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Theresa May has jumped from being the world’s worst lexicographer to being the world’s worst grief counselor.

January 18, 2017


So, after months of spouting the tautology of “Brexit Means Brexit” with a completely straight face as though she’s answered a question, May finally told us what Brexit means.  This makes her, if not the worst lexicographer of all time, then surely the least efficient.  If she were to compile even a very concise dictionary at her current rate, it would take her many thousands of years.

So, we now know that Brexit means ‘the vey worst Brexit, the most extreme and unforgiving Brexit, in which the living standards of the peoples of north west Europe are held hostage in the course of endless unfriendly negotiations.’  It might have been helpful if this definition had appeared on the ballot paper last June.

The speech she gave yesterday though, showed her failing in a new capacity.  The who reaching out and healing but.  Millions of people currently stained and shamed with a British passport are still grieving. Not a’whining’ or ‘moaning’ or ‘re moaning’ but actually grieving, struggling to come to terms with a sense of irreparable loss.  May talks about ‘the British people’ and their wishes as though the sixteen million who voted to leave and the entirety of those with UK citizenship are one and the same.  Her confident and repeated use of the word ‘Britain’ and even more relentless wielding of the first person plural presents a rhetorical exercise in erasure.  Her calls for ‘unity’ are an exercise in exclusionary synecdoche, whereby from now on a part must stand for a whole.  All calls for national unity should be distrusted at the best of times, and we’re living right now in something resembling the worst of times, a time of increasingly unapologetic fascism.  (Excuse me if I fail to soil my hands with mealy mouthed qualifiers like ‘alt right’ or ‘populist’.)  Her assertion that everyone is coming together after Brexit is demonstrably false.  But then Britain itself is no longer a real country and its death certificate is currently being printed – a fact which does not prevent May from continually invoking adjectives derives from the nation she helped to destroy.

As millions of people grieve over the loss of their EU citizenship, they are also feeling wounded and trunctated.  They (OK we) feel diminished as a result of the horrible campaign, we feel smaller, duller, colder.   May’s response to the grief experienced by so many of her fellow citizens is not even to tell them to snap out of it.  It is to erase them, to exclude everyone and everything that conflicts with her euphonious narrative altogether. As a response to large scale emotional pain it’s a tactic of astonishing crudity.

Theresa May makes Dr Phil look like Judith Butler.



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One Comment
  1. NMac permalink

    All so very, very depressing Conrad. It makes me angry, upset and sad. I really could weep.

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