Guardian Watch: Insults fly in post-Brexit hysteria
The world is still reeling from the referendum results – there is uncertainty in the air, real uncertainty, a rare creature in the modern era of controlled media consensus and carefully directed narrative. Again and again the thoughts are echoed: nobody expected this to happen. David Cameron was positive his side had won. Oliver Imhof wrote an article threatening to leave “Brexit Britain”, comfortable in the knowledge that “at no point did I think it could really happen.” You get the impression even Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage never expected to win.
Nobody expected this to happen – Least of all The Guardian… and the reactions? They have been hysterical, in every sense of the word.
The sheer volume of opinion is evidence of an institutional panic. Polly Toynbee’s reaction, always the paragon of understatement:
Catastrophe. Britain has broken apart. An uprising of resentment by the left-behind has torn us in two, a country wrecked by a yawning class divide stretched wider by recession and austerity.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that the referendum had been for turning off the sun, banning talking, or killing the first born son of every family in Britain…rather than a return to a state of affairs that has existed for all but the last 40 years of human history. Such is the level of the destruction.
The Climate is ruined. The FTSE 100 plummeted to levels not seen since last Thursday. The pound is now worth 7 cents less than it was last week. British science is already nearly destroyed. The arts world will regress, and collapse. British stocks crashed… less than half as much as European stocks. The FTSE 100 actually ended the week on a small gain… but ARRGHH! Panic!
But of course, the (as yet totally underwhelming and mostly imaginary) financial costs are nothing compared to the spiritual, moral costs.
“We woke up in a different country”, says Jonathan Freedland, absolutely shocked that 52% of the country should “reject authority” after only a generation or so of being exploited, lied to and suffering a general decline in living standards.
Who knows, perhaps the worst effects can be avoided altogether. But we should not be under any illusions. This is not the country it was yesterday. That place has gone for ever.
An assertion that would, perhaps, be greeted with more than a few smiles in many of the places we have recently bombed in the name of protecting “European values”.
I was not aware, until yesterday morning, that more than half of the people of Britain were racists. For all of Britain’s various social problems, I have never observed much in the way of strong racism. Far-right parties like the BNP get almost no traction in elections. There aren’t neo-Nazi marches in London that compare to the ones in Lviv or Berlin.
Nevertheless…apparently,we are now totally controlled by xenophobia. The country is now cruel and racist. Joseph Harker’s column declares:
… in the wake of the EU referendum people across the UK are fearful of the intolerance that has been unleashed…
Bear in mind this piece was published at 1.37pm yesterday afternoon, literally less than 12 hours after the result was announced. We’ll do Joseph some credit and assume he spent more than forty minutes writing this up – let’s say he started writing at exactly noon. That gives him eight hours to survey these “people across the UK” who, one can only assume, were merely the people on his bus route that morning. He “understands” that the vote wasn’t about race, that people want economic control of their country back… but actually it WAS about race, and we’re all racists.
The initial, panic-stricken, meltdown could not last of course. What quickly became more important was BLAME. And you know who the Guardian, a notionally liberal and inclusive paper, have chosen to blame? The old, the poor, the uneducated… oh, and Jeremy Corbyn of course. Who, I suppose, some would argue is all three.
Pretty soon after the results were announced, YouGov released their pretty graphs demonstrating that Leave won because old, stupid, poor people voted for them. I am unclear how exactly the YouGov figures were collated, but given that right up to the wire YouGov were predicting Remain would win, I see no reason to trust any of their information. In fact they predicted a 52-48 result for staying the EU… so as far as we know all of their figures are totally ass-backwards.
But let’s put that aside – let us generously assume that YouGov have even the faintest notion of what they are talking about. Do we demand a revote because the wrong people won? Is this how democracy works? According to Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett, the most forgettable of the Graun’s feminist-clickbait typing pool, yes. Yes it is.
If you’re young and angry about the EU referendum, you’re right to be”
… declares her headline. It is just one article, of many that have appeared all over the media, citing the reported age demographics of the two voting camps. Claiming that “old people” have ruined the futures of the young… because they are old and stupid and racist.
The general inversion in western society, compared to other global societies, where we prize youth and inexperience over the merits of elder wisdom, is an ongoing problem. A bigger discussion for a different time. Talking only in the specific – only about this vote – this is still a ridiculous and insulting position to take up.
The “old people” being discussed would have been young in the 1960s and 70s. They would be old hippies and baby-boomers. The idea of “grandma being a bit racist in and old-fashioned way”, does not work when today’s grandmas were listening to the Beatles and marching against Vietnam. These “old people” are the generation that voted FOR the EU last time, and now have 40+ years of experience of living with their decision. Do we do them credit, and assume they have changed their minds based on their life experience? Should we respect that 40 years of living and working in this country means people have EARNED their right to be heard? No, we are encouraged to dismiss them and insult their motives.
Young people, and I speak as one myself, tend to think selfishly. Teenagers are, for the most part, egomaniacal monsters – certain of their own brilliance, positive they are thinking original thoughts, and dismissive of authority and experience. It’s a phase, you grow out of it. Slowly. The young people complaining about old voters, and the authors encouraging and enabling this attitude, are assuming that older voters, likewise, think first of themselves. This is an insult, voters in their 60s and 70s would more likely be voting for the future of their children and grandchildren. To ignore that facet of their vote is unfair and immoral.
Of course, even if they were voting selfishly… so what? Everyone has that right.
It does not matter – the narrative is now set. The vote wasn’t fair, because the wrong people voted. That will be the battle cry.
In hedging their bets, should Leave win, the Guardian took up an odd position pre-referendum. Its editorial line became that, perhaps, voting isn’t that democratic. First there was David Mitchell (sensible shirt and neat beard, every inch the Guardianista caricature) arguing that Parliament should decide this issue, not us, because we are too stupid and underqualified. Then there was NatNug, always a source of prime neo-liberal insanity, declaring that “the mob” had too much influence, and that democracy should be about our “elite institutions” telling us what to do. Yes, seriously.
In keeping with this theme, a fresh column disparages the very idea of referenda:
After what we have experienced in the past month, we need political reform more than ever. But the verdict on referendums should be a ruthless one. Never again.
To back up his opinion he cites the European Council on Foreign Relations, a pan-European “think-tank” staffed by Blairites and funded by George Soros, who say that there are too many referenda and it isn’t fair.
No one expected this to happen, and they will go out of their way to make sure it never happens again.
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