A few days ago the British public voted to leave the European Union. As John Pilger explains fully in Pilger on EU ref., the reasons that informed the voters’ decision varied and included, for some, a UKIP-style aversion to foreigners but, for many others, it was an opportunity to stick two provocative fingers up in the faces of the ‘establishment.’ The ‘establishment,’ though not precisely defined, can be assumed to include the whole of the House of Commons and the mainstream media. The up-yours gesture was aimed from both the left and from the right and was imbued with an understanding of a unbridgeable separation between an elite and the public coupled with a perception of the elite’s utter disdain for the public.
One of the bastions of elitism, the Guardian newspaper, is horrified by the result of the EU referendum. Militant centrist Polly Toynbee lists, accurately, the crimes of the Tories and the pre-vote lies of the main protagonists of the Brexit campaign but then exclaims that “soon those leave voters will find they were swindled.” (Toynbee Guardian) Thus, the disdain she has for the intelligence of a typical British voter is revealed. Toynbee assumes the voters are too ignorant to know or too stupid to work out the risks of Brexit. Further, she thinks the voters are so gullible and easily led that they will unquestionably believe the garbage that was uttered by Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and their fellow campaigners. Contrary to Toynbee’s assertion, it is because voters don’t believe, trust or have any respect for politicians that many chose to vote to leave the EU. “When leavers find there’s no money and no exodus, that it was all lies, where does their wrath turn next?” asks Toynbee. Perhaps, the “wrath” isn’t being re-directed; perhaps, it will remain directed at whatever the public perceive as destructive ‘establishment.’
Toynbee’s low opinion of the British public is a preamble to identifying who she blames for Brexit who is, of course, Jeremy Corbyn. According to Toynbee, Corbyn was “dismally inadequate, lifeless and spineless, displaying an inability to lead anyone anywhere.” This is untrue, as she is aware. Corbyn was of the few politicians to speak informatively and intelligently about the referendum. Toynbee is also aware that his speeches and comments were under-reported by the media. One of her criticisms is that Corbyn didn’t join in with the anti-migrant rhetoric:
“What absence of mind to emphasise support for free migration on the eve of a poll where Labour was haemorrhaging support for precisely those metropolitan views. Here was Labour’s golden chance to make this referendum campaign its own. Voters who blocked their ears to Labour on the doorstep this time may head for Ukip, never to return.“
Above is revealed everything required to understand Toynbee’s political stance. She denigrates political integrity, honesty and consistency, insults the intelligence and morality of the public, assumes people from beyond some imagined Utopian ‘metropolis’ need to be patronised and advocates opportunism to get what you want, politically. It is elitist philosophy at its most stringent. Horrible.
Immediately after berating Corbyn for not being UKIP enough Toynbee praises Labour MP Margaret Hodge for trying to convince voters in her constituency that blaming migrants is wrong. But, Toynbee had just criticised Corbyn for doing the same! (Hodge has submitted a no confidence motion to seek to end Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party see Some post-EU Ref consequences.)
The incoherent drivel ends with “Is there any waking up from this nightmare, a glimmer of light?”
In the same newspaper Zoe Williams thinks that the sole purpose of Labour should be to protect Britain’s membership of the EU. In Williams on EU she expresses the bizarre delusion that the EU is anything more than an administrative body. “The failure to articulate the beauty of international cooperation belongs to every last one of us.” In response to the European far right’s support for Brexit, Williams says “The principles that underpin internationalism – cooperation, solidarity, unity, empathy, openness – these are all just elements of love.” Williams applies these ‘principles’ to the EU that has made the Greek people into unpaid servants of the European banking elite and the debt vultures, that started a war in Ukraine and that agreed a deal with dictator-run Turkey to pack off refugees of war back across the Aegean. The fawning over an administration whose primary role is to protect and enhance the interests of a financial elite is embarrassing.
Given her adulation of the EU, Williams’ complaint against Corbyn is that he wasn’t strong enough in his support for a vote to stay in. Regarding the possibility of a general election soon she says “if you still want to leave the EU, vote Conservative. If you’ve realised or knew already what an act of vandalism that was, vote Labour. The next Labour leader might wake up with something real to fight for.” So, support for the EU – just rejected by the British public – should be a policy of Labour, and Williams also thinks that Labour has nothing else to offer the electorate as an alternative to the Tories.
The philosophies and plaintive cries of pain about the EU described above are exactly what many Brexit voters chose to vote against. But, the bubble-wrapped Guardian elite are so insulated that they cannot comprehend the anger many people direct at what they perceive as an obstructive elite. The bubblewankers remain (no pun intended) fearful. Their use of the result of Brexit as a false opportunity to attack Corbyn is dishonest. They fear change to their safe little elite world where the public stay in line. Sod ’em