Saturday, 25 June 2016

On Remain's Anger

Large numbers of people support a campaign scarred by racism, hate, and deliberate misinformation. Outraged opponents take to social media to make sweeping generalisations of those taken in. They're all thick. They're all bigoted. These people have fucked it up. I've heard it, you've heard it. Thing is, we've heard it all before.

In 2009, 900,000 people voted for the British National Party in the European elections. Nick Griffin and Andrew Brons, now both ex of that crumbling ruin of a parish, packed themselves off to Brussels for all the EU money they could trough. As I said then:
Morality is basic to socialist politics. But moralism is no basis for socialist analysis. The reasons why people vote for the BNP are complex and multi-faceted. In this respect this piece of excellent research commissioned for Channel Four is a good way in. Among the points about BNP voters' attitudes to race and immigration (which, unsurprisingly are more negative than the national average), there are a large minority for whom such concerns are secondary. But these concerns are not new. They have been part of the British political landscape for a long time, predating even the significant influx of Afro-Caribbean and Asian workers after the war.

But when you couple this with the relative lack of security they feel and their relatively low socio-economic status, scandalous media coverage of race and immigration, and the (correct) belief Labour and the other mainstream parties have abandoned working class aspirations, it's small wonder people are prepared to vote for a party that appears to speak to these concerns - whether they have the Mark of Cain or not.
Apart from the stuff about Labour and working class aspirations, the outpouring of Remain complaints, be it the two million-strong petition for a re-run, David Lammy's ridiculous bid to use Parliament to block Brexit, the frantic retweeting of Leave voters suffering "Bregret", and, of course, the name-calling, it is the 2009 bigot blame game writ large.

Of course, you can understand why people are pissed off. I was in a black mood yesterday, and apart from the lone Brexiter it was like someone had died in the office. I spoke to comrades whose reaction ranged from the angry to the despairing. As the economy tipped into the trash can and anecdotal evidence of increased racist behaviour (as predicted) is doing the rounds, there are millions of people horrified at where the country's going. Their venom and bitterness is entirely understandable and, sad to say, for some the shock has proven so large they may never recover. But every crisis has within it seeds of opportunity. And the most immediate is the huge outpouring of anger from millions with the scurrilous campaign Leave waged. Once the disappointment and London independence nonsense has died down, there are signs a wider politicisation is happening. There is a massive opportunity here for the Labour party and the labour movement to articulate this anger and draw hundreds of thousands into politics. It is possible that despite Thursday's awful setback, the future could belong to us.


Andrew Curry said...

It's a non-binding referendum. The Leavers have no kind of a plan for how to manage Leaving (they can't even agree on EEA vs WTO model). MPs would be completely in their rights to block progress on Leaving until they see some credible worked out proposals. William Hague said something similar during the campaign.

Anonymous said...

The EU provided a vital platform for the Euorpean centre-left to declare solidarity with the Greek people and oppose mindless austerity. Didn't it? It must have done - or socialist support for Remain would be unprincipled and self-defeating.

Boffy said...

That won't happen if Benn and the Blair-rights are allowed to get away with a palace coup, backed by the Tory media, against the half million members of the Party.

The Labour In Campaign was led by Alan Johnson whose message was weak and confused, and he was hardly seen. Hillary Benn is Shadow Foreign Minister with responsibility for Europe and his message was also confused and he was hardly seen. Harriet Harman was seen as much standing shoulder to shoulder with Cameron as with the LP. Saddiq Khan used his new position to do the same.

Ed Miliband pointed out yesterday that the result is the consequence of decades of the policies of the Tories and of previous Labour governments. The Blair-rights created the conditions for this result, and now scurrilously want to use it as an excuse to attack Corbyn, having failed to find a pretext for that in the May elections.

In fact, only the clear message that Corbyn was promoting has the possibility of uniting workers across Britain and Europe. If the Blair-rights go, it will make it easier to get that message across. They should have the decency to follow their predecessors in the SDP and go off into oblivion. If not they should be pushed befor they create any more division.

BCFG said...

I can see a new party developing, one that is defined by re-entry into the EU. The problem is I don't think the EU will want us back in, ever.

Your belief that history is on our side and people are basically progressive has been shattered and was never true. The young may have voted to remain but who knows where their politics will go as they get older. maybe the same way as Grandpa.

It is a fact beyond dispute that racists and bigots carried this vote. It seems to me that a majority of people are racist bigots. So maybe the problem is with those of us who don't hate people simply for being different. Who knows.

It is also a fact that these people are idiots, they think they voted to have immigrants disappeared, what they have actually voted for is further trashing of workers right, a bonfire of environmental and consumer protections and rights and a charter for spivs. Being idiots these people will just satisfy themselves that the vote went their way, it really won't matter what material difference their vote ultimately makes.

I would compare this vote to the decision by Germans to get behind the Nazi party as the answer to their problems. It is built on the same pathetic myths, a belief in the nation that is absurd. To be fair to the Nazi's, on the economic front, they did introduce Keynesian solutions to ameliorate the condition of the German people, in the case of Britain no such thing will happen. The Brexiters have been had, but being idiots they won't mind.

Lidl_Janus said...

Re: The Petition, at the time of writing it would have to be 80%+ Remainers and rising for the number of Leave signatories to be insufficient to swing the current result.

As for the result itself, it's too easy to blame it all on racism, otherwise we'd have an all-out race war by now. There are better explanations.

As for Corbyn, he is now running with five arrows in him. Really hard to do, that.

MikeB said...

Its hard to be optimistic. Of course, it’s all about class. But Corbyn’s mumblings about the EU “protecting workers’ rights” have no traction in a zero-hours working culture where your toilet breaks are rationed and you don't get work unless you are prepared to call yourself a casual worker and agree not to ask for a contract of employment.

Meanwhile, immigration and bureaucracy have been wheeled on as the usual decoys by those who don’t want us to talk about the politics of global and national inequality.

The Labour Party will now retreat into its default strategy and re-establish a rightist leadership whilst talking about how the Party "needs to listen to the grass roots" – which it will frame as a need to "get tough" on immigration.

Johnson, Farage and co will go on riding the populist pony.

Welcome to the Circus of Evil Clowns.