Brexit, democracy, EU, latest, UK
Comments 35

Why I’m Ashamed I Voted Remain

by Stephen Durkan, via XXY

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I voted Remain on June 23rd, 2016, and now I am ashamed of it.

Weird, is it not? Especially since, being Scottish, I should be trumpeting my own intellectual and spiritual superiority over the fascist morons, the xenophobes and all those other knuckle-draggers.

So why am I ashamed? To explain, I need to take you back to the day of the referendum.

It was raining, of course. I had accepted that I was going to cast my Remain vote with as much enthusiasm as Boris cast his. I trawled through the endless opinions on Facebook, and I began to feel uneasy about the comments I was seeing from fellow Remainers. There were two comments in particular that caused me to pause. One was from the usually brilliant science writer Ben Goldacre, who wrote a long, self-righteous, patronising and downright insulting post explaining how the Leave campaign was using language for ‘losers’ and how Brexiteers were intentionally harming families economically – which, of course, he has no proof for (as a science-minded person, he should really know better).

The second comment was from the band Fat White Family, who were stating that everyone should vote Remain so that they don’t have to get a visa when travelling through Europe. This completely ignored the concept of the good of wider society, as if there really was no such thing – we are all Thatcherites now,  even (or should that be especially?) the rebel poseurs of Rock and/or Roll. This contempt coupled with selfishness was replicated in various other comments sprayed across the social media sphere, and it got me thinking: am I on the right side? I shrugged it off and cast my vote whilst reciting the words ‘And here’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson’, and I forgot about it.

The next day I woke up, and it had happened. It was a shock that nobody saw coming and there was a dark haze descending as people realised the future is completely unknown. The pound was falling, the government was dissolving, and you would have been forgiven for thinking that the world was swallowing itself whole. But we should have seen this coming; because this is what happens when you ignore vast swathes of the working class for twenty-five years; sooner or later, they will encroach upon your comfort zone, and the wall we have built that insulates us from the profound cracks in our society will eventually be breached. The correlation between how well-off an area is and its referendum decision is startling (at least in England and Wales it is). For many people who voted Leave, there has never been any hopes or any dreams, the future has always been unknown, and life is constantly covered in fog. This vote provided them with a chance to make themselves heard in a way no other recent election had.

The reaction to the vote completely solidified that niggling feeling of doubt I had about my Remain vote. Leave voters were called fascists, morons, and all sorts of other disgusting insults. The tone of self-righteous superiority was suffocating, the calls for a second referendum were exasperating (we like democracy, except when there is a result that we don’t like – how very E.U. of you!), and then there was the over-the-top romanticisation of what is essentially a bureaucratic trade and labour deal that serves corporate interests far more than it does the ordinary people of Liverpool, Leverkusen or Liege. People were shedding tears for a union that plunged the entire nation of Greece into a depression for the sake of a few German and French banks.

The E.U. had suddenly acquired an almost religious power. The fact is that for towns like Oldham, Boston and Merthyr Tydfil, large-scale immigration and globalisation does not mean multicultural community groups, Portuguese cafes and discussing cultural differences with your student friends from Sweden and Belgium. To these people, who have struggled with the decline of their industrial jobs, it means constant flux, it means change they did not ask for, it means losing things, and it means more people to compete with for the jobs that were already thin on the ground. But no one since the referendum wants to confront this. Indeed, as Ben Goldacre suggested, these are the ‘losers’; the people who are mocked routinely by clever-clever Oxbridge comedians on panel shows and sitcoms, the people who have to put up with their towns being the butt of jokes, the people who have been systematically ignored as the sophisticates turn a blind eye and refuse to look up from their iPads in the local Starbucks to see the suffering that may be necessary to provide us with these vapid pleasures.

The inequality gap has grown so wide that there are students in London who genuinely cannot fathom why a poor young person living in Rochdale might not see the benefits of a gap year travelling around Eastern Europe. And why should they be able to understand the poor? They have absolutely zero reference points they can consult to understand the plight of the working class in Britain. They are more likely to empathise with a Brooklyn hipster than they are with a Burnley plumber.

And of course there are racists, I am not denying that, and the rise of racist incidents should be challenged with no compromise from all sides. But this animosity comes from somewhere, and it seems to me that most people do not want to understand and empathise, they just want to treat these people like some sort of inferior species who should be excluded from the democratic process (as our friends at Fat White Family helpfully suggested). Of course, these people are uneducated! That is what happens when you have to work fifteen hours a day just to scrape by and pay rent – there is literally no time to read a Guardian article and then recite it as fact to your friend on the way to the restaurant. Poverty and constant stress have an effect on people’s brains and on their outlooks.

The Scottish rap artist (yes, they do exist) Loki made a video explaining that people who lived in deprived communities are living in an environment of constant stress and thus will be more antagonistic towards immigrants as they watch their libraries, their community centres and their high streets all disappear for no clear reason. The propaganda pamphlets (or tabloids, as they are most commonly known) seize upon these vulnerable people and bombard them with scare stories about the immigrants. This whirlwind of disaffection, manipulative tycoons and the profit motive has created a breeding ground for hatred and fear. Surely our hostility would be better directed towards the rich white men who are benefiting from the misery of the ‘losers’. I refuse to attack the weak. It is a habit that we have grown far too accustomed to – we blame the poor for being poor, the homeless for being homeless, the disabled for being disabled. Our favourite TV shows victimise poor, untalented and desperate people; we have been well-trained by the media, yet we attack those who have fallen for anti-immigrant scare stories at the same time. I am ashamed. I feel it in the marrow of my bones.

So what is it going to be? Do we want democracy or do we want the self-selecting intelligent vanguard deciding for the rest? Are we going to drift further into some sort of social apartheid where poor people get driven farther and farther out of cities and become secluded in ghost towns with the lines of communication between them and the educated middle-class cutoff? Or are we going to speak to each other? There is no easy answer to the multitude of problems we face now. However, I do believe we should be opening ourselves to some difficult questions that lead us outside our comfortable bubbles. We have to understand why people are angry about immigration and we have to fix our fractured communities.

What certainly will not help is demonising large sections of the population who already feel like they are being attacked from all angles. If you push people far enough, they will have no choice but to push back. Let’s talk. Let’s listen to the other point of view. Let’s try to understand where they are coming from. Let’s admit it is possible that we might be wrong about some things, that we might be recycling what we hear from our own biassed sources. If we do not liberate ourselves from our comfortable groups, then there is a hard rain that is a-gonna fall. The bubble will burst. And you (yes you, Fat White Family and your ilk) will have a lot more than visa applications to worry about.


35 Comments

  1. Nadia says

    I certainly agree that a class of voters have been neglected and that this in part lead them to voting for Brexit. But the idea that the privileged voted remain and that the poor and worthy voted leave is a tabloid view of the argument and sidesteps the real issues. The question is whether leaving the EU will actually help these people because all the indications are that it won’t. Personally I think we should all move past what we actually voted because there was a lot of misinformation around the referendum and as time goes on we will know more about what life will really look like outside the EU – this is why it is essential to have a debate in parliament as well as a national debate – and also because it is so divisive. In the absence of a PM who would try to unite us we need to start doing it ourselves!

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  2. Being called a ‘thick little Englander’ for being swayed by tabloid rhetoric and/or Leave lies (£350m per week to the NHS; the whole of Turkey about to descend on us, etc., etc.) is hardly equivalent to being called a remoaning traitor or an enemy of the people and receiving rape and death threats.

    To be fair to the author, the extent of a (hopefully minority) element of Leave voters’ continued vociferous campaign to intimidate those who voted Remain and to stifle the debate and the scrutiny crucial to preventing our democracy from veering towards dictatorship probably wasn’t fully evident by July 23rd.

    As a working class woman who improved her life by making use of EU Treaty Article 18 rights to live and work in other countries, I’m not sure how depriving me of my EU citizenship and thus my livelihood, which is dependent upon it, improves the lot of those “left behind” – especially as I am now going to have to return to England and compete with them for a job.

    It’s also worth noting that much of what is blamed on the EU is in reality the result of policy failure at a local and national level. Sadly, it looks as if Brexit will be used as a cover for even more heartless Tory policies that disadvantage the working classes even more.

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    • “Being called a ‘thick little Englander’ for being swayed by tabloid rhetoric and/or Leave lies (£350m per week to the NHS; the whole of Turkey about to descend on us, etc., etc.) is hardly equivalent to being called a remoaning traitor or an enemy of the people and receiving rape and death threats”.

      Actually it is exactly equivalent. (Notwithstanding the fact that nobody claimed the NHS was going to get £350m per week). Please let me know who these rape victims are by the way.

      “To be fair to the author, the extent of a (hopefully minority) element of Leave voters’ continued vociferous campaign to intimidate those who voted Remain and to stifle the debate and the scrutiny crucial to preventing our democracy from veering towards dictatorship probably wasn’t fully evident by July 23rd”.

      I think this is a good example of why offguardian was set up in the first place. The ability to claim the complete opposite of the truth is what marks the Graun out these days. It’s the remainers that are trying to intimidate others and subvert democracy. To claim otherwise is utterly laughable.

      “As a working class woman who improved her life by making use of EU Treaty Article 18 rights to live and work in other countries, I’m not sure how depriving me of my EU citizenship and thus my livelihood, which is dependent upon it, improves the lot of those “left behind” – especially as I am now going to have to return to England and compete with them for a job”.

      Well done you for lifting yourself above your fellow chav scum. (And as a mere woman no less). I’m sure your chav scum parents are very proud. If you’re as talented as you think you are then I’m sure your employer and host country will find a way to keep you on. And if they don’t then maybe you could spare a thought for your equally as talented African and Asian counterparts who don’t have the luxury of this clearly racist EU citizenship scheme.

      “It’s also worth noting that much of what is blamed on the EU is in reality the result of policy failure at a local and national level. Sadly, it looks as if Brexit will be used as a cover for even more heartless Tory policies that disadvantage the working classes even more”.

      Very true. Even more reason to leave. Lets get out of the EU and force our politicians to take responsibility for their actions rather than blame it on foreign bureaucrats.
      If only Jeremy had maintained the courage of his convictions and stood up for Brexit. Maybe then the heartless tories would have a principled and realistic opposition.

      P.S. Thanks for caring about the working classes. Your sincerity is overwhelming. Love and kisses. xxxxx

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  3. I’m sure lots of remain voters cast their vote for reasons as shallow as yours, Stephen. You seem to have adopted every single leave cliche wholesale over the last 5 minutes months, or did you save time and do that on 24 June because you just do hate being on the ‘losing’ side. I have every sympathy with the poor, disenfranchised and powerless people all over this country who are living in misery, but they are living that way BECAUSE OF THE ACTIONS OF THEIR OWN FUCKING GOVERNMENT, and the EU has absolutely nothing whatever to do with their plight. So, as a protest vote they’ve scored one massive own goal, because the Tories are simply going to shaft them even more if we leave the EU. And if any leave votes voted because ‘they have issues with immigration’ (see above for real culprits of bad access to housing, education and health care) then they ARE stupid, igorent racists and I don’t think their poverty is an excuse.

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  4. Paulo_uk says

    And how will Brexit help the working class? By enthroning the Tories for a generation? Those that voted Leave in the working class are in for a rude awakening.

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  5. I wrote the following immediately prior to the EU referendum:

    What is the European Union For?
    After all the initial eu(ro)phoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently writes Frank

    In a Chartist pamphlet written in 2011 – Europe: The Unfinished Project – I wrote, ‘’At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone, and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of development to persevere further with the political struggle taking place.’’ (Ibid, page 19)

    I believe that this view, justifiable and plausible enough at the time of writing, has now become difficult to sustain. And the reason for this came in the next sentence, viz.

    ‘’One only has to consider the Anglo-American alternatives (to the Euro model) and globalization more generally to make this choice.’’

    This was, however, based on the tacit assumption that the Euro model of capitalism was somehow fundamentally different from the Atlanticist model, a paradigm exemplified by the US/UK axis. In the fullness of time this has, unfortunately, turned out to be a fundamental misconception. The UK of course has always been bound hand and foot to the US in terms of both foreign and economic policy with the ending of the system of imperial preference demanded by the US as the quid pro quo for the American loan negotiated by Keynes in 1946; next came the American intervention in the Suez crisis in 1956 which effectively ended any independent UK foreign policy. This dog-like devotion to American imperatives – the ‘special-relationship’ – then extended with the neo-liberal turn and the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution of the 198Os. True, the UK was always more Atlanticist in its outlook than its European neighbours. However, continental Europe is as enamoured of Atlanticism as is the UK – and those more recent EU ex-communist states, probably more so.

    ‘’It is not only the UK which is Atlanticist, the continental European states are no less so … proof of this is given by the central position of NATO in this political construction. That a military alliance with a country outside the union (the US) has been integrated de facto into the European constitution – in terms of a common foreign and security policy – constitutes an unparalleled anomaly. For some European countries (Poland, Hungary and the Baltic States) NATO’s protection- that is, that of the United States against their ‘Russian enemy’ is more important than their adhesion to the European Union.’’ (Samir Amin – The Implosion of Capitalism – 2014)

    This Americanization of Europe – this invisible annexation – has been achieved by a combination of soft and hard power – a cultural, political, economic and militaristic assimilation of the old world by the new. It should be understood that the US does not do ‘partnerships’; any relationships the US enters into with other states is always on the basis of ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane.’

    ‘’ It follows from this that the neither the European Union nor any of its component states any longer have an independent foreign policy. The facts show that there is one single reality: alignment behind whatever Washington (perhaps in agreement with London) decides on its own.’’ (Amin – Ibid)

    European Economic policy is similarly aligned to US interests and US practises. This is hardly surprising since the US has been the dominant economic force (although now in a declining trajectory) for the last 100 years. It has control of the world’s reserve currency which allows it to run persistent deficits on its current account since it can simply pay for its imports with by printing its own currency. The US tends to dominate the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and WTO, having the largest bloc of votes in the IMF. American policymakers have used their influence in the IMF to pursue American financial and foreign policy objectives. The IMF offers larger loans to countries heavily indebted to American commercial banks than to other countries. In addition, the IMF offers larger loans to governments closely allied to the United States. (International Politics (2004) 41, 415–429). New York is the second largest financial centre (after London) with the most deeply liquid capital markets, and in absolute terms the US is largest economy in the world. (Although in terms of purchasing power parity, the Chinese economy is now larger.)

    Additionally, the ‘soft power’ the US (and UK) which includes, university economics departments, economic think-tanks, publications – The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist – Business and Financial circles, and the universal language of business and diplomacy – English – have effectively dominated and structured the global ideological discourse. The ‘Washington Consensus’ along with the deadly weapons of financial mass destruction – the lethal derivatives – have come to dictate policy and policy making the western world.
    Recently, however, the neo-liberal, neo-conservative project has run into difficulties as instanced in the twin crises now besetting the Euro-Atlanticist bloc: namely, Greece and Ukraine.

    Greece.
    At the outset it was wholly predictable that the accession of Greece into the eurozone was going to lead to trouble. In order to qualify for admission Greece needed to demonstrate that it conformed to the Maastricht Criteria. The Maastricht rules threaten to slap hefty fines on euro member countries that exceed the budget deficit limit of three percent of gross domestic product. Total government debt mustn’t exceed 60 percent.
    The Greeks had never managed to stick to the 60 percent debt limit, and they only adhered to the three percent deficit ceiling with the help of blatant balance sheet cosmetics.

    Not to worry, in 2010 some creative accounting was supplied by the premier (infamous?) US Investment Bank, Goldman Sachs. GS’s selling point for financial legerdemain is well known; in this instance cross-currency swaps where government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period – and then exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date. Hey, presto! The figures added up (for a while at least). Goldman Sachs collected a $15 billion kickback for their labours.

    As members of the eurozone the Greeks then had access to cheap credit from eurozone banks, particularly French and German. But any deal between borrower and lender means that both should act responsibly. The creditworthiness of the borrower has to be assessed before the loan is made. But such rigorous investigations of this sort were not carried out; with the deregulation of finance such tiresome procedures had been done away with and banks lent to almost anyone who had a pulse.The rest as we say is history.

    But if these lenders knew that borrowers would not be able to repay the loans, this would have amounted to ‘odious’ debt’. That occurs when the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Vulture capitalism is another equally unprepossessing term for the policy toward Greece. Vulture funds target distressed firms or countries buy their the bonds and stocks at knock-down prices, then when the company fails, sue the owner not only for the interest but also the principal. The Troika policy toward Greece has been one of Loan and Foreclosure.

    If Greece remains in the eurozone it will continue to be bled white, privatised and ultimately dismembered. An example must be made to stop others in the southern periphery from getting ideas. And just as Thatcher was the junior partner of Reagan in shaping the EU, Merkel has been Obama’s enforcer in the Euro’s restive US provinces.

    It is interesting to note that one, Victoria Nuland, rabid neo-con – more of which below – Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, visited Athens on 17 March and had talks with Tsipras regarding the turmoil. Suffice it to say it was geopolitics and the retention of Greece in the EU and NATO she was concerned with, rather than debt. She no doubt reminded Tsipras that there might be consequences if Greece did not toe the EU line. As Assistant Secretary for regime change in the State Department the redoubtable Ms Nuland’s brief has been to threaten or bring about regime change in countries of which the US and its vassals disapprove.

    Ukraine

    Earlier the peripatetic Ms Nuland was also busy in Ukraine promoting regime change – a process which had been going on since 2004 – and the installation of an oligarch-fascist regime paid for ($5 billion according to Ms N) and whose leaders were hand-picked by herself and the US Ambassador in Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt. (I have written extensively on this issue in Chartist available as an e-book on the website.) But it is interesting to note how the IMF’s treatment of the Kiev regime differs significantly to that meted out to Greece. Firstly a $40 billion aid package is granted to Ukraine over the next 4 years. Secondly Madame Lagarde has stated that “In the event that a negotiated settlement with private creditors is not reached and the country determines that it cannot service its debt, the Fund can lend to Ukraine consistent with its Lending-into-Arrears Policy” (12 June 2015) In other words if Ukraine defaults, and there is a strong possibility that the IMF will – in violation of its constitution – come up with the cash. Moreover, the IMF is also not mandated to lend to states which are at war. Of course this is hardly even-handed way of operating, but then the IMF is a highly politicised institution and a key part of the neo-liberal, neo-conservative global establishment. Ukraine will miss a bond coupon payment 17 July, setting off a default on about $19 billion of debt, as a standoff with creditors shows no sign of abating – it will be interesting to see what happens in light of Madame Lagarde’s statement.

    Conclusions

    The decision to expand the EU and with it NATO right up to Russia’s borders, initially under the guidance and policies of the Clinton administration, was a clear indication that the governments of the EU had come under American domination. With this decisive shift the EU project was over. It has been replaced by a North Atlantic project under American command.

    The hegemonist strategy of the US – made abundantly clear in both the Wolfowitz doctrine and the more recent enunciations and actions of the dominant US war party, a coalition of neo-cons, liberal hawks and liberal interventionists – is clearly visible behind the disappearance of the European project.

    However it is quite possible that even against US wishes and geopolitical imperatives the EU might well fracture internally due to inter-state tensions and contradictions. One thing is certain: in its present structure the EU cannot endure, nor does it deserve to.

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  6. Mike says

    As it happens, Goldacre is quite often self-righteous, patronising, and insulting, and by no means always as scientific as he likes to pretend. But that aside….

    ….I had always been very sympathetic towards the European movement, and was glad when Heath took us into the EEC (yes I am that old). My views were somewhat coloured by emotion and idealism (“no more war in Europe…” etc), and also persuaded by some of the economic arguments of the time.

    I became slightly worried that we had signed the Maastricht Treaty when very few people really understood its implications (and still don’t, clearly), even quite intelligent ones.

    However, I was even persuaded at one period that it might be a good idea for us to join the Euro. The crisis in the Eurozone put paid to that (and funny how you can find almost no people now who admit to having been in favour…). But what started my real Euroscepticism was the treatment of Greece, and I know I am not alone in that.

    I’m not a little Englander, and am certainly no UKipper (quite the opposite), but the more research and reading I did, the more sceptical I became. The only thing that stopped me voting Leave was the thought of being classed as being in the same camp as the racists and fascists and right-wing fruitcakes. Which is crazy really, as I was aware there was a perfectly respectable left-wing case to be made for Leave – but it got hardly any airtime, sadly. And Paul Mason was not much help.

    So, I watched the results, suitable anaesthetised by vin rouge (I said I was no little Englander), and there came that moment when we all realised that, bloody hell, it’s going to be Leave! Could hardly believe it. And although I definitely had voted Remain, as had most people I know, I still felt guilty for having thought about voting Leave.

    ….but that has changed. I’ve continued to read and research, and I am now actually really glad we voted to Leave. It was our one chance to get out (in my lifetime, probably, anyway). Of course, there is still every chance that the Chevening Charlies will bollocks everything up, and who knows what will actually happen ultimately. But it’s a great chance for the UK if we only had a government (not Tory, not Blairite) that could make the most of it.

    For anyone who has not read it, a great article (which I didn’t read until well after 23 June):

    https://professorwerner.wordpress.com/2016/06/21/eu-basics-your-guide-to-the-uk-referendum-on-eu-membership

    and an interesting (pre-Brexit) discussion):

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  7. This is the best article I have read so far about the Brexit result. It is rare indeed to see anyone in the MSM ever show such insight, let alone humility. I have been appalled by the insulting articles written in The Independent and Guardian, claiming that everyone who voted, ‘Leave’ was an uneducated moron living in the North of England.

    I had not been old enough to vote to join the then, EEC back in the 1970s. It was my parents generation who backed Heath and voted to join. I mind my father saying, ‘It will mean no more European wars. It means the disgusting losses of WWI weren’t for nothing’. My Dad had served all the way through WWII, from the age of 17. He didn’t talk about it much, but he did tell me of some horrific memories, including the sight of young men lying dead by a Tank that had been shelled and had caught fire. He said they had been cremated alive, turned to wizened monkeys of black charcoal. The account he gave of a young dead German, lying by the road side following the Battle Of Casino has stayed vivid in my mind. My father was in a troop lorry, trundling up steep, winding terrain. He said there was a fair haired young German, no more than 20, lying dead in the foetal position by the side of the arid, stony road. He described how the dusty back draft of the troop carriers wheels made the dead man’s hair stir. I mind my Dad ending by saying, ‘It struck me all of a sudden, that I was looking at someone’s son, someone’s grandchild.’

    So yes, after the devastation of WWII who in their right minds wouldn’t support the idea of a democratic European institution that brought Europe together. It was a French dream and from its earliest inception, as a Steel And Coal Union, its founding fathers vision was that in time Europe would become a Superstate. The USA supported France in this goal, on the terms that there would be no war debt placed on Germany (as of course there had been after WWI, the later consequences of that debt being the rise of Nazi Germany). The goal was that Germany would become the industrial lion of Europe and France would lead the gradual process towards a Superstate. I am pretty sure that is why the British held back and were never truly convinced of the European project. Britain wanted, and of course needed, trade with Europe but was never sold on the idea of a political Union.

    The EEC was really as far as Britain wanted Europe to go. We took many petty EEC regulations, along with the gradual decimation of the UK fishing industry. We could take rules about what goes into sausages and how much bananas could be curved because we could laugh at it and forget it. We accepted contributing an always large amount to what became the EU because we believed in and encouraged bringing poorer Southern and Eastern countries into the European fold. Whatever our failings as a nation most Brits believe in fairness and giving others a fair crack at the whip.

    Many of our politicians began to fall in love with Brussels, some like Kinnock and Mandelson went on to make large amounts of money as Eurocrats in Brussels. Tony Blair crawled out of the woodwork constantly during Team Cameron’s pro EU campaign, to join in the chorus of how wonderful the EU is. I then read that for many years Tony Blair has wanted to be an EU Commissioner, with an eye to being its President at some stage.

    Long before the campaigning ever got going I started to read right across the political spectrum so as to better educate myself on how I should vote in this extremely important referendum. The real information was sadly not to be found in the British MSM, but by reading on line economic and monetary sites (many of them giving information about the massive financial and military interests the USA has in Europe). Most of the MSM in Britain was to my mind overtly pro the EU, and I include the BBC in that. I needed to see intelligent arguments on the other side rather than relying only on UKIP and The Daily Mail!

    It kept puzzling me why most of the Left, Liberal and Right in Westminster could possibly be in such total agreement about staying in the EU. This also included the Welsh and SNP governments and the Northern Ireland Assembly of course. I needed to understand why this was. My reading made me see that for the Left Wing the EU with its Free Border and uncontrolled immigration policy was being seen as a socialist utopia. For the Right Wing – Cameron and Osborne – it is all about their big banking buddies. Both Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan (reviled in the USA for their well known corruption), threw money at Team Cameron’s pro EU Campaign. Why would two huge USA banks do that? The answer of course is that both are through Europe like the proverbial lettering in Blackpool rock. Goldman helped to rig Greece’s debt book so it could enter into the single currency, giving it access to big subsidies and bank loans. Draghi – at that time working for Goldman – assisted in that. He of course is now head of the ECB. Mark Carney kept crawling out of his dead tomb of money at the BOE to back up Team Cameron (he too is ex Goldman). I started to discover that Goldman Sachs is everywhere in global politics (a recently retired Spanish EU Commissioner has just been hired by Goldman, presumably for his high level EU political contacts). Goldman have paid Hilary Clinton endless millions to make sure they own her.

    What I learnt horrified me, especially the grip of the USA on the EU. I am now completely convinced that the entire West is run by a banking-political oligarchy. It explains why not just in Europe but also in the USA, more and more people are turning away from traditional political parties. Citizens of the West are fed up with a status quo political system that appears wedded to big banking and keeps acting in the interests of big banking at the expense of nearly everyone else.

    So I voted to leave an unelected EU Commission which is undemocratic and thus unaccountable. There are three major figureheads – Merkel, Junker and Hollande – attempting to speak for and direct the lives of over 500 million Europeans. I put Hollande last because he is not intelligent enough to understand that in fact it is now Germany which runs the EU (but cleverly allows France to feel it has a hand on the reins when in fact it now has only one finger on them). Junker stupidly thinks because the EU building stands in Brussels and he is President of this giant institution, that Belgium is leading the EU. This is another complete contradiction of the myth of European integration and unity. Every single country in it is in it for itself. The reason the poor Southern and Eastern European nations tow the line to Merkel, Junker and Hollande is because they rely heavily on EU subsidises. All of them are tied to what is becoming a very withered financial EU teat and none will give that up. Poland is happy to lose vast swathes of its young population to the UK because of the money sent back to Poland by these hard working souls. It is also highly dependant on EU subsidies. So is Spain, so is Portugal, Ireland and now even Italy. Greece is a completely broken nation precisely because of the EU.

    So no, I didn’t vote to leave the EU because I am according to The Guardian and Independent, ‘An uneducated cretin, also a xenophobic, racist Little Englander’. I didn’t rush out to buy a Union Jack when Brexit was declared nor do I fantasise that the battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar can now be re staged. I have no problem admitting I am just an ordinary human being with no academic background and nothing to boast about. At the end of the day, like millions of other people democracy matters a great deal to me, not only because of those who lost their lives fighting for it in wars, but the many hundreds of years it took within the UK for ordinary citizens to gain democratic rights. I think of the uncle I never met, who died aged 27 serving in WWII. He had been born in 1913 and his entire childhood and adolescence was shaped by the terrible losses of WWI. The last thing his generation wanted was yet another war with Germany. He joined up not because he wished to kill anyone, but simply because like most other Brits he saw that Nazi Germany had to be fought if European democracy was to survive. How utterly ironic that so many Europeans gave their lives that we might enjoy the freedoms that can only exist in democratic nations, and here we are, allowing ourselves to be ruled by an EU bureaucratic dictatorship with a clear agenda to remove all sense of nationality by creating a superstate of mixed races who will be taught to identify themselves as, ‘European’ and accept the rule of one giant government situated in Brussels. Perhaps on paper that sounds a noble idea but in practice it isn’t working, in fact by trying to subsume the laws and cultural identities of individual European nations the EU has managed to stir up more national awareness than has been seen since WWII.

    As an English person who has spent half her life in Scotland, I have learnt how strong national identity is. I love this country but I accept I am always a guest here. Immigration is fine but too much immigration causes social discord (especially when poor migrants are shoved into poor areas of large cities). Why Nicola Sturgeon is so intent on Scotland staying in Europe confounds me. Why would a tiny nation that has no steel or coal industry anymore and fast depleting oil reserves wish to be independent from the UK and then throw itself into being completely ruled by the EU? That seems like a death wish to me, especially given what has happened to another very small EU country, Greece. In fact given the further powers acceded to the Scottish government, combined with the huge subsidies it receives from the UK exchequer, Scotland under the SNP is already as free a nation as ever it has been in its entire history, given that before its nobility sold itself out to England, it was that same nobility that ruled over the Scots with little to no care for their well being (in turn why so many left for Canada, America and Australia).

    What was wrong with Europe when we were all part of the EEC? It worked perfectly well because we all enjoyed shared trade and at the same time we all kept our national identities. By moving on to becoming a political union there has been nothing but dis-unity. Also in the act of creating a single currency all of Europe exposed itself to the big White Shark USA banks, along with all the European ones. Between insane political and monetary policies plus the out of control greed of Western banking, Europe is here and now in the process of being asset stripped.

    Not once during the UK referendum on the EU did any of the MSM so much as mention big USA banking interests in Europe. I wonder why?

    Multum In Parvo

    Liked by 1 person

    • Mike says

      Great post Vicky…but small correction: no one voted to join. There was no referendum before we joined the EEC under Ted “Grocer” Heath. The only referendum came in 1975, under Harold Wilson, on whether to stay in or not. (I voted “yes” to stay in, by the way. I was a Euro-enthusiast in those days).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Jay Sharpwit says

    Remainers need to remain with the knowledge you lost the vote.
    so please get on with your lives and have a nice day.

    Like

  9. Katie Russell says

    Brilliant article. I am a Lexiter who voted Remain!

    I have been a critic of the EU for many years, and planned throughout to vote Leave. But when the Leave campaign turned into (or was largely reported as) a racist anti-immigration fest (so depressing), I felt cornered, and had decided to spoil my ballot. Then on the day itself, a few things occurred to make me feel compelled to vote Remain – after weeks of sharing my Lexit views with anyone I could!

    I don’t regret voting Remain exactly, and don’t feel guilty, as those were the circumstances of the day. But certainly I’ve been horrified by the blatant class snobbery of some on the Remain side since. I’ve found it every single bit as vile as the racism of some on the Leave side. Bigotry is bigotry. I also think it’s been much more widespread.

    We on the left (Remainers, Leavers, and anything in between) need to unite now, and in a way, who voted what is no longer an issue, as what’s done is done. We all have lessons to learn, and all need to self-examine.

    Strangely, I’m quite hopeful. Partly because I’m the eternal optimist! But also, political re-engagement (or engagement for the first time) will hopefully result eventually in conversations we desperately need to have as a society, and more empathy & understanding all round. Well, here’s hoping…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well written and thoughtful article. I enjoyed reading it. And I totally agree that people should talk to each other, and empathise with each other, no matter what walk of life they may inhabit. However, I do not think the referendum on our membership of the EU, was decided by any real democratic process. For democracy to work, people need to be in possession of truth and facts. The reality of the referendum was, that most people who voted for Brexit, voted because they had innocently believed a bunch of lies told to them in the media, and hardly challenged by anyone at all in any position of power or influence.

    In my opinion, the whole thing was a set up. The result a foregone conclusion. Another example of democracy in name only, to provide an excuse for the continuation of oppression of those very voters who appear to have a choice. We only have to look at all the EU regulations that the Conservative led government of Britain had transgressed or ignored in the year leading up to the referendum to realise that there was never any question of us remaining in as members of the EU.

    However, I do agree, that this referendum has opened up our society in a positive way, opened people up to political power, opened people up to the need to talk to each other, and understand each other, and it is this, that is the most beneficial result of the referendum, not the future position of our country in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. mike lovar says

    To make it (working class in america white man simple): poor whites are scorned while poor everything else is either patronized, exploited ruthlessly (when possible to do so invisibly eg restaurant workers agricultural workers construction workers) ,or used as a very slick subterfuge against any anger from the often primarily working or poor white people of most of the west who didnt manage to get on the fabulous upper middle class platform in lifes big train station. Outside of all the big coastal cities beyond the reach of the wealthy and the intellectual elites there are millions of people just gettin along. The ONLY reason we deny it so readily here is that it is incredibly invisible in this huge country but only for now. I believe what this fellow is saying is being borne out by Trump and the reactions to him in a manner that is very similar. What is uncanny is how the neo liberals are literally following a formula. Wiithout a media willing or able to show the pure cynicism of their lies and smug satisfaction with their scheme it will not be challenged until the pressure to do so reaches an explosive point. Then as they say here in the US all bets are off. We do after all have a whole lot of firearms in those poor old mobile homes (trailers) and rundown towns in the rural hinterland. So we too are doing a brexit move of sorts a la trump and the neo libs are just besides themselves. They are despite their gloss, polish and educated guile very corrupt venal and basically greedy and petty. It’s not going to change without ugly here or there. No i dont write that well and I dont care but i do own some property i inherited from my working class family in a now fabulously overpriced former throwaway neighborhood in brooklyn. Cant wait to sell and escape.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. There are some basic, wrong assumptions in this account that prevent me following the argument:

    “This is what happens when you ignore vast swathes of the working class for twenty-five years … This vote provided them with a chance to make themselves heard in a way no other recent election had.” And what have they said? Nothing they voted for will come to pass (immigration; taking back control?) How will this change after Brexit? It won’t, surely.

    “People were shedding tears for a union that plunged the entire nation of Greece into a depression for the sake of a few German and French banks.” No, they were shedding tears because Brexit eliminated any possible chance of having a say about the inequalities of Europe or dong anything about what the German and French banks get up to in future.

    “For towns like Oldham, Boston and Merthyr Tydfil, large-scale immigration and globalisation … means constant flux, it means change they did not ask for, it means losing things, and it means more people to compete with for the jobs that were already thin on the ground.” And now all this is going to change is it? I don’t think so. Jobs will continue to be scarce, immigration will continue and no further investment will come to these towns which thus far have benefited from EU funding.

    “The inequality gap has grown so wide that there are students in London who genuinely cannot fathom why a poor young person living in Rochdale might not see the benefits of a gap year …” And that will all change now too will it? London has been separate from the rest of the country for year and that’s not going to change. The gap between rich and poor will close? No! The rich will continue to be divorced from the poor – perhaps more so under a Tory government with no opposition.

    “People who live in deprived communities are living in an environment of constant stress and thus will be more antagonistic towards immigrants as they watch their libraries, their community centres and their high streets all disappear for no clear reason.” Actually the clear reason is likely to be the lack of funds that result from Brexit i.e. they will be MORE deprived..

    “The propaganda pamphlets (or tabloids, as they are most commonly known) seize upon these vulnerable people and bombard them with scare stories about the immigrants. This whirlwind of disaffection, manipulative tycoons and the profit motive has created a breeding ground for hatred and fear.” Well, yes … that’s a pretty good description of the Brexiteers and their campaign!

    “Do we want democracy or do we want the self-selecting intelligent vanguard deciding for the rest?” Well, when democracy results in people voting against their own interests, it’s hard to know what the answer to that question is.

    Like

    • kevin morris says

      About as convincing as the argument often met that no longer will we be able to have stag parties in Prague.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jen says

      Well then perhaps you ought to write an article that carefully refutes what Durkan has said in his opinion piece (and it is only an opinion piece) and supports your beliefs with credible information showing that Britain will be worse off being outside the EU than within it and that EU funding to Britain really was going to distressed towns and social welfare, among all the other claims you make.

      While Britain was a card-carrying member of the EU, did you personally do much to have your say about the inequalities within Europe or do anything about what German and French banks were getting up to? Please do describe the process by which an ordinary EU citizen can make his or her opinion or recommendation heard by the EU Commission or passed on to the European Parliament for debate and legislation.

      Liked by 1 person

      • obie says

        Hear hear! For all the criticism of the lack of an exit plan, offered by people who preferred to stay and ‘fight from within’, I haven’t heard a single knowledgable description of exactly how that fight could be carried in an organisation where influence only flows one way – from top to bottom. The MEP’s can’t even lobby the Commission, let alone the ERT, who few of the many newly baptised patriotic Europeans seem to have even heard of!

        Liked by 1 person

    • Kim Smith says

      FOLLOWING THE BREXIT VOTE, FROM ACROSS THE POND, AS THEY USED TO SAY, HAS BEEN TRULY ENLIGHTENING. TO QUESTION THE RESULTS OF DEMOCRACY BY ONLY TAKING THIS VOTE INTO ACCOUNT, IS DISINGENUOUS, TO SAY THE LEAST. THE BREXIT VOTE NEEDS TO BE FOLLOWED UP WITH NEW LEADERSHIP AND NEW, BOLD IDEAS.

      HERE IN THE STATES, WE ARE HOLDING OUR OWN BREXIT VOTE, IN A WAY. THIS NOVEMBER WE WILL VOTE FOR HILLARY, WHICH IS COMPARABLE TO REMAIN, OR WE WILL VOTE TRUMP, EQUAL TO LEAVE….I PRAY WE GO WITH TRUMP….FOR CLOSE TO 50 YEARS, BOTH OF OUR COUNTRIES, IN FACT MOST OF THE WEST, HAS BEEN GOVERNED BY LEADERS WHO KEEP REHASHING AND USING THE SAME FAILED POLICIES. HERE IN THE STATES, THE MAJORITY OF OUR ELECTED OFFICIALS ARE ALL OF A SIMILAR AGE. MOST WERE RAISED BETWEEN THE 1950’S TO THE 1970’S. ALL TRAINED IN THE SAME HANDFUL OF COLLEGES AND SOME EVEN TAUGHT BY THE VERY SAME EDUCATORS. IN OTHER WORDS, THEY ARE ALL CLONES OF EACH OTHER. ADD TO THIS THE LOBBYISTS AND FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS WHO PAY HUGE SUMS, YEAR AFTER YEAR…ELECTION AFTER ELECTION…TO KEEP THESE PEOPLE ALL WORKING AND THINKING IN THE SAME DIRECTION.

      I PRAY WE VOTE TRUMP. THE LIBERAL LOONS HAVE CREATED CHAOS AND ANARCHY. THOSE WHO HAVE SPENT THEIR LIVES IN POLITICS, HAVE NOTHING WORTHWHILE TO CAMPAIGN ON. NO SUCCESS STORIES, NO THIRD WORLD NATION THAT CAN BE HELD UP AS A MODEL OF HOPE… 70 PLUS YEARS AFTER WW2 AND THE SAME THIRD WORLD NATIONS THAT WERE PLACES OF STARVATION AND DESPAIR BACK THEN ARE STILL NATIONS OF STARVATION AND DESPAIR TODAY…BUT THESE IDIOTIC LEADERS HAVE CAUSED ONE MAJOR CHANGE….THE COUNTRIES IN THE WEST WHO HAD ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO SEND SOME RELIEF TO THE POORER NATIONS, ARE NOW THEMSELVES BEING DESTROYED….POVERTY AND UNEMPLOYMENT ARE SOARING IN EVERY WESTERN COUNTRY. AS SO MANY OTHER POSTS ON THIS THREAD HAVE MENTIONED, GREECE IS DESTROYED…ONCE A TRULY DELIGHTFUL AND BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY….HUNGER AND DESPAIR ARE THEIR DAILY COMPANION….HERE, AT HOME, AMERICA HAS DEVOLVED INTO A HATE FILLED COUNTRY, WHERE DAILY RACE RIOTS ARE UNDER SIEGE AND THE PEOPLE ARE RAGING IN THE STREETS.

      PRESIDENT OBAMA, THE MAN WHO WE ALL HUNG SO MUCH HOPE ON…HAS BEEN AN ABYSMAL FAILURE…HIS WEAK LEADERSHIP HAS LED TO THE GLOBAL EPIDEMIC OF VIOLENCE. THIS MAN WHO COULD HAVE HEALED SO MANY SCARS, HE BEING A CHILD OF BOTH WHITE AND BLACK PARENTS, HAS CREATED MORE DIVISION THAN AMERICA HAS SEEN IN 70 YEARS. ADD TO THAT THE POLITICAL CORRECTNESS MENTALITY THAT IS MAKING INTELLIGENT PEOPLE LOSE THEIR COMMON SENSE. THE PC CULTURE JUST CAUSED A A 9 YEAR OLD BOY TO BE ARRESTED FOR ASKING FOR MORE DESSERT…HE ASKED FOR A BROWNIE AND A TEACHER WAS INSULTED THINKING HE WAS SAYING SOMETHING RACIST…THIS IS OBSCENE. WE NEED TRUMP LIKE A CAMEL NEEDS WATER…THE BRASH WAY THAT HE SPEAKS, HIS FANTASTIC BUSINESS SENSE, AND HIS BOLD WAY OF NOT BACKING DOWN, HIS PATRIOTISM, AND THE FEARLESS MANNER THAT HE USES WHEN DEALING WITH THE PRESS. I PRAY WE ALL WAKE UP AND REALIZE THAT HILLARY WILL JUST CONTINUE TO MAKE THE SAME DECISIONS THAT HAVE BEEN MADE SINCE SHE ENTERED POLITICS IN 1973…..SHE IS AN AGED WOMAN, FEEBLE IN MANY WAYS. SHE NAPS TWICE A DAY AND NEEDS AN HOUR REFRESHER BEFORE ANY EVENT….SHE WILL BE A TRUE GERIATRIC PRESIDENT. HER THOUGHTS AND IDEAS WILL BE AS TIRED AS HER 70 YEAR OLD MIND AND BODY. TRUMP, ON THE OTHER HAND, WHO THANKFULLY HAS NEVER BEEN A POLITICIAN…WILL BRING NEW IDEAS, VITALITY, INTELLIGENCE, BRAVADO, AND A SMUTTY MOUTH TO THE WHITE HOUSE…I PRAY THAT THIS WILL BE SO. SO TO MY COUSINS ACROSS THE POND….SAY A PRAYER FOR US IN NOVEMBER AND LETS PRAY TRUMP CHANGES ALL OF OUR LIVES FOR THE BETTER….

      Like

    • As an outsider, the way I’ve looked at it is this. People who argue like you are basically saying that, yes the EU is a right-wing, neo-liberal organisation, but if we leave the EU we will end up with an even more right-wing and neo-liberal government! Doesn’t that strike you? If your government is even more extreme than the EU then surely there’s something seriously wrong with the whole thing!

      My opinion as an outsider from the start has been that the best thing for the UK would be to leave the EU, and then vote in Corbyn. As far as I can see that is the only way to get any real progress. People who believe that by staying in the EU they can somehow reform it for the better from the inside are living in la-la-land as far as I can see; if that’s your argument, why haven’t you been reforming it all these decades you’ve been in it?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. proximity1 says

    Wow! That rare thing in contemporary journalism! : a genuine “I was wrong” column.

    So, given that, I don’t want to be unduly hard on this rare person who can not only see but also admit his mistake. To him I say, Good for you! At least you can learn! That’s much more than I can say for most. And, to the others who can’t admit they now recognize–too late–that they were chumps, I repeat: the viciously scorned and ridiculed people of the “Leave” campaign–not the spoiled and privileged of that campaign’s leadership but the very hard-pressed people who had both their backs against the wall and the good sense to understand how and why that happened: these people saved the rest of youfrom YOURSELVES! (you ungrateful band of dip-shit mother-fuckers!)

    Like

  14. I agree with most of this Stephen. Those who attack the ‘poor saps duped by Gove & Farage’ show no recognition of being duped themselves into conflating EU with real internationalism. What they they doshow is remarkable ignorance/memory failure in respect of such as Greece’s shafting last year, TTIP, and the EU’s growing role as political-economic wing of NATO in its insanely dangerous provocations of Russia. (Interestingly, David “Dr Death” Owen actually cited that last, albeit in mangled fashion, in his own arguments for Leave – which just goes to show the ruling class doesn’t always speak as one, not even on such crucial matters of imperialist rivalry.)

    I agree too that there’s been a scurrilous kicking of “the plebs” over Brexit. It seems when you scratch a nice guy liberal/soft left cosmopolitan, you may hit that well of venomous contempt for ‘white trash’ – a species too lowlife to be protected by political correctness.

    Where I part company is over the strategic question. Though Lexit had a better, more closely argued grasp of the issue, none of the Lexiters I spoke with – in CP, SWP, Socialist Party (i.e. Militant) and Socialist Equality Party (i.e. one of the unfathomable splinters from Gerry “Diabolical Materialism” Healey’s WRP) – had a convincing answer on how ,b> at this particular juncture Brexit/Lexit would advance working people’s interests. Thanks to its toxicity for the tories, we haven’t heard a left critique of the EU in decades, meaning the Lexit voice was drowned out by xenophobia and Little Englandism. That’s why Brexit was welcomed with such rapture not by the left – who’ve been pretty damn quiet, all things considered – but by a jubilant far right the length and breadth of Europe.

    But we are where we are, and there’s much to do. Worth checking out is this piece by Paul Mason – another peg-on-nose Remainer – in Le Monde the other week.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Note to off-Guardian. I realised after posting my comment that my embedded link takes the reader off-site. This isn’t the case with links in actual posts and I wouldn’t have included one had I known. Is there a fix to this? I’m no HTML ace.

      Like

    • reinertorheit says

      Worth checking out is this piece by Paul Mason

      Frankly I’ve never found a single thing written by Paul Mason – a venomous New World Order thug still living on his “d’y’know, I once worked at Channel 4” byline – to be ‘worth checking out’. Quite the reverse. The poisonous nark Mason largely ticks all the same boxes as his rodent-like counterpart at the Spectator, Damian Thompson, but with two small differences.

      (1) Thompson’s bilious tosh is occasionally leavened with a note of humour and a dash of prose talent, neither of which the lugubrious ogre Mason possesses. (2) Thompson is enormously better paid.

      Avoid like Polly Toynbee’s soiled underwear.

      Like

  15. Willem says

    Since the author is dissapointed by Ben Goldacre who propagandized ‘Remain’ by using non-scientific arguments (and non-scientific language), he (and others who share the author’s dissappointment of Goldacre’s writing about the ‘losers’ who dared to vote Brexit) may find the following essay from David Cromwell (of MediaLens), written in 2012, interesting to read: http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2012/702-bad-pharma-bad-journalism.html

    In the essay, Cromwell explains (by summarizing an astute piece from an anonymous blogger) that it is easier for Goldacre to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism. Which is the reason why Goldacre is doing so well in mainstream journalism. He is a critic of corporate systems, but his criticism is, in the end, not challenging capitalism at all. He did not in his supposedly highly critical analyses in the Guardian about the pharmaceutical industry (as Cromwell explains) and he did not criticise the corporate system by propagandizing the remain vote by calling Brexiteers ‘losers’.

    It is this believe of Goldacre (and with that of every mainstream journalist who is not troubled with cognitive dissonance) that the framework of corporate capitalism is good, what makes him self-righteous and succesful in the mainstream media. He probably believed every word he said when he wrote about the Leave campaign. Because Remain did not challenge this supposedly ‘good’ corporate framework. So no science needed to insult those who beg to differ.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. rtj1211 says

    ‘Talk to your competitors’?

    How can capitalists do that?

    My experience in life has been every time I have shared anything with anyone out of generosity, it is thrown back in my face with them stealing it, trashing me and then claiming how useless I am.

    It’s called ‘being ambitious’. I’ve seen it from HEI Professors, finance professionals, management consultants, marketing professionals, consultant doctors, entrepreneurs, multimillionaires.

    Their aim is ‘getting on’ and they do it by crushing anyone who stands up to them.

    There’s no societal value in talking, sharing or being generous.

    None.

    Is that the problem??

    Liked by 1 person

    • reinertorheit says

      I wonder if you have anything of substance to say about Brexit and the EU – or are you just here on an Oh-Poor-Me whine?

      For someone keen to gripe about having what’s yours stolen by persons unknown, you seem remarkably ready to make your pay packet available to Federica Mogherini, so that she can use it to start her European Union Army project. What’s that going to cost, do we know? But if she has her way, her army will be marching along Nevsky Prospect quite soon – to keep the appointment for a Victory Reception Ball at the Astoria Hotel that somehow fell flat the last time, in 1944.

      Liked by 1 person

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