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Brexit April 22, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Michael McDowell pointed to Brexit and how that may impact on this state in the SBP, and in the Observer William Keegan writes about the mood of pessimism in some circles as regards what they regard as the good likelihood of it coming to pass.

A point he makes is worth thinking about:

The opinion polls have to be treated with a kilogram of salt after last year’s general election; however, even allowing for polling error, what seems incontrovertible is the finding that the young tend to be strongly in favour of our remaining in the European Union, whereas the so-called “grey vote” is predominantly in favour of Brexit.

With due respect to the grandfather generation, they do not, according to the polls, seem to be paying much attention to the views and ambitions of the younger people who will have to cope with the consequences of Brexit rather longer than they will.

Keegan, who is anti-Brexit, has strong words of support for Corbyn who last week tied himself to the mast of that campaign. In fairness Keegan is no stranger to kind words for Corbyn having from the start had a notably more benevolent view of the new Labour leader than some in the same paper (just on that I enjoyed Jonathan Freedland who has had somewhat less kind words seeing the penny drop in terms of how important Corbyn is to that referendum).

Keegan indeed argues that the status quo ante for Britain, outside the euro, outside Schengen, is the best option.

And he makes a point too about the right:

…much of the regulation so many people complain about was necessary to make the single market work. Britain, under Margaret Thatcher and her hard-working negotiator Arthur Cockfield, was the main force behind the formation of the single market. And those latter-day Thatcherites who evoke the lady’s name in favour of Brexit should heed the words of her biographer Charles Moore: “Mrs Thatcher was the most effective promoter of European integration Britain has ever known.”

For Europe, not necessarily for Britain, one might add.


1. Gewerkschaftler - April 22, 2016

That’s what’s so mad about the Brexit thing and the Tories.

The EU they have now is more or less tailor made to strengthen the power of the elites they represent. The crap about ‘European values’ and some kind of inbuilt propensity to social democracy or other barriers to undiluted rent-seeking has clearly been given the lie in the last 15 years.

The notion of European values has been shown up as especially vacuous since the vicious obscenity of the “European” (non-) solution to millions of people fleeing war and devastation; now currently rotting in the poorest Eurozone country of being left to the tender mercies of Sultan Erdogan.

“There is no alternative but it has to be a British non-alternative”, seems to be what the Tory Brexiteers are about.

Mad stuff but par for the course during this crisis.

Keegan is right – one wouldn’t want to be part of the current EU or Eurozone if one had the choice, knowing what we know now, but membership is something of a one-way function. The cost of leaving and the prospects outside in the current political / economic context mean that attempts at constructing genuinely democratic and international movements and structures from below inside the monster remains the only viable option for now.

But IMO Brexit will be rejected by a majority of 5-15% but will continue to rise zombie-like from the grave to weaken the Tories.


WorldbyStorm - April 22, 2016

That’s very close to my own position re the EU. No love, deep criticism but there’s some potential if people are willing to seriously work across its expanse.


gendjinn - April 23, 2016

But all of the institutions have been co-opted by the 0.1% and their cohorts in the 1%. Given the events they preside over one has to conclude that they are overwhelmingly dominated by dynastic sociopaths. This is both a local and global problem.

The high marginal tax rate and estate taxes were the deal we made to solve this problem peacefully over generations. But that agreement’s been torn up.

The solution I see working is one outlined in Yes Prime Minister in reforming local government


2. CL - April 22, 2016

The EU as roach motel; you can get in but you can’t get out.


3. sonofstan - April 22, 2016

I doubt if any one here is charmed by Boris, but the mask slips increasingly these days. The racist (not even) sub text of his remarks about Obama is a) odious and b) pretty politically stupid.


WorldbyStorm - April 22, 2016

And Goldsmith too re Khan. It’s just incredible.


Michael Carley - April 22, 2016

It’s like the old Enoch Powell conundrum: are they racist or just prepared to use racism for their own political ends, and is there any practical difference?

And it’s good to have a Labour leader who doesn’t pander to racism.


WorldbyStorm - April 22, 2016


Just re Boris and charm he’s a vile opportunist, always loathed him.


sonofstan - April 22, 2016

I do find it an infallible guide to character around here though; anyone who doesn’t detest him is not to be trusted.


Aonrud ⚘ - April 24, 2016

But he was funny on Have I Got News for You…

Seriously though, do you reckon Ian Hislop and Paul Merton feel somewhat responsible?

Liked by 1 person

Ed - April 22, 2016

One thing that’s worth mentioning as a tangent to the Khan stuff – Labour MPs seemed to be unanimous in denouncing Cameron and Goldsmith for ugly race-baiting, and rightly so. But there was more of the same this week when a left-wing woman from a Muslim background became president of NUS. There was a smear campaign directed against her a couple of years ago, very much like the one against Khan, claiming that she had ‘refused to condemn ISIS’; it was complete rubbish, what had actually happened was that she had asked for one particular motion condemning ISIS to be reworded, after which it was approved unanimously. This slander is even more feeble than the one against Khan, which hasn’t stopped the Mail, the Telegraph and (worst of all) the BBC trumpeting it in the last couple of days. And who was joining in the attacks? Labour MPs like John Mann and Wes Streeting, who were presumably joining the chorus of boos for Cameron the other day. What a pair of creeps.


Ed - April 22, 2016

I think the Daily Mash skewered Johnson (not ‘Boris’, never f**cking ‘Boris) very nicely over that:

“Obama became aware of the child mayor of London this morning after Johnson suggested the two-term President of the United States was just an angry African who knew nothing about global politics. As Obama arrived in the UK, a White House spokesman said: “The President was told that while Mr Johnson is a popular English politician, his popularity is based on people laughing at him, not with him. After relating Mr Johnson’s colourful personal history, including the Bullingdon Club and the extra-marital affair, the President’s advisers then described Mr Johnson’s general appearance and the way he talks. The President found all of this highly amusing, particularly the idea that Mr Johnson is the favourite to succeed Prime Minister Cameron.”


Liked by 1 person

4. CL - April 23, 2016

“What does characterise large numbers of Ukip supporters… are much the same qualities that characterise many supporters of Donald Trump: a disproportionate number are white males over 50 from blue collar backgrounds who lack a college degree. This points to the real, as distinct from the reputed, roots of support for the Leave campaign.

At its popular core, the Brexit campaign is essentially a movement of anger, but also of bereftness. The anger is partly stoked by the shocks of global change. Just as Trumpites find it easy to blame Mexican immigrants, Brexiters are inclined to blame their economic woes on Brussels. But while Trumpites want to make America great again, the yearning to restore British national impetus is more intense and desperate, particularly among the English.”-Linda Colley


5. Ivorthorne - April 23, 2016

Speaking to pro-Brexit people is somewhat enlightening. They’re not necessarily stupid or racist but they accept certain falsehoods as facts. They genuinely believe that people come to Britain and get benefits. Only 20% of EU migrants are successful when they apply for benefits. In a recent study, the researchers found that less than 1% of EU migrants EVER receive benefits. The belief – so common in the Tory and UKIP supporters – that the migrants are putting a strain on the system is ridiculous in that context.

There’s a notion that these people are taking British jobs but with unemployment at 8.5%, Britain has near full employment. Some sectors – such as construction and finance – do not have sufficient people to meet their needs even in the current context where people can come to the UK.

It’s one of those crazy situations where because sensational scaremongering about foreigners coming to get you sells newspapers, the right wing press manufactures such stories and as a result people take them seriously. You don’t need to buy the Daily Express to see the headlines and on a daily basis, if somebody goes to a shop, they are exposed to anti-EU, anti-refugee and anti-foreigner advertisments.

Politicians who feed on this fear are successful and those who try to fight against it lose support.

Liked by 2 people

WorldbyStorm - April 23, 2016

If Bremain win, and say by 10%, do you think that will change or will there be even more stuff like that?


Ivorthorne - April 23, 2016

I don’t think it will make a difference. The right-wing press will still manufacture anti-EU and anti-foreigner stories and there will still be a market for it because fear and outrage sell papers. The exact arguments that are made may change but the general negative coverage of all things EU or foreign will remain the same.

What’s missing from the Brexit debate is any discussion about how the EU actually works. There have been some studies showing that ignorance of how the EU works is highest of all EU countries in the UK (or possibly second highest). The Bremain camp are focusing on the economic side of things.

I’m reminded of a survey they did in the US after the second Iraq war. Viewers of Fox News were much more likely to believe that WMD had been found in Iraq even if they were oppossed to the war. I suspect that the campaign will actually reinforce some of the false beliefs held by even those who vote for Bremain.


WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2016

Yeah, that sounds very likely. And your point re discussion of how the EU actually works is hugely important. The depth of ignorance is lamentable.


6. sonofstan - April 24, 2016

+1 to IT.
I hear the same stuff. When you point out that UK welfare is not especially generous, and that without a few hundred thousand polish builders paying taxes, their pension pot would be much smaller, you get blank looks. When you also point that the EU is not a thing apart from Britain that oppresses them, but is something they are part of and therefore have influence within and, again, it’s ‘but Brussels….’

The papers that go with it only sell to the age group that will vote ‘no’. As you say, I see the headlines every day and it’s constant, but what you also see is that, the Express in particular, is constant headlines about potential cures for Alzheimer’s and other afflictions of old age.

What’s worrying is something a student, not stupid, said to me the other day, when she proved to be unclear as to the status of Ireland as a republic: I don’t really understand the news, she said. And yesterday, I read pretty much the same thing in a novel with a young female narrative voice. ‘The news’, stuff we get straight away and are able to read behind, around, beneath, is so just a lot of old people talking as far as the young are concerned, and they don’t have the basic capacity to grasp the story. Social media has completely replaced any even slight engagement with the MSM, and even the sitting in the living room while dad gave out to the TV is long past.


sonofstan - April 24, 2016

Just to add – I spend quite a bit of time on trains and the tube and it’s rarer now to see some one with a newspaper, the Stannah apart, that it is to see a book. And that’s in London, the best educated and richest part of the country.


Ivorthorne - April 24, 2016

You’re absolutely correct SoS. Jobseekers allowance is better in Ireland than the UK. If the logic of the Express, Mail etc held true, all of the migrants would be going to Ireland and “swarms” of Brits would be leaving Liverpool and Birmingham to go live in Carlow.

With regard to newspapers, it is difficult to see if the decline in people reading physical newspapers means that people are disengaging. Most papers are available online for free so buying a paper would seem a bit of a waste of money. If you’re not particularly bothered, the Metro or Standard will keep you busy for the length of a commute,

The biggest problem with the move online is that if you’re friends are from a particular clique and you use social media for sourcing your news, it’s very easy to become closed off from alternative viewpoints. Granted, the opposite can be true as well but if you like things like the Telegraph, Mail and Express, you’re not going to get anything very left wing. At that point you’re only a meme away from thinking that people like Britain FIrst are reasonable.


WorldbyStorm - April 24, 2016

+1 re being closed off IT.

It is one reason why it seems so important to at least engage with the arguments that are made here in the RoI in the IT, SBP, SI, etc. Because those are the arguments whether about culture, economy, society, etc that have the widest currency whereas the counter arguments are often limited in scope, minimal in reach and made only to those who already agree with their underlying assumptions.

SoS, that point about demographics is intriguing. I wonder if there’s going to be a disconnect with younger people who *may* be more liberal on a range of issues… I use the term liberal advisedly btw.


Ivorthorne - April 24, 2016


Here’s an interesting piece that touches on the younger voters aspect of the Brexit vote.


ejh - April 24, 2016

The piece says, near its end

“Let me be clear: the British public are not to blame for their ignorance”

although I really can’t find anything in what’s gone before to justify the statement.


Jim Monaghan - April 24, 2016

There is a trade off between dole, health services etc. and indeed perception. Most UKers think they still have a better health service than say Germany.

Liked by 1 person

7. Ivorthorne - April 24, 2016

I think that the comments regarding coverage and the BBC are supposed to support that argument.

Blame is a pretty irrelevant concept in this scenario. There’s no point in telling Bob in Newcastle that he is to be blamed for his ignorance because he does not have the skills or motivation to find accurate and independent information about the EU. The challenge is to identify the factors leading to poor voter knowledge, xenophobic behaviours and attitudes etc. and use that information to help people make informed choices.

Liked by 1 person

gendjinn - April 24, 2016

There’s a paradigm shift in sourcing, sharing and verification of news/data in the under30s. It correlates even more strongly with Sanders supporters over Clinton supporters in the Dem primary.

The previous guardians and dispensers of news are perceived to have been co-opted and corrupted – TV, newspapers. They have been supplanted with sharing links to blogs/videos that provide rebuttal and critique to the establishment PR.

Best of all, satire is free to go viral and it does.

About changing minds. I know it can be done but it’s really, really hard. I look at campaigns like Recycling/CFCs which had a lot of success by getting the children passionate and then converting their parents. Or the social pressure drink-driving campaigns in Ireland – which brought a staggering shift in behaviour.


Ivorthorne - April 25, 2016

True Gendjinn, but for every recycling or anti-CFCs, smoking ban or plastic bag tax, you have issues like say creationism in the US, anti-traveller sentiment in Ireland, gun control etc.

Rebuttals and critiques are all fine and well but some are unable to tell the difference between an argument they like and a solid argument – especially on positions where the view is thought to be promoted by some secret or powerful elite. If you believe that some group of liberal atheists have all of the power within academia then the fact that most scientists agree with evolution makes no difference. Within the Brexit debate, you can have wonderful fact checks on websites like The Conversation or Social Europe but the comments will have people just asserting the typical Mail position and suggesting that the academic writing is biased because the university they work for received funding from the EU. In these scenarios, for these people, the fact that the author has provided citations for all of their claims is irrelevant. They know what they know and no fancy argument from some know-it-all is going to convince them otherwise.

Satire is really great in this respect – especially equal opportunity satire. It’s a pity we don’t have more in Ireland. Bizzarely, satire actually helped Bertie during the 90/00s.


sonofstan - April 25, 2016

Spot on.
I keep getting told that the reason I’m ‘pro -Europe’ is because Ireland gets ‘so much money’ from the EU. Any attempt to clarify my actual fairly lukewarm sentiments regarding the current state of the Union, or to offer reasons as to why the UK should stay,despite such reservations, founders on this conviction.


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