Theatre in Wales

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History, Self & Politics

A Political Diary

Heading Towards Decision Day , Referendum on Europe , June 9, 2016
A Political Diary by Heading Towards Decision Day Some decades back, when life was not good, I took myself to an evening class. In that time- the twilight of Mrs Thatcher’s reign- classes were cheap, dead cheap, and aimed at working people.

Their aim was knowledge. Life-long learning was unheard of- decent knowledge sticks forever anyhow. The teaching was inspiring, the power of pure word in a world before Powerpoint. The reading list included Martin Buber, the great philosopher of reconciliation, dialogue of authenticity his theme. The best metaphor for dialogue of worth is that of a confluence of streams. Each stream flows into a river larger than itself. The result is not just greater but contains everything that has gone into it.

It is entirely the opposite of the debate over secession, itself an unused word. Public Britain does not do philosophy, except to laugh at the length of A C Grayling’s hair. In France Henri Levy-Bruhl would have dominated. In Germany the debate would have been sunk in density of reference to Kant and Fichte. In Britain it is a game of Eton Fives. The debate is coarse, irresolute and clamorous, bereft of depth, generosity or enquiry of any moral authenticity. Were I to send a letter of worry to a problem page it would be signed off “Please help. Confused of Ceredigion.”

Politics is in its largest measure autobiography. It is impossible to overcome the facts and influence of the life as lived. I wish Frank Field were not vocal in the debate. The reports he makes on his Birkenhead constituents are correct. Field engenders a discomfort that jangles with my own life. Europe gave me work- that is real money- at a time when a fading Britain could not. I at twenty was no different from the twenty year-old of today of Bucharest, Sofia or Vilnius. Of course it was a different world; no trans-border coaches and flying was a high-priced cartel of national carriers. The route from a depressed Britain to a vibrant continent began with an outstretched thumb at the roundabout where the A45 led to the M1.

A woman, white-haired and of great age, is filmed for television taking her postal vote to the letter box. “To regain our dignity” she says, posting her vote for separation. I have no idea- no idea of any kind- of what is in her head. All humans live within history, but every person’s sense of history is their own, part-given and part-sought-out.

Reviewed by: Adam Somerset

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