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THE POWER OF WORDS

Friday 24th June 2016

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As someone whose business is words I can't help but weigh up the merits of the two that underpinned the UK Referendum.

'Leave' is active, dynamic, a bright red, sexy word. One syllable. Direct. Confident.

'Remain' is somewhat limp and passive, two unbalanced syllables, a hiccup then a drone, a slightly faded, left out in the sun kind of a word.

I wonder how many of the undecided were ultimately swayed by the simple choice of a better word? People like drama. I make a living providing it.

Personally I feel sad that the United Kingdom is so clearly no longer united. I'm sure Scotland will leave, maybe Northern Ireland too. I see people celebrating independence day and calling for people to now make Britain Great again, though I haven't yet heard anyone suggest how. There's a great Robert Redford film called 'The Candidate', made in the early 70's where a handsome, charismatic everyman is groomed for office. The whole film is about just appealing to the electorate and winning the vote, getting him elected. At the end of the film, after he has won, he turns to his advisor who has stage-managed the whole thing and asks 'What do we do now?'. The advisor has no idea. That's where the film ends. We don't have the luxury of such an ambiguous ending.

What I think has happened here in this UK Referendum is a revolution, a disaffected electorate so bored and angry at millionaires in suits constantly telling them that the economy is booming, when most people can't even afford to buy their own homes, that they have chosen to destroy the status quo and set fire to the house in no small part because striking the match made them feel SO good. People wanted change. They wanted to take action. So they lined up behind the active word that suggested motion toward and change rather than stasis and that made them feel good too.

History shows us what happens when the rich get richer at the expense of the poor, so we shouldn't really be surprised at what has happened here, and is also happening in America. Maybe we needed a revolution. We certainly got one. Cameron has resigned. Corbyn won't be far behind. Fail the electorate for long enough and you pay the price. A few hundred years back Cameron would have ended up with his head on a spike, so there is some small evidence of human progress...maybe.

Right now things seem scary and desperate. But time will pass, things will change. Some things will slowly improve and some things won't. People will forget the lessons of history again and blame someone else for what's wrong and everything will repeat itself again, building something up only to burn it down. It's just the way of things.

There's been so much hate flung about in all this and that's the biggest failing to my mind. Because the greatest power we all have is to be kind, not only to yourself but also to each other. That is what really unites us, not politics or abstract ideas of nationhood and national identity. The Thames doesn't care what stripe of politician sits in the palaces built along its banks. The Thames doesn't care that there are any buildings there at all. Maybe we should all reflect on that, be kind to each other. And choose better words for the future.

Reader’s Comments

#1.Elke GraberAugust 25, 2016

I really would like to know when your continuing book after the Searcher is ready for pree
Sincerely Elke Graber, keep on writing, - order in the us.
Thank you for your wonderful books , for me I reread them every so often

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