I live in a house divided. But that house is an entire incredulous country. Outside of London there are no hordes of rampaging leavers, or glorified celebration parties. Instead there is only fear, quiet terror and disbelief – on all sides. Those who we think should be celebrating instead woke to the news that the pound had dropped lower than in living memory, that Scotland seeks a second referendum which will see it leave the United Kingdom, and that the promise to end freedom of movement and immigration was a lie. We live in a country of ruins, shattered by an elite political class that sought to undermine and stigmatise education, encourage division, and vilify external forces for internal problems. It was a simple game of smoke and mirrors, a magic trick carried out with hypnotic effect. But do you know the one thing all magicians will tell you to be true?
Magic is a con.
And that’s what this entire referendum has been from start to finish, one giant, unstoppable con. False facts were not soundly quashed, campaigns of hate and fear ran unchecked, resulting in the horrifying murder of a passionate and respected MP. The man charged with the death of Jo Cox, who was campaigning for the Remain vote, reportedly engaged with Far Right literature and organisations. A person like this is a prime target to be radicalised and incited by the language and images coming directly from the Leave campaign, that drew direct and clear comparisons with early Nazi propaganda.
We did nothing to prevent this. Instead, we gave it a platform, and a legitimate chance to influence voters.
One of the worst parts of the referendum for me is the insistence that this is a class war. As the referendum results unfolded, I watch David Dimbleby begin to question if this was down to education, that those with degrees would vote Remain, and those without would vote Leave. This assertion angered me deeply, because at it’s heart lies the belief that the English working class is uneducated and stupid. This is the biggest lie anyone tells about our country, and the worst part is we believe it. We have become a nation that is anti-intelligent thought and discussion, that dismisses and ignores political debate, that reacts with apathy to hate speech columnists and treats the moral and ethical decay of our society as if it is a joke. But this is not a class specific attitude, it is one that is found class wide. The vote to Leave was not restricted to the working classes, but one shared by all classes. Just as the vote to Remain was shared by all classes, and colouring the vote to Leave as working class, a vote against the establishment or vote ‘for the people’ gives it an identity that does not exist. In 2013, the Great British Class Survey described the Traditional Working Class as being ‘about 14 per cent of British Society…many own their own homes…many are women’ and, more importantly, ‘Those who seek higher education tend to seek it in institutions which recruit mature or part-time students such as Birkbeck and the Open University.’ The working class is not stupid, and it does not appreciate lies.
I also reject, absolutely, the idea that this is a victory for the common man against the establishment. This campaign was spearheaded by the Eton-educated, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Ex- Mayor of London, whose childhood friend was Charles Spencer, brother of Princess Diana; and Nigel Farage – also an ex-public school boy – who began his career trading shares in the City, and later bragged about taking £2 million pounds worth of UK tax payer’s money to fund his expenses as an MEP. They are the universal stereotype of the worst ‘the establishment’ can offer.
To those who voted Leave. Do you see now that you were lied too? Your leaders, within 48 hours of the referendum ending, have taken back every promise they ever made you. They have said they will NOT restrict freedom of movement for labour – so those jobs you were desperately trying to protect, they are still not going to be yours. They have said the sum of £350 million that could go back to into the NHS was NOT true, and worse, they now say they believe the NHS should be privatised. Councils now seek urgent assurance that the money given by the EU will be shored up by our own government – Keep dreaming, that money will not be coming back to you. This was another lie.
If I could, I would speaking to the missing million. That gap that divided us, the million people who chose to vote Leave instead of Remain. It is not ironic that, at the time of writing, a similar number of people have already signed a petition calling for a second referendum, in the wake of immediately broken promises, a catastrophic fall in the pound, and the sight of Nigel Farage’s smug, bigoted, over-eager face on every tv screen, newspaper and social media.
But then, Farage has a lot to be excited about. Perhaps he has not felt this in charge since he was in school, leading a moonlight march through a Sussex village, singing Hitler Youth songs at sleeping WW2 veterans. An incident so deeply worrying to his school masters that it was kept on file, and later unearthed by a Channel 4 News investigation.
I am terrified for my country. How will our economy recover? How safe are those I love on the streets? We have created a deeply multi-cultural society, I have German, Irish and Polish heritage, what will happen to the people I love, to those already being demonised and attacked in schools, on buses and in public up and down the country? What concerns me the most, as a historian, are the reports of UKIP party members now defecting and rejoined the Conservatives. This is not a good thing. This means those whose beliefs were considered too far right for mainstream politics, now feel mainstream politics has caught up – that they can rejoin a main political party and find their views supported. It is the most subtle and dangerous form of subversive politics. Racism and xenophobia now wears a mainstream face. In case you have ever wondered how the Nazis came to power, it was in moments exactly like this one. Bigots and radicals have managed to legitimise their views and sneak themselves into power, some via the front door, only for the rest of them to now run round and open up the back door to let in all their mates. If you voted Leave because you were scared of radical politics, religions and cultures, the only thing you have succeeded in doing is giving that a voice and a place in our government.
Our problems were not caused by the EU. They are caused by our government. They are caused by the same people they have always been caused by. Those in the UK who decide our laws, and industry owners. Worried about your wages? Worried about Zero-hours contracts? These are nothing to do with the EU. These decided by OUR government. Worried about immigration? Again, decided by OUR government. Every problem we have, comes from our government. All this referendum has done is put more power in the hands of those already in power, and removed the sanctions and laws to keep them in check. If you think things were bad before, they are only going to get worse.
Apart from for Nigel, apparently he is going to be made a Lord.