When the Exit Poll came through last Thursday night I was thrilled. Not because the Tories had won, however; because Labour had lost. Badly. Let me explain…
I had built up a resentment after suffering several weeks of scathing social-media posts from socialists, clearly biased media reporting, and outright lies spewed from disciples who worship at the altar of self-righteousness that is the Labour Party.
I was expecting to catch a whiff of the humble pie that was surely being served for supper. Oh, how I was wrong!
But what did I expect? After all, if the last ten years have proven anything, it is this- when it comes to democracy, this ‘New-Left’ aren’t interested. Between petty protests, pointless petitions, and petulant non-propriety, they have not accepted an exercise in democracy graciously since 2005:
- 2010 General Election – Protested.
- 2015 General Election – Protested
- 2016 Brexit Referendum – Protesting, still
- 2016 Presidential Election – Protested in the UK, for some reason
- 2017 General Election – Protested
- 2019 General Election – Protesting now
The only elections that seem to be acceptable have been the EU Parliamentary Elections (where the Brexit Party were the runaway victors by securing almost twice as many MEPs as the runners-up) and the AV Referendum in 2011, which induced the Lib Dems to the decade of disappointment that has developed for them. I assume because nobody really cares enough about these, but I digress…
So, what has been the response from the Labour Party since their train was derailed? There’s a double-track answer–
- the media were unfairly against Jeremy
I have had multiple migraines from morning commute radio that I’m too exhausted to revive, but the next reason is the main one.
- “It’s because of Brexit.”
Wow. Imagine Brexit being a key issue in this election. It’s not like people wanted a clear position or anything…
But seriously, this one bothers me. Jez has the most consistent anti-EU voting track record of anybody currently in the House of Commons (markpack.org.uk/153744/jeremy-corbyn-brexit/ if you want to see this condensed). Wouldn’t the ‘Brexit election’, whereby their own admission the people were voting to “get Brexit done”, have him placed far in the lead? It would have, had he been honest about his position.
I don’t agree with Corbyn. I don’t trust him, either. However, I once respected him for his consistency and willingness to push back against the establishment in his party, even at his own expense. That’s now gone, too.
So, how does the Labour plan to rebuild itself after such a crushing defeat? Corbyn is going, which is a step forward. However, McDonnell has stated that the next leader “should be a woman”. How very cosmopolitan, but it’s not very genuine…
Scotland has a female first minister. Northern Ireland has both female first and deputy-first ministers (or, will do when they decide to go to work). The UK has had two female prime ministers. The entire world is filled with great female leaders. But they haven’t come through artificial manoeuvring and puppetry. They haven’t been used as a rebound course, and haven’t been some plant to help sweep votes after a bad election. They have been organic; women who have worked hard and earned their way to the top; that is why they have been successful. The Labour party hasn’t had so much as an elected female party leader.
Cast your mind back to 2015 and the Labour Leadership election – a result which wasn’t protested! Running were two men and two women. That’s also the order in which they placed. With only 21% of the vote, Cooper and Kendall were confuted by card-carries who clambered to Corbyn.
So this plan is nothing more than political posturing, and the people should be wary.
McDonnell doesn’t want to help women; he wants to use them to help himself.
This is not a new thing. For decades elites have held the ‘little people’ in contempt, considering them too stupid to understand, and certainly too stupid to decide.
We saw it with Brexit, where a great many people said it was ‘too complex an issue’ to be decided by referendum, and then deriding us Brexiteers as uneducated thickos.
And now we’re seeing it again. Another paternalistic elite that thinks they have the right not just to tell us what to think and do, but to physically prevent people from going about their daily lives.
Extinction Rebellion think of their right to protest, without understanding that right ends where other people’s rights begin. The British are a liberal people. By and large, we support the right to protest. We do not support the serious disruption of people’s lives, preventing them from getting to work and to hospital appointments.
Extinction Rebellion begin their planned disruption of the tube on the Jubilee Line at Canning Town 👇🏽 pic.twitter.com/oN8LDO1G0o
— Holly Collins (@HollyJoCollins) October 17, 2019
This isn’t just inconsiderate, it’s downright elitist. It’s elitist because it’s accompanied by two other things: contempt and hypocrisy.
Contempt for ordinary people who get up for work in the dark and then find themselves stuck in Canning Town tube station or Shadwell DLR station because Extinction Rebellion want to use the disruption of their lives as a protest tool.
Hypocrisy because they use a diesel generator to heat their patio heaters, fly in to protest against carbon emissions, pop into McDonalds, sleep in plastic tents, and take trains and buses to travel and disrupt that same public transport.
They think they have a right to dictate to people what they should be concerned about. They think that if they raise the alarm, we should drop everything to listen to them. They think that if they get in the way, we should be grateful to them. They think that their good-intentions, or age, or something else about them means that the ordinary rules don’t apply to them.
Well, I don’t think it will work. Not only is this wave of direct action not winning people over, it’s turning off increasing numbers of people who had sympathy with the cause, but not the methods. Ordinary, decent, working people don’t want to be associated with Extinction Rebellion and the elitist hypocrisy it represents.
The thing that Extinction Rebellion doesn’t seem to have grasped is that we live in a democracy. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, or ahead of the curve, or something else – but it’s my view that in a democracy the power rests with the people. If you want to change something, you need to persuade people. It’s simply wrong to try to impose things on them, especially if your demands – like Extinction Rebellion’s – would cause economic ruin.
Brexit has made it fashionable to think otherwise. We even have MPs who want to subvert the democratic vote in order to force us all to do what they want.
There’s a General Election coming. In that General Election, people are going to vote for candidates and parties that best represent their concerns and have the most persuasive policies.
And if Extinction Rebellion really wants change, they ought to stop their childish tantrum and get on with persuading people of their stance. Persuading people that the so-called ‘climate crisis’ is more important than all the issues they ordinarily base their vote on.
I can anticipate the reply, because I’ve made this argument before. My belief that it should be the people who decide is not a new thing. You’ve heard it before too.
“It’s too important to let the people decide. They can’t understand the complexity of the issue”, they will say.
But what Extinction Rebellion really means is that they either can’t be bothered – because they’re so important that they don’t feel they should have to persuade anyone – or else they know that their arguments will fail and they want to inflict their prosperity-destroying, alarmist measures on us regardless.
Indeed, it is well-past time. Theresa May needs to resign, and she needs to do it soon. If she won’t resign, then the Cabinet and the 1922 Committee need to sort it out.
That’s my conclusion after the UK and EU agreed to extend the Article 50 deadline for withdrawal from the EU to 31st October.
Political commentators are saying May is likely to resign after the local elections, or else the European elections, so that her successor is not contaminated by the results, which are likely to be awful. I have a few things to say about that.
First, trusting that May will go after the local or European elections does not seem like a good idea to me – events could move on and she could find a reason to stay on. Which would be a disaster. There is no real convenient time to do a leadership election while in government – we need to get on with it.
Second, why would we waste almost six weeks of a six month extension on watching the clock until after the European elections? With a PM who is unable to make any progress because everyone knows she’ll be gone soon? It doesn’t make any sense. It would be a waste of precious time.
Third, if the Conservative Party puts itself before the country for one minute longer, we’re finished. Absolutely finished. Please, just do what needs to be done.
Fourth, why is this idea that a new leader would be ‘contaminated’ by the election results being accepted? It doesn’t make sense. Everyone knows that Brexit and May are causing us electoral harm. People won’t just forget that because ‘Ooo! New leader!” – because, actually, people aren’t stupid.
Fifth, if you do think a new leader would be contaminated by the elections, why not do the leadership election at the same time? So we get those results, and then the day after (or week after) the new leader is in place. That way, we’re not wasting time.
Yes, I want to run a leadership election campaign alongside the local and European elections campaigns. I think we need a full campaign, with the opportunity for a proper debate about Brexit, the Conservative Party, and what we want to do in every other policy area after Brexit. To decide what, as a Party, we now believe in. Crucially, members need to have the final say.
Yes, such a campaign would be best done during summer recess when there’s plenty of time and space for navel gazing. But we don’t have that luxury anymore. We missed that chance. We missed that chance when May stayed on as leader after her terrible General Election performance. We missed that chance after the Chequers Plan was published. And we missed the chance of a leisurely leadership election when Conservative MPs voted for May to stay on in December.
This is urgent; this needs to be done now. No more running down the clock, no more trying to be cleverer than is good for us, and no more treating the electorate as though they are stupid. It. Is. Time. May must go.
A lot of activists – and inactive members – are walking away from the Conservative Party. Even more are keeping their memberships in hand for a future leadership election, but refusing to get out there and campaign in the local elections.
Not me. Every weekend, and sometimes a mid-week session or two as well, I’m out there knocking on doors. Not just taking the easy ‘you don’t have to talk to anyone’ route of delivering leaflets; but actually knocking on doors and asking people what they think.
As you can imagine, it is not easy. Actually, it is hell out there. I am campaigning in heavy Leave voting areas in Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire. These are Labour held areas, but within them are seats – both council and Parliamentary – that are Conservative targets.
I came out strongly against the Chequers Plan when it was first published, and then the Withdrawal Agreement. The WA hasn’t changed since, and neither has my position. I support those Conservative Brexiteer MPs who voted against the WA.
And my stance means that I am coming in for criticism from two directions.
On the one hand, people who back the WA consider me ‘impractical’ and ‘disloyal’. I don’t mind this, since these are the kinds of people who put Loyalty before Principle, and Party before Country. I have no interest whatsoever in doing either of those things.
On the other hand, Brexiteers who feel as I do about the WA and also think we should have left the EU on March 29th are criticising me for continuing to campaign for the Conservative Party. This article is for them. This is why I keep on campaigning:
1) People deserve to be heard
Never have people felt more ignored. Their opinions disregarded; their vote seemingly meaningless to a Remainer Parliament.
And it’s not right. They should have a way to express their opinions that is not just shouting into the abyss that is social media. They deserve to be heard, they deserve to be listened to, and they deserve to have their views fed back to Conservative HQ.
That’s what I’m doing. I simply don’t believe in stopping listening when people stop having nice things to say. I don’t believe in quitting when it gets hard – we should be listening more now, not less.
There is a secondary benefit to listening to what local people have to say, and that’s that it makes holding firm on my position easier. When people call me disloyal, or try to say Brexiteers are angry with the ERG for voting against the WA, or whatever other fairytale line – I know better. Knocking on doors gives an important reality check; especially since straight-talking northerners cut through the Westminster BS and tell you exactly what’s on their minds.
2) Local elections are important
It’s not often you’ll hear people say this, but they really are. The elections in my area on May 2nd will determine all kinds of important things including who sets council tax and who manages local services.
We have got some great local candidates. Some experienced political veterans, some enthusiastic young newbies, and everything in between. I think our local area will be better off if they are elected as Councillors over the alternatives.
It might be an old fashioned view, but I think being involved in politics is substantially about public service. And just because we’re annoyed (yes, this is an understatement) with the Conservative Party leadership and government, that doesn’t mean we should abandon our local communities.
We’re not kids, and we shouldn’t be having a strop and walking off with the ball. I want the democratic vote of 2016 to be respected, and it seems to me to be inconsistent to call for that whilst ignoring other elements of democracy – like local elections.
3) The Conservative Party is bigger than May
Yes, she is the leader. Yes, she is the figurehead. But the Conservative Party is bigger than Theresa May. She is now acting contrary to the views of a majority of her MPs, and has long been acting against the views of a majority of the membership.
These activists and members are the core of the Party. I am getting messages from multiple people every single day despairing at what is going on; at what May is doing to the country. I say the same thing to them all: if you leave, you lose your voice. There is going to be a reckoning, and those of us who can see that what the government is doing is wrong need to be part of it.
I don’t think the Conservative Party is dead. The future of the Party will be decided by the people who show up, and so I am showing up. It is likely that at some point this year we will have a leadership election: I will use my vote in it wisely.
Once we have a new leader, the Conservative Party will have to rebuild. It will still be in government, and it will have to decide what it does next in terms of Brexit – where ever the hell we’ve got to by then – and in terms of every other area of government too. My voice will be stronger because I have continued doing the work through the tough times. My voice will be stronger because I am listening to voters and can argue for a future on that basis.
“Keep buggering on”, was what that most famous of Conservatives, Winston Churchill, said.
‘Our best hope of getting any Brexit at all is to pass the Withdrawal Agreement.’
That’s what we’re being told. That’s what Conservative Brexiteer rebels are being beaten about the head with. On the same theme, immediately after today’s failed (yet again) vote on the PM’s Brexit deal, official Conservative Party social media went into overdrive, alleging that ‘Labour just voted to stop Brexit’.
A great many of those Labour MPs did vote against the WA because they don’t want Brexit to happen, but that’s not the whole story. That’s not the only reason to vote against Theresa May’s deal.
These Conservative Party lines rely on three false assumptions:
1) That the WA is a proper Brexit.
2) That a no deal Brexit is off the table.
3) That the electorate is daft enough to believe those first two points.
Do I need to explain again why the WA is bad a deal that it doesn’t qualify as a proper Brexit? Do I need to explain again why it poses an unacceptable threat to the Union and would put us in the worst possible negotiating position for the next stage?
Parliament won’t allow a no deal Brexit to happen, says the PM. It’s not up to Parliament though, is it? It’s up to May to decide whether or not to seek an extension beyond April 12th, and it’s up to the 27 leaders of the EU to decide whether or not to grant such an extension.
Not Parliament. We know this because the latest change – stopping today, March 29th, being Brexit day in favour of an extension – was done without the involvement of Parliament. It was done on May’s initiative. This means that May can decide not to ask for any further extension. She can stick to her promises and get us out of the EU.
And the EU…well. They want this to be over.
The EU Commission has issued a statement has issued a statement saying that a no-deal Brexit on 12th April is now a "likely scenario".
— Sky News (@SkyNews) March 29, 2019
Now, the final point is important; especially as hints are dropped and speculation rises that a GE could be imminent.
At this time of year – with local elections coming up – social media is usually flooded with ‘positive response on the doorstep’, ‘good reaction on the doors today’, and similar cliches.
But not this year. Because Tory activists are being hammered out there: broken promises (do we need to talk again about Brexit Day being cancelled?), fear of a betrayal of the democratic vote, and sheer frustration at May’s command and control approach. #ToryCanvass.
I’ve experienced it first hand. It’s brutal, and it’s justified. Most people make some concessions – ‘well she has worked hard’ – but the ultimate frustration remains.
I have lost count of the number of times I have heard voters say almost the exact same form of words: ‘we voted to leave, and we should just leave – with or without a deal’. And people aren’t daft. They know that Parliament not passing the WA doesn’t mean no Brexit. They know that if it wasn’t for May’s asking for an extension, today would still be Brexit Day.
What’s more, they’ve bothered to look at the deal on the table. Because guess what, when people care about an issue they make an effort to inform themselves. I know; shocker! And people know that this is a bad deal. Some just about come down on the side of backing it, just to get it over with, whilst others oppose it completely. What’s clear is that virtually nobody considers this a good deal. And a great many people consider it to not be a proper Brexit.
And so the house of cards that has been built by Theresa May comes tumbling down.
Our best hope of getting any Brexit at all is not to pass the Withdrawal Agreement; it’s to hold our nerve, hold the line, and leave the EU on April 12th. We have an extra two weeks to prepare for a no deal Brexit, and we should get on with it.
When she became Prime Minister in 2016, May made a series of pledges about the kind of Brexit she wanted. In subsequent speeches she fleshed out that vision. The Conservative Party was broadly united. Sure, Remainers would have preferred to remain, and Brexiteers would have preferred a more buccaneering Brexit, but this was a compromise that could work for all.
But she did not act as she had promised to. Inside government, she had cut out the Brexiteers in pursuit of a secret plan that few knew of. Whilst DExEU prepared a plan that matched her stated aims, May produced the Chequers Plan which did not.
In July last year Brexiteers warned that the Chequers Plan was unacceptable. They used all means available to them, except a leadership challenge, to get it spiked. Resignations, alternative plans, media pressures, honest calculations of the numbers of rebels.
May pushed on. The Withdrawal Agreement (WA) was the outcome.
When that was published Brexiteers did what they could to get it spiked. More resignations, more time spent explaining alternatives, more honest calculations of the numbers of rebels.
It didn’t work. May pushed on. Brexiteers forced an internal party confidence vote. May promised legally binding reassurances on the backstop aspect of the WA. She won, and pushed on.
Well, sort of. Actually she just delayed last night’s rejection of the WA by six weeks, and achieved nothing in the mean time. The letter she got from the EU did nothing to change the WA. As such, it was not the legally binding assurances she had promised in order to stay on as PM.
Last night she lost the WA vote by an historic number. 117 of her own MPs voted against her, some using their vote to resign from the government.
And yet today I see various people arguing that those Brexiteers who voted against the WA are various shades of irresponsible, unreasonable and idiotic, putting Brexit and the country at great risk in pursuit of unrealistic ends.
But when I trace the steps that brought us to this point and then read those outraged comments about Brexiteers, I simply think: are you out of your tree!? How can you not see that May’s handling of this whole process has inevitably brought us to this point? Has party loyalty blinded you to reality? Or do you know the truth but your political ambitions are preventing you from being honest?
The simple truth is that one person is responsible for this mess, and she is not named Jacob, David, Boris, Steve, Dominic, Esther, Sir Bill, nor Owen.
It is all down to Theresa May. She double-dealt against her own Ministers. She promised the electorate one thing, then tried to force through another. She made promises in order to stay on as Conservative Party leader and Prime Minister, and then didn’t keep them. She ignored warnings, advice, and alternatives in the bloody-minded pursuit of her own plan. Trying to push the blame for this situation on to others – the ERG, the DUP, even the Labour Party – is, quite simply, shirking her responsibility.
The greatest mandate ever given by the British people ordered the Government to take back control of our borders, laws and finances.
This, we were assured, was what we would get.
However the Withdrawal Agreement presented by Theresa May falls far short of what were promised. Instead of control, we’re being presented with an agreement that emasculates our United Kingdom – an agreement written in Brussels, for the benefit of Brussels and which contains multiple provisions for the continued interference of Brussels in our day-to-day lives.
This deal hands the European Union the power to determine rules, over which we will have no say. It allows them and them alone to determine the nature of our future trading relationships. It hands over control of Northern Ireland’s economic affairs to the EU indefinitely. – a development which should offend the instincts of anyone with the remotest conservative sensibilities.
Additionally, the ECJ will continue to have jurisdiction for a least a decade. We will also be subject to monitoring to ensure that we continue to adopt the rules that we are subject to and pay for the projects they determine we are liable for. It’s almost as if we aren’t leaving at all.
CfL finds this is unacceptable. We want to encourage as many people as possible to write to their Conservative MPs and let them know why this is deal isn’t Brexit and isn’t acceptable.
How to get involved
- Locate your MP’s email address using the postcode search function here.
- Download our template letter here and add your own details (many MPs won’t respond unless they can tell you’re a constituent). Feel free to amend the letter.
- Email your MP
- Post on social media that you want to #ditchthedeal
Yesterday’s march for a so-called ‘People’s Vote’ was group therapy for the lost souls of our University towns with no political or cultural significance whatsoever.
The evidence of this is in the People’s Vote ‘brand’ genesis. Continuity Remain is perceived by most people as an extreme, and highly irrational, position – even by lots of people who voted Remain. The strategy is therefore akin to that of a Trojan Horse whereby they aim to secure a referendum with three options on the ballot paper, one of which is to Remain on the utterly disastrous current terms. Securing support for a minority position is, after all, easier when you only need a minority of votes.
Evidence of their status as a minority sport can be seen in the march’s poor turnout. The media-savvy team behind the People’s Vote are spinning huge numbers but the evidence suggests that they’re waffling.
An aerial footage analysis suggests that the number of attendees was around 200,000. There is an unverified Metropolitan Police figure of 170,000. Meanwhile 320,000 have signed an online petition for a referendum re-run. Are we really meant to believe that twice as many traveled to march in London?
Regardless, even if the government bent to the alternative reality of the #FBPE crowd, there wouldn’t be the time for a second referendum before we leave anyway. These things take about six months to organise logistically. It just can’t happen.
But let’s just assume that wasn’t the case. Let’s just assume that we could sink to the level of other nations who bowed to the coordinated pressure to ‘think again’ when their electorates proved inconvenient to the EU project. What could be our possible objection?
The rationale. It’s a delusion that appears to rest on two central tenets. The first is that leave voters will die and the country’s opinion will change by default. The second is that people were promised things that won’t eventually materialise.
Our relationship with the European Union didn’t begin in June 2016, as these people seem to believe. It started way before that and for at least the last twenty years leaving or massively reforming our relationship with the EU has been the majority opinion. Euroscepticism was the norm. It still is.
This was at least in part because we were sold a trading relationship for the 1970s that became, without any input from the public, a domineering political arrangement which screwed just about everyone who wasn’t a politician, university employee or third sector doyen, and a trading relationship well past its sell by date.
While this was happening the People’s Voter tribe were nowhere to be seen. When a referendum became increasingly likely their voices were only heard when they wanted to actively oppose it. Now they’re suddenly all for a democracy so pure that there is no need to act out the mandate presented by the last vote before having a new one.
To be blunt – the country waited 41 years for a say on our relationship with the EU. We had to suck it up. Now the People’s Voters will have to as well.
National pride isn’t very fashionable anymore. People who drape themselves in the Union Flag, sing the national anthem and talk about how GREAT Britain is are sneered at as at best being deluded, harking back to a long-gone past, and at worst being some kind of fascist – as though patriotism is inevitably Nazism.
We’re told that after Brexit – and especially if there’s a no deal Brexit – the UK is going to be a little fish in a big pond. And the sharks are coming for us.
But if those of us who are proud of our country are supposedly deluded, what are the people who seem to have no concept of the privileged, wealthy and powerful position the UK occupies, relative to the rest of the world?
Let’s look at the facts.
In terms of our economy, we’re no minnow. The UK is the fifth largest economy in the world according to rankings by the UN, IMF and World Bank. Ours is bigger than the economies of countries including India, France, Canada, Russia and Australia.
When it comes to defence spending we’re up there with the big boys. Measured by overall size of military budget, the International Institute for Strategic Studies ranks the UK as the sixth biggest spender in the world, while the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute puts the UK at seventh in the world.
The Soft Power 30 index by Portland and The USC Center on Public Diplomacy ranks countries according to their influence, attractiveness and persuasive power. The 2018 index places the UK top, making it the world’s biggest soft power. The report identifies the UK’s underlying strengths in education, culture, digital, creative, finance and tech as the reason the UK is so popular around the world.
The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report – which assesses how countries perform in terms of infrastructure, education, market efficiency, financial markets, market size, tech and innovation – places the UK eighth overall.
The UK also has a permanent seat on the UK Security Council, has had its national dress adopted around the world (suit and tie), and has untold influence as the anchor member of the 53 country strong Commonwealth of Nations.
It’s not harking back to the British Empire to acknowledge that the UK is a strong and powerful nation. We should own the objective reality that we are a hard, soft and economic power, with more authority and influence than most countries in the world.
Instead of being shy, nervous or falsely modest, the UK needs to move forward with confidence. Not only for our own sakes, but because by reconciling ourselves to our status as a world leader, we can use that influence to do good.
Because Brexit is not just an opportunity for us to realise our full potential as an independent trading nation, but also an opportunity to spread the values and institutions that create the circumstances for prosperity: free trade, property rights, the rule of law, individual civil liberties and an independent judiciary. Built on these foundations prosperity is not a zero-sum game where as one country gets richer another gets poorer, but instead it is a recipe for everyone to improve their lot.
I don’t really care if the NHS gets an extra £350 million a week to be honest but for some reason continuity remain are fixated about the slogan on a side of a bus. Both the start and end point for all their arguments about the referendum somehow being invalidated, the bus has assumed a cultural significance that far outweighed its actual contribution to the result. Take these recent examples:
Who knew? No deal Brexit means no food Brexit and no medicines Brexit? Didn’t see that on the side of a fucking red bus did we?
— Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) July 24, 2018
Something I don’t get is where are all the angry Leave voters? They voted -sincerely – for “£350 million extra a week for the NHS”; what they’ve GOT is “you probably won’t starve to death immediately”. If I’d been sold a bait & switch deal like that I’d be APOPLECTIC.
— Mitch Benn (@MitchBenn) July 25, 2018
Observing these conversations take place in the online bubble where these beliefs appear to be fermented is enlightening. The logic appears to run in a circular form, starting with a highly prejudiced belief about why people voted leave – and ending with and even deeper set of prejudices that verge on out and out bigotry.
It goes a little something like this. People voted for the NHS money. But they were lied to. Russians. In a referendum weighted towards Leave. Who cheated. And people believed them. Because they’re thick. Thick enough to vote for a slogan on the side of the bus.
You can exchange the starting point for one about immigration as well and it still works. In this vein they continue indefinitely, never quite getting the closure that they signed up to this, now never-ending, group therapy session for.
And this is kind of the point. Virtually nobody in the country was pro-EU until we voted to leave. That’s one of the reasons the remain campaign didn’t even attempt to go positive. They just couldn’t sell the idea of ceding more and more control over our lives to Commissioners and Presidents we wouldn’t know if we passed them in the street. However, the belief that we were better off out was long and deeply held by a substantial portion of the population.
Suddenly touched by the long reach of reality remainers needed a safety net. They’ve got an echo chamber. They needed to articulate their beliefs and find a voice. It just turns out that their voice is particularly contemptuous.
The message on the bus was really about sovereignty and to this extent it was perfect. It tapped into the frustration of those who had watched the trading bloc they voted to remain in in the 1970s become a political empire. It framed the choice between the status quo and decisions about the UK being taken in the UK.
It resonated. A poll by Lord Ashcroft of over 12,000 people taken on the day of the referendum confirmed this. Almost half of leave voters ranked sovereignty as their top reason for voting the way they did. Conversely, the top reason for voting remain was that “the risks of voting to leave the EU looked too great when it came to things like the economy, jobs and prices”. The second top reason was “having access to the EU single market without Schengen or the euro”. Basically, 74% of remain voters voted with money on their mind. The fact that ABs were the only social grade to have voted, in the majority, for remain speaks for that.
That remainers perceive that the £350 million itself is the reason why many people voted leave is understandable when you view the world through their prism. They’re assuming that self-interest is the primary motivation behind everybody’s actions, as it is theirs. In the bubble the referendum was about two answers to the same question when it was actually about competing questions.
A neighbour actually knocked on my door during the campaign to pledge his support, stating that he didn’t actually care if leaving made him a bit poorer because the principle of independence was overriding. Aside from a few acquaintances who have directly benefited from EU funding for projects they’ve been working on or Strasbourg junkets, most of those I know who voted remain were at great pains to say that it wasn’t for any great love of the EU. My experiences could be written off as anecdotal if they weren’t echoed on the thousand or so doors I personally knocked on or in the exit polls.
All the sneering, back-patting and constant retweeting of Carole Cadwally’s latest error-strewn nonsense may provide reassurance for lost souls. But that’s about it.