(A German Socialist Immigrant – who led the Brexit campaign!)
There has been a large amount of anger, shouting and mockery in response to the Brexit vote. The prophecies of doom, the emotional reaction and the general assumptions are not helpful. The level of public discourse has been really disappointing – and it has been sad to see Christians joining in.Not everyone who voted Brexit did so because they are ignorant racists who are equivalent to Trump supporters in the US, or Le Pen supporters in France. I think it is incumbent on all who seek to engage in public discourse to listen to others – especially those who have a different point of view. I am keen to listen to those who are upset and think that Brexit is a disaster/evil/insane -or some lesser adjectives. So let me issue a simple challenge. Send me the best three articles you have read or seen on why people did vote or should have voted Remain. I am really interested in reading them and will post them here for others. (Also if you have other ones that you think are better than the ones I post below -pro_Brexit – then please send them as well!).
If you are one of those who have been posting the mocking/disaster/abusive posts on social media could you stop and take some time (if you have not done so already) to seriously consider why people voted the way they did? Sure there are racists, and ignorant people and ‘Little Englanders’ etc – but that is not the vast majority of people who I have read, met or spoken to who voted Leave.
The following video and articles are the best I have read explaining why I don’t regret voting Leave (by the way remember that meme that so many re-posted as ‘fact’? The one that said that many people who voted Leave were now suffering from Bregret because they had realised how stupid they had been? Apparently it turns out that 3% of those who voted Leave regretted their vote…and 4% of those who voted Remain regretted their vote – strange how people who were quick to post about the former seem to have completely ignored the latter!).
If you voted Remain and are upset at the result – please have a look at these. I post them not to persuade you but rather to help you understand the people who voted differently from you. And I repeat the offer – send me the articles that best explain your position.
- Mark Blyth – explains why Brexit is primarily a vote against the 1% rather than the EU. Fascinating…..
2. This sums up exactly my position – Brendan O’Neills article in The Australian
The Australian, 2 July 2016 –
Political quakes don’t get much more seismic than this.
Just over a week ago, Britain had a competent Prime Minister, a functioning opposition, and decent diplomatic relations with the EU and the rest of the world.
Now, after 17.5 million of us ignored the advice of virtually the entire establishment and voted to leave the EU, our PM is on his way out; the opposition has collapsed; it isn’t clear who — if anyone — is running the country; and the EU and the rest of the world thinks Britain has lost every one of its marbles.
And I love it. This is the most exciting thing that has happened to British politics in a generation. The whole Brexit fallout has been a crazy, stirring reminder of what people power really looks like.
For too long, elections in Britain, as in much of the Western world, have been formulaic affairs, where we must choose between cardboard politicians who can be told apart only by the colour of their rosettes. But with the EU referendum, our ballots had real consequences. They toppled leaders. They terrified elites. And they changed the world.
So this is what democracy feels like? It feels good.
It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of what has happened in Britain. A freaked-out political and media set, which desperately wanted us to stay in the EU, is peddling the politics of fear over Brexit. They’re telling us we’re heading towards economic catastrophe, that racism is on the rise and that Britain has become the Miss Havisham of Europe, destined to live out its remaining years in cobwebbed isolation.
Don’t believe a word of it. They’re just sore losers. In truth, Brexit opens up a whole new world of political and historic possibility. Brexit has brought politics back to life. The most striking thing it has done is expose the gaping chasm that separates the political and media elite from ordinary people.
Make no mistake: when 17.5 million of us ticked the Leave box, we weren’t only rejecting the bureaucrats of Brussels; we were rejecting our own establishment. We were defying it.
Most of the political class, the business elite, experts, academics and celebrities had spent months telling us to vote Remain. And we voted Leave. This is the bloodiest nose the British establishment has received in decades.
And the punch was delivered primarily by the poor and working class. These communities, who often don’t vote, voted Leave in vast numbers. The class divide in the referendum was extraordinary. Almost every class indicator tells us the down-at-heel were far likelier than the comfortably off to reject the EU.
So, of those parts of Britain with a high number of manufacturing jobs, 86 per cent voted Leave; of areas with low manufacturing levels, only 42 per cent voted Leave. Seventy-nine per cent of local authorities where the average house price is less than £282,000 ($503,000) voted Leave; only 28 per cent of areas where the house prices are higher than that voted Leave.
Of those boroughs that have low education levels, 83 per cent voted Leave; of boroughs with high education levels, only 46 per cent voted Leave.
This is my favourite fact: of the 50 parts of Britain that have the highest number of people from social classes D and E — semi-skilled or unskilled workers — 47 voted Leave. That is 47 very poor parts of Britain crying in unison: “No, we won’t give you what you want.”
And on it goes, stat after stat, revealing that if you do physical labour, don’t have a university degree and don’t earn much money, then you’re likelier to have voted Leave than people on the leafier side of the tracks.
Surveys suggest 60 per cent of working-class people are hostile to the EU, while a staggering 95 per cent of business leaders favour it. Readers of The Guardian and The Times are likelier than readers of The Sun to be pro-EU. We have bosses, the well-educated and the broadsheet set on one side, and toilers and tabloid readers on the other. Make no bones about it: this was a revolt of the lower orders. This is what I like most about Brexit: it was a puncturing, a conscious puncturing, of an aloof, smug establishment that thinks its worldview is superior to the little people’s.
Ordinary people, sick of being patronised and nanny-stated, sick of being told they’re bad parents and too fat, that they shouldn’t smoke, shouldn’t drink, shouldn’t be so un-PC or uncouth, seized this opportunity to take the elites down a peg or two.
They could see that the political class had invested an extraordinary amount of energy and resources into the Remain side. They knew how much this meant to the elite.
And they decided to deprive the elite of the thing it craved. The demos struck back.
The reaction from the chattering classes has been vicious. They have spent the past week branding Leave voters as “low-information”, ignorant, racist.
One Labour MP says the result must be overturned. It’s “madness”, he says, to let ordinary people’s “resentment and prejudice” determine the future of the nation.
There have been public protests by angry, Guardian-reading campaigners demanding that the referendum result be thrown out because there is “mass confusion” across the country. That is, the plebs don’t know what they’re doing. Observers have sniffed about hoi polloi being manipulated by demagogues, hoodwinked by misinformation, overcome with racist hatred against eastern Europeans.
These elitist libels, these nasty slurs, are easily disproved. In a post-referendum survey, only 34 per cent of Leave voters gave immigration as their main concern (and concern with immigration isn’t necessarily racist). Most gave democracy as their key reason for voting Leave. They think political decisions should be taken in London, not Brussels. That isn’t reactionary; it’s progressive.
The post-referendum defamation of certain sections of the public sums up why such vast numbers voted Leave in the first place. Because they’re sick of this. They’re sick of being treated as stupid and maybe even subhuman. And now they’ve asserted themselves, they’ve given the political class a reminder of their power; and in the process they’ve caused glorious upset to the global order.
They’ve injected clarity back into politics. They’ve revealed the fissures between an oligarchical elite and working people. They have exposed how cut off that elite is, so much so that it looks on a chunk of its electorate as unfeeling, unintelligent beasts. Best of all, they’ve put back on the agenda the voice of the ignored, of those who for too long have been treated by the nannying, nudging elite as unhealthy creatures to be morally improved. They’ve made David Cameron resign and pushed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to the edge and rattled the entire establishment.
They have unfrozen politics. They have unfrozen history itself. The EU is really an attempt to suspend politics, to replace the difficult, tense business of political thought and action with managerialism and technocracy. It is a post-politics institution, allowing the leaders of European nations to govern without having to have too many awkward debates or to engage all the time with the throng.
The EU is a lid on European history. It suppresses, without resolving, tensions within Europe. It’s no accident that the EU as we know it was set up in 1992, soon after the reunification of Germany. For it was ultimately about keeping in check old hostilities, nagging rivalries, unresolved questions of power. It is about burying politics in favour of letting apolitical experts run things.
Now the British people, including our poor and uneducated, have blown it all apart. Their democratic assault on the EU has unsuspended politics, already, both in Britain, where the political and cultural divide has been thrown into sharp relief, and in Europe, where the EU is now in a state of panic, concerned that past political questions that were never satisfyingly answered may return if the suppressant that is the EU is weakened any further.
This is democracy in all its glory. British voters have pummelled their own political class, upset the European order and made it clear they don’t think the EU’s technocracy is the only game in town. They’ve said, “There must be another way of doing things. There must be an alternative.” They’ve taken a risk, a beautiful, defiant risk, and and in the process they’ve breathed life back into politics and awakened history from its enforced slumber. They’re being libelled now, but posterity shall judge them kindly.
3. And this article from another one of those immigrants! How dare they come over here and take over our politics!
Just over a week ago, more than 33 million people, having reflected on our 43-year membership of what started as the Common Market and became the European Union, cast their vote in a UK-wide referendum.
52% voted to leave, 48% thought we should remain. Politicians, having put the responsibility to make such a significant and far-reaching decision to the people, now have a duty to implement that decision.
Let us, just for a moment, imagine if the outcome had been reversed and 52% had voted to remain. If there had been an online petition to ignore the vote, calls for MPs to overturn the result, a demand for a second referendum, what would have been the response? Vote Leave people such as me would have been laughed at, branded bad losers and told to just go away and get on with it, that the people had spoken. But this is just what is happening. I have heard it said that old people shouldn’t have been allowed to vote. That this was a referendum about the future and that the under-40s have been disenfranchised. There is talk of deception or that this was all too complicated. In essence, the insinuation is the nice and bright voted remain, while the unsophisticated, simple folk voted leave.
Let’s put an end to this London-centric sneering and belittling, then pause and reflect on what needs to be done. The nation and much of the media seem to be having a collective nervous breakdown. Westminster in general and individual politicians in particular need to accept that this vote wasn’t about them. It was about the people of the United Kingdom deciding how they wished to be governed. They were clear. They wanted to take back control over their borders, their taxation system and their laws.
The turmoil in both political parties is the manifestation of a much deeper malaise. The referendum was arguably the first chance in the past 20 years where casting your vote made a decisive difference. Since the Labour landslide in 1997, the main parties have at the core become managerial rather than ideological. The referendum was different – 72% of the electorate took part and delivered a conclusive majority vote. There is no going back. The whole point of political parties and democratic institutions is to mediate between mob rule and bureaucratic tyranny. They have to give shape to the will of people in a fair and balanced way.
Westminster in general and individual politicians in particular need to accept that this vote wasn’t about them
The referendum wasn’t about Tories versus Labour. The dividing lines were quite different. For a small number, and I include myself in this group, it was about democratic accountability and creating new institutions that would be capable of responding to the challenges of globalisation and the flows of goods, money and people.
But for the majority, it was about those who have a good life and for whom, broadly speaking, things are all right and those who felt they had nothing left to lose. That’s why Project Fear didn’t work. From the chancellor threatening a punishment budget, to the governor of the Bank of England, to a string of businesses and experts threatening everything from Armageddon to the Third World War – it had no traction, because if you can’t get your child into the school of your choice, and you can’t get a GP appointment and there is no chance of you ever buying your first house, then threats don’t work. People had to listen to others who don’t live in their kind of neighbourhoods, calling them racists when they expressed concerns about immigration.
The status quo was not on the ballot paper. The EU has to change and the euro countries have to become a country called Europe. Those who voted remain, because the world they live in is serving them well, ignored the risk of staying shackled to a failing euro and an outdated political structure. They have to resist the temptation to blame any ill from this that befalls us on Brexit, otherwise we will ignore the real causes and will fail to address them. Those who voted leave because they had nothing left to lose were largely in Labour heartlands. They feel let down by an increasingly metropolitan Labour party.
Where do we go from here? This was a vote for change and we cannot ignore it. In doing so, we must come together. There is no place for racism, xenophobia and anti-immigrant language. This is unacceptable and we need to say so loud and clear. It has no part to play in shaping our future.
Politics can be simple. People want freedom, respect and a fair deal for them and their children in return for hard work. If we don’t have a country where work and talent can take you from the bottom to the top in one generation, then we don’t have a country that is just. Inequality of opportunity and income has widened over the past 15 years to the point where it has become a chasm.
Membership of the EU has made things worse, pushing down wages, increasing pressure on public services and eroding democratic accountability while rewarding the better off with more opportunity and higher pay.
People knew what they voted for. They were not deceived and there is no second referendum. During the referendum, the cross-party Vote Leave team outlined some basic things that were essential. Democratic control of immigration, via a points-based system. Ensuring supremacy of UK courts and giving priority to public services in general and the NHS in particular.
Our place in the world includes shaping new accountable institutions that have consent and can deal with the global flows of goods, capital and people. The EU has shown itself incapable of doing this. This is about opportunity and about hope.
Finally – this photo sums up what I voted Leave. The sneering mockery of the Haves at the Have Nots is something I cannot abide. Sir Bob Geldof and his establishment mates are doing the best they can to undermine and get rid of the democratic vote – and who knows they may succeed and we will then have moved totally from a democracy into an autocracy. But I hope that the hope and optimism expressed by Gisela and Brendan O’Neill above turn out to be justified.
Footnote: After publishing this I was disappointed that several of the responses have just ignored the plea for understanding and have just repeated the shouting/mockery/ignroant racist type comments – sadly -even from Christians. I was also glad to get some more thoughful and helpful comments – although no-one managed to send me the best three articles on the Remain side. However I did find one! And it was worth the wait. This from Alasiter J Roberts is an excellent, if lengthy analysis
And I also came across this interesting piece from Boris Johnson – ‘experts’ tell us he was not really on the Leave side. This does not sound like it!
Finally I always enjoy reading Carl Trueman – even when I disagree with him – here I think he gets it spot on –