Us and Them

I don’t have a point, writing drivel just helps. I had hoped we would stay.

Britain woke up on Friday morning to be congratulated by racists and fascists, they thought it was great news that we were leaving the EU. Hate crimes rose, the market crashed and the Leave campaign started to simply deny that any of the things they promised were actually promises. Within hours on social media the response from the Remainers was to shove this in the faces of Leavers.

The angry posts followed a two step thought process:

  1. Either Leavers were racist/fascist, because the French National Front approve of your actions
  2. Or, if they were not racist then they must be stupid, as things had happened just as experts had told them. The promises have already unraveled and markets already crashed.

Leavers said ‘we are not racist or stupid’ and logged off.

While offline, some Leavers went to play a nice game of cricket. To find the rest The Independent even headed up Salford Shopping precinct. The response was “We are not stupid or morons” , so the article came to the conclusion that they must be racist. But, this portrayal of Leavers being either racist or stupid is dangerous because it pushes them down the road of fascisim. Indeed, many horrible people did vote out because they belong in the same camp as Marine Le Pen, and these people quite frankly, have horrible views. But, there were many reasons to want to leave the EU. Ironically the treatment of many countries by the EU, particularly (but not limited to) Greece, has caused massive unrest lead and encouraging fascist groups. Is that the EU we want?

One the one hand I am angry at the leaders of the Leave campaign for not treating voters like grownups. It has become clear that many of the ‘promises’ where not promises at all. Why lie when there might be legitimate reasons to leave? Ironically, Corbyn’s ‘EU only gets a 7/10’ was one of the best starting points for talking about what we want change in Europe. On the other hand I am angry at ‘Remainers’ for not trying to understand why people who are not fascist or racist might want to vote out, and what it is that divides us.

A show I have always hated with a passion is Little Britain. Two comedians from a well-educated background mock a section of the population they perceive as being ill-educated and stupid, market it towards the targets and then expect them to laugh. This ‘us vs them’ culture can be found all over the UK. As Will Davies points out, those of us who have laughed at a ‘Chavs’ in such a way, ‘such as the millionaire stars of little Britain’ have something to answer for now.  One of the hardest things to think about is why people who are gaining so much from the EU voted to leave. Regions such as Cornwall and south wales voted to leave despite getting lots of subsidies. But should the regions that might be getting lovely handouts be grateful?

The more educated voted to stay. Does that make a Remain voter better? No. This post uses the term ‘education apartheid’ and I can’t think of a better phrase.  Should those in a cultural clampdown, unable to ‘articulate their feelings within the frame of the EU bureaucracy’ be grateful for these handouts? As we don’t actually know what is going to happen next, the backtracking on promises leave Remainers arguing there was no reason for anyone to vote to Leave at all. There is a popular Remain video of a man jumping in to the dark. But this wasn’t a vote for the future, this was a big cock and balls on the voting slip because there is no other way or articulating themselves in the framework we are debating.

It’s easy to get angry at those who wanted to protest vote, but this was a cry for help, a case of self-harm. Watching Corbyn collapse perhaps we did the same thing. Did Labour ever believe in him, or was his election to leader a big cock and balls on the slip? An example of the Labour party self-harming too? Was that a case of doing the exact same thing we are shaming Leave voters for.

There are lots of reasons people voted to Leave. Yes, some of them are racist. There are also some very complex reasons for people that we have failed. Every time we giggled at how stupid Farage or Boris might be, they stood there, took it and appealed to those who might get monetary handouts, but are denied mechanism for articulating themselves. Perhaps they feel nationalism gives them a voice? We need to give them an alternative before it becomes something really ugly.