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Bust that post-referendum blues

June 24, 2016

Hello, and welcome to the Left-Wing Somewhat-Stretched Silver Lining Corner.

Let’s imagine possible consequences of leaving the EU that may sit not entirely unwell with left wing peoples.


Warning: spurious.  


1. David Cameron is no longer Prime Minister. You didn’t vote for him and he hasn’t done so well lately, so shuffling him out early feels like replacing a limping player you never liked for someone with less of a limp whom you potentially dislike less.

2. Whoever replaces him might come up with just one policy that you value highly. Think of all the things Cameron isn’t known for – maybe his replacement will have some unexpected plus points. Yes, even if it’s Boris. The man will have to stop blustering and buckle down. Who knows what that will look like.

3. There will be no great reduction in immigrants, because they are needed by employers. Immigrants are like calories; you don’t want as few as possible, the trick is to get just the right amount to keep things moving. With (potentially) fewer Europeans, there are more spaces for non-Europeans from poorer countries who may benefit greatly from working here, and further improve their own economies creating greater global economic equality.

4. If that does happen, then of those Brexit people who actually are racist, we get to snicker gleefully at them behind their backs, because they will have scored a lunker of an own goal.

5. Before the EU debate, the vast majority of people had next to no knowledge of UK or European institutions. Since, people who never finished The Very Hungry Caterpillar are talking about the European Commission and the Party List System.

6. This increase in knowledge and engagement may have a wider-reaching positive effect on voting in general and the importance of understanding political issues.

7. This follows long political apathy, particularly of working class people who care less about “left wing” and “right wing” and more about “better off” and “worse off”. We can but hope that left-wing parties will get off the “Brexits are chavs and racists we don’t need to worry about because they’re an extreme minority” high road and onto the “Oops, we had better provide a credible opposition” road. This credible opposition probably involves a strong return to valuing local solutions in areas like the North-East, and a partial departure from bigging up global institutions like the EU, which feel distant and aloof to local problems.

8. If you’re anything like me, you didn’t know or understand the forces that governed your life at the age of 16, barely understood at 18-19 and didn’t care much until 21. What has really changed? One’s knowledge of the system makes one obsessed with changing it, forgetting that you lived for years under that system with barely any questions or problems. Most democratic systems are sort-of-OK on the everyday stuff. All society is a work in progress. That will be the same now we’ve left as when we were joined. The likelihood that the day-to-day difference will be painfully noticeable is not high; even lower is the likelihood that those changes will be straightforwardly attributable to having left the EU. Simply put, this business is all rather complicated.

9. The most affected people won’t be you, my dear internet sphere. The vast majority of you are educated, employed and middle-income. It will be the bottom earners that feel the squeeze – no change to usual, then. That’s a problem that transcends systems.

10. Restrictions to legal immigration can increase levels of illegal immigration. That’s not a good thing by any stretch of imagination, but there is some satisfaction to the knowledge that terrified nationalists do hate illegal immigrants more than legal ones (for some strange reason). What’s the score on the own-goal front, now?

11. The Conservative reputation is starting to look tatty. If things start going drastically wrong in the next few years, Labour might win the next election. Even if they don’t improve a jot. People always blame the current government for current problems, even when the problems are the fault of the previous government or one individual who is now gone. Hooray for bad logic!

12. It’s true what the Brexits say: we have no idea what the future will bring. The EU could in the course of history turn out to be a terrible idea, due to something that starts tomorrow and rages on for fifty years. And won’t we all feel silly for getting teary-eyed about it, as if we were sending our first born son off to active duty.

13. The singularity of this debate will create an abundance of academic analysis as to the whys and hows of the matter. The advantage of (potentially) big mistakes is that it heightens our understanding of certain issues, and ensures that people living in later times and distant places can avoid the same mistakes. Particularly: the hyperbolic trivialisation and alienation of people who are inclined to disagree with The Establishment, who may make up a significant proportion of the population; over-reliance on large areas like London and Scotland for swinging the outcome of a vote; or the impact of flooding on voter turnout and thus democracy.

14. The positive effects of leaving are less tangible and quantifiable than the negative effects. National identity and (to some extent) sovereignty are nebulous things; devaluation of the pound is concrete. It’s going to be much easier to make the argument “We should never have left the EU” than the argument “Obviously we should have.” That may yet make a difference in a few years’ time; enough to reopen the debate.

15. If we do return, it could be to an EU that has done some serious soul-searching and undergone development / refurbishment in light of this shake-up. Not that I know what they should change.

16. A vote for leaving the EU isn’t a vote for xenophobia, and there is no evidence that this is going to create some downward spiral into mass-racism. People thought of the EU as being a forced contract, quite separate from their personal relationships with their foreign neighbours. In their minds, calling Brexit racist is like saying that if you don’t want to live under Mao, you must hate the Chinese. As overwrought a comparison as that is, you get the gist.

17. A vote for Brexit isn’t a vote for Farage. In fact, now we’re out, his days are numbered. He relied on the EU and British anger about it to keep him relevant. What’s he got to offer now? Wave goodbye to Mr Farage and his gaudy purple-and-yellow followers.

18. Boris Johnson injured his reputation. Boris would have got right-wing support easily; his quirk was that left-wingers also quite liked him for his affable bumbling persona. By pitching himself as Brexit, he’s put himself up on a platform next to Donald Trump, whom everyone in Britain derides. Unless leaving the EU turns out to be THE BEST THING EVER (like, sweets raining from the sky best-thing-ever), that’s going to make a  negative difference to his future prospects. Public persona counts. He can never retract a strong conviction or deny a forceful campaign. Everyone is going to remember that Boris Johnson is no lovable teddy bear, and more forcefully vote against him when the time comes.

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