John Oliver on Brexit


On Thursday, the United Kingdom votes to see if it continues to be part of the European Union or leaves, the latter position being known as ‘Brexit’, a neologism that is a combination of ‘Britain’ and ‘exit’. I don’t really know much about the pros and cons of the issue except that the worst elements of British politics like the political party UKIP want a vote in favor of Brexit.

John Oliver makes the case for staying in, challenging one of the arguments that says that the EU is drowning the UK in regulations.

Comments

  1. Nick Gotts says

    The EU has become a focus for general racist, Islamophobic and xenophobic bigotry – and not only in the UK, it’s a target of many of the far-right parties in Europe.

    Cross-posted from Pharyngula:

    While there are certainly some Brexiters who are not motivated by xenophobia and racism, all the reporting I’ve seen indicates that “concern over immigration” (aka xenophobia and racism) is the main motivator, and it has certainly been the central theme of the Leave campaign.

    However, here is an interesting article arguing that the motivation for those at the top of the official Leave campaign is to leave the EU so they can subject the UK to a radical “libertarian” regime, free of those annoying protections for workers and the environment. To achieve this, they are quite prepared to stir up racist sentiments, despite being personally cosmopolitan in outlook.

    The campaign as a whole has been disastrous for British political culture, as both sides are led by very rich right-wing liars, and the real issues of financial instability, inequality, war and environmental crisis have scarcely surfaced at all. The only positive point has been the deep divisions within the Tory party, which have become increasingly bitter and personalised during the course of the campaign. But I suspect that if the vote is to Leave, the party will swiftly unite behind it, since there will be no politically viable alternative. Any attempt to block the leaving process (it’s been suggested that since a clear majority of MPs want to stay in, this could be done) would simply play into the hands of Farage. A narrow vote to remain, however (and if there is one, it’s almost certain to be narrow) will leave the Tories deeply split – the leave side will quickly start pushing for a second referendum, once any opportunity arises to do so.

    In addition to the above, it’s by no means easy to present a progressive case for the EU. Its institutions have been captured by neoliberal “austerity” economics, which has led to disastrous levels of youth unemployment in much of the EU, particularly in the south. It has imposed draconian cuts on Greece, in return for “financial assistance” that actually flows straight back to the banks in Germany and France. It has responded to the increased flow of refugees from war, oppression and poverty by making an agreement with Turkey which deprives these people of basic human rights. It does have progressive features – on the environment, minimum rights for workers and protections against some kinds of state oppression – but like just about everyone on the left and against leaving (there is a small minority of progressives supporting Brexit, apparently under the delusion if we leave, we’ll be free of those irksome constraints of global capitalism that get in the way of achieving the socialist millennium, or the alternative delusion that this will bring the whole capitalist system crashing down, and it will be the left and not the fascists that benefit), I’ve had to present it in argument simply as the lesser evil.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    “concern over immigration” (aka xenophobia and racism)

    Fuck that. Check your fucking privilege you smug bastard, whoever wrote that. It’s that self-satisfied liberal-elite indifference to the legitimate worries of the working classes – the ones impacted most by increasing immigration – that led, just a few years ago, to the rise to electoral success of the BNP, and it was only the shock of that that made the mainstream parties start talking about immigration at all, instead of condescendingly shutting all such discussions down in precisely those terms. (And wonderfully, once they did, support for the BNP evaporated and the party self-destructed. Say what you like about Britain, but we’ve not much time for Nazis.)

    It’s not an exaggeration to say that attitude contributed to David Cameron becoming Prime Minister, after Gordon Brown’s catastrophic “bigoted woman” comment, caught on mike in an unguarded moment. The dreadfully extended “austerity” regime since has cost the working classes even more, but the fact remains that immigration is a legitimate concern when that same regime is failing to maintain and extend infrastructure to cope. Schools and hospitals sized for the native population become overloaded to and past breaking point when the influx is greater than expected, and it is perfectly natural and reasonable to place the immediate blame on the people taking those places, rather than processing the nuance that there could be more places if the governance were better.

  3. sonofrojblake says

    (Note: I’ll be voting Remain. I know enough to know I know nothing useful about the issues, and also that neither does anyone else. The long term consequences of either result are unknowable. On that basis, I’m picking my company.

    Remain has every living Prime Minister, the Labour Party, the majority of Tories who aren’t racist swivel-eyed loons, the Lib Dems (anybody remember them?), Barack Obama, Kofi Annan, the G7, Unite the Union, Asda, M&S, Mars, Tim Berners-Lee, Jeremy Clarkson (yes, I checked…), Bob Geldof, JK Rowling, Gary Kasparov, Ian McKellen, basically all of the NHS, the Royal Society, Peter Higgs (the man with the boson) and Paloma Faith.

    Leave has got… the BNP, UKIP, “Respect” (i.e. George Galloway), Duncan Bannatyne, Rupert Murdoch, Theo Paphitis, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson and the bits of the Tories are ARE swivel-eyed racist loons (and ten self-serving Labour rebels), Marine LePen (French National Front leader), Geert Wilders (Dutch “Freedom Party” leader), Donald Trump, Aspall Cider, Go Ape, Wetherspoons, David Icke, Julian Assange, Keith Chegwin, Katie Hopkins, Arthur Scargill, The Express, the Mail and the Sunday Sport.

    I know which of those two groups I feel more comfortable in.)

  4. Nick Gotts says

    sonofrojblake@3,

    I’m not going to take “check your privilege” from a shithead who’s spent the past year slobbering over Trump from the safety of the UK, while Trump’s rhetoric of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim hate has spread fear throughout minority communities in the USA. I was referring primarily to the way the Leave campaign itself has deliberately stirred up racism and xenophobia while using euphemisms such as “concern over immigration” – most blatantly, Farage and the gutter press such as the Express, the Mail and the Sun, but Farage was only called out for the disgusting racist poster by others on that side because he let the cat out of the bag: in the UK, politicians who want to exploit racism still need to use the dog-whistle. However, I’m not going to excuse popular racism and xenophobia either. I’ve heard enough blatantly or slyly racist comments, both in person (I’ve been out campaigning for a Remain vote) and on the media, to know that these social pathologies are the driving force behind most of the “concern over immigration”. There are the ridiculous over-estimates people have about the proportion of the population that was born overseas, the myths about immigrants living lives of prosperity and ease on benefits while being placed at the head of the queue for housing, the “I want our country back” and “you walk down the street and hardly hear English spoken”… You know as well as I do that the gutter press has been conducting a campaign of racist and xenophobic hatred and lies for decades – and the circulation figures of the papers responsible show that a huge number of people are happy to lap it up.

    it was only the shock of that that made the mainstream parties start talking about immigration at all, instead of condescendingly shutting all such discussions down in precisely those terms. (And wonderfully, once they did, support for the BNP evaporated and the party self-destructed. Say what you like about Britain, but we’ve not much time for Nazis.)

    Riiiight. Once the mainstream parties started talking about immigration in coded-racist terms, the BNP did disappear* – and UKIP got 16% of the vote at the 2015 election. And if you’re going to deny that UKIP are a racist and xenophobic party, you can go fuck yourself.

    Schools and hospitals sized for the native population become overloaded to and past breaking point when the influx is greater than expected, and it is perfectly natural and reasonable to place the immediate blame on the people taking those places, rather than processing the nuance that there could be more places if the governance were better.

    Why is it “perfectly natural and reasonable”? You condescending arse. In fact, there is very little spatial correlation between the percentage of immigrants and support for UKIP:

    There is a small amount of crossover: areas such as Bolton and Skegness or West Suffolk have a foreign-born population of ten or 15 per cent and are also high on Ukip’s list.

    But, by and large, the two maps are opposites. Ukip support clusters around remote and coastal regions, including big parts of Wales and the West Country, and is absent in urban centres – especially London.

    *Actually, this was due partly to the gross incompetence and corruption of their leadership, including their failure to adequately disguise the fact that they are Nazis, and partly to hard work by the anti-fascist movement, as documented in Searchlight.

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