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Nick Cohen: “Brexiteers are fascists, liars and charlatans whose only recourse is name-calling,”


Mere days after the Guardian published no less than four different editorials criticising the tone of the debate, the poisoning of the atmosphere, and the contempt we have for our elected officials, Nick Cohen has bravely waded into the debate. Roundly condemning the modern wave of what he calls “paranoid populism”, a term he evidently thinks is catchy:

Paranoid populism’s defining principle can be summarised in a paragraph. No one contradicts me in good faith. My opponents must be lying. They must be corrupt. They are more than merely mistaken, they are degenerate.

“Paranoid populism” – and by this Cohen means anyone who doesn’t like politicians, anyone who doesn’t vote for Hillary Clinton, anyone who wants to leave Europe, “conspiracy theorists” and anyone who voted for Jeremy Corbyn – relies on ad hominem attacks, baseless accusations, assumptions of corruption and the assertion of moral authority. Now, with this in mind, you may think Mr Cohen’s column is then based on objective data and reasoned arguments, and is highly respectful in tone, right? Let’s take a look at the highlights:

The Leave campaign has captured the worst of England and channelled it into a know-nothing movement of loud mouths and closed minds.

You get a measure of the unashamed charlatanry of the men who ask for your votes…

Paranoid populism is a general sickness, as common on the left as the right. You hear it when audiences on Question Time scream that all politicians are liars and crooks, then sit back expecting to be applauded as heartily as they applaud themselves.

…you cannot deny that the Leave campaign has had to head into the sewers of conspiracy theory and race politics because it had nowhere else to go.

Disregarding the honest and “respectful” debate that Guardian has been calling for, Cohen chooses instead to pretend the only issue ever discussed in terms of the EU debate has been immigration – a complete lie. The truth is the only issue the MEDIA has discussed has been immigration – but that has been a deliberate limiting of the debate, in order that well-paid virtue-signallers like Cohen, Toynbee and Freedland can lament the rise of xenophobia in this country, whilst never having to deal with an actual argument.

The anti-EU arguments, and there are many, are about economics and democracy. Can the UK be truly democratic if the unelected bureaucrats from the EC can enforce laws on our government? How will the NHS fare under TTIP? A bill which will destroy the NHS and remove the ability of sovereign governments to outlaw additives, or label GMOs. These questions don’t deserve answers, according to Cohen, and if you ask them…you’re a racist.

Early on in the piece Cohen accuses the Leave campaign of peddling fear:

With a cynicism, which again I can find no historical parallel for, it has now decided to fan fear….

Always one to oppose the political fear-mongering Cohen ends his piece with:

In the name of defending Britain, Brexit will start a rolling economic, constitutional and diplomatic crisis, which its authors do not have the smallest idea how to solve.

No fear-mongering here.

If this article was intended as a complex satire on media hysteria and hypocrisy, I would hail it as a triumph. Unfortunately I know the Guardian, and Nick Cohen, too well for that.


  1. rtj1211 says

    The only time to worry about journalists writing this is if you think they have a following sufficiently large and sufficiently supine to actually be deluded that it is all true.

    Journalists are increasingly being exposed as wordsmith emperors with no clothes on.

    Do I admire Polly Toynbee, Nick Cohen and the like? No I do not. Why not? Because they are constantly distorting arguments to a pre-planned narrative.

    They actually sometimes deliberately write inflammatory stuff just to get click bait for the online advertisers.

    There is a very simple way to stop this happening: withdraw your consent by not buying their articles. Not clicking on their articles online. Etc etc.

    There’s nothing worse for a journalist than to be ignored, after all……..

    There are plenty of similar cases on the right, you know.

  2. tezla valve says

    Space… the final frontier…

    BONES: Heil Merkel! I got here as fast as I could, Jim. I gather Spock’s been taken to sick-bay with a bout of depression. It’s not common amongst Vulcans, but people often forget he’s half human. I must say Jim, it’s looking very multicultural on the S.S. Kleptocracy, ever since the inter-galactic space federation destroyed Earth sovereignty.
    SCOTTY: Do I detect a touch of sarcasm there, Bones? The 73rd referendum was definitive.
    BONES: No, no, Scotty. It’s just that Scottish people are used to living in a one-party state, ever since they chose independence. Anyway, we’d better head down to sick-bay, Jim. I do sometimes wonder, though… What happened to all the white peop…

    SPOCK: Greetings, Captain. Doctor.
    BONES: Dammit Spock! Do you have to make that stupid Freemasonic hand signal, every time someone walks into the room?
    SPOCK (raising an eyebrow): I assure you Doctor, I do a lot of good work for charity.
    BONES (mumbling to himself): This is why I never got that promotion. Anyway Spock, what seems to be the problem?
    SPOCK: As you can see Doctor, I would appear to have a tear running down my left cheek.
    BONES (whipping an electron microscope from his pocket): By God, you’re right Spock! And it’s a salty one, too! Any Idea what caused it?
    SPOCK: Well Doctor, as you are probably aware, my human half recently converted to Judaism, and I couldn’t help noticing a certain amount of anti-semitism amongst some of the crew members. The last straw was when someone left this message at the top of the Captain’s log:
    I think it is immediately apparent, Doctor, that the person who left this message, whoever he, or she, was, is quite obviously implying that I belong to the ‘Synagogue of Satan’, and is effectively insinuating the ‘Blood libel.’

    BONES (chuckling to himself): Ha! That’s the last time Jim sends me on a goddam diversity training course. Those pen-pushing humanity graduates make me sick. Anyway Spock, you’re being ridiculously over-sensitive, here. You need to man up. That said, I suppose I’ve been a bit harsh on you sometimes, just because you’re a Vulcan. I gather most of your kind are harmless autistic types, like Richard Dawkins or Adam Lanza. I’d always assumed you were just a bunch of fucking psychopaths.

    Is it true that Vulcans worship the god Wotan, God of peace-keeping and humanitarian intervention? How do you reconcile that with your Jewish beliefs?
    SPOCK: It’s a syncretic belief system, Doctor, and we call our god NATO/OTAN, these days. Besides, it’s those head-chopping Klingons you need to watch out for. Send ’em back, I say.
    BONES (shaking his head): You know Spock, sometimes you really don’t do yourself any favours.

    CAPTAIN KIRK: I need your assistance on the command deck immediately, gentlemen. We have an unidentified craft on the star-board side.
    SPOCK: Under these circumstances, I strongly advise that you…
    BONES: We know…we know… “Shoot to kill.”
    <The Captain’s left eye begins to twitch furiously.>

    …continued next episode.


  3. Hi,
    Been reading the guardian opinion on the referendum today.
    Usual lies and misdirection. One comment btl caught my eye though.

    “Like all responsible employers I’ve kept my 600+ workforce informed about a leave vote…as have Ford today and many others over the next 2 days …the position is for my companies and for over 1000 others that i have been made aware of, many employing more than myself is, that on Leave you as employees will either have to relocate to Ireland or become unemployed
    No international trade treaties …no trade…no trade no jobs…i keep those treaties when i move cheaply to Ireland”

    Isn’t that kind of thing illegal? Threatening workers with their jobs to influence their vote?

    Cheers and keep up the good work.

    • tezla valve says

      There seems to be a very high shill/useful idiot ratio over there at the moment. A lot of them seem to have recently created accounts.

  4. “Can the UK be truly democratic if the unelected bureaucrats from the EC can enforce laws on our government?”
    Show me one democracy that elects bureaucrats. The EC is responsible for eusuring that EU countries apply the EU law – that EU countries have agreed to. If the countries do not – well its off to the ECJ. What is wrong with that?

    “How will the NHS fare under TTIP? A bill which will destroy the NHS and remove the ability of sovereign governments to outlaw additives, or label GMOs”. TTIP is dead in the water. It needs unnanimous approval by every parliament in each EU country. Several (e.g. Greece, portugal, and probably Spain, & probably France) have said they will not approve TTIP. It is dead.

    I do not like much of what Cohen writes – but this article wheels out old tropes – two of which I have mentioned above. It is … lazy & shows a lack of analysis. By all means attack Cohen – but don’t then whell out othert bollocks as well.

    • The problem is the EC is not adequately controlled by the legislature, and is itself completely unaccountable. it’s not simply a “bureaucracy” it’s an executive body that is completely unelected and unaccountable to the European citizenry.

      Your idea that “TTIP is dead in the water” is certainly novel. As is your idea that individual sovereign states could act to block it. Even if technically correct – which is debatable – this would be highly unlikely to become a reality. The EU has proved itself to be the willing tool of the US oligarchy. If they want the EU to enforce TTIP, it will, one way or another.

      • Fact: every EU member state parliament has to vote on & pass TTIP – every one. This is not a “technicality” it is a fact. It just takes one parliament to vote TTIP down & there is no TTIP. Fact. Which bit of this don’t you understand? I’m anti-TTIP – because it has no benefits. EC elements are living in fantasy land if they think it will get through. As for the rest “US oliogarchy etc” oh please!

        • I’ll be generous and assume this combative tone betrays insecurity and not the presence of a troll. Does your admirably terse and evidence-free “oh please” intend to convey there is no “US oligarchy”, or that the idea they would attempt to influence the EU and its parliaments is simply ridiculous?

          I love it when faux contempt is all people have to defend their ageing preconceptions.

          “Evolution? Oh please!” 🙂

  5. Kudo’s! No shame in the misdirection game these days. Orwellian times are well entrenched worldwide.

  6. Both camps on this issue have lied or used scaremongering tactics. As one chap put it: “not all leave voters will be racist bigots, but all racist bigots will vote to leave”. What he is saying is that many decent people will vote to leave based on the information they have tried to analyse – not an easy thing to do. Friends of mine asked if I thought they were wrong to want to leave the EU, my response was “NO”, for me there is no right or wrong decision as long as it is based on something other than racist bigotry. The referendum camps have pitted people against each other, partly due to the language deliberately used to bolster their own thinking, both inflammatory and egregious. which have resulted in a mother of two being gunned down in broad daylight. What we need is calm and reasoned debate without the name calling and insults. I have posted my vote based on reasoned analysis of what I think is the right choice for Britain, it does not mean I am right and others necessarily wrong, it was simply my choice. Should we end up with a Leave vote I will be fearful of the consequences but not angry with the people who voted for it. It seems that we no longer respect people of differing views, although I am intolerant of “hate” thinking I despise the Israeli far right treatment of the Palestinians, (nobody is perfect) so there will always be people wanting to insult me and call me names, but the EU vote should not be an issue fraught with hate.

  7. Reblogged this on Worldtruth and commented:

    Mr. Cohen condemns the name calling by Brexiteers, calling Brexiteers names. I don’t suppose he realises the rather pointed irony?

    • reinertorheit says

      Like all Grauniad hacks, Cohen had his sense of irony surgically removed when he joined the newspaper. Viz the Graun’s continual demands to see greater representation of non-white faces in Britain… provided none of them get jobs at the Guardian, of course.

  8. Alan says

    Mr Cohen is fortunate to have received an education with the ability to express views to a broader spectrum than most. To utilise such, denying reason, fact and objectivity leads one to rather unsavoury conclusions. Obviously Mr Cohen could contribute in a more meaningful manner, let’s hope he does soon.

  9. us doddering droolers are getting the blame for brexit. but al zimer voted for heath`s common market and loved it when Maggie handbagged the frogs and jerries. eventually both labour and tories melt into oligarch blancmange. all the rich- famous- wealthy -aristos who want us in are all Bilderbergers.

  10. mikael says

    Yup, hehe.
    Dunka, dunka, (my forhead into the table)

    Of course we “paranoid populists” yea, why not.
    And We PP, lied about the eCONomy, and the PPs fault like Greece, Italy, Spain, and so on.
    Of course we PP lied about the DuchBank.
    Lied about why Belgian banks are sinking and why dont this, ohh….. i forgott, non populistic paranoid person, where did the debt came from, and why are EU underwater.
    Il stop there, since I think His brain cell is boiling of paranoic babbeling, right, scmuck.

    Of course we are the fault of the wars YOUR gov. lied us all into, and all the warning about what actually happens right now, the refugie issue. witch is an effect from the Libyan/North-african problems, made by countrys as YOURs, non populistic paranoid person.

    Tell me, why are their arguments so lousy, the strawmens are so bad I wounder how old are this writers, or was it the boobs, not the brain, on those that wrote this pre-mature crapp.

    Otherwise, hehe, eh… this is sliding into an freak show, and this one is the dumbest she….. sorry, to humiliate sheeps when anyone tries to compare an sheep to an heep of standing manure aka this thing, I will not sink so low.
    I must confess, to the truth in the words of an old bastard, O. v Bismark, when he after an long life in politics, where in the end, He stated that the common politician is an breed so rotten, that His respect for animals just grew over the years.
    No we all understand why.


  11. Cohen is a zionist, neo-con fanatic. It surprises me that anyone outside of his charmed and well-remunerated circle takes him seriously.

    • Richard Le Sarcophage says

      Yes, the author left out the bit where Cohen, the hero of Baghdad as Bernard-Henry Levy was of Tripoli, casually smeared UK Labour as beset by ‘antisemitism’. Cohen’s increasingly loathsome contributions, in my opinion, reach almost unparalleled heights of hypocrisy, pathopsychological projection, and sheer hatred, these days.

  12. bevin says

    “Roundly condemning the modern wave of what he calls “paranoid populism”, a term he evidently thinks is catchy:..”
    The term is one borrowed from Richard Hofstadter. This US critic of the Peoples Party and popular movements published Anti Intellectualism in American Life in 1963 and, a year later, the essay collection The Paranoid Style in American Politics.
    I’m not suggesting that Cohen has read either book- he appears to have read almost nothing- but he is probably acquainted with the phrases and, like most of the Blairites, star struck by anything from the USA.
    Hofstadter was wrong, but that was half a century ago when liberalism still bore the deep scorch marks of McCarthyism, Cohen is simply churning out bilgewater for people reading a paper which regards them, and the world outside the bubble of the political class, with contempt, verging on hatred. That is how Hofstadter felt about the scary masses in America.

    • Hi Bev,

      I saw Nick Cohen just last Thursday walking through Islington and what I saw didn’t make me happy. To say he looked like a broken man would be putting it mildly – he looked ill and sad, I haven’t seen him for years it was quite a shock. I went from hating him for the bile that he churns out to feeling very sad and sorry for him. He looked like he had the weight of the world on his shoulders.

      There’s more to his articles than just comment and although I’m projecting I’d say he probably knows what he’s doing is wrong.

      • DavidKNZ says

        Little touch of human compassion amidst the trench warfare. Nice

      • Jen says

        Cohen might not be the only one at The Guardian who knows what he is doing is wrong and whose health might be suffering as a result. I wonder though, assuming we might be correct, if there is no way he and others at The Guardian, The Independent and other mainstream British newspapers might come together and break away by forming a co-operative. I very vaguely remember decades ago that some writers at an Australian newspaper formed a brief co-op and printed their own during a strike. But the situation today in news journalism is very different: jobs are less secure for one thing, newspapers (including The Guardian) are sacking people and the whole industry may be dying.

      • Of course no one wishes him any personal ill-will. But at the same time this is a gentleman who makes a considerable income from his work, and is well enough established to be able to decline to put his name to anything he really considers wrong. People with a lot less income and resources than he has can manage to hang on to their conscience. So if he is willingly doing what he knows to be wrong he has little sympathy from me. He will have to live with his choices as we all do.

        • Of course Catte, I’m not suggesting he’s good, I’m just interested to know whether someone is putting the screws on him and whether it’s an offer he cannot refuse as it were, as I said the man I saw last Thursday looked a broken man.

          • Willem says

            Describing Nick Cohen as a ‘broken man’ made me think how George Orwell described Winston Smith at the end of 1984. I don’t like the end of that book (“He loved Big Brother. The end”), as the question that is not answered in 1984 (ever) is whether Winston loves Big Brother forever? Or if he will return to questioning and scrutinizing the system for which he has to write propaganda at the Ministry of Truth. Perhaps Nick Cohen is experiencing that forever is a long time. And it does not have to be that way. In Dutch we have this expression that it is better to stop halfway than to persevere in an error. Not sure if that (or something similar) is also an English expression, but it covers the idea that Nick Cohen may have troubles in believing that what he writes for the Guardian is something that at first sight seemed right, but is wrong… Writing propaganda is good for Cohen’s career (immediate effect) but (in the end) bad for his health (and for others). Knowing that what he does is wrong, but still doing it is very human, but still wrong. Sartre called that ‘kwade trouw’ of which I do not know the exact English translation (wickedness maybe?). Again, does not have to be that way.

            Hope that this comment was not too ‘brainy’…

            • Not at all! Kwade Trouw in English is Bad Faith, as in the opposite of good faith.

              Yes we have many phrases for giving up, you could say

              ‘Cut your loses’ or ‘when you’re in a whole…stop digging’ or “know when to throw in the towel…”

              I think what I’m trying to say is “is Nick Cohen being blackmailed, or even threatened” because somedays he seems to act as the mouth peice not just for crooked Israeli politicians but actually for the work of Genie Oil, a company owned and run by Chaney, Rupert Murdoch and Jacob Rothschild.
              A company who want to dig for oil on Syrian land and see Assad as the main obstacle to that goal.

      • Richard Le Sarcophage says

        Perhaps it’s the Judaic version of karma. Bad, bad, karma. Perhaps he’s suddenly developed a belief in a ‘just and vengeful God’, and fears what is in stall for him, for his role in the destruction of Iraq and the genocide there, and sundry other sins. I do admire your compassion.

        • Nick Cohen’s Jewishness stems from that weird peice where he told us all to embrace Judaism which was a bit weird. He’s certainly not raised Jewish? His grand parents were immigrants that abandoned the faith his father was raised athiest and married an an English girl of Anglican background – the only thing Jewish about Nick was his surname, if it’s supposedly carried through the mother than he’s out.(frankly it’s all a load of hooey isn’t it? Humans are a weird bunch)

          So him embracing Judaism was like “oh yeah mate and went did you study the Torah, get a bar-mitzvah/bris etc” the answer is never. What a lot of bullshit. I was raised a Christian – I have absolutely no faith, but I have full experiences of childhood within a devout family. It colours my view of the world. But I wouldn’t go round saying I’m a christ-er. I’m not but I have a shared cultural experience from childhood which Cohen would not. So to claim Jewishness seems a bit tenuous to me. Unless he’s converted and is studying which I doubt, and I doubt he’s had his wiener chopped about either!

          • Eric_B says

            The formerly left wing then rabidly right wing writer Christopher Hitchins also began claiming he was Jewish in his later years.

          • Richard Le Sarcophage says

            I get the distinct impression that for Cohen and his type, ‘Jewishness’ is a career choice and state of mind. One is reminded of Stalin’s observation that Romanian was not a nationality, but a profession.

              • John says

                Is that not what was said about Churchill?
                Look at what happened to the abstemious vegetarian, Hitler!
                Maybe everyone should be drunk before mid-day?

                • In the words of Billy Connolly “the desire to be a politician should exclude you from ever becoming one”

    • Richard Le Sarcophage says

      Yes-the sheer hatred that oozes from Cohen’s output, and that of an increasing proportion of his fellows, is becoming quite pathological.

  13. John says

    Cohen is an Israel-First zionist lackey.
    Whatever he writes or says is invariably addressed to what is best for Netanyahu and his zionist goons.
    The very last person in the world I would ever take advice from would be Nick Cohen – and I would do the opposite!
    At least The Guardian must have plenty of sales to the Israel Embassy now that Regev is sited there.
    The Guardian is his – and Cohen and Freedland’s – kind of hasbara propaganda rag they can all feel comfortable with.
    Pity about the readers, though. Where do they now go to get decent news and current affairs coverage?

  14. Leave this CIA project NOW !

    The EU is a non-democratic f**kkd neo-con game.

    Italy is next followed by Holland, France & Spain – Bad things all die in the end.

  15. James Carless says

    An out of touch intellectual pygmy voices his frustration at having no answers beyond name calling and manufactured fear.
    Friedland and Cohen would gain more credibility if they wrote about how Israel treats it’s african refugees,the settlers attitude to cultural diversity and how a big concrete wall differs from Trump’s aspirations.
    Then dare to us the F word to where it more applies.

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