Twitter is a blaze with condemnation that most people that bothered to vote went for UKIP than any other single party in last weeks European Election. Let alone the vast majority that chose not to visit the voting booths. Across mainland Europe the far right made spectacular advances. A darkness is descending as we howl against the fading moon dreading what this new dawn will usher forth.
However, that is going to be written about by many commentators. Less likely, is the reason why people in Britain are indifferent to whether we leave the EU at best or demand that we do so sooner rather than later. It has nothing to do with extreme politics, but a narrative that crosses traditional political boundaries. Miss this you fail to realise why UKIP challenge Labour as well as the Tories.
The financial crises showed that even a Labour Government did not take the regulatory steps necessary to protect the country. The only alternative was to bail out the banks to prevent an even deeper depression. Governments do not understand financial markets, they only appreciate the vast sums of money they make. That it is built on shifting sands and a mirage that can bring down everyone around it is a cost they are prepared to risk on the country. It is not just betting the bank.
So when told that leaving the EU threatens our place in the financial world, there is a feeling this is no bad thing. There is no trust that Government understand the cost of inflation, stagnant wages and unemployment on ordinary citizens brought about by this slump – the God of finance must be worshipped and it is blasphemy to deny this. The financial whizz kids are the profits to revere in this religion of money for the few.
The creation of the single currency was hubris over the real risk that it was not an optimal currency area. The books for joining were cooked, and the regular targets not met as statistics were falsified or glossed over. The attitude was Europe would not risk this House of Cards falling down. A crises would allow the fiscal transfers that no citizen would have voted for being already in place, if told upfront when the Euro was created.
The longer we are in the European Union, the destiny to join the Euro will continue to be a siren call. Parliament does not need to consult the people in giving up its sovereign power to issue our own money. As the economy gradually comes out of the mess it is in, we realise how much worse it would have been in the Euro Zone for Britain.
Immigration is always a contentious issue during hard times, our generosity begrudging even asylum seekers from Syria’s civil war. When local authorities charge the voters more for providing extra services via council tax to improve infrastructure to cope there is a question of fairness. If overall we benefit from immigration the cost should be evenly spread at least. Central government should finance directly.
Identity is an issue. Removing the curriculum requirement to read “To Kill A Mocking Bird”, so as to make compulsory room for English native born works, is no solution to forge a British identity. Nor was the suggestion to have a British football team or British flags flying in schools. Harper Lee and Arthur Miller will be with me forever in my book collection and heart thanks to school. In Britain we embraced multiple identities, encouraging self identity. I am proud to live in such a pluralistic multicultural society.
Others are not so. Those that fear people on the train who live here speaking another language. Where we fear the food we eat is halal, never mind that most of it is stunned. That the Subway chain serving no bacon in some outlets is the frontline against Islamists imposing sharia on us all. Apparently, if you tolerate no bacon sarnie at a few outlets, women being stoned for adultery at your local football stadium is next. Remember the loyalty oath pledge for Muslims by someone from UKIP?
The only way to control immigration across the board by this fear is to leave the EU. The only way to keep us British is to entrench Christian values, to see that as part of our identity as the FA Cup, Wimbledon, Royal Ascot, Church of England and the monarchy. Never mind promoting such an identity is so English centric the Scottish Nationalist Party can only be pleased it gets more coverage in the run up to the Scottish independence referendum later this year. If British identity meant buying into a xenophobic Englishness then I want to be a citizen of the world. An independent Scotland might be where I claim political asylum to escape the madness if it comes.
The reasons outlined here for leaving the EU are similar for Scotland leaving the United Kingdom. Scotland can enter those global markets on its own now in a way it could not centuries ago without being a part of the British Empire. The EU, fearing separatist causes throughout Europe being helped by a Yes vote, are adding to the negativity of the No campaign.
The democratic credentials of the EU can be seen to be a pale reflection on these issues suppressing self determination. The far right rising across Europe where we see a level and frequency of hatred and vile attacks not comparable in the UK. The European project to safeguard human rights, prosperity and peace looks shaky. See the failure to rise up as one to protect Ukraine at all costs as we obfuscate to avoid a showdown with Putin.
This is the narrative that needs countering in the coming culture war leading up to the 2015 General Election in the UK. But it seems Liberal Democrats will just more vigorously say the same message that sunk them to fifth in the European Elections leaving them with one MEP. Labour will try and steal UKIP’s swagger as a working class lite but socially progressive version of UKIP. The Conservatives will say only they can win in the first past the post electoral system to fulfil a UKIP agenda in Parliament. UKIP itself will continue to have xenophobes, racists and homophobes in its ranks as well as those that agree for the most part with the narrative above that are none of these things.
We can only hope the media and politicians stop creating straw men to burn before that blazing new dawn engulfs us all. We have to rage rage against the dying of the night.
Article written by John Sargeant on Homo economicus’ Weblog