"Indeed, a minimum of life, an unchaining from all coarser desires, an independence in the middle of all kinds of outer nuisance; a bit of Cynicism, perhaps a bit of ‘tub’."
Friedrich Nietzsche

25 Jun 2016

The British EU Referendum: triumph of ignorance, prejudice and stupidity

I try and avoid political commentary but find myself temporarily departing from my tramping journals to pen some cynical reflections on the vote to leave Europe. What happened on the 23rd June, and might happen in the US if Donald Trump is elected president, is no more than a re-run of Hitler’s rise to power in Nazi Germany.

Certain British politicians, with the help of the media, have played a cruel trick on those British citizens who have already been systematically disenfranchised within their own society. Large swathes of the country have been ignored and forgotten in the mad scramble by bankers, speculators and a capitalist elite, mainly based in London, to consolidate their own wealth and power—aided and abetted by politicians who have slowly stripped away the benefits and opportunities on which a flourishing civilised society depends. But all this has back fired, and in the most spectacular way. So when I ridicule the baying human herd, I also understand the strategy of diverting ordinary people’s anger and frustration onto others, often more disadvantaged and vulnerable than themselves. I am prepared to believe that the majority of those who voted ‘leave’, and those who did not vote at all, were misguided and ill-informed rather than bigoted and malicious.

Be that as it may, the sights and sounds of xenophobic white British blockheads baying for ‘foreigners’ to be sent back to where they came from and cheering in the streets that they have got their country back, is not only a nauseating spectacle but a flawed aspiration. Their stupidity is that in voting to get their country back, they have triggered a break up of what is misleadingly referred to as Great Britain: recalls for Scottish independence and a united Ireland are now an inevitable consequence of yesterday’s result. The idea that in voting to quit Europe, Britain will return to some fantasy Bisto land of white mum’s in starched aprons roasting beef in the oven while dad is playing cricket on the village green, or the Victorian era where Britons were bringing back the spoils of their murderous plundering from around the globe, is a sad delusion. 

One of these sad characters recently interviewed on a city street barked, “Look around, how many British faces can you see?” Apart from the fact that Briton is now a multi-racial society, and so what does that absurd statement mean, let’s take the argument about sending ‘foreigners’ home to its logical conclusion. Surely such a move would have to be reciprocated. Are expatriate Britons to be returned in their tens of thousands from all the countries they have felt free to make their home—and not just from Europe, and how far back should we take this repatriation of foreigners? Should native Canadians insist that the millions of Britons who appropriated their country be returned home? Should native Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans do likewise? Don’t these people understand that the world moves on and, like it or not, we have no choice but to move on with it. Never mind the British Empire, any notion of Britain as a powerful independent entity, is a nonsense. Italy and Greece are where they are today in spite of Alexander’s conquests and the Roman Empire. And Germany’s recent aspiration to rule a Europe free of Jews, Roma, homosexuals, and the disabled was short lived indeed. So why do individual nations remain so arrogant about their ability to control their own destinies in isolation from the rest of the world? The world will move on without them.

This begs the question of how can British politics ever be the same after the 24th June 2016? What does Labour, Conservative, etc., any longer mean? It seems that in order to get out of the mess that politicians have made of Britain’s place in the world, never mind the welfare of its own citizens, new political parties, along different fault lines, will have to emerge. Whether any of them will have the courage to form a new political party and fight the next election on a mandate to take Britain back inside Europe, is another matter. After all, the bunch that took us out had no manifesto at all for how an independent Britain would move forward isolated from its European neighbours, just a promise to ‘take Britain back’—but back from what or whom?


  1. What an excellent piece of work Mr Ian. I have not seen your blog or whatever it is before.... haven't lived!So true such a concise description of The Great British Public. I hope there is a good supply of hankies to knot at the corners for the glorious holidays to be taken at Bognor and Blackpool.

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