Brexit: an idea whose time has passed?

One view of our divided country is that it was always a land of potential Leavers and Remainers, the rift being merely exposed by the referendum. On this theory, Remainers were born rather than made and Leavers, like leopards, will never change their spots.

Yet the truth is that Leavers comprise all sorts of people, as do Remainers. They are not a different species. I am coming round to the view that our current turmoil is not the fault of the people themselves, so much as the power of a virulent ideology that has swept the country like a tsunami, sweeping away common sense, but which is now slowly evaporating.

It has happened before: ideas have taken hold with a force disproportionate to their merit, and caused mayhem. There are reasons why these belief systems gain traction. Let us look at a couple of examples.

Lysenkoism

In the Soviet Union of the 1930’s, the policy of forced collectivisation had produced widespread famines. The claims of a peasant, Trofim Lysenko, that weeds could be transformed into wheat or barley and food production quickly boosted by unscientific methods, were eagerly seized on by Stalin.

The Communist Party’s powerful propaganda machine denounced opponents of Lysenkoism, branding them enemies of the state. (3000 scientists were dismissed, imprisoned or executed). An unworkable doctrine thus became the accepted dogma. Lysenkoism caused enormous long term damage to soviet science, agriculture and the economy.

Translated into present day Britain, that reads as follows:

The policy of austerity had produced widespread discontent. The claims of a self-styled man of the people, Nigel Farage, that Britain could be transformed into a global power and that Britons could have their cake and eat it, were eagerly seized on by Theresa May’s government.  

Their powerful propaganda wing – the Brexit press – denounced opponents as saboteurs and remoaners, branding them enemies of the people. An unworkable doctrine thus became the accepted dogma. Brexit threatens to cause enormous long term damage to the British economy.

The Unification Church

Remember the Moonies? If you were around in the 1960’s like me, you probably will. So called after the founder, the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, they were said to be a sinister cult who seduced people away from their families, promising salvation through sex and free love.

The nearest I got to that was driving around in a flower power van, but more impressionable youngsters were turned against their families and brainwashed by the cult’s teachings , whilst being fleeced of any money and possessions. Desperate parents, grieving for the loss of their loved ones, attempted to locate and “deprogram” their sons and daughters, often with limited success.

What the cult of the Moonies had in common with Brexit Britain was the isolation and impoverishment of its victims. It was dressed up as a spiritual movement, but its ulterior purpose was the amassment of huge wealth by its founder. In the same way, Brexit has been dressed up as a patriotic protest, but its true purpose, as Nick Clegg made clear, is to make the very rich very much richer, by removing the protections and regulations of the EU.

Today, our continental neighbours have reluctantly given up hope of persuading us to remain within our European family, and are resigned to the loss. And who can blame them, for to deprogram either Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May would be a challenge indeed. Nevertheless, they would welcome us back with open arms if we turned up on their doorstep.

So what happened to the Moonies? They faded from the limelight amid scandal and disillusion, though the Reverend Moon retained considerable political power and influence until he died in 2012.  These cults are no fleeting fads or fashions, they can last quite a long time: Lysenkoism persisted for over thirty years, sustained by an uncritical media.

How long will Brexit last?

Brexit is an edifice of fantasy resting on no solid foundation, which is already crumbling at the approach of reality.  It is a time expired idea which has lost much of its initial gloss. If Vince Cable is right, it might never take place at all.

Other commentators are less optimistic, Polly Toynbee predicting an indefinite stalemate.

In my view, much will depend on the tactics of Britain’s rightwing press. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that Rupert Murdoch might change his mind – he has done so before. If he decided for example that he could sell more copies of the Sun by exposing Brexit as a con, that might be the lethal blow that puts Brexit out of its misery.

But I’m not betting on it.

 

* John King is a retired doctor and Remain campaigner.

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60 Comments

  • On the subject of weird cults – I bumped into Nigel Farage recently during a visit to the First War Battlefield in Flanders. He was making a film about VC winners with the former Tory donor Lord Michael Ashroft. I think the EU Parliament was still in session at the time – but hey – even Nigel needs a bit of R & R.

    I had it in mind to ask the Mrs Murton question, “Tell me, Nigel, what first attracted you to the non dom expat (net worth 1.6 billion dollars) Michael Ashcroft ?”

    Alas, he skedaddled tout suite before I could….. but watch out for an Ashcroft/Farage party emerging.

  • Joseph Bourke 24th Jul '17 - 8:16pm

    That’s an interesting confluence of ideas, John – Brexit, Lysenkoism and the Moonies.

    Monetary Unions have developed into closer political unions in the past. Germany’s 19th-century Zollverein, or customs union, is an example of how economic union can be used to pave the way for political union. It was built up gradually during the 19th century with the aim of increasing trade, and thus political unity, between the fragmented states of the German Confederation. The Zollverein proved successful and helped to secure the political unification of Germany in 1871, at the end of the Franco-Prussian war.

    EU monetary union began with the 1972 “currency snake” system, so-called because the currencies of the six participants (France, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg), were only allowed to fluctuate against each other by a margin of 2.25%, like the undulations of a snake.

    In 1979, the European monetary system was launched with eight states forming part of a snake-like exchange rate system that was to evolve into the more rigid ERM (exchange rate mechanism). The ecu, a currency unit whose value was determined by a basket of European currencies, was also created.

    Britain finally deigned to join the ERM in 1990, but was forced out on Black Wednesday in September 1992, when international currency speculators attacked the pound. The ERM soldiered on without Britain and five other states until the 1992 Maastricht treaty laid the foundation for the current Euro.

    The political ramifications of the Eurozone and the position of EU members outside the monetary union are still playing out. I have a feeling that Polly Toynbee could be right about an indefinite or prolonged stalemate.

  • Graham Evans 24th Jul '17 - 9:32pm

    Unless the UK is able to rescind Brexit we will leave the EU before the next Euro-elections. Even if there is a transition period which lasts indefinitely we will technically no longer be members and therefore no longer entitled to send MEPs to the European Parliament.

  • Perhaps that is the solution, in the EU without our MEP’s the money saved could be classed as a rebate, declare victory and move on. A win, win for everyone 😉

  • I don’t think so. I think From the 1990s onwards and especially under Blair there was an attempt to recast Britain as a sort of Island New York, with a mythology based on the ideas cobbled together from bits of the End of history and identity politics. It lasted under 30 years because actually most people don’t see lands without borders as that attractive and aren’t really convinced that the Nation state is a bad thing. Rather than being anything that new or cultish, what brought about Brexit was very old ideas about Nationhood. The EU is only 25 years old. Most of the big changes only happen between 1999 and 2010. Very recent history. Referendums were promised from 1992 even by the Lib Dems and when there was one the Britain’s commitment to EU fell at first hurdle. To me the rhetoric of faux futurism, a new Britain with a changed psyche. interconnectedness, unity and so on sounds more like something from USSR than anything this article attacks.

  • Eddie Sammon 24th Jul '17 - 11:05pm

    I’m still pro soft brexit (to respect the referendum result) but the party needs to go big on Labour’s new open support for the hardest of brexits. Liberals should start deserting the party and break away from Corbyn cultists and join the Lib Dems.

  • David Evershed 24th Jul '17 - 11:06pm

    John King is suffering from the five stages of grief suffered by those who have a loss.

    The five stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the loss.

    John seems to be still at denial that Remain lost.

  • Peter Martin 24th Jul '17 - 11:21pm

    @ John King,

    “Brexit, Lysenkoism and the Moonies.”

    This is pathetically desperate stuff. Look, there’s arguments either way for the EU. The Remain case failed because no-one could make an optimistic case for it. It was all about how things might have been bad then, but they’d be even worse if we left.

    How about making start and showing some optimism? If it’s not too late that is!

  • Frankie
    We would return to 1979, when the UK nominated / appointed MEPs, because the British people “couldn’t be trusted” with those elections!

  • To Martin. Thanks for your positive comments on my article. I have not seen comparisons to Lysenkoism and other ideologies made anywhere else and was unsure what the reaction would be. You are quite right that too many people are going through the motions of collaborating with Brexit against their better judgement – people like AC Grayling have called for a general uprising but we haven’t quite reached that tipping point.

  • Glenn
    Is Sikkim a nation?

  • Bill Fowler 25th Jul '17 - 7:33am

    If the Conservatives are the party of big business and most large companies want to stay in the EU it might suggest that just about anything could happen next. The failure of politicians to get over the message of all the rights normal people are going to lose due to Brexit is rather annoying… I hope that Vince Cable with be banging on about all the things that he can do with the money saved by staying in the EU (due to revived tax receipts). A big bribe seems what the electorate likes, re Labour’s student fees and the last election, which appealed as much to the parents of the students as it did to the students themselves.

  • jayne Mansfield 25th Jul '17 - 8:27am

    @ John King,
    Perhaps people have not been brainwashed.

    Perhaps ordinary people who have not done well out of globalisation are just fed up and think that ‘a change is as good as a rest’.

    Maybe they can’t articulate their dis-satisfaction with their lives and the changes that are taking place around them ( See Sir William Wallaces’s excellent lecture) in a coherent and erudite manner, but they are dis-satisfied. And what is more they are fed up with clever people telling them that they shoudn’t be dis-satisfied.

    Just as on example, locals in London have been thrilled when their area is to undergo redevelopment, a pleasant environment is important to people. Imagine the anger when they find that for example , every flat in a new development goes to a foreign investor who has no interest in the area other than it is a means of providing some disinterested investor cash. And who are these shadowy trusts who are depriving first time buyers of homes?

    When people are angry they often find the wrong target for their anger, and can easily be persuaded to do so, when politicians are unprepared to listen to their concerns and act upon them.

  • William Ross 25th Jul '17 - 8:30am

    All I can do is shake my head in disbelief when a LibDem author can compare his fellow citizens to Lysenko and the Moonies. You are utterly deluded.

  • John King…You make wild assumptions..”I am coming round to the view that our current turmoil is not the fault of the people themselves, so much as the power of a virulent ideology that has swept the country like a tsunami, sweeping away common sense, but which is now slowly evaporating.”……

    So people are like sheep…they have been hypnotised into abandoning common sense and are now starting to wake up?…
    Most ‘Leavers’ I know knew what they wanted; they had been dissatisfied with Brussels for many years (and many reasons) and are NOT changing their minds…If anything, polls show little change in position over the last 12 months…

    Pretending otherwise is just wishful thinking and, trying to convince them to change by treating them like brainwashed ‘Moonies’ ( in need of de-programming’), is just insulting and counter-productive…

    BTW…People buy tabloid newspapers because they re-inforce their views not because they want them changed…Just read the comments section of the Mail/Express/Sun

  • I am coming round to the view that our current turmoil is not the fault of the people themselves, so much as the power of a virulent ideology that has swept the country like a tsunami, sweeping away common sense, but which is now slowly evaporating

    Except that polls for twenty years, since the mid-1990s, have shown that a majority of people in the UK favour either leaving the EU, or significant repatriation of powers from the EU to the UK.

    With Cameron’s failed renegotiation showing the latter was not on offer, you can pretty much count those two groups together as a majority for leaving the EU, as happened.

    This isn’t a sudden tide that came form nowhere and is now receding just as sharply: the UK population has been solidly majority Eurosceptical for decades. It’s just been hidden at elections because both of the main parties have been Europhile, the only difference being one of degree.

    If he decided for example that he could sell more copies of the Sun by exposing Brexit as a con, that might be the lethal blow that puts Brexit out of its misery.

    At least you tacitly admit here that Murdoch must follow public opinion: he doesn’t have a mass-hypnosis ray that makes people do his will.

  • To Expats. Yes, it’s true that some ‘Leavers’ ARE like leopards who won’t change their spots, many do have genuine grievances and quite a few are people I admire – John Cleese, Michael Portillo and others. You will notice the title of this piece has a question mark, I am exploring alternative views here – Brexit is complex and there is no universal theory which is all explanatory. Regarding the tabloids, I think they do both, they confirm opinion and they shape it.

  • jayne Mansfield 25th Jul '17 - 10:08am

    @ Bill Fowler,
    ‘A big bung is what the electorate likes’.

    Do you mean a bung such as clamping down on employers who bring in workers from impoverished former communist countries to undercut British workers?

  • As soon as somebody says people were misled, somebody else says, “So you think they’re sheep!”. (Expats 25th 8.50) No, I don’t. And yes, the public at large has been fairly Eurosceptic for the last twenty years. But that is because the public at large has been lied to for the last twenty years and more by the right wing media. When a large proportion of the news is based on lies and misrepresentation, it is not surprising that many people come to believe the drip feed.

    And, David (24th, 11.06), we lost. But we are not in denial. In numbers, yes, we lost by a wafer thin majority. But I refuse to give up the fight because of a wafer thin majority won on the basis of a monumental campaign of lies, deception and misinformation.

    I do also blame the remain campaign for being so feeble. But it was not because they “could” not make an optimistic case, Peter (24th, 11.21) it was because the campaign was appallingly organised and run.

    I am sticking to campaign on a platform of Remain and Reform. I have a democratic right to do so, and also a duty, because I believe it is in the country’s best interests. As Project Fear becomes Project Reality day by day, more and more people are coming to that conclusion. That’s what happens – people change their minds. It is profoundly undemocratic to make people stick forever to a fleeting judgement based on such an extraordinary foundation of lies.

  • @ Jayne Mansfield “(See Sir William Wallace’s excellent lecture)”

    I hope you don’t mind me very gently pulling your leg, Jayne, but I would have loved to have heard such a lecture from Sir William Wallace – (it would have been coherent and erudite about tyrannical and oppressive government from London) but I’m afraid we’re over 700 years too late……. though there are impressive statues in Stirling and Bemersyde in the Borders.

    Our William is a Lord (of Saltaire) and is not the least bit grand – though both he and his wife, Helen, combine being extremely nice with being extremely able, coherent and erudite …….. In my opinion the very best sort of Liberals..

  • I know brave Breiteers want to move on, if I’d made such a bad mistake I’d want to move on too. Chlorinated chicken anyone?

  • I don’t Leave voters were anymore were misled than remain voters. I do think it was a rejection of what the EU represents , but I think it was down to culture not economics. I think broadly one argument is based on the idea (idealisation?) of fluid communities and a world with minimal borders and the other of nations with fixed borders. I think this is why the leave vote was more rural/suburban. older and whiter. I think that economics was supposed to trump ideas a lot commentators find uncomfortable and are still trying to argue round.

  • Chlorinated chicken anyone?

    That’s the big deal with this? I’ve been to the USA, I ate chicken while I was there. Presumably it had been disinfected with chlorine. I have no problem with that.

    If people care that much they can buy chicken marked ‘made in Britain’.

  • William Ross 25th Jul '17 - 11:00am

    Frankie

    I have no intention of moving on and I also have no problem with chlorinated chicken.
    Neither does the EU Food Authority. How mindless can you get?

    I just want to quote something from the deranged article: ” … [Brexit`s] true purpose, as Nick Clegg made clear, is to make the very rich very much richer by removing the protections and regulations of the EU”. I am open-mouthed at the wild conspiracy theory behind this nonsense. So I am a mere plaything of Arron Banks? This is the type of language you encounter in the Protocols. It is all sinister plutocrats controlling everything.

    Even if you put the conspiracy nonsense aside, is there anything to stop the British people enacting such protections and regulations as they see fit after Brexit , or is that also controlled by shadowy plutocrats?

  • Any analysis of why Britain voted to leave the EU needs to consider the historical context. Support for the EU has oscillated around the 50% mark for decades. Were the reasons why over 60% wanted to leave back in the early 1980s the same or similar as today?

    ‘European Union membership – trends’:
    https://www.ipsos.com/ipsos-mori/en-uk/european-union-membership-trends

    Q If there were a referendum now on whether Britain should stay in or get out of the European Union, how would you vote?

  • In answer to the question are people like sheep, actually we are, we tend to follow the flock. After all if calls to follow the will of the people even if it’s to jump off a cliff are not a call to act like sheep what is.

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Jul '17 - 11:08am

    Glenn,
    I agree, culture was very important in the Leave vote, as shown by the many people in polls who think they will be worse off as a result but still want Brexit.
    Partly vbehind this were decades of lies about the “undemocratic” EU, when it is objectively more democratic than the UK with our House of Lords and unrepresentative voting system.
    But also it is generational. Young people do not see the value of nation states, and unlike political leaning I do not think that will change as they get older. If we could only have waited a few more years, Remain would have won.. That is why the Brexiteers are so scared of another referendum…

  • frankie 25th Jul ’17 – 11:05am………..In answer to the question are people like sheep, actually we are, we tend to follow the flock. After all if calls to follow the will of the people even if it’s to jump off a cliff are not a call to act like sheep what is………..

    So, those who voted ‘Leave’ were sheep…Where-as those who voted ‘Remain’ ? And, as for those who didn’t vote either way??????

  • Glenn “I don’t Leave voters were anymore were misled than remain voters.”

    Well, I disagree fundamentally. The entire leave campaign was a lie. Even its own architects have admitted that they would not have won without those lies. And the lies were repeated over and over again, day after day (and not properly callenged by the media).

    The £350 million we pay to the EU – a lie; and we’ll spend it on the NHS – a lie they repudiated the minute the referendum was over.

    Turkey is going to join soon – a lie; and there’s nothing we can do about it – a lie.

    There will be a European army soon – a lie; and there’s nothing we can do about it – a lie.

    Over and over again; the scale was monumental and people were misled.

    No, I will not accept a result based on that monumental scale of lying.

  • Andrew Macaig’
    I respectfully disagree. Young people are more cautious and more prone to peer pressure than most people think. For instance there was a lot of facebook policing in the EU referendum. I know young leave voters who had to close down their accounts. Once out of the EU, it becomes the political norm and thus the dynamics change. I think this is why contrary to this article there is no major pro-EU groundswell and why the Lib Dems vote in the GE actually went down. Obviously, the situation could change given the right or wrong circumstances,

  • The problem for the LIb Dem Continuity Remain party is that they compare apples with oranges thus anything bad is automatically to do with Brexit or is worse because of Brexit yet anything that the EU is planning is not factored in ie EU precepts/EU Army/Freedom of Movement. It’s as if Japan, Canada or the ROW outside the EU doesn’t exist.

    Perhaps they are so psychologically, orthodoxically compromised they don’t think anywhere else does!

  • The problem for the LIb Dem Continuity Remain party is that they compare apples with oranges thus anything bad is automatically to do with Brexit or is worse because of Brexit yet anything that the EU is planning is not factored in

    Also, they’re for free trade and single markets — but only with the EU, a free trade deal with the USA would be terrible because we’d have the option to (not ‘have to’) eat chicken which has been disinfected (I don’t know about you but I might actually prefer my food to be free of salmonella actually).

    Whereas all EU regulations are blessed by Brussels and therefore wonderful.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Jul '17 - 12:45pm

    Stalin needed hard currency.
    The west assumed (common sense?) that the USSR had had a good harvest or they would not be exporting large quantities of grain.
    The consequence was a famine in the Ukraine.
    Please see Lenin’s comments about “useful idiots”, influential people such as George Bernard Shaw.

  • David Allen 25th Jul '17 - 1:09pm

    Speaking as a fervent Remainer, I think the Moonie analogy is deeply unhelpful.

    If we are to reverse the referendum decision, it will only be because large numbers of Leave voters change their minds and make that known. That is possible, though it will require some difficult re-thinking, and not a little humility, on the part of Leave voters.

    Telling Leave voters that they are fanatical nutcases is not the way to their hearts!

    Telling Leave voters that Brexit just turns out to be much harder to do than the Brexiteers said it would be might have a bit more traction – it is, after all, true. But even then, expect many Leave voters to mutter to themselves “So they think I’m stupid, huh?” and resist a re-think. For the avoidance of doubt, I guess we all tend to resist a re-think. Leave voters, as a whole, are probably no more entrenched in their views than anybody else.

    Leave voters will need kind words. They will need to be told that some of their concerns are valid, that Remainers share them, and Remainers will do their best to get something done about them. Then, Leave voters might take the emotionally difficult step of changing their minds.

    Calling them as mad as the Moonies is grossly counter-productive!

  • Joseph Bourke 25th Jul '17 - 1:36pm

    Jayne,

    “Imagine the anger when they find that for example , every flat in a new development goes to a foreign investor who has no interest in the area other than it is a means of providing some disinterested investor cash.”

    I think we should be cautious about demonising foreign investors. This anger could also describe the attitude of Spanish/Cypriot/Maltese citizens priced out by British investors buying holiday homes all around the Mediterranean in the early noughties, rather than just staying in the local resort hotels.

  • Laurence Cox 25th Jul '17 - 2:21pm

    Lysenkoism and the Moonies both happened because those in power told the “Big Lie”

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Joseph Goebbels)

    Brexit is slightly different; although the Leave campaign told some whoppers (like £350 million/week), they didn’t have complete control of the people they were telling them to. So you cannot think of Brexit as being like either Lysenkoism or the Moonies.

    The problem, as I see it, is that there were some genuine grievances which we may tag with the term “left behind” as long as we remain aware that any tag is an oversimplification of a complex situation. William Wallace’s Beveridge Lecture http://www.socialliberal.net/2017_william_beveridge_lecture explores this in more detail. These grievances were exploited by certain politicians and parts of the media with the result that a narrow majority of those voting in the referendum voted to leave the EU without those promoting Leave making it clear what leaving meant.

    So it is not sufficient to hope that Brexit will not happen; if it does not in the end, that is a bonus; we also need to deal with the internal inequalities within the UK inside or outside the EU. Remaining in the EU without addressing the inequalities is a recipe for another populist to come along with simplistic solutions to complex problems.

  • jayne Mansfield 25th Jul '17 - 3:45pm

    @David Raw,
    You can pull my leg as often as you like David, ( metaphorically speaking of course).

    As a 60’s man- hating feminist, I have a self deprecating sense of humour, although all humour dissipates when I read some of the posts on here.

    As someone who remembers such dreadful competitions, I fully understood the comment of someone who described voting in the GE as akin to voting in an ugly baby contest.

  • @ Jayne I’m afraid I have to agree, Jayne. Nuff said.

  • jayne Mansfield 25th Jul '17 - 4:50pm

    @ Jo Bourke,
    As far as I know individuals did not buy property to keep it empty for more than a decade because it was just an investment rather a utility.

    I am deeply concerned, not only about the selling off of the family silver, but the sort of people we are selling it to.

  • Telling Leave voters that Brexit just turns out to be much harder to do than the Brexiteers said it would be might have a bit more traction – it is, after all, true. But even then, expect many Leave voters to mutter to themselves “So they think I’m stupid, huh?” and resist a re-think

    I am amused by people who think that telling the British public that something will be difficult makes it more likely they will change their minds. Have these people ever met the British public? Telling them something is difficult, or painful, or especially that it cannot be done, won’t make them give up; it will have the opposite result, make them even more focussed in their bloody-minded determination to prove everybody wrong and do it.

  • Rob Parsons 25th Jul '17 - 4:58pm

    James 12.06 and Dav 12.12 nobody I know is that blinkered about the rest of the world or that starry eyed about the EU. That’s why the catchphrase has become “Remain and reform”. And we are realistic about the distribution of power. In an equal world we would indeed have a choice about whether to eat chlorinated chicken. But the imbalance of power between the USA and the UK outside the EU will be so immense that our “negotiators” (I cannot bring myself to use that term without irony) will give away the crown jewels to get access to the American market. And we will have no choice about chicken because bad chicken will drive out good chicken. As has been said elsewhere, they will get to sell us fracking and chlorinated chicken and we will get to sell them the NHS.

  • Rob Parsons 25th Jul '17 - 5:00pm

    Laurence 2.21 pm – I agree completely. There are inequalities in this country that desperately need to be addressed. They are not being addressed by Tories or Labour. And they will not be addressed by leaving the EU; in fact, they are likely to get worse.

  • That’s why the catchphrase has become “Remain and reform”.

    But we know the EU will never reform in the direction we want it to, ie, becoming less of a political union and more of a simply economic union. All signs are that it will reform in the opposite direction instead, the direction of making EU institutions more powerful.

    And we will have no choice about chicken because bad chicken will drive out good chicken

    That’s rubbish: people are willing to pay a premium for all sorts of silly stuff; witness the proliferation of stuff with ‘Organic’ labels sold to gullible people for twice the price of the other stuff which is perfectly fine. If people are willing to pay for non-chlorine-washed chicken, then someone will be willing to sell it to them.

    As has been said elsewhere, they will get to sell us fracking and chlorinated chicken and we will get to sell them the NHS.

    (a) we already have fracking.

    (b) what exactly is wrong with chlorinated chicken? if it has less salmonella on it I think that’s probably a good thing. I certainly wouldn’t want my drinking water unchlorinated.

    (c) If they want to provide NHS services, as long as they are free at the point of delivery, and they can do it more efficiently than our current lot, then good for them. It’s not like the NHS doesn’t already run on private contractors: that’s what GPs are.

  • Rob Parsons 25th Jul '17 - 5:41pm

    Dav

    We don’t know the EU will never reform in the way we want – we’ve never tried. We’ve always fought rather than negotiated.

    Chlorinated chicken: chlorine is used to cover for lack of health procedures in the rearing of the chicken; it can also be used by unscrupulous producers to cover imperfections in the meat. And we do have chicken wthout salmonella already; we don’t need chlorine to make it so.

    Price: it’s not about willingness, it’s about what people can afford. Of course some people will exercise the choice to pay more. Many don’t have the money to make that choice.

    Fracking: in minute quantities, and fracking firms are going off the idea as the extent of their unpopularity is making lenders nervous.

    NHS: yes, commercial provision at the behest of the payer (the taxpayer) and free at the point of service is fine, and would continue to be fine. But what we see is an NHS more and more being run in the interests of the commercial providers than of the users. And that will increase markedly if we open the market to American providers, because they will use their strength in the negotiations, and Liam Fox’s gullibility to get the deal they want.

  • What is wrong with chlorinated chicken is the wrong question, the question you should ask is why do they need to chlorinate it. Now you may think a chemical approach to kill germs is the best solution in which case fine, or if not you have a problem or you will have soon. Tis likely to be the same for GM food.

  • David Allen 25th Jul '17 - 5:59pm

    Dav,

    “Have these people ever met the British public? Telling them something is difficult, or painful, or especially that it cannot be done, won’t make them give up; it will have the opposite result, make them even more focussed in their bloody-minded determination to prove everybody wrong and do it.”

    Sadly, you’re quite right, about quite a lot of the British people at any rate – Remainers as well as Leavers. But, do you take pride in bloody-minded denialism? If so, why?

  • Nick Collins 25th Jul '17 - 6:27pm

    Do you remember this?

    “They said that it couldn’t be done
    With a grin he set right to it
    He tackled that thing that couldn’t be done
    … And he couldn’t do it”

  • Peter Brand 25th Jul '17 - 9:04pm

    Thanks for a very interesting discussion.

    Here’s some optimism for Peter Martin: Boris Johnson’s prediction that Brexit will be a Titanic success is coming true – it’s heading for an iceberg and will be sunk. Then we and the rest of Europe will be able to continue to lead the world together towards peace, increasing prosperity, decreasing inequality and the rights of ordinary people over corporations and the very rich.

  • David Allen,
    I dunno if it’s about denialism. I think quite a lot of British people pretty much lik a lot of people elsewhere in the world are quit happy are quite happy not joining in when over-amped cheerleaders tell them that they’ve got join in or they will miss-out on all the fun. I think a lot of this is about the failure of EU fans to convince people that Nation states are a thing of the past, that putting up a fence or two is mean and that they shouldn’t be so parochial.

  • To Joseph Bourke: The main aim behind this present post was to give a historical perspective to Brexit, on the basis that understanding the past gives a clue to what is happening in the present and what may happen in the future. What took place in Germany is especially relevant, as you say. Dav also makes the valid point that Brexit didn’t just come out of the blue, it had antecedents which made it an event waiting to happen.

  • Richard Dean 26th Jul '17 - 10:11am

    Bred it must be one of the most stupid decisions the British electorate has been conned into making for a long time. Something went wrong, and our national culture and consciousness was hijacked by crazy Leaviacs! But we’re unlikely to change now unless there’s something new on offer.

    Something like a new, positive vision of Britain in Europe.

    A Britain that is prosperous and free to choose to be in Europe, and that is prosperous and free precisely because we have freely chosen to be in Europe.

  • Peter Martin 26th Jul '17 - 1:29pm

    @ Peter Brand,

    You’re saying that the UK could end up being sunk like the Titanic if Brexit does, as you expect, go badly.

    That’s not really optimism. You’re just making the same point that was made ad nauseum in the referendum campaign. If we thought life was bad with austerity and the EU just wait until we had no EU but still the austerity!

    You may turn out to be right about a future EU leading their citizens to greater prosperity with less inequality etc etc. But, if its track record in recent years is anything to go by, you probably won’t be.

  • jayne mansfild 27th Jul '17 - 9:12am

    @ David Allen,
    I am not sure that the electorate is in a mood to be told anything. Trying to turn leave voters into remain voters might be harder than it seems, even for the most consummate of politicians.

    The reason for my negative view comes from the a report by the National Centre for Social Research.

    ‘British Social attitudes: The vote to leave the EU, litmus test or lightening rod?’

    The window of opportunity for changing views seems very small given the nature of the task.

    @ Richard Dean,
    Are you the Richard Dean who used to post regularly on here? You were about to marry when I used to read your posts.

  • To Jayne Mansfild. I did try to access that report you mention but it’s difficult to determine when the work was done, as opposed to when it was published.. It seems to refer mainly to increased euroscepticism in the immediate aftermath of the referendum, reflecting anti-immigrant sentiment following on from the Leave campaign. This has abated a bit in recent times as the more accurate term freedom of movement has become more commonly used. There is a general perception that change is in the air.

  • jayne Mansfield 29th Jul '17 - 8:34am

    @ John King,
    As the report states, the data was collected between June and November 2016.

    The reason I mentioned the survey was to point out that it is important to understand why people voted in the way they did, rather than assume. Unless one understands this, one can’t address and put forward arguments that might change their mind.

    What the survey found was the relationship between educational attainment and a vote to leave. This in turn demonstrates the link between educational attainment, social class and age.

    The survey makes Labour’s position understandable. They have a party that comprises both middle class, educated , liberal professionals and also traditional working class voters, many of whom tend to be socially conservative. They are attempting to remain appealing to both groups.

    I would argue that if a predominantly middle class party like the Liberal Democrats argues or implies that Leave voters are stupid, it is understandable if they react to those attacking their vulnerability, by ‘switching off’, closing their mind to argument and digging their heels in.

  • @Jayne Mansfield “a 60’s man- hating feminist”

    I really don’t think there’s a place for this dort of illiberal and divisive attitude in the party.

  • jayne Mansfield 31st Jul '17 - 1:53pm

    @ TCO,
    My comment about being a man hating feminist was a tongue in cheek response to a post by someone called Edward C on the Sixties article by Mick Taylor.

    Did you object to that post? I remember being called a ‘man hater’ . I remember being called a ‘lesbian’ by stupid people who thought that I would receive this as some sort of insult and shut up, I wasn’t at all insulted and i didn’t shut up.

    Perhaps you are too young to remember the sixties , or perhaps you have been taken in my the oft quoted, ‘If you remember the sixties you weren’t there ‘.

    Most of us in the sixties were not dancing around naked with flowers in our hair. We were not spaced out on drugs, we were developing a consciousness of social justice, the appalling effect of judging and discriminating against a person on the basis of immutable ‘accidents of birth’. i.e; the colour of skin, their gender, their sexuality.

    I am no longer a supporter of the party because of people like you. And may I add , that if posters like you think that people like me can be shut up, stopped from fighting for what we believe in, sent off to labourlist or whatever, good luck with that!

  • Peter Brand 4th Aug '17 - 9:37am

    Peter Martin. You misunderstand. Read my words again. It is not the UK that will sink, it is Brexit. I am optimistic that we will stop it.

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