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.
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.