Monday, 27 June 2016

Brexit - Day Four

One of the many things that 9/11 did was to expose a large number of people who looked like “critics” of the West as actual haters. I mean you Noam Chomsky. It was a moral polariser of an event. The 52-48 vote non-binding vote in favour of Britain leaving the EU is set to be another such polarising event. Page through the reader comments in the liberal papers, and read the Financial Times this weekend (the Economist hasn’t come out yet, since it clearly didn’t prepare any articles for the eventuality). The howls and sophistries of the neoliberal elite and its useful-idiot hangers-on are loud and clear. One spin is that this vote is about young (Remain) vs Old (Leave). Another is that it is about Decent Educated People (Remain) vs Oiks (Leave). Except not.

Richmond-Upon-Thames is a slice of God’s Own Estate In Heaven planted on this mundane earth. It has the highest proportion of graduates of any country. It has millionaires walking the streets, it is stuffed to the gills with “middle-class professional people” except for a couple of council estates in the Barnes area. Richmond-upon-Thames should have been 95% Remain. It was 70%. Kensington and Chelsea was 70% and that’s close to being as Heavenly as Richmond. Neither area has a poor segment that's 30% of its population.

So even in Liberal Heaven, almost a third of the people wanted out. And no, it isn’t age. Median age in Richmond is 40. In Bristol, where the median age is 30, nearly 40% wanted out. The correlation with age is weak. The best correlation is with degree of brainwashing possession of a bachelor’s degree or better. (The Guardian data visualisation guys did a fantastic job on the results and real quick.)

The vote showed that when the British people were threatened with “stay or your lives will get worse”, 52% of them replied “Our lives are already worse”. To which one kind commentator said those immortal words “if you think your life is bad now, you just wait”. Ah! Human sympathy! Much more than this, it showed that 17.5 million people - a country larger than at least 20 of the EU members - thought the EC / EU sucks so bad they were prepared to take a few choppy years to get rid of it.

The vote was partly about Angela Merkel’s ill-judged importing of a million unskilled, girl-groping young men whom no-one wanted, and everyone now wants to send back to, well, anywhere that’s not Europe.

But mostly the vote was about all those "well-off" people in London getting their Amazon deliveries, their coffee and Mexican wraps, and their Ubers and Deliveroos, from people with no job security, minimum wages, zero hours contracts and few benefits. While the “well-off” are using mobile phones made by Chinese men and women working fifteen-hour days, and are wearing clothes made by Hondurans paid as much in a year as the “well-off" get in a day. The vote was won by all those people with the crappy jobs supporting the "well-off" people with the "good" jobs.

Because here's the joke: those “well-off” people can’t afford to buy the house I bought at two-and-a-half times earnings. And they think they have “benefited” from the neoliberalism that drives the EC/EU? Oh, wait. Air fares are low. And you can get a cool flat in Oporto from Air B’nB for a week much cheaper than a hotel. So that’s all good then. Ever wonder why people are talking about a shift to the “experience economy”? It’s because most people can’t afford to buy things any more.

Someone just turned off the music and turned up the lights. And behold - the club is tatty, and dirty, and the floor is sticky, and the roof has holes, and the walls have gaps, and someone stole their coat, and the bar prices were ridiculous, and it’s cold and raining outside, and nobody was as remotely as attractive as they looked when the lights were down. But for a few hours the music was loud and everyone thought they were having a good time.

I voted Remain. Didn’t happen. For the moment, we’re still in the EU. I can remember three-day weeks, 25% inflation, 15% mortgage rates, the Miner’s Strike and lord alone what else. That’s why I and the older folk are sanguine. The world has ended many times. And we’re all still here.

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