This morning, I received an e-mail from a friend. He writes from a conservative point of view, one that historians would qualify as isolationist. Will this latest move bring about a dissolution of the present political establishment built on masculine power, money and lies? Will we see the radiant dawn of principled politics with the Common Good in view? Would we see the end of cultural Marxism and “political correctness” founded on the principles of Frankfurt critical theory?
Will we see a resurgence of nationalism like at the end of World War II or in the heyday of the Empire under Queen Victoria or during the period preceding World War I? I have the impression that we are reading too much into things. Do we really want Donald Trump, Mme Le Pen or Farange? Is that really what we want? We are warned about the succession of Scotland and Northern Ireland, the breakup of the United Kingdom. The first thing parents ask a teenager who wants to leave home is whether he has a job, something to live on and decent digs. It is said that the Empire subsists in the form of London’s City banks, but is that true? The era of top hats, moustaches and snuff boxes seems to be over!
We are buffeted and swayed by politicians and medias who don’t seem to know more about it than we do. I have felt for many years that the hitherto quagmire needed to be broken. What will we get under nationalism? Perhaps a good dose of Trump, Le Pen, UKIP, etc. – and then chop their heads off to find something new. All most Frenchmen have to say is how odd the English are for things like eating Marmite and for having beaten Napoleon! Not very helpful!
Most serious analysis attributed the success of Brexit to nationalism and the ham-fisted way the waves of immigrants are being handled. No one can afford them, and Europeans in need are pushed further to the back of the queue as Syrians, Afghans, Turks, etc. get first service and rich pickings. I am definitively “exiled” because I could never afford a house in England, not even something grotty in the north-east. One problem I see if how the UK can afford independence without the old Empire plundered from everyone who now wants to come and colonise England.
I look to the first major cracks in the EU monolith. Perhaps we will live our very own 1989 (I was 30 when it all happened in Germany and eastern Europe). It is an Orwellian monster, and would eventually become a dystopia if left unchecked. We are losing money over the plunge of the pound Sterling.
Will this cause mainstream British politics to go back to the 1930’s and Winston’s bulldogs and Department of Dirty Tricks under the pavements of Whitehall? I doubt it. We can’t expect too much unless we are truly at the gates of a revolution. Usually, when revolutions happen, heads roll, and we have to be careful that those heads in the baskets won’t be ours!
In brief, I am not triumphalistic. We have to wait and see what happens. The political elite might just ignore the result of the referendum and it would be business as usual with Brussels. There could be a big backlash against the right-wing Conservatives and nationalists and we go back to the 1970’s and everything on strike like with Callaghan and Wilson (when I was in my early teens). All over Europe, it is up and down, mostly chickening out at the last moment from bringing back right-wing nationalism. Indeed, where is it all going?
These are momentous times or one big boring anti-climax.
Let’s just keep our eyes and ears open.
When I was in my teens, my dad read Andrew Duncan’s The Queen’s Year: The Reality of Monarchy: An Intimate report on Twelve Months with the Royal Family (1970) aloud to us: it gave a vivid impression of how tirelessly the Queen worked in the interests of the UK and the Commonwealth together – before the UK joined the European Communities on 1 January 1973. To add to your many good questions, and vary your observations about “the old Empire”, what of the Commonwealth (and former Commonwealth countries) in the new circumstances?
And why, exactly, do some Scots, and some in Northern Island, contend it will be impossible to work within the United Kingdom again as they had done before 1973, rather than as they did in the 43 years that followed? Surely their increased freedoms and responsibilities within the UK (for Scotland, variously, since 1998, 2004, 2005, and 2012, for Northern Ireland, since 2003, 2006-07) do not make it harder for them to work within that Kingdom as United?
My own view is that the Brexit vote is a disaster for the UK. No one, on either side of the debate, that I am aware of is a fan of Mr. Juncker and the way the EU administration operates but the highly balanced and sensible comments of Lord Hill on his resignation today were ‘bang on’ and I would agree that the UK is going to be weaker and disadvantaged if Brexit goes ahead. The media interviews with triumphant ‘Leave’ voters has been revealing and the vast majority clearly made it a protest vote about immigration ‘We wanabee British’ without any serious considertion of the consequences. As someone wrote on the BBC website yesterday ‘Great Britain become Little England’ due to nostalgia. And nostalgia for what one might ask? A history of wars with other European countries, ration books, cars with shiny bumpers? Farage has admitted now the the magical millions that could go to the NHS was based on incorrect figures and immigration is not going to stop – the Brexit folk have deluded themeselves.
What does it mean for ex-Pats like you Father? You and hundreds of thousands of other have a better quality of life living on the continent of Europe than being in the UK – a way of life now that will face uncertainties and let us not forget the people of Gibralta.
Isolationism and xenophobia in the twenty-first century are absurd with the speed of communication, the (current) ease of travel and global markets. I certainly hope Brexit is protracted by parliament which if it cannot actually stop it will give time for the rapidly emerging alternative coalitions that are being formed to mitigate against this gross travesty. No doubt the Brexit camp will accuse us ‘Remain’ supporters of being bad losers but the reality is if the vote had been the other way they would be the very first to reject the result with their incessant whining about Europe and the EU. They have split the Conservative party, split the nations and will split the Union between the Kingdoms. No thanks.
This referendum really shews the divisions endemic throughout the four provinces of the United Kingdom. In Northern Ireland you just had to look at the demographics. The Unionists (mostly in Antrim) voted in favour of Brexit, for a combination of patriotic and religious reasons. Like me, many Protestants see the European Union as the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy about the “king in the North,” and the Antichrist of Revelation. The Catholics, predictably, just followed Sinn Fein, because they care more about the European Union than they do about union with Great Britain, and see a “remain” vote as a roundabout way of securing a united Ireland. The Scots, again, just want independence and following their socialist independence party voted to “remain,” in sharp contrast to England, the south east of which is probably the most over-crowded part of Europe. I expect most in England voted because of immigration; that’s certainly true of my family. But also, as President Putin rightly observed, nobody likes having their taxes spent on bailing out weaker economies, least of all in the name of some pipe dream ideology. And as for the Polish ambassador’s comments about the 180,000 or so Polish living in England (mostly London), if they’re such an economic benefit, why do they send most of their wages back to Poland? Surely if they were to contribute to the economy that money ought to be spent on goods and services in the UK? And that’s just one ethnic group, and probably the least troublesome one. As for the Muslims…what did Jack Straw say once about “the English as a race aren’t worth saving.” The very same who was at the helm of New Labour’s deliberate policy of mass immigration.
It’s unbelievable that on a 72% turnout the political class in this country (mostly radical lefties) has been shewn to believe strongly about something that most of the electorate either couldn’t care less about, or heartily detest (as I do). I can’t help but see this as another class struggle, like the Peasants’ Revolt, with Nigel Farage as the new Wat Tyler (“When Adam delved, and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?”). I watched on Thursday night well into the small hours as the results came in. I watched as journalists, pundits, economists, politicians, &c made their fatuous comments about the inevitable result. Angela Eagle (the other blonde bombshell) attributed the disenfranchised, patriotic, old-fashioned Labour vote in favour of “Brexit” to concerns about Tory cuts to public spending, and austerity, and that it had nothing to do with immigration. These people are so detached from their core voters it’s just unbelievable! They knew that millions of people were angry about the way things were, and they just didn’t care. Why? Because they just view us simple folk as obedient cattle on whom any number of social, economic and political experiments can be tested. For decades we’ve had to put up with inclusion, diversity, and multiculturalism; the fable of “climate change,” globalisation, the promotion of the rights of minority groups like homosexuals and transsexuals; mass immigration, the salami-slicing away of our own liberties and constitution, disastrous foreign adventures, and interventions in foreign countries, an increase in crime and disorder, and an impotent (and corrupt) police force (sorry, “service”). Our political class has given deliberate preference to the rights of non-white, non-Christian minorities over the rights and privileges of the indigenous people and have sneered at them as racists, xenophobes, and generally backwards for daring to take pride in being Christian, and English, and having the temerity to resent seeing their neighbourhoods and towns change for the worse. I mean for heaven’s sake, the English are now a minority in their own capital city! These are just some of the things that we’ve had to put up with, and the Brexit vote reflects that. People have had enough.
Thank you – both – for your thoughtful comments based on trying as best as any of us can do to analyse what we read in articles written with a little more intelligence than the average journalist.
I try to simplify things to the extreme. The EU is fast becoming a bureaucratic dinosaur on its way to bringing Orwell’s 1984 true. On the other hand, the UK no longer has an empire or the income coming from such. England is like a teenager who wants to leave home but without a job or proper digs. Mum and Dad are hardly going to keep paying an allowance until they know what is going on.
If it is about north-country rhetoric and how things were so wonderful in the “old days” (1930’s for example), then masses of people have made a big mistake. All I can anticipate is something like when Sarkozy in 2005 ran a referendum on the expansion of the EU. The people said no, and he went ahead all the same. People are used to politicians who lie and have no principles related to the common good – so I see this happening in England. There was a referendum, but Brexit will never be implemented.
The refugee camps will be established in places like Dover instead of Dunkerque and Calais. Why should the French be paying for the UK’s anti-immigrant security? The Muslim immigrants will keep coming and we will have to pay for them. Eventually, there may be a civil war. Many people are tempted by right-wing demagogues, but they will only be of interest to the very rich like the present political elites.
For ex-pats? If Brexit is ever implemented, I will need to apply for dual nationality, which I should do in any case. I will never return to live in England – I can’t afford it! I can see many English people coming to France if they have a solution for employment or their pension, France and other European countries. Perhaps Europe is going to be islamised. So be it. The best is to live in as isolated a place as possible. I have just come back from sailing in Brittany. It will take them a long time to get out there. England is too small to be isolated. Wales and Scotland are possibilities.
I have also listened to people like David Icke and various alternative news sites. There is a danger with this kind of media, because we are prone to seek simplistic (conspiracy) explanations for what is way “above our pay grade”. As an ex-pat, I have become quite “rootless”, as critical about British patriotism (stereotyped images from the 19th century and between the wars) as about many things I can’t accept in France like its version of secularism and the republican “religion”.
The big issue now is that of a country making its living in the modern world. Unfortunately, money is everything. Reduce the people to the level of people in Venezuela, and heads start rolling. That will happen whether the UK hasn’t enough to sell to earn a living or whether we get strangled by the bureaucrats.
Will Putin bail us out? Why should he? The best thing for Brits who are crowded out and priced out is to move away. Life is too short. Perhaps England needs a revolution, but real people will die, and you might find you don’t have enough to eat. You might find the Right in power but with 70% taxation and mass unemployment. You might not like what I am saying. I didn’t vote because I am an ex-pat who has lived outside the UK for more than 15 years. One would think that I could vote at the British Consulate in Paris where I renew my passport every 10 years, but that’s the law as it stands.
The gut reaction was inevitable, and why Brexit certainly will not be implemented. The politicians will work out their stuff with Brussels and it will be business as usual. We march towards 1984 and pray to be dead before they take us to Room 101. When Churchill faced Hitler, he had the armed forces and a united nation. That is finished. Many things might happen: a general collapse of the EU. No one wants an isolated UK and an EU going as strong as ever and having all the money. There needs to be a new EU founded on other principles than presently. Having lived in France, Italy and Switzerland – I have become more European than English. I believe that a federal system like Switzerland or the USA would be a good thing. Unfortunately, America too is going bad, whether under Obama or facing the spectre of Trump. I don’t think that nationalism is the answer any more than internationalism.
Perhaps we are living in the wrong part of the world – or the wrong time. Brexit and Remain are very much the modern Scylla and Charybdis. The rocks either side make holes in the hull of the ship just as big! See https://www.sott.net/article/320890-Stalling-Brexit-will-benefit-the-radical-right-wing and https://www.sott.net/article/320805-Pepe-Escobar-Why-the-UK-said-bye-bye-to-the-EU. Your ideas would be most welcome.
Those are very sensible articles. Of course, I am under no illusions that anything will change all that much. I simply rejoiced that over half the electorate think as I do. Already that vile, disgusting little man David Lammy, MP for Tottenham, has arrogantly called upon his fellow parliamentarians to disregard the will of the people and vote against the referendum. But that call could have come from any of the majority of traitors, cynics, philistines, and atheists, servants of Mammon, who sit in Parliament. And as for the leave campaign, what was “Boris” (real name Alexander) Johnson’s game? He never mentioned Europe before the campaign. The entire thing was a farce, a cheap theatrical manipulation of people’s deepest fears, concerns and prejudices. The days ahead look grim to me.
I am convinced that Britain is going the way of antient Greece and Rome, and will be remembered only by “classicists” hundreds of years from now, when English is extinct as a spoken language, our descendants are all speaking Spanish and Mandarin (or some variant of newspeak), and such things as liturgy (“how strange that the British people used to worship their trinitarian god in this way!”), English literature (“love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind; and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind?” what a quaint thing to say!), and trial by jury are remembered only by a select few, who keep the knowledge to themselves. Like the Inner Party.
How did this happen? Why is it happening only to European countries? Turkey was once a colonial power, why is Turkey not inundated with foreigners whose languages, customs, religion, &c are in sharp disparity to the rest of the population, most of whom take their Islamic faith seriously, despite a century of institutional secularism? And how long are we supposed to tolerate things as they are? For how long are we to put up with Britain being systematically destroyed as a cultural identity? When my mother was a child, if you’d asked somebody her age now what being British was, or what British values are, he or she would have said that they are epitomised in a set of historic institutions, such as the Monarchy, the Church of England, Parliament, in places like Oxford and Cambridge and their antient colleges, in our immense corpus of literature and poetry, both profane and religious, &c, &c, and he or she would have said so with great pride. It’s fair to say that any one of those things to-day could be used as a punchline. Why? Well, it would be unfair to blame Europe entirely for that, but the principle of free movement, enthusiastically promoted by both major political parties, has ensured that millions upon millions of people indifferent, and sometimes hostile, to these institutions and values have been allowed to come and live here, procreate here, grow old here. This is why people say that immigration boils down to an economic argument, and why words like “growth” ring so shallow with ordinary people, like me and my family. Because if immigration is just an economic issue, how can you account for the adulteration of Britishness as a result of immigration? If people choose to sacrifice their culture on the altar of Mammon, that’s up to them, but let them do so privately. But to turn that into public policy is an unmitigated disaster, and this is what we see to-day. And this is why people like my mother and father, my brother, and the people I work with voted for “Brexit.”
Lord knows it was probably a waste of their time but I think it unfair of people to sneer at them.
This is the first I’ve heard of CANZUK, and I have not even followed all Mr. Bennett’s links, yet, and I think all parts of the English(-as-a-historical-first-language)-speaking world have a lot of technologized-(post)modern problems in common, but, nontheless, this struck me as interesting:
This sounds very interesting. I am an expatriate and will now need dual nationality (French/British). I am naturally “European” and not parochial English like the high-street butcher who has gone back to selling his meat in pounds and ounces. The European idea going back essentially to Napoleon was good and noble, despite the cultural and linguistic differences (after all, Spanish is widely spoken in the USA), and we have suffered too much from nationalism and wars. The alternative is to destroy and “reboot” Europe and its culture by allowing it to become colonised by Islam. The argument goes that the European birthrate is decreasing, so it’s Game Over. The present EU seems to be dysfunctional and anti-democratic.
You can’t pull EUs out of a hat, but something new is needed that wouldn’t lead us back to Hitler or Stalin or to the hackneyed Orwellian archetype. We need small and decentralised units, smaller than the present nations, and with a system for cooperation between federations and other diplomatic, economic and political agreements. It needs to be human and moral – and not just brute cash. How could that be possible?
But dear Fr. Anthony I believe that, i.e. how it was in the 1930’s (or date of one’s choice) is the criterion the Brexit vote was based on. There have been countless interviews today on TV of no doubt well-meaning old biddies saying how wonderful it was to get ‘everything back’. What precisely? When a ‘Leave’ voter is asked what the economic implications are they confess they have no idea. Is basically loathing someone because their skin-colour is different a justfiable reason for voting for uncertainty?
What is even more disturbing is that the Brexit Campaign have not given us the slightest indication that they have a strategic plan. They don’t have one. I suspect they were totally surprised by the result and some of them saw it as a ruse to run for leader of the Conservative party. No doubt Gove is secreted away somewhere now desperately trying to become an expert on negotiating Brexit as he was such an expert on education.
Personally, Fr. Anthony I hope you are correct and that it will not actually happen and that the ‘get stuffed’ rhetoric from Europe is just that. Reality informs me though that they have lost their patience with xenophobic Luddites.
Well, Rubricarius, I think your perspective the clearer-sighted. Though I’ll leave the analysis of the motivations for Brexit to the British I’d just make a couple of observations: the decision was contested by only 72% – according to Patrick – of the notional electorate, so it’s probably unsafe to say most Brits voted to leave – (of course, this would equally apply had the decision been the other way). The slender majority is also hardly a ringing endorsement. In fact the most significant thing about the result is the apparent intensity and size – approx. 50% – of the division among the people. I certainly share the concerns of those who think the consequences for British prosperity, its internal cohesion and coherence, and European and global peace and security are likely to be negative. The view that if the current wave of isolationist nationalism accelerates, we definitely move back into the realm of the boiling-pot-on-the-stove that was the pre-Great War recipe (forgive the jumbled metaphors!) is quite alarming and not to be readily dismissed.
Having said that, none of us can ever be sure of future events. I keep in mind that ultimately, peace and shared prosperity depend on each and every person deciding not to exploit, or lie, or grab, or hurt, or hate – a true power of One – and we have to hope that leaders think this too, or if not, that their colleagues or subordinates don’t fail to do what their predecessors should have done to every other would-be tyrant and lock them up, and, equally, to hope, that leaders who so decide have the courage to inspire the demos to listen to their better angels.
Stephen K, 72% is a higher turnout than you’d get at an average general election, the highest since 1992 in fact. The 2015 general election saw an overall turnout of 66%. And you have to ask yourself whether a Conservative government, which scraped by a slight margin into the majority, on a mere 66% turnout, really has the support and confidence of the electorate. It certainly doesn’t have mine, but then I don’t vote in general elections. Why? Because since the revolution of 1997 they’ve just been like perpetual groundhog days, where you wake up the next morning thinking you might just see a positive change, and you look at the news and see there’s another Blairite government. As Mr Hitchens says in the article I’ve just linked to, how are George Osbourne and Ed Balls, the Chancellor and Shadow Chancellor respectively, different in any way?
And if you want some measure, a concrete local example, of how out of touch the political class in this country really is, look at my own constituency. I live in the borough of Bexley, a safe Conservative seat and one of only five other London boroughs that voted “Brexit.” Bexley saw a 75% turnout, 63% of whom voted “Brexit,” a clear majority. Our MP, though, Mr James Brokenshire (the Minister for Immigration, in fact!), was an ardent “remainer.” Who exactly does he represent?
In my borough the turnout was 70.5% and the vote for Remain was 75.6%. You will understand therefore why I take the same view as Scotland’s First Minister that I am being taken out of the EU (if it actually happens) against my wishes and the very clearly expressed view of the community in which I live. On the mandate of that vote I think my MP , the “vile, disgusting little man, David Lammy” has called on Parliament to reject the result of the Referendum. I actually wrote to him yesterday not suggesting that – although I suspect there will be difficulties in Parliament – but urging him to look at possibilities of opting-in to at least Associate Membership of the EU for London and those areas where there is a clear mandate.
Today we have seen more back-sliding from Brexit: everyone now agrees the bus with 350 million a week to the NHS was BS, that immigration will likely have to continue as it is as a price of retaining the single market etc. So one might reasonably ask what is the f***ing point of the whole debate which has torn nations, parties, families and friends apart? What is also noticeable is the reluctance of Vote Leave to press the proverbial button, i.e. Article 50.
Thank you for your statistics, Rubricarius. 75.6% of your electorate’s 70% is approximately 51% of the potential total, as well as being, of course a 3 to 1 ratio majority of the actual voters. In your own electorate’s case, there was clearly a majority on both counts. At the national level, however, the 51% vote of the electorate’s 72% is no more than approximately 38% of the potential total, as well as being something of a majority ratio in the (rough) order of 1.0075 to 0.9925 of the actual voters, i.e. there’s not much in it! I would have thought, on such a specific matter of national importance, that either the referendum had been made a consultative, not a deliberative, one, or that some kind of minimum majority other than first-past-the post, had been required. I appreciate that different constitutional arrangements apply in the UK but you can see that the result could be thought to highlight the merits of compulsory voting, as we have here in Australia, or the benefits of holding consultative plebiscites as opposed to deliberative referenda for political as opposed to constitutional matters. (That said, it’s my observation that the Brexit result and post-Brexit “hangover” are beginning to raise important questions in regards to any Australian plebiscite held over the subject of same-sex marriage after the forthcoming election: questions such as (1) the form of the question(s); (2) how the results are to be interpreted; (3) and whether, indeed, it will simply be just a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money when ultimately it is to Parliament and to no-one else to make laws.)
I certainly think, taking into account historical, economic, environmental and geopolitical factors, that Brexit is more likely to prove a disaster than not.
Thank you for your statistics, Patrick. Your borough certainly, like Rubricarius’, voted to leave by majority. But your observations about the 66% majority of the Conservative government may be distinguished I think. I think it would be accepted, in a lot of electoral systems, that our governments are formed by representative seats or boroughs or counties, however called, and not simply on raw numbers. It might be thought that no government would ever be formed if it had to get both a ¾ majority of seats as well as ¾ majority of votes. I also can’t help thinking, as I said in my reply to Rubricarius, that a subject like EU membership seems much more, exponentially, significant than the policy platforms centred around the routine management of the Treasury every 4 or 5 years.
But, really, Patrick, I think that you should exercise your right to vote. I accept it is not compulsory in the UK, but it is a right gained after a long history of shifting power from landed military muscle-men of all kinds to the people on whose backs such muscle-men ride. To not vote is in some real way to spurn the efforts of people who have died to improve the common lot. The study of English history in particular I think is a study of progress and deep issues of liberty and justice, and the fact that you hold some or many of your fellow humans, including particular politicians, in some contempt – aren’t we all pots and kettles? – is all the more reason, I suggest, that you use your franchise to the good to which you aspire.
Within the last couple hours, I saw a report (which, of course, I can’t immediately find again) which said that, contrary to many expectations, polling elicited ‘democracy’ as a reason far more frequently than ‘immigration’ as Leave-vote motive.
An (as it seems to me) insufficiently circumspect general attribution of ‘racialism’ and/or ‘xenophobia’ fails to do justice to quite reasonable apprehension and dismay at long-lasting and growing (ethno-)religious cultural imperialism within the borders, insufficiently addressed (if, for example, my old parish-fellow, Michael Nazir-Ali, is to be credited, and I see no reason why he is not to be).
Obviously, that was at least a potential UK problem before 1973, but it does not seem unrealistic to think it more than exacerbated by (recent) EU diktats, so that problems relative to ‘immigration’ ‘- as some among many others – can all only hope to be adequately addressed within a context of ‘democracy’, in the sense of (what?) intra-UK-multi-national government.
A tacit call to “finish” the “revolution.” I don’t agree with everything Peter Hitchens says, but I agree with him on this.