BREXIT STILL PUZZLES many Britons, especially those in possession of a good education and an impressive Curriculum Vitae. The “better sort of persons”, those with a genuine “stake” in the nation, still cannot understand why so many of their fellow citizens voted “against their own interests”. It seemed like utter madness.
Those who supported the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union denounced this “Remain” response for displaying both a lamentable ignorance of the issues involved and a disgraceful measure of condescension towards more than half the British population.
All true, but the Remainers were on to something, nonetheless.
One of the reasons the Remain campaign was so shocked by the result of the Brexit referendum was that their pollster (allegedly the best in the business) was assuring them, right up until the last minute, that the “Leave” campaign would fall short by two or three percentage points. What he and his clients had failed to factor-in to the Brexit equation was just how irrational people can be when they feel ill-treated by and excluded from “mainstream” society.
Those on the left of the political spectrum like to pin the blame for this unlooked-for eruption of political irrationality on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. But, they didn’t create the ill-treated and the excluded, that was the work of decades – of centuries. All they did was find these people and allow the Leavers to talk to them.
The fatal assumption of the Remainers was that people this alienated from the “System” simply didn’t vote. Their pollster shaped his raw data with the assumption that the Britons who didn’t vote in the General Election of 2015 would also sit out the Referendum in 2016. That’s why his predictions consistently overestimated Remain’s support. He simply had no idea that the Leavers were in contact with three million potential voters that almost no one knew anything about.
And what did the Leave campaign tell these voters? Simple. It told them that, for just this one time, they had the power. All those high-and-mighty people who always ended up winning – regardless of which party was in power. The rich and the powerful with all the good things in life – the things they’d never have. These, the so-called “elites”, wanted to remain – needed to remain – in the EU. Losing the referendum was, quite literally, inconceivable. Impossible.
But, it wasn’t impossible. If, just this one time, they got up off the couch and voted, the Leave campaigners told the ill-treated and the excluded, they could throw a gigantic spanner into the System’s works. “Take Back Control” they whispered across the wilderness of social-media. Just this once – make the bastards weep!
New Zealanders are not Britons. But, like the United Kingdom, this country also has a large – albeit largely invisible – population of the ill-treated and excluded.
Most of the time their ill-treatment and exclusion isn’t that much of a problem. Oh sure, they cost the taxpayer a lot of money in benefits, police officers, courts and prisons – but not as much as it would cost the System to bring them out of the shadow and into the light. Which is why they are left to rot in damp and unhealthy houses, in decaying suburbs without amenities – or hope. Places where a career in crime offers one of the few proven exits from poverty and misery – at least for a while.
The ill-treated and the excluded know very well that they’re being ground-down by the System, they have just despaired of ever making the Powers-That-Be listen to them.
With the Delta variant of Covid-19 raging through their communities and pumping up the number of community cases to new and frightening levels, it’s beginning to dawn on the ill-treated and excluded that, for once in their lives, they have the power. If the System is so desperate; dammit, if all those nice, comfortable people, in all those nice leafy suburbs they’ll never visit are so desperate for them to get “the jab”; then refusing to get vaccinated is flat-out certain to drive them nuts. How often, in the past, has anybody listened when they said “No.” Well, they’re listening now!
Irrational? Yes. Immoral? Yes, again. But, if we offer our poorest citizens nothing but physical and spiritual blows, then should we really be surprised when they strike us back?
This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 22 October 2021.
Several things are different - deadly different - to Brexit.
1. Brexit was a vote - Covid isnt the result of a vote (well you could argue that by refusing the vaccine one has voted) its going to get you anyway.
2. This group of "Refusniks" in NZ have been constantly told by Maori leaders and MPs and social warriors that they are deprived and cant operate normally.
3. Its called The Darwin Award - their activity will reward them with infection and death, and their genes will be removed from the human gene pool. Darwins hypothesis is that by removal of such genes the gene pool is improved.
4. The Government is making no obvious effort to listen to them. If they were they would be saying something like "young Maori and Pacifica in Auckland and South Auckland especially need to get vaccinated because if you dont the health system will not be able to care for you"
UK Labour won the 2005 election with a pledge to hold a referendum on the EU constitution. Afer the election they back tracked on the referendum and ratified the Treaty of Lisbon. This Treaty introduced a significant dilution of sovereignty with Qualified Majority Voting. Laws could be made by the EU against the will of other EU countries. This triggered a massive growth in support for UKIP in the UK that led to the referendum. UK Labour haven't won an election since 2005. I see parallels with the NZ Governments's agenda with Maori sovereignty. Labour didn't campaign on the likes of 3 Waters and are not being transparent. Labour were given a fantastic opportunity in 2020 but will most likely be booted out at the next election.
There is another large group of reasonably educated people who are not getting jabbed……and no matter what evidence you present to them ,they will not budge. The sad thing is you know some of them will die or suffer long COVID.
First three comments and none of them reflect any understanding of the state of mind the poorer suburbs are in, and why. It seems that the self-described intelligentsia coalesce in huddles at times of trial and argue about arcane matters probably of the past, as if they are central to today's tragedies. The answer to every concern apparently is to have a meeting and decide to agree on some point that is vaguely related to today's difficulty, and then go home satisfied. There appears to be a strata of humans that are essentially cold-blooded - call them the Lizard Men.
Here in NZ we are entitled to our academic views on Brexit. But this analysis involves presumptions about the rationale The foundation Chris Trotter argument t hat Brexit was a mistake and irrational.
If we take red as the blood of the working class martyrs, I would suggest that the Governments new tri-colour Covid19 response would be better fashioned as the Neapolitan ice cream system. With the white above the red, and the brown seeped below.
Yes Chris, I've no doubt that there are some that consider themselves, for whatever reason, outside and distrustful and resentful of the broader society and their refusal to vaccinate is part of a more generalised FU. I've spoken with people like that.
Part of the low Maori vax uptake is surely due to that despite a near obsession with trying to get them along, just how much I don't know. I see today another $60 million in their direction, quite how that is going to help wasn't explained. Most of it will probably just end up in the hands of the legion of troughers within the Maori "industry".
I don't think it's a good idea to actively encourage resentment and separatism as this government is doing. What happened to "they are us"; another empty slogan?
Surely no one today believes brexit is a good thing? I have a friend in Britain who has managed to post – being computer illiterate – a picture of his local supermarket shelves. Not good. Whatever happened to the £350 million a week that was going to go to the NHS?
Whatever happened to the promises about no food shortages?
Whatever happened to all those prominent brexiteers – oh of course obtained Irish citizenship, moved their offices to Singapore, the list goes on. And that loudmouth eejit Farage, who one comedian described as "looks like a frog trying to escape from a scrotum" is still collecting a European MP retirement package despite having done absolutely nothing when he was in the European Parliament – hardly ever turned up. God that's the sort of people we have to deal with these days, perhaps they've always been with us but never quite so prominent.
Not to mention that in something like about 87% of the disputes between Britain and the EU, Britain got its way. Seems to me they wanted all the benefits of the EU without any of the drawbacks. Well they've got what they deserved.
The idea that Brexit proponents merely did it as a "fekk you" is to label half the UK as stupid. You might question the alignment of the other half with financialisation and the export of actually making anything to China. Or their allegiance to massive immigration and the impoverishment of whole working class communities. So for so called intellectual "Lefties" to denigrate working class response in Brexit is somewhat elitist.
What I'm seeing here from so called Lefties and from our government is another elitist "we know whats best for you" and "you had better take your medicine or else" attitude.
Its condescending, it says "hey you bunch of not so smart brown fellas and white trash, we know better, we will do your research and make up your minds for you because you aren't capable of doing it yourself".
Has it ever occured to you that what we hear from so called experts right or wrong is profoundly "big brother". I'm quite frankly appalled by those on the Left who have for years criticised power and urged resistance, yet who so blithely encourage the wielding of the same power.
Ask yourselves where does this stop. Patient confidentiality used to be absolute yet here we have health professionals and officials all clamouring for vaccine passports. Lets just start here and erode all the other established principles.
In our rush to impose authority we set precedents, in our rush to overturn established convention we abandon the reason for them. In our rush we may create tools of oppression that will be turned on ourselves.
And maybe that is the learned through experience wisdom of the "lower orders".
The EU has been described as the World's biggest protectionist club. The EU's common agricultural policy provides massive subsidisation of food that is significantly dumped. The EU's subsidised agricultural policies are very detrimental to agricultural production in Africa.
Create tools of oppression Nick? We've had them for years. You obviously didn't live through World War II. Britain, to some extent New Zealand, were not quite as oppressed as Nazi Germany, but they came close.
And if we don't believe experts Nick who do we believe? Random guys on the Internet? Someone who has discovered something that all the world's scientists and doctors have inexplicably missed? Yeah, do your own research. There are various Internet sites devoted to people who have "done their own research" and then died. Let's hope your research doesn't get you the Herman Cain award.
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