Brexit. The gift that keeps on giving.
Almost a year and a half on from that cursed referendum, the issue is still as divisive as ever. Perhaps more so, given that the repercussions - though not entirely revealed (and won't be until the damned thing happens) are more widely known. As are the lies and invested interests that put us on this particular path. It's remarkable how the debate started out as Brexit being good for Britain, whereas now the debate is really only whether it will be marginally worse, or an all-out economic catastrophe.
What is for the reason for this enmity, if anything, increasing? In my opinion, exactly because to still support Brexit in light of all the lies... to still try and argue this whole thing has been good for Britain, just seems pig-headed to the extreme. And verging on the lunatic. Seriously, take a look around guys. Step out of the bubble. Look what this bullshit has sparked across our country, and the world.
But that's not the only reason Remainers (and the left in general) are tearing their hair out. The truth is, while the right-wing/tax-dodgers/nationalists and xenophobes all present a united front and rejoice in this new world they're creating, OUR team is divided.
No... we're too busy turning on one another, splintering and decimating our own ranks.
I know it only too well. I've written for two of the leading left-wing blogs in the UK in the past eighteen months, and fell foul of both of them for standing by my beliefs. And only last week I had a bust-up within my own extended family, because I'd inadvertently criticised someone's friend on a forum... it's just ridiculous. We really are expected to all pretend the turd is chocolate mousse.
The Burden of Empathy
Here's the general thing about people on the left and centre, and Remainers typically: we carry the burden of empathy. We actively try to imagine how others feel, and to see their point of view. We attempt to be logical, and look at actual facts as opposed to populism and spin. We try to put decency above profits, and modern notions of feudalism.
The ironic and somewhat cruel flip-side to that, is in a situation like we see today, eg: where there is so much widespread support for unpleasant stuff, some on our left-veering team inevitably try to empathise with the very same people who've supported these horrid, horrid things. And thereby sometimes legitimise them.
In the case of Brexit, the result is many Remainers now lambaste other Remainers for simply not 'bending over'. For not accepting a manipulated result that will impoverish our country and diminish our security, with smiles on our faces and a spring in our step! Now, ridiculously, many deem us to be the hostile ones. Black is white, up is down. Whereas the right-wing have no such concerns. Their closed fist is far FAR stronger than our limp hand, fingers spread. Our empathy makes us weak. We end up questioning ourselves or apologising, simply for opposing those who'd subjugate us.
|Remain 'supporter', Noel Gallagher|
The result is things like this. I saw a post shared suggesting that the Brexit saga is a bit like a Shakespearean tragedy, a battle between good and evil where the good guys will probably lose - a sentiment I'd loosely agree with, albeit a very rudimentary assessment:
However, the response from a popular and supposed left-leaning/Remain supporting blog was as follows:
You can tell the writer is a Remain supporter and probably left-leaning, because firstly, they actually take the time to self-analyse and accept a portion of blame, and secondly, they talk a lot of sense! I'm being slightly facetious of course. But the point is, I wouldn't disagree with the second portion of what is written, and would probably also have to concur that I too carry a degree of vanity, simply for wanting people to read what I have to say. However, I would strongly disagree with the writer's assessment of those motives for wanting to speak out. You can in fact want to do the right thing for noble reasons AND possess a degree of 'ego' or 'vanity.' They are not mutually exclusive.
Of course there are many many different shades of grey, and of course 'good or bad' is far too rudimentary a term to adequately describe the complexity of a huge populace. No human being is entirely good or bad. But in a situation like Nazi Germany in the mid twentieth century, those shades of grey meant nothing. You either supported the Nazis, or you didn't. By the time the danger was recognised, opposing them meant risking your life.
What's happened here, is the blogger's empathy for those who've supported this disaster, and their understandable desire for things to just 'go back to normal' with their friends and family who supported it, has totally undermined the very principles of why so many opposed it in the first place.
Frankly, I see it as a cop-out.
Not all Brexiteers Are 'Stupid'
Indeed. They are not. But intelligent Brexit voters are the most worrying of all. Intelligent Brexit voters would have known they were told a pack of lies, that it was being led by tax-dodging fat-cats, and virtual comic books like The Daily Mail and The Sun. They knew it would impoverish our country, and that it would enable nationalism and xenophobia. And they voted that way regardless.
Which pretty much means one of two things. Either they too were motivated by veiled xenophobia/nationalism (like a majority), OR they stand to benefit from Tory decimation of workers rights, and/or Britain remaining the tax-dodging/loop-hole capital of the western world. (Which it is, make no mistake.) Continuing inequality works for these people. And that in essence is why the Leave campaign was so successful: it allied grumbling xenophobes and nationalists with the rich and financially invested... a truly killer combination.
It was somewhat painful for me to see my former colleague from Evolve Politics, Matt Turner, on Newsnight last night, discussing the alleged influence of Russian propaganda in Brexit. Most of his points I agreed with. As ever, Matt came across as decent, sensible, well reasoned and pragmatic (not qualities evident in the rest of Evolve's editorial team sadly). That is, until he started waving his 'Leaver flag'. And specifically, made an almost glib comment that Hillary Clinton's campaign and the Remain campaign lost "because they were so dire in the first place".
No Matt. Remain lost because actual truth and Realpolitik are far less exciting and stimulating than wild notions of nationalist pride and 'reasserting ourselves'. One appeals to the head, the other to the heart. Ideology won out over pragmatism. People chose The Beano over boring legal documentation. And like many U.S voters a few months later, Brexit supporters were itching to pull a trigger, whatever explosion it caused. That's about it.
Crush The Saboteurs
Can we really not see what is happening here?? 'Traitors'. 'Saboteurs'. And yesterday for God's sake, The Telegraph launched a witch-hunt against Remainer Tory MPs labelled as 'mutineers', while The Daily Mail's political editor insidiously referred to them as 'collaborators': the exact same term notorious far-right killer Thomas Muir used to describe MP Jo Cox, whom he murdered:
If you think of all the words in the English language, use of that word was mere coincidence, it's time to wake up. That is the language of fascism, and anyone who thinks otherwise is kidding themselves.
Right and Wrong
Many Remainers shared a tolerant attitude back before the referendum, and perhaps even afterwards, myself for one (I tried to any way). But since then, we have truly seen Leavers and their figureheads for what they really are. Not all, but a lion's share. And the fad today, is we're unable to call out actual patterns and statistics across demographics of people for fear we'll be deemed as 'stereotyping' or 'showing prejudice'; conveniently ignoring that stereotypes often become stereotypes for a bloody reason.
There IS a right and wrong in all this, however uncomfortable it is to admit. As for the defence there are many 'sound' and decent leave voters, being honest, again I'd have to quibble that. Just because I'm a nice person 90% of the time and help old ladies with their shopping, doesn't mean the fact I 'mug the odd person here and there' is OK. It is not.
Another (admittedly very extreme) example, but presenting a similarly salient point: Hitler was said to be a very nice man, and very kind to those around him - does that mean we forget about other things he advocated for? No. Sometimes in life you need to choose the good or the bad: what's best for you and your team, or what's fair for the common good. And that choice rightly defines you.
So if you make that choice based on ignorance, lies and populism despite evidence being shown to you; if you make a choice that actively takes rights away from other people, potentially destroying lives/families/livelihoods, that will make average people poorer; a choice that will reduce the opportunities and prospects of future generations of this country, please PLEASE don't then moan 'how hard done-by leave voters are'. The hypocrisy of it honestly turns my stomach.
I don't honestly care if some Leave voters insist they're not racists/nationalists: they enabled racism and nationalism, and made us all poorer - period. Don't like that detail? Tough titty. Anyone who voted for this godawful mess should either now put their hands up and admit their mistake (something many of us would respect enormously), or carry on down their path of blissful nationalistic ignorance and fantasy.
But if you go with that, please don't expect any sympathy from those of us who truly see what this evil has done to our country, the lives and livelihoods it threatens, and the path it's put us on geopolitically. We all wish things could go back to the way they were before, when politics hadn't divided our nation, but that was your choice - not ours. Having moral principles means not abandoning them dependent on whose company you're in.
You chose the Dark Side, now you're gonna have to live with it.