Brexit: The unthinkable has happened
One of the most amazing facts of the whole Brexit story is that the political and business elites and the so called “market” did not see it coming. Or rather they would not believe that it could be coming. Even after ample notice by the polls that there was a good chance that the worst case scenario for the elites would actually materialise. It was not a case of ‘seeing is believing’ but rather ‘believing is seeing’. As long as they didn’t believe that it could ever happen they were unable to see the signs. When the polls showed the final result within the margin of error the bookmakers still gave odds of 75 to 25 for staying in.
Most of all it shows how disconnected the elites, who normally make all the decisions, are from the ordinary citizen, who in this case – as the exception to the rule – actually were called to make the decision.
This is a serious crisis when the elites lose control over the uneducated and unwashed masses.
Brexit not about Economics
The mistake the elites made was that they believed that the question of membership of the European Union (EU) was mainly about economics. Accordingly they tried to sell the EU with the argument that staying in would be for the economic benefit of Britain. They overlooked the fact that the majority of the voters had over the past 30 years lost out under the present neoliberal system and had not much more to lose. They did not feel the deep frustration and anger of the people still waiting for the ‘trickle down effect’. If the Brexit result told us anything about economics it was the anger of the suffering working classes with the failed neoliberal policies especially Britain’s austerity policy since the global financial crisis of 2008. The map of the detailed results shows that the formerly Labour voters who were not responsible for the crisis but are suffering the most finally found a way to express their anger. They did not understand that their suffering was not inflicted by the EU and they did not care. All they saw the Eaton toff of a Prime Minister, the financial district/the City of London and the bosses of big business urging them to stay. That was enough for them to put their cross in the “leave” box.
Brexit not even about the EU
Most voters making the fateful decision didn’t have a clue about the European Union. Google searches in the UK on the morning after revealed that record numbers went on the web to ask ‘What does a Brexit mean?’ and ‘ What is the EU?’
It was for many just a protest vote they regretted the next morning when they woke up with the biggest hangover ever. Already well over 2 million people – more than the winning margin – who voted to leave have been actively calling for another vote in an official petition to Parliament. Twenty times more than enough for Parliament to have to at least consider a debate.
Tottenham Labour MP David Lammy is demanding on Twitter
“Wake up. We do not have to do this. We can stop this madness and bring this nightmare to an end through a vote in Parliament. Our sovereign Parliament needs to now vote on wether we should exit the EU.
The referendum was an advisory, non-binding referendum. The Leave campaign’s platform has already unravelled and some people wish they hadn’t voted to Leave. Parliament now needs to decide whether we should go forward with Brexit, and there should be a vote in Parliament next week. Let us not destroy our economy on the basis of lies and the hubris of Boris Johnson.“
Brexit, the real economic reasons
For over thirty years we have been fed the bullshit lies of Neoliberalism especially in the Anglo-American Western world like ‘public-bad, private-good’ or ‘trickle down effect’, which we are still waiting for while the rich get ever richer and the poor ever poorer. The ideology destroyed not only our economies culminating with the global financial crisis, which won’t be the last. What generations had built like public transport, water supply, power generation and supply systems, public education and healthcare are under threat or have been already privatised and sold off to great benefit for the rich buying the assets and disastrous results for the rest of us relying on those services.
Neoliberalism is also soul destroying for our people and societies. Margret Thatcher famously said the there was no such thing as ‘society’. The ideology allows the rich to feel entitled to their mostly ill-gotten riches. They claim against all the evidence that they have ‘earned’ their fortunes and are actually virtues as the “job creators”. While the unfortunate poor, who’s jobs have been exported to China and Bangladesh, have learned to accept their station in live because they are allegedly stupid and lazy and lacking ‘self-responsibility’.
Now in Britain the downtrodden found an outlet to vent their anger and frustration in the form of the Brexit referendum. The force-fed lies most of all “There is no Alternative” were vomited back into the elites’ faces. Even if totally irrational the “Alternative” nobody thought possible was Brexit.
Brexit, the dangerous undertones
Unfortunately the Brexit campaign exploited dangerous xenophobic and racist sentiments too many voters have expressed. These centre around immigration. Many people coached their angst with observations and experiences like waiting times at hospitals or problems at the local school. They have been brainwashed for over thirty years not to blame the funding cuts to the National Health Service (NHS) or underfunding of public schools but found the scapegoat in immigrants.
These sentiments would only be ignored at our peril. As long as liberal do-gooders defend the right of asylum seekers and promote the positives of immigration in general and dump the new arrivals into the already most deprived areas we will have a growing problem.
A good old school mate from Germany gave me an idea with his experience of refugees. We all know the enormous challenge Germany faces with the arrival of over a million refugees mostly from the Middle East over the last year alone. We have seen the pictures of the working poor protesters and the electoral gains of the Neo-nazis in regional parliaments. However this friend lives in an affluent leafy suburb of Cologne and now has a refugee camp on school grounds right next to his house. The amazing result is a lot of support for the arrivals ‘breaking bread’ with them, having barbecues together sharing meals and learning about their cuisine and culture. The affluent don’t see the newcomers as a threat, someone in front in the cue or competing for the scares resources of a school. The see them as maids, gardeners or someone who might do a good job of fixing their plumbing at a reasonable price.
So my advice would be to put refugees into the West end of London into Remuera and the North Shore in Auckland to avoid a racist backlash.
Noam Chomsky the foremost intellectual, commentator and activist who as he says is old enough to remember the thirties warns us. The anger at Neoliberalism could turn the people instead of to the left (Bernie Sanders) to the right i.e. Fascism. Then it was the Jews now it is Muslims. We only have to look at Nigel Farage and the people who congratulated him. Donald Trump, the National Front in France, the neo-nazi AfD in Germany and the list of anti-immigration, anti-Islam racists goes on.
However Farage takes the cake a week after anti-Brexit campaigner and British Labour MP and young mother of two Jo Cox was shot dead in a clearly Brexit motivated terrorist attack saying :
Brexit : “Without a single shot being fired”.