When people realise they have been lied to…

Vote Leave seem to have ridden a tide of resentment to a narrow referendum majority, and immediately had to start admitting to lying in their campaign. The lies were impressive and, combined with the idea that experts are not to be trusted, were irrefutable. They played on the fears and anxieties of people who already felt left behind. They spoke to people struggling from years of austerity and feeling ignored by “elites”.

What happens to these people as they realise they were taken for a ride by a faction of that “elite” that played on their vulnerability? What is happening to people who voted Leave because they wanted change, and are increasingly horrified to find out what that change looks like, or voted out of protest and discover that their vote has consequences?

The resentment is real. It get stronger as the extent of the lying becomes more obvious — particularly the lie that warnings on the consequences of Brexit could be dismissed as scaremongering. People who are angry with “elites” are discovering that, in Boris Johnson, they have set an Old Etonian with a reputation for lying on the path to No.10.

At the very least, this calls the referendum result into question. Stories of people ringing the Electoral Commission to ask if they can change their vote point to changes of heart. Many more won’t have made the call, or know the answer would be “no”.

Many of the people who feel they have been duped are invisible and ignored. That exacerbates the divisions in British society that are becoming horribly obvious, and is a case for not heading down the path of Brexit.

It is vital to mobilise the anger of these people before Article 50 is invoked and the process of leaving becomes irrevocable.

In a different time, many of these would have been core Labour supporters and Labour would have mobilised them. But Labour’s internal battles are getting in the in the way. What can we do to mobilise them?

Some of these people will respond to us directly — this weekend there has been LibDem door-knocking in Cambridge which is about listening to people, and conversations about city-wide leafleting. But we also need to be quick to highlight lies from Leave as they become apparent and do all we can to publicise them in the press and online.

The list is already dismal. Off the top of my head:

The last of these points needs special mention, because we couldn’t say it during the campaign but can now shout it from the rooftops. The Tories commissioned the Lords’ Europe committee to do a thorough review of the powers exercised by Brussels so they could draw up the shopping list for renegotiation. The conclusion was that it was against the national interest to repatriate any powers. But Cameron was already committed to a “renegotiation”. Far from being intransigent, the EU threw Cameron a life jacket by coming up with a credible package, that avoided doing harm.

Cameron played foul by demanding change that he knew was not needed: that lie, and the extreme generosity of our EU partners, both need exposing.

Postscript

There is a petition which is being used to push for a second referendum. It was actually set up beforehand to change the rules for the referendum, but it’s gaining signatories rapidly and worth signing and encouraging others to sign.

* Mark Argent was the candidate in Hertford and Stortford in the 2017 General Election

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17 Comments

  • john summerskill 27th Jun '16 - 4:19pm

    i am 71 years old and as i and 80% of the country live in a safe seat i have never had a vote in local or general elaction , my choice is vote labour or waste a vote on any other party. If the local general election was a choice of boris johnson as conservative or a stuffed parrot for labour the parrot would win with a large majority. the E U referendum is the first time my vote has counted. Is it time for proportional representation?

  • Unfortunately this is a problem of the Lib Dems (part of the political establishment’s) own making. If immigration and trade issues had been anticipated instead of being covered up and a proper negotiation had been delivered (quotas for migrants, turbo-charged trade deals) we wouldn’t be in this situation.

    It’s because the Lib Dems have stopped having anything to say for the ignored and left behind and have become part of the elites without actually holding any power.

    Apparently `unlimited migration is inevitable`. Well it’s not in Liberal Canada so why is it here? And who does it impact most? It’s a question of the elites being totally out of touch with people. It’s because the whole of the UK’s edifice is lopsidedly `over European` and thinkers had nowhere else to go but to vote Leave.

    The pains we’re seeing is the fault of our UK/EU polity who have let the UK and Europe down. Tim comes across as an obsessed europhile – talking up the structure without saying what reforms he’d want because for him `all migration is good migration`. It’s myopic.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Jun '16 - 5:38pm

    My hope is that Boris Johnson will be elected leader of the Conservative party.

    It will be interesting to see how keen he is to trigger the article 50 process now that the consequences of leaving the EU are becoming clearer. The lies that were used to achieve the narrow leave vote, that one can eat one’s cake and leave it, must be dawning even on him. Once article 50 is triggered the UK’s negotiating position will be considerably weakened.

  • But of course they were not the only ones lying – what about the Remains – Emergency Budget proposals – now shelved. The problem for Remain – is that their whole campaign was based on fear – and people didn’t buy it – for all kinds of reasons. What was missing was the positive reasons – international co-operation, environmentalism, peace etc. All espoused very well by the Lib Dems but they were missing off the radar – not their fault but missing still.

  • Jayne Mansfield 27th Jun '16 - 5:42pm

    Error.
    ‘Have one’s cake and eat it’

  • I cannot imagine anything more disastrous for the UK’s international standing (in addition to the recent Leave vote) than to place a man possessing neither leadership nor skills nor talent nor experience nor charisma nor any kind of intellectual or persuasive ability at the head of the British government.

  • Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson MP didn’t even have the courtesy to turn up for the PM’s EU referendum statement this afternoon. Seems like Britain’s answer to Mussolini was elsewhere rearranging his hair ?

  • You’ve answered some questions, but not the most important: “Give us back our country” was on the surface a protest about unelected bureaucrats in the European Commission dictating to us about this, that and the other, but the subtext was immigration, and as I said in a post about ten days before polling day, “It’s Immigration, stupid”. And what people will do when they find out they’ve been lied to about immigration is to turn on people they perceive as being ‘foreign’, as anecdotal evidence suggests is already happening. Much of this will be random and incoherent, but there are enough proto-fascist groups out there for one or more to potentially channel such anger as we saw in the 1970s. I don’t know what we as liberals can do to counter the resentment felt by, largely, working class communities whose cohesion, culture and pride has been destroyed by economic and social forces over which they have had no control, but the referendum campaign led them to believe that there was at least a slight chance that their concerns might be listened to for once, and their fury when they find that they have been betrayed, again, could have dismal consequences for our society.

  • Nom de Plume 27th Jun '16 - 6:24pm

    David Raw

    A clown leading Britain – that would be appropriate. I just hope your historic parallel is not too accurate.

  • Floating voter 27th Jun '16 - 7:23pm

    David Raw should realise that mocking an opponent’s name is more characteristic of the BNP than the Liberal Democrats . PLease desist

  • Matt (Bristol) 27th Jun '16 - 11:50pm

    As a citizen of Bristol who has to visit a norther suburb of it from time to time, can I put it out there that ‘Brentry’ is a reasonable alternative to ‘Brexit’?

    (this post mainly based on geographical weak puns than on sound politics)

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brentry

  • Remain lied too. And those lies cost us valuable votes that might have won the day. Where’s that punishment budget? Whatever you think of him, Boris is probably the best hope for a close association settlement that closely resembles membership. He never really believed in Brexit other than as a route to remove his mate Dave and install himself in No.10. He’s also a popularist who will likely steer a centrist and inclusive course. There are far worse potential candidates including May and Gove who would be intolerable.

  • Nom de Plume 28th Jun '16 - 4:56am

    Stevan Rose

    The concerns of industry have not been addressed properly. Neither during the campaign nor at present. All immigration. Something the politicos and the General Public may come to regret. It astonishes me the cavalier attitude this Eton lot have towards the future of this country. Cameron gambling with it and Johnson defending a position he might think to be not be in its best interests. You must have a very privileged background to be able take such a position. If you think you detected an element of contempt in my previous comment, you would be correct.

  • Martin Land 28th Jun '16 - 8:18am

    @steven rose. Don’t worry, the punishment is coming. The markets will no longer allow the Tories to keep on borrowing. The cuts will come.

  • We are seeing the submerged racism in our society. A racism which appears to be fuelled by the resentment of many people who feel marginalised. I have just been watching on BBC interviews with various people in Leeds one of whom was saying that they felt now able to say send them all back home. This is now it seems extended to anyone who sounds foreign. Also an interview with a worker from Europe who was being asked all the time when he was going back home. There is an urgent need to look at the work which has been done over the years about how to work against prejudice. How to deal with the widespread poverty in our country.

    We must remember that it is ideas we are fighting, not people. We should ensure we talk about the very real problems that many people face, and our solutions to these problems.

  • Jayne Mansfield 28th Jun '16 - 10:57am

    @ Martin Land,
    And all blame will be diverted to the role immigrants have played in our downfall!

  • What Tony Hill said. Especially this bit:

    “what people will do when they find out they’ve been lied to about immigration is to turn on people they perceive as being ‘foreign’, as anecdotal evidence suggests is already happening. Much of this will be random and incoherent, but there are enough proto-fascist groups out there for one or more to potentially channel such anger as we saw in the 1970s. I don’t know what we as liberals can do to counter the resentment felt by, largely, working class communities whose cohesion, culture and pride has been destroyed by economic and social forces over which they have had no control, but the referendum campaign led them to believe that there was at least a slight chance that their concerns might be listened to for once, and their fury when they find that they have been betrayed, again, could have dismal consequences for our society.”

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