Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Remainers, be careful what you wish for: another referendum could lead to an even bigger win for Leave

My brother – not a working class, uneducated bigot but a bourgeois psychologist with three degrees – wanted to vote Leave, as I, his more intellectually challenged and impetuous younger sibling with a mere two degrees, indeed did. Our parents, who own a small but thriving business, also voted to exit the European Union, having rightly concluded that they were deceived and voted on a false prospectus back in 1975. My brother, though, being risk averse and understandably concerned, decided, on the basis of the scare tactics employed by the Remain campaign, to go with the status quo. He wanted out, but voted in.

How many more people did the same? I wonder. I suspect a not inconsiderable number. So as the Remainers continue to whinge and moan and blame the Leave victory on some kind of false consciousness afflicting the ignorant working classes, I'd like them to consider my brother, a middle class, highly educated professional who, I would contend, represents millions of people persuaded, by fear, to vote Remain at the last moment, when they really wanted out.

Two pillars of the Remain campaign’s post-referendum narrative thus begin to crumble. First, not all Leavers were working class – code for thick, uneducated and bigoted. Secondly, when one considers our natural human inclination to avoid change and take the safe option, especially when 'experts' warn us of the adverse consequences of that eminently avoidable change, many of those who chose to remain did so out of fear, not some ideological and moral commitment to the EU project.

If these reluctant Remainers voted the way they genuinely wanted to, the chasm that already exists between the governed and the elite would have been even more pronounced and, most importantly, more accurately reflective of public opinion. 17.5 million? The real figure’s much higher.

This brings me on to the media’s woeful and dangerously one-sided take on last Thursday's events. Whether you subject yourself to BBC, Sky, Channel 4 or ITV News, the analysis is the same: Leave voters are overwhelmingly uneducated working class bigots opposed to any form of immigration but, having seen the error of their ways, they would now vote to Remain if granted a second referendum.

Of course, these contentions are self-evidently contradictory: thick xenophobic racists do not ordinarily change their minds in the space of five days. One thing you can't accuse them of is fickleness. But that doesn't really matter: as long as Leave voters can be smeared as unworthy of the vote, easily manipulated and regretful now that the full implications of their decisions have been laid bare, the outcome can be brought into question and perhaps, after weeks and months of relentless bullying, overturned. We may yet remain after all, they hope.

Personally, though, I suspect that like Project Fear before the campaign, Project Smear will have the opposite effect. People like my brother - sick and tired of the lies and unrelenting bullying from a media and political establishment seething with 'egg-on-face'-induced anger - if asked to go to the polls again, would probably vote Leave. It’d be an even bigger victory than last Thursday. Remainers, be careful what you wish for.

1 comment:

  1. Totally agree. My brother-in-law voted Remain out of fear, but regretted it as soon as he left the polling booth.