Toffs For Brexit

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage argues that:

It's not the dispossessed and marginalised who are leading Brexit campaign, it's a group of wealthy upper middle class former public school boys.

No shelter under this tree for huddled masses.

English middle classes liberals never fail to disappoint me. If Brexit win the EU referendum they are already laying a smokescreen down which places the blame squarely on the shoulders of pensioners and the wider working classes.

Dr Simon Sweeney - how they love a prefix before their names - had this to say in the Guardian:

The referendum exposes deep divisions. Outers mostly represent voters who feel marginalized and left behind by forces that are battering not just their personal security, but nation states and entire regions. For these voters, the EU is a passing dog which, like David Cameron and George Osborne, deserves a good kicking. Remain is backed by mostly better-educated, more confident and financially secure voters who enjoy many benefits from globalization.

I am not here to beat Mr Sweeney with a long stick as there is a smidgen of truth in what he writes and he is only repeating the same mantra which appears daily in the mainstream media. But it is far from the whole story and the facts on the ground tell a far more complex tale.

For example the overwhelming majority of young people are in the remain camp, yet they mostly feel marginalised and excluded from decent jobs and affordable housing. I was talking to two chaps from traveller families yesterday. No community is more marginalised in the UK than theirs, yet they too are in the remain camp as they do not believe Brexit will all be spice and honey. As one said "better the devil you know."

It's as if the middle classes are afraid to admit their excreta also stinks, so they ignore what is before their eyes. The leadership of the Brexit team all went to a public school and or university. Boris Johnson, Eton and Oxford, Michael Gove, Robert Gordon College and Oxford, Iain Duncan Smith the most odious man in Britain, Naval school, the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, Chris Grayling, Royal Grammar School, High Wycombe, Cambridge, Sidney Sussex College.

I could carry on, but I will end with the petite bourgeoisie's favourite politician Nigel Farage, Dulwich College, a public school in south London and then that bastion of the UK establishment, the City of London.

An acquaintance of mine who attended Eton once told me boastfully "he had the finest liberal education in the world." I feel this is arguable, but I will admit if sharp elbows, a snarling manner when under pressure, a lack of empathy, and the ability to tell bare faced lies at the drop of a hat, then these ghastly people can be classless as well educated.

My point being none of these individuals have been victims of globalisation or been marginalised. 
Indeed the exact opposite is true they have made their way in the world along a rose petal path, while most ordinary folk have to attempt to climb a well greased pole designed to exclude them from the top jobs. Nor have they been left behind by forces that are battering them. The exact opposite in fact, they are part and parcel of the neoliberal fanatic clan doing the battering.

They are all beneficiaries and advocates of globalisation and the neoliberal economics which have ruined so many peoples lives.

They are without a doubt better educated in the traditional sense than most, more 'outwardly' confident and financially secure, and have enjoyed many benefits from globalisation. Some might add; and still it's not enough for them. For if they win the referendum Brexit intend to make a bonfire of what they call EU red tape, but which in reality means destroying the regulations which protect working peoples employment rights, and the extensive environmental laws which protect us from acid rain, the thinning of the ozone layer, air quality, noise pollution, waste and water pollution.

So what makes otherwise seemingly logical people support such an obvious and nastier bunch of stake oil salesmen that you're ever likely to come across?

The reason is twofold. Unlike Germany, Japan and to a lesser extent the USA, when their governments oppressed and murdered millions of people the British state has never confronted head on the sheer awfulness of the British Empire. Thus an attitude of superiority when it comes to 'foreigners' still lurks within the citizenry.

Since 2010 when Cameron first came to power the UK government and their mainstream media gophers have put out a steady flow of racist propaganda. For sure it has been dressed in a very expensive Savile Row suit but this does not make it any less racist. By continuing to harp on about immigrants in a negative manner they have made the word toxic, and by doing so have made racism almost respectable. With some we are nearing a tipping point where the 23 June referendum has little to do with the EU and everything to do with whether it’s OK to be racist or not.

If that is not the road to something hell I do not know what is.

Approximately 400,000 Britons live in France but they are not described as, nor do they call themselves immigrants. When British people live abroad, whether in the EU or elsewhere they are called ex pats, whereas when people come to the UK to live they are always called immigrants.

Unless that is they're wealthy Russian oligarchs, former dictators who have looted their nations' wealth, and tax dodgers, then the very politicians and columnists who deride immigrants get the welcome mat down.

“I am proud to call him a friend and a Londoner,” gushes London’s mayor, Boris Johnson “This great city of ours would be a lot poorer without him”.

The failure of the Blair and Cameron governments to reinvest in manufacturing industries, instead concentrating on the service industries which are mainly low waged and low skilled was bad enough. When the Tory led government in 2010 used the economic crash of 2008 to smash the welfare state has proven disastrous to millions of people. Osborne's cuts to welfare benefits removed the only remaining safety net from some of the most marginalised people in the country.

Making it almost inevitable when David Cameron announced an EU referendum the most reactionary political elements in the land would come together and use racism as their battering ram. Sleight of hand is integral to how neoliberals work. Gove, Johnson and Duncan Smith have built their careers by using it.

It is no accident all three supported the Iraq war and just as they regarded Blair's Iraqi victims to be collateral damage they believe if the UK economy goes down the tube after Brexit their victims will also be necessary collateral damage. Why wouldn't they think like this when they have the wealth and connections to weather a spell of economic destruction.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

5 comments to ''Toffs For Brexit"

  1. Another very enjoyable read. I would take minor issue with a few points. Particularly the racist card being played here in this article. I am married to a Philippina who is a physiotherapist and unable to get a job here in any hospital. She was lecturing Physio at the university hospital in Manila when we met. Whilst I cannot stand PC I am not racist and I see the rush to permit even more countries into the EU such as Albania and some of its neighbours as a continuation of expanding the market area for the wealthy whilst increasing the workers pool. Topping up the slave labour pool with people who will work for a pittance at the expense of our own people. No one is going to Poland Albania or Romania to seek jobs. I am rooting for a BREXIT and I am not exactly uneducated myself either. So I think it is facetious to suggest those for a leave vote are racist and thick as champ. The reason the leave campaign is full of Tory twats is because the Tory Party is in government and is split wide open over the issue on both sides of the debate. So who exactly is thick and who exactly is clever considering they all went to the same toff schools? If the Tory Party unleash a tsunami of harsh cuts upon the UK working class in the event of a brexit perhaps the Labour Party will regain its soul and purpose under Corbyn or whoever follows him. A genuine Labour movement in the UK as happened after WW2 without the need for the much vaunted WW3 should there be a brexit. That was just funny. Labour under Blair did what SF did here, sold their soul and everyone around them for 'office'. Also, if the EU is such a great protector of the poor and low paid how come bedroom tax, disability cuts and austerity are the current trend? Vote BREXIT and vote OFTEN.

  2. There is no doubt that there is a Little Englander upper class group who want out of the EU for nationalistic reasons and yes it is correct that England has never confronted the reality of its empire - but on the other hand there are real working or former working people who have suffered at the hands of unfettered immigrant and downward pressure on wages - in any movement like Brexit you are going to have many different groups that support something like this for different reasons - to isolate it to one group is not a true reflection.

    Immigration is a very emotive issue and needs to be addressed in a rational way without the demonization of anyone who expresses the reasonable idea that it needs to be well thought out and manageable and its impact properly considered - that is good for both the new immigrants and the people they are going to live among.

    As an aside -it is very noticeable that the rich Arab nations have encouraged immigrants from middle eastern war torn nations to head to Europe and made sure they don't try to enter their well protected kingdoms where they might upset the balance of their dictatorships.


  3. I suppose a simple, I do not agree, wouldn't do? To begin I would say that if I was a betting man my money would go on the 'remain' camp. Not because it is my choice but it is the conservative choice and because this camp has the backing of the most neoliberal, coservative and sinister forces on the planet. All this and backed up by propaganda from the majority of media. I must be reading or listening to different media that you but I find they are mostly for the EU and their propanda is fixated on bigotry, racism and loonies, financial collapse, fear in general. As if our lives are going to improve if we remain in, well we will not get any worse. Oh Mr Cameron and Corbyn are going to close Calais and all the dreadful refugee camps and let them enter Britain and give them better lives. Pull the other.

    I am not a betting man and my wish would be for a definate exit, not only for Britain but also for Scotland, Ireland, Wales and indeed every county in this megalith of undemocratic bureaucrats and multination corporations.

    I could argue that quite a bit about how badly off citizens in Great Britain or any country in the EU are especially the frines or smaller countries who will never have equality. Take for example Greece, Portugal, Ireland, can you tell me that the working class have any power? What about zero working hours, health care, housing, education and the huge national debts which we will never get from under. A legacy which we will pass on to our children. What about the natural resources, mostly controlled by multinationals. Indeed the EU is controlled by IMF, ECB, neoliberals, international corporations and if anyone tells me that this is reformable, I would not believe them.

    The EU including Britain is culpable for bombing the hell out of the Middle East and elsewhere in unjustifiable wars. The EU has never once criticised this, in fact member countries either assist the war effort or indeed directly take part and produce weapons. I believe most member countries are part of Nato which is controlled by USA which is now in the process of starting a third world war. And now there is some talk of a EU army, well great. The EU is doing very little about refugees, in fact it is causing the problem including its terrible response

    I believe that democracy should be as close to the people as possible. Whether it is England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland I believe that true democracy lies in getting rid of the parliamentary system and replace it with provincial system. This could never be done in the present EU.

    It would take quite a bit to write my objections of your piece because I think there is a lot of loaded statements, downright propaganda. Your whole article is very much slanted towards the 'remain' side. Just your title and the first sentence, sets the tone. To start 'toffs' are on both sides but I would say that that toffs on the remain side are from different political divides and from international financiers. When you say 'blame' in your first sentence, now that does indeed set the tone. Blame for what?

    I'll end there but I could go on about EU legislation on environment, about TTIP, about nuclear and pharmaceuticla industries, about Bayer and Monasato, about EU racism and about I wonder what the EU would give us if we did not the massive demonstrations and the hard slog from individuals. But it would take too long.

    Finally I dumbfounded that a lot from the left is backing 'remain' but not surprised because the left are so in disarray. I am amazed about Corbyn not sticking to his principles. Does he or doesn't he believe in the EU? The right in Labour must have some clout.

    James Quigley

  4. Both are conservative choices much like voting in a US election will be come November, we must choose the least worst option and I believe voting remain is right for me.

    I don't believe the EU was enlarged to the east for solely economic reasons, It was mainly done for Geopolitical reasons to poke two fingers at Russian and ensure nations like Poland came into the orbit of the USA. I have no doubt the US security services played a massive role here although with arseholes throughout the EU like Blair, Silvio Berlusconi, Mrs Merkel and Sarkozy in power they were pushing at an open door.

    If you felt I played the racist card I apologise as it was not my intention. But there is little doubt the Brexit campaigns have played the race card, thankfully I do not believe most working class people are racist thus I believe remain will win. Win or lose it will be lutta continua as the same pieces of human dung will remain in power.

  5. James

    As Keynes said when criticised for changing his mind, "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" As Corbyn has you give the reasons why. When Jeremy first became an outer we had a labour movement with real power and a TUC with 13 million members many of which were in industry which could shut the country down. While the LP is once again fighting for ordinary folk we need to be realistic.

    Throughout the EU the wind of political change is in the air and the British left must be part of it, or should we just leave the stage and allow the far right to hover up disillusioned workers? The EU was set up as a bosses club but even so radicals, the left, and greens have managed to get much progressive legislation on the statute book. I see no reason, especially if we get more leftwing government in the EU, why we cannot reform the EU in a radical way.

    Brexit have proclaimed if they win, they intend to cut red tape, when reactionary capitalists make claims like that history shows the red tape they cut is alway past gains of the W/C, whether employment protection, environmental legislation, welfare benefits, or rights to legal aid, etc, etc.

    True if remain win, we will still have Tory gov in UK but it will be a gov led by Cameron and Osborne who have throughout this campaign promised not to cut workers protection, etc. If or when they do all will then be to play for.

    We live in interesting times. Besides if Brexit win the economy will hit the buffers Johnson has admitted as much, if Corbyn LP had supported Brexit who do you feel would get the blame?


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