Thursday, 30 June 2016

From Top To Bottom: Some Thought’s On Britain’s Brexit Nightmare.

How Did That Happen! The vote to leave the EU poses a direct threat to the futures of Neoliberalism’s expensively credentialed children. Like no other use of the ballot box in their lifetimes, it has frightened the Tops. It’s as if the yobs and the chavs have turned the world upside down, which, in a way, they have.
 
THE MAGNITUDE OF THE CRISIS now overtaking Britain is difficult to exaggerate. A society obsessed with class has somehow to deal with the impossible fact that those on the bottom have over-ruled those at the top. Yes, that has happened before in the history of the British Isles: in 1381, 1642, 1832 and 1945. But on all those occasions the Bottom was inspired and supported by a small but crucial faction of progressive Tops. Brexit is different. Brexit has turned the progressive historical tradition on its head. This time the Bottom has thrown in its lot with a rogue faction of reactionary Tops.
 
No one in New Zealand has summed up the situation more succinctly than ex-pat Brit, Josie Pagani. “Nearly every one of the working-class kids I went to school with voted to leave,” she lamented, “while everyone I went to university with voted to remain.” The bare statistics back up Josie’s observation. On the day of the Referendum, the Guardian website affirmed that the factor most closely related to whether a person had voted to Leave or Remain was their level of education.
 
Josie’s heartfelt cry recalled one of my most intense experiences of the 1981 Springbok Tour .
 
A protest crowd had gathered outside the Springbok’s Dunedin hotel. People were angry that the deal Hart had negotiated with the Police, under whose terms protesters were to be allowed within sight of Carisbrook, had been broken. In light rain, they sat down on the street and awaited developments.
 
Pretty soon the “Blue” riot squad emerged from the hotel car-park and jogged into position. Across the street a somewhat smaller crowd of Tour supporters had assembled to watch the fun. “Rug-bee!” they chanted, “Rug-bee!”
 
The Blue Squad commander ordered the protesters to disperse. Nobody moved. He ordered his men to advance, halting them at the very edge of the sit-down demonstration. From somewhere in the crowd, someone started singing the national anthem.
 
The officer in command looked at the crowd. He saw university professors, lawyers and school teachers; frail old ladies and young middle-class students. The lone singer had been joined by others: God of nations, at thy feet, in the bonds of love we meet, hear our voices, we entreat, God defend our free land. The Police commander sighed. Slowly, rank-by-rank, he withdrew his men.
 
The pro-tour crowd fell silent. What was happening? The truck-drivers and shop assistants, freezing workers and bar staff didn’t yet comprehend the slowly emerging truth. The new reality which, by the end of the 1980s, would become frighteningly clear. Their credentials for citizenship weren’t good enough. They no longer counted.
 
The Springbok Tour supporters’ 1981 vote of appreciation to Rob Muldoon’s National Government was the New Zealand Bottom’s last hurrah. Three years later, Rogernomics was unleashed upon New Zealand. To be recognised in the new New Zealand, citizens had to be appropriately credentialed. Educational qualifications, and the political correctness absorbed while acquiring them, were the new model citizen’s indispensable passports to the neoliberal age of globalisation. Those without either were fit only for exploitation and impoverishment. The “dignity of labour” joined words like “solidarity” and “equality” in the dustbin at the end of history.
 
The punishment awaiting Britain’s uncredentialed will be no less savage than that meted out to the “Rug-bee!” chanters of New Zealand. Indeed, it is likely to be even more brutal. The vote to leave the EU poses a direct threat to the futures of Neoliberalism’s expensively credentialed children. Like no other use of the ballot box in their lifetimes, it has frightened the Tops. It’s as if the yobs and the chavs have turned the world upside down, which, in a way, they have.
 
The retribution of the Tops will be swift and unforgiving.
 
Already there is speculation that the ouster of Corbyn is just the opening gambit in a sequence of political moves designed to overturn the referendum result. Labour’s new leader will mobilise the professional middle-class around the party’s demand for an early election. Having secured it, Labour’s will frame the forthcoming vote as a second referendum on Europe. Those who want to stay out of the EU will be invited to vote for Boris Johnson’s Tories. Those wishing to stay in will have only one viable option. The yobs and the chavs will be bought off with a handful of policy sweeteners. A neo-Blairite Labour Party will secure the Tops’ “Remain” mandate, and Britain will be awakened from her Brexit fever dream by the EU’s forgiving kiss.
 
And then the nightmare of the British working-class will begin in earnest.
 
This essay was originally posted on The Daily Blog of Thursday, 30 June 2016.

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

Possibly the best thought you have written in five years.

But forget the neo Blairite stuff.

This is everyone who has had to work with corbyn vs the hard left faction still viewing him as a symbol.

And there is no chance of labour winning an election in the next two years if he goes, or ever if he stays.

Those chavs are not chanting rug bee. They are leaving graffiti about polish vermin and pakis, and are going to vote for ukip now.

This is the real legacy of corbyn, a man who went on holiday during the vote.

He has made the things he stands opposed to, look reasonable by comparison with his incompetence

Nick J said...

Chris you may be right in a short term sense: longer term the picture is grimmer fr both the people and the neo lib project. Raol Meijer at http://www.theautomaticearth.com/2016/06/the-eu-is-the-sack-the-cats-will-fight-in/ sees it fairly clearly (the man is a real practicing humanitarian crowdfunding / helping in soup kitchens in Athens, plus an intellectual heavyweight). There is a rather tarnished golden lining to this coming conflict and class warfare.

But there is so much debt burying us all, inside our own societies, that we will never be able to afford any transition to a green economy, even if it were possible from a physics point of view. Which it is definitely not. All the rest is just propaganda.

Our future consists of using a lot less energy -try 90% on for size-; how we get there is partly up to us -but only partly-, we can do it wisely and voluntarily or stupidly through hard set limitations, but that’s the only choice we have. We will never replace even a fraction of fossil fuels with wind or sun or algea or project X.

That same species of certainty applies to the European Union, even if it may appear -even- less obvious. The grandiose EU project of an ever closer union is running into the limits of economics as well as physics. European nations can work together, but not when they’re forced to give up their sovereignty, their independence and their livelihoods.

That will lead them to turn on each other. There’s no escaping it. The EU is the sack the cats will fight in.

The EU is a monstrosity with no parallel in modern times, as evidenced in how it bulldozed the Greek economy, and in how it allowed many hundreds of promising young lives to drown in the Mediterranean, and you Britons want to not just belong to that monstrosity, you’re willing to fight one another over the privilege?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The retribution of the Tops will be swift and unforgiving."

Given that many of the Tops have engineered this thing, using the working class for their own ends, which of them are going to be unforgiving? Boris and Nigel are both Tops. What are they going to do?

I can't make up my mind Chris, whether you're in favour of Brexit or not. Or if like many people you think it's "Too soon to say." Personally, I think like most of these things there will be winners and losers. And it'll be mostly the working class who are the losers. It might result in Scottish independence, and Irish unification – you might consider those winners. But the English working class are fucked. Or perhaps I should say more fucked than usual.

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
You take a pessimistic view of things today. ... I think that if the PLP manage to get rid of Corbyn , particularly if they devise a way to do so without grass roots interference , the party won't recover to political relevance for a decade or so. They are creating a folk hero and unmasking themselves in the process .
i also thing that the torys might be looking on Boris a bit like the republicans are looking at Trump and I would give Theresa May my punt, and for them to go to the poles with the line you suggest for the Blairites; making this stance the point of an election. More likely if Corbayn survives as he will hold to the result of the referendum.
Cheers David J S

Jenny brookes said...

The Irony Lady.

Tory hero and EU Remainer Margaret Thatcher, in 1975 wears a knitted jumper emblazoned with the flags of the EU, manufactured in a now defunct woollen mill in Scotland, no doubt sunk by cheap imported synthetics.

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/shortcuts/2016/jun/22/margaret-thatcher-pro-europe-jumper-perfect-referendum-day-fashion

How far we have come.

(And not in a good way)

In 1975 the British Labour Party campaigned against membership of the EU, today the right wing neo-Blairite caucus of the British Labour Party are trying to sack the membership elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for not campaigning to stay in the EU hard enough.

https://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/news/jeremy-corbyn-admits-he-%E2%80%98no-lover-eu%E2%80%99-during-candid-defence-remain

Anonymous said...

The Irony Lady.

Tory hero and EU Remainer Margaret Thatcher, in 1975 wears a knitted jumper emblazoned with the flags of the EU, manufactured in a now defunct woollen mill in Scotland, no doubt sunk by cheap imported synthetics.

https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/shortcuts/2016/jun/22/margaret-thatcher-pro-europe-jumper-perfect-referendum-day-fashion

How far we have come.

(And not in a good way)

In 1975 the British Labour Party campaigned against membership of the EU, today the right wing neo-Blairite caucus of the British Labour Party are trying to sack the membership elected Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn for not campaigning to stay in the EU hard enough.

https://www.totalpolitics.com/articles/news/jeremy-corbyn-admits-he-%E2%80%98no-lover-eu%E2%80%99-during-candid-defence-remain

pat said...

Simplistic

"To describe this as a working-class revolt against the elites is to give the elites more credit than they are due. With both sides run by Old Etonians and former Bullingdon boys, the elites were going to win no matter who you voted for."

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/30/brexit-disaster-decades-in-the-making

greywarbler said...

Chris: A neo-Blairite Labour Party will secure the Tops’ “Remain” mandate, and Britain will be awakened from her Brexit fever dream by the EU’s forgiving kiss. And then the nightmare of the British working-class will begin in earnest.

Corbyn apparently didn't stir enough Labour people to Remain. Now he is not preferred leader any more. The mass of the people seemed to be firmly fixed against it and maybe Corbyn would never have got traction. Resigning en masse is hardly a useful thing for the Party. Did they have to kill the Party to save their careers?

And the working and unemployed precariat have already tasted the nightmare pie with the draconian RW anti-social welfare cuts. What now?
They have a way to go before forcing children to work in the mines crawling and dragging coal sledges. But are there any mines left as possible work places? What further fiendish blot on humanity will result from the new age nightmares?

Andrew Nichols said...

This is the real legacy of corbyn, a man who went on holiday during the vote.

Um - No he didnt. He cmapaigned solidly for Remain (if Cameron had moblised the 63% of his party supporters to vote for Remain that Corbynb did Remain would have won) but got no press who spent their time ignoring him for the antics of Boris and Nigel.

Yes there will be a challenge from the PLP who are terrified of his speech post Chilcott which will call into question freedom from prosecution for many of them. Time for them to return to their natural home in the Tory Party where they resided prior to the odious Bliar as Labour Leader.

Charles E said...

Well if this is accurate Chris it means the Tories are now the leaders of what remains of the working class. Most of them voted to leave.
But it does make sense to me. Toffs often have more of an understanding of ordinary folk than semi educated socialists with their degrees in sociology but no knowledge of or feeling for the people they assume to rule.

jh said...

George Mombiot nails it:

"Culture is not working. A worldview which insists that both people and place are fungible is inherently hostile to the need for belonging. For years we have been told that we do not belong, that we should shift out without complaint while others are shifted in to take our place. When the peculiarities of community and place are swept away by the tides of capital, all that’s left is a globalised shopping culture, in which we engage with glazed passivity. Man was born free, and he is everywhere in chainstores."
.........
Josie Pagani is an open borders advocate :

"But I also believe that the free movement of working people across borders is a progressive principle."
http://pundit.co.nz/content/shamubeel-is-right-get-x-real-about-immigration

jh said...

Jessie Mulligan had a favourite tweet that someone had picked from a comment somewhere: "young people will be denied the chance to move, work and marry in 23? Countries".
He's thinking of those with good qualifications not the plonkers who stay at home and race pigeons. He minimizes the *tsunami* of migrants as a bit of a minor wave that sweeps the shore.

jh said...

Actually I miss read George:
"When the peculiarities of community and place are swept away by the tides of capital"
.....
George doesn't think foreign people sweep the peculiarities of community and place away (and sense of belonging). Good luck with that George.

jh said...

Those chavs are not chanting rug bee. They are leaving graffiti about polish vermin and pakis, and are going to vote for ukip now.
......
The Other

The Veteran said...

Interesting Post. Boris is now out of the race, kneecapped by Gove and, if I were a betting man (and I'm not), I'd put money on May as the likely next Tory leader. It makes sense to have someone in the Remain Camp as leader as a means of unifying their Party. As for a new election ... you seem to have forgotten the 2011 Fixed-term Parliaments Act, Can't see either of the the two trigger points being met ... why would the Tories call a no-confidence vote on themselves; why would Labour join with the Tories to get the 2/3 majority needed to override the legislation.

Tiger Mountain said...

some academics predictions and analysis are now reality; the almost clichéd “atomisation” of the working class since Thatcher has been extended, several years back the BBC determined that there are now seven distinct social classes
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-22007058
Elite
Established middle class
Technical middle class
New affluent workers
Traditional working class
Emergent service workers
Precariat, or precarious proletariat

marxists would rightly argue various points of the BBCs findings, but class was a major component (along with age, region etc) of the Brexit vote and will likely be moreso in the next phase

to put the fuss over Jeremy Corbyn in perspective, as several have said, it is not that he could not beat the tories–it is the likelihood that he could that has seen certain Labour MPs (with deep state assistance) try and sabotage their best shot at crushing the tories in a generation

Anonymous said...

Occasionally I watch Fox News for vague amusement.

A coupe of days ago there was an American panel talking about Brexit.

One of the panelists gushed 'many Brits don't recognise the country they were born and grew up in; immigration is out of control!'

My thought at that point was that's exactly what Native Americans were thinking when Europeans turned up in America en masse.

Galeandra said...

Fortunately, if anyone does a skerrick of reading, for example of Guardian opinion & comments as well as other centrist or leftish bloggers they will realise that Anon 17.33 is only blowing smoke. The 'going on holiday' indicates a failure of reading comprehension or a naive willingness to suck in the Blairites' line. Try looking at The Canary for a definitely more radical but fact-based expose of Benn et al.
http://www.thecanary.co/2016/06/28/truth-behind-labour-coup-really-began-manufactured-exclusive/

Grant said...

"The pro-tour crowd fell silent. What was happening? The truck-drivers and shop assistants, freezing workers and bar staff didn’t yet comprehend the slowly emerging truth. The new reality which, by the end of the 1980s, would become frighteningly clear. Their credentials for citizenship weren’t good enough. They no longer counted."

As someone who lived through these events and was intimately involved with them I think I can safely say that this interpretation is utter tosh.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jh said...

Corrin Dann
Let's move on to immigration. Kerry McDonald wrote on his website and I quote “a high rate of immigration is a national disaster he says it is lowering the living standards of New Zealanders with seroius economic social and environmental consequences “ Now this isn't Winston peters saying this it is a respected economist and businessman. He's worried about immigration, not because he's but because he's worried about the numbers.
John Key
“We'll o.k. I don't think the evidence bears that out. To start off if you look at the average wages in NZ they are up . But it is still 20,000 below Australia. But it almost doesn't matter what the politicians say it is what New zealanders think and what we do know is that New zealanders are not leaving as they were because they see the oppurtunities.

Corrin Dann

But on the flip side of that Treasury says, in a recent report, that immigration keeps wages lower , the profile of those coming in tends to be in low skilled areas and it still seems to be in jobs that New zealanders could fill and it's keeping New Zealanders wages down so the wages could be higher than that.

John Key
We would like to see even more New Zealanders come off the benefit and take up employment
["comfy lying in bed?"]

Corrin Dann
But their facing competion from migrants coming in

John Key
We'll I don't think that's quite right, It depends on a lot of factors. Some of the work can be seasonal, so someone comes in on a seasonal work program which we have reciprical rights because they are part of our FTA or RSC which is a . But they also come in as a regional issue , so if you take Queenstown, go and ask any operator in the heart of the season they just cannot get workers, now, you just can't pick people up and transport them to Queenstown; you have family infrastructure [ and low pay, lack of accommodation and sky high rentals]

Corrin Dann
I guess what I'm trying to say, is your government using immigration (Strong immigration) to prop up and economy that is suffering from a dairy down turn, to get you through a . You have high house prices

John Key
Well ok. The answer is no. If you go back and look at those figures in 200? x kiwis went to Australia, now x Kiwis...

Corrin Dann
But hang on, if you look at the numbers it is only a quarter that are returning Kiwis

Jk
That's right, because some go in and some go out. But my point is fewer people get residency now than when Winston peters was foreign minister under Labour.

Corrin Dann
you don't want to get immigration down , to fall though, do you. I just got to say something. I saw you in a speech after the budget and you were in a big room of business people, now some of those were the biggest business minds of the country and you stood up and said: “don't worry about treasuries figure the estimation that it will go back to 12000, you were confident the figure was going to be a lot higher than that.

JK
I just think it is likely to be higher than that

Corrin Dann
But it's like telling them you wanted immigration to be up. You were telling them “ don't worry the demand will be there, the economies going to stay there, that's what's keeping New Zealand afloat

JK
No, what I like about the fact that migration is strong is that I think that it reflects both returning Kiwis and that it shows they have confidence in New Zealand and that we have an open economy, but personally I think New zealand is a much more successful country/ for that.

Corrin Dann
But the issue is can NZ cope in terms of schools, roads, ...the argument is that we are not coping with that. The people living here their living standards don't increase

JK
well, I don't agree with that. I think were are building roads and schools and hospitals...

http://tvnz.co.nz/q-and-a-news/pm-s-reaction-aussie-election-results-video-6479759

jh said...

Humans are territorial primates.

Only Smiling on the Outside

Our interactions with “outsiders” follow very different social rules. Competition is less bounded by social rituals, and more likely to get nasty. Social status in the “inside” group means less, and precedence needs to be established again and again. To a certain extent, that means putting our best foot forward.

Instinctively, we see outsiders as competitors, even if, on paper, they are part of the same organization and share the same goals. We are instinctively less likely to share information and other resources with people who are outside our social group.
https://bonesofculture.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/primates-and-territoriality/

I suppose that some peoples territory is different to others. The *world citizen* with talents and skills has a different sphere. The chav..? Well...

Anonymous said...

Andrew Nichols disputed that Corbyn went on holday during the campaign.

here are the facts.
The date of the vote was announced on February 20th
The campaign officially started on April 15.
This was partial campaigning because of the local government elections on May 5th
Campaigning resumed immediately after then, with the official purdah period starting May 27th.
Jeremy was on holiday during the week after May 27.

This link was the first source I found confirming that Corbyn was on holiday for the week covering May 31 - 1 June.
(which are the dates covering the commemoration of the battle of Jutland, which Corbyn failed to attend for the stated reason that he was on holiday).

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/05/27/jeremy-corbyn-set-to-miss-wwi-commemoration-event-amid-reports-h/

This is a fact, it is not in dispute by Corbyn's supporters.

It is also indicative of his attempts to avoid being seen as campaigning for Britain to remain in Europe.

Opinions can be expressed on the level of his attempts to actively sabotage the campaign - it is well documented that he watered down agreed lines on a regular basis.
What has not been reported in NZ are his final week contributions, when the Conservatives stood aside from the campaign to allow a space for a Labour - Remain voice to be heard.
Corbyn used that week to repeatedly and unprompted announce that he was in favour of unlimited immigration, in a campaign where the prime motivating factor was opposition to unlimited immigration, that also seems like direct sabotage.

It is also a fact that immediately after the result, Corbyn and his team have been arguing for the triggering of Chapter 50 immediately.
Chapter 50 puts a 2 year time limit on negotiations, to start it at a time when there could not even be a UK approved negotiator or negotiating position because of the Prime Minister standing down, this also is difficult to see as the act of someone supporting Britain remaining a functioning member of the EU.

The fact is that he did go on holiday during the height (3 weeks before polling day) of the campaign.
The clear inference on top of that is that Corbyn is holding to the late 70's hard left line that because the EU is a capitalist organisation, it must be destroyed as soon as possible, irrespective of the cost.