By Ben Pensant
‘Now citizens, I think I can safely say after last night’s debacle, that we are all sick and tired of democracy’
Wolfie Smith, the ‘70s.
Her out of Game Of Thrones, the other week.
One month ago today I awoke in a cold sweat and realised the night before I’d made a grave and unforgiveable error: I had voted to leave the EU. This may strike many as odd, as the very existence of this blog would indicate I know how to read and write, two skills not often found in working-class Leave voting northerners with feet for hands. However, as everyone who has gazed in horror at the post-Brexit landscape knows only too well, it is precisely because myself and other dumb proles aspired to the same level of sophistication and involvement as our metropolitan betters that the UK now finds itself in such an apocalyptic pickle.
(Don’t ask me what ‘apocalyptic’ means, I heard it in an Arnie film years ago and liked the sound of it. I’m not even sure what a pickle is to be honest.)
Put simply, if simple folk like me had left all of this democracy and engagement stuff to those intelligent enough to understand it – civil servants, Guardian readers, craft beer entrepreneurs – and stuck to what we’re good at – cleaning toilets, eating kebabs, murdering our own children – then it’s a knocking bet the referendum result would have gone exactly as the liberal elite hoped and far fewer social media tears would’ve been shed by parents of left-leaning toddlers called Rufus.
So ‘what’s your point?’ I hear you cry (and boy, do I mean cry). ‘You got what you want. Haven’t the 48 percenters suffered enough without you taking time off from dragging your fat offspring around Aldi to traumatise us again’? Believe me, I share your pain. Which is why I want you to feel my shame. Because the events of the last month have brought home to me how wrong I was. About everything. See, I previously thought that, like most traditional working-class Labour supporters, I was intelligent enough to understand democracy and political engagement. I know, what on earth was I thinking? Because I’d been aware of the problems within the EU for years I kidded myself my opposition was down to it being an undemocratic, unrepresentative, unaccountable bureaucracy heading for political and economic disaster. I’d paid little attention to the grubby Leave campaign and smugly considered myself informed just because I’d made my mind up about the EU long before the words ‘Farage’ and ‘Gove’ entered the political lexicon.
Imagine my surprise when it turned out I actually dislike the EU because I’m a thick, uneducated, racist, xenophobic Little Englander (with feet for hands). And thanks to the courageous work of writers like Polly Toynbee and Jonathan Freedland I also learnt the reason I voted Leave was because I’d fell hook, line and sinker for the lies and distortions of Boris Johnson and his band of right-wingers, cynically exploiting my small-town predilection for fear and hatred. Where on earth would people like me be without privately educated journalists to tell us what we really think?
The revelation hit me like a ton of bricks, the very same bricks I should have been laying on a freezing cold site in Dusseldorf instead of reading about grown up issues that only 22 year olds with degrees in Art or Gender Studies could hope to understand. And in those first few days I watched the news and browsed the net bursting with guilt at what I’d done. But it wasn’t the government’s cack-handed response or ill-timed back-stabbing that swung it. It wasn’t Farage and co’s predictable backtracking on outlandish campaign promises. It wasn’t the plummeting pound or inevitable economic instability. It wasn’t even the delay in offering assurances to EU nationals that they would be able to remain in Britain.
No, it was the tireless work of one of the most misunderstood groups in society. Not the majority of normal Remainers who voted accordingly while respecting the views of others. Not those who mistrusted the EU but wanted to stay in because they feared the consequences of leaving. Not the millions who were eager to remain due to personal and work circumstances. And not even those who passionately believed in the EU but accepted the decision with grace and a desire to see the country united through a period of era-defining upheaval. Because they’re all traitors and pussies.
No, the people I’m referring to are the sturdier, more educated souls, the ones willing to go that extra inch, to stand up on the parapet and demand the country ignore such flimsy principles as democracy and equality in the name of what is Right. Some call them ‘the regressive left’. Some call them ‘generation snowflake’. Some call them ‘social justice warriors’. Some call them ‘virtue-signalling self-righteous moral relativists’. I used to simply call them ‘cunts’. But now I call them ‘heroes’. Brave heroes who have energised Twitter, Facebook and Guardian comments by upholding the principles of liberalism and sneering at people they disagree with. That tens of thousands heeded their message of hate and marched through London last month – joined by assorted talented actors, musicians and Bob Geldof – only goes to show their sterling work has paid off.
It’s often said in times of conflict you see the best of people (Not that I know who said it. The only sauce I’ve ever verified came in a polystyrene cup) and boy, the behaviour of huge swathes of the modern left these last four weeks has certainly proved that maxim (Not that I know what a ‘maxim’ is either though I think it’s got something to do with cars and tits). Indeed, it’s a mark of how moral, progressive and downright better than everyone else the most vocal contemporary liberals are that they have no qualms in being massively intolerant and making huge generalisations about 17 million people they’ve never met. Because as I’ve learnt during the course of my conversion, intolerance is the new tolerance – perhaps the sweetest triumph of the pro-EU movement has been the moral victory in reclaiming hatred and disrespect for the working-class from ‘80s Thatcherites in red braces. Stick that in your laminated pipe and smoke it, Gordon Gecko. Indeed, the most satisfying facet of the New Intolerance is that unlike the old one it gives progressives a free pass to be as irrational and bigoted as the people they castigate for being irrational and bigoted. Despite the fact that Leave voters – much like Remain voters if they were less intelligent and more racist – include people of all ages, ethnicities, genders and political persuasions, the New Intolerance allows us to see beyond that and view them as one shell-suit clad, corned beef guzzling mass. This in turn helps to unite people: chiefly Leave voters united by the fact that they’re all uneducated, racist xenophobes. And for this recovering uneducated racist xenophobe it’s been a pleasure and a privilege to watch.
(A proper privilege, mind. Not that white male version enjoyed by Leave voters, such as notorious white male right-winger Dreda Say Mitchell).
Much like the aftermath of the 2015 general election – in which tens of millions of people who voted Tory were dismissed by the Twitterati as selfish neo-cons with shit for brains – the tidal wave of snobbery and abuse washing over social media has been a joy to behold. Imagine the climax to a Roland Emmerich blockbuster written by Laurie Penny, in which Will Smith’s principled president is forced to drain the Atlantic with inter-galactic technology discovered by John Cusack’s nerdy scientist before unleashing a tsunami upon the members of the human race deemed socially unacceptable, such as Israelis, football fans, ex-Muslims, white men with dreadlocks, black women with straight hair and anyone who doesn’t know the correct pronoun for six year-old girls who like playing with Action Men.
(I’m not sure if the dog dies in this one but rest assured if it does it was probably a Sun reader)
So from the tear-stained Facebook post enquiring ‘How can 17 million people be so hateful?’ to the outraged English Twitterer begging Nicola Sturgeon to take ‘those of us who can’t live with the stupidity’ as refugees. From the below-the-line Guardian commenter stating Leave voters have ‘shafted the country with bigotry and racism’ to the Remainer who informed me ‘52% of the country are idiots’. From those who spoke of their relief that they barely know any Leave voters to others who boasted of having none in their ‘timelines’ (nope, haven’t got a clue), it’s not hard to see how I was easier to flip than Henry Hill’s mattress. Indeed, it’s testament to how insightful the most vociferous Remainers are that they know so much about how working-class Leave voters think despite not actually knowing any working-class Leave voters. You don’t get insight like that from watching The X-Factor and shopping in Primark.
Absorbing this mood has made me realise how utterly wrong I was. About everything. Pre-referendum I was under the silly impression that lack of knowledge about the EU could be found on either side. While believing that most people were intelligent and informed enough to make up their own minds, I was amused by the occasional examples of ignorance in both camps. From the Leave voter who was doing so because he couldn’t wait to see the look on Man City fans’ faces when they found out they were banned from the Champions League, to the campaigning Remainer who ‘couldn’t remember’ how many European Commissioners there are (my cryptic clue that the answer was the same as the number of member states failed to jog her memory), it was clear that being uninformed about how the EU works wasn’t confined to one side.
Except it wasn’t clear. Because this girl afflicted with temporary amnesia had one thing in her favour that those ignorant fools obsessed with funny-shaped bananas didn’t: goodness. Simple, old fashioned morality which cancels out even the most extreme cases of ignorance and intolerance. Because as we all know, the more good you are, the more right you are. About everything. Forget the staunch Remainer who believed that being in the pro-privatisation EU would help ‘future Prime Minister’ Jeremy Corbyn nationalise the railways. Or the anti-Brexiter who thought the austerity and unemployment the EU forced upon Greece post-2008 had ‘saved their economy’. Such nonsense can be excused with impunity when the person spouting it is of superior moral stock. Put simply, a Remain voter could believe in such ridiculous notions as ghosts, the Tooth Fairy or Jeremy Corbyn’s electability and they would still be more moral, knowledgeable and just damn right than your average Leave voting xenophobe. As I’ve been asked several times by butt-hurt Leavers over the past four weeks: ‘Why do you think you’re better than me because I disagree with you? I don’t think I’m better than you’. To which I always reply: ‘Of course you don’t. You voted Leave’
As, of course, did I. Which is why we’re here, apart from the sensible Remainers who stopped reading after the first sentence. And the hard-core who spat all over their smartphones then had a good cry before starting a petition to boycott Apple for allowing me to infect the iPads of delicate flowers nationwide. But for those brave enough to stay this is a frank admission you won’t want to miss. Like most dumb, uneducated, working-class racists, my first though was to put this on Facebook where all the other dumb, uneducated, working-class racists hang out to talk about Bounty bars and post lists with titles like Top Five Mosques To Bomb In Bradford. However, knowing how traumatic Brexit has been for the moral guardians of Facebook and Twitter, I decided a one-off blog post was the most suitably ego-free platform in which to prostrate myself. I’m already struggling to sit down after the wire-brush-assisted thrashings I’ve subjected myself to since casting my vote: I’d never walk again if I knew I’d accidentally driven a passing snowflake to suicide by invading their web-space with a point of view they don’t like.
But it would be far less than I and millions of people I don’t know deserve. To put it into gutter language my fellow working-class ignoramuses understand: we’re due a fucking good hiding. And from the Twitter talk of never letting us forget what we’ve done to the dark threats about the penance we’ll suffer for destroying their children’s futures, I couldn’t welcome it more. The reckless arrogance with which I cast my ill-informed vote was such an act of hubris that nothing less than a public hanging will suffice. So like him with the beard out of Billions I’ve decided the only way to deal with the terrible moral choice I made is to embrace self-loathing, masochism and women pissing on my face.
(Not that I know what’s going on in Billions, mind. I only watch it for the kinky bits. Dumb working-class xenophobes can’t be expected to understand attorneys and stock markets. Oh and I’ve no idea what ‘hubris’ is. I think it’s a bit like kismet. Though I’ve never tasted either. Or fennel.)
But boy, does this self-flagellation feel good. However, before anyone thinks that the post-Brexit social media backlash has focused exclusively on uneducated working-class racists, it’s important to remember that the criticism has held to account all the other groups responsible for the mess we’re in too. Which is my way of saying old people deserve a good fucking hiding as well. Happily, Brexit has allowed the left-wing tastemakers of social media to add pensioners to the ever-expanding list of people it’s okay to hate, alongside such bastards as Germaine Greer and Jews. And like the targeting of the working-class, the manner in which the liberal media have adopted ageism has been a thing of beauty.
First out of the traps was politically astute food critic Giles Coren of The Sunday Times, a man who knows all about winning over the sceptical masses having spent his career trying to convince the world his entry into Fleet Street was down to raw talent and nothing to do with his well-connected father. ‘The wrinklies have well and truly stitched us up’ he raged, passionately informing his readership that ‘old folk can’t be trusted with big decisions. They’re always wrong. About everything’. A Brexiteer would probably insert a weak joke here about the average age of people who buy the Times and read Coren’s column. But they’d be wrong as those elderly readers are probably too busy getting lost in their own gardens to look at a cultured column about food that doesn’t come in a tin.
Elsewhere Charles P.Pierce of Esquire told us that ‘some of the oldest and whitest people on the planet’ had destroyed young people’s futures by having the nerve to vote in huge numbers while over 60% of 18-24 year olds exercised their democratic right to sit at home posting pictures of cats wearing ear-muffs. He brilliantly wrote that the electorate had ‘chosen to hock a big old loogie at everyone from international bankers to scary brown people who they apparently believe are preparing to launch Operation Sea Lion’. How many British pensioners Boston native Pierce knows isn’t made clear, though his familiarity with UK politics and the EU certainly is as he cheerily admits to knowing bugger all about either. Which just goes to show how correct he is. As I wrote earlier, when you’re on the side of Right you don’t need to worry about such silly fripperies as knowing anything about millions of people before generalising them all as paranoid, racist idiots.
(Not that I know what ‘fripperies’ are but I’ve heard it’s culturally insensitive for anyone other than Bulgarians to wear them).
Closer to home, the reliably edgy Vice magazine lived up to its edgy reputation with a truly edgy piece by Joel Golby edgily titled ‘Old People Seem Intent On Fucking Us Over Forever’ which edgily went straight for the blue-rinse jugular in a way only edgy Vice writers can – by swearing. Edgily: ‘The next time one of you fuckers asks me for help with something on a high shelf in a supermarket I will put it on a higher shelf where you can’t even get at it with your stick’ he blasted, striking fear into the hearts of all those diminutive pensioners who regularly shop at Hoxton’s latest Palestinian Solidarity Pop-Up Mini Mart. Later, Golby edgily bursts the right-wing myth that people over 60 are capable of autonomous thought and may even know a thing or two about the EU by edgily putting the blame squarely at their door in one succinctly edgy takedown: ‘Old people…who want to vote out of Europe for no particular reason but who fucking cares anyway because by the time the changes come into effect they’ll all be gone to the void’. Edgy.
Golby’s colleague Heath Pickering went one step further, demanding the referendum is repeatedly repeated until he gets a result he likes and arguing that ‘Brexit proves Baby Boomers should get less of a vote’. His progressive plan to destroy decades of democracy and equality for the greater good proposed an authoritarian utopia in which only 18-24 year olds would be allowed a ‘whole’ vote, 35-49 year olds would be entitled to 60% each and anyone over 70 would see their democratic right to play a part in the running of their country so reduced it would take five of them to muster one vote (That’s 20% of a vote each just in case any Leave voters are having this read to them by their carers). Understandably, this pioneering suggestion was greeted with much enthusiasm on Twitter by fellow liberals who had already suggested equally bold laws to take away the vote from anyone without a degree, an au pair or a second home in Florence.
But while Vice was proving itself just as comfortable ironically picking on pensioners as it is dishing out post-modern racism, the strongest statement of intent was The New European – a ‘pop-up paper for the 48%’ set up to maintain the Remain campaign and provide a safe space for those most hurt, betrayed and downright cross with 17 million morons for ignoring the expert guidance of Eddie Izzard and him who plays Sherlock. Editor Matt Kelly calls his publication ‘a paper for the Zeitgeist’ – which explains why it’s only available in regions that voted to stay as we don’t get a signal for the Zeitgeist up in t’north – and hopes to kick against ‘a lack of representation for people who are dismayed and disenfranchised with Brexit’. It shows how marginalised they truly are that they had the backing of the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Sky News, most of social media, half of Fleet Street, virtually every British actor, musician, comedian, TV presenter, reality star, performing dog and whatever-the-hell-Charlotte-Church-is and they still feel under-represented.
As for the paper, its unavailability in areas that opted to leave the EU gives it freedom to discuss important issues without dumbing down for people whose only experience of voting is nominating someone from TOWIE to climb into a vat of hippo-piss and retrieve a gold star from a piranha’s anus. Hence the biting satire of the front cover cartoon depicting a cross-eyed couple in their living room pondering that age old question ‘I wonder if dogs think?’. The liberal and clearly university-educated pooch then speaks for us all – and by ‘us’ I mean the liberal and the clearly university educated – when it replies: ‘These idiots. Voting to leave the EU, creating a future of uncertainty and instability that will have a knock-on effect for generations to come, leading to isolation and beleaguerment for this once great nation’. It’s hard to think of a more powerful example of appealing to the prejudices of your readership, at least until The Aryan Alternative start giving away free Klan masks and Hitler ‘taches.
However, where The New European really comes into its own is its unpredictable line-up of columnists, particularly former Loaded editor James Brown and ex-Select scribe Miranda Sawyer, bravely risking their reputations as working-class northerners by writing for a publication whose front cover alone contains more contempt for working-class northerners than the combined works of AA Gill and Virginia Woolf. Let’s just say that the presence of these two ‘90s icons has made those of us in our late ‘30s quite literally mad for it. Should I ever venture outside my coal-black, gravy-stained North Tyneside shit-hole I look forward to stealing a copy and reading the thoughts of other political giants such as Donna out of Elastica and Jason ‘Pineapple Head’ Lee.
Its publishers hope that during its four-week run the £2 paper will be carried by readers like ‘a badge of honour’, brilliantly tapping into the mind-set of the modern social media liberal for whom being seen to be on right side of an issue is far more important than actually knowing anything about it. Also, as a professed platform for the disenfranchised, I’m in no doubt it will provide space for those most affected by Brexit: I look forward to reading the scores of opinion pieces written by actual immigrants as opposed to comfortable British journalists speaking on their behalf.
Even MPs won’t get a look in as the paper is so dedicated to giving a voice to the little people that it has a strict ‘no politicians’ rule. Luckily this gap has been more than adequately filled. Not by those with concerns and worries about life outside the EU, such as immigrants and business owners, but a salt-of-the-earth assortment of CEOs, digital directors, venture capitalists and Westminster lobbyists. With such anti-establishment cojones on display even uneducated xenophobic racists might be swayed by this radical new paper, though whether they’ll have two pound left by Friday after squandering their giros on chips and poppers is anyone’s guess. And the lack of input from principled politicians shouldn’t be too worrying as they’ve been busy spreading the anti-democratic mantra elsewhere. Nick Clegg has been banging the drum relentlessly since that fateful Friday morning and as the five people who read his column in the Financial Times are painfully aware, he’s mad as hell, like Peter Finch in Network but without the good grace to prove how mad he is by offering to commit suicide on national television.
(Not that I’ve ever seen Network. Or indeed any film that doesn’t feature sharks, fannies or Jason Statham.)
But boy, was Clegg angry. Angry that his children’s future has been ‘put at risk by a needless referendum’. Angry at ‘the betrayal that Brexit voters will feel when they realise – too late – that a land of milk and honey outside the EU does not exist’. Angry that ‘three quarters of young people voted for a future – to remain in the EU – denied them by their seniors’. It’s refreshing to know that the petulance of the social media snowflakes is alive and kicking in our elected representatives too. From the quietly cutting way he reiterates the anti-equality meme that a young person’s opinion is worth more than that of someone older, to his skewed approach to mathematics which allows him to believe that 34% and three quarters are the same thing, Clegg has done himself proud. Not least with his self-aware lament for those poor souls forced to accept a democratic result they don’t like. As someone who voted for neither the Tories nor the Liberal Democrats in 2010 yet ended up with both I share their pain.
Elsewhere Alistair Campbell proved that even the most rabid anti-Blairite will happily give their arch enemies the thumbs up if necessary when he tweeted his plans to pursue legal avenues to overturn the referendum result. It’s a mark of how moral the modern left have become that those who’ve spent years demanding Campbell be strung up next to Blair will happily dish out the ‘likes’ and re-tweets when he joins them in saying how ‘gullible’ Leave voters are. And as for tweaking legal proceedings to suit your own political agenda, well, to say ‘Campbell’s your man’ would be an understatement on par with pointing out that Charles Kennedy was partial to the odd brandy at Christmas.
His Labour colleague David Lammy went one step further though, taking to print and social media urging people to sign the petition calling for a second referendum (and presumably a third and fourth one if need be). Issuing stark warnings about the result unleashing ‘resentment and prejudice reminiscent of 1930s Europe’ he pleaded with Guardian readers to ‘stop the madness’ and demand the will of the people be ignored. Heroically brazen in his belief that a vote different to his doesn’t count, he used emotive language and hypothetical predictions to justify tearing up democracy and equality for the greater good, as I’m sure he will if he wins a majority of only 52% the next time his Tottenham seat is up for grabs. A resounding success his words were too, judging by the 3 million or so signatures the petition garnered. Even taking into account the possibility of duplicate email accounts, made-up names and the problematic fact that almost 70,000 of the signatures apparently came from North Korea and Vatican City, it still proves emphatically that Britain has a substantial number of liberals so bruised by Brexit that the only way to make their voice heard is to throw democracy under the bus. Along with women’s rights, gay rights, human rights, freedom of speech and everything else the contemporary left have sacrificed at the altar of identity politics.
Much like President of the Liberal Democrats Baroness Brinton, who made no attempt to conceal her loathing of the democratic process on Question Time. ‘Unfortunately democracy means you’ve got to go by the rules that are played at the time. But many of us feel extremely concerned that people voted for something not understanding what it was’. The key word is ‘unfortunate’ because as any principled leftist knows, there’s nothing more unfortunate than living in a world where a Professor of Contemporary Thought has the same rights as a lowly binman. Where people who never went to University are allowed as much of a say as someone with a 2.2 in Media Studies. ‘Unfortunate’ that the one person/one vote madness has ushered in a landscape where era-defining decisions are made not only by establishment ‘experts’ but also by 17 million nuggets, all of whom routinely attend EDL marches and watch Celebrity Juice.
And I’m as guilty as every one of them.
Yet hopefully my last minute conversion and willingness to flagellate myself will earn me a smidgeon of redemption. To put my mental state in a context only the most sophisticated will appreciate, think of me as the sinful Hugo Loras to the modern left’s noble Faith Militant, with the combined heft of Twitter, Facebook and the entire liberal commentariat functioning as one multi-limbed, all-sneering High Sparrow.
(That’s a Game of Thrones reference in case any Leave voters are wondering. Though frankly I barely know who these people are as I fast-forward through all the bits where no-one’s getting murdered or sucked off by a dragon.)
In conclusion, I hope and pray that my contrition will inspire others to realise the error of their racist, uneducated, Leave-voting ways. However, I’ve learnt that breaking the habit of the uneducated, racist, Leave-voter is easier said than done. Indeed, my old beliefs have taken to taunting me, trying to force their way back in like some brown-shirted lager-swilling demon. Luckily, a simple thought experiment has kept such dark forces at bay. By conducting hypothetical conversations between the former, uneducated, racist me and the current, judgemental, New European-reading one I’ve been regularly demolishing his arguments with the grace and force of a wrecking ball. And as a by-product I’ve also managed to purge several other problematic opinions such as my ridiculous aversion to Jeremy Corbyn just because he’s spent his entire career defending and supporting murderers. Because now, having absorbed the consensus of modern left-wing opinion, I realise it was actually because I’m a Blairite-Neo-Liberal-Red-Tory-Illuminati-Lizard-Person. With feet for hands. Conclusive proof that, contrary to what Blairite-Neo-Liberal-Red-Tory-Illuminati-Lizard-Person Nick Cohen once said about the Guardian comments section, the brave new world of social media is more open university than open sewer. Though Cohen voted Remain so all is forgiven.
See for yourself:
Old Me – When Nigel Farage suggested he would push for a second referendum if Remain won he was rightly lambasted by many for being a potential bad loser.
New Me – Of course he was lambasted. What he was proposing was undemocratic.
Old Me – I couldn’t agree more. So surely it’s equally undemocratic for Remain voters to do exactly the same thing?
New Me – Don’t be daft. Nigel Farage was wrong. Remainers are right. That’s why we’re called Remainers. Anyway, the issue is not who won but the fact that the system is wrong. Anyone can see that in a referendum the winner should have at least a 60% majority.
Old Me – So why didn’t millions of people sign a petition to change the rules before the referendum?
New Me – Because we thought Remain were going to win.
Old Me – So would you have called for a second referendum if Remain had won by an equally small margin?
New Me – Why would I do that?
Old Me – Because you just said the system needs changing so that the winner must have a 60% majority.
New Me – Shut up.
Old Me – Okay. Moving on to the voters. Many people I know voted Remain. I assume all of them were familiar with how the EU works, and if not did some research and made their own minds up without the help of politicians or journalists.
New Me – Of course they did.
Old Me – Much like many of those who voted Leave.
New Me – Horse-shit.
Old Me – Sorry?
New Me – Horse-shit. You know, nonsense. They voted Leave because they hate immigrants.
Old Me – I’m sure some did, but many others live among, work alongside and are good friends with immigrants. Several polls have found that over three quarters of Leave voters want all EU migrants to remain in the UK and over half voted Leave because they wanted all British laws made here. It’s news to them to find out the real reason was because they hate foreigners.
New Me – They shouldn’t hate foreigners then.
Old Me – Quite. But concern about immigration isn’t the same as hating immigrants. Depressed wages, the NHS, housing and class-sizes come much higher on most people’s list of worries than a dislike for folk with funny accents. But none of this is relevant to Remain’s roster of sloganeering celebrities and well-off journalists, the majority of whom invariably have private health care, own their own homes and send their kids to public school.
New Me – So the working-class are all lovely, tolerant liberals who hug foreigners all day long?
Old Me – Not at all. But we’re not all thick racists either. Myself and millions of others made our own minds up about the EU years ago and it had nothing to do with immigration.
New Me – Balls. You voted Leave because Nigel Farage and Rupert Murdoch told you to.
Old Me – Even the ones who don’t read The Sun?
New Me – You ALL read The Sun. Even the ones who can’t read. You were all too stupid to know anything about the EU and believed the Leave campaign’s lies. I should know – I used to be you.
Old Me – Okay, let’s discuss Jeremy Corbyn.
New Me – Peace be upon him.
Old Me – Erm…okay
New Me – Say it.
Old Me – Say what?
New Me – ‘Peace Be Upon Him’. Say it.
Old Me – Okay, which brings us to Jeremy Corbyn. Peace be upon him.
New Me – And don’t you forget it.
Old Me – So Jere…the current leader of the Labour Party. Is he an ignorant, uneducated, racist too?
New Me – Take that back.
Old Me – They’re not my words. I don’t actually think he’s an ignorant, uneducated racist. I think he’s an incompetent, unprincipled, anti-Western apologist for murder but that’s another story.
New Me – Ah, I see you’ve bought into the lies spouted by the Tory press.
Old Me – No I’ve bought into the words spouted by him. Unless all the evidence proving categorically that he’s an incompetent, unprincipled, anti-Western apologist for murder was invented by The Daily Mail. Such as the video of him stating an anti-Semitic terrorist group who imprison homosexuals, shoot protesters and fire rockets at civilians are ‘dedicated to peace and social justice’. Or the time he took part in a minute’s silence commemorating eight IRA members killed trying to bomb a police station. Or the speech he gave calling a man who supports suicide bombing and believes Jews make bread from the blood of children ‘an honoured citizen who represents his people very well’ before inviting him for tea and cake? Or the footage of him appearing and speaking at an event ‘celebrating’ 35 years of Iranian theocracy in all its fatwa issuing, women subjugating, trade-unionist imprisoning, freedom of speech supressing, homosexual hanging splendour. I can go on if you want?
New Me – Yeah well what about the West and Saudi Arabia?
Old Me – Cheers, I just won a little bet with myself. Anyway, I only asked because the narrative that yourself and other Remainers push is that opposition to the EU is synonymous with the far-right, racism and xenophobia.
New Me – Because it is.
Old Me – So in which case you must have a pretty low opinion of JC, as he’s spent virtually his entire career opposed to the EU.
New Me – No he hasn’t.
Old Me – Well, he has, it’s no secret. Indeed, for much of the time the UK’s been in the EU it was common among left-wingers to be against it.
New Me – Source please.
Old Me – Will ‘historical fact’ do? Tony Benn – Corbyn’s mentor – campaigned against Britain’s membership in 1975, and remained a fierce critic up until his death. Corbyn ally Dennis Skinner has long been actively opposed to the EU, as have Labour MPs past and present such as Kate Hoey, Frank Field, John Mann and George Galloway.
New Me – So now you’re a fan of Galloway?
Old Me – Not in the slightest. I think he’s a far-left apologist and egomaniac who’s shook hands with more terrorists than the chaplain at the Maze prison but that’s another story. My point is, far from being an exclusively right-wing position, it used to be common to find opposition to the EU on the left.
New Me – Yeah, among Blairites.
Old Me – I imagine most Blairites voted to Remain.
New Me – Zionists then.
Old Me – Obviously. It’s funny you mention Blairites though as it was Tony Blair who initiated Labour’s love affair with the EU in the first place, around about the time the left forgot what it’s supposed to stand for and became consumed by identity politics. Pre-1997 it was common for Labour MPs and members to be against the EU. Indeed the 1975 referendum campaign was largely fought between right-wingers in favour of staying and left-wingers against.
New Me – Yeah well that was 40 years ago, things have changed.
Old Me – Indeed they have, in 1975 the British public were voting on remaining in what was perceived as a mere trading bloc. In the following years the EU became something else entirely as it gradually stripped away power from governments and people to create an undemocratic European super-state, which is why the likes of Benn, Skinner and the TUC continued their opposition to it.
New Me – So you say. Anyway, what do a load of crusty old MPs know?
Old Me – Well, it’s not just them. Across Europe it’s not unheard of for the left-leaning to be against the EU, especially in countries whose economies and workforces have been shafted by them, such as Greece, Hungary and Italy. Places where loving your country and other countries but disliking the union they are members of isn’t viewed as tantamount to fascism. Unlike in the UK where intelligent people have a hard time grasping that the EU and the continent of Europe are two different things and smear anyone who doesn’t see the former as a shining example of internationalism as a dumb, racist Little Englander.
New Me – They’re allowed to: they’re not British.
Old Me – I see. So any British person opposed to the EU – apart from Jeremy Corbyn, PBUH, obviously – is a dumb racist Little Englander?
New Me – Yes.
Old Me – You mean like notorious dumb, racist Little Englander Irvine Welsh? The pro-Brexit socialist recently called the EU ‘anathema to democracy’ and a ‘fundamentally undemocratic institution’, he has written articles attacking its commitment to privatisation and globalization and this year said ‘you can’t defend something that’s led by commissioners’.
New Me – Duh. He’s Scottish. And he’s written books and stuff.
Old Me – So not everyone in favour of Brexit is an uneducated racist xenophobe?
New Me – They’re all to blame. But some more than others.
Old Me – Thank god Owen Jones changed his tune. I don’t think the social media left could bring themselves to hate him.
New Me – What are you talking about? He voted Remain.
Old Me – He did but a year ago he wrote a column entitled ‘The left must put Britain’s EU withdrawal on the agenda’, in which he detailed how the ‘increasingly pro-corporate EU’ had driven Greece into ‘an economic collapse unseen since America’s great depression’. He went on to condemn it for driving elected governments from office and blackmailing Portugal and Ireland then issued dark warnings about the danger of TTIP – ‘negotiated by the EU in secret with corporate interests’ – enabling the government to ‘expand the privatisation of the NHS’, much like they enabled them to do to Royal Mail by ‘enforcing the liberalisation of the natural monopoly of postal services’. Stirring but unsurprising sentiments from an anti-capitalist socialist in favour of state intervention and nationalised industries. Luckily, his call to arms received a lukewarm response so he changed his mind sharpish and within months was back to writing pieces about how working-class proles were in danger of being duped by the Leave campaign unless someone from their Remain campaign duped them first. Thank god – I don’t think his adoring cheerleaders could handle the horror of finding out he was just another uneducated racist xenophobe like me.
New Me – I’ve never read the article so I can’t comment. He made the right choice in the end so who cares. And since when have you been Owen Jones’ number one fan?
Old Me – Since never. I think he’s a well-intentioned if deluded moral relativist but that’s another story. What his previously held opinion, as well as those of Welsh, Benn, Skinner, Hoey, Mann, Field et al show is that it’s possible for people of a left-wing bent to be passionately against the EU, just like it’s possible for those with right-wing views to be in favour of it. In other words the social media consensus that everyone who voted Leave did so because they are ill-informed right-wingers who hate immigrants is demonstrably untrue, as these brief examples and the millions of others that exist in the real world prove. Most people on either side cast their vote and made an informed judgement on the European Union and how they wanted their country run. It wasn’t a judgement on Europe or Europeans and it certainly should not have been a judgement on the morals and integrity of the other side.
New Me – Oh, fuck off.
Piece of piss, isn’t it? As you can see, the Old Me is an awkward bastard but when it comes to debating with fictional versions of yourself, little things like historical facts and political arguments are no match for being on the side of justice, morality and old fashioned self-righteousness. As evidenced over the last month, which has been so outrage-packed that social media has barely had a chance to call Posh Spice an evil slut for kissing her child before the next major news story/excuse-to-look-superior-on-Twitter has hurtled into view.
We had the induction of a female Prime Minister, which will save Momentum members valuable time as we can recycle our threatening emails to Angela Eagle by simply swapping ‘Blairite Dyke’ for ‘Kitten-Heel Cunt’. On the opposite bench were the ongoing attempts by the treacherous PLP to oust a man of principle from the Labour hot-seat, ably assisted by the press continuously smearing Our Leader by reporting things he’s said and done. And at long last the publication of the Chilcott Report, which gave us all the chance to remind Blairites who voted for the Iraq war how much blood they have on their hands. Unlike Jezza and Seumas Milne who along with the other leading lights of the Stop The War Coalition bravely put aside any solidarity with Iraqi democrats and left-wingers by cheering on the ‘resistance’ as they bombed polling stations and murdered trade unionists.
Across the channel there were shocking scenes in Nice where once again Western foreign policy caused death and destruction on a huge scale in a vicious but justified Islamist terrorist atrocity which – like every other vicious but justified Islamist terrorist atrocity committed around the world by vicious but justified Islamist terrorists – had nothing whatsoever to do with Islam. In the States Black Lives Matter was given a huge boost when two black men were tragically shot dead by police officers, giving the go-ahead for 8 police officers to be rather-less-tragically shot dead by two black men – an encouraging chain of events which shows people are finally listening to BLM and their supporters, in particular to the chants often heard at their rallies such as ‘WHAT DO WE WANT? DEAD COPS! WHEN DO WE WANT IT? NOW!’. And finally, the military coup in Turkey which I’m afraid I’m yet to form an opinion on because I’ve been too busy writing this to check out what people are saying on Twitter (though I’ve heard the president’s an Islamist so I guess he’s the good guy, right?).
All things considered that equals an awful lot of bullying and attacking people to be getting on with. Rest assured, after destroying the future once already I’ll do everything I can to stay on the right side of the argument where these hot potatoes are concerned. And while I neither want nor expect forgiveness for the catastrophic, morally bankrupt decision I made four weeks ago I am eternally grateful to my social media comrades for making my conversion as painful as possible. I thank you all for ensuring that one overriding emotion will remain in my heart as long as I draw breath…