I’m currently polishing up the (final, I hope) draft of my book. Amongst other things, it’s about the way in which people buy into certain ideas of ‘Englishness’ for strategic reasons, and in particular, the ways in which people exploit the rhetoric of their own powerlessness in order – paradoxically – to police and perpetuate conservative social and economic structures. Although I’m writing about fourteenth and fifteenth-century England, it feels uncomfortably close to the bone today.
I can’t express the reasons to vote Remain better than anyone else you’ll hear. Many will stick in my mind, but in particular this piece by Jenni Hill, the series of heartbreaking posts by my fellow medievalist Sjoerd Levelt, and the conversations I’ve been having with my partner, who is the only person in her working group – a group who are working to find a cure for TB as incidence of the disease rises in the UK and elsewhere – eligible to vote in the current election. I can understand the fears and feelings that make people want to vote ‘leave’. I can understand the dogged optimism that convinces people it will somehow be alright if we do – that we won’t, against all predictions, crash economically and culturally. That we won’t give credibility to the sort of politics that clamours for the UK to leave because it harks back to a twisted image of British rule. I can understand it, but I don’t share it.
Please vote. Please vote ‘Remain’.