Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high
And the dreams that you dream of, once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow, blue birds fly
And the dreams that you dream of, dreams really do come true
I felt this morning I was in the wrong movie, which had nothing to do with the night before. Perhaps “The Wizard of Oz” may more accurately describe my emotion with a young Judy Garland singing her dreamy song of “Somewhere over the rainbow” where “dreams that you dream of, dreams really do come true” which I associated with today’s lecture, “The Road to Brexit”, so very eloquently if not very convincingly presented by the German born Labour Party politician and former Chair of “Vote Leave” and now Chair of its successor organisation, “Change Britain”, Gisela Stuart.
Her political philosophy may be described in one word, already featuring in the name of her current organisation: Change. The old order will come to an end (Book recommendation by Ms Stuart: Robert Musil “Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften”), re-alignment, the tomorrow will be difficult, things will change. The EU is no good therefore it is only logical for the UK to leave. Everything will be fine in the end. Really?
Sovereignty, gained by the people (a recommendation aimed at the Euro-Zone for deeper integration) and Democracy, seemingly interchangeable, are words and concepts Ms Stuart liked to use often. She had no answer though to a spirited argument presented by my wife asking where democracy has been, when Scotland, literally at five minutes to twelve, was swayed by three Westminster politicians (David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. “Who remembers them now?” asked Gisela Stuart. “I do.” replied my wife.) on the eve of the Independence Referendum 2014 to stay in the Union if they wanted to remain in the EU. We know the outcome. Scotland stayed. But now the UK plans to leave the EU. Where does it leave Scotland, a Scotland which does not want to leave the European Union, a Scotland that was persuaded to vote against independence so they could remain in the EU, a Scotland that was lied to by English politicians? Where is sovereignty, where is democracy?
Real problems were shrugged off by Ms Stuart with an off-hand question to the audience whether half of Vienna has sleepless nights over Northern Ireland and Gibraltar. Well no, but it does notmean that there will be no problems. For her the possibility that Sinn Féin may one day be in the Westminster parliament makes her break out in a cold sweat in the middle of the night. I am glad, something does.
The questions from the audience that followed were passionately put forward. Certainly they have much to be concerned about as our President Dr Kurt Tiroch pointed out in his introductory talk. I left bewildered with a book recommendation for Ms Stuart in my mind: “The Sleepwalkers” by Christopher Clark. It describes aptly the Brexiteers on their “Road to Brexit”.