9th April 2021
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE TELEVISION SERIES WANDAVISION
The recent Marvel and Disney-Plus series Wandavision was a brilliant – almost perfect – piece of television.
In particular it played to the strengths of a story told in periodic instalments, while playing with and exploiting the conventions, techniques and lore of other great television series over seventy years.
But there was part of the story – a misdirection – which makes me think of the current blame games about Brexit.
You may know this misdirection by a merry little song.
That it was ‘Agatha All Along’.
At the point of the series we are introduced to this lovely ditty, there is plausibility to it all being down to the rival witch Agatha.
And indeed: for many her theatrical wink is the compelling tell.
It must have been Agatha all along.
Except, of course, it was not Agatha all along.
For although Agatha had a certain impact on the plot and the characters, the real causes of the predicament as set out in Wandavision are elsewhere.
The problems instead flow from deeper dislocations, and from distortions of reality, and from the limits of magical thinking.
A false – and ultimately flimsy – world is created, but it is unsustainable and so it comes crashing down.
Happy nostalgic images of the 1950s – and of other decades – are ultimately mere make-believe constructs.
The state of Brexit at the moment is such that it is understandable that those who urged the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union at such speed and with no planning are looking to blame others.
But it is difficult to blame Remainers.
Those blaming Remainers for the shape of Brexit forget that Remainers were not even capable of winning a referendum.
Remainers also had a real opportunity to delay Brexit – or at least have a further referendum – in the the months before the December 2019 general election – and they were not even capable of accomplishing that either.
At each important point of Brexit – and especially in the crucial few months after the referendum result – the government and its political and media supporters prioritised speed and lack of substance over everything else.
Hardly a thought was employed as to the implications of ‘red lines’.
And once there was an agreement text, the race was on to ‘get Brexit done’ as swiftly as possible, with no proper consideration as to what was being agreed.
As I have averred over at Twitter, the withdrawal agreement and the Northern Irish protocol were the result of five distinct political steps taken by the prime minister Boris Johnson.
The Five Ways In Which Prime Minister Boris Johnson Personally Owns The Withdrawal Agreement And Northern Irish Protocol— davidallengreen (@davidallengreen) April 8, 2021
– a thread
The shape and manner of Brexit has many causes – but the overriding ones are specific political decisions made by pro-Brexit governments and parliaments when they had majorities in the house of commons – before June 2017 and after December 2019.
One cannot sensibly hold that Remainers can be held primarily responsible for anything to do with Brexit – other than complacency before the June 2016 referendum and ineptitude before the December 2019 general election.
Of course, there will be Remainer ‘leaders’ – professors and lords and QCs – who like Agatha may tweet theatrical winks to the camera.
And this may in turn provoke Brexit supporters into singing that it was ‘Remainers all along’.
But the tune does not make it true.
It was Brexiters all along.
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