The End of Reason: Lies, Distortions and Misplaced Anger in the EU Referendum’s Brexit Camp

18.6.16

Andy Worthington showing his support for the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU.I thought it was time to make my feelings clear about the EU referendum vote. I know the EU is a profoundly flawed entity, but as I’ve been saying since David Cameron, demonstrating supreme cowardice, agreed to a referendum to placate UKIP and far right critics in his own party, the only way leaving the EU would be acceptable would be if we immediately had a socialist revolution — and that’s not going to happen. Instead, as former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has explained, we must reform it from within.

A leave vote will be a vote for the terrible racism and intolerance that has been ramped up as a result of the referendum, but that has been cynically promoted by the media and politicians for far too long. A leave vote is not only an unwise leap into the dark economically, but will legitimise the leadership ambitions of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Iain Duncan Smith and Nigel Farage — who are all disgraceful, self-seeking, deluded and/or sociopathic figures — and the racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia that they have been so shamefully promoting. In addition, please don’t think for a moment that I’m defending David Cameron and other ministers who are currently calling for us to remain in the EU, because they have criticised Europe relentlessly over the years, and have undertaken more than their fair share of immigrant-bashing and Islamophobia.

What depresses me profoundly is how, through self-delusion, as well as the encouragement of the media and politicians, far too many of my fellow citizens have concluded that immigration and the EU are the reasons they are feeling so put upon and isolated, when the truth is that everything they are complaining about is actually the fault of the bankers who caused the global crash in 2008, the politicians of all the main parties who have unquestioningly supported big business and the banks over the needs of the people, and the Tories (whether Leave or Remain supporters) who, since 2010, have presided over an “age of austerity” designed to cynically dismantle the British state in an unprecedented manner, which has involved punishing the poor, the unemployed and the disabled while further enriching those who are already well-off, and pandering relentlessly to the global super-rich.

I posted a version of the three paragraphs above on Facebook, with the photo of myself wearing a T-shirt provided by the Britain Stronger In Europe campaign group, and in this article I’d like to add a few more thoughts, primarily in relation to “Brexit supporters have unleashed furies even they can’t control,” an article Polly Toynbee wrote for the Guardian last week, after she spent time with the Labour MP Margaret Hodge in Barking, and also with Labour supporters in the party’s London HQ, who were making calls to Labour voters around the country in the hope of persuading them to vote to stay in the EU. The results, as Toynbee reported, “were grim.” She continued:

“Out”, “Out” and “Out” in call after call, only a couple for remain. “I’ve been Labour all my life, but I’m for leave,” they said. Why? Always the same – immigrants first; that mythical £350m saving on money sent to Brussels second; “I want my country back” third …

Try arguing with facts and you get nowhere. Warn these Labour people what a Johnson/Gove government would do and they don’t care. Warn about the loss of workers’ rights and they don’t listen – maybe that’s already irrelevant to millions in crap jobs such as at Uber or Sports Direct. “We’re full up. Sorry, there’s no room for more. Can’t get GP appointments, can’t get into our schools, no housing.” If you tell these Labour voters that’s because of Tory austerity cuts, still they blame “immigrants getting everything first”. Warn about a Brexit recession leading to far worse cuts and they just say, “Stop them coming, make room for our own first.”

Toynbee followed up by spending time in Essex with the MP Margaret Hodge, who hosts weekly meetings in Barking for constituents to discuss whatever is on their minds. As she explained, “When the BNP shockingly won 12 council seats, those open-door meetings dealing with everyday grievances saw her make the case and beat them off, so the BNP lost every seat.”

Last week, around 50 constituents turned up, discussing normal concerns – as Toynbee described it, “parking, fly-tipping and houses in multiple occupation crammed with migrants by rogue landlords.” However, at the end of the session, when she asked those who had turned up about the referendum, “the mood changed”:

“We didn’t come to talk about that!” one angry woman said, others agreeing. “We came about parking!” But Hodge insisted, making an eloquent remain case: shrinking services are caused by Tory austerity that halved their council’s budget, more than migrants. The room bristled with antagonism. “Do you want to be governed by Brussels?” one shouted out. “You’re being sold a false prospectus, a bunch of lies,” she said, to no avail. One said: “When I get out at the station, I think I’m in another country. Labour opened the floodgates.”

As Toynbee also noted, although these constituents like Hodge, who is a “well-respected, diligent” MP, “they weren’t listening. She demolished the £350m myth, but they clung to it. She told them housing shortages were due to Tory sell-offs and failure to build but a young man protested that he was falling further down the waiting list, with immigrants put first. Barking’s long-time residents come first, she said, but she was not believed.”

Despite this being a Labour stronghold, the Barking and Dagenham Post found 67% support for Brexit. Toynbee recognised how immigration could be perceived to be to blame for people’s dissatisfactions, despite it not being a true reflection of the situation. She noted, “As high-status Ford jobs are swapped for low-paid warehouse work, indignation is diverted daily against migrants by the Mail, Sun, Sunday Times and the rest. “Fury over plot to let 1.5m Turks into Britain” was Monday’s latest from the Daily Mail,” promoting what, sadly, are its usual lies, as Turks have no interest in joining the EU, and the EU has no intention of allowing Turkey to join. But facts, of course, just get in the way of propaganda.

As Toynbee described it, “This is the sound of Britain breaking.” She continued by imagining two years down the line, after a Brexit win, with people seeing “no change, [the] same migrants, [and the] same sense of powerlessness,” and with, potentially, an economy in recession, and “reliant on City and property bubbles, low skills, low productivity, [and] atrophied public services,” a situation in which Boris Johnson and Michael Gove “risk losing control of the furies they have unleashed,” usurped by “some yet-worse demagogue who calls for throwing out migrants already here.”

Is this a dystopian fantasy? Perhaps. But it’s something I was already thinking before Thomas Mair, a mentally ill man, long interested in fascism, responded to the fever pitch of racism stirred up by those who want us to leave Europe — and particularly, it seems to me, by Nigel Farage’s latest unacceptably racist poster — that he killed the MP Jo Cox, who was, notably, an advocate for the rights of refugees. In court today, when asked his name, Mair responded by stating that his name was “death to traitors, freedom for Britain.”

I have watched as racism has grown and become acceptable over the last ten years or so — as the ungrounded rumours about preferential treatment for immigrants, in jobs and housing, became louder, even though the housing story has never been true, and, when it comes to employment, it is always the employers, and not those employed, who dictate who gets work and what wages are involved. I watched with rising alarm in the run-up to the 2010 General Election, when Gordon Brown was condemned for having correctly described a woman with whom he had had an encounter in Rochdale, who had discussed being overrun by eastern Europeans, as a “sort of bigoted woman.”

In recent years, however, the racism has crept out of the shadows and is no longer whispered, and I have become wary of getting involved in discussions with people in the street, as often, regardless of people’s background, I end up hearing how immigrants are to blame for everything — often from people who are themselves 2nd generation immigrants. If we vote to leave on Thursday, I genuinely fear that calls for the enforced repatriation of those regarded as unwelcome immigrants will only become louder.

In closing, I can only reiterate how much I believe people have been fooled, blaming immigrants for problems caused by bankers, politicians and the global super-rich. It is true that immigration rates are higher than they have been in a generation, but that is because of our wars and our greed, and because we in Western Europe (in Britain, France, Germany, Austria, Holland, Belgium and Scandinavia) are amongst the richest countries in the world. From inside and outside the EU people are drawn to us to seek work, and it is genuinely difficult to see how it could be any different if we left the EU.

London and the south east, for example, have greater work opportunities than almost anywhere else in the world— even if wages and the cost of housing rather take the sheen off the opportunities. If British people are feeling sidelined — and they clearly are, and in significant numbers — the answer is to look at those who claim to be our leaders, and those who regard themselves as the elite, with their arrogance, their greed and their uncontrolled sense of entitlement, and not to engage in the disgraceful scapegoating of people who, fleeing war, violence or broken economies, are not the deserving target of anyone’s anger.

Note: For further analysis, see John Harris’s Guardian article, “Britain is in the midst of a working-class revolt,” and Neil Ascherson’s New York Times article, “From Great Britain to Little England,” and please also watch this powerful video of Professor Michael Dougan, Professor of European Law at the University of Liverpool, lucidly explaining why it is not in Britain’s best interests to withdraw from the EU.

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer, film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose debut album, ‘Love and War,’ is available for download or on CD via Bandcamp — also see here). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and the Countdown to Close Guantánamo initiative, launched in January 2016), the co-director of We Stand With Shaker, which called for the release from Guantánamo of Shaker Aamer, the last British resident in the prison (finally freed on October 30, 2015), and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison (published by Pluto Press, distributed by the University of Chicago Press in the US, and available from Amazon, including a Kindle edition — click on the following for the US and the UK) and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here — or here for the US).

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, and The Complete Guantánamo Files, an ongoing, 70-part, million-word series drawing on files released by WikiLeaks in April 2011. Also see the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

69 Responses

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    After I posted my photo and the three introductory paragraphs on Facebook, Javier Rodriguez wrote:

    I’m in too. #SupportJC #VoteRemain

  2. Andy Worthington says...

    Tony Simpson wrote:

    Me, too.

  3. Andy Worthington says...

    Anna Elliott wrote:

    Yep, I am too

  4. Andy Worthington says...

    John Burgan wrote:

    Hear hear….

  5. Andy Worthington says...

    Sheryl Odium wrote:

    I’m with you Andy.

  6. Andy Worthington says...

    Charmaine Dolan wrote:

    Well said Andy.

  7. Andy Worthington says...

    Kirstenous Magnus McKenzie wrote:

    Well said, Andy!

  8. Andy Worthington says...

    Jessy Mumpo wrote:

    I’m in for the same reasons, with a hope that despite the size and distance of Europe and centralised decision making, reforms can be implemented and the plural voices of diversity remain.

  9. Andy Worthington says...

    Natalya Wolf wrote:

    well put!

  10. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler I’d urge anyone still undecided to spend a little time listening to this legal expert, Professor Michael Dougan, Professor of European Law at the University of Liverpool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USTypBKEd8Y

  11. Andy Worthington says...

    Ann Alexander wrote:

    Me too.

  12. Andy Worthington says...

    Rosey Prince wrote:

    The human rights act needs us! As do workers’ rights, the environment, and any recourse to stand up to the government

  13. Andy Worthington says...

    David Nicholl wrote:

    Andy…agreed, I was in audience at a local BBC debate this week & when the UKIP MEP started talking about the difficulties of doing stuff in Brussels, I shouted out “Rubbish, I’ve been to Brussels and worked on the death penalty..as a direct result of the work of Brits on that committee, executions at lowest rates in US 1991” I’m not saying this is THE reason to vote remain, I’m just saying the EU is better than the alternatives!
    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10154229662674350&set=p.10154229662674350&type=3&theater

  14. Andy Worthington says...

    Aisha Abbasi wrote:

    Well said.

  15. Andy Worthington says...

    Matthew Carr wrote:

    Well said Andy. Agree totally.

  16. Andy Worthington says...

    Melani Finn wrote:

    Yes, agree fully.

  17. Andy Worthington says...

    Saleyha Ahsan wrote:

    Me too!

  18. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Javier, Tony, Anna, John, Sheryl, Charmaine, Kirstenous, Jessy, Natalya, David, Ann, Rosey, David, Aisha, Matthew, Melani and Saleyha. I just wrote a longer article expanding on the three paragraphs I wrote above, which I hope is of interest: http://www.andyworthington.co.uk/2016/06/18/the-end-of-reason-lies-distortions-and-misplaced-anger-in-the-eu-referendums-brexit-camp/

  19. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted the article above, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, providing a detailed analysis of the profound problems with the campaign to leave the EU – primarily that it can only increase the racism, xenophobia and Islamophobia that is so disturbingly prevalent in the UK right now, which involves millions of my fellow citizens missing the point in the most depressing manner possible. Those responsible for the neo-liberalism and austerity that plagues them are not poor immigrants, or, for the most part, the EU (although it is also corrupted by neo-liberalism), but the very politicians who will lead the country after the referendum, and the bankers, corporations and the global super-rich who, with their every gesture, reveal their contempt for ordinary people.

  20. Andy Worthington says...

    Lindis Percy wrote:

    A good posting Andy – fully agree with what you say.

  21. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Lindis. I wanted to stand up and be counted, against what appears to be a tidal wave of misplaced anger and frustration. People need to work out who is really to blame – and it’s not immigrants!

  22. Andy Worthington says...

  23. Andy Worthington says...

    George Kenneth Berger wrote:

    Good Stuff from Andy Worthington.

  24. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, George!

  25. Andy Worthington says...

    Joanne MacInnes wrote:

    Danny Nicol: Is Another Europe possible?
    https://ukconstitutionallaw.org/2016/02/29/danny-nicol-is-another-europe-possible/

  26. Andy Worthington says...

    I prefer this, Joanne: https://diem25.org
    But I’m happy to argue about the EU; just not until after Thursday. The only way to stem the rise of racism in the UK is to defeat the Leave campaign.

  27. Andy Worthington says...

    Shari Wagner wrote:

    After we close Gitmo, perhaps we can re-open it as an international prison exclusively for war criminals and those guilty of crimes against humanity, starting with current and former US presidents. Perhaps then we would get the support we need from the US public?

  28. Andy Worthington says...

    Unfortunately, a majority of US citizens don’t seem to care, Shari, but I do hope that one day senior Bush administration officials (up to and including Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and they lawyers) are held accountable for their crimes.

  29. Andy Worthington says...

    Jez Tucker wrote:

    That about sums it up Andy. Personally I’d point the finger a little more at the UK’s mainstream media pushing the agendas of its various owners. People are really confused. Keep up the good work x

  30. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Jez. Good to hear from you. I certainly didn’t mean to underplay the hideous manipulative role played by the mainstream media!

  31. damo says...

    People have gone crazy lost there minds gone gooogooo ga ga ,there allways has to be some one or something to blame if its not immagrants then its lgbt (and i can personaly tell you violent homaphobia is realy on the rise) or its the unemployed, poor, or disabled. people need witches for burning …people have allways migrated if this was 100 years ago we,d all be aboard the lucitainia america bound. It feels like the pots boiling and about to boil over but the wronge people are being blamed ……there seems in the world right now a resources, wealth and power grab by the elites leaving people to starve and squable kill each other over scraps i wish people in this country would wake up …boris, gove, Ids, farage, patel, osborne, cameron, the bankers, the blaireits, phillip green, sports direct,…..dont give a shit about you they dont care if you live or die as long as you can give them something ….if we leave we will be at the mercy of thease people and belive me …..they wont show you any mercy

  32. damo says...

    In torie briton the only thing that seems to be trickling down is ,hatred ,madness and poison ….a toxic all consumeing hate trickling down from the black dead hearts of the elites

  33. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, I agree, Damo. The super-rich are in a frenzy, an orgy of wealth-grabbing, abandoning us and giving a nihilistic message that it’s everyone for themselves, that there is no future worth believing in. This negativity has been picked up on subliminally by the general population and is further undermining any notion of a coherent society with any kind of belief in the future. If we leave, it seems to me, we will indeed be at the mercy of the far right of the Tory party, who, unrestrained in any way by the EU, which sometimes acts as a counter-balance to the obsessive privatising zeal of the Tories, will destroy what’s left of the state even quicker than Cameron and Osborne have been doing. Boris Johnson and Michael Gove both look like opportunists to me, but who with any sense wants to legitimise Nigel Farage in any way, and who wants to empower Tories like the repulsively far-right Liam Fox, or the hideous Iain Duncan Smith?
    As the referendum day nears, I am becoming more and more aware that voting against the Leave camp is more important than voting to remain in the EU.

  34. Andy Worthington says...

    Ghias Aljundi wrote:

    Yesssssssss

  35. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Scott wrote:

    OUT………………..racism has clouded the issue and been deliberately used to keep people ignorant………………….it is a extension of the USA………………………………..

  36. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler replied to 35. above:

    It’s a bulwark against American Corporatism in fact. The UK Government is FAR more likely to rubber stamp TTIP than the EU. Although policies can pass by majority consent in the EU they are in reality likely to only be drafted once all 28 States have had their say and had their concerns addressed. The idea that at this stage France would allow American GMOs in their country is absurd… so by proxy the UK consumer is protected, despite our disgraceful far-right MEPs from UKIP not doing their job in the EU.

  37. Andy Worthington says...

    Yamil Arrifai wrote:

    The most strong argument for the ones who want to leave is their hatred for islam and muslims who have grown exponentially there. To be separated wont make britain stronger either. Well said andy

  38. Andy Worthington says...

    Sarah Scott wrote:

    what bullshit…………………..have you listened to anyone other than the media who have successfully manipulated this whole debate with it’s “britain First” red herring…the EU is racist to the core..take a look at what happened to the Calais Convoy Yesterday. Expect it to get worse……………..under a new EU Superstate…………..who the fuck do you think is supporting all the wars in the Middle east?.The EU is an extension of the USA…..

  39. Andy Worthington says...

    Neil Goodwin wrote:

    Andy, check out this lecture from a guy who knows. Brexit will mean a complete overhaul of the entire UK legal system..
    Far reaching constitutional change, including another Scottish referendum and major border issues between Northern and Southern Ireland..
    Major questions as to what to do with the 3 million EU nationals currently living, studying, and working in the UK?
    Major questions as to what to do with the 2 million plus UK citizens currently living, studying and working in the EU?
    At least ten years to negotiate a comprehensive framework agreement for the future..
    The throwing away of the most sophisticated trade agreement on the planet..

    Who could possibly stand to gain from the increased poverty and chaos that will come from Leaving the EU? Certainly the fascists who are pushing the exit bar.. x
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=USTypBKEd8Y&feature=youtu.be&a

  40. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks, Ghias, Yamil and Neil. David Knopfler had already alerted me to that video, which I believe is worth watching. Thanks for your additional comments.
    And Sarah, I’m not supporting the EU anywhere near a much as I’m opposing the right-wing Leave camp, because of the dangers that group of people – the far right of the Tory party, and UKIP – poses to the UK. The EU may be irretrievably broken, but if we were to leave it would need to be done in a way that doesn’t involve us all being used as puppets by the Tories. I also find the question, “have you listened to anyone other than the media who have successfully manipulated this whole debate with its ‘Britain First’ red herring” rather inexplicable, as the mainstream media in the UK is largely either supportive of the Leave campaign or clinging to the same notion of “objectivity” that, in the run-up to the 2015 General Election, would have led any outsider looking in to conclude that Nigel Farage was actually the Prime Minister.

  41. Andy Worthington says...

    Chris Stone wrote:

    Still puzzling about it myself Andy. I hate the current spokesmen for the Leave campaign, but can’t get over the fact that the EU is a monstrous, undemocratic organisation, wedded to neoliberalism. All very confusing.

  42. Andy Worthington says...

    I think there are shades of grey, Chris. The EU is a neoliberal monster, but it also has elements of social justice that are more progressive than anything we could expect from the Tories (quite like the Blairite Labour Party, perhaps). One example is decent social housing standards, for example, which is anathema to the Tories.
    Leaving, however, seems as much to be at least as much about notions of the future for the UK as it is about our role in the EU. Some on the left think the divided Tory Party will split and the left will have an opportunity to change the debate and eventually take power. I don’t find that credible – at least in the short-term. I think it may be better if we remain, because Cameron and Osborne will still be in charge, but will be hated by those who lost, who will then try and tear the party apart from a position of weakness, hatred and spite. That could be much more damaging.
    A third option is that not much changes, and Cameron and co fudge as much as possible as slowly as possible, so that we only nominally leave the EU, while most of the apparatus of membership remains intact.
    Certain key things keep resonating with me, though. I want no victory, in any conceivable sense, for Boris Johnson, Gove, IDS, Farage, Liam Fox or any of the other repulsive people leading the Leave campaign. I want no victory, in any conceivable sense, for the racism fuelling so much of the Leave campaign. I think destroying Boris’s political career might, on its own, be worth a Leave vote. I also want Scotland to remain part of the Union.

  43. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote, in response to 41, above:

    Not anything like as wedded to neo-liberalism as the UK Government. People need to understand Germany to understand the EU. Modern Germany was birthed out of the post war Marshall Plan which in turn was really an extension of FDR’s four terms of office and the New Deal. Nothing neo-liberal about that. Volkswagon were dismayed to find when trying to set up new outreaches in the US that they couldn’t have unions. To understand Germany’s pragmatic approach to attempting to manage Capitalism and ameliorate it’s endemic propensities to deliver social inequality is to understand the history of social-democracy. Germany has in place all the things Bernie Sanders dreams of for America. Angela Merkel is a Christian Democrat … which is Germany’s Conservative party but her policies place her moderately to the left of say Tony Blair. German policy making involves long-term planning and vision. Sure it looks at what is best for Germany, but not best for Germany’s 1%… which is crucially different to the 60 rebel far-right Powellites of the British Conservative Party who have been braying for Exit ever since “that wet” Ted Heath gave us the referendum to join the EEC. What is even more remarkable about Germany is that as well as all the stresses and strains of the 2007 crash to contend with, it inherited eighteen million people in 1989 from the former East with a completely decimated infra-structure which has been costing their tax-payers billions annually to put right. The German/French/British leadership of the EU, it seems to me is a far more constructive way forward right now than anything the hapless bumbling populism of Boris Johnson or the dangerous closet potentiality for fascism Nigel Farage will unleash.

  44. Andy Worthington says...

    And well said, David: “The German/French/British leadership of the EU, it seems to me, is a far more constructive way forward right now than anything the hapless bumbling populism of Boris Johnson or the dangerous closet potentiality for fascism Nigel Farage will unleash.” I also appreciate your comments about the workings of the German government.

  45. Andy Worthington says...

    Jez Tucker wrote:

    A lot of the far left are taking their chances that Boris/Gove/Farage can’t organise a piss-up in a brewery and that the right will increasingly fall to in-fighting leaving the way open for Labour to move in with a moderate socialist agenda. Risky business, I know.

  46. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, that’s right, Jez. Risky indeed, and I really do think it will be better for us if the Tories implode with Cameron and Osborne having won rather than Boris, Gove and IDS.

  47. Andy Worthington says...

    David Knopfler wrote:

    Andy, as I suspect you know and understand, the biggest problems the EU faces in fostering a progressive agenda are MEPs like Nigel Farage who are wreckers of the institutions, much like that dreadful US reactionary John Bolton, who was cynically sent to the UN by George W Bush, when his far-right values believed the best thing to do with the UN would be to raze it to the ground. Farage is embedded in Europe with a very dangerous gang of far-right nationalists who share in his teutonic dreams personal power in their respective nation States and an end to the internationalism the EU fosters.

  48. Andy Worthington says...

    Good point about Farage and his far right wrecking crew actions and alliances as part of the EU, David. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that all of these fascists and quasi-fascists are bankrolled by the organisation they’re trying to destroy.

  49. Andy Worthington says...

    Here’s a useful round-up of the positions taken by the Sunday newspapers: http://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/jun/19/eu-referendum-how-pro-europe-labour-red-tops-argue-their-case

  50. Andy Worthington says...

    And the often terrible Nick Cohen’s very good article for the Observer, “Take your country back from those who seek to destroy it”: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/18/eu-referendum-vote-leave-campaign-poisonous

  51. Andy Worthington says...

    Josh Langford wrote:

    My main issue with this position boils down to the question “how will we reform it?”. Without a massive gains across Europe for socialists I can’t see how we have a chance. For every Podemos there is a far-right party making just as many, if not more, gains somewhere else. Reform is a myth.

    How can anybody who believes in democracy support an institution that says “elections cannot change x” if elections change nothing then we’re little more than serfs with widescreen TVs! I’m voting out and although you’re one of the few journalists I do respect I’m going to have to disagree with you here.

  52. Andy Worthington says...

    Fair enough, Josh, but if I can leave one seed of doubt with you before Thursday, it would be to imagine the triumphalism of Johnson, Gove, IDS and Farage if the Leave campaign wins, and to imagine what their post-victory intentions will be. I believe the above has nothing whatsoever to do with overcoming the shortcomings of the EU.

  53. Andy Worthington says...

    Tashi Farmilo-Marouf wrote:

    You have a great bunch of intelligent friends, Andy.
    Happy Father’s day.
    I think people are distracted by hate and blame and that plays right into the hands of those who stir it up. We end up fighting each other instead of looking to those who write policy, accept money from lobbyists, support tyranny, uphold the rights of banks and corporations over workers, ban unions, punish dissidents, make money off of suffering, protect off shore interests and other fraudulent financial schemes and pump money into the war machine. That’s what needs to be questioned in a referendum. Not stay or leave.

  54. Andy Worthington says...

    Yes, exactly, Tashi. Very well put.

  55. Sem says...

    Polly Toynbee – trying to spin a murder by an insane person – for political gain. Disgusting.

  56. Andy Worthington says...

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion, Sem, but I didn’t see it that way:
    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/16/mood-ugly-mp-dead-jo-cox

  57. Andy Worthington says...

    Diane Ruesch wrote:

    The arc of history always moves humanity towards inclusion and diversity. These cannot be stopped. The US election is largely about this with Donald Trump being the most egregious example of the arrogance of close-mindedness. I truly hope the British do not turn their backs on the path they have begun.

  58. Andy Worthington says...

    I like your optimism, Diane, and on one level it’s true. The movement of people is unstoppable, and young people, like my son, take it for granted that they go to schools with other young people from dozens of other countries, who are all British – all Londoners – whatever their colour and whether or not they also describe themselves as also being part of another culture/national origin (the same is not true of the private school next to theirs, which is predominantly rich and white). Those who don’t understand or are particularly threatened by immigration tend to be monocultural and white – although, sadly, many 2nd or 3rd generation immigrants have also jumped on the far right bandwagon. But in the end, as you imply, the Little Englanders, like Trump’s supporters, must surely have backed the wrong horse, as that notion of freezing history in aspic – alarmingly, it seems to me, in the 1950s, before any of the counter-cultural upheavals that defined my formative years – can only fail, as it is so dismissive of reality.

  59. Andy Worthington says...

    The great Paul Mason in today’s Guardian, ‘Brexit is a fake revolt – working-class culture is being hijacked to help the elite’: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/jun/20/brexit-fake-revolt-eu-working-class-culture-hijacked-help-elite

  60. Anna says...

    I simply lack the energy to even try to understand the economic arguments on both sides, as we all know how ‘scientific’ statistics – let alone expectations – can be manipulated either way. I’m more interested in how truly committed the IN politicians are concerning refugees and fighting islamofobia.
    It is easy to positively profile oneself as opposed to Farage et al. just to win the desired votes. Just like Clinton refrained from using the term ‘radical Islam’ and other right wing rethoric until Bernie had been outmanoeuvred and then immediately her true colours started reappearing.
    Otherwise I trust your judgement Andy, having read most of your UK political post over the last few years and I just hope that the atrocious murder of Jo Cox may have been a wake-up call for many so far undecided people, seeing what might be in store for the country after an OUT vote. A tiny bandaid on a huge wound.

  61. Andy Worthington says...

    Good to hear from you, Anna. It’s a very difficult issue, as the EU project is clearly profoundly inadequate in many respects, but the closer we get to referendum day the clearer it is to me that, with the exception of some of my left-wing friends, everyone else who will be beaming from ear to ear in the event of a Leave victory will be despicable human beings who shouldn’t be allowed any near the reins of power and shouldn’t be riding a wave of populist isolationism that is more of a sustained cry of anguish at the loss of an imagined idyllic past than it is an endorsement of any of these politicians. This, it turns out, is because huge swathes of the disaffected – even those with money to lose – tend to despise all politicians, unless, like Trump supporters in the US, they align themselves with a grotesque subversion of the common man – in the UK’s case, former banker Nigel Farage.
    And those people who will take the credit if the EU leaves? Step forward, the disgraceful Boris Johnson, who serves only himself, the discredited Iain Duncan Smith, slayer of the disabled, the hugely unpopular Michael Gove (hated by every teacher in the land after his stint as education secretary, when he was so unpopular that Cameron had to move him elsewhere), the slightly disguised fascist Nigel Farage, plus others not seen as much but always unwelcome, like the dreadfully right-wing Tory MP Liam Fox, who fell from grace in a corruption scandal while he was the defence secretary.
    If only to scupper Boris’s grotesque and very obvious desire to be Prime Minister – and, hopefully, to destroy his wretched political career once and for all – people should vote remain on Thursday.

  62. Anna says...

    Thanks Andy for stressing the purely political side of a potential Brexit. Not having followed the campaign, I did not not realize how polarized the views are and that the OUT side was it would automatically lead to a bunch of 1 % racists getting into power. And that once more it is a choice between the least obnoxious of two options.
    The so-called refugee crisis has got me seeing the Eu as a ‘failed state’, incapable of acting in true unison to uphold the democratic and humanitarian values it preaches. As far as I am concerned, the spirit of the EU is as dead as a dodo. Britain wanting to have its cake and eat it by expecting the EU to allow for special treatment – which eventually would lead every member country to want the benefits but not the burdens – to be honest made me think : if they want out, good riddance, maybe some nostalgic remnant of their former ‘Ruling the Waves’?
    No personal offense of course :-), as I would say exactly the same of my own country which has some 2 million citizens living in other EU countries (half of which in the UK), yet refuses to replace even 1 % of them (20.000 persons) with desperate refugees and while being a huge receiver of EU funds, won’t share the refugee burden of fellow EU member Greece, etc, etc.
    Didn’t realize that what is at stake for Britain itself in fact is regime change, with dramatic consequences for all UK 99 % citizens, particularly the most vulnerable ones.
    Well, tomorrow I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you guys!

  63. Andy Worthington says...

    Thanks for your thoughts, Anna. To be honest, I agree that the refugee crisis has shown up the EU’s terrible failures for the third time – the other times being its slaughter of Greece and, overall, its largely neoliberal heart. But I don’t think our free movement is something that anyone should want to throw away – for young people, and for the 2 million Britons living and working abroad, for example. Mainly though, as you’ve recognised, a victory for Johnson, Gove, IDS, Farage et al would be terrible, as would a victory for all the racists rooting for the Leave campaign, however disguised that racism may be.
    And if Remain wins, I hope the Tories continue to tear themselves apart, as getting rid of the whole damned lot of them is the only positive way forward for the UK.

  64. damo says...

    Ok andy we need to think up an escape plan…..outtahere,the public have proved just how stupid they are …useless simpletons led by the nose to there own enslavement ….god help us

  65. damo says...

    Welcome to fuckwit land i can imagine boris dancing around ….im the winner,im the winner…..boris …..hates ….anyone ….who is not a rich ,posh torie……

  66. damo says...

    Farage is allready backtracking over the nhs….watching him just now on the news all he could say was bullshit ……going on about imigrants …..this is what people have voted for now ….right wing hell

  67. Andy Worthington says...

    What terrible news, my friend. I gave up on it all around 3am, when it had gone from 53:47 in favour of Leave to nearly 50:50. Part of me was stupidly optimistic. I’m finding it difficult to cope with the news, to be honest. It’s like a repeating nightmare, coming back to remind me again that it’s sadly, horribly true every few minutes.
    What should we do? I think London should declare independence from the rest of the UK.

  68. Paul says...

    Here’s a petition calling for a referendum on the terms of any negotiated deal for exit of the UK from the EU:

    https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/commit-to-a-referendum-on-the-revised-terms-of-our-relationship-with-the-eu

  69. Andy Worthington says...

    Interesting. Thanks, Paul.

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo, co-director, We Stand With Shaker. Also, singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers) and photographer.
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