Britain Europe Politics TV

The Uncivil War – A Prophetic, Enlightening and Inspiring Play

Nah – don’t think I’ll bother.  That was my reaction when I heard about Channel 4’s drama on Brexit.  It’ll be the usual ‘Brexit was all about thicko ignorant racists voting for something they knew nothing about’ narrative – and to be honest, I’m tired of the whole mess.  But then I read that the Guardian hated it.  This is normally an excellent recommendation for anything so I thought I’ll give it a go.


There were many things to dislike about it – it was a bit simplistic; Banks, Farage, Gove and Johnson were portrayed almost as cartoon characters,  and it did follow the familar narrative of Leave voters being somehow manipulated and duped (could that not be said to some degree about all voters?!) but having said that it was still a brilliant drama –  insightful, informative, intelligent, entertaining and with Benedict Cumberbatch (a Remainer) playing a very convincing Dominic Cumming,   With Guardianista Remainers hating it and some Brexiteers hating it, I suspect that the writer James Graham, got it just about right.  You can view the whole film here. 

Some of lessons and lines?

1) The total British establishment was against Brexit – all the main political parties, big business, academia, the banks, most of the media, the arts establishment  the CBI and the trades unions, were largely strongly Remain.   I know that those who like to think of themselves as ‘The Resistance’ and liberal left-wingers hate to admit this, but the fact is that the SNP leadership, the Greens etc are all as pro-establishment as any of the Tories or Labour.    I loved the letter in The Herald today calling for ‘a Peoples Vote’ – from amongst others “Sir Harry Burns, Dame Mariot Leslie, Sir David Edward, Sir Tom Devine”.  Yep – the ‘Sirs’ and Dames sure sound like The People!

2.  How to change the course of history? – challenge and change conventional wisdom.

3. Forget focus groups – go to the pub and listen to people.

4.  Hack the political system which has failed…“you’re talking about posters I’m talking about changing the whole system”….

5. “Doesn’t he know you don’t attack the PM – why does he have to be so…. himself…”

6. Cambridge Analytica used peoples data and were condemned – yet when the Obama campaign used social media data they were hailed as modern geniuses!  (Incidentally the same think is happening now – I am on the People’s Vote database and everyweek they helpfully send me things like letters to send to my MP!)

Rage Against the Machine:

I loved the scene at the end from the inquiry in 2020.  ‘Dominic Cumming’ states:

The system always wins – rebooting the system? The vision wasn’t flawed…its people that are flawed – the politicians – they did it crap they ruined it…there is a systems failure in this country and across the West…we are languishing..we are drifting without a vision or a purpose..what do you do when there is a systems failure? You reset…that’s all I did. What did they do? What did all of you do? You rebooted the same operating system. The same tired old politics of short termism and self serving small thinking bullshit. 

Without Vision the People Perish

I’m as bad as the rest of them but that’s what the system does, the virus…it infects, but I was hoping, just praying that someone, anyone with the minimalist amount of xxxxxxx imagination or vision or aspiration could see that there was the opportunity for something to actually happen for someone to step in and do something to make a change….

There is someone who has stepped in…who has made a change….who has in effect rebooted the human race…and who has turned the world upside down….

The Great Deception – Part 11 – The Awkward Partner…and Mrs Thatcher








  1. “Forget focus groups – go to the pub and listen to people.”

    Indeed, or take the dog for a walk and listen to fellow dog walkers, go to the local leisure centre and engage in conversation with people in the jacussi. Ehm – turn up at work.

    Easy there David – that sounds almost being like all things to all men. We couldn’t have that kind of approach taking precedent over focus groups now could we ;).

    1. And the trouble is that 20% of people say they want no deal brexit, 30% want brexit with a deal of some sort and 50%want to remain.

      The parliamentary deadlock is a result of deep division in society more widely.

  2. Me too – wasn’t going to watch it, but did and it was the best TV I’ve seen in an age. Cumberbach was peerless, the writing was “on the wall”, was exceptional. A bungalow interview, too me revealed the aching disenfranchised, those who equality has left behind, who are mocked, rebuked as morons, not worthy of a vote, the voiceless, whose signature X, is being trashed.

  3. I feel the rebuke, David. Currently all-Brexited out, but probably should have watched it. Mind you, I was distracted by Melvin Tinker’s new book which I felt I just had to purchase and read, following your blogposts – so you were to blame!

  4. It’s a bit of an exaggeration to say all of the establishment were opposed to brexit.

    Farage, Johnson and Gove are all establishment figures – privately educated, extremely wealthy, career politicians who have investment banking and journalism as their other professions.

    However it might be worth reflecting why the non-political parts of the establishment opposed brexit.

    Undeniably it has caused a huge amount of chaos (largely because leave leaders didn’t have a plan for actually winning!!) and it has not remembered those who voted because they had been abandoned by the economic system. The winners of brexit will be the Jacob Rees Moggs, not the Daniel Blakes.

    I have no idea how any Christian can support a brexit which threatens to break up families and push other families further into poverty to benefit the already wealthy.

    1. Nobody said all of the establishment – as in every single individual. Of course there are those who were for Brexit. But the fact remains that the political, arts, business and academic establishments were all for the EU. Why? Because they are the ones who primarily benefit from it. Your comment about Rees Mogg benefiting and the poor who largely voted for Brexit are wrong – are you really suggesting that the poor were too stupid to work out what was for their own good?

      And it is a ridiculous to say that Brexit will break up families any more than staying in the EU. As a Christian I prefer rationality and truth to such scaremongering. Likewise I happen to believe that the EU is a club for the rich and primarily benefits them – the poor in Greece, Spain and Italy have all suffered from EU austerity….I have not seen any evidence that the EU is beneficial to the poor….feel free to provide some!

      1. The EU has been disastrous to the poor of the Mediterranean. But, like you quoted above, the system hasn’t changed, and it will always be the elites, like Jacob Rees Mogg and Boris Johnson, who will benefit from the disruption of Brexit, not the poor. Were the people too stupid to realize this? No, politicians have spoke of the need to protect, build and feed ‘the economy’ for years as if it were some sort of god, yet it seems lately as if the people who benefit from this are those on top, the elites like Jacob Rees Mogg or Tony Blair, etc. So it’s not an act of self-harm to vote against something that makes the economy poorer when you receive no benefits from that economy in the first place. But, let’s not pretend that Brexit is going to change any of this, we’re just swapping one group of economic elites for another.

      2. The EU has brought about a huge amount of re-distribution from rich regions to poor regions, and poverty levels in the EU have massively dropped (including in the UK) since it’s existence. Your often seem to make blanket statements that are simply not true, so please don’t claim a superior rationality.

        It is not as though you are completely wrong either (yes what happened to Greece was cruel, but although it was initially primarily to save German and French banks who had recklessly over-bought Greek bonds, it was also to placate the ordinary hard working German voters who struggle to make ends meet and were fed up bailing out a government that doctored the numbers). So in other words things are never as black and white as you make them out to be (like all remainers being the establishment, and leaver representing the ordinary folk who have been “screwed” by the EU).

        So since you claim to rationality, can you please explain how having a hard break with a trading partner that accounts for 70% of exports won’t have a massive effect on the manufacturing industry, and the jobs of the working class that you claim to be fighting for?

      3. Please feel free to tell us about this ‘hugh amount of re-distribution from rich regions to poor regions’? Because the last time I looked Germany was benefiting from the euro – Greece wasn’t. What is the youth unemployment rate in Greece? Spain?Italy? You argue that poverty rates have massively dropped in the UK – any evidence for this massive drop? Has being in the EU impoverished London and enriched Middlesborough? You make these blanket statements with no evidence and then claim that I am making sweeping blanket statements!

        I have never claimed a ‘superior rationality’. I appreciate people here disagreeing with what I say. I don’t appreciate people lying.

        And it doesn’t help your cause if you cite figures which are false – the EU does not account for 70% of exports – this is from the Parliamentary committee looking into this question; “In 2017, UK exports to the EU were £274 billion (44% of all UK exports). UK imports from the EU were £341 billion (53% of all UK imports). The share of UK exports accounted for by the EU has fallen over time from 55% in 2006 to 43% in 2016, increasing slightly to 44% in 2017.”

        You should also be able to work out that trade with the EU won’t cease. There will be some winners and some losers – as in all trade. One of the losers in my city this year is the Michellin tyre factory which, because of a deal the EU cut with China – allowing the Chinese to swamp the market with cheap small tyres, is closing with the loss of several hundred jobs. Good to know you care!

      4. Perhaps you could set the ball rolling by summarising briefly what benefits would come to “the poor” of Britain simply as a result of the country no longer being in the EU. After all, “leave” votes were cast without any specification of the manner in which that might happen, so the people who voted that way must have seen any benefits they expected as being independent of the manner of departure. What are those benefits?

      5. And Remain votes were cast in the same way. You ask what could benefit the poor? Let me list several – 1) they get to elect the politicians who make the laws 2) Cheaper food (the EU is a closed market which keeps some goods artificially high) 3) We can vary and change VAT ( a tax imposed by the EU which particularly hurts the poor) 4) We get back at least £10 billion per year which we can spend on services here 5) We are allowed to nationalise some industries 6) Our fishing communities can be revitalised. Will that do for a start? The reason that so many of the poor voted to leave the EU, is not because (aka middles class snobby Remainers) because they were thick and did not know what was best for them, but rather because they could see that the system as it is does not benefit them. Maybe leaving the EU won’t improve things – but it might. Staying in certainly won’t. The EU is a corporate club which gains its support by subsidising the ruling elites – which is why amazingly all these elites are pro-EU!

      6. Is “total” not a synonym for “all”?

        The government deal will not benefit the disenfranchised poor. No deal will not benefit the disenfranchised poor.

        You say that brexit won’t break up families, but some or all EU27 citizens had a letter from the government over Christmas threatening them with deportation, many of whom are married to British citizens and/or are the parents of British citizens.

      7. Again – you need to offer evidence. Asking someone to apply for a visa is not threatening with deportation – if you are married to a British citizen or have children here you will get to stay. Asking for a visa (as I have to do when I go to Australia) does not equal deportation. Again try to avoid the hyperbole

      8. The problem is that none of your benefits of the EU are actually being offered.

        The government has completely failed to listen to the reasons why people voted leave/remain. None of your plus points are actually likely to happen.

        I would also point out that unless there is also significant UK reform then, no, poor people will not get to vote for people who set their laws. The EU is objectively more democratic than Westminster.

      9. You seem to have a strange idea of what ‘objective’ means! Or perhaps ‘democratic’. In what way is the EU more democratic than the UK parliament? The most major difference is this….it is the UK parliament that proposes and makes laws (the House of Lords has a right of amendment or rejection up to three times). That parliament is elected and can be removed by the electorate – thats what we call democracy. The EU has three bodies – the Council (unelected but nominated), the Parliament (elected but it is the only elected parliament in the world that has no right or power to propose and make its own laws – it only has the right of amendment and veto) and the Commission – which is the political executive with most of the power – and the only one that can propose laws. The Commission is unelected and cannot be removed by the electorate. It is a technocracy not a democracy. Your claim that this is somehow ‘objectively’ more democratic than the UK parliament only indicates the depth of irrationality that the EU cult drives people too!

      10. I don’t think they were asked to apply for a visa?

        They’ve been told they can apply for settled status. If they are granted that and if there is a deal then they have been told that they can stay.

        If there is no deal then they have no legal status. They have been publicly insulted by the government on several occasions and certainly the governments main aim with brexit is to reduce immigration, which will involve deporting whoever they can – as we continue to see with the disgraceful way that Windrush people have been treated.

      11. So they were not told they were being deported – as your original post claimed. Its disgraceful for you to spread fear and alarm amongst many EU citizens I know (including some in my church) who have been assured by the UK government that they are entitled to stay. And then people like you, in order to make a political point, seek to use Project Fear to scare them – all the while claiming that you care for them!

      12. I haven’t responded because I’ve had better things to do than have senseless Brexit debates. But there are so many factual issues in what your write that I can’t hold myself back any longer. In some sense your response epitomizes the contradictions of Leave side.

        Firstly, redistribution. Of course there is a big amount of redistribution in the EU. Here is a conservative pro leave publication to prove my point:
        But there is much more analysis about this. One can argue about whether the budget is fair, and about the way it is distributed, but one cannot deny that there is redistribution in EU. You also seem to mix the different things. The EURO is not one and the same as the EU. The Euro I would agree cannot work unless there is a greater political integration, which I don’t think would be a good thing. Countries break their budget rules all the time, but there is no disciplinary measures that can reasonably be taken (they can’t exactly fine a country that is broke). This can result in irresponsible behavior by some government, bringing greater risk on all Euro countries. Also when a single country is in difficulty it cannot unilaterally devalue, limiting its options in a crisis. But that is an argument against the Euro which is different to the EU. Germany’s political stability is probably what has favoured it most economically, rather than the EU. It has a decentralized form of Government (France, Italy, Spain, etc. are notoriously badly run), and have favoured apprenticeships over university education.

        You wanted proof of the fall in poverty rates:,_1997-2014.png
        However I would agree that they are still too high, and they are rising again (due to the change in the benefit system and austerity – not to do with the EU).

        Concerning, exports. My comment was concerning a No-deal Brexit, not simply Brexit. In case of a no-deal, there would be no deal with any country other than those the UK has signed deals with (I said closest partner, I meant partners). I believe 8 deals have been signed so far. Some might scoff at that (it is true we were promised a lot more) but given that they usually take 10 years to negotiate, that is not bad. And yes, there will still be trade afterwards, but take a sheep farmer who sees 80% of their exports go to the EU and will suddenly be faced with 40% tariffs. Or some of the aviation industry that see 100% of their exports to the EU? But it is true that those that work in service, relish being free to trade with the world, and they don’t have the annoyances of supply chain, control of goods at the border, shipping routes, etc. Maybe that is why the ERG is full of Hedge fund managers.

        But now to the most critical issue: Michelin. Yes, it is tragic that the factory closed, but let’s look at the facts. The first reason was a lack of foresight by management as to the technological (or fashion) shift. Michelin in Dundee is specialise in high end small diameter tyres. Yet the fashion these days (which I hate) is crossovers, which is nothing more than a normal car with bigger wheels. Management did not react to that shift fast enough. And yes there is also the issue of cheap imports from Asia, but I am stunned that you blame that on the EU, given that any trade deal signed by the EU, the British government had full sovereignty to oppose (look at what a regional government in Belgium was able to do with the Canada deal). And this is where I become perplexed about what your views actually are. You said you are pro free trade, and yes the no-deal brexiteers propose to get rid of all trade tariffs. However, would that not make the situation of other places like the Michelin factory in Dundee even harder? And the Government would then have no clout if another country doesn’t give reciprocal access or gives advantages to its exporters that the UK ones don’t have? And this for me illustrates the big contradiction of the Brexit argument.

  5. PJ,
    Is that a “no True Scotsman fallacy”, you seek to employ?
    Perhaps David could do a blog post on that.

      1. Who voted for their neighbour to be deported? Was that on the ballot paper? If you are going to make political comments here – please at least try to make them serious.

  6. I am suffering from Brexit overload as well but I watched the movie and found it to be brilliant TV. It was much fairer than I thought, but it was still massively biased. For example, you are given the impression that Craig Oliver was nothing but a transparent vessel of truth when Remain were telling the most outrageous fibs such the FTSE will collapse, the Third World War will begin, the EU has kept the peace in Europe for 50 years, there will be a punishment budget if we vote Leave, there will be 500,000 unemployed.etc.

    The £350 Million figure is treated as an unvarnished lie but everyone accepts that the UK is a huge net contributor to the EU. It was a political slogan that was perhaps overblown.

    The 2020 scene, of course, is simply a Remainer vision. Brexit has failed ( they suggest)but Brexit need not fail. We only need a Parliament strong enough to implement the decision of the British people.

    Brexiteers may have won the vote but we have lost the narrative. That is very dangerous, I am afraid.

    Thanks for the review, David. Keep up the good work.


    1. I don’t accept that the UK is a net contributor to the EU in the sense that it seems obvious that the benefit to the economy vastly outweighs the entry price.

      We are not seeing government gearing up for profligate spending on public services, but gearing up for more cuts to pay for brexit.

  7. ‘Your comment about Rees Mogg benefiting and the poor who largely voted for Brexit are wrong – are you really suggesting that the poor were too stupid to work out what was for their own good?

    And it is a ridiculous to say that Brexit will break up families any more than staying in the EU. As a Christian I prefer rationality and truth to such scaremongering. ‘

    Without turning this into a strawman attack as it may be seen to be. In reverse order.
    Why the need to relate Christianity to rationally and truth, when that is whole other debate , or are you just appealing to the choir.

    And yes many people are poor and stupid and do not realise this may effect them more, and may not be for their own good. That would be one definition of stupidity.

    Brexit has bred and will breed further nationalism. It reminds me of people retreating into their narrow outlook on their lives and the world around them.
    As seen in many religious groups.

    Also, VAT may be imposed by the EU but only at 15%, do you really see the government dropping this when we leave? When they could have already.

    Why do I have an odd feeling that if Jesus existed today he wouldn’t be a divisive character promoting self interest, whatever passages you may wish to cherry pick and that he might see a bigger picture , where we work together to make a better world.

    It’s more worrying to me that professed christians seem to see enough in their world view, to come across and insular and divisive.

    1. You think that people voted for Brexit because they are poor and stupid – maybe such arrogant prejudice is one of the reasons that people voted for Brexit. They don’t like being governed by people who think they are poor and stupid.

      The rest of your comments are just generalisations reflecting your own prejudice – I note that there are no facts, figures within them. Your comments are insular and divisive – whatever Jesus would say about Brexit I havn’t a clue (then neither do you) but I do know this, he would not go around mocking the poor as stupid!

      1. It’s not mocking people at all it is a fact that poorer people will be hit harder by brexit.
        Polls also show what groups voted for brexit and there is a correlation betweeen education and poverty.
        But that doesn’t mean there aren’t wealthy stupid people.
        Governments and other groups have for a long time manipulated the uneducated for their own purposes. There was a time when books were kept in their original language and the poor that could read at that time, had no access to what the book meant apart from the leaders who disseminated it how they thought best.

        You must be aware of the period when coffe shops were being closed as the government felt the spread of debate could undermine there actions.

        Misinformation and you talk of fear mongering, still goes on today mainly in the right wing press and those not able or willing to fact check, see the print as truth. .

        Regarding facts- making claims around VAT, it seems as if you are not doing due diligence here. We had a taxation in a similar vein long before the adoption of VAT and it’s level and application has changed over many years.
        Generalisation and my prejudice? Well to an extent of course. But isn’t that exactly what your blog is?

      2. Yours is the most depressing post I have read so far this year. I don’t know if its the arrogance or ignorance that gets me more.

        The poor plebes did not know what they were voting for – whereas of course you did. Yet in your superiority you make statements for which you can offer no proof. “It a fact that poorer people will be hit harder by Brexit”. Is it? Would you like to offer any evidence for this fact? You basically have no idea – and on the basis of your ignorance you condemn poor people as stupid!

        As for the manipulation of governments etc…maybe you should consider that you might be the one being manipulated. You do realise that the government and most of the Establishment were for the EU. They certainly did a great deal of manipulating – as did the Universities and the EU sponsored institutions. Thats why so many young people were apparently pro-EU (but they grow up)…..Please don’t equate going to University with being ‘educated’….increasingly it just means indoctrinated. I know many working class people – like my parents – who educated themselves by reading books. And I know University educated people who never read books.

        Misinformation seems to be your speciality as well. Maybe you should fact check (or try reading some books) because it would involve you making the school boy error that you do about VAT. We did not have a taxation in similar vein. We had something called purchase tax which was levied on luxury goods. VAT is imposed by the EU – even if the government wanted to reduce it, they couldn’t below 15%. It is a tax that hits the poor most.

        Of course there are generalisations in my blog – and I have my own prejudices – but I am open to correction and indeed am glad to get them. However when I am faced with the kind of prejudice against the poor and the sheer arrogance and snobbery of your posts – its sometimes hard to take. As I said depressing that such ignorance, arrogance and prejudice exists in todays society.

  8. What gets me is highlighted by Soubry and Corbyn at the time of the Redcar Steel closure, when she was regularly on local TV news as a Government (minister(?) though not particularly local to me.
    She came across as achingly understanding wanting to help as much as possible, but helpless due to 1) the Chinese flooding the World Market with state steel 2) the UK Gvt being helpless due top having to work within EU rules and the slowness of time to get the EU to negotiate with China 3) UK Gvt (conveniently for the conservatives) being prevented from state financial support to prevent closure due to EU rules (even though Italy did/does so)
    And Corbyn saying, if I recall correctly, that the state should intervene, presumably knowing full well, that he couldn’t do so either if he were in power due to EU regulations.
    Integrity is thin on the ground when Capital, that is, political capital is at stake.
    Indeed “take back control” is the inverted mantra in the guise of a second referendum, or or remove Article 50 notice.
    VAT. As I’ve said before the EU has recently imposed a VAT change, by reducing the amount of annual turnover a trader / business before they will be obliged to charge VAT, thus affecting small business start ups and their competitiveness and of course everyone who buys a product/service and the poor disproportionately.
    I wonder if those who have bleeding Christian hearts about the poor, whether pro or anti-EU have ever lived on benefits, have ever had multiple jobs to survive, have ever received the minimum working wage and who have to calculate how many hours they will have to work to afford a speciality coffee a in the cafe society.
    It remains Take Back Control alright.

  9. A young Englishman of my acquaintance, who is over here in Australia at the moment, feels the UK is close to the brink of a literal civil war. I don’t know him that well so it was hard for me to tell if he was being hysterical or not. Any thoughts?

      1. Praise the Lord for that! As I mentioned on another of your blog posts, I just read “East Prussian Diary” which truly brings home the full horrors of war and its aftermath. We do not ever want to see anything like that in the UK – or anywhere else repeated, though, given man’s propensity for sin of course it repeats over and over through history.

      2. I should add:

        1. Whatever ends up happening, I pray for the best for all of you. I am not British and I have no Scottish or English relatives so I don’t have any real stake in this apart from a few tenuous connections with Wales, so I think particularly of that poor, vulnerable country at this time. Good luck to the Welsh and to all of you Brits reading this blog.

        2. Yes, I suspected that the person was being a bit melodramatic. It is a bit hard to tell the real situation down here when all I have to go on is media reports. The English person I spoke to is strongly anti-Brexit, he is based in North London, and is, very sadly an atheist (of the secular left variety).

      3. I’m afraid your friend is indicative, not of civil war, but of the collective hysteria that has gripped the British Middle class who think that leaving the EU is Armageddon!

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