Mathew D. Rose: Brexit – Land of Hope and Glory

Yves here. Some readers may object to Rose conflating the rejection of the EU with the destructive effects of Thatcherism. This has been an argument made by many commentators, who also happen to be members of the elite: the Leave voters took their desire for revenge on austerity-minded UK politicians out on the wrong object.

I’m not sure I buy this “voters are dumb” argument. While Thatcher set the deinstrialiaztion-of-the UK ball rolling in a big way, economic integration with the EU allowed it to be carried further. Moreover, those who argue that “the areas that voted Leave benefitted from EU subsidies” miss that the factor that best predicted who would vote Leave was not geographic location but educational level. There is a direct and strong correlation: the more highly educated, the more propensity to vote Remain.

And why might that be so? I’d hazard that not-well-educated workers were most exposed to competition by immmigrants from Eastern Europe.

In addition, regarding the EU subsidies, Rose points out by e-mail:

One must understand that those who actually receive EU money are not those that need it, but those of the 48% who know how to obtain EU funds – it isa terribly bureaucratic process and people have become professional appliers. I have seen them in Germany, much of it is criminal. In one case I contacted the EU, but they kept referring to the German they appointed to secure the integrity of the subsidised projects. The porblem was, he was one of the fraudsters involved. This did not interest them in the least. I shall never forget the incident.

I wish I shared Rose’s hope that the shock of Brexit will serve to purge some of the anti-democratic, ant-worker policies that are seen as necessary and desirable. While Brexit is a desperately-needed wake-up call to the UK’s and Europe’s leadership classes, they are fiercely predisposed to ignore the message or make minimal responses.

By Mathew D. Rose, a journalist living in Berlin

The vote for Brexit is the best thing that has happened to European society for decades. It has started to clear some of the political, toxic debris that has been poisoning the continent. It is a chance for the traditional left, which has allowed itself to become corrupted by the EU. The question is, if this opportunity will be grasped or squandered?

Brexit is not an anomaly. It is a further link in the concatenation of events occurring in Europe. Its causes are so basic and simple, that corporate media has gone over to a carpet bombing of disinformation and dissimulation, feeding the bigotry and self-delusion of the European elite, most of them nothing more than lackeys and henchmen of the one percent. It is no less mendacious than the lies cast about by the leaders of Brexit.

What we have learnt through Brexit is that the European problem is not only the EU political elite, but the 48 percent as well. You simply cannot damn an increasingly large portion of society to immiseration, intimidate it with arrogance, and withdraw its right to self-dignity, even worse, deny its existence by banning it from the political discourse, as has been the case in Britain.

Let us begin by jettisoning the romantic myth of the European Union. The EU has long ceased to further the interests of the people, who make up its members. Forget Beethoven’s Ode to Joy and all the noise about peace and prosperity. The EU is an undemocratic organisation that primarily and increasingly furthers the interests of international corporations.

Many in Britain do not need an in depth analysis to comprehend this. It determines their life. They know that the EU does nothing for them. Let us give “them” a name: Losers. I remember a good friend describing the Thatcher years with regards to buying his house: “I knew we had to buy one. Society was dividing itself. Those who did not own a house were the losers and most would remain losers. I felt I had to buy a house if I was to have a perspective of becoming a winner.” One may well ask since when democracy divided its population into Winners and Losers. I had assumed that a successful democracy’s goal was to assist its citizens so that everyone had a fair chance to fulfil their potential, as well as a responsibility to protect the welfare of this same citizenry.

The UK always had a pronounced class society, but it was once a cohesive society. Thatcher ended that when she declared, “…there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families.” There was a palpable change in Britain: The irrational hate that the British had for the Irish was suddenly expanded to the working class: the Chav-Losers. The Chav-Losers were removed from the political discourse in Britain, while they resigned themselves to their fate, only to occasionally pop up in the headlines as neo-Nazis, bigots and welfare cheats. Well, the Chav-Losers are back and in a big way.

We enlightened people ask what is wrong with immigration? To be quite honest, nothing. As an immigrant myself, I find it something very positive. What we however have in Europe is laissez-faire immigration. Like laissez faire financial markets, trade, tax policies or health care, we know open borders will not end well without some sort of regulation. We need governments and laws to make such developments beneficial for the majority of society. Thus it would have been apposite to introduce a robustly enforced minimum wage – a living wage – appropriate for each individual EU nation, thus stopping the wage race to the bottom. What did the British worker get: the zero-hour contract.

We know how these things function among the Winners. The cleaning lady from Latvia charges half as much as her British competitor, as does the Polish plumber. They are thereby earning three of four times as much as they would at home. In the neo-liberal myth that is good. Thanks to free markets soon wages and prosperity throughout Europe will be the same – yes, at about the level of the third world. Greece is the writing on the wall. Are wages and prosperity rising there?

Then there are the wonderfully cheap products the Winners purchase in the internet. There has been enough exposure by the few remaining investigative journalists in Britain concerning the deplorable pay and working conditions at the online companies. Better yet, most of these companies have been provided by the EU with loopholes to avoid paying taxes on their enormous profits.

Let us not forget the “budget airlines” to fly cheaply to one’s summer house in Spain or France. The list goes on and on: Cheap labour means cheap prices, and should you be a winner and have money, you can benefit from all these cheap offers. You can deplore the iniquities of life in the opinion pages of the Guardian while continuing to enjoy the benefits this system provides you.

A couple of months ago I met with a young colleague from Britain, a promising investigative journalist. I asked him how he was going to vote in the referendum. His answer was: “I shall vote for remain because I cannot stand all the people for Brexit, Nigel Farage and that sort.” A very profound political analysis.

The Chav Losers may have voted with the demagogues, but they did what everyone in a democracy should do: they voted for what best represented their interest. What did Remain offer them in the way of change?

It was this lack of reflection and the internal conflict within the labour Party that caused them to end up on the wrong side of the barricades on this issue. The SNP is no better. I am a great supporter of Scottish independence, but question sacrificing that independence to the EU, which will be more repressive than Westminster. Iceland recently almost went down this path, but wisely withdrew its application. Maybe the EU neo-liberal kleptocracy is simply the crowd the SNP leadership can better identify with, at least more than with the Scottish Chav-Losers.

Now much of the English middle class is wringing its hands crying “How could the Chav-Losers do this to us?” The answer is because you have treated them like rubbish for decades. While you have moaned about all that is wrong in the EU and claimed that Britain had to remain in the EU to reform it, the British Loser-Chavs have recognised political reality. They are the first in Europe to have the courage to take this step. The middle class Syriza – demagogues from the left – in Greece did exactly what the British middle class has been doing for decades: sold a large portion of its people down the EU river for wealth and political power; in other words, they have become Social Democrats. The Chav-Losers know their politics and their British middle class.

Simon Wren-Lewis eloquently decried that the warnings he and 90 percent of British macro-economists had made concerning the damage that Brexit would do to the British economy were being ignored. Despite my highest respect for Wren-Lewis, he left the most important figure out of his calculation: For the increasingly financially squeezed unemployed and receivers of benefits in Britain what does it matter if GDP shrinks after Brexit. Their plight can only become worse, come Brexit or not. It is not that Wren-Lewis’ figures were unconvincing; they were simply irrelevant for much of the British population. The potential losers of the referendum are not the Chav-Losers, but the 48 %.

Before the referendum the enlightened segment of British society, the Winners, claimed they would reform the EU and terminate the Tory reign of neo-liberalism. Thanks to the Chav-Losers they now only have half the work to do. Up to now the only plan of action that seems to be occurring to the Labour old guard is to attack Jeremy Corbyn – not a very auspicious beginning. If these reactionary Labour politicians succeed, Labour will end up on the same course as most Social Democrat parties Europe: to oblivion.

The rest of Europe should in the meantime emulate Britain and initiate EU exit referenda with the caveat: either throw out the corrupt EU elite and transform yourselves and your laws into a democratic institution or we are putting you to the vote.

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    1. Foppe

      Oh, they’ve (hardly just Schäuble) been working on that proposal for a while now, I guess because they really enjoy telling Greece etc. how to spend their money, and fund their spending, and they want to be able to do it to more countries (and to prevent those nasty socialists from making changes if/when they ever gain parliamentary power elsewhere). Not sure why it is now being attached to / connected with the british exit negotiations.

    2. sleepy

      Just off the top of my head, didn’t Germany itself, as well as France, violate the EU deficit rules for a few years?

      1. digi_owl

        Actually i think France was the one Euro nation to actually achieve the targets, while Germany was the biggest violator of them all…

        1. APC

          If you’re referring to the Stability and Growth Pact, France has not been in compliance since 2007. Its budget deficit to gdp is above 5% (3 allowed) and its debt to gdp ratio is mid 80’s (60 allowed). Germany is now in compliance, but hasn’t always been.

  1. hemeantwell

    This has been an argument made by many commentators, who also happen to be members of the elite: the Leave voters took their desire for revenge on austerity-minded UK politicians out on the wrong object..
    I’m not sure I buy this “voters are dumb” assertion.

    What I’ve found most credible in left commentary is the idea that voters were in part acting on the basis of the limited options made available to them by the major parties following the neoliberalization of Labor. In any event, “what is to be done” is for the Corbyn wing of Labor to offer a program that will identify the EU as a fundamentally neoliberal in its supranational functioning, despite the weakly compensating social program commitments, and to insist on national policies that protect the “Losers” — including some regulation of immigration/and/or its effects on wages — while critiquing the racism that some of them have regressed to. To the extent it’s necessary, the left can attack the PLP as largely complicit in the Blairite pattern of concession to neoliberalism, especially in its EU-mandated forms. The tone will have to be one of “avoiding disunity in the face of the threat of greater austerity,” but it won’t hurt to be able to argue that the threat is not only external to Labor.

    For example, and to go along with Bugs Bunny’s comment above, I was surprised when I recently discovered that the EU would prevent the UK from renationalizing the railroads. This epitomizes all that we’ve been blasting in the damn trade agreements they’re trying to shove down our throats.

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      First off, I think the Rose piece is brilliant. But I do agree with you, and disagree with Rose, on the point you make. Rose writes, “The Chav Losers may have voted with the demagogues, but they did what everyone in a democracy should do: they voted for what best represented their interest.” I’m not sure who or what the “what” that Rose refers to is. The who (Johnson, Farage, etc.) were/are clearly charlatans, and no one has any idea at this point what the “what” of Brexit will ultimately be, though apparently it won’t result in substantial new funding for the British health service. I personally find predictions that it will be a bad deal for the Chav Losers (I would like to know more about this term) more credible than claims that it will be a good one.

      The vote for Brexit strikes me as a “Polanyi” vote. A few years back, Beverly Silver wrote a good book about strikes in world capitalism where she distinguished between “Marx-ian” strikes, which were strategic and offered at least plausible prospects of economic wins for the working class, and “Polanyi-an” strikes, which were basically howls of protest and cultural claims that someone “do something” to preserve their way of life. Polanyi-an strikers have no economic leverage and Polanyi-an strikes almost always work out poorly for the strikers themselves. More amazingly (from an analytic standpoint), Polanyi-an strikers often understand the likely outcome in advance and strike anyway, as a claim on dignity and self-worth and a statement that they refuse to eat shit anymore. Doesn’t mean the food will get better.

      As you say, the options available to the Chav Losers were “limited.” The big question now is how to realign politics so that working people (understood in the most general sense) are able to reassert some control that can be redirected toward a) the interests of the many, not the few, and b) responding to climate change. I’ve always been a big believer that the left has more to offer working people than the right. But it’s clear that the political message of the left does not resonate (i.e. among Labor voters for Brexit, the young and educated – in control of Labor messaging for the last< what, 30? years – were with Remain while the rank-&-file working class was with leave),and I think this is mostly because the economic message is not convincing.

      But I'm no longer sure right-left as historically understood is the correct frame going forward. But it's hard to upend an old frame (constructed around global capitalism) without a new one. I think it might just now be possible to hazily glean the objectives of a new frame – a reorientation toward climate change in a way that preserves important elements of various peoples' "ways of life" as the vector of time continues hurtling forward – but I think the jury is still out on whether or not this frame can also be built around global capitalism.

      Anyway, we need a way to bring together the left working class and the other kinds of working people that don't buy the left message (libertarians, nationalists, cultural conservatives, those skeptical of left economic management). My sense is that the vote on Brexit was a choice between two bad options and many elements of the working class (right and left) voted for the one that was probably worse on the merits in order to say "fuck off" (by which they really mean "Help, I'm drowning") to TPTB.

      1. sgt_doom

        Regarding strikes, the problem in the UK is that when there’s even a hint of a strike, all the workers are fired and foreign replacement workers are flown in.

        Thus, since EU membership, there are no collective bargaining rights in the UK anymore!

        So, the Brexit vote essentially comes down to a return to self-rule and hopefully workers’ rights once again — something the money masters despise.

        To any and all who really want to comprehend why the money masters have gone berserk over Brexit, please read pp. 67 — 83 of Treasure Islands, by Nicholas Shaxson.

  2. m-ga

    These are fair points. But, I feel Rose overlooks some of the benefits of EU membership. They include:

    • free movement and the right to work across the EU.
    • free healthcare across the EU (via EHIC).
    • regeneration projects in the British regions which the Tories would never sign off.
    • worker and human rights to a higher standard than the Tories would allow.
    • environmental protections to a higher standard than the Tories would allow.

    Many in the UK (I’d include myself) who are sympathetic to those who Rose describes as “chav-losers” (CL) also enjoy the benefits of EU membership.

    Here’s one concrete example. At my university, the vice-chancellor took the unprecedented step of writing to all staff, urging them to vote Remain. She did so in a personal capacity – the university can’t express political views in an institutional capacity. I felt that her writing even in a personal capacity was pushing her luck.

    The reason for her missive was that much of the university research funding comes via the EU. There is no guarantee that this will continue post-Brexit. We got another email on Friday, saying that the feeling was that Horizon 2020 (massive EU funding project) and current EU-funded students should be fine. But (the email didn’t say this, it’s my inference), the current likelihood is that universities will in future be funded even more by debt incurred by their students, and by sale of places to overseas students (mainly China). There will be less opportunity for those born in the UK. This was happening anyway, but as a result of Brexit is likely to accelerate, and/or result in a smaller overall university funding pot. In other words, higher education for UK citizens is set to get even worse than it is currently. We’re now 20 years into the stripping away of free education, instigated by Blair in the mid-90s.

    The depiction that the ‘English middle class is wringing its hands crying “How could the Chav-Losers do this to us?”’ doesn’t sit accurately. From my perspective, I never once felt animosity to the CL, even as the results came in. In fact, I was in a way pleased as the Newcastle result was announced. Even though the result was bad for me, it felt good to see those voters empowered.

    I also don’t know anyone who blames the CL. Many people are directing their anger at the Sun and the Daily Mail. This includes some of the CL themselves – the Sun has already published on how bad the impact of Brexit will be for CL finances, and its readers aren’t too pleased. If increased lack of trust in the Sun and Daily Mail is a result of Brexit, then the vote will not have been in vain.

    The article doesn’t mention the Brexit-voting over 60s, which are the other group which tipped the Leave vote over the finishing line. Without an explanation of the voting patterns of this group, the analysis seems off kilter.

    Finally, the analysis of Brexit as “the best thing that has happened to European society for decades” is debatable at best. There is a hell of a lot of work needed to get something good out of Brexit, and a lot of potential for it to go the wrong way (i.e. an isolated and very right wing England which undergoes a breakdown in civic society). This is mirrored in France, where it looks to be Le Pen’s FN who will be the immediate Brexit beneficiaries. Does this seem risky to anyone else? Tearing down the extant civic structure and bolstering right wing nationalism, in the hope of then rebuilding something better, does not seem an optimal route to progress! Far better, in my opinion, to construct the new society within the shell of the old.

    I expect many on the left will be watching Corbyn and McDonnell this week, as they represent the best chance to harness the forces which have just been unbridled. At the moment, it looks precarious – to put it mildly.

    1. Marco

      “…I also don’t know anyone who blames the CL…” ??? Uh…you need to read the comments section at 10 Britons Who Voted to Leave. I’ve never seen so much condescension and hostility in the Guardian. If I were a Brexit-er I’d be very worried for my safety.

      1. m-ga

        I can’t get the link to work. But, if it’s what I think it is, then it’s not specific to Brexit.

        For example, have a look at these:

        There has long been a group in the UK which sees the disenfranchised former working class as a cause, rather than a result, of the deterioration of the UK’s civil society. It is hardly surprising to find a crossover between that group, and the 48% of the UK who voted Remain. And also unsurprising for them to show up in the Guardian comments section.

        1. JTFaraday

          Well, here in the US, Thomas Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” makes the case that white Americans on the losing side of the ledger basically did it to themselves. He posits the primary set of issues is “the culture war,” but it’s also race.

          Despite the shift in the zeitgeist** these past few years to make the corresponding case vs “liberal” elites as Frank does today, I still agree with the original thesis. Both theses can be true.

          **If this trend keeps up they’ll soon be heroes. I’m afraid that boat is going to have leave without me.

      2. Nunya

        @Marco: I don’t think any Brexiters need worry for their safety, especially from the frothing Guardian reading Islington massive.

    2. Ulysses

      “Far better, in my opinion, to construct the new society within the shell of the old.”

      Well, yes. if there are any elements left in that old shell not yet thoroughly corrupted by the transnational kleptocracy. Certainly there are still decent and honorable individuals who teach at universities, serve in public office, even work in banks– yet they are forced to continuously compromise their principles to remain in their position.

      I tend to agree with Glenn G. when he argues:

      “The solution is not to subserviently cling to corrupt elite institutions out of fear of the alternatives. It is, instead, to help bury those institutions and their elite mavens and then fight for superior replacements. As Hayes put it in his book, the challenge is “directing the frustration, anger, and alienation we all feel into building a trans-ideological coalition that can actually dislodge the power of the post-meritocratic elite. One that marshals insurrectionist sentiment without succumbing to nihilism and manic, paranoid distrust.”

      1. vlade

        ah, you mean like all those elite institutions destroyed in Iraq, Syria, Afghanista, Egypt, Lybia… And replaced with…??

        When someone like GG argues from the safety of his room to (in effect) “bring on the revoluion”, he’s not better than Bush & co interms of having a (workable) plan from the safety of White House. Revolutions are great for destroying, but they never build what the instigators wanted. The closes that came to it was the English “Glorious Revolution”, but it wasn’t really a revolution – it kept pretty much all the insitutions, just changed one ruling dynasty for another (that interefered less in English stuff, at least initially).

        I lived through a (mostly bloodless, fortunately) revolution, and I say to all revolutionaries – be careful what you wish for, lest you get it.

        1. Ulysses

          I agree with you that revolutionary change is always fraught with great risk. Yet, for the 8 out of 10 people in the developed world, who don’t share in the wealth derived from predatory global capitalism, the risk of continuing the status quo is even greater.

          Regime changes orchestrated to benefit the U.S. MIC, (that sells weapons to both sides in many conflicts) are in no way comparable to the worldwide popular struggles against the transnational kleptocracy. Your attempt to equate them is a clever rhetorical feint, but one that won’t fool many people here!

          People like me, or Glenn G. for that matter, can afford to let the transnational kleptocracy run their corrupt games, while hoping incrementalist reforms will someday make things better. My impoverished brothers and sisters, however, don’t have that luxury. They are hungry, diseased, without shelter, and dying, right now.

          “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

          — Desmond Tutu

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Let’s look at the French revolution:

            1. Ten years of political chaos and considerable economic distress

            2. Then the Empire, which meant the French felt vindicated by conquering the countries that had inflicted pain on them in the Revolution. But the end result was the loss of young men in battle and defeat. Oh, and no Republic either. But Napoleon did leave some lasting accomplishments, like organizing France as a modern bureaucracy and installing uniform education throughout the country that was designed to track talented men from poor backgrounds to elite schools.

            The only reason France was able to retain its pre war borders was Talleyrand. Period. That was a lucky accident of history.

            3. Restoration.

            4. A brief Second Republic, 1848-1951.

            5. The Second Empire.

            6. You don’t get a lasting republic until 1870.

            This is a successful revolution. Nearly 100 years before the desired result took hold.

            Revolutions seldom turn out well for the ordinary people who live through them. The American Revolution was one of the rare exceptions, which is why we are so cavalier about them.

            1. Armchair Historian

              It looks even worse when taking some of the other long-term consequences into consideration. Prussian-German Militarism was the direct consequence of Napoleon’s wars. Prussia lost half of it’s territory and, in response to this, militarized society and created a huge conscription army. Prussian-German Militarism was the enabler and impetus that enabled both WW1 and WW2

              Yes, I believe that there is a causal line between the French Revolution and Hitler.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Thanks for that. I don’t know German 19th century history as well as I should (my focus was France and England) but your point makes perfect sense.

              2. vidimi

                history as a whole is causal, it’s just how it works. the causal line to hitler can also be extended to the 17th century swedish deluge of the polish-lithuanian commonwealth as it lifted prussia from vassalage.

                i tend to view revolutions as mostly net positive, though like anything, their winners and losers are usually very diverse. a lot of people consider the bolshevik or maoist revolutions as examples of revolutions going horribly bad. but even these were preceded by something worse: ie they were fruits of a horrible harvest. russian and chinese peasants today are much better off than their ancestors thanks to the sacrifices of tens of millions of their brethren. furthermore, the bolshevik revolution put the fear of god in the european elites leading to one of the greatest achievements of western civilisation, the welfare state.

                the thing about revolutions, however, is that things need to be desperately bad before conditions for one are ripe. it took the tzar sending off young men by the millions into the meat grinders of germany and machinegunning starving, striking women in the streets of st petersburg by the hundreds – not to mention additional fomenting and assistance from covert german agents – to make the status quo unsustainable. modern-day little england is still years from that vision; the brexit vote is but a tantrum.

        2. human

          Conflating violent destruction by state actors (with an agenda) with a populist mandate for democratic change is seriously intellectually dishonest. And “never” is a long time. This was a non-violent action. If it pre-disposes towards a civil war, we will see who instigates the violence. My money is on the 48% in much the same way that Palestinians are pushed up against the wall.

          “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” – John F. Kennedy

          1. sgt_doom

            John F. Kennedy?

            Wasn’t that the president who instituted the Interest Equalization Tax?

            Who issued Executive Order 11110, to pump out $4.3 billion debt-free money directly to the economy to benefit the workers, as opposed to going through the banksters of the Federal Reserve, where it would have been added to the national debt?

            Who refused the banksters who wanted an amendment to the Bank Act to allow them to buy foreign banks, on the road to a global banking cartel? (Johnson later rolled over for them, and went even further by ending the tax on speculation, the Transaction Tax, in effect since 1914.)

            Who proposed radical land reform throughout Latin America in his Alliance for Progress?

            Recommended Reading:

            Two Days in June, by Andrew Cohen

            Battling Wall Street: the Kennedy presidency, by Donald Gibson

        3. grayslady

          An unfair comparison. There never would have been an Iraq, Syria, Libya et al if it hadn’t been for the Europeans arrogantly deciding to create artificial borders in the first place in regions of the world that they were determined to colonize and strip of natural resources.

          I agree that revolutions can be unpredictable and potentially dangerous. However, if you have a better plan for dislodging fabulously wealthy, fabulously corrupt institutions I’d certainly like to hear it.

            1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

              The formulas tend to be pretty simple: “Peace, Bread, and Land”, or “No Taxation Without Representation”.
              I view Brexit as a shot across the bow that TPTB can easily thwart. But the Chavs are slowly waking up to the fact that they have no Peace, no Bread, no Land, and are being amply taxed without representation.
              I’d like to hope we can avoid the “blood in the streets” part but I’m not so sure. It’s similar to when the barons got together and squeezed the Magna Carta from King John, they too were fed up with being endlessly robbed to fund Permanent War. And recall that the biggest institution of the time was the major supporter of King John against the people: that lovely organization headed by Pope “Innocent”.

    3. Skip Into

      Justifying the EU as protection from Tories is like bringing in a tiger to solve a rat problem. Wouldn’t democratic solutions to the Tory problem be a bit more realistic than trying the same thing under the EU? I mean, UK voters can remove Tories, but we have yet to see if anyone can actually escape the EU just by voting.

      I think Rose’s piece is nicely complemented by Matt Taibbi’s new piece:
      The Reaction to Brexit Is the Reason Brexit Happened

    4. sid_finster

      Read the comments section in a Guardian. There’s plenty of Islington luvvies wailing about how could the chat/losers do this to us!?!

    5. vidimi

      my facebook feed is unanimous in its contempt for the leave-voters. granted, most of them are expats living in the UK; some, but not all, on EU passports.

  3. vlade

    On the subsidies – I agree with Rose on the corruption associated with the subsidies, but nevertheless, a lot of these subsidies ends up doing something real for the community (but maybe at twice the cost it could have) – resurfacing roads, building water treatment plants, etc. etc.

    If this goes away, the communities WILL suffer. I predict more of pork going in the UK parliament than ever before – so far it was mostly EU money that got porked, but with that gone, it will still have to come from somewhere.

  4. Hayek's Heelbiter

    Hooray from someone living on the ground in the U.K.

    At last someone who, I assume is from the pundit class, gets it.

    A lot of people in the U.S. don’t realize that in England members of Parliament don’t have reside in the constituency that you “represent”. They can show up once pre-election with a flurry of vote-getting tactics and then comfortably to Westminster till the next election.

    Despite the fact England is about the same size as North Carolina, the London Bubble is absolutely as impervious as the one in Washington.

    Thank you Yves and thanks you Matthew.

  5. Terence

    Many of the ‘leave’ voters remember fields of barley,wheat,corn and oats. From north to south,east to west, the spring, summer and autumn fields were what writers often waxed lyrical over.

    Also most of the dairy cattle and sheep farming is gone,we also hate the ‘common agricultural policy’.

    We also remember the total destruction of our fishing industry, to re-cap: No farms,No fishermen,No factories and No miners all at one time the backbone of the country.

    The financialization of the London Looters plus 40 years of yuppies rule ensured that people like myself would rise from their sickbed to vote ‘leave’.

    The Coal and Steel project,morphing into the EC/EEC ending with dodgy treaties to the EU,is a bridge too far for my generation.

    We also remember that liar Blair was seeking the EU presidency,only to discover he carried too much baggage to be acceptable…….still, he will probably get some quarter mill $$$ speaking engagements.

    The yuppies will have about 2 years to get their snouts in the EU trough,while we extract our country from the beaurocratic morass.

    3 cheers……..hip hip……hurray

    1. vidimi

      the fish quotas are essential to protect european stocks. the only thing wrong with them is that they’re woefully insufficient. getting rid of them will give you a few good years of fishing followed by a total collapse.

      1. Nunya

        Out of all that he stated your only comeback is about fishing quotas? And people wonder why the Remain camp lost?

  6. andrea casalotti

    The #Brexit vote as protest vote is a myth.
    For God sake, UK had general election last year.
    No; this was simply xenophobic vote by racist majority.

    The reason people employ Polish plumbers and Latvian cleaners is not because they charge less but because they work much better.

    British workers are lazy, shoddy and bitchy.

    I used to run a business in London and I avoided employing British people, for the above reasons.

    Stop blaming others and look at how rotten British culture is.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Yes those Brits in low paying jobs should really learn who their betters are – they clearly have not developed a proper peasant mentality yet.

      Kneel down and scrub harder Nigel and keep your complaints to yourself – it’s for your own good!

    2. sgt_doom

      Sounds like a Berlusconi voter?

      Blaming the urge for self-rule and a return of collective bargaining rights is certainly racist, Nazi-like, fascist and xenophobic.

      Now about your plumbing . . .

    3. vidimi

      No; this was simply xenophobic vote by racist majority.

      then, one line down:

      The reason people employ Polish plumbers and Latvian cleaners is not because they charge less but because they work much better.

      British workers are lazy, shoddy and bitchy.

      I used to run a business in London and I avoided employing British people, for the above reasons.

      well done

  7. Ignacio

    I have all the sympathy for Rose’s narrative that I find quite convincing. I do not think that the piece uses a “voters are dumb argument”, on the contrary. I do know some many spanish that went to the UK running away from rampant unemployment, particularly young unemployment, in Spain. Last time I visited London I spoke more spanish than english! Most of them went to find low-paying jobs but at least they have a bed and food after long hours as waiters/waitresses. It is better to do something and get paid. The worker class in England must feel the pressure.

    The main point in this essay is that we have come to a profound class divide, not only in the UK, following economic prescriptions of the elite that focus on competition and lowering labor costs while inventing tax loopholes for the affluent. And yes, there is that 48% that is only happy when they buy cheaper stuff through their “vente-privee (France)”, “Buy VIP-Amazon (Spain)” or whatever fancy online shopping you can find.

    1. Carla

      “I do not think that the piece uses a “voters are dumb argument”. ” I agree, Ignacio.

    2. sgt_doom

      Best explanation as to why the money masters are berserk about Brexit, please read pp. 67 — 83 of Treasure Islands, by Nicholas Shaxson (he explains it all beautifully there, even though he wasn’t writing about it).

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        Precisely my thought as stories appear about tens of thousand of bankers who will be unemployed, bankers that make far more than they would in Frankfurt or Paris. Why, precisely, do bankers in London make so much more? Could it be because it’s Gordon Brown’s “light touch” regulatory cesspit? Clear them out I say, make them do an honest day’s work for a change and see how they like it.

    3. sid_finster

      When in London in a shop or restaurant and the staff is of European descent I just start speaking Polish.

      Works the first time, (almost) every time, except once when I struck up the acquaintance of a girl from Slovakia.

    4. Yves Smith Post author

      I never said that. I am saying that people reading Rose’s piece would seem him falling into the same error as “dumb” voters, of conflating the damage done by Thatcherism with the consequences of membership in the EU. The charge is that the voters rebelled against the wrong mis-rulers and Rose is arguably replicating their error.

      1. Art Vanderlay

        Thatcher destroyed the industries. EU free movement of capital and labour stopped them coming back. The EU is fundamentally neoliberal to its core. The voters aren’t idiots. They want to hurt the Westminster elite and the Brussels elite at the same time. Because they are the same people. Tell them that EU has protected their rights and they laugh because they know it’s a lie.

        Glenn Greenwald has a good take on what is happening. Thank goodness. Most of the analysis by Americans has been shameful:

        1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

          GG nails it, the entire fabric of institutions, from Congress to the IMF to the Fed to the Parliament, the media, and especially the fantasy unelected super-state megalomaniacs at the EU, have all failed to represent anything but their billionaire war elite paymasters.

  8. Mark John

    It should be unacceptable to decouple identity justice from economic justice. The neoliberal establishment talks a good game on identity politics, but meanwhile data shows distribution of income at record setting levels of inequality (i.e. the ones in charge are running off with the loot). It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what is easily visible, so complaints about the motives and intelligence of the 52% should be disregarded.

  9. econoclasm

    took their desire for revenge on austerity-minded UK politicians out on the wrong object.

    I’m not sure I buy this “voters are dumb” argument.

    The first sentence there is a pretty good starting-point definition of fascism. To slur it as a “voters are dumb” argument is to imply that fascism was a one-off and couldn’t happen again. The key point isn’t the intelligence or otherwise of the voters. It’s that a section of voters see the prospect for real gains from a politics that goes down the “national-identity” path.

    Out-and-out racists are in the minority of course, but they do exist, and they have been emboldened by the Brexit vote. Here are some cases of harassment:

    Frightening times for many people here.

    To see a “land of hope and glory” headline on NC is really disturbing.

    I’d hazard that not-well-educated workers were most exposed to competition by immmigrants from Eastern Europe.

    Yes. Neoliberal capitalism is largely to blame for the rise of nationalism and the far-right. And seeing one my favourite websites cheering at this rise, is really disturbing.

    1. efschumacher

      That “Land of Hope and Glory” headline is pure irony, can’t you see?

      And I don’t see Yves and NC, or M. Rose, as celebrating the rise of Fascist Nationalism. Rather that Britain has been given a better chance to fix Britain than it would have had within the EU.

      Europe needs to be fixed and Britain needs to be fixed. Cameron and his predecessors tried in a lukewarm way to fix Europe around the edges, and failed. There’s a better chance at fixing Britain. The EU nations will have to severally address their own problems, before coming back to address the ongoing joint problems, chief of which is preventing war on the continent.

      1. econoclasm

        That “Land of Hope and Glory” headline is pure irony, can’t you see?

        Irony? Here is what Rose wrote:

        The vote for Brexit is the best thing that has happened to European society for decades. It has started to clear some of the political, toxic debris that has been poisoning the continent. It is a chance for the traditional left…

        The rest of Europe should in the meantime emulate Britain…

        This seems consistent with an un-ironic “land of hope and glory”. Where is the irony, please?

        Rose adds:

        What we however have in Europe is laissez-faire immigration.

        This is pretty much the cliched “I’m not anti-immigration. I’m for controlled immigration” that we are hearing from the likes of Nigel Farage, Trump….

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      Read the Carolinian’s comment below. That capital moments link and what we saw in Sacramento yesterday are rooted in the same dynamic. Pitting the working class versus the middle class, while the elites who have benefited from the corporate-first neoliberal policies are safely far removed from the mess they have created.

      I don’t see anyone on NC taking an ounce of joy as this thing breaks apart at its seams.

    3. sgt_doom

      Geez, any sane person gets so tired of all this mindless endless parsing.

      Since EU membership, whenever there has been even a hint of a possible strike, all the workers are fired and foreign replacement workers are flown in — thus any form of collective bargaining rights ended.

      In America, the owners of major farms in central Washington, California and Hawaii laid off their farm workers and flew in cheaper Thai workers.

      In central Washington and California (am unfamiliar with the workforce in Hawaii, so cannot comment) American and Mexican farm workers were laid off, and essentially foreign replacement workers flown in — thus not that much different from what I just described in the UK.

      Under the TPP, this will be legal, although fortunately the court in Washington state ruled this illegal, but it took over three years of litigation by Evergreen Legal Services.

      To suggest anything other than workers needing rights is truly amoral.

      1. OpenThePodBayDoorsHAL

        But but but…”elites are elite for a reason, they tend to be so much smarter”.

        There’s a giant pendulum in every society, on one end is Capital and on the other end is Labor. We’ve had the needle pegged on the Capital side for decades as the people who actually do the work are completely demonized, repressed, and forgotten.
        Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.

  10. Jim A

    And why might that be so? I’d hazard that not-well-educated workers were most exposed to competition by immmigrants from Eastern Europe.
    Neo-liberilization has ensured that much of the benefits* of globalization have flowed upwards while the costs flowed downwards…

    *well at least the more visible benefits…

  11. Carolinian

    Have to say I find the above a lot more persuasive than this morning’s other Brexit post, the “realist” position. Rose is likely correct that it’s not about the one percent but about the 48 percent. America and, as it now seems, Britain are in the midst of a class war but it’s the working class versus the middle class far more than about workers versus those billionaires Sanders is always talking about. As long as the elites at the top of the pyramid can keep everyone else divided they will succeed.

    1. Otis B Driftwood

      Regarding Sanders message, what else can you do in our so-called “classless” society? This is where he and Trump start and end: Trump has exploited the class warfare in ugly ways by exploiting the frustrations of our own chav-losers, while Sanders has instead attacked the direct cause of their misery – the neoliberal elites.

    2. sleepy

      The US median family income is something in the neighborhood of about $54,000. 80% of families have an income less than $100,000. What’s middle class in the US?

  12. econoclasm

    This has been an argument made by many commentators, who also happen to be members of the elite: the Leave voters took their desire for revenge on austerity-minded UK politicians out on the wrong object.

    By the same token: many other commentators, who also happen to be members of the elite, are romanticising bigotry as proletarian resistance. You have to be really elite and out-of-touch to look at a phenomenon that includes the nastiness documented here* … and see only encouraging news of the demise of neoliberalism.


    1. Carolinian

      Aren’t blanket statements about bigotry themselves a kind of bigotry?

      As for the Guardian, I believe they speak for those 48 Percenter’s he’s talking about.

    2. tegnost

      I’m not sure I understand why you ignore the nastiness of neoliberalism which led to this situation. Are you saying that the working class, having been fed a steady diet of lip service, should remain standing in line at the abattoir? I hear this winners losers thing from successful people all the time (also on bill maher friday, just a blanket assumption passing itself off as reality) they just never expect to be one of the losers, and now the power dynamic is asymmetrical in a way that threatens you more than them and you find it frightening. I assure you those of us who are the pre ordained losers spend plenty of time being frightened about the future. Ever notice how the “losers” are always the same groups of people, while the term itself implies some level playing field, it’s not you win some you lose some it’s we always win even if we have to cheat so shut up you losers. Yes there is bigotry and racism in the world, and plenty of it in all classes and on both the left and right. Some of the consequences of the policies carried out to advance the neoliberal framework are going to have a negative impact on you! OMG! Robots are coming for your job, too, so save your money if you can.Welcome to the party.
      slightly off topic but but one of my friends who buys into the winner loser paradigm managed to get me to watch this over the weekend. Luddite horses.

  13. jabawocky

    Age and education were the main predictors of voting tendency, and these are hard to de-convolute as causes because due to improvements in education young people are much better-educated than old people in the UK. Not chavs so much, there are far too few of these to win a referendum, but pensioners with no skin in the game who yearn for a return to the glory days of empire. For them Indians were supposed to polish their shoes, not buy up British companies, houses and football clubs.

    The author seems to argue that the EU somehow prevented the UK from legislating against the exploitation of labour. The UK is addicted to cheap foreign labour, especiaily in agriculture, but they do jobs nobody in the UK would do and in conditions nobody in the UK would tolerate. Thus they do not compete with locals, but provide them with cheap food and coffee.

    In reality it is Tory governments that have lowered wages as policy, crapified pensions, brought about privatisation (mainly to re-employ people on lower wages) and misery to people’s lives. Yes competition from migrants can bring down wages… but only if the government encourages it, rather than stops it.

  14. Marco

    Stepping back a bit from all this one has to wonder how the internal political machinations of a country with an economy roughly the size of California can have such a outsized and toxic affect on the global economy? Yes London is a financial center blah blah blah. What a hot house orchid this whole Globalisation thingy has become?

  15. digi_owl

    Ol’ Marx comes to mind. In particular his Petite Bourgeoisie in regard to the linkage between voting remain and education.

    Perhaps also the expression about why Americans seems to vote against their own interest. “They see themselves as temporarily embarrassed wealthy”.

    1. jrs

      Maybe the problem is less that, than that the ex-middle class sees themselves as temporarily embarrassed middle class …. rather than just the proles that they are.

      The middle class sort they aspire to yet be has always been used as buffers between the working class and the wealthy.

  16. ChrisG

    I voted Leave, not because of socioeconomic determinism (I’m not a Chav-Loser but comfortably retired highly educated chap in a nice house in a nice town). It was because the place Rose describes – an economy that works for less than half the population and wants the rest to shut up and/or die – is not a place I’m comfortable in. My class betrayal means my name is mud among immediate family and (some) friends.
    I have to say NC carries a lot of responsibility for my decision. If I didn’t come to this site every day I might have continued pseudo-happily as Mr Homo Economicus-Consumer!

  17. Brick

    I think Mathew Rose has hinted at some real truths here ,but then taken those grains of truth to expound a narrative which is dubious. It is correct that there are specific occupations that have seen wages decline due to competition from immigrants and Corbyn may well have had this in mind with his tepid support for remaining. It also correct that many workers have seen slow incremental cuts to their rights, but this may be due more to UK government policies than European ones.I would however agree that the losers in society have sent a message and Mathew is quite right that for the increasingly financially squeezed unemployed and receivers of benefits whither trade and shares go makes little difference.

    There are societies winners on both sides of the brexit issue depending on whether you are export orientated (remain) or locally based and fed up with red tape (brexit). Equally there are societies losers on both sides depending on whether you see EU laws protecting rights, stopping UK Tory ambitions and fighting intolerance (Remain) or migration pushing down wages , making it hard to get jobs, inviting terrorists in and lots of red tape (Brexit) . What I think is true is that those without jobs, at the very margins of society and some retired people have tended to vote to leave (There are many exceptions to this). My perception is that the Chav-Loser is being hounded out of existence with policies of trying to force people into work ,so this is a bit of an outdated idea.

    The argument is not really consistent with the idea that there is a generational split particularly in voters of the left persuasion (another horrible generalization) or that areas with the least immigration tended to vote for exit (Terrorism fear maybe). Having said that I think there is merit in the idea that there was a protest vote by those for whom the EU was not relevant and that the EU has done little to stop a race to the bottom.

    I also have a bit of problem with the idea that somehow the middle classes have become winners as they sit and train their replacements in Outer Mongolia (probably the only place jobs have not been outsourced to). Painting the 48 percent as winners and the 52 percent as losers just strengthens divisions so that we can all be ignored again. The poem “they came for me by” Martin Neimoller comes to mind where the middle classes are concerned. There were also large parts of sleepy suburbia that are so afraid of terrorism that they voted to leave and by Mathews own arguments these elements of the 52 percent would be classed as winners. I appreciate Mathew is trying to bring a different voice to the table but it all feels a little 1980’s and 1990’s in its arguments and today’s Britain may be a little different to the view from Berlin. It felt like a bit of a catch 22 choice to me where you get to weigh up whether you feel globalization or austerity is the worst against controlling immigration or protecting workers rights is the best. My concern is about the intolerance being fueled out of the choice.

  18. flora

    ‘ Now much of the English middle class is wringing its hands crying “How could the Chav-Losers do this to us?” The answer is because you have treated them like rubbish for decades.

    Thanks for this post.

  19. Stein

    I really like a significant portion of the article, the fact about those who need and those who get funds is very interesting indeed, and the fact that this is a crisis of the 48 instead of the 52 or the 1% is something I’ve personally written about.

    But a couple of remarks:
    1. It’s high time Westerners stop thinking about immigrants just as low-qualified people. A rising portion become highly educated: part of them are 2nd generation immigrants, part come from high school to university. Sure, there are the low-qualified workers, but they are not the only ones.

    2. It’s nice to blame the EU for focusing on corporations and not people, but the S-word (States) is to blame in reality. The EU has had bold political projects since the beginning and since the beginning, they have been smashed to bits. The Border Guard (to help immigration) that was agreed upon last week was watered down again and it could only happen after the November attacks – in truth, it was an old proposition. The Constitution was voted down in 2005 and although Lisbon occurred in 2007, that was symbolic. Labour is much more delicate to reform given the disparities in economies and in cultures – you cannot impose a German labour culture in Paris, as we can clearly observe. (Then again, there are some EU rules on mandatory resting hours, which is a start.)

    Don’t get me wrong – I understand the critique, but it is a bit too simple to just say “it’s the EU’s fault”, when in truth, the States are just as much to blame. The only French active party leader who was elected to the European Parliament is Marine Le Pen and she has a remarkable number of absences. (I exclude people like Juncker because 1) he’s in the Commission and 2) he is a retired politician now.)

    3. Referenda are overglorified. People have yet again shown that they vote for or against politicians, not for or against issues. Brexit is a political maneuver gone very bad. It’s a way for politicians to wash their hands and deny responsibility. It’s no wonder that political tactics such as De Gaulle’s or Napoleon’s referenda are considered as populist in France. That being said, I can see a point to having a referendum – we shouldn’t have to compel people to stay against their will in the EU, even if it’s good for them. If they want to leave – well, leave. The idea that the EU has to stick together at all costs is one I do not like very much, because a club should be exclusive. However, any referendum will be polluted by populistic opportunism and that is the danger – instead of getting a rational referendum, you’ll just get Brexit and everyone will lose.

    Oh, and about reform and corruption – the EU is not more corrupt than Member States. I would very honestly argue that it is much less corrupt. I don’t see why it gets all the blame and I don’t see it as protecting the 1%. For the last 5 years, it has created an avalanche of banking regulation (against the banks’ will), it has opposed corporation giants like Google, it has created mandatory gender equality in board of directors, it has obligated green reports from high end corporations, a much better products’ liability regime than in the US, and the list goes on. None of this is what corporative lobbies would have liked. Of course, I do not ignore that they are probably somewhat corrupt, but not nearly as much as, say French politicians who get condemned on a regular basis like – hm, Sarkozy. Or British politicians with family accounts in Panama like Cameron.

    In sum, yes, the EU has to reform, but it’s not the only one. Countries have to reform, too. And we should stop thinking that our country is “us” and the EU is “them”. That hasn’t been true for a long time.

    1. Nunya

      instead of getting a rational referendum, you’ll just get Brexit and everyone will lose.

      It is yet to be seen who wins or loses or what the outcome of Brexit will be so please keep Chicken Little proclamations to a minimum

  20. James McFadden

    Prof. Jack Rasmus ( provides similar insight in his analysis of Brexit as class warfare, where the neoliberal elite is pitting the middle class technocrats against the blue collar working class – something elites have always done.

    “Brexit becomes a proxy vote for all the discontent with the UK austerity, benefit cuts, poor quality job creation and wage stagnation. But that economic condition and discontent is not just a consequence of the austerity policies of the elites. It is also a consequence of the Free Trade effects that permit the accelerated immigration that contributes to the economic effects, and the Free Trade that shifts UK investment and better paying manufacturing jobs elsewhere in the EU. So Free Trade is behind the immigration and job and wage deterioration which is behind the Brexit proxy vote. The anti-immigration sentiment and the anti-Free Trade sentiment are two sides of the same coin.” Jack Rasmus blog June 25, 2016

    He also clarifies the problem with the Labor Party: “they argue, incredulously, that remaining in the free trade regime of the EU would centralize the influence of capitalist elements but that would eventually mean a stronger working class movement as a consequence as well. It amounts to an argument to support free trade and neoliberalism in the short run because it theoretically might lead to a stronger working class challenge to neoliberalism in the longer run. That is intellectual and illogical nonsense, of course. Wherever the resistance to free trade exists it should be supported, since Free Trade is a core element of Neoliberalism and its policies that have been devastating working class interests for decades now. One cannot be ‘for’ Free Trade (i.e. remain in the EU) and not be for Neoliberalism at the same time–which means against working class interests.” Jack Rasmus blog June 25, 2016

    With the same anti-austerity and anti-immigrant sentiments driving the Sanders and Trump political rise, to the consternation of the ruling elite, he provides the correct answer for the USA: “The solution in the US is not to build a wall to keep immigrants out, but to tear down the Free Trade wall that has been erected by US neoliberal policies in order to keep US jobs in.” Jack Rasmus blog June 25, 2016

    1. sgt_doom

      Is it really class warfare?

      I mean, they did this with NAFTA, they do the same in Libya, Syria, etc., using violence and warfare to generate refugee flows to force their financial domination while generating endless forms of cheap labor?

      1. James McFadden

        Yes – NAFTA was class warfare – policy changes that took wealth from the middle class and gave to the rich. Austerity programs are class warfare. The middle east wars are also part of this class warfare – destroying any social programs or any leaders that might restrict privatization, or wealth extraction, by the investor class. The tactics of the investor class in this clash are the neoliberal policies put in place globally over the last 4 decades. If governments resist, as Libya resisted, as Venezuela and Russia are currently resisting – then those governments must be destroyed through economic sanctions or CIA coups (as in Ukraine). Neoliberalism is just the latest tactic – the class war can be traced farther back – CIA coups in Iran, Guatemala, and numerous other places – all in support of the investor class. The Council on Foreign Relations was created as a think tank to spearhead the war – try reading “Wall Street’s Think Tank”.

  21. Jolly Tommo

    So this was some sort of working class uprising was it?

    I’d be more inclined to buy that if there was one significant voice on either side of the debate which could in any way be said to be rooted in working class culture or aspirations. If indeed such notions have any real salience anymore.

    Let’s look at the leaders of the ‘winning’ campaign, (to the winners the spoils):

    Boris Johnson attended the most exclusive fee paying educational bastion of the Establishment, Eton, fitting in so well he was made Head Boy. In other words, analogously, as far as his education went he was the top 1% of the top 1%.

    Former commodity broker, Zen master of dog-whistle invitations to racism and Central Casting saloon-bar boor Farage attended Dulwich College. Not Eton, but far far far from shabby. Unless you went to Eton of course, in which case you are so far below the salt as to be barely visible. And that places the rest of us way beyond the horizon.

    Gove: Oxford, the Times, Parliament. A horny-handed son of toil, clearly.

    The result has handed these types and their ilk the opportunity to pursue and attempt to accelerate a neoliberal agenda without the social democratic constraints as afforded by ‘Europe’ and it’s traditions, (alright, if you insist, such as they are), especially in relation to workers’ rights and protections.

    I think it significant that the gist of Johnson’s Telegraph article and public pronouncements today is, “Free markets will remain the same but we will be out from under the EU’s laws and regulations’.

    1. JTFaraday

      I think you’re probably right.

      Which is to just say, there’s a distinction between a protest vote and the message the protestors intended to send and the eventual outcome of that protest vote, the uses to which it may be put.

  22. JustAnObserver

    For 40 + years the “issue” of Britain-in-Europe has divided the Tory party from top to bottom and has been the issue used by any aspiring Tory pol to climb that slippery pole towards the Prime Minister’s job. Boris-the-Slimey and his Adams family co-conspiritors are just the latest in a seemingly never ending line. Cameron went for the nuclear option of calling a referendum to shut them down (and defuse the UKIP insurgency) fully believing that it was just internal Tory politics as usual. Martin Schultz of the European Parliament was absolutely right about this.

    Of course, as a result of not having the slightest clue about the mood of the country outside the Westminster bubble, a financial/economic mushroom cloud now hovers over the UK, centered, of course, on the City/Canary Wharf (which the Tories care about) and the nativist, tending towards racist, genie escaping the bottle in the rest of the country (which they don’t).

    There are v. good political and economic reasons for Leave as there are (IMV weaker) for Remain but we didn’t hear them before the vote and it is now absolutely certain they will be drowned in the vicious political backstabbing, recrimination, exultant crowing (take your pick) to come from both sides of the political divide.

  23. Gaylord

    Education, my ass! The smartest guys in the room took down the economy in 2008 — their exquisite education in cutthroat capitalism did not benefit humanity, did it?

  24. Irwin

    Can we stop with all the clucking? The Brits never embraced the EU. It is not surprising that, when given the chance to thumb their noses for plenty of good reasons articulated in the Rose piece, just under 52% of them did so. That NC readers don’t agree with the outcome is irrelevant. If anything, the lesson learned is that government by referendum is dangerous. You need not look beyond California property tax “reform” to understand that.

    1. St Jacques

      Not disputing your point about the dangers of far reaching referendums being decided by razor thin margins, but in 1975 the EEC referendum produced a positive vote of 67 %. Obvously a lot of people who voted then have changed their mind, and I don’t think it was because they simply got conservative with age, but had seen the disintegration of their society around them in that time and figured it was of no benefit to them, and they had nothing to lose and maybe something to gain by asserting themselves. Moar power to them!

      I’d like to congratulate Yves and the NC commenters on producing a fabulous blog. Who says nothing good comes from the USA? Bah, humbug. So glad skippy directed me this way over a of year ago with his sometimes irritating over-use of the copy-function. You’re such a valuable source of education and news on the political-economy for a half mad interested lay reader like myself down here in Oz where we’re fighting our own species of neoliberal dragons. Cheers.

    2. St Jacques

      Just one other thing, whinging is a British art form, so don’t confuse their constant and often creative whinging with actually “not embracing the EU”. They love nothing better than to be unhappy about everything. In the 1975 referendum, they did, emphatically “embrace” the EEC, at least as much as they could be said to “embrace” such things. They are above all a phlegmatic, pragmatic people, so for them to shift against it this way says something very important. Cheers.

      1. Nunya

        As a Brit you have to be unhappy about something. Normally the weather comes to the rescue there but in periods where the sun shines the EU will amply suffice.

  25. MJH

    It’s easy to sneer and characterise the people who voted remain as “handwringers”, and true many of them over-idealise the EU as some kind of grand progressive political dream, rather than a trading bloc based on free-market principals. But doing that ignores the complex geographical, generational and class divisions that exist in the UK. And it’s unlikely many of the remain voters under 40 will be homeowning “winners”, those that are risk losing them in the forthcoming recession. Also, it is possible for the “chav losers” to lose more. The EU protects their rights as workers much more than the UK. And the trade unions are in no real position to get them better ones. True those that voted to leave come from areas devasted by Thatcherism. The main complaint from people who voted out in those areas was the strain immgrants put on public services and schools, but they are also areas that have had the least immgration. Also, many were worried about immigrants from Syria and Iraq – both non EU countries – fuelled by the right-wing leave campaign’s scare stories that conflated freedom of movement within the EU and the refugee crisis. Rip it up and start again is always a risky model for progress. As it stands, we have a staunchly neo-liberal politician, in the driving seat and an opposition in disarray. It’s hard to be optimistic.

    1. vidimi

      nobody characterised the people who voted to remain as handwringers; only those who handwringed about those who voted to leave.

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