The weekend was an outpouring of mawkishness and mindless memes. The most shocking thing about the UK’s Brexit vote is the shock and horror subsequently displayed by many of the country’s own people. While the referendum result was unexpected, it seems parts of the British population are in complete disbelief, seeing it as against nature and world-ending. The impression is of pro-‘Remain’ electorates/sub-cultures that had been cocooned from realities of life and the opinions of many of their own countrymen (presumably, this is not peculiar to the UK – the ‘echo chamber’ effect must play a role).
The mawkishness and emotion suggest a lack of worldly experience, which heartless grumpy and impatient types might attribute to helicopter parenting, lack of ‘trigger warnings’ and similar modern ills. Even the most easy-going of us can only take so much whining about ‘having our future destroyed’ and demands for a second referendum. There is also a simplistic, naïve self-identity/tribalism at work in the assumption that being pro-EU and being against racism and other illiberalism are the same thing.
As for the memes… Scotland will become independent; violence will break out in Northern Ireland; there will be years/decades of uncertainty; banks will disappear from London; English counties that received EU handouts will perish; the Labour Party leadership issue is of gripping importance. (We’ll skip the rush for Irish passports or the outbreak of anti-Polish pogroms.) No-one knows why these things can or should happen – it’s just that everyone is going round telling everyone else they will. If you like this sort unquestioning panic, try the Financial Times, the paper that once predicted cataclysm if the UK did not scrap its own monetary policy and adopt the Euro.
The emotion and memes culminate in the EU power structure itself, where grandees demand that the UK suffer maximum economic pain, partly out of vindictiveness for its impertinence, and partly to deter other countries from leaving. Incredibly, some are instinctively demanding greater federalization among remaining member countries.
Serious questions. Why do they so badly want to deter other countries from leaving? Why should other countries want to leave?
The Eurocrats detest arrangements (‘cherry-picking’, concessions, opt-outs, other flexibility) that might appease public opinion in individual member countries. Yet they have no convincing reasons why uniformity and submission to unpopular measures are vital. The only conclusion is that, rather than being about the needs and wishes of people, the purpose of the EU today is the continuation and strengthening of the EU itself. So much idealism and vision and work have gone into building the institutions and structures and processes and accumulation of power, they cannot allow the ‘project’ – as they call it – to end, change, adapt, listen, calm down or otherwise get real. Sounds as if it is the EU that really has the ‘existential’ problem.
As an inhabitant or perhaps prisoner of the Soho Triangle (Staunton Steet/World Wide House/FCC) I sadly doubt if you have anything meaningful to say on this.
To each his own. Jedem das Seine.
Thank goodness for Alex Lo in today’s SCMP for reminding us that it’s government of the people and not by the people. Tibetan referendum anyone?
“Enid”, dontcha think it ironic that your ad hominem barb doubting that our esteemed commentator has “anything meaningful to say on this” itself contains no substantive contribution to the discussion?
Now that it has happened ,unexpected or expected and whether we like it or not, it has to be dealt with .
A few of your paragraphs are absolutely spot on and are worthy of further publication.
As to Dr. whatisname, you appear to be a jealous and unfunny bore. Step back sonny and let real pundits such as Hemlock do what they do best.
This letter to the Guardian is a good example of today’s point:
“I feel dismayed after the EU referendum, the most divisive vote in my lifetime, which risks a move towards a more unequal, divided and racially intolerant society, a broken UK and a breakdown of relationships across Europe. When I arrived at work on Friday morning, a female colleague was in tears simply because she is Irish. Other colleagues sat in stunned silence that their environmental regulation work (at the Environment Agency) of the last 40 years could be undone. When I got home, my daughter, who has hopes of going to university in the Netherlands, asked why her future had been taken from her. Have we learned nothing from Europe’s history? Is there anything we can do to take a better path forward from here?
Dr Mark Whiteman
1. Both sides lied through their teeth. Personally, I think the Remain camp were slightly more unpleasant, threatening and personal – but that’s just me.
2. The referendum was totally unnecessary except to try to unite the Tory party. That went well, don’t you think?
Cameron will be pilloried by history for using that tactic in a country that historically has avoided referenda.
3. The referendum is not legally binding. That will become an issue, but I can’t see the “winners” giving the “losers” another try, although that is a tried and true EU tactic (cf. Ireland and Denmark) – keep doing it until you get the right answer!
Similarly, I can’t see why the Scots would be given another shot, particularly since the price of oil has halved since the 2014 referendum.
4. It was a shambles and a total failure of political leadership in the UK and in the EU. If I were a Remain politician, I would be extremely cautious about calling 17+ million people stupid. It’s called democracy – suck it up!
PS: Enid – I watched the results come in at the FCC! Full English Breakfast with English Breakfast tea, then, at around 1100am, to show there were no hard feelings and to demonstrate our multiculturalism, a bottle of champers!
The FT correspondent with his pitiful attempt at satire was partly correct – it was old age, wrong postcode, dislike to politicians and business leaders etc. He did miss though, maybe by design, the main reason; for all the protestations that “we’re not racist” by some who are now happily chasing Polish immigrants or Asian Muslims down the road, the main reason being an inherent grain of dislike in much of the British population of those with a different skin colour or a funny accent or inability to speak Gods language.
Prior to the campaign and certainly back to the last General Election, the EU was way way down the list of priorities for the British electorate. Boris and pals managed to mimic UKIPs trick of making the EU a multi-use fall guy – just insert your favourite problem or failure and blame the EU for it.
Apologies – my reference to referenda being rerun should have mentioned Holland, not Denmark.
Reader, Maugrim etc
Catch me on Talkradio UK with George Galloway tonight.
Socialism is irrelevant in HK..but is it?
Was the FT article about Doc ‘Enid’?
jokes ..just jokes..
French 2015 vintage is cheaper praise the Lords
What i find amazing is that 17m people would vote to negotiate from a position of no strength – and on the basis of immigaration issues that are a result of their own governments flawed benefits system.
The whole Brexit thing had no follow through plan and now UK politicians have to go to the EU and ask for concessions whilst it is known that they are already leaving.
It is like deciding to buy something without first agreeing the
price and then saying you want it regardless. The person selling holds all of the cards and the buyer has no negotiating position. No wonder Cameron resigned (apart from his own realisation that he bad screwed up big time trying to appease a small minded section of his own political party).
Not your best essay, Hemlock.
I hope this Brexit foolishness will cause so much misery for the uneducated wrinklies who voted for it that they will think twice the next time, and their ‘we are so special and British’ prima donna crap will hit them right between the eyes of their cheap made-in-China NHS glasses.
I generally agree with your analyses of Hong Kong politics, but I can’t say the same for your coverage of Britain. The shock among the Remain camp is not because they have been cocooned from the realities of life, but because they can’t believe how many of their compatriots have little or no grasp of the realities of today’s interconnected world, leaving them easy prey to the self-serving nonsense dished up by Messrs Johnson and Farage.
So, I have a couple genuine questions for the Peanut Gallery. Nothing rhetorical here. I’m actually hoping for some answers from this esteemed group.
The British people just voted to leave the EU, but not to leave the EEA, correct? If the government implements what the referendum actually called for, this would leave Britain in a situation similar to Norway — in the EEA, out of the EU. Norway seems to be doing just fine. What’s so different about Britain?
With regard to the campaigns…. It sure does seem a number of the Leavers were voting just to keep out immigrants, but population mobility is an EEA issue, isn’t it?…. so, immigration was not actually on this ballot. Conversely, a bunch of the Remainers were voting to preserve immigration, but population mobility is an EEA issue…. so, again, not actually on this ballot. Were both sides really just lying to each other and themselves about what was on this ballot and then getting very upset about the results?
What was on the ballot was leave or stay.
Your reasons for voting as you did (I could not) were entirely up to you.
Plus Norway is in position it is as a result of negotiation with EU. Nothing automatic about it.
UK is bleeped as a union
UK constituent parts are bleeped economically
Prime Minsiter has decided to abdicate.
His potential/likely succesor is a philandering narcissitc buffoon, who is incapable of consistency in any way or form
The opposition have decided to mount a coup against the leader they elected a year ago
Only thing to add in is for the Queen to die and we have a second constitutional crisis, as to whether Charles to succeed, and of what?
Life is currently quite difficult for me but am glad I am in HK than UK, notwithstanding my life savings, held in sterling, being decimated.
No, not WILL, but ARE. You cannot continue dismissing warnings of the consequences of Brexit as “memes” when they ARE actually happening. The pound has fallen, jobs are being taken overseas, grants are being cancelled, contracts are being broken, Polish people are being attacked, companies are freezing hirings.
This is not Project Fear, this is Project Read-The-God-Damned-News.
You accuse others of being out of touch (umm, from Hong Kong, as a long-term expat) whilst showing that you do not at all understand what is happening in Britain right now.
@Frequent visitor – “The British people just voted to leave the EU, but not to leave the EEA, correct?”
UK EEA membership comes as part of its EU membership. It is possible to be an EEA member without being an EU member, but this requires a separate agreement. The UK leaving the EU takes it out of the EEA baring a separate agreement.
“Norway seems to be doing just fine. What’s so different about Britain?”
Norway has to accept free movement of people to live and work there. The Leave campaign rejected this. Without accepting freedom of movement, we won’t get any such agreement. anyway, Norway’s situation is not worth leaving the EU for, since the monetary savings are minor, and they still have to accept lots of EU legislation.
Thanks, Dimuendo and FOARP. Much appreciated.