Category: Brexit

Brexit

Why Ben Habib will support Boris’ WA

“First, the Prime Minister personally and Conservative Party via its election manifesto have both undertaken to limit the Transition Period to December 2020 (now to be enacted into law) and not to honour those aspects of the Political Declaration which would allow the ECJ supremacy over the UK, bind the UK into a level playing field and assure fishing quotas to the EU. If the Government honours these undertakings and subject to the UK not entering into military interoperability with the EU, I would consider that Brexit has been delivered.

“Second, the Conservative Party has won a thumping election victory on the strength of its manifesto and executing the Withdrawal Agreement. It has a clear democratic mandate to fulfil its version of Brexit (including the manifesto pledges). Given the above, when the Withdrawal Agreement is presented to the European Parliament to be approved later this month, I shall vote in favour of it being ratified.”

Ben Habib, Brexit Party MEP

George Friedman on the Posh versus the Blokes

George Friedman of Geopolitical Futures looks at class and Brexit:

The Posh versus the Blokes in the UK

I arrived in London on Saturday afternoon. Traffic was heavy and it took nearly two hours to reach my hotel, giving ample time to speak to my driver. It was time well spent. He was a Scotsman who had been living and driving in London for a long time. We discussed the election, of course, and the devastation of the Labour Party and the rise of the Conservatives. He had voted for the Tories. He explained that this was because of his loathing for what he called the “posh in London” and their hatred of England while enriching themselves shamelessly and despising anyone who doesn’t worship as they worship.

By “worship” he was not referring to religion, but their belief that Britain is corrupt and demands ruthless reform. He particularly was enraged that the playing of “Rule Britannia” was seen by the posh left as disgraceful, because it paid homage to an evil that Britain ought to apologize for over and over: the British Empire. The loss of empire didn’t bother him. What bothered him was that the posh left was unwilling to respect that whatever faults Britain might have had, Britain was a great moment in human history, and he as a British subject and as a Scotsman was not prepared to be ashamed about it.

What has happened in Britain is something that can be seen elsewhere. The left-wing party has become the party of the well-to-do and educated elite. The conservatives have become the party of the workers. The former demand the right to hold on to their status but also to redefine the meaning of a nation’s history, and use their power to force moral principles on a society not prepared to respect them. England’s Labour Party had been the party of the working class but seems to a great extent to have turned on the workers.

The European Union question is mixed in with this. The posh (I will use this name for them) supported EU membership eagerly. According to my driver, the left-wing posh are all involved in finance, and they saw EU membership as beneficial to them. But there was another aspect he did not mention. If one of the things you wish to do is take ownership of British history and deny the British the right to admire the greatness and forgive themselves what harm they did, then the EU is the perfect vehicle. In announcing and trying to impose a European identity, devaluing one’s own nation, the EU gave the posh a powerful tool with which to subordinate the brilliant, dark and beloved history of Britain.

The desire of this class to make more money is easy to understand. Harder to understand is this class’s desire to redefine British recollection of their past. When voters opted to leave the EU, this class was both dumbfounded and enraged. You could read many times about how the people who voted to leave were considered to be uneducated, lacking all understanding of what they were doing. The posh wanted to delegitimize the election and insisted that it be replayed. The desire for a do-over was in their rational interest, but more was going on. The posh believed they had a right to rule, and that those who voted against them were illegitimate pretenders. As the struggle to reverse Brexit intensified, the battle to delegitimize the enemies of the EU also intensified. Having opened by declaring the voters ignorant, they extended their assault to include a range of other values, such as patriotism, and the right to preserve and celebrate British culture. The struggle over Brexit did not start the culture war, but it pushed the industrial working class into an uprising against the posh and their belief.

There was of course a massive economic dimension. The industrial working class of the Midlands were not experiencing the benefits of the EU. The posh of London were. The EU played a major role in this. Britain is the second-largest economy of the EU, and its loss would be extremely painful. The EU had two possible routes. One was to reach a redefinition of the relationship with Britain. The other was to be utterly rigid in finding a resolution. The EU assumption was that rigidity was more rational, since it would force a shift in the British political alignment that would reverse Brexit. It did everything it could to make Brexit appear a disaster, and it convinced all those who already believed it, while building rage against the EU in those who didn’t. The political collaboration between the posh and the EU drove a further wedge between the two English classes and strengthened the belief that rational acceptance of the EU was being blocked by primitive and ignorant nationalism. Thus the economic and financial battles merged.

The British political structure has now massively shifted. The Labour Party had been the party of the industrial working class and aligned with their culture, unlike Marxists who wanted to transform it. The Conservative Party was the party of the well-to-do and of empire. Today, Labour is the party of the posh, demanding cultural shifts, while the Conservatives are the party that lost posh London and took a huge chunk out of the industrial Midlands. It should be noted that the major shift was cultural and not economic. Labour was unclear on the EU and shared with the posh the desire for moral reform. The Conservatives sided with the working class on both economic and cultural matters.

The British realignment is something we also see more broadly in the Euro-American world. Parties that were formerly working-class parties have shifted to supporting the well-to-do and focusing on cultural change. Parties that were formerly the parties of the wealthy are now speaking for the workers, and particularly for their cultural views. This isn’t particular to Britain at all. The desire to protect traditional cultural values is powerful among working classes, who see the assault on their values by former allies as a betrayal. Thus the Labour Party became the party of the posh, and the Conservatives speak for my driver.

That conclusion is reinforced by YouGov post-election polling. Alain Tolhurst of PoliticsHome reports that “Tories now more popular with working class voters than middle class ones, reveals election poll”:

A survey by YouGov found that the Conservatives won 48% of voters in the lower C2DE social grade at last week’s election, as opposed to 43% in the higher ABC1.

The C2DE grade is made up of skilled and unskilled manual workers, pensioners, casual workers and the unemployed, while ABC1 is managerial, professional and administrative staff.

The Tories triumph, but a modern version of the Roman slave whose task it was to murmur into the victorious general’s ear, “Remember, thou art mortal” would whisper to them, “Young people overwhelmingly vote Labour”. Yes, it was ever thus, but now it is more thus. Another change: women are now more left wing than men. For most of the twentieth century women tended to be Conservative stalwarts.

“We are the first societies in human history where the old outnumber the young”

How Boris Johnson’s Brexit Won

In the link above Isaac Chotiner of the New Yorker interviews Professor David Runciman of Cambridge. I must confess that I only have to see the New Yorker‘s distinctive Irvin typeface to see the famous “View of the World from 9th Avenue” cover. I need to get over myself. It is a good and wide ranging interview, with a focus of the parallels or lack of them between the UK and the US. Stick with it, the best parts are at the end.

Maybe Icarus can land with a glide

“The Liberal Democrats misread the political mood. Yet perhaps not all is lost”, writes Martin Kettle.

Three conclusions follow. The first is that Brexit has not reshaped the electoral battle as comprehensively as some believe. That is not to belittle the fact that Brexit has done much to recast British electoral politics. This is still a Brexit election, because its results could mark a point of no return on this most all pervasive of current issues. But it is not year zero. The idea that the Lib Dems, by being clear on the biggest issue of the day, will automatically attract all remain voters en masse to their cause is being proved false. It’s as false as Labour’s equivalent fantasy that, by being clear on the need for a radical post-austerity political economy, it will automatically attract all the votes of those who agree with that policy. In both cases, belief in practicality and trust in the leader are crucial to making the sale.

I would add to that final point about trust something that Martin Kettle almost certainly would not. It is a line from an article published yesterday by Mr Kettle’s Guardian colleague John Harris: “Labour’s ‘red wall’ is looking shaky. But the problems started decades ago”.

Mr Harris writes,

Running through a great deal of what I heard was a point voiced time and again by all kinds of people: in the absence of Brexit being delivered, why should they trust politicians to do anything else?

Making doubly sure Leave cannot win

It was always clear that the “credible Leave option” that the Labour party proposes to pit against Remain in a second referendum is a fake. The plan is for Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry to get together with their EU opposite numbers and, after the least arduous negotiations imaginable, to emerge beaming with a “deal” deliberately designed to be as unattractive as possible.

But if that wasn’t enough, the Labour manifesto plans to make assurance doubly sure, as Macbeth said when deciding to murder Macduff. I quote:

We will oversee the largest extension of the franchise in generations, reducing the voting age to 16, giving full voting rights to all UK residents, making sure everyone who is entitled to vote can do so by introducing a system of automatic voter registration, and abandoning plans to introduce voter ID which has been shown to harm democratic rights.

“It’s time for real change – The Labour Party Manifesto 2019”

The innocuous phrase “all UK residents” includes non-UK citizens from any country. As it says elsewhere in the manifesto, there are three million EU residents in the UK. They will get to vote on whether the UK remains in the EU. The majority by which Leave won the 2016 referendum was 1.3 million.

I am not going to vote Tory

When people tell me “you must vote for Boris’ party or we will never get Brexit” I usually respond with “Because you trust & believe a Tory leader to actually do what he says & are willing to just hand-wave the last 3 years away?”

Well the Tories may be the only game in town in some areas, but decades of voting for the lesser evil is how we ended up with a ‘Conservative’ Party that isn’t conservative. If I thought Boris was actually serious about meaningful Brexit, I might hold my nose and vote Tory one last time. But if ‘No Deal’ really isn’t an option even now, I just don’t believe anything Boris says about truly wanting out of the EU.

Do I want to risk Corbyn getting in? I would rather he doesn’t but I am done voting Tory on the basis they are a slower acting poison than the alternative.