The result of the EU referendum should throw up the obvious question: “What did the leave voters, particularly those of working class standards, expect from a successful leave vote?”
It seems, too many of leave voters of this ilk were motivated by a genuine fear of other or xenophobia. Sadly, this anachronistic island mentality is a deep residual anxiety borne of the imperialist, royalist past, present and terribly foreseeable future. This basis of the British psyche informs its crisis racism, the kind of other hatred appealed to by the political rabble-rousers of the leave and the remain campaigns. This feeble struggle was couched in the catch-all term ‘immigration’ as if everyone knew exactly what it meant to the extent that it could be represented in a yes/no question. This formed part of the strategy of oversimplification that resulted in a yes/no referendum for such a complex issue as the UK’s often uneasy, always uneven and complex relationship with the rest of Europe.
Under the umbrella term immigration those huddled for their own interests began chanting, ‘British jobs for British workers’ in a lynch-mob simplicity. The assertion that Britons must be at the head of any queue for jobs is itself a desperate oversimplification of issues of unemployment and employment that has the word jobs as a universal referent to something generic and simple.
First of all, this competition for jobs is severely class-ridden: immigrants are at least initially driven by a desire to work, however unthinking they are about the possible negative impact on the mass jobs market in the UK, yet are resented by Britons constantly victimised by corporate opportunism that has systematically devalued their class of labour, it being mostly unskilled or possessing experience with out of date skills that do not fit the narrow, standardised employment opportunities. What is lost in the simplification of the issue of jobs in this undignified scrabble for a job between proletarians of Europe, is any legitimate debate about the quality or lack thereof in these opportunities for various tenures of employment. These ‘racists’ and xenophobes accept that when they are rooting for the flag bearers in sport, they are inadvertently rooting for immigration. Maybe not in the same way that the powerbrokers do as, like all class-conflict, there’s a tension of interest in the outcomes of any political machinations. Powerbrokers, the kind that occupied both ‘sides’ of the EU referendum ‘debate’, want ‘free’ movement of labour, especially cheap, low cost-unit labour, without concern for rights and decent terms and conditions, regardless of geographical origins. The backtracking immediately after the debate was won by the right-wingers apparently for those ‘wanting their country back’ from only fellow workers but not from those in real power who lump both indigenous and migrant worker together as global ‘human’ resource, illustrates how easily the fear of other can be manipulated to achieve accidental shared outcome for two otherwise diametrically opposed political groupings: the privileged powerbrokers and the workers who need to sell their labour to subsist. The shared outcome touted by the rabble-rousers was that Britain would close its borders immediately, yet immediately after victory, the powerbrokers backtracked and talked of the previous position of merely controlling the borders as they and their corporate friends and collaborators see fit. The patriotic getting our country back leavers will still be in the same queues, still be in the same position in those queues but without some of the recourses and appeal of terms and conditions that exist now. The queues will be for work of low quality and arbitrary tenure. The protection of workers’ rights, sometimes wrongly attributed wholly to the EU will be abandoned as accommodation of fiscal immigration that takes control of the UK out of the hands of the vote. Just look to France and the so-called socialist government imposing as an authoritarian regime would, carte blanche for corporations to effectively control the nature of terms and conditions as supranational dictators.
As we can already see in this country, workplace edicts and diktats will become enshrined in corporate ‘law’ and any democratic spasms called elections or referenda will be negated as legitimate democratic expressions of the will of the people, unless of course you vote for right wing corporatism when you’ll see your ‘vision’ for society realised in industrial relations akin to feudalism.
Other than xenophobia, it’s difficult to comprehend how reason and judgement, however rudimentary, was suspended when voting leave to ‘solve’ any problems associated with immigration. How did so many who have been adversely affected by the deteriorating world of work and appalling final solutions regarding unemployment not see they were being hoodwinked by the very legislators and powerbrokers who had meted out their ideology to the detriment of their beloved Britain? How did they not see how fighting, squabbling over poor jobs with slavish terms and conditions is not getting your country back. Making Britain vulnerable to corporate financial immigration and then migration of the profits is not getting your country back. It seems these xenophobes do not mind being controlled and manipulated by rich immigrants, however remote their domicile and money caches, yet they object to being made to fight over the scraps of jobs these powerbrokers deign to ‘create’ and destroy in service of ruthless and non-geographical, non-national identities that crave profit at any human cost.
Another pivotal issue in the EU referendum was of course the NHS. The rabble-rousers ‘pledge’ to commit money ‘wasted’ on EU membership was quickly removed on the basis of semantic misunderstanding, rather than another example of the disingenuousness of the debate leave voters were manipulated by.
It doesn’t take a Philadelphian lawyer to see through the lies of right-wing champions of privatisation of such as the NHS suddenly being leaders that would protect the institution they have always seen as an obstacle to profiteering of private enterprise. Both sides of the ‘debate’ have proven records of desiring the privatisation of healthcare provision and cannot see any other way of running such as the NHS. Yet, when these rabble-rousers became champions of socialist principles underpinning the ethos of the NHS; they lead us to believe that they believe in the NHS as an institutionalised compassion we can all be proud of, whilst having a political record and personal record of pushing the brown envelope of private enterprise to stealthily convert the NHS into a private health insurance institution. It should be clear to anyone that whether in or out of the EU, the NHS is threatened by right-wing privatising ideology shared by both sides of the EU debate. So, where was authentic choice for anyone seeing the NHS issue as a significant influence on their vote? The subsequent and obscenely hasty reneging on the ‘pledge’ merely confirms the narrow-mindedness and dismally short-term memory of those working-class leave voters who are compelled to use the NHS due to their financial vulnerability.
What’s worse is the ease with which this disingenuousness of the rabble-rousers was accepted. This merely showed how a tired cynicism, which is in keeping with xenophobia and racism, underpins British democracy and a growing acceptance of feudalism that acquiesces to what is tantamount to dishonest power. What were once seen as lies are now accepted as mistakes or misjudgements by the powerbrokers. The debate was formed of and informed by people whose attitude to fraud and mendacity is severely suspect. Suddenly, leavers were trusting information given to them by people they have no past evidence for trust. So, the inevitable ‘sorry it was a mistake’ to appeal to your simplistic xenophobia and suppressed socialist principled sympathies for the NHS, yet we’re so glad you fell for it’ strategy, is apparently, acceptable debate in the twenty-first century?
The EU referendum merely confirmed our lack of sophistication in identifying not only the tenets of democracy under pressure from global corporatist ideology but also our own sense of selves as authentic free individuals. To give a yes/no choice to an unfree mind is to coerce assent under false hopes, bad faith and false pretences. This low self-esteem resulting in bad judgement driven by desperation for any kind of change and systematic ignorance sums up the EU referendum and its deliberate political timing. Just look at the new right-wing cabinet that appears to have resulted from the leave vote: peopled by discredited privatisers and champions of global corporate exploitative dictatorship. Hardly the crew to get your country back! Don’t expect or blindly hope for fairness, integrity and honesty or stewardship of a better Britain, unless of course you accept that corporate takeover of the democracy is better: more a case of Britannia waiving the rules on employment rights, unemployment rights, even human rights in a zero-sum game application of the servile industry.
The immediate aftermath of this democratic performance should have dismayed any working-class, ‘floating’ out voters. The yes/no question quickly became a mere subplot as the main purpose of the whole event was manifested in the ease with which the Tory party shed its skin and emerged as a new serpent. The machinations of a special committee within the party became clear as a new cabinet peopled with class warriors whose credentials lack integrity, fairness and show a cavalier, fast and loose attitude to truth and honesty was formed with consummate ease. Even the head of the serpent emerged from a process so comfortable it resembled the falling into place of a barrel combination of a safe, as each preconceived number was clicked, resulting in right-wing, elitist dishonourable members callously renewing their ideological attack on the working-class and most vulnerable in our society, in service of the undeserving rich and powerful corporate moguls.