“In a democracy it is occasionally necessary to defer to the wishes of the majority,” observed Queen Victoria’s favourite prime minister, the old “Hebrew conjuror” Benjamin Disraeli. It is a lesson that many on the losing side of Britain’s 23 June referendum on whether the country should quit or remain in the European Union don’t want to learn. These sore losers of the left have in their millions put their names to an online petition to Parliament demanding a second referendum, on the flimsy excuse that less than 75 per cent of the electorate turned out at the one that gave a narrow yet nevertheless glorious victory to the Brexiteers. Since the petition has far exceeded the requisite number of signatures necessary to prompt a parliamentary debate, a debate is what will happen, though the outrageous demand for another plebiscite surely cannot be met. There was no proviso that the vote would be honoured only so long as a certain percentage of the electorate turned out; too bad for the losing side – these things cannot be determined retrospectively to appease those who didn’t like the result. Another sore loser, Labour MP David Lammy, has tweeted that Parliament should “end this nightmare” by overriding the people’s will altogether.
In 1975, Britons voted to join a European Economic Community, which many saw as a bulwark against the Soviet bloc, an economic corollary of NATO. A four-word letter in the London Daily Telegraph very shortly before that referendum expressed a widespread, albeit resignedly grudging view: “Better Brussels than Moscow”. How do I remember? Because I was working in London at the time and knew the letter writer, and recall a hard-of-hearing friend to whom it was read out replying “What do you mean? Better brothels in Moscow?”
But I digress. The point is that the electorate were voting to join a Common Market and ended up, thanks to the 1991 Maastricht Treaty, with a monstrous entity that none but the likes of the duplicitous Edward Heath and his cronies foresaw in 1975 – that the Common Market would morph into a political leviathan, a kind of super state, run by faceless unaccountable bureaucrats and smug superannuated politicians for whom the European Parliament has proved a wonderful gravy train, a political leviathan riding roughshod over national parliaments and resembling, of all things, the old Soviet Union. No wonder Britons alarmed at the erosion of the sovereignty of the Mother of Parliaments and at the unconscionable rate of immigration decided that they wanted their country to claw responsibility for its own destiny back and voted to leave the European Union.
And what a routing of the received wisdom of the arrogant elites of both left and right it has been, with the “Remain” vote confined heavily to Scotland and Northern Ireland – even most of Wales including working-class Ebbw Vale in the mining valleys and the rather cosmopolitan port city of Swansea dealt Cameron, Corbyn and company an unwelcome shock – and some exclusive, well-heeled parts of the Home Counties as well as that now most un-English of English cities, London, voting overwhelmingly to remain.
Far be it for me to agree with the egregious John Pilger, but there is an enjoyable truth in these observations of his regarding the attitude of the “Remain” camp (but not the rest of the article, which contains a deplorable illusion to Israel, I hasten to add; http://johnpilger.com/articles/why-the-british-said-no-to-europe):
‘The majority vote by Britons to leave the European Union was an act of raw democracy. Millions of ordinary people refused to be bullied, intimidated and dismissed with open contempt by their presumed betters in the major parties, the leaders of the business and banking oligarchy and the media. This was, in great part, a vote by those angered and demoralised by the sheer arrogance of the apologists for the “remain” campaign and the dismemberment of a socially just civil life in Britain…. A forewarning came when the Treasurer, George Osborne, the embodiment of both Britain’s ancient regime and the banking mafia in Europe, threatened to cut £30 billion from public services if people voted the wrong way; it was blackmail on a shocking scale…. The most effective propagandists of the “European ideal” have not been the far right, but an insufferably patrician class for whom metropolitan London is the United Kingdom. Its leading members see themselves as liberal, enlightened, cultivated tribunes of the 21st century zeitgeist, even “cool”. What they really are is a bourgeoisie with insatiable consumerist tastes and ancient instincts of their own superiority. In their house paper, the Guardian, they have gloated, day after day, at those who would even consider the EU profoundly undemocratic, a source of social injustice and a virulent extremism known as “neoliberalism”….’
There can be little doubt that in parts of eastern England resentment at the seemingly inexorable arrival of unemployed young Poles (often with children) to compete for jobs and strain public resources and the school system has fuelled determination to cast loose from Brussels, as has the unsustainable levels of migration into other places, with the constant presence of “refugees” at Calais waiting to trick their way across the Channel and the recent intake of thousands upon thousands upon thousands of dubious “refugees” by Germany’s Merkel increasing already well-founded fears of a population increase without end and a dilution of western secular and Judeo-Christian values and culture. England is small and overcrowded. It cannot be expected to take in everyone who wants to enter, as the left (many of them Greens) demand.
Yes, much of this fear is grounded in “Islamophobia” – and with good reason. Who knows how many Jihadis and potential Jihadis have entered Europe in the wake of the Syrian disaster? UKIP’s (the UK Independence Party’s) indefatigable leader Nigel Farage, to whom enormous praise is due for making the Referendum, and therefore the “Leave” vote, a reality, has been excoriated in many quarters for playing on such fears, with a huge campaign poster showing a seemingly endless line of young male migrants trekking across Europe, but he is absolutely justified in doing so, and so are those who voted to leave owing to fears for their children’s future.
The Daily Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/06/24/eu-referendum-how-the-results-compare-to-the-uks-educated-old-an/) has shown that “Those aged over 60 were the most likely group to want to leave the EU, according the polls before the vote. … [T]he East coast areas that scored the highest anti-EU votes are also the areas with the highest pensioner populace. According to the polls, university graduates were the most likely people to want to remain in the EU – while those with a GCSE or equivalent as their highest qualification were more likely to back Brexit. This was a pattern that was reflected in the results. Levels of education and class overlap strongly in the UK, and so the Brexit vote also matched up with areas with higher levels of people from the DE social class – meaning people in semi-skilled or unskilled labour, those in casual labour and pensioners. This includes Blaenau Gwent in Wales, which has the highest working class population in Britain – 62 percent of voters here went for Leave. Considering how the Leave campaign adopted immigration as one of its key arguments, claiming that the current level of net migration is too high, it is unsurprising that the Remain campaign resonated more strongly with Britain’s immigrant population. London, where immigration is massively higher than the rest of the country, voted overwhelmingly to Remain – by 60 percent to 40. But it’s the areas in the South East and the East Midlands, where immigration has made a bigger impact only recently, that UKIP and now the Leave campaign have most resonated with.”
Regarding education, both left and right appeared to underestimate the intelligence of the average voter, one low point surely being syrupy smooth David Cameron’s trotting out of David Beckham as an example of a “Remain” voter, with the intention of influencing the masses. In the same vein, another mega-rich “Remainer”, the all too ubiquitous Sir Richard Branson, was wheeled out for propaganda purposes. Then there was the BBC’s not-so-subtle attempt to influence the vote by giving rather too much publicity to the “Remainder” leftists who sought to bash the Brexiteers by implying that anyone advocating “Leave” was a wicked racist in the mould of the murderer of MP Jo Cox, who as I’ve mentioned on my own blog was an anti-Israel activist hardly deserving of the sainthood many – including some in Anglo-Jewry’s leadership – seem to have bestowed upon her. Oh, and just to make sure that the ignorant under-educated masses got the “Remain” message, the BBC brought out a psychology specialist to warn the oldies that if they perceived the time before Britain joined the EEC as a better period their memories are playing tricks with them.
Any country which has engaged so much with the world over the centuries as Britain has is hardly narrow and inward-looking. It is a commonplace to point out that Britain – England in the main – has welcomed successive waves of refugees to its shores. There have been men of foreign birth in its army and navy for centuries past. The City of London attracted continental merchants galore, including founders of brands – Rimmel the cosmetics giant being one example – seen today as quintessentially British. The number of Londoners who have a foreign-born forebear or two is quite astonishing: they include Nigel Farage himself (two German great-grandparents and possibly a Huguenot), as well as (more extraordinarily) “one man melting pot” Boris Johnson. Some of the most notable of the eighteenth-century admirals whose bravery and skill ensured that Britain ruled the waves were men of part-foreign extraction: Keppel, Dutch; Howe, Hanoverian; Kempenfelt, Swedish. One of the country’s most acclaimed composers (many would regard him as Britain’s national composer) was a German, Handel; the half-French Isambard Kingdom Brunel was voted “greatest Briton” in a BBC television contest some years ago. Leaving the EU is not a case of “hate” but of self-preservation.
Are those over-60s who helped the “Leave” campaign to victory innate racists? I hardly think so. Here are some of names that certain famous people in Britain had when that generation was growing up, people regarded as English as Bird’s Custard or Colman’s Mustard without a second thought: Barbirolli, Constanduros, Handl, Mantovani, Edmundo Ross, not to mention such popular, even beloved, Jewish show biz personalities as Georgia Brown, Alma Cogan, Alfred Marks, Denis Norden, Frankie Vaughan, Mike and Bernie Winters, and the equally admired entertainers “of colour” – Winifred Attwell, Shirley Bassey, Cy Grant, Cleo Laine, Elisabeth Welch, and boxer Randolph Turpin. The average Briton, of that or any generation, is not a racist.
I’ll wager the typical Brexit supporter feels very similar to a 67-year-old lady from Sheffield who told the BBC (http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36631131 ):
‘I voted for membership of the European Economic Community 40 years [ago]. I voted for what I thought was free trade between the UK and the six founder countries. I did not vote for what the EU was becoming, which appeared to be a federal state run by Brussels bureaucrats who I believe do not serve the interests of any of the EU member states. For this reason, I voted Leave on Thursday. Although I have felt some anxiety, I also feel hopeful. I have no doubt we will see some turbulent economic times initially, but we have seen economic turbulence through the recession, and prior to that, with the high interest rates and inflation of the 1970s and 80s. As an “out” voter, I am still European. I still believe in mutually beneficial trade deals, both with Europe, and the rest of the world, and I support controlled immigration. Britain was, is, and will continue to be a great country. I am optimistic. We should see “brexit” as an opportunity.’
Indeed, there are plenty of people of colour who voted to leave the EEC: among celebrities they include the footballers John Barnes and Sol Campbell, while a most eloquent adherent of Brexit was an Afro-Caribbean lady interviewed in the Essex town of Romford (turnout 70 per cent in favour of leaving) when the BBC went there soliciting shoppers’ views.
It has been noticeable from the first that, apart from George Galloway, the enemies of Israel have been overwhelmingly anti-Brexit. They include pro-Corbyn vicar Stephen Sizer (now well back in the Facebook groove) and Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign chief Mick Napier (a regular guest on Press TV whenever a shower of fierce invective about the Zionist Entity is sought), who on social media brought to his followers’ attention an article by Nadine El-Enany, lecturer in law at Birkbeck Law School, University of London. Inter alia:
‘[T]he referendum has licensed the expression of racism and xenophobia, which has been unleashed with deadly consequences [a reference to Jo Cox’s murder]. The racist discourse that has defined the Brexit campaign must be understood in the context of Britain’s imperial legacy. The terms on which the debate around the referendum have taken place are symptomatic of a Britain struggling to conceive of its place in the world post-Empire. The run up to the EU referendum has shown Britain for what it is. Woodwork: the washed-up bracken of the British Empire, and the ugly flotsam of its legacy of racism….’ (http://criticallegalthinking.com/2016/06/19/brexit-nostalgia-empire/)
Yes, there were regrettable aspects to the conduct of Empire, but the example the author cites, the throwing overboard in 1781 of the human cargo of a slave ship for the sake of an insurance claim, is singularly weak. The author forgets the flourishing Arab slave trade which condemned black and white captives to abominable cruelties and which has continued in some cases into our own time. What chutzpah! Britain, through the Royal Navy, played a noble part during the nineteenth century in suppressing the slave trade; Britain exported parliamentary democracy to the world; British administrators abolished (or thought they had abolished) such gruesome practices as suttee and thuggee. Now, of course, received wisdom (the left’s received wisdom, imposed upon and accepted by wet elements on the centre-right) has it that everything the Empire did was evil and everything that “indigenous” peoples did and do is pure and worthy. Conveniently overlooked are the many injuries and insults to the female of the species done by Third World societies, with leftist females typically keeping shtum about them too. As for SPSC chief Napier, he might reflect on the fact that of all the United Kingdom’s constituent peoples, those who did best out of the Empire were in fact the Scots, who largely ran the East India Company!
And if there is any linkage between imperialism and the Brexit vote it is surely this: that the European Union is acting like a tyrannous latter-day Empire holding subject peoples in thraldom: one of those subject peoples have been the British, and the British have asserted their right to liberty.
Oh, I did see one obnoxiously racist pledge to vote for Brexit. It was by an inveterate Israel-hater on Facebook who, having read an article (http://forward.com/opinion/world/343245/why-bds-and-brexit-go-hand-in-hand/) suggesting that Britain remaining in the EU would benefit Israel, since it would be easier for a Britain in Europe to fight BDS and so on, declared that the article had convinced him that, in order to spite Israel, he would vote in favour of leaving.
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