26809-xciudjToday is another momentous day, with a discredited David Cameron facing his European colleagues for the first time since the debacle unfolded, and Nicola Sturgeon attempting to rally and unify the Scottish Parliament in her efforts to negotiate with Europe.

Government sources tell us  that the PM would “use the potentially awkward meeting to urge the other 27 leaders and EU institutions to take a “constructive” approach to negotiations over a new relationship with the UK”. That will be fun.

The crisis is making some strange bedfellows. Today I am in the unique position of agreeing with Alex Massie and Alastair Campbell. On the Brexiteers fantasy schedule and process Campbell wrote: “What an irony that today UK is dependent on EU leaders being fair and reasonable when we have been anything but. Thank Heavens for Merkel.” Whilst Massie notes: “Above all, it is hard to gainsay Nicola Sturgeon’s suggestion that Scotland is being forced to do something she does not want to do and that this something is a large and important thing with any number of consequences. No wonder many people are thinking about alternatives. We would, of course, make mistakes and face many hard times as a newly-independent nation but they would be our hard times and our mistakes, made by we ourselves. That, right now, is worth something too.”

But the crisis is also forcing schisms too.

Two people I’ve got a lot of time for and who’s writing I admire are at each others throats. Vonny Moyes tweeted that “People who Voted Leave were assholes” and Darren McGarvey (Loki) responded saying this was classist and accusing Vonny of being a ‘millennial snob’.

Vonny’s anger is real and legitimate, and so is Loki’s.

But Loki taking sides with “the real people, the decent people” is deeply ironic and it’s pretty clear to me who has really ‘taken back control’. As Marina Hyde writes: ‘Nothing indicates quite what a bloody nose the referendum was for the establishment like discovering that Boris Johnson spent Sunday playing cricket with Earl Spencer and writing his £250,000 a year column for the Daily Telegraph.’

And in terms of ‘defending communities’ we have a reported 57%  rise in ‘hate crimes’ since the EU referendum result, in particular, police have been investigating attacks on Poles and Muslims. Vonny may have been patronising but in Britain today racism has been legitimised. As Jakub Krupa wrote back in April this year (‘Despised, but voiceless’): “Front pages of most newspapers are constantly alerting readers to the continuous threat of another “swarm” of migrants “flooding” this country causing “overwhelming pressure” on “our” public services and jobs. Claiming undeserved benefits, defrauding public money, bringing crime, eating swans – you know, the things them migrants do. The nation’s only hope is that, to quote a xenophobic politician across the pond, “some I assume are good people”.

Front pages of most newspapers are constantly alerting readers to the continuous threat of another “swarm” of migrants “flooding” this country causing “overwhelming pressure” on “our” public services and jobs. Claiming undeserved benefits, defrauding public money, bringing crime, eating swans – you know, the things them migrants do.

If there are communities needing defending, and there are, they will have common cause against the right-wing government Boris Johnson is about to lead and against the reactionary forces Brexit has unleashed. His polices will affect the poorest, the most marginalised and women in our society more than most. Vonny and Loki should be on the same side.

Trust and Disrespect

There’s been a great deal written about how the disaffected masses ignored the ‘experts’ advice on economics and how this is a terrible tragedy. I think it’s a good thing, an essential thing, a critical thinking citizenry should be independent-minded. Here there are parallels between the indyref and the Brexit vote.

A lack of faith in ‘experts’ is a great thing and a visceral disrespect for authority is an essential element of a functioning society.

As Fintan O’Toole writes: “…distrust extends far beyond the dominant political class – to church and trade union and business leaders and to the whole idea of objective expertise. Every time a Remain campaigner said the word “experts”, another Leave voter was born. And this raises a huge question: where is the source of authority in the brave new England? Many of the most prominent Leave campaigners are naked chancers. They made stuff up with gay abandon, but when they come to power in the autumn, they will be the establishment they have told everybody not to believe.”

But also, and this is crucial as we see a reactionary racist action kick-in: “The English nationalists have just lost their favourite scapegoat, the EU. When their dream turns sour, where will they find another?” According to this account that’s already happened (‘Post EU Referendum Racism Documented Online And It’s Really Scary’). and we see the same in Glasgow ‘Spanish Civil War memorial defaced with fascist slogan’.

Many of the most prominent Leave campaigners are naked chancers. They made stuff up with gay abandon, but when they come to power in the autumn, they will be the establishment they have told everybody not to believe

The truth is no-one’s working as a homogenous bloc here. Leave voters were made up of people with little to lose making a conscious choice, people who were conned, people who gave leave to their already racist sentiments, people who had inhaled thirty years of tabloid hate, and people who just didn’t have a clue what was going on.

The same could be said of Remain, people acting on rational choice, people with a shallow understanding of European institutions acting in blind faith, people acting out of fear and people just trying to resist the debacle we see today.

We should be able to both call out racism for what its is AND step back from smearing an entire section of society. It is possible and necessary to do both.

As Michael Skey writes (‘Stop sneering at Leave voters. They knew exactly what they were doing.’):

“First, the wailing and the gnashing of teeth and then, the reproaches and the recriminations. It was an act of self-sabotage, a feat of blinding ignorance, a classic case of those unwashed masses not quite knowing what’s good for them. Unfortunately, it’s also a load of nonsense. By and large those who voted leave knew exactly what they were doing. Participants in an unfair fight, this was the chance to finally land a punch that actually drew blood. Disdained by a political circus that barely even bothered to acknowledge the crowd anymore, this was a chance to (really) send in the clowns. Ignore us for long enough, they said, and we’re going to do exactly the same to you, and damn the consequences, because in places like Sunderland we already feel pretty much damned.”

We should be able to both call out racism for what its is AND step back from smearing an entire section of society. It is possible and necessary to do both.

As the lies are covered up and the websites deleted, Leave’s toxic legacy is spreading. It is hard to fathom how Loki thinks this is a good thing for his ‘community’.

None of this is surprising. The key figures behind Leave, the Press Barons, the aspiring politicians, the players, don’t have our interests at heart. This is naked opportunism, pure self-interest. This revealing interview by Eddie Mair from 2013 shows a rare opportunity for the incoming PM to be actually challenged on air. He doesn’t like it one bit:

Now, in the circumstances where Hedge Fund managers – human carrion creatures – are circling hoping to profit from the crashing pound, how does this tally with a class analysis of the Brexit vote? The pound we’re told has fallen to its lowest level since 1985, touching $1.3118 on Monday, and has fallen 14 per cent since the polls closed on Thursday evening. This is the largest two-day decline in sterling during the post-Bretton Woods era that began in 1971. Who will benefit from that chaos?

People have been systematically lied to and addressing those lies and the conditions in which they are allowed to thrive is essential. As the reality of this crisis is laid before us and the economic consequences made clear it’s becoming apparent who will suffer and who will benefit. In these circumstances it’s not helpful to label people ‘assholes’ but to campaign to find solidarity across communities. As Paul Mason writes:

“What happens when the investment banks move to Frankfurt, the carmakers to Hungary, the offshore finance wizards to Dublin, the tech companies to newly independent Scotland? What happens when, instead of Poles, it is poor white English people herded into the polytunnels of Kent to pick strawberries for union-busting gang masters? You cannot project the story of the past three days into the next three years, but the pattern is chilling: cancelled orders, cancelled contracts, the potential exclusion of UK universities from multibillion European health and science projects.”

Likes(0)Dislikes(0)