For those of us who not only voted Leave, but actively supported it in all its guises, some of the most interesting aspects of the aftermath of victory is watching our opponents go through various stages of psychological processes as they come to terms with defeat. You can tell a lot about an enemy just by how they behave. This lot are an unbelievable rabble. Not for them the quiet retirement from the field, to reflect in a dignified way on their loss, and perhaps to learn some lessons. Normally it is said that victory has a thousand fathers while defeat is an orphan.
This defeat is no orphan. Thousands, possibly millions, have knee-jerked their way to hash tags, slogans, petty posters, as well as EU flags for their irrelevant social media accounts. The hypocrisy of the calls for another referendum, the obvious contradiction of claiming Leave won by lies whilst Remain battled on the basis of Project Fear, are both utterly ignored.
The defeated crow about many things beyond the above. To this milling, confused, overlapping cross section of the politically aware electorate Leave won because of racism, the economy under-performing due to Osborne’s austerity, the ignorance of the masses, and much more. However, the one excuse that sticks out more than all the others is people or areas that have been “left behind”, and simply need assistance from the ever powerful and benevolent State to “catch up”. The paradox of this excuse is off the scale.
Such a stance begs the question of who, within the warped minds of this odd section of society, has been left behind?
Judging by recent moanathons about wages in the Grauniad it appears that many of our heroic degree holders are earning less than they thought they would, not enough to buy a house, no pay rise for years, not enough for a holiday, not enough for two, or even one, child. Meanwhile – for those of us who need a water heater fixed, or a car serviced, or a PC resuscitated – it is a different story; we trade with tradesmen who lack degrees and are faced with invoices for £40 per hour plus VAT. Apparently research during the referendum found degree holders more likely to vote Remain. Who has been left behind exactly? Workers’ rights was, of course, one of the big and empty Remain slogans during the campaign. As Labour Leave pointed out the UK has workers’ rights above the EU level, and of course rights are one thing and wages another with a tsunami of cheap foreign labour flooding in to the country each year courtesy of ‘free movement’ and the hobbling of non-EU immigration controls by the ECHR (mandated by EU membership). Young Brits were being left behind for sure, but being young did not vote; their (older) parents, however, were alert to the barriers they faced, and voted accordingly.
And then there is the thorny issue of the “areas” that have been “left behind”. We know what the metro-libbby view on left behind areas is. In a word, sinister. We have the sneering comments during the 2014 by elections at Clacton, and Rochester & Strood (home of Thornberry’s famous tweet) to enlighten us. To them these areas have been left behind, so far, in their determined efforts to normalise the conversion of Britain into a bankrupt overcrowded ghetto (to use Lord Tebbit’s precision phrase).
To those who recall the normal country we had just 20 years ago, these areas are normal, not left behind. Housing costs are usually not extreme, traffic and public transport are not especially overcrowded, parking is not too much hassle, you can walk into a pub and have a sensible conversation with other chaps at the bar, your kids don’t need to learn a foreign tongue in order to attend school, and you can go about your business without fear of being shot, stabbed, or blown up. Remind me – which areas are getting accused of being left behind exactly?
There have always been areas of the UK which could be described as “left behind”. Industries come and go, recessions come and go, booms come and go, and high prices for certain goods or raw materials come and go.
Up until about a quarter of a century ago most of Britain’s cities were actually British. English cities were actually English, Welsh cities were actually Welsh and so on. The largest of these was of course London, the capital, and was a hub of activity that could support vast amounts of jobs, often well paid compared to the pay scales of the provinces.
Up until about a quarter of a century ago, people from any province of Britain which was experiencing a downturn or where jobs were not plentiful had the option of relocating to London. In some cases it was not a lack of jobs, but just a desire to widen horizons that drove people into the capital or – for that matter – other large cities. Such an option presented great opportunity for career development, or socialising, for people of any level of education.
In London they could join with a legacy population combined with the movers and shakers who fancied career options or a city life and had set up home there. And genuine enrichment occurred in those far off days for Londoners and the incomers alike. Some found great jobs, others new friends, others a partner for life. Later in their career they could move out, or back to their home region, with an enhanced CV and some equity, or do so at retirement. Decades of mass immigration have done for that. Aside from the risk of crime, London is for the most part a hub of high housing costs and low wages, with the native population voting with its feet on the notion of the new multi-culti capital. They also voted with this in mind at the referendum, which is why the Home Counties were often rampantly Leave, while the capital was for Remain.
It is not so much a matter of those left behind, but those driven out, and the whole nation is poorer for it.