Countering the fear factor

Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who rarely met anyone they didn’t know, and were probably wise to be cautious when they did. In modern cities we are used to seeing strangers by the thousand, but our genetic inheritance is still there, and it is easy to re-awaken the atavistic fear that people who look or sound different might be dangerous. Stirring up racism is part of a simple principle of leadership; tell people there is an external threat and set yourself up as a powerful and angry leader. If the people fear the external threat they will welcome an aggressive masterful leader, or in other words, right-wing politics gains ascendancy.

We need to recognise that the biggest obstacle to resolving the immigration issue, which is at the heart of the Brexit vote, is that Remainers think Leavers’ antipathy to immigration is founded on this primal fear. In-built in this supposition is an unavoidable sense of superiority; we Remainers can rise above our primitive instincts, and Leavers can’t. However, faced with that, the Leavers have developed their own hubristic mind-set; that namby-pamby ‘Guardian readers’ stupidly want to be ‘nice’ to what could be tens of millions of people, and we Leavers, are the ones facing harsh reality – that foreigners are here to steal our jobs or sponge off our welfare system, and generally pollute our culture.

No wonder the steady flood of bad news about Brexit is having little impact on the polls. Both sides have staked out a position based on an unconscious belief which has nothing to do with the economy, the NHS, or any part of the normal currency of political debate. Whether or not our economy needs an influx of younger workers is of no interest to Leavers, and whether or not incoming people will cause cultural clashes, or hold down wage rises is of no interest to Remainers. We must also take note that for the fearful, asylum seekers and immigrants from outside the EU are part of the same bundle, one they think would be solved in some way by Brexit.

It looks complicated, but I believe the answer could be surprisingly simple. If people have been taught by the right-wing demagogues to fear immigrants, we need to teach them not to fear immigrants. Those who are frightened of being ‘overwhelmed’ have been told that foreigners want to come here and change everything to be like their own country, overlooking the possibility that they might like or even love what this country is and what it stands for, and the fact that many come here because they want to get away from their own country.

We need a concerted media push to counter the propaganda that immigrants are threatening intruders, and to portray them as they are. For the most part they are nice people who want to embrace British culture, and who are pleased and often grateful to be in a country that leads the world in tolerance, human rights, and, sometimes, kindness to strangers.

* Andy Daer is a member of the Liberal Democrats in South Gloucestershire

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  • David Evershed 6th Nov '17 - 4:36pm

    There are immigration controls on non EU immigrants from Africa and Asia.

    What’s wrong with having the same controls on EU immigrants or are people from the EU superior in some way to those from Africa and Asia?

    Without Brexit we have no control on immigration from the EU and Cameron could not negotiate any whilst staying in the EU.

  • David Evershed 6th Nov '17 - 4:37pm

    PS Do we have the evidence that ” Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who rarely met anyone they didn’t know.” ?

  • …………..Our ancestors were hunter-gatherers who rarely met anyone they didn’t know, and were probably wise to be cautious when they did…………

    Quite the opposite…Finds from early Homo Sapiens show that they were intertrading goods, technology and genes…

  • Then there is justified concern about the very rapid rate of increase in population. The OECD gives hospital bed provision requirements per 10,000 people. The Nuffield Trust gives figures relevant to GP surgeries. The average people per dwelling is 2.3. We receive over 25,000 children of school age each year. The ONS gives official population figures.

    Work out the pressure on our infrastructure for yourselves. We have a huge problem.

  • paul barker 6th Nov '17 - 6:22pm

    The crucial point is that fear of Immigrants is highest in those areas with the fewest incomers, places which often suffer from Emigration, usually to other parts of Britain. If dislike of Immigration had some rational basis we might reasonably expect the opposite to be true.

  • So right wing demagogues mostly restricted to the shrinking realm of the printed press have more power to shape minds than TV, Schools, Governments, other newspapers and so on.
    People are tribal. They have a tendency to form in to specific groups. Migrants are as tribal as the locals. Actually not only have we been teaching people not to fear migrants for decades, we’ve drafted up laws to stop the worst excesses of tribalism and what we find is that at the end of it people are still tribal. That’s people for you, not always pleasant, but IMO the trick is to better manage the lumpen reality rather than go down the utopian path of trying to create better people.

  • Paul
    the thing is people move out as the various groupings concentrate, so you end up with pockets that don’t mix and who are suspicious of each other. Migrants are not one group and they are not all tolerant of each other either. It just so happens the local tribe is bigger than the newer ones and so solutions to the integration v fear question seems simpler than they probably are.

  • Something doesn’t quite add up.

    We’ve been told by Remainers, that we thick, uneducated, Leavers have ruined the UK. They say our foolish actions have created a Brexit that will impoverish us all, beyond our worst nightmares. Brexit they say will cause UK employment to collapse. The pound will collapse. Planes will stop flying to Europe. No nurses will come to work here. Cabbages and lettuce will stay rotting and unpicked in the fields. EU funding will cease, ignoring the fact that ‘EU Funding’ was an urban myth, and was in fact our returned UK taxpayers money in the first place. It will be ‘bone breakingly bad’ declared one commenter. One panicked commenter on these threads has even suggested, more than once, that we will all starve in a UK cut off from the EU.

    And yet?

    And yet, there are still thousands of migrants on the Calais side of the channel desperate to get to a UK which [according to remainers], is soon to be consigned to a pitiful third world status because of Brexit?
    Can anyone explain how come, despite such a ‘bone breakingly bad’ Brexit, the UK is, curiously, still attractive to these Calais based migrants? So what do these desperate migrants in Calais know about the future of the UK that panicked scaremongering Remainers seem to have totally missed?

  • @ Sheila Gee “Something doesn’t quite add up.”

    Gee Whizz…………Yes, the £ 350 million for the NHS.

    That doesn’t quite add up, does it Sheila ?

  • Shelia’
    They also often say that it won’t reduce immigration and then that there will be a shortage of workers because immigration will be too low! Really. it’s an emotional response. People like to think they are calculating, logical and make considered decision but really we’re also creatures of emotion who get happy, sad, angry and upset and fearful and so on.

  • Mick Taylor 6th Nov '17 - 9:46pm

    Let’s get one myth at a time sorted out. The UK, along with all other EU countries, has always been able to limit the amount of time EU migrants can spend in the UK to 3 months unless they have employment and they can’t claim benefits whilst they are here. Successive UK governments have not used the power available to them, not even this one.
    The one woman I did have a reasonable Brexit conversation, like many others I suspect who voted for Brexit, believed that ALL immigration is controlled by the EU, when in fact all non-EU immigration has always been controlled by the UK Government.
    Like so many other Brexit discussions, trying to reduce complicated arrangements to simple slogans, results in the facts being distorted or plain lied about. When anyone tries to explain the complications about immigration either people switch off or say it’s an expert view that shouldn’t be trusted.

  • Graham Evans 6th Nov '17 - 9:51pm

    @ Sheila Gee Compared to the countries from which the migrants at Calais came even the most impoverished parts of the UK are a relative utopia. Moreover, in so far as they have a rudimentary command of a second language that language will most likely be English. Even the legal EU migrants from East Europe who have come to the UK have been drawn by in large part because of relatively better pay and work opportunities compared to their countries of origin. It’s significant that by and large the only western European immigrants to the UK are the sort of people whose skills and expertise are in high demand in all industrialised countries and who can command high pay wherever they choose to work. For these people too English is likely to be their second language, making the UK an attractive choice.

  • Graham Evans
    “Compared to the countries from which the migrants at Calais came even the most impoverished parts of the UK are a relative utopia.”

    But you overlook the crucial fact that the Calais migrants are in France, and have thus already escaped and gained asylum from their impoverished countries?

    So a few questions need to be answered.

    1. Why are the Calais migrants seeking asylum into the UK from a perfectly safe EU territory?. Are they under threat of persecution from the French?

    2. If the Remainer mantra is to be believed, we Leavers have ruined the future economic prospects of the UK, but for some strange reason, the Calais migrants don’t seem to buy into that Remainer mantra. So why are they desperate to get to a Brexit broken UK, when they could stay and thrive much better in an EU which according to Remainers is in an economic ascendancy.

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Nov '17 - 11:07pm

    Mick Taylor – ‘The UK, along with all other EU countries, has always been able to limit the amount of time EU migrants can spend in the UK to 3 months unless they have employment and they can’t claim benefits whilst they are here.’

    You need to be very careful about this. There is NO three month rule – that seems to be doing the rounds an awful lot on the internet of late.

    A good discussion is at

    ‘While the Directive allows Member States to expel citizens on grounds of public policy, public security or public health, this possibility is irrelevant as regards the expulsion of unemployed EU citizens, since the Directive specifies that these grounds cannot be ‘invoked to serve economic ends’ (Article 27(1)).’ and ‘Clearly a blanket rule providing for the automatic expulsion of anyone unemployed for a particular period would therefore not be compatible with EU law.’

    See also the section following the words, ‘So, to sum up these rules, which EU citizens can – and cannot – be expelled due to unemployment?’

    Further discussion, following the Dano case in the ECJ is at

    It is also worth noting that EU people have a right to bring an unlimited number of third country nationals with them, rights not ordinarily available to UK people.

    My understanding is that people who do not do 3 months ‘qualifying activity’ or who do not have a relationship with such a person can be denied residency papers. However an EU passport is not a visa – there is no immigration offence in terms of being in the country. It is not clear to me that the treaty has any ‘removal process.’ I understand that the Belgians give people they identify as having no right to reside a notice to leave but as far as I am aware there is nothing to enforce that notice.

    There is a more interesting question about whether the UK (and indeed other states) could make use of the public policy allowance in the treaty. As far as I am aware there have been very few cases on the public policy point.

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Nov '17 - 11:11pm

    Mick Taylor – ‘in fact all non-EU immigration has always been controlled by the UK Government.’

    Just to be clear on this, in addition to my point above about EU free movers and third country nationals there is also (non-EU) refugee law and the various trade agreements with mode 4 access.

  • Little Jackie Paper 6th Nov '17 - 11:17pm

    David Evershed – It is worth pointing out that Cameron did actually get the EU to shift on one quite important issue, just it didn’t really get a mention in the referendum campaign. The EU did appear to say it would move some non EU nationals who currently get free movement rights out of the scope of free movement.

  • Andy makes some good points here. People are vulnerable to primaeval fears which can sometimes take over, as when the whole of America was convinced a martian invasion was taking place. (the Orson Welles rdio broadcast).

    When people become ill, they often get paranoid, and Brexit can be seen as a type of sickness, as explained here:,9H3D,2MFW15,YD1S,1#Brexit

    Unscrupulous people can by skilled manipulation convince a victim that their family are really aliens with evil intentions, and they should run away to join whatever cult it is, who then take their money. That is a paradigm for Brexit, which has been described as a cult of sorts. (see my article, Brexit: an idea whose time has passed.

  • “We need a concerted media push to counter the propaganda that immigrants are threatening intruders, and to portray them as they are. For the most part they are nice people who want to embrace British culture, and who are pleased and often grateful to be in a country that leads the world in tolerance, human rights, and, sometimes, kindness to strangers.”

    A lot of the comments thread above demonstrates the truth of this paragraph.

    I’ve seen similar things suggested by others too.

    Any idea how we go about it? I don’t see the Sun, Mail or Express changing their editorial line any time soon. I suppose we could maybe hope that the BBC will stop letting the Sun, Mail and Express set their news agenda, but they’ve shown no sign of doing so in the last 80-odd years, so it seems a forlorn hope.

    I’m genuinely open to suggestions.

  • Graham Evans 7th Nov '17 - 7:54am

    @Sheila Gee With Brexit the UK, at least in the short to medium term, will be poorer, a fact now widely acknowledged by the more realistic Brexit, but the country isn’t going to collapse into abject poverty, so for the Calais migrants the UK will still remain attractive, and the language issue will still be important. I suspect too that the relative lack of employment regulation in the UK compared to France, and the fact that we don’t have identity cards means that illegal immigrants find it easier to get work here than in France, and undoubtedly for many of the Calais migrants economics lays as much a part of their flight from their homelands as does the fear of persecution. Nevertheless, it is an important question as to why so many people in economic distress or fearing persecution opt for the UK rather than settling in France. That may say as much about the French state as about the British state but has little to do with the EU.

  • John King’
    The was not convinced that Martians had invaded. It’s a myth. More Americans were listening to the Chase and Sandhorn hour. Only around 2% of Americans were even listening to the Orson Welles show. Of those some rang to complain that the show was too realist, some to congratulate the station on a great Halloween special. WoW carried warnings in advance. Also people looking into audience reactions conflated words like “frightened” and “scared” with panic. It was a Halloween broadcast and designed to scare and so the audience comments actually reflect similar reaction to modern horror movies. Rather than causing mass panic, Newspapers picked up on the show as a way of attacking the relatively new rival of Radio. The story had mostly been dropped after a couple of days.
    The thing is people choose the medium and conformation bias plays a big part in the choices being made. Saying that we have to counter an agenda set by say “the Sun” is really no different to right wingers blaming the “BBC”. Sadly it’s not that simple.

  • Sorry about the mangled opening . I must have scrubbed parts of the first paragraph. I was simply trying to lead into the point that there was no mass panic over WoW and the idea it fooled the whole of America is a myth.

  • Andy Daer 7th Nov ’17 – 9:18am……….My problem is that I would share Nigel Farage’s slight nervousness if I was in a train compartment full of boisterous Slavic young men………

    Where-as in a compartment full of boisterous young British men you’d feel ‘comfortable’?

  • Sheila Gee 6th Nov ’17 – 7:44pm

    Something doesn’t quite add up.

    We’ve been told by Remainers, that we thick, uneducated, Leavers have ruined the UK.

    Sheila I’m afraid studies have indeed found that the lower your level of education the more likely you are to have voted Brexit.

    The level of higher education in an area was far more important than age, gender, the number of immigrants, or income in predicting the way an area voted, the researchers found.

    Britain would have likely voted to remain in the European Union were its population educated to a slightly higher level, a new study has found……………….
    Age and gender were both significant but not as important as education level, the researchers found. Income and number of immigrants in an area were not found to be a significant factor in how people voted.

    So the statement Brexiteers are thick is grounded on a level of evidence. Are all Brexiteers thick of cause not but to paraphrase John Stuart Mill

    “Although it is not true that all Brexiteers are stupid people, it is true that most stupid people are Brexiteers”.

    As to ruined the country, the jury is out but given the weight of evidence piling up I don’t rate your chances of getting off or even receiving a not proven verdict.

    And before I get the “We won get over it retort” we all lost and as another quote from Mr Mills so eloquently stated

    If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.

  • Andy
    But it isn’t just about fear and when it is it’s actually more mutual. the Slavic man might be frighten of the Brit or the Asian or the Russian and visa versa. What it’s really about whether or not it’s democratic to keep up mass immigration on a huge scale when it has little support amongst the electorate and the failure of its advocates to make much of a dent in public opinion. This is before you contemplate what the point of it is and why it is imagined that migrants are some how less subject to these cultural pulls than locals or what the long term consequences for politics are. Coz there sure isn’t a lot of support for the open borders approach here or anywhere else. Surely, it’s just easier to control mass immigration and be a bit more realistic about the some times awkward reality of people.

  • Racism is a strange thing and by that i mean it means different things to different people. To my older relatives it means not voting for the local Labour candidate because although he was born here and his mother is English his dad was from Spain or someone like that and he can’t be English. In fact they even complained the when we had a foreign leader of the council, no way should we be letting people from Scotland onto the council. They hates everyone who isn’t from round here and they are what I would call “A local politicians for local people” sort of bigots. The younger ones don’t care about the leader of the council being Scottish or even the fact the Labour candidate is half not English they just hates Muslims. A cousin by marriage hates eastern Europeans which is funny as his nickname is the Pole as his mother and father where from the Ukraine, but he was born here and he isn’t anything other than English. The older ones tolerate him as long as he doesn’t stand for the council and he stays married.

    The only thing they have in common is to be frank achieving very little in life. They console themselves by being English and therefore special because if they didn’t have the ability to look down on people and to hate the other what would they have. While I’m not suggesting all Brexiteers are like this a significant number are. How do you change the mindset, well with the old you can’t only death will cure them, the younger ones may change but only education and experience can change the toxic sense of entitlement that runs through this country.

  • frankie

    “As to ruined the country, the jury is out”

    And yet despite you acknowledging that the ‘jury is out’ on the effects of Brexit, your comments constantly declare that you know the verdict for certain?

  • Sean Hyland 7th Nov '17 - 11:22am

    So I voted leave because I’m thick and racist apparently.
    No I voted against an increasing move to the creation of a superstate in the EU. I have no problem with the free movement of goods,people,and services. I spent time working in a job centre so I know who were most proactive in working.

    As to my education level – at present I am a mature degree student. I’m studying economics and international development. It will add to the registered nursing qualification I can no longer use due to injuries I received whilst nursing.

    There is much to admire in what the libdems propose as policies and I do usually vote libdem. But how can I rejoin a party that considers me thick and racist for exercising by rights after much thought,debate, and research.

    P.s I never believed in the £350 million slogan when it was first made or since.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Nov '17 - 11:27am

    Peter 6th Nov ’17 – 5:29pm: Milton Keynes is a success, starting with Bletchley and a main line railway. We need five new towns at about that distance from London, as Nick Clegg suggested, but David Cameron rejected, saying “They will all vote Labour”.
    Would they? Forget 100 schemes from Grant Schapps, genuinely lower house prices would enable young couples to own their homes. Dispel the myth about thousands of pounds of student debt. What the lenders look at is the affordability of the mortgage repayments.

  • To Frankie
    Yes, it is beyond dispute that Education level and support for the EU are linked, though there are many exceptions, as with Sean Hyland here. Even the Daily Mail acknowledges it, with their attack on our “Remainer universities”

    This is scarcely surprising since Brexit is part of a wider trend, the attack on reason. The wider trend includes climate change denial, vaccine scepticism, things essentially Trumpian. Brexit medicine is faith healing, Brexit science is alchemy, the Brexit weather forecast is sunlit uplands.

    There has always been an anti-knowledge, burn-the-books school of thought around, it’s not new although has probably found new expression with the Brexit ideology.

  • heila Gee 7th Nov ’17 – 11:17am…And yet despite you acknowledging that the ‘jury is out’ on the effects of Brexit, your comments constantly declare that you know the verdict for certain?….
    If, in a parallel universe, had the announcement been that “Britain was JOINING an EU”…
    If the £ dropped by over 10%, and remained low for over a year, anyone who insisted on still joining would have been ridiculed…

  • Red Liberal 7th Nov '17 - 11:56am

    LibDems are just Yellow UKIP below the surface, judging by many of the xenophobic comments here. Won’t be renewing my membership next March.

  • paul barker 7th Nov '17 - 12:16pm

    @Red Liberal.
    Most of the comments you refer to arent from Libdems. If you look at the comment threads on Labour List you will find the same Leaver/UKIP dominance, they dont reflect the Labour membership anymore than The “Yellow Ukippers” reflect ours. Its a problem everwhere.

  • To Red Liberal
    Trolls are an occupational hazard on sites like this, the Guardian is even worse, so don’t be despondent, and don’t cancel your membership. Liberal baiting is a blood support for these people, assuming they are real people, which is open to question. Most people here however are genuine I’m sure of that, but the spectrum of views is fairly diverse.

  • Sean Hyland 7th Nov '17 - 12:24pm

    Can some one please provide me with links to these studies on the education level of leave voters – it seems to be quoted a lot in comments without reference.

    There is a danger that if you continue to paint leave voters in this way that you risk alienating possible voters who, as i do, support much of what the LibDems stand for but object to this generalisation.

    I know party numbers have increased and that is to be welcomed but why should i join at the moment ?

    It was with heavy heart that I voted to leave. it took much thought and i even discussed it with my friends from Europe. I don’t buy newspapers and researched deeply before making the choice i did. I still stand by the decision I made at the time and would make the same decision again.

  • John King.
    Or perhaps education can be an environment with its own tribal customs and peer pressures. People like to fit in and can be a herd like. It applies to both camps. Would you want to be the only Leaver or Remainer in your particular village? Correlation is not causation. For example home owners tended to be more likely to vote for Brexit, as where parents with kids in their teens as opposed to private renters and parents of young children. What does this mean? does this mean that Brexit was caused by home ownership and that if more people had toddlers and less property then Brexit wouldn’t have happened?

  • Sean Hyland 7th Nov ’17 – 12:24pm:
    Can some one please provide me with links to these studies on the education level of leave voters…

    ‘Debunking Brexit Caricatures and Myths.’ [July 2016]:

    It is the second table that gets the headline: “Those with no formal education are twice as likely to vote leave at those with university degree/in education”. What proportion of Leave voters fall within this group? Just one per cent! This is an extreme example, but you get my point.

    Let’s be absolutely clear: 99 per cent of Leave voters are misrepresented by this headline. Table A part 3 shows the main difference in Remain and Leave is between those educated to Secondary School standard (NVQ 1-3 equivalent) and those who obtained a University Degree (or equivalent NVQ). For older voters and voters in less wealthy areas, this is likely to be about access to higher education rather than educational potential, but again this doesn’t fit the prevailing narrative. Further work is needed to isolate this effect from other demographics such as age.

  • Sean Hyland 7th Nov '17 - 1:16pm

    I agree that a push is needed to present a more positive view of the benefits that immigration brings to the UK. The struggle will be to find an outlet that will provide a platform. There doesn’t seem to be one for general LD policy to be presented to the public so where do you go.
    I don’t use Facebook,tumblr etc so cannot comment on their use or effectiveness.

    As to the original article by Andy didn’t explicitly state that leave voters are thick or racist. But he was clear to me that I was reacting only to some base primitive instinct and was therefore incapable of evolution or independent thought. This view,I felt, was reinforced by several of of the comments that followed.
    There seems to be this ongoing narrative that leave voters need their decisions made for them by Murdoch,Daily Mail etc and stupid slogans on the side of stupid battle buses. Its not helping the argument or debate.

    I’m proud to be the son of an immigrant who came to to this country to make a better life. He faced prejudice and spent his life his life battling to confront this. No n*gg*rs,no irish ,no dogs was his reality in the 40’s and 50’s. Our parents raised us right and my siblings went on to carve out careers in the health service, teaching, the police, probation service, youth services, and carers charities.

    As I said it was with heavy heart I voted leave. My European friends know and understand why I did. They also know I will stand with them to confront prejudice and discrimination.

  • Peter Martin 7th Nov '17 - 1:19pm

    @ Andy Daer,

    If you think you are so smart maybe you could have a try at understanding the arguments made in this article. The economic hole that the EU that it has got itself into with the introduction of the euro is my reason for voting Leave.

    It’s meant that we are stuck in a trading bloc which isn’t in good shape and isn’t a good market for UK exports. So whereas our trade with the ROW is balanced we are in a huge deficit with the EU. That deficit has to be financed by someone in the UK borrowing. This means both Govt debt and levels of private debt are higher than desirable in the UK.

  • Sean Hyland 7th Nov '17 - 1:36pm

    Thanks Jeff for the link. When I get a chance later I will take a close look. As per all reports/surveys I like to take a look at the organization and methodology behind it.

  • Red Liberal

    “LibDems are just Yellow UKIP below the surface, judging by many of the xenophobic comments here.”

    There are indeed many UKIP inclined posters on this site, one or two may even think they are Liberal, but they don’t represent the majority of Lib Dems or are even Liberals in a way i would be able to comprehend. They exist to try to make us believe what they voted for is right and we will all eventually thank them. They are wrong, at best they are frightened people voting for what they think is security when all they have voted for is change and change they won’t like. Others as you have said are just afraid of foreigners no matter how they like to dress up their fears as being for the good of the environment or other such tripe.
    Brexit was driven by fear and those least able to cope and therefore the most fearful rushed to support it. The sad fact is they will suffer most, the young and educated are more likely to adapt the older and less educated less so.

    As you can see on the replies they have no why of rebutting these arguments other than to say EU bad or recycle old articles from Conservative Home or other right wing scare sites. Brexit is about fear and fear alone, the sad thing is that which most of them fear most is now much more likely to happen.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Nov '17 - 1:46pm


    It is a good topic to raise . I think if we recognise fact and fiction and fear arising from on the whole the latter not the former , but the former too , we could counter the lies and exploiters of these issues.

    Facts are , the good things immigration brings and should be extolled as real .

    Facts are also that we do not have a market or even , as do most developed countries, a fluid social market ,for public services , together with starving of funds and lack of planning, means immigrants once entitled to, are in the same queue for them as those already here.

    In some countries, ones such as the United States , though for those who have no , or , poor quality health care , the health care available probably does put them in the same queue , the vast majority , those in work, or seniors , they are not in that queue with immigrants, because immigrants who are , are the very successful or well off, and it is not the very successful or well off who are as fearful, and those in this category who are, are either genuinely concerned for the underdog, ignorant of facts, or prejudiced.

    Another fact , though expressed , seems more a point of view too, We do not have a competent or considered government of any party when they did and do not ,even in the NHS , claim back ,what the EU users of our service, their service when they use it, are suppose to receive from member states. The reason the British abroad are not a big drain is the other EU countries most certainly do claim what we owe them for the use of those services abroad. Incompetence, political correctness, lack of big broad brush stroke and small minimalist thinking, in other words being useless, is , by governments, why the wretched narrative on immigration has gone from, cannot discuss it because it would frighten the public and rock the multi cultural boat, to , must shout about it because it is such a terrifying problem !

    Fiction and fear are thus the reflection and reaction, of and to , this nonsensical situation and scenario we have seen unfold.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Nov '17 - 2:02pm

    Red Liberal

    As one who was Labour , for many years from youth to young manhood, now youg middle aged and a Liberal Democrat since the

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Nov '17 - 2:16pm

    since the Iraq war, I have been delighted by the decency of the members of the party. I , for being a staunch British patriot, felt all the more as my father was Italian and valued this land , while never rejecting his old country, and with a wife of American origin who herself is of Italian, Polish ,French , German extraction, was, once , nevertheless called , with one or two others , by someone I regularly in a friendly way, interact with happily on here, ” on the sentimental, sanctimoneous, UKIP lite wing of the party !”

    I loathe their brand of politics when the stereotype we associate with it. But I have an old actor friend who has been a UKIP member since Alan Sked founded UKIP, Sked was Labour and a Liberal, and there is a real libertarian, olde England feel to some of them, not prejudiced at all. My old friend is a devout Anglican, his politics steeped in tradition and yes nostalgia.

    Ours here is none of this at all. Unless it is steeped in a rather short sighted tradition that says Liberalism must be classical and like Gladstone, or social and like Greaves , and the nostalgia resulting!

    This party is one you can contribute a lot to, as one who is clearly on the centre left. Do not take the heated and humourless or humourous on here as what this party is about in total. Gt involved at local and national levels, join facebook groups on subjects in the party that interest you.

    Do not withdraw from it so quickly. As individuals we , each of us count.

  • Peter Watson 7th Nov '17 - 2:28pm

    @Sean Hyland “Can some one please provide me with links to these studies on the education level of leave voters”
    It seems to me that there are two distinct issues here.

    Firstly, my understanding was that polling did show that the average Bremainer had remained in education to a higher level than the average Brexiter (though Jeff’s post raises some interesting points around that).

    But secondly, what I find quite objectionable in Lib Dem discussions is the implication that the votes of those people are somehow worth less because of that.

    If there is a difference in the education level of Bremainers and Brexiters then perhaps that has had a real impact on the experience that different people have of EU membership. In order to win over those who support Brexit, understanding and addressing that might be a better approach for Lib Dems, whose passion for things like Erasmus funding for university students might not reflect the priorities of the wider population.

  • Arnold Kiel 7th Nov '17 - 2:45pm

    I am wondering what would have happened if the EU had told the UK:

    You want to end freedom of movement? OK, what is your proposal? Please specify the following:
    Do you want to introduce a visa-system for each European entry application?
    By when?
    Which processing times do you guarantee?
    What would your approvals/rejections be based on?
    Do you want to register all Europeans already present, e.g. by introducing an identity-card?
    How are you going to reconcile any right to stay of Europeans already present with the entry-rights of newcomers?
    Which cut-off date?
    How would you ascertain the entry-date of Europeans already present?
    How would you treat tourists to separate them from one-way entrants?
    How do you want to prevent those present illegally from getting housing or a job?
    How would you treat family-reunions, British-born offspring, etc.?
    How do you want to treat social and health insurance?
    How do you want us to reciprocate all this vis-a-vis Britons living on the continent?
    Would you impose quotas? How would you operationalize them?
    Which would be the criteria and procedures for expulsion?

    I believe during this dialogue, publicly drilled down to the last detail, the “take-back-control”-case would have unraveled under everybody’s eyes, (even 19 months after the referendum, your Government cannot answer a single one of these questions) and the conclusion would have been that all economically sensible controls are fully compatible with EU membership and the existing 4 freedoms. Anything beyond, if at all desireable would, in everybody’s eyes, not be worth losing single-market membership.

    The irony is, even in the increasingly unlikely case of Brexit happening, the one last perceived benefit, reduced immigration, will not happen. Don’t forget: with productivity static, workforce growth is the UK’s only growth-factor. Also note: nothing has changed with respect to non-EU immigration, neither since the silly tens-of-thousands goal was set, nor since the referendum.

  • Can some one please provide me with links to these studies on the education level of leave voters – it seems to be quoted a lot in comments without reference.

    Shortly after the referendum there was a study (poll) that did go into some detail. I seem to remember that there were certain demographics that effectively ‘threw’ it for Leave(*), but even in these we were talking about a circa 5% majority rather than a 20+% majority.

    The only recent work I’ve seen has been the BBC video article:
    which suggests that only a very small minority of university students support Leave. But whether this viewpoint is simply journalistic licence or based on fact…

    I suspect the truth is whether a person felt they doing well or not. Thus a graduate who was having difficulty getting a graudate job could well have voted Leave for valid reasons, whereas one in a graduate job and thus on the career ladder could well have voted Remain. The problem we have is that the government skipped any real examination of the referendum result to understand people’s motivations better and simply moved straight to Brexit.

    (*) If memory is correct, the two were age 25~39 working class male and 65+ pensioners.

  • Richard Underhill 7th Nov ’17 – 11:27am: Milton Keynes is a success

    Yes, however, it only became a net creator of wealth 2004~2010 (sorry not got the exact year to hand); 40+years after it’s establishment. So just a word of caution to those who think these new towns immediately contribute to the economy, they don’t – it takes time for them to transition from dormitory to job and wealth creation.

    >We need five new towns at about that distance from London
    The trouble is that building at the density of Milton Keynes is inefficient.
    [ ]

    > but David Cameron rejected, saying “They will all vote Labour”.
    I seem to remember MK had a rather large LibDem group on the council and frequently no one group having overall control. But many people did look at Milton Keynes (in the 80’s) and think because it was growing and young people with jobs that it would be more Conservative than it actually was, but they overlooked the fact that people had (for the time) big mortgages and were struggling to make ends meet. Likewise because the young people were generally in work and looking to do better, Labour didn’t do as well as some envisaged. What is interesting is how during the 80~90’s MK North was mostly held by the Conservatives and MK South by Labour, however, since 2010 both have been held by the Conservatives. So it would seem to be safe to say that DC allowed his prejudices to overrule the facts on the ground.

  • Peter Martin 7th Nov '17 - 3:59pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    Can I just ask why someone who’s FB profile states they are resident in Monaco, which isn’t part of the EU, should be so keen that UK should continue to be part of the EU?

    Can I suggest a deal? We’ll keep out of any argument Monegasque/Monacoian people may have on their EU status if they keep out of ours 🙂

  • Red Liberal 7th Nov '17 - 4:12pm

    @Lorenzo I was a member of Labour until nearly a year ago (joined Labour in 2001). The cult of Corbyn, Labour support for Hard Brexit, and eurosceptic, foreigner-bashing attitudes at my local CLP pushed me out.

  • Andy Daer
    You just can’t help yourself can you?

    You say “My original post never said anyone was thick or racist,”, but you them go on to pile on, yet another layer of unwarranted abuse by suggesting that Leavers are barely functioning beyond their primitive amygdala brain?

    To be honest I think I preferred being called thick, to your suggestion that I’m voting with the motivations of a lizard.

    On a broader point, the direction of travel of this ‘who is most intelligent’ thing troubles me somewhat.
    Why does your intelligence level matter when it comes to your right to vote? The really disturbing undertone of suggesting that thick or lizard brained people voted the wrong way is not just deeply abusive but a dangerous slippery slope.
    Is the next step to suggest that people below a certain I.Q should not be allowed to vote?
    Be careful how you go with this abusive attitude, because the liberal elite of the 1920’s, using the studies of ‘experts’ of the day, got it into their collective ‘educated’ heads that it was rational to deter people of a lower intellect from marrying and breeding.
    Eugenics was the ‘rational’, ‘expert’, ‘liberal’ way forward back in the 1920’s. It didn’t end well.

    Let me be very clear before (some!) liberals get a bit too giddy, and high on the smoke of their own intellectual superiority.
    My one vote counts with the same ‘specific gravity’ as that of any other UK citizen, and my intelligence level and my educational attainment level is frankly irrelevant, and no-ones business.

  • Arnold Kiel.
    EU free movement as we know it only goes back to the early 2000s, directive 2004/38/EC and we managed before then. I believe there is already is a cut off date of 5 years and other countries manage immigration without confusing it with tourism. Most of the other points you mention are already applied to non EU citizens, so really it would just be a matter of treating Europeans the same as say Americans. I don’t for instance see why issuing visa would be anymore problematic than issuing NI numbers or driving licences or any other document . So I think you’re kind of stretching points and piling on the alarm unnecessarily, mountains out of molehills and that sort of thing.


  • Sheila Gee
    “My one vote counts with the same ‘specific gravity’ as that of any other UK citizen,”
    It doesn’t, Not every UK citizen was given a vote. A UK general election register was used, resident Irish and Commonwealth citizens allowed to vote.

  • @David Raw – What happened to the Emergency Budget, the instant recession and WW3. The sky’s still there I see.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 7th Nov '17 - 10:36pm

    Red Liberal

    Then stay with this party where you shall find none of those aspects you do not like in the party proper rather than a site with many not members 1

  • Arnold Kiel 8th Nov '17 - 12:11am

    Andy Daer, thank you for pointing out the psychological root of the immigration-irrationality. Sadly, I must add that some of this was cultivated by politicians and the right-wing press that owns them. These highly skilled and affluent London circles had just one recipe for the rest of the country: work harder for less. They found a scapegoat to deflect from their failing: the EU and immigrants from there.

    Peter Martin, I am a UK resident, and will now update my FB profile to restore the legitimacy of my arguments for you. As you would expect, unlike leavers, I am not supporting geography-based mutual disengagement.

    Glenn, If I allocate the tens-of-thousands goal equally to EU and non-EU, the UK misses its fully controllable non-EU immigration goal since 8 years by 200%. This happens under the immigration-obsessed Theresa May.

    In my hypothetical scenario, but also as part of Brexit-negotiations, the UK will have to explain and agree on all details of the intended future immigration concept. EU immigrants are more sought after by the local job-market, they have rather equivalent skills, they integrate better, they come from a limited and shrinking pool (a few tens of millions, instead of a growing pool of billions outside the EU), and they often go back. It is a two-way-street also from a UK-citizens’ perspective. Applying the arbitrary, cumbersome and failing non-EU concept would not be acceptable, i.e. part of a no-deal scenario.

    Looking at other intercontinental immigration-flows to large and low-density countries does not provide useful guidelines for the special European situation of close and similar countries with a long history and legacy of multi-directional intra-continental migration.

    The UK has really never “managed this” (just fewer people were interested and needed in the past), and it has no blueprint, just an inacceptable and (luckily) failing approach.

  • Arnold.
    I disagree and obviously, as someone who voted to leave the EU I do not agree with integrated EU concept.

  • Peter Martin 8th Nov '17 - 9:13am

    @ Glenn,

    Arnold is right. The EU does have to become much more integrated than it is to survive. Probably to an extent greater than even he realises. Having introduced a single currency, it now needs a single government, single taxation system, a single set of laws. It needs to become a single country essentially.

    But Arnold and other EU zealots know that this level of EU integration is never to to win democratic acceptance, so they pretend that the current EU isn’t going to have to change much for its obvious problems to be fixed. They deny its transitional status and try to label objectors to it, as does Andy Daer in this article, as half-wits if not downright racists.

    So what are the PTB in the EU going to do? Respect democracy and wind the EU back to the more successful model it had in EEC/EC days or ignore it and press on to their goal?

    I’m sure we all know the answer to that!

  • Arnold Kiel 8th Nov '17 - 9:58am

    Glenn, Peter Martin,

    you are now switching to an altogether different “argument” which is not as obviously self-defeating but, again, just a meaningless top-level slogan.

    As on immigration, I wish any of you would ever specify in which area (e.g. environment, workers’ rights, trade-agreements, product-standards, etc. etc.), which specific EU rule you want to abolish or change (how exactly?), and how that would have a positive cost/benefit balance for your country.

    You do remember that there is not a single EU law or institution, the UK could not have vetoed (or opted out), and that, as a member, you would continue to enjoy this veto right, do you?

  • Arnold,
    I don’t entirely agree with Peter. I was just giving a short reply to your long one. I suspect the EU will soldier on quite happily without Britain. What other counties do is up to them. I mainly vote leave to get away from internationalism and internationalist utopianism

  • Katharine Pindar 8th Nov '17 - 10:57am

    @ Peter Martin. Hi, Peter, you are known here for your economic analyses, presented in a fair and dispassionate way, so I was surprised at the slightly aggressive start of one of your posts here, writing to the author of this piece, ‘If you think you are so smart…’ It is also a fact that Arnold Kiel told us months ago that he was resident in England. I want to point out that the reference you cite to Andy Daer about the EU was published last January, and matters have changed since then, with the threat of authoritarian populist ascendancy receding (notably with the election of President Macron), and EU growth I understand much accelerated, and better than the UK’s.

    But I will never argue with you on economics! The point I really want to make is that you are insisting that the EU must logically become a single state, or, I suppose in more moderate terms a Federal system of states. Yet what is never answered by you or others is why the nine EU states outside the Eurozone, including the UK, should not remain a viable entity in their own right. Surely it would be possible and desirable to consider that outer tier, as I believe our great expert on Europe Nick Clegg has proposed, remaining as it is, but also to explore its future response to the developing integration of the Eurozone states and its relationship with that inner group.

  • “You do remember that there is not a single EU law or institution, the UK could not have vetoed (or opted out), and that, as a member, you would continue to enjoy this veto right, do you?”
    Seriously Arnold? Would that stand public scrutiny if it were painted onto the side of a big red bus?

    From Civitas EU Facts :
    “The Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, saw the most recent phase of integration, and saw the introduction of qualified majority voting in over 30 policy areas, effectively removing members veto powers in the majority of policy areas.”

    Do you have any more nonsensical ‘urban myths’ to relate to us Arnold?

  • @Sheila – “The Lisbon Treaty, which came into force in 2009, saw the most recent phase of integration, and saw the introduction of qualified majority voting in over 30 policy areas, effectively removing members veto powers in the majority of policy areas.”

    And the only reason it came into force was… because the executive at Westminster signed it! Once again you are failing to see the real problem has been with Westminster going its own way, just as it is over Brexit. Yes, Westminster wavering it’s power of veto is an issue, because it does effectively change the balance of ‘sovereignty’ in those areas where this applies and Westminster did so without consulting the UK people.

    The EU may be as big and bad as you say, but at the end of the day Parliament can either agree or not agree and that includes directives where Parliament is of the opinion that insufficient consideration has been given to the UK situation. Because we shouldn’t forget that the UK executive participates in the EU and has the opportunity to participate in the drafting of directives etc.

    Because of this it is largely irrelevant whether the direction of travel is ever closer integration, because provided Westminster does it’s job, the UK doesn’t have to participate and because the EU cannot rescind the UK’s membership, it has no choice but to accommodate the UK position.

  • Peter Martin 8th Nov '17 - 2:03pm

    @ Katharine,

    Yes I do take your point. I try to avoid aggression and explain myself as clearly as I can. I don’t always succeed and do get irritated at times, as you’ve noticed, by constant suggestions that anyone who has a problem with the EU is thick and/or racist. You’ll perhaps have noticed those FB ‘paperclip’ jokes about leavers always writing in uppercase with the spell checker off. I haven’t really forgiven Arnold Kiel for his call for “Unconditional Surrender” either! He really needs to apologise, unconditionally, for that tasteless remark IMO!

    Outside the political world, most of us have circles of friends who have different opinions on the EU and we still get along fine. My wife is a staunch remainer, and more liberal in her political opinions than socialist. That never used to be a problem before the EU referendum and we did have sharp words (mainly from her!) about that at the time, but we are OK again now!

    There’s really only the UK which is truly outside the eurozone. The euro isn’t quite the common currency it appears. There’s German euros, French euros etc all tightly pegged together to ensure a 1:1 exchange rate with the co-operation of the ECB. The rules of the ECB are written up as the Stability and Growth Pact. So it really doesn’t matter much that countries like Denmark and the Czech republic notionally have their own currencies if they are subject to the same rules and if they have to keep their exchange rates in line with the euro with ERMII

    I’m never quite sure if a two tier system as proposed by those, inc Nick Clegg, are for a genuine two tier system or a cosmetic two tier system. A genuine two tier system would mean that the nine non-euro countries would have to decide they wanted to keep their currencies in the longer term and they weren’t wanting to move towards euro membership. If so, then they should be encouraged to freely float them as does the UK. But, I can’t see the EU wanting to allow any more exceptions on that.

    PS I don’t think economics is as hard as it may first appear! Please argue away if you think I’m in the wrong.

  • Red Liberal 8th Nov '17 - 2:54pm

    Sorry, but as long as I live, I’ll *never* accept that voting for Brexit wasn’t based entirely upon xenophobia and racism and other perverse prejudices against the ‘other’.

    Families could be forcibly split apart by Brexit. Do any of you Brexiteers register that in your brain? How can you justify splitting up families and displacing potentially 3.2 million people because of your Little Englander knuckle-dragging prejudiced belief system?

  • Arnold Kiel 8th Nov '17 - 4:42pm

    Katharine, again, thanks for your fair and calming influence. And thank you, Roland for pointing out to Sheila, that also all Lisbon Treaty provisions had a UK blessing (admittedly, I am increasingly struggling to respond to her with the politeness Katharine rightly requests). I would not accuse any UK Government to easily sign away veto-rights, unless it concurs that competency-bundling is a good thing, as rightly pointed out by the ever lucid Martin.

    Peter Martin, you seem to take my critique of Great Britain’s overall state of affairs rather personally. Please note that I have varied my wording here to avoid further unforgiveable insults, which were never meant to be personal. But I would ask you to think again: internalizing national pride is never a helpful mindset for a normally rather clear thinker (try to take this from a German).

    In substance, however, political developments in the UK over the last few months are confirming my assessment ever more strongly. I would estimate that a vast majority of Britons and 99.9% of foreigners are desperately wandering what is going on in your country, and whether its political class has any sense of decency, professionalism, proportion, and purpose left. The 0.1% are Putin, Trump, LePen, Wilders and similar types.

    You will receive increasingly painful wake-up-calls in the coming months. They will take the shape of destroyed livelihoods and lives. My modest linguistic means (no apology!) will quickly pale in comparison.

  • “also all Lisbon Treaty provisions had a UK blessing”

    Wrong again Arnold, Lisbon did not have a UK blessing.

    Even Roland accepts that a Westminster blessing is not the same thing as a UK blessing when he’s reluctantly forced to admit “and Westminster did so without consulting the UK people.”
    And that is the crucial point. A democratic endorsement from the British people was never sought, for either Maastricht, or Lisbon, and it should have been, because an acceptable EEC is nothing remotely like a United States of Europe. And of course the reason we weren’t asked is because as even Michael Portillo observes ‘The EU hates democracy’
    Well finally we got democracy, and in June 2016, Leave won the argument and decided that this ever closer union towards a United States of Europe was not for us.
    Thank God that Leaver common sense prevailed. Only 508 days to go to freedom.

  • Peter Watson 8th Nov '17 - 5:42pm

    @Arnold Kiel “all Lisbon Treaty provisions had a UK blessing”
    But did it have a Lib Dem blessing, or even a “UK blessing” that satisfied the Lib Dems?
    My recollection is that the Lib Dems were split between those who wanted a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty (e.g. Tim Farron) and those who wanted an In/Out referendum on EU membership (e.g. Nick Clegg). Neither side got its way at the time, but the latter side did eventually get its In/Out referendum, and look at the trouble that has caused!

  • Peter Watson 8th Nov '17 - 5:47pm

    @Sheila Gee “A democratic endorsement from the British people was never sought”
    But Lib Dems did want such a democratic endorsement. The offical party line was for an In/Out referendum and Tim Farron rebelled by supporting a referendum on just the Lisbon treaty. While the party’s pro-EU credentials are as strong as ever, its position on democratic support for that has been less consistent, particularly when it realised a vote to remain in the EU was not a foregone conclusion.

  • Sean Hyland 8th Nov '17 - 5:52pm

    Its perhaps not unexpected that this debate has produced the largest number of responses that I have seen since I first started reading LibDem Voice. It shows the importance to both sides of the leave/remain argument to both sides.
    I still go away with the feeling that I am believed to be racist. Red Liberal makes it clear in their mind that only xenophobia could explain why I and the other leavers voted the way we did.
    I don’t yearn for some long assumed British utopia – I’m not old enough to have voted in the original referendum on the EEC. I certainly wasn’t swayed by Farage and his insulting posters or by slogans on buses. I voted against the increasingly centralisation of the EU based on research and studying EU pronouncements.
    This debate has confirmed that I was right not to rejoin the party. I left when Charles Kennedy was removed and the orange bookers took over. I know now I will not be welcome so will probably be stuck with a Tory mp and in what once had a Liberal mp now Corbyns barmy army are the opposition.
    I may look in on this and other LD blogs from time to time but that will be my limit.

  • Red liberal
    utter tripe. 3 million people are not being displaced or under the threat of being expelled. It’s ridiculous scaremongering . It’s simply a matter of not seeing Europe as special. People from all over the world live and work in Britain.

  • Red Liberal 8th Nov '17 - 6:51pm

    @Sean Hyland so the real threat of 3 million people being displaced and families being forcibly split up does not register on your radar? Are you so xenophobic that EU27 nationals and the UK citizens who love EU27 nationals don’t even count as people to you?

  • Red Liberal 8th Nov '17 - 6:59pm

    @“Glenn” – that is blatant gaslighting! There has been no actual guarantee of any sort to EU27 nationals that they won’t be deported come Brexit! You’re obviously keen to seem them all deported.

  • Sean Hyland 8th Nov '17 - 7:05pm

    i am not xenophobic Red Liberal and will not go to your level. As far as I am aware we have never met but you claim to know what and who I am.
    I am the son of immigrants. I am proud to count as friends and family members as immigrants and not just from the EU.
    Before I voted I talked with them about the issues. All of them accept my decision, and my right in a democracy, because they know why I made it. They also know that i will fight to protect their rights to live here.

  • Arnold Kiel 8th Nov '17 - 8:19pm

    The UK’s approval of the Lisbon Treaty was legally valid for its international partners. Inconclusive domestic discussions about the required source of this approval were and are contractually irrelevant. In any event, dissatisfaction with this decision should be addressed to Westminster, not Brussels.

    In defense of Red Liberal (nice pseudonym, btw) it is probably fair to say that not every leaver is a xenophobe, but every xenophobe voted to leave. There are enough of them to have made the decisive difference and all non-xenophobe leavers found it ok for the xenophobes to carry the day.

    The facts are that you have a PM who insists on reducing immigration to the tens of thousands while counting students, who sent around “go home”-buses, who had proposed to discriminate against immigrant school-children with respect to school-places, under whom hundereds of unjustified expulsion letters have been sent and questionable detentions and deportations increasingly happen. Arbitrary income-requirements and costly and excessive formal requirements terrorise dependent spouses and whole families. She tried foreign-employee-reporting, and to this day, despite losing any goodwill with other EU countries, refuses to give any guarantees to EU citizens. She fits my definition of a xenophobe perfectly, a leading one at that.

  • Peter Watson 8th Nov '17 - 9:49pm

    @Arnold Kiel
    “… every xenophobe voted to leave … She fits my definition of a xenophobe perfectly, a leading one at that.”
    And yet she (albeit less than wholeheartedly) backed the UK remaining in the EU.
    Meanwhile, her fellow Remainers poo-pooed the notion that Turks could join the EU, and supported a system which gave preferential treatment to white German doctors and nurses over those from India and Pakistan who might speak better English.
    Perhaps there were xenophobes on both sides of the fence, and perhaps using such labels does not help in the debate to prevent Brexit. Those who voted for Brexit need to be won over, not demonised.

  • Peter Martin 8th Nov '17 - 11:09pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “I wish any of you would ever specify in which area (e.g. environment, workers’ rights, trade-agreements, product-standards, etc. etc.), which specific EU rule you want to abolish or change (how exactly?), and how that would have a positive cost/benefit balance for your country.”

    I’d like to change the rule that requires “ever closer union” and particularly that all EU countries, apart from the UK, should ready themselves for the euro.

    The UK manages to run balanced trade with the ROW. But it runs a huge deficit with the EU and under EU rules there’s nothing to be done about that. Someone in the UK needs to borrow to support that deficit. That’s just arithmetic. The EU countries are either economically depressed or they have to be mercantilistic in their economic policy by running large surpluses. Either way the EU is not a good trade partner for the UK under current EU rules.

  • Do we know that “every Xenophobe voted Leave”? Is this oft made assertion even knowable? Or is this simply a trope being borrowed (ironically from the far right) and flipped to cast aspersion on an entire group. What surveys seem to suggest is that a good proportion of Remain voters also want lower immigration including from countries within the EU. Contrary to the many heated exchanges here, it’s actually the majority opinion throughout Britain, over 70% according to most of the attitude surveys.

  • Arnold Kiel 9th Nov '17 - 8:36am

    Peter Watson, Glenn,

    it would be fantastic, if Turkey fulfilled the membership criteria (the UK would still have a veto); but everybody knows this is extremely unlikely and in the best case decades away. It is also a great source of hope for millions of desperate Turks and Kurds who are dragged back into an islamic dictatorship after having been within striking distance from liberty and modernity.

    Brexiteers cannot be won, only bought. They need to be shown the prohibitive price of their folly. Remainers, including those who want lower immigration, already understand this.

    The four freedoms of the internal market have nothing to do with immigration-rules from third countries. They repersent a systemically logical, contractually clean, legal and legitimate preference.

    No, I have no proof for the obvious. Can we settle for 90% of xenophobes being leavers and 10% remainers?

    Peter Martin,

    The UK had an opt-out from the ever closer union and the common currency. Does the UK have to leave, because the other 27 do not want these? What happened to your own-currency-panacea to all economic ills? Does it only help against a continent with fractionated mini-currencies, but not a currency-block?

    The UK-EU trade imbalance has a simple reason: The EU produces food and industrial products every British citizen and company needs; the British agricultural and industrial sectors are relatively smaller and your financial services cater only to the wealthy.

  • Mark,
    I understand that motives are mixed. Personally, I think its no more relevant than how remain tries to reconcile socialist with free marketeers. people who think it is protecting workers rights with people who want cheap labour to keep wages down, people who want to reform it with people who think its the pinnacle of western history, and so on and so And as I pointed out most Remain voters also wanted to reduce immigration from member states . One survey found that a small majority of Europeans want a Trump style ban. Arnold in at least one of his posts asserts that Europeans integrate better than migrants from outside the Union. And as I said the phrase used “not all” is borrowed from the right wing trope about terrorism and is plainly designed to cast aspersions and to elicit a nice knowing nod out of an appreciative audience . My view is people and cultures are awkward and lumpy and all over the place, but that’s what you have to work with and who votes in a democracy as well as what shapes the nature of the vote.

  • Peter Martin 9th Nov '17 - 9:04am

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “The UK-EU trade imbalance has a simple reason”

    Maybe but it’s not for the reason you give. Consider a world of just two economies A and B which trade with each other freely. Each have their own floating currency. Trade will always balance providing neither A nor B interfere in the free workings of the currency market.

    If economy A is doing better, by GDP growth and higher demand for its products, then its currency will rise enabling the citizens of A to afford to buy more of whatever B produces. If A or B deliberately suppresses the value of its currency it will run a trade surplus. This is true whatever the relative performance of its own economy.

    Its own citizens are thus deprived of some of the real goods and services it produces. At the same time if one runs a surplus, the other has to run a deficit. Penny for penny, this has to be the case.

    So a high trade surplus is always a sign of an undervalued currency. If we look around the world at countries with a high trade surplus, it is always the case that the Govt is holding down its currency value.

    The main EU trading partner of the UK is Germany. Germany uses the relative strength of its own economy relative to the value of the euro to run a surplus. At the same time its own citizens are having to pay more for imports, like petrol, than they should.

  • Arnold Kiel 9th Nov '17 - 9:25am

    Peter Martin,

    now I understand your fix (Brexit) for this problem: just keep depressing Britons’ purchasing power until they stop importing.

  • Red Liberal,
    Not all leavers are racist but by God the ones that are pushed them over the finish line. I can understand the reluctance to accept that your fellow travellers are not the nicest of people but denying it does the leavers no favours. You can dress it up as they don’t belong to our tribe but that is just a polite way of saying you don’t look like me, you don’t talk like so go away; as I’ve said before leave was powered by fear and stupidity and if leavers don’t like that well go and complain to Tinkerbell about it.

  • Frankie,
    I don’t deny that element exists within the leave vote, what I dispute is that pro EU lobby are much better. Coz you can read all manor of prejudices aired in the comment sections of the Guardian and Independent too. That’s people for you, not always nice.
    Personally, I think there’s far too much cod psychology being put forward to try to get round the reality that EU is not as appealing to UK voters as Remain campaigners had hoped, and that voting for MEPs as never been much more than an afterthought to electing local councils. I think part of the problem for remain was an embarrassed campaign that failed to deliver a positive message. Maybe with a better campaign it could have swung more votes, maybe not.
    Personally, I think May will be out by April next year and that there will be another election. It won’t change my opinion, but it is possible that you might get a new government before 2019.

  • Peter Martin 9th Nov '17 - 12:20pm

    @ Arnold Kiel,

    “just keep depressing Britons’ purchasing power until they stop importing.”

    In a way, you’re right!

    This is what happens, in a relatively good way, when the currency falls. UK exports become cheaper. Imports to the UK become more expensive. No-one likes the currency falling. The UK falling out of the “snake” or the ERM on Black Wednesday in 1992 was considered a failure at the time. However, the lower currency allowed the economy to rapidly improve and we saw many years of continued growth afterwards.

    The alternative would have been ever increasing bouts of austerity which would have “depressed Britons’ purchasing power” but in a bad way. There would have been many years or recession and no subsequent growth.

    Austerity is the only way any euro using country has of balancing its trade. OK it works arithmetically, but only by making everyone so poor they can’t afford imports. In this way Greece has a small export surplus.

  • Peter Martin 9th Nov '17 - 12:47pm

    @ Frankie,

    Whichever way anyone voted in June 2016, they’d be in the company of those they intensely disliked. Was it better to be in the same voting booth as George Osborne or Nigel Farage? There’s little difference IMO.

    So we all had to vote the way we saw it. I’ve often made the argument that the fundamental economic thinking behind the current EU is fundamentally flawed. It can only possibly be a stepping stone to a United States of Europe.

    I tend to the view that the stepping stones are too far apart and that the leap from where the EU now is to where it needs to be won’t be possible. So the EU is stuck. It can’t go forward, it could possibly go back to what we had with the EEC/EC but the PTB would be hugely humiliated.

    We’ll have to see how it works out but one more banking crisis could force the bankruptcy of Italian, and even some German ones, and the eurozone will fall apart. The Italian banks are insolvent as it is. They only survive by everyone pretending they aren’t!

  • Sean Hyland 9th Nov '17 - 12:59pm

    I don’t deny that some who voted leave did so on the basis of prejudice. Can those who voted remain be sure of who voted with them.

    My sole reason for originally making a comment on Andy’s post was an Increasing exasperation with the narrative that prevails about why I voted as I did. I am tired of the constant voicing that its that because i am racist (I’m not), that I’m stupid ( I consider myself to be pretty average), that I have achieved little in life( I bad a senior nursing post till injury/disability ended it and have been lucky to have the love of my wife and son). I read Andy’s post as suggesting that somehow it was due to some primal emotion to reject/avoid strangers. That felt a little bit of a stretch and seemed to dismiss the evolution of the individual and the capacity for rational thought and decision making. I am certain that Andy did not intend to unleash some of the comments made by some posters and the aggression in particular.

    It does illustrate the problem with the debate on Brexit. People are passionate about the issues on both sides of the argument. Some did vote based on prejudice but my experience based on talking to others on both sides is that the majority based it on careful thought.

    I am happy to debate the issues. If you want to convince me don’t call me names( I haven’t called you any), please don’t dismiss me as just another one of the stupid/racist masses led by the nose by Murdoch and the Daily Mail etc and incapable of independent thought, and don’t dismiss me as a little Englander wrapped in a flag hoping for a return to a misty eyed return to an england that never actually existed.

    The dangers is by allowing this narrative to continue you risk losing the chance to convert people to your cause and build the support for the party. An informed debate might just convince people- I don’t personally think a blanket dismissal of leavers as stupid and racist won’t.

  • Sean Hyland 9th Nov '17 - 1:04pm

    Sorry last bit should have said that I personally don’t think that a blanket dismissal of leavers as stupid or racist will convince people to change. Clumsy fingers on small keyboard.

  • Peter Watson 9th Nov '17 - 2:12pm

    @Andy Daer “unless we understand why people voted leave we won’t be able to change their minds”
    This is vital.
    So much of the approach to Brexiters seems to have been labelling them so that their views can be ignored.
    They are old … so they’ll die soon and can be ignored.
    They have less education … so they must be wrong and can be ignored.
    They don’t like unrestricted immigration … so they are racist and can be ignored.
    They have low incomes and live in the North … so are not part of a metropolitan liberal elite and can be ignored.
    OK, I made up the last one but that is an impression that is sometimes given!

    Instead, Lib Dems and Remainers could be saying …
    They are old … so perhaps they have a different perspective on life in the UK outside the EU, and have children and grandchildren whose futures they care about.
    They have less education, lower incomes, and don’t like unrestricted immigration … so perhaps they experience a different side of cheaper foreign labour, seeing salaries stagnating and their livelihoods threatened because they feel displaced from the workplace by eastern Europeans rather than benefiting from access to cheaper tradesmen and politer baristas.

    Being more thoughtful about why some/many/all Brexiters voted the way they did might open up ways to persuade them of the benefits that the EU has brought, or make Remainers consider how those benefits could perhaps be better shared.

  • Peter Martin 9th Nov '17 - 10:32pm

    @ Andy Daer,

    You’re still in denial about the economics, both in the UK and EU, that has driven the move to Brexit. The EU had a crisis in the making right from the beginning of the formation of the euro. You have to ask yourself if was it ever feasible, given the strong sense of national identities in the EU, to try to achieve a United States of Europe. This is the vision which is still behind the European Union. The creation of the euro, which was supposed to pave the path towards a USE, and the rules that go with it, has been a disaster. The impact of this is of course mainly, but not exclusively, felt by those who are inside the euro region itself. I’d include those countries who are subjecting their economies to extreme austerity in preparation for euro usage to be part of the region too. Except for the UK, pretty much the whole of the EU!

    The European Union is based on the four principles of free movement, including free movement of labour. That’s fine as long as people move for the right reasons. If they move because they prefer the weather in Manchester to the weather in Malaga for example. Actually they’re leaving because there’s a systemic breakdown in many parts of the EU economy, courtesy of the euro and that’s why people are moving to the UK.

    Instead of reciprocal and symmetric levels of migration we’ve been seeing systemic breakdown levels of asymmetrical migration. Who can possibly be surprised that this has caused social frictions which are now leading to a rise of nationalism and xenophobia in Europe in general.

    Thank goodness we made the decision not to surrender the pound and take up the euro too. But we haven’t always got it right ourselves. After 2010 the Con/LibDem coalition went in for total austerity. So at the same time we were experiencing systemic levels of high migration with people arriving in the UK and putting pressure on services, we were running down those services.

    It was a double whammy and a political own goal of immense significance. UKIP went from being also-rans to become a significant political player. They and the Tory right, who are pretty much indistinguishable, seized their opportunity with gusto. And, why wouldn’t they?

    But, why have they been given this opportunity in the first place?

  • Peter Martin 10th Nov '17 - 12:29pm

    @ Andy Daer,

    I agree it’s possible to take a much rosier view of the EU than I do. It could well be that you’ll turn out to be right. If the right people were in charge then you could be, but my assessment is that the mindset of the EU PTB is that “rules are rules”. So if we see problems arise, the thinking is its because the rules haven’t been obeyed rather than a questioning of the rationale behind the rules themselves. There’s far too much rigidity in the structure, rather than strength, which will inevitably be its undoing. IMO.

    You may well be right to say there is a primeval instinct in us all that can under certain circumstances lead us all to commit terrible acts which are motivated by fear. That comes out the most when economic circumstances are bad. I would argue that if you’re interested in the EU you need to take an interest in economics as well as anthropology. WW2 arose out of the 30s depression. If the economic situation in Germany then had been better, history would have followed a very different course.

  • Arnold Kiel 10th Nov '17 - 2:23pm

    Sean Hyland,

    thank you for sharing some of your background. I accept your motives for voting leave were morally faultless.

    But I guarantee you: your disability support will fall, the care you might or will need in the future will deteriorate or disappear, your wife’s real income will continue to fall, and your son’s professional prospects will deteriorate. I know, you won’t believe me, but please make a thought experiment: assume for a moment my predictions were correct, and then ask yourself which are the Brexit-benefits that will overcompensate that for you. Found them? Still happy? Then accept my congratulations.

    All the best to you and your family.

  • I don’t think it’s about fear. I think some people think Britain is a mini America in Europe complete with a faux version of the American dream and a sort of “give us your huddled masses” mythology. And it is just not true. Britain is in truth small island where people form natural queues. It has an infrastructure with a somewhat nativist bias and contractarian mind set. If you actually look at peoples complaints they are not driven by fear, but by annoyance along the lines of ” Why am I having to wait hours in my GP surgery, why is my daughter still on the housing list, how come this person got that, why is my local MP more interested international meetings than getting my bins emptied and so on. It’s a culture clash between liberal idealists and peasant who simply don’t want the big shiny utopian vision. The point being that you control immigration to a level the locals find acceptable because it causes less friction and because they can always vote for someone else. Pragmatism.

  • Sorry for not replying to you sooner Arnold but as you know been focused on Katharines post.
    As a thought experiment i offer the following. My care needs went out of the window when the Tories were elected i and Osborne started his time in no 11. Lets not forget that cut backs and austerity started then. I am lucky in having an index linked final salary pension from my time in the NHS enhanced by short work with my local council and a spell working for the DWP. i am aware that these pensions were killed off by the approach to financial regulation of both the Tories and Labour started by Thatchers big bang. My wife salary has been declining for some time – shes a civil servant – again the Tories austerity. My son has been lucky – Uni didn’t work for him -but left him with a big debt. He has been lucky to get a higher apprenticeship with an international company who have announced they will continue to invest in the UK. He would have voted LD if old enough in 2010 as he bought the party line on student fees but he is grateful for the work they have done to push for more apprenticeships.
    i appreciate that family circumstances are better than many but the austerity that we face started long before Brexit.

  • Peter Martin 13th Nov '17 - 11:52am

    @ Sean @Arnold,

    There’s no way of knowing who will turn out to be correct. Neither Arnold nor anyone else is able to “guarantee” anything. It all depends how well the Govt chooses to run the economy. There is a time for austerity economics. They would be appropriate if the economy was running flat out and we were making demands for so many real things that it couldn’t supply. There would have to be some rationing mechanism and that would happen via the price mechanism. ie high inflation.

    The best way to run the economy, to achieve growth and prosperity, and regardless of Brexit, is to ensure that everyone is working in as productive a way as possible. This means minimising underemployment as well as unemployment. It means jettisoning neoliberal and EU style ordoliberal economic policies. The latter incorporates the mentality of the 19th century . Then debtors was thrown into prison, as a punishment, and told to repay their debts. Now debtor countries are told to depress their economies, also as punishment, and then are also expected to repay. A more enlightened 21st century approach might be that debts can only be repaid, or serviced, when economies are working to full capacity and everyone is working efficiently.

    If the EU had a good track record of achieving that in its own economy then very likely there would have been no Brexit in any case. I, for one, would have voted to Remain. Once we have the right economic thinking, the economy will function in everyone’s interest. Just what that might be, the size of the State etc, can then be decided by the workings of the democratic political process.

  • Peter I agree with what you say re the orthodox economic practices of the EU. Its what is driving the centralisation of political processes to protect the Euro project at all costs. Its this I voted against. My regret is that we will lose some of the good that the EU did.

    Its true we don’t know what the future holds. I am hopeful that a positive outcome will occur.

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