Saturday, 18 June 2016
This senseless slaying is nothing to do with Brexit
The killer of Jo Cox above all appears to be motivated by racism. And I could not imagine any one thing that is less to do with Brexit. We have seen a strong voice come out in favour of stricter immigration controls. We have seen impassioned debates about muslims and their role in British society. People are worried and they want some control. And that is not racism.
There are those who want control over immigration because they are worried for their communities, for their safety and for their children's futures. And they are angry at the overcrowding in the house next door and the noise that goes with it that keeps them awake. And angry about the uninsured polish driver who damages their car. They are angry about a hamstrung police force which doesn't know which way to jump in fear of doing wrong by somebody.
And whether or not freedom of movement is good for the economy it comes with real social consequences. They have seen twenty years of transformation even down to the community level. Those who make the policy are the ones best insulated from it and so they do not relate to those worries. And so we have a social divide between those above the line and those below it.
And the response to this? A sneer, a label, a rebuke. And we can pull out all the statistics and have the prestigious economists tell us that freedom of movement really is good for the economy. I lean in that direction myself. But I don't ever recall being consulted.
But let's be honest here. Leavers have done themselves no favours. Conflating freedom of movement with open borders and pushing criticism of Islam into the realms of open hatred. Sadly Ukip failed to act and now is widely perceived to be the natural home of such people. They have invited their own misfortune.
But even that fear of Islam is not wholly unjustified. Or at least, in its proper context, fear of the unknown. Through a legal loophole in human rights law the families of those who are already here can come to Britain. In so doing we invite ongoing tribal politics from the back hills of god knows where and attitudes to women which are completely beyond the pale.
And is the EU at fault for this? No. Can Farage and co be blamed for the confusion? Yes. But this conflation is a relatively new phenomenon. It stems from those controversial Ukip posters in early 2014. Not Ukip's smartest ever move. But for the decades previously the bread and butter of Ukip was one word. Sovereignty. That right to say no.
And that's one thing the people do not have. They cannot say no to Westminster, they cannot say no to more backdoor immigration and they cannot say no to EU law. We are a people robbed of any control over what happens even at council level.
There are multiple intertwined issues, all of which are ongoing and valid concerns, none of which have been addressed by successive administrations. There is also no sign that they intend to deal with it either. Only when the polls momentarily dipped in favour of Brexit did we get any noise from the Labour party that perhaps something must be done, but at this point sounds wholly insincere. More so when their intentions are predicated on renegotiating with the EU. What cave do they live in?
But of those multiple and complex issues, there is one issue that isn't an issue. Racism. Real honest to god hatred of other people because of their race is the domain of a very very small minority of losers and sociopaths. The BNP is long gone and even that at its peak was a rejectionist party made up of ordinary working class people with fairly pedestrian working class views. They held their meetings in working men's clubs over a game of dominos and a pint. Third Reich it ain't. Just working class voters completely abandoned by Labour. And did I have to wait for an academic study from Matthew Goodwin to tell you this? No. This I have seen with my own eyes.
And are these people seething with anger and hatred. Some of the time yes. But it ain't directed at the Polish software engineer next door and not the Muslim bloke who runs the corner computer shop. It is entirely reserved for the snobs and the preening egotists who take pleasure in rubbing our noses in it.
And is any of this reason enough to leave the EU? Yes. Because our EU membership is a symptom of what happens when these vain and shallow politicians are trusted with power. This is primarily their aspiration, not ours. It is born of their belief that they know better than those whom they supposedly serve. In correcting their mistake we must cut them off from it and refocus them. We must remind them who they serve. We need the power in the hands of the people and our MPs must be restrained from giving powers away which are not theirs. It will take a democratic revolution to do it and only Brexit will trigger it.
And as we reach the final few days of this long campaign, the death of one MP changes nothing. This is far bigger than one dead MP. This is about democracy. Race does not come into it. That Jo Cox fell victim to a self radicalising racist is neither there nor there. And to say that he is somehow radicalised by the mainstream media overlooks the fact that the mainstream media is no longer mainstream.
Our newspapers have pitiful print circulations and their online entities are struggling to complete. Deservedly so. And to believe that people are influenced only by the media they absorb is yet one more facet of the snobbery we encounter from our rulers. The people are a good deal more sophisticated than they are given credit - but the first assumption is that they are backwards and need the moral leadership from their betters. Yet another reason why they are so deeply despised.
As I have remarked elsewhere, if there is a toxic mood in politics then our politicians are the midwives to it. They do not like the people they serve much less trust them. And as they conspire to put democracy ever further out of our reach they cannot be surprised if they encounter hostility. And some of us may well lose our sense of proportion and write robust missives to our representative. Easy to do in this internet age and as a wordsmith who enjoys the use of florid language I am a little guilty myself. But none of this rage has manifested into violence. Never. Because it's something we just don't do. It takes an evil obsessive with a real hatred to put an MP in the ground.
But if the remain camp wish to continue in this vane, sneering and belittling, sabotaging the democratic process, they cannot be surprised if a remain verdict does not put the issue to bed. For as long as they wrap it up in a box and label it racism, to be stored in the corner as something unclean, then they will continue to misunderstand the source of the resentment, they will continue on as before with failed and failing policies and will continue to store up a backlash.
In the end, the BNP failed because they were wrong. Ukip failed because they were incompetent. But then next time something comes along there is a strong chance it will succeed. And when it does our rulers will ask who is to blame. We shall hold up a mirror.