Tuesday, 25 October 2016

We Need To Talk About Regrexit...

During one of the pre-referendum posts I put out, I’d made the point that post referendum, the political atmosphere would be dominated by the fallout and the acrimony surrounding the vote. Whilst acknowledging that it wouldn’t have taken a political genius to point this out, I seem to be the only person to have spotted this.  And lo, this is precisely what has happened.

Tusk, Shultz & Junker hatch a cunning plan...
It didn’t really take the ‘Remain’ side very long to refuse to come to terms with the result, by consistently claiming that ‘Brexit’ voters were duped into voting to leave.  The reasons cited by Remainers being the claims that we were sending £350m per month/week/year (whatever it was, and to be honest it had been debunked as an argument almost straight away so does it matter if it’s not going to happen) to the EU and that this could be spent on the NHS.  The other claim being ridiculed being the claim that we were ‘Taking back control’ – especially in the light of the dramatic fall in value of the pound and the list of businesses drawing up plans to leave the UK.  What doesn’t help the situation is the ‘Brexiteers’ child like insistence in calling those people ‘Remoaners’.  It’s as if Stuart “Wings” Campbell is advising these people on tact and diplomacy.

Of course, the Pound has fallen in value in the currency markets, that’s what happens when uncertain events happen.  The gods of money don’t react well to uncertainty, which is why they commissioned countless polls to tell them what’s going to happen.  Polling that turned out to be false mind…   which accounted for the crash post Referendum result.  The point should be made that the new Government’s handling of the situation is perhaps exacerbating the situation regarding the value of the pound, with the May government openly discussing a so called ‘Hard Brexit’ – ie total withdrawal from the EU and the single market – much to the dismay of the more moderate devolved governments. 

It perhaps should also be pointed out that something similar would have happened had Scotland voted to leave the UK in 2014.  The pound would have crashed in the face of an unexpected result that provided uncertainty.  This is why I’d come to the conclusion that while Sterlingzone would have been a bad policy for the nascent Independent Scotland, the currency markets would have forced the UK government to the negotiating table and to a Sterlingzone settlement.  It is strange of pro-Union politicians not to point this out.  Maybe it’s embarrassment that it’s happened here and now.

It is also not true that it is only the UK government that is seeking a so called ‘Hard Brexit’.  The pronouncements from the EU leaders, principally Jean Claude Junker, have made clear that this is their favoured outcome.  It could, and should,  be argued that the heated debate about immigration has completely obscured Junker and Shultz’s collective failures in what, if we were being kind we would call a shambles.  Both Junker and Shultz have adopted the “crisis, what crisis” line as an economically important member has decided to leave.  Make no mistake, the European project is in danger of unravelling.  People across Europe are coming to the conclusion that ‘ever closer union’ is not working.  You only had to look at the European Parliament elections from two years ago to see this with anti-EU (admittedly Right wing) parties making big gains.  If Junker & co think that punishing the UK for having the temerity to vote to leave their cozy little club is the way to keep other countries in line, they’ll be shortly in for a rude awakening.

The one thing I do regret is that my vote has been hijacked as an excuse to be more racist towards people not from this country.  However the official ‘Remain’ side really should have a long hard look at themselves regarding their part in our slide towards the gutter.  It seems to be a hangover of ‘Third Way’ politics that our parties are now reactive towards voters rather than proactive.  It is this reactivity that has caused this descent towards…  well wherever it is we are heading.

If you remember, the Remain campaign spent an inordinate amount of time on what they thought the economic case for staying in the EU was – trade figures, cheaper goods, stable economy etc etc. The problem with the Remain campaign though – and ultimately why they lost was for three reasons.  The first is that their economic case was built around the failed tactics of Project Fear from 2014’s Independence Referendum.  You know, the campaign that conceded 25% from the start of the campaign to polling day 2 and a quarter years later. 

Secondly, like the claims about Sterlingzone in that Independence referendum, those scare stories simply did not translate into real life experiences.  We might be £4,500 (a figure too round and had the whiff of being thought up, like the figure Osborne quoted during the Indyref) worse off if we left the EU, but when you see people come here and ‘take British jobs’ – as the perception went, unchallenged – and you see living standards drop then those claims lost a lot of potency in its translation.  As I said at the time of the Independence Referendum, if you have very little money to begin with then figures quoting losses in the thousands just won’t be relevant, real or work.

Thirdly and probably most importantly, Immigration.  Let’s not forget that for many people, freedom of movement is a one way street where people seem to come here to work and doesn’t appear to apply to them.  This is why Immigration blunted so much of the economic argument and indeed for many Leave voters became an economic argument in its own right.  However UKIP’s consistent conflation of Immigration and Freedom of Movement should never have gone unchecked for so long and become so much conventional wisdom.  This is what I mean by our Third Way politics being far too reactionary and not nearly proactive enough.

It is not just UKIP’s conflation of Immigration and freedom of movement that should have been comprehensively dismantled by the Remain campaign, though this failure seems to have carried on and not been learned if speeches by Rachel Reeves are to go by.  The whole ideal of helping the huddled masses of the world is now up for debate.  Our decency as a country is now being put at risk by the sort of people who used to exist at the very margins of UK politics, all emboldened by the antics of a man who was a Fascist sympathiser at school.  I honestly don’t know what is worse, UKIP or our mainstream political parties’ appeasement of their politics.

Where Remain failed is in tackling the UKIP cancer straight on – calling out their anti Immigration rhetoric.  By saying that their circumstances are not the fault of migrants but a symptom of something else – though this would mean saying their policies are wrong – and by talking up immigration as something positive in all of our lives.  Instead, Remain ran away from the subject… and are still running.  Constantly giving ground to the UKIP tendency which has now contaminated the Westminster parties.

Not that us Scot’s should feel so smug.  True, our referendum experience was a different one, with the SNP talking up immigration as something positive.  Like the English campaign though, both sides sidelined the real issues with the EU.  The SNP have taken the 62% vote as a vindication of their stance and have used it to launch another attempt for Independence.  As I’ve said previously, I don’t think that of the 62%, that they are all ardent EU enthusiasts.  I’d suspect that a lot of those voters would either be people with no love of the EU but repulsed by the UKIP style campaign of Leave or Eurosceptics who held their noses to vote to Remain to spike Tory led Hard Brexit, prompted by the writings of Owen Jones & Paul Mason.  Certainly, for the SNP to successfully push the “dragged out of the EU against our will” line, I thought they needed the Scottish remain vote to be at least 65%.  This should have been attainable given the near unanimously pro-EU stance of the Scottish political classes.

I suspect that in spite of the rush to spin the events during the summer, we will not know for certain whether leaving the EU will be the right thing to do or not.  The only thing that is certain is that every politician, and the Eurocrats, have been utterly blindsided by the referendum and are struggling to come to terms with the new political landscape.  Even our Scottish Government have, I think, misread the signals with Brexit being used as an excuse to start Indyref 2 proceedings.  However, all the uselessness of the pro-Brexit government and the vile nastiness of the cancerous UKIP-ification of English politics and the English based media has completely obscured the entirely justifiable reasons for voting to exit the EU.  If you need any further reasons to leave, just watch the reactions of Tusk and Junker if the CETA trade deal collapses, torpedoed by…  well the Belgian equivalent to Scotland.

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