The Dim-Post

June 25, 2016

Okay, maybe one opinion about Brexit

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 10:12 am

I don’t think this was all ‘the fault of the left’ or anything; but left-wing parties are going to have to figure out a way to address the anxieties of the working poor about the negative economic impacts of mass low-skill migration without just telling them they’re racist morons, because that approach is creating a vacuum being exploited by actual fascists.

51 Comments »

  1. Okay, maybe one opinion about Brexit

    Attaboy, Danyl … knew you had one in there somewhere!

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — June 25, 2016 @ 10:49 am

  2. Was it really a left/right thing?

    Or was it something more cultural.. cosmopolitan v gritty reality, young v old, status quo v adventurism, nationalism v integration etc? From what I could see the voting patterns around the country don’t fall neatly into political left/right.

    JC

    Comment by JC — June 25, 2016 @ 11:26 am

  3. There is a dramatic age-skew in the vote.

    Comment by Sacha — June 25, 2016 @ 11:34 am

  4. There is a dramatic age-skew in the vote.

    Yes. Pretty sure that will look less convincing if you scaled those cohorts for age and the low turn-out younger voter boxes were suddenly dwarfed by the high-turnout older voters.

    Comment by danylmc — June 25, 2016 @ 11:49 am

  5. Was it really a left/right thing

    I don’t think it was. Although the proximate cause was a factional battle in the Conservative party. I don’t think the left/labour really had much of a grasp on what was actually going on here.

    Comment by danylmc — June 25, 2016 @ 11:51 am

  6. “left-wing parties are going to have to figure out a way to address the anxieties of the working poor about the negative economic impacts of mass low-skill migration without just telling them they’re racist morons”

    Looking forward to seeing the Green take on this

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 25, 2016 @ 11:53 am

  7. @ JC “cosmopolitan v gritty reality”. What, so the EU wasn’t “real” in some way JC?
    Scotland, who voted to stay, are they not living in the real world then?
    ‘Cosmopolitan’ London wanted to stay in, while voters in much of the rest of the country, who are less well off and perhaps could be descibed as “gritty” wanted to leave. This is being explained more as “haves” vs “have nots”, but both sides are real.

    Comment by Corokia — June 25, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

  8. It’s not directly a left-right thing but it’s something Labour has to deal with since it involves a large part of what should be their core constituency.

    But Corbyn chose not to campaign with any degree of enthusiasm to remain so I’m skeptical he understand this. Where was his peoples’ movement when it was needed. Noticeably absent – if it exists.

    Comment by NeilM — June 25, 2016 @ 1:22 pm

  9. Stopping calling them “racist morons” is perhaps a good move, but don’t start calling them followers of “actual fascists”. Might turn out that they resent both the terms.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 25, 2016 @ 1:51 pm

  10. The majority on the left voted to Remain, so it’s hardly the ‘fault’ of the left.

    Comment by Nick K — June 25, 2016 @ 2:17 pm

  11. People vote for who they vote for, for their own reasons. If one party appeals to the electorate over some decades with overt, and subtextual, racist demagoguing and it works for them, then that is what it is.

    If the left thinks UKIP and Britain First are dodgy racist buffoons, then they can either call it that, or, do what? Are there some magic words?

    That ‘what’ never seems to get worked out in these discussions.

    The right doesn’t call this stuff out, so we should assume, I guess, that they don’t think it’s dodgy or racist or buffoonish. They are happy to hoover up the votes. You will hunt in vain for RWers calling out Slater on his blogs contsant stream of Islamphobic fear mongering, for example.

    Not sure if dodgy racist buffoonish outcomes of all this can be fairly blamed on the left. What were they supposed to do? pander to it? say ‘oh ok, it’s not racist, right you are’ What would that achieve?

    How about the responsibility falls on the people who played along with it? Sneared at the critics of it? That seems fair.

    If we end up with a bunch of fascisty outcomes via democracy, well the blame will fall on the people who didn’t try to stop it, and played along, not the people who failed to stop it by not having some magic words that don’t insult bigots.

    I just think there actually is a market for fascism-light. Criticising it by using magic words won’t convince people who like it that they don’t like it. Just as pretending it isn’t what it is won’t absolve anyone from responsibility if they vote for it..

    And if you really don’t like it, you should probably not vote for the people who are happy to appeal to it, even if they are offering you a few points off your marginal tax rates or whatever. Choices reveal preferences.

    Comment by shakingstick — June 25, 2016 @ 2:43 pm

  12. “10.The majority on the left voted to Remain, so it’s hardly the ‘fault’ of the left.”
    True: urban liberals def voted remain. They love gadding about Europe without worrying about visas and loads of different currencies. Of course, if they had personal experience of living with an exchange rate set for Germany…

    In this age, even many poor people have access to social media and YouTube. They would have seen with their own eyes, heard with their own ears, their concerns NOT being addressed by “their” party. They would have also stumbled across a surprising number of videos showing minority folk calling for curbs on immigration, due to the strains it places on the services that they require disproportionately cf the urban liberals with their Bupa. Or the pressure it put on decent quality, low cost housing. Of course, even those West Indians are just homophobic xenophobes.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 25, 2016 @ 3:04 pm

  13. Comment by Clunking Fist — June 25, 2016 @ 4:39 pm

  14. People vote for who they vote for, for their own reasons. If one party appeals to the electorate over some decades with overt, and subtextual, racist demagoguing and it works for them, then that is what it is.

    If the left thinks UKIP and Britain First are dodgy racist buffoons, then they can either call it that, or, do what? Are there some magic words?

    Yeah, if a huge bunch of people who used to be the core constituency of the left start voting fascist then that’s just something that randomly happened. No reason to try and figure out why, or understand how to win them back, because that’s just crazy magical thinking!

    Comment by danylmc — June 25, 2016 @ 4:41 pm

  15. Are there some magic words?

    Well if Farage, Trump and Peters can do the incantations then you’d think that the opposing side can come up with something.

    Comment by Richard — June 25, 2016 @ 5:30 pm

  16. Well if Farage, Trump and Peters can do the incantations then you’d think that the opposing side can come up with something.

    Ironically ‘the left’ has been saying for many decades now that open labour markets, financial deregulation and free trade have disproportionately negative effects on ‘the working class’, so it’s funny how the left told them to vote to keep all of those things – because the EU guarantees environmental regulations and equal pay and multiculturalism, and other things dear to the heart of urban liberals like me, and then freaked out when they voted against them (however symbolically). Stupid racist poor people! Why didn’t they vote the way Wolfgang Schauble and Christine Legarde told them to, when they so obviously have their best interests at heart!

    Comment by danylmc — June 25, 2016 @ 5:59 pm

  17. Rather than “the haves” vs the “have nots”, I think the exit vote represents “the Chavs” vs the “Chav nots”.

    Comment by Mr February — June 25, 2016 @ 7:07 pm

  18. I think it’s unfair and inaccurate to say the politicians keen to leave the EU are fascists. Boris Johnson isn’t one and neither is Nigel Farage. It isn’t fascist to ask if your country has the resources to house an influx of immigrants from countries that have very different cultures to your own. Not every Swede or Belgian concerned about what mass immigration is doing to their country is a racist. They have legitimate concerns.

    Comment by Jimmy — June 25, 2016 @ 7:14 pm

  19. And taking a moment to blame the Cameron’s faction of the Conservatives, another question is where was the Crosby Textor messaging on Remain (given their apparent genius in all political communication). Surely the message that exporting to Europe means jobs, and migrant doctors and plumbers mean less of a wait for hip operations and drain unblocking could have been crafted into something less wonkish than what came form the likes of Schauble and Legarge.

    Comment by Richard — June 25, 2016 @ 7:39 pm

  20. “it’s funny how the left told them to vote to keep all of those things”

    None of those things were at question during Brexit. The UK is going to be financially deregulated regardless of whether it stays inside the EU or leaves it. There’s no way a Boris Johnson led Tory government is going to start rolling back deregulation.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 25, 2016 @ 7:57 pm

  21. Boris Johnson isn’t one and neither is Nigel Farage

    True about Johnson, who is merely an opportunist. Pretty comfortable calling Farage a fascist.

    It isn’t fascist to ask if your country has the resources to house an influx of immigrants from countries that have very different cultures to your own. Not every Swede or Belgian concerned about what mass immigration is doing to their country is a racist. They have legitimate concerns.

    It’ll be interesting to see the impacts of Brexit in NZ and similar countries. Finance Ministers LOVE immigration – it lets them grow the economy without any of the hassle of increasing profitibility or the performance of our companies or value of our export. Our immigration is at an all time high – mostly low-skilled migrants – and if it weren’t we’d probably be in recession. But the Brexit result shows that the social backlash can have catastrophic consequences for elite political and financial interests.

    Comment by danylmc — June 25, 2016 @ 8:33 pm

  22. Agree 100% danyl. The basic reaction of the leftie Londoners I talked to yesterday (mostly 20 somethings) was that “the racists had won”.

    The left has a massive blindspot when it comes to immigration. Yes, there are many racists who support UKIP. But being concerned about immigration does not make you racist. The left has thrown the term racist around so much in the last twenty years that it has lost any of the power it used to hold. Weirdly it’s now even applied to religious groups (e.g. Ben Affleck vs Sam Harris on Bill Maher’s show).

    Most of my friends are lefties, and I don’t even bring up the topic because I know it will cause a hysterical reaction.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 25, 2016 @ 8:38 pm

  23. First of we need to be clear that Boris Johnson is a chauvinistic nationalist and Farage is a bigoted racist, that he is also an actual fascist is obvious to anyone who listens to him.

    The fact is the Brexit campaign was able to mobilize a huge anti-establishment sentiment born from years of a one way class war, economic decline and regional neglect and despair. Their agents were racism and nationalism thinly disguised as fear of immigration and the bogeyman of Brussels. The establishment left was unable to counter this because it is hopelessly complicit in creating and propping up the current economic and social order. Instead, it let fascists and chauvinists define the debate and even proved thier point by running a bullying TINA line as the main stay argument. To run a stay fear campaign based on the economy was ridiculous. Not everyone is making out like a bandit in London property. Not everyone has money in the bank. The establishment left has swallowed the capitalist myth that the economy is neutral hook, line and sinker.

    But it must be great to be a Blairite. It means never being wrong. The reaction of the UK establishment left has been lots of pearl clutching, and since they are never wrong now getting around to blaming Corbyn, who as usual is damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. According to the Blairites Corbyn should have lined up alongside Tony Blair and ra-ra’d stay, destroying his credibility win or lose. All that would have achieved is handing the Labour heartland to UKIP, just like the same plan handed Scotland to the SNP. Perhaps Corbyn knows what Labour voters in Bradford are thinking a bit better than what Polly Toynbee does… anyway, for a five minute wonder he has already seen off the incumbent Tory PM, and positioned Labour to be able to credibly offer an alternative.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 25, 2016 @ 8:44 pm

  24. The young/old divide is the most interesting outcome. There’s a lot of anger amongst young people about being screwed again by the baby boomers and older generation. Since this screwing has been happening continuously since 1980s (expensive housing, expensive student loans, lower paying jobs), I wonder how much more it will take before young people start getting more violent.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 25, 2016 @ 8:48 pm

  25. Seb, define “immigration”. The free movement of people within the EU is a corner stone of what the EU is all about. The UK has never been part of the Schengen zone and retains its border posts and passport checks. Britain can already control illegal and non EU immigration. If “immigration” means resentment at eastern European internal EU people movement from Poland or Rumania then that is racist.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 25, 2016 @ 8:59 pm

  26. Do the almost 2000 women sexually assaulted or harassed by “Men of Arab or North African appearance” last New Year’s in Germany have the right to be concerned about the effects of mass immigration on their country without being labelled rasict or fascist?

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Year%27s_Eve_sexual_assaults_in_Germany

    Comment by Jimmy — June 25, 2016 @ 9:26 pm

  27. I feel for Scotland, the main (only) selling point of staying in the union was EU membership. But, congratulations to the right you are both economic vandals (as they as the left are) and xenophobes (as you happily say the left are).

    BTW, your book was a good read

    Comment by B — June 25, 2016 @ 11:03 pm

  28. Britain can already control illegal and non EU immigration. If “immigration” means resentment at eastern European internal EU people movement from Poland or Rumania then that is racist.

    So to recap.

    “Anti-racist” white people in the UK wanted remain in a system of European solidarity, where immigration was freely allowed from white European nations.

    However they were defeated by “racists” and “fascists” who wish to create an immigration system where people are judged individually rather than on their ethnicity.

    Comment by unaha-closp — June 25, 2016 @ 11:38 pm

  29. It seems pretty straigtforward in the NZ context:
    – Decide that foreign people are fundamentally OK, but that just at the moment, too much immigration is driving up house prices, taking our jobs, creating congestion and increasing our welfare / justice expenses
    – Campaign for a short term reduction in immigration
    – Jump into bed with Winston Peters
    – Profit!

    I thought this was what Little was already doing, to be honest.

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 26, 2016 @ 1:33 am

  30. But if you care about being coherent you might go a bit easy on the calls to double the refugee quota

    A.

    Comment by Antoine — June 26, 2016 @ 1:36 am

  31. “Seb, define “immigration”. The free movement of people within the EU is a corner stone of what the EU is all about. The UK has never been part of the Schengen zone and retains its border posts and passport checks. Britain can already control illegal and non EU immigration. If “immigration” means resentment at eastern European internal EU people movement from Poland or Rumania then that is racist.”

    But see how you’ve framed your point in a way that pushes anyone who disagrees into a corner with a big sign saying “racist!” behind them? That’s the kind of approach that lefties take all the time, and one of the reasons why they’ve conceded ground to the far right on this issue.

    In my view, immigration is really a euphemism for concerns about Muslim immigration, in the UK at least. I don’t have the statistics to back it up, but I presume those who voted leave were more concerned about Muslim immigration than Eastern European immigration. This is probably why Farage focused on it during his campaign.

    Assuming my premise is correct, the next obvious question is whether their concerns are justified. After a lot of soul searching, I think they are. (And I know the previous sentence is likely to get me called a racist. Just remember before you throw that at me, that I’m mixed race, and when I was growing up in New Zealand I felt actual racism – “blackie”, “curry muncher” etc.).

    Trevor Phillips, the founding  chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, presented a good documentary on how British Muslims are becoming a country within a country. I’m concerned about that, and others are too. Being concerned about the *values* potential immigrants hold is a fair game to challenge. I have no idea how this would be applied as a test of course, presumably it breaches some kind of UN human rights legislation.

    Comment by Seb Rattansen — June 26, 2016 @ 2:48 am

  32. The irony of course being that in order to retain access to the single market the UK will have to continue to abide by free movement of workers rules. What a mess this situation is.

    Comment by Kiwi in London — June 26, 2016 @ 6:13 am

  33. In my view, immigration is really a euphemism for concerns about Muslim immigration

    That’s definitely part of it – there’s a lot of belief that being part of the EU will let a flood of refugees into the country, but there’s also a lot of resentment and hatred towards Eastern European immigrants. I got pro-Leave propaganda pushed through my door that simply listed the populations of Eastern European countries, with the implication that they were all going to descend on British shored any day now.

    Comment by Frances L. — June 26, 2016 @ 6:45 am

  34. ” I don’t have the statistics to back it up, but I presume those who voted leave were more concerned about Muslim immigration than Eastern European immigration.”

    I would be extremely sceptical about that. Only two years ago there was a lot of public hysteria about the entry of Bulgarians and Romanians when those countries joined the EU’s free movement zone.

    Comment by Ortvin Sarapuu — June 26, 2016 @ 8:00 am

  35. Ironically ‘the left’ has been saying for many decades now that open labour markets, financial deregulation and free trade have disproportionately negative effects on ‘the working class’, so it’s funny how the left told them to vote to keep all of those things – because the EU guarantees environmental regulations and equal pay and multiculturalism, and other things dear to the heart of urban liberals like me, and then freaked out when they voted against them (however symbolically).

    Even more ironically, they’ve effectively voted to have Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage create a Thatcherite England (there might not be a UK much longer) that will double-down on labour market “flexibility,” financial deregulation and free trade. The hangover from this binge is going to be long-lasting and memorable.

    If “immigration” means resentment at eastern European internal EU people movement from Poland or Rumania then that is racist.

    I refer you to the OP: “…figure out a way to address the anxieties of the working poor about the negative economic impacts of mass low-skill migration without just telling them they’re racist morons.”

    Comment by Psycho Milt — June 26, 2016 @ 10:09 am

  36. “fascism
    noun
    1. (sometimes initial capital letter) a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

    Hmm, that definition seems to apply to the EU, not Nigel Farage. If you spent any time examining his musings (and those of Daniel Hannan), they rail against the links between big business and the Commission. But you guys keep on banging on about it, while the spectators (like the working poor) look on and spot the flaws in your arguments. You guys never seem to realise what you sound like to outsiders, and so seem surprised when those outsiders fail to disagree with you. You then throw out the labels, “morons’, “chavs” and “racist”, which only makes them angry. Well done.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 26, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  37. “fail to agree” oops.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 26, 2016 @ 10:12 am

  38. And, or course, what the working poor (and everyone else) sees is stuff like this:

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 26, 2016 @ 10:20 am

  39. Love or hate him:

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 26, 2016 @ 10:31 am

  40. Oops, I didn’t mean to post the entire list, but they are all worth a watch. Hopefully this is the correct link:

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 26, 2016 @ 10:32 am

  41. Have to agree, though, this UKIP guy comes across as a total fascist: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=onrqRw9JWv8

    Comment by Clunking Fist — June 26, 2016 @ 11:00 am

  42. So for all the people crying racist. Put aside for one moment that the concept of race has no scientific basis, how is is the UK wanting to leave the largest racially homogeneous political bloc in the world racist?

    Comment by Robert Singers — June 26, 2016 @ 11:03 am

  43. Perhaps Corbyn knows what Labour voters in Bradford are thinking a bit better than what Polly Toynbee does… anyway, for a five minute wonder he has already seen off the incumbent Tory PM, and positioned Labour to be able to credibly offer an alternative.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/26/hilary-benn-revolt-jeremy-corbyn

    Leaked internal Labour party polling of people who voted for Labour in 2015 reveals that nearly a third (29%) would support a different party if a general election was held today.

    Corbyn’s achievement of seeing off Cameron was probably what he and Seamus Milne had in mind with their ever so unenthusiastic remain campaign. However Cameron going might not in many people’s minds make up for the exit that they helped take place or the continuing bleed of Labour supporters to other parties.

    Comment by NeilM — June 26, 2016 @ 1:07 pm

  44. Yeah, because the British Labour PLP think the best solution for the Labour heartland not doing what it was told and it voting to punish the Westminster establishment instead is to get rid of the genuinely left wing popularly elected leader and replace him with an establishment pro-remain Blairite.

    The deluded and entitled world of the Labour red Tories is amazing. They want this “experiment” over so they can have “their” party back. British politics is shattering in the wake of the Brexit vote.

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 26, 2016 @ 2:34 pm

  45. I think the Labour Tories want a party that can beat the Conservatives not a wallowing in glorious defeat protest movement.

    Even if you’re a Corbyn supporter the promise of Corbyn was some peoples grassroots resurgence of the Left. He hasn’t been too sucesful in doing that and the reverse has just happened.

    Comment by NeilM — June 26, 2016 @ 7:15 pm

  46. NeilM – I’d take whatever memo from the ‘third way’ faction of the BLP printed in the Guardian with a large pinch of salt.
    Neither the Blairites nor their organ have a history of being anything but hysterical when it comes to Corbyn.
    Basically, it smacks of opportunism.

    Comment by Gregor W — June 26, 2016 @ 7:42 pm

  47. Labour head office ordered local Labour parties to put nothing about immigration on their referendum leaflets, despite warnings from West Midlands regional staff and MPs that the party seemed to be trying to lose the referendum by avoiding the subject, internal party emails passed to the Guardian show.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/27/labour-hq-told-activists-to-avoid-immigration-issue-in-eu-campaign

    Corbyn ordered that the Labour Party not counter the anti-immigration stance of UKIP.

    I think the evidence that Corbyn actively sabotaged the Remain campaign is now pretty convincing.

    Comment by NeilM — June 28, 2016 @ 12:24 am

  48. “…I think the evidence that Corbyn actively sabotaged the Remain campaign is now pretty convincing…”

    Hey, I’ve got a bridge for sale…

    Comment by Sanctuary — June 28, 2016 @ 12:35 am

  49. I’ve seen a few comparisons made between Corbyn and Sanders which is a bit unfair as Sanders hasn’t spent quite so much time on Russian and Iranian state TV.

    Comment by NeilM — June 28, 2016 @ 12:51 am

  50. Interesting observation from a recovering “foot soldier in the neoliberal Washington Consensus”. The “blindness of elites” applies equally to unaccountable Eurocrats and the unaccountable rentier class.

    http://www.timrusso.org/2016/06/brexit-where-occupy-and-the-tea-party-meet/

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 30, 2016 @ 11:02 pm

  51. Further reading via the WashPost:

    The world’s losers are revolting, and Brexit is only the beginning
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/06/27/the-losers-have-revolted-and-brexit-is-only-the-beginning/?tid=hybrid_collaborative_2_na#comments

    Comment by Kumara Republic (@kumararepublic) — June 30, 2016 @ 11:15 pm


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