are dying. If we can't act during late stage capitalism, what good were we ever to anyone? It really is now or never.

The SNP destroyed Labour in Scotland. The PJP could destroy Labour in the rest of the UK. And wouldn't that be poetic justice?

Anyways, that's enough rambling for one day.

Please enjoy your Christmas turkey, folks, because next year, there's every chance you'll be eating pigeon in the Covid-Brexit apocalypse. Christmas can be a lonely time for millions, and this year it will be a lonely time for millions more. If you are one of the unfortunate people stuck home alone, I wish you all the joy in the world in 2021, even though I'm far from optimistic for our nation's prospects.

We don't have much, but at least we have three beautiful children and we will make damn sure we have loads of fun. We're among the lucky ones, I guess.

I would like to thank the writers who contributed to the blog this year, namely the amazing Cornish Damo, Celt Jules, Mr Topple, and Rachael Swindon. I would also like to thank everyone who read and supported our ramblings. It has certainly been nice to vent and even nicer to have someone listen to our venting!

Finally, I would like to end this piece by remembering the people who tragically won't be with us next year. Eighty thousand mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles, best friends, colleagues, and heroic frontline workers made the ultimate sacrifice. So please, do me a favour, next time you bang on about "Blitz spirit," wash your hands, wear your bloody mask, and stop whinging about lockdown measures! The harder and faster we start the next lockdown, the more we will minimise the pain and the sooner we will return to normality. That will be better for our economy and your social life, and more importantly, will ensure more of our loved ones see next Christmas. 

Thank you.

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