Oh poor England. I suppose Churchill is rolling in his grave today – he envisioned a strong Europe with the UK, France and Germany as the cornerstones of prosperity and peace. It looks like that dream of his is well and truly shattered. I feel sorry for Churchill’s ghost. In life, he suffered disappointments that would have broken a lesser man – he was a brilliant politician but he’d have done better if he’d been American or French. The English never really listened to him. Oh sure, they worshipped him – they worship the queen and her prancing ponies – but they never really listened. He wanted England to join with Europe to form a Union that would keep Russia at bay. He knew where the real trouble was coming from. So do we – but Russia has disguised its threat in caviar-coated cat paws, and the people who are afraid of that country and what it can do to us (like me, I’ll admit) do not share the popular opinion.
Europe’s far right is bolstered by England’s exit from Europe, while the saner people are both startled and sad. Frankly, I never thought you’d go, England. I hope we are able to stand up to the calls to dissolve the Union. The English vote was more about the failure of austerity and the immigration policy than common sense – it was a reaction, not a reflective action. For those who think that immigration is harmful to a country, tell me why the US has the most dynamic population and economy in the world? America – country of immigrants, has used their energy and determination for a better life to get ahead. The EU would do well to follow at least part of their example. Since the dawn of humanity, populations have shifted and moved, brought down empires, built them again; and to try to stop them is to stand against the tide.
England will go back to being its island self, hermetic, a little feudal country with the rich lords and the poor serfs. I can’t imagine the exit from Europe will help the middle class or make the country more dynamic. I imagine Scotland and Wales will want their independence next, and will most likely asked to be let back into the Union. Time will tell, and until then, let us spare a thought for Churchill, and his dream of united Europe for peace and prosperity. He saw what division and war could do. He knew the dangers the far right and Russia posed. He believed the only way for Europe to be completely safe was if it was united, with France and Germany as cornerstones. France and Germany are still here. And I, for one, hope they stay. I will not be listening to the shrill voices of the far right – the Le Pens, the hate-filled rhetoric of those who are against immigration. We are stronger together. I look at my little village, a little melting pot, and I adore it. I love seeing the different cultures, customs and costumes, milling together, supportive of one another, and strong with their ideas and ambitions.
“Many of the nearly half of the British people who voted remain now feel scared and angry”
It goes far deeper than that Owen. I’m fairly sure that in your heart you know the overt debate on Europe was largely a chimera. We haven’t ever lost sovereignty, we are better off economically in a single market, the EU has been an important stabilising force in Europe, and leaving will not tackle immigration. Almost all of the issues that have driven deeply ill informed, marginalised working class people to vote “leave” have little to do with Europe and everything to do with a 35 year right wing project to dismantle the post WW2 liberal democratic settlement.
I don’t hesitate to describe the main political players in the leave campaign as “extreme right”. more importantly I have no doubt their prime motivation for leaving is to pave the way to a neo-liberal capitalist, UK, modelled on the wildest wet dream ambitions of US style libertarian capitalism. The US right has long complained that Europe is “too liberal”, code for: “we want all cash flows in public services as investment vehicles for the vast amount of capital we’ve stolen from the world at large”. Strip the UK of EU rules that uphold the European liberal democratic consensus and see how much worse things will get for working class outers, and all the rest of us too.
Almost all the ills the working classes are experiencing spring from Thatcher’s neo-liberal capitalist project. Globalisation has exported their jobs to low wage economies, ideological austerity has stripped quality of life to the bone, especially in the north. Thatcher’s project tacitly recognises that consumerist growth based capitalism has run its course and in many way the agenda of the very rich has been to asset strip their own countries in order to consolidate their own relative wealth as insulation against the inevitable catastrophic crash. Deflecting the blame for the consequences of these policies on to the EU is well executed distraction…
…sheer genius to to use the same trick to shoe horn in a far right wing Tory administration led by Johnson. Working class people have been duped – again.
I agree that some remainers have been arrogant – but it is difficult for anyone with a decent grasp of the issues surrounding Europe to not feel a degree of frustration. Watching a large group of people who’ve been crapped on for decades being duped into voting for something that almost entirely in the interests of the people doing the crapping is not easy, especially when they are “your people”, and, that for many, the prime motivater is anger directed at immigrants who are in exactly the same boat as they are.
Then there’s the position of millions of individuals who committed their future to a life in other EU countries, (I’ve always been too poor to own a house in the UK but we bought a ruin in France and rebuilt it – its everything we own – it’s probably worthless right now) – who knows what’s going to happen to them? One thing is for sure – most will have woken up with gut churning anxiety this morning.
You are right -Cameron is culpable, he took a course that’s putting the UK and Europe in real danger. If he has any decency he will acknowledge this farce of a referendum is not legally binding and do everything in his power to prevent Article 50 from being invoked, Corbyn must do the same.
I’m not angry with the working class revolt because it’s not any such thing – this is a right wing coup – the window the working classes had on the issues has been owned by the right for 30 years. Their fury and resentment is justified – but it’s directed in the wrong places. On the other hand, I’m more than afraid, I’m sick with anxiety and slightly terrified.
This is a nightmare. We’re already seeing the “it’s our turn next” comments from Marine Le Pen. This is a moment when the left need to turn around and fight. Populist votes are the tools of demagogues, referenda are deeply anti democratic. We have to fight to not allow uninformed choices to be empowered by informed choices – you are pinning your hopes on left wing victories in Europe – I’m pinning mine on fighting to resist Brexit with every fibre of my being.
I think this was a fair assessment of the situation – and this phrase especially resonated: “this is an era of seething resentment against elites”. And this as well: “Many of the leavers already felt marginalised, ignored and hated. The contempt – and sometimes snobbery – now being shown about leavers on social media was already felt by these communities, and contributed to this verdict.” I’ve been guilty of being contemptuous toward the “leavers” but I am facing leavers here in France too – part of the Le Pen, far right group, who, though disaffected in heart, are not disaffected economically. They do deserve my contempt, not the English who, sick of austerity foisted upon them by a succession of governments incapable of dealing with the recession because failing to address the economic divide between rich and poor, finally found a measure of power and voted to leave. Good for them. If Britain had been serious about staying, it would not have tuned London into another of their tax havens – now they will contribute to making England into a little feudal land – the rich will get richer, the poor and disaffected will only suffer more.