Respect

The post Brexit world is upon us. We live in a nation divided like never before. Where one half of the country is requesting that the other half respects their vote and accepts the result. I’ve given the request some thought, placed it within my own perspective and would like to offer my response.

Not everyone liked the post war order that laid down plans for a caring and unified society. A certain small section of the right wing establishment particularly did not like the path laid out by Attlee and his contemporaries, and they wanted to radically change it. They financed their think tanks to produce outlandish policy proposals and fear mongering studies and publicised these through their media outlets such as the Dail Mail and Telegraph.

In 1979 they got their wish and Margaret Thatcher was elected. She implemented these neo-liberal policies amid waves of privatisations and cut backs, turning our industrial heartlands into wastelands. The poor were demonised and the vital public services at the heart of our communities, schools and the NHS in particular, were underfunded to breaking point. Millions were left unemployed, disaffected and unrepresented. The coffers of the 1% filled to overflowing, consuming an ever increasing percentage of the national wealth.

But there was a thorn in their side. The EEC, and later the EU. Outside of their control, Europe foisted unwelcome responsibility upon them in the shape of health and safety legislation, standardisation, workers rights and other loathsome legislation. Things like the Working Time Directive, which gave rights to millions. The right wing establishment fought back with a campaign designed to stir up nationalism.

The free flow of migrants gave them another weapon, and before you knew it their tabloid press was stirring a good dose of racism and xenophobia into the pot. UKIP rose from nothing, and in the last election more than 4 million people had openly swallowed this bile and cast their votes for a party lead by Nigel Farage.

The final weapon in their armoury was the ignorance of the British people. Having brought out the inner prejudice and nationalist sentiment of large swathes of the British people, they reinforced this with messages of confidence in the future of our economy. It’ll all be alright. We’re British. The future’s ours and it’s golden. And they did this without ever really explaining how, exactly, it will all be better. Miraculously, they even managed to do this whilst accepting that Brexit will be a financially painful experience. More for us than them, of course.

It might not be possible to fool all of the people all of the time. But it has clearly proven possible to fool 51.9% of the population over a three month period. They asked a stupid question and the got the obligatory stupid answer.  Astoundingly, the Leave campaign even seems to have successfully convinced this section of the electorate that the industrial destruction wrought on the country over the last 40 years by the right wing establishment, neo-liberal Thatcherism and her globalist policies  was in fact all the fault of the European Union.

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For the last twelve weeks I’ve watched, with a degree of horror, as the referendum descended into an almost farcial debate largely centering on issues that actually have nothing to do with the EU, are irrelevant in our lives, are trivial or are simply untrue. We need to leave the EU to protect our borders from Africans and IS terrosists! Africa, Syria and Iraq are not in the EU.

EU regulations are nuts! There are 26,000 words to dictate the sale of cabbages. No, there are no regulations regarding the sale of cabbages or banning curved bananas for that matter. Perhaps we should worry more about the huge quantities of food thrown away because we won’t buy stuff that doesn’t look perfect? The EU is communist/Nazi/Rothschild organisation! These people also probably believe in aliens and fairies. They certainly live in their own little fantasy world.

And then there’s all the stuff about the immigrants, which has been particularly nasty. A message of xenphobic hatred has been hammered home relentlessly. Stand up and take a bow, Messrs Daily Mail, Daily Express, Telegraph, Times and Sun. Post referendum Britain is already turning out to be a nation of open prejudice and victimisation. Political correctness is being replaced with casual racism on the streets up and down the country.

So here is the crux of it. If you voted leave, regardless of whether you think you are not a racist or xenophobe, regardless of whether you think you are not a Little Englander nationalist, regardless of whether you voted only as a protest, regardless of whether you voted even though you didn’t really know what to believe – you have staked your flag in the camp of the right wing establishment who have shaped the Brexit movement. You have endorsed their prejudice at the ballot box. You have enabled vocal hatred on the streets. You have handed more power back to the group that actually screwed you over in the first place. You will make us all a bit poorer. You have swallowed a decades old propaganda campaign that is designed to bring out the worst in you.

So when you ask me to respect your vote, I have to tell you that I have nothing but contempt for your choice. When you tell me I must accept the result, I can only say that I will never accept a result based on a project of prejudice that has been enabled by a heady mix of naiivity and ignorance. You’ve moved your moral compass and pointed it to a dark and unfriendly place. I do, however, recognise the result, and will continue to argue and vote against it whenever the opportunity arises. So will the other 48.9%. We’ll continue to do so until at least 0.6% see the error of their ways.

 

 

 

3 Comments

  • It’s pretty clear that Europe is going over the cliff. Not quickly, mind you, but slowly, ever so slowly. The Brexiters see this and ask why they want to be dragged down into the same morass.

    Before you become quite so sure about the economic disaster that lies ahead, just consider this: all the mainstream establishments that made those forecasts have an unparalleledly BAD, no awful, history of economic projections. The fact of the matter is that they have no idea what Brexit will do to the British economy. Part of that is due to the fact that no one knows what kind of arrangement Britain will actually make with the EU. So don’t put too much stock in what all those supposed experts have to say. They’ve historically always been wrong; why will they be right about Brexit?

    Secondly, the world is heading toward a recession anyway. If Britain goes into a recession, will this be the fault of Brexit? Or would it have happened anyway. Your answer to that question depends more on your confirmation bias than it does on the mechanics of Brexit. And the recession has a decent chance of arriving before Brexit is concluded.

    Third, you say that Europe is not bordered by Africa or Syria, but the policy of the EU has been to let in millions of people from those places. And many of those people are already causing loads of problems throughout Europe. I think intelligent people can have a reasonable debate about the merits of admitting a large group of poorly-educated (often semi-literate), culturally incompatible (Muslim) people into Great Britain without resorting to immediate accusations of racism.

    Fourth, Europe doesn’t trade with the UK out of some sense of economic anglophilia. They trade because it benefits them. That’s not going to stop. So when article 50 is invoked under a new PM and bureaucrats get to work, I think a highly reasonable treaty is likely to be worked out. Sure, there will be anti-British invective for public consumption, but I’d be surprised to see Great Britain somehow economically isolated. And if the UK is lucky, by the time the negotiation begins, the US will have a president with enough balls to tell the Europeans that they’d better treat the Brits right, or we’ll have some invective too.

    So don’t worry. This is a great moment for Britain where it has unhooked itself from what is likely to be the biggest failure of the 21st century.

    Saludos,

    Kim G
    CDMX, México
    Where no one talks about somehow economically merging Canada, the USA, Mexico, and all the countries of Central America.

    • I’m more optimistic about the future of the EU, although I do also recognise that it requires much reformation, consolidation, greater transparancy and a new type of leadership. The EU must recognise that an attempt to centralise everything is not the best way forward. The future of the EU also requires its inhabitants to have a true and inbuilt sense of belonging and a willingness to let go of outdated nationalist sentiments. This will take longer for some groups that others and the EU needs to recognise that it may have moved too far, too soon. I’m fine with two speed federalism. But on to your points:

      Points 1 and 4: you yourself made the point not so long ago that Frankfurt and Paris would be licking their lips at the potential extra business they’d pick up due to the UK exiting the EU. What changed your mind? The forecasts of doom and gloom are not based on the usual extrapolation of unreliable data, but on the simple principle of Britain being a less certain place to do business and the fact that, if we do not seal a free trade deal with the EU, we will be a less competitive partner in our most important market. I don’t think we need an expert to come to that conclusion. It’s simple economics. As for what sort of deal we get, that is very much up in the air. From a purely trade perspective it would obviously be in both parties interests to maintain free trade. But there are all sorts of competing forces at work. There will be a key battle between the irresistable force of the UK’s demand for free trade and the immoveable object of the EU’s free movement of people. The US doesn’t really have a piece to play in this game, regardless of who is president.

      Point 2: Recession may be coming anyway, but if we are losing jobs and contracts due to Brexit, then our recession is likely to be deeper than would otherwise have been. Disagree?

      Point 3: The EU has not had a policy of letting millions of refugees in. The policy has been to spread them around the EU rather than leave them in huge refugee camps in Greece and Italy. Britain has acce3pted no more than a token amount, and this was our choice. We did have an intelligent debate on this. You have missed the point. The vast majority of the immigrants, and we are probably talking a minimum of 99%, that have reached the UK through being smuggled over the channel. Leaving the EU will have zero impact on these immigrants. But huge numbers of Brits who voted have associated these people coming in as being a result of EU membership. They have done so because of the most awful tabloid journalism that has persisted for years in a deliberate effort to stoke racial hatred. And it is working. I appreciate that it is easy to throw the R word around. But I believe that it is appropriate. I’m obviously referring to the population as a whole, but I do understand that individuals can have good reasons to vote Leave without falling for the tabloid bile. But the overview of this referendum is that it was nothing more than a measure of the nation’s levels of xenophobia, racism and prejudice in general. I have started a post on this point. I might get to finish it one day…!

      But you’ve missed some other issues which are key in this debate, Kim. The UK may well now break up. There are millions of EU citizens who are about to be used as pawns in negotiations. Forty years of EU laws need rewriting. Our trade will be disrupted. And all for what? For a principle of sovereignty which for most people will have no relevance. And for an immigration problem which is actually not a problem at all, but a benefit to the country.

    • I’m more optimistic about the future of the EU, although I do also recognise that it requires much reformation, consolidation, greater transparancy and a new type of leadership. The EU must recognise that an attempt to centralise everything is not the best way forward. The future of the EU also requires its inhabitants to have a true and inbuilt sense of belonging and a willingness to let go of outdated nationalist sentiments. This will take longer for some groups that others and the EU needs to recognise that it may have moved too far, too soon. I’m fine with two speed federalism. But on to your points:

      Points 1 and 4: you yourself made the point not so long ago that Frankfurt and Paris would be licking their lips at the potential extra business they’d pick up due to the UK exiting the EU. What changed your mind? The forecasts of doom and gloom are not based on the usual extrapolation of unreliable data, but on the simple principle of Britain being a less certain place to do business and the fact that, if we do not seal a free trade deal with the EU, we will be a less competitive partner in our most important market. I don’t think we need an expert to come to that conclusion. It’s simple economics. As for what sort of deal we get, that is very much up in the air. From a purely trade perspective it would obviously be in both parties interests to maintain free trade. But there are all sorts of competing forces at work. There will be a key battle between the irresistable force of the UK’s demand for free trade and the immoveable object of the EU’s free movement of people. The US doesn’t really have a piece to play in this game, regardless of who is president.

      Point 2: Recession may be coming anyway, but if we are losing jobs and contracts due to Brexit, then our recession is likely to be deeper than would otherwise have been. Disagree?

      Point 3: The EU has not had a policy of letting millions of refugees in. The policy has been to spread them around the EU rather than leave them in huge refugee camps in Greece and Italy. Britain has acce3pted no more than a token amount, and this was our choice. We did have an intelligent debate on this. You have missed the point. The vast majority of the immigrants, and we are probably talking a minimum of 99%, that have reached the UK through being smuggled over the channel. Leaving the EU will have zero impact on these immigrants. But huge numbers of Brits who voted have associated these people coming in as being a result of EU membership. They have done so because of the most awful tabloid journalism that has persisted for years in a deliberate effort to stoke racial hatred. And it is working. I appreciate that it is easy to throw the R word around. But I believe that it is appropriate. I’m obviously referring to the population as a whole, but I do understand that individuals can have good reasons to vote Leave without falling for the tabloid bile. But the overview of this referendum is that it was nothing more than a measure of the nation’s levels of xenophobia, racism and prejudice in general. I have started a post on this point. I might get to finish it one day…!

      But you’ve missed some other issues which are key in this debate, Kim. The UK may well now break up. There are millions of EU citizens who are about to be used as pawns in negotiations. Forty years of EU laws need rewriting. Our trade will be disrupted. And all for what? For a principle of sovereignty which for most people will have no relevance. And for an immigration problem which is actually not a problem at all, but a benefit to the country.

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