The Definition of Insanity

By Toby Peacock

In the summer of 2016 the only progressive credential needed was voting remain. The racists of UKIP and the old Tory bigots were lining up to vote leave so the only option must be to accept the EU, despite its flaws, and vote to stay in. After all, perhaps after a narrow remain vote Britain will be able to forge a campaign to reform the EU from within?

Fast forward two years, the racists and the bigots won. Our country has gone to the dogs. The gleaming light of the EU is getting further from us as we hurtle deeper into the darkness. The campaign though is not yet over, there is still a valiant group willing to fight for the EU and to stop Brexit in its tracks and take Britain back to those days before the referendum when things weren’t ruined and we all lived in harmony. Right?

Well, not quite, because although those now supporting a “people’s vote” may like to pretend Britain collapsed in the early hours of the 24th June 2016, for many people in Britain their communities had collapsed already. Either in the 1980s under Thatcher or more recently following the 2008 recession. The opportunity to vote leave was the chance to create some meaningful change and to shift our country in a new direction.

Despite your opinions on the referendum campaign, or how you voted, now that Brexit is quite obviously happening it is worth taking some time to look at the playing field and all of the players. The working-class vote in Britain was to leave, “62 per cent of those with income of less than £20,000” voted that way. Whereas, quelle surprise, it was the well-to-do middle classes who emphatically supported the EU, for those earning over £60,000 just 35 per cent supported Britain withdrawing. So, when you see discussions of voters being fooled, not understanding or that we should ignore the first referendum result, remember that this is being put forward predominantly by a financially well-off group who – although purporting to be progressive – show all the signs of sneering indignation towards the decision made by their intellectual, cultural and financial inferiors.

The faux-progressive liberal ‘left’ is politically homeless, but only through fault of their own. Now fully wedded to the European project through their total disdain for Brexit, they’re unable to properly argue for anything other than the status-quo. However, it is evident across Europe that the general public is not content with the status-quo any longer.

Hardcore anti-brexit sentiment, summed up by campaigns like #FBPE on twitter, has tied itself too closely to the EU, ignoring that many on the left voted remain while holding their noses. They were not enamoured by the EU’s treatment of the Greeks, or the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean, nor the endless freedoms for big business.

These ‘New Europeans’ now blame Brexit for anything and everything while they let capitalism and the Conservative government off the hook. They accept the slogan of neoliberalism ‘There Is No Alternative’ when a company shuts down and jobs are lost, they say Brexit is the cause, ignoring the possibility that the government could intervene in any way to protect jobs from the whims of the continental single market. But the real kicker for the anti-brexit campaign is that they’re incapable of addressing any of the issues that actually led to people voting leave.

The anti-brexit liberal intelligentsia has few answers for the communities destroyed by de-industrialisation, whose high-streets are now rammed with bookies, charity shops and big brand coffee places – but little else. This is the economics of liberalism: the small, local-run shop is crushed by the multi-national conglomerate because your local green grocer cannot buy and sell on the same scale that Tesco can. Of course, even this simple (and I admit simple) example is overlooked by the anti-brexit brigade in quest of cheap flights to the south of France and the ease of access to European Au Pairs. That is because neoliberalism suits the well off, and the EU referendum has made them realise that for all their progressive pretensions, the economic arguments bite.

We can see that deep down it all comes to economic ideology and not a pursuit of genuine progressive values. #FBPE and the People’s Vote campaigns are awash with attacks on Corbyn and his socialist Labour Party yet we see next to nothing aimed at May and her Conservative Government, who are actually carrying out Brexit. Much support has also been given to the ‘compassionate conservatives’ Anna Soubry and Ken Clarke, who, despite allowing the Conservative government to continue unhindered by not resigning the whip, are somehow true heroes, fighting to prevent the country destroying itself. But because they are anti-brexit we must ignore the work they have been doing to destroy the country when voting through other tory policies.

These liberal progressives see the EU as something it is not. Their view is that the European Union is there to protect us from the great evils of this world, that it is a beacon of hope in a world of Trump, Tories and the far-right. This image is not accurate. The EU does nothing to protect us from the populist far-right sweeping to power, and if we look to the continent we actually see a situation far worse than ours here in Britain as we wait to leave. The EU’s lack of democracy and watering down of individual national cultures by weakening the nation state has empowered the far-right, who now have a strong political presence in almost every EU member state. As well as this rise, the centre-left social democrats are collapsing. Voters are moving away from liberal social-democracy judging it as failed, yet the anti-brexit movement in Britain strives for this liberal social-democracy, which in Europe is dying. They are destined for failure. The EU is the hill the faux-progressive liberal left has chosen to die on and, by the looks of it, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.

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“Toby Peacock is a Young Labour activist, originally from Hull, about to graduate from Goldsmiths University in Political Science, with a focus on the impacts of immigration.”





12 thoughts on “The Definition of Insanity

    • Mark says:

      Hypocrite does the same thing he is complaining about – to ukip. Self centred eith no empathy. So for him, PREJUDICE is fine until it’s aimed at him. What a plank.

      • Maybe, just maybe, the author is engaging a deliberate exercise in reserving the kind of antipathy felt by remainers to leavers to try and trigger self reflection among the latter.

        Just a possibility.

        – Rob

  1. superlux says:

    “The EU’s lack of democracy and watering down of individual national cultures by weakening the nation state has empowered the far-right”

    Toby – what do you mean by the phrase *watering down of individual national cultures* here?

  2. You’ve forgotten to tell us how a Brexit led by the far right of the Conservative Party will actually benefit the working class. Once in power, the far right is very hard to shift, as it has no compunction about telling the electorate exactly what it wants to hear (Donald Trump promising to bring all the jobs lost to China back to the US, for example) and playing on patriotism and false enemies to retain power (think Russia). With the press on its side, that makes it very hard for the left to get its message across and that message will be constantly vilified as unworkable and unpatriotic (which is already the case in the UK).

  3. Bools says:

    So many non-sequiturs and mis/disinformation here it’s difficult to know where to start, but here’s a couple of things

    “…if we look to the continent we actually see a situation far worse than ours here in Britain as we wait to leave.”

    Yeah here we go again…the Gove/Johnson/IDS/Fox/Redwood/Farage tactic of cherry-picking the worst of European countries to illustrate how heinous the EU is (e.g. Greece for the economy, Hungary for the far-right). I can tell you 100% that life here in NL is tangibly superior to that in the UK in so many ways (and survey after survey, year on year, the people say they are happier). And on my street, just as on most streets here, we have independent Green-Grocers, Cheese Shops, Bakeries, Coffee Shops, Butchers (if that’s your thing), hardware stores, book shops etc (as they do in much of France or Germany for example)…so how come the EU is to blame?

    The EU is far from perfect but trying to blame it for everything selectively ignores the *actual* situation in other EU countries (yes we have state-owned railways and other public services here too – so can we kill that myth, perhaps?).

    And to say
    “The working-class vote in Britain was to leave, “62 per cent of those with income of less than £20,000” voted that way…”
    is either stupid or disingenuous.
    62% *of those who voted* is not “The working-class”.
    The LSE study commented that there were surprisingly low turn-outs in many urban (and urban ‘poor’) centres…including in London. The turn-out was much higher amongst the White middle classes of the Home Counties and the South East.
    “Such polls (Ashcroft 2016) indicate that the TYPICAL LEAVE VOTER is WHITE, MIDDLE CLASS and LIVES IN THE SOUTH OF ENGLAND. The proportion of Leave voters that are in the lowest two social classes (D and E) is less than one-third (see Dorling, 2016).”

    If we are just taking votes cast, then you might want to consider that White British people were the only ethnic group to back Brexit. But that wouldn’t quite fit the narrative either would it? So who is really patronising who here?

    And this is a belter:
    “But the real kicker for the anti-brexit campaign is that they’re incapable of addressing any of the issues that actually led to people voting leave.”

    So, what about ‘immigration’ then? How come the only mention of ‘immigration’ is not in the actual post but in your description of yourself “about to graduate from Goldsmiths University in Political Science, with a focus on the impacts of immigration.” Which I must say, to many, might look suspiciously like “middle-class,” “intelligentsia” – but I wouldn’t want to stoop to cheap shots and crude stereotyping.

    It’s funny how so many ‘class warriors for Brexit,’ who are so passionate that the voice of the working-class is listened to, refuse to even acknowledge that a very large proportion of their proletarian revolutionaries had ‘immigration’ at the top their agenda when they voted Leave. How about giving them a Referendum on immigration? ‘Immigration? Yes? No?’ Or, something a little more nuanced perhaps: ‘Should the UK have net immigration of 100,000 per year? Yes? No?’

    As a migrant to the EU, married to a migrant from outside of the EU, I know how I would vote. But I’m not so sure your particular strand of ‘left Brexit, middle-class, intelligentsia would get the result it wanted.’

    Personally, I’m not for a moment wanting to ‘overturn the popular vote.’ Let’s ignore that the referendum had no qualifying turn-out, qualifying majority etc whatsoever. This was a farce from Day One. The very same people (Cameron, Osborne etc) who built careers out of rubbishing the EU and blaming them for the UKs problems insisted that *they* lead the Remain campaign. Is it any surprise (especially with we now know about that pr*ck Banks, and his fart-catchers) that people feel a little aggrieved?

    The EU is not ‘an institution.’ It is many institutions. And while some countries were trying to strengthen the parts of it which improved the lives of individuals, the UK (led by Cameron and Osborne with Gove, May etc) was at the forefront of pushing back in favour of the big-money and speculators. I support a Euro-sceptic party here who, nevertheless, understand the value of the EU and how to work within it for change…change that was often blocked by the UK.

    The referendum was nothing to do with improving the future of the UK or its citizens. It was only about saving the Conservative Party…which is why I always thought it would end in Leave. If it had resulted in Remain it would not have ended there because it would not have saved the Tory Party. Then there really would have been a second referendum.

    Leavers are now free to build either their ‘England for the English Nationalist’ Paradise, their ‘Hayek Free-Market’ Paradise or their ‘Socialist’ Paradise in the UK now. Let’s see how those happily co-exist. Good luck with it.

    I’ll settle for my compromise here in the EU, alongside comfortably off ‘working-class’…and those horrible ‘middle-classes’ too.

  4. Guy Roukaerts says:

    When people talk about losing individual cultures in the european project, this is my reply: the language border in Belgium between the French speaking Walloons and Dutch speaking Flemish, runs along the lne drawn by Julius Caesar’s troops 2000 years ago. So much for those ‘weak’ cultural identities…

  5. A damn fine piece and the fact that the sexually self-sufficient Federasts are whining about it should make you doubly proud.

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