Politics was ever-present at Glastonbury (Getty Images)

Post EU referendum, everyone is an expert, but nobody knows what’s going on

Michael Gove said we were over experts. How foolish that is, says Lynn Enright 

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By Lynn Enright on

“How was your weekend?” seems like a defunct question this morning. Even for those who looked to Glastonbury for light relief. Because yes, Coldplay did unite the nation for 15 minutes or so but soon we returned to despair about a plummeting pound, rising racism and the fact that no one – in power or not, winning or losing side, politician or civilian – has any idea what’s going on. 

And anyway plenty of the dispatches coming from Glasto involved politics… There was Jarvis Cocker urging his audience to sign the petition calling for a second referendum. And Damon Albarn telling us that “democracy has failed us”. 

There was Paul Mason tweeting that the coup against Jeremy Corbyn would ensure a generation of festival-goers grew up even more jaded.

And there was deputy Labour leader Tom Watson dancing away at the silent disco, attempting to ignore the doom before being dragged away from the fun, as the Labour party imploded.

All of us, in pubs or in homes or out doing the shopping or on family WhatsApp groups or in work, discussed the Brexit and what it meant for us, for the country, for Europe and for the world. 

It suddenly seemed cruelly ironic that Michael Gove, key architect of the Leave campaign, had declared that “people in this country have had enough of experts” as he tried to distract us from the cold hard facts, because suddenly we were all desperate for experts, we were all becoming more expert than we had been before. 

Experts at applying for EU passports, tens of thousands of people suddenly letting one another how best to apply for Irish citizenship.

Experts on the breakdown of the voters and the turnout throughout the country, able to tell you about the vote divided along lines of socio-economic background and age and region.

Experts on Article 50, and the theories about why, after all, the Brexit might not happen. 

It is deeply sad that we did not seem as eager for expert opinion before the referendum, that we did not seem as eager to speak as boldly before the referendum

Experts on the Labour party, and what is best for it now: heartbroken Remainers arguing among themselves about whether it was better to proceed with or without Corbyn.

Experts at hindsight, as we realised that Nick Clegg had predicted almost exactly what would happen if the country voted Leave but nobody had really listened at the time. 

This weekend, there was a vacuum of expertise with all our politicians gone awol: while Tom Watson was at Glastonbury, Boris Johnson was playing cricket at Althorp, home of Lord Spencer, brother of the late Diana. Like, seriously, actually. David Cameron and George Osborne were nowhere to be seen. And Corbyn and his cabinet were dashing about, frantically concentrating on destroying the Labour party… 

The public figures and the politicians rounded up for the Sunday morning politics shows and the special episode of Question Time weren’t actually the experts we wanted to hear from. They just sat there doing the same arguing that they’d done for weeks, pursuing the same circuitous conversation that had landed us in this mess in the first place. And the people the public actually wanted to hear from were hiding or arguing or plotting.

So we filled the gap, sharing on social media like never before, helping each other to understand the world, talking and shouting and consoling and explaining.  

Most of us, of course, are not experts. But now we are impassioned. It is deeply sad that we did not seem as eager for expert opinion before the referendum, that we did not seem as eager to speak as boldly before the referendum, that we did not seem as eager to hold our politicians to account or investigate their motives...

But here we are. And we must use our new expertise, in these new, strange, rudderless times as best we can: ensuring that the youth will come out to vote in future, ensuring that if we don’t like Jeremy Corbyn, we actually do something about it, rather than quietly moaning or sharing a link to a Vice documentary, ensuring that we don't get won over by the faux-bumblings of a charismatic oaf we considered ourselves on first-name terms with. Because when passion meets expertise, we’ll really be on to something.  


Politics was ever-present at Glastonbury (Getty Images)
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