This letter below (in italics) appeared in the Worcester News on Monday, April 10th 2017. It is part of an exchange between Worcester’s Mr Peter Nielsen (Green Party candidate and independent parliamentary candidate in the 2010 General Election) and myself, UKIP’s 2015 parliamentary candidate, also for Worcester.
I have inserted my comments in parentheses. The original letter is offset.
[I partly agree with Mr Nielsen here. The referendum can, at least in part, be seen as a popular rebellion against the political establishment. But it’s only part of the story. Nielsen commences a line of argument here that fits his narrative and is easier for him to digest]
James Goad well knows that the referendum vote owed its majority to disillusion with and rejection of the traditional parties by people who felt that they were not being listened to by politicians who had grown distant from them.
[Mr Nielsen makes a gross generalisation here. There were multiple reasons why Leave voters went the way they did. Amongst them were, in no particular order:
His claim (Letters, April 6) that the 52 per cent majority was a vote for change is only plausible in the sense that it was a rejectionist act, a sticking up of two fingers to the establishment.
- the way the UK has been a net contributor and has received peanuts in return. From January 1973 the net total contribution, in today’s inflation-adjusted money, adds up to around half a trillion pounds. Hard-pressed British taxpayers have for years asked the question: “what are we getting out of this thing”?
- open-door immigration. Never a sensible thing with a highly advanced/ over-developed welfare state. Most of the EU migrants worked in low-paying jobs and were eligible for the same mostly in-work benefits as the natives, who’d paid into the system for years. Not a situation designed to promote harmony – quite the reverse, yet it was the Leave camp who were consistently accused of ‘divisiveness’
- the disaster of the Euro – people aren’t blind to what happened in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland. The EU riding roughshod over the Greeks, after breaking the rules to let them in the Eurozone, appalled even some Europhiles I know
- the disaster of the Common Agricultural Policy. The waste and the imbalances across the continent, going back to the wine lakes and butter mountains of the 70’s and 80’s, along with the changing face of the British countryside as miles and miles of historic hedgerows were ripped up to create vast prairie-like spaces – all the more to squeeze the taxpayer subsidy farmers got for produce, irrespective of demand
- the Common Fisheries Policy and the near-destruction of this country’s fishing industry
- the endless pouring of directives and statutory instruments emanating from unaccountable technocrats in the EU Commission
- the lack of democracy of the EU architecture, with the EU ‘Parliament’ no more than an amending chamber for the EU Commission. A veneer of democracy to legitimate a technocratic government
- the lack of democratic legitimacy the EU had, with treaties signing away British sovereignty by British politicians who had no clear mandate to do so
- the almost overwhelming crony corporatism of the EU – corporate lobbyists in Brussels effectively shaping regulations and legislation to benefit themselves at the expense of the consumer and competition – 15,000 to 30,000 are estimates – anyone’s guess really – the register for them is a voluntary one
- The lies and general deceit given the British public about the objectives of the EU scheme to create a federal European superstate. The public were told it was all about ‘the Common Market’ in 1975, unless you checked the small print. Interesting to note that Mr Nielsen’s generation – those 65 and older – voted 70-30 to stay in back in ’75 but voted 60-40 to come out last year]
[he’s reaching for explanations here, but the truth is right in front of him]
Blaming our long association with the EU for the ignorance of many career politicians about how people live their lives in austerity Britain just made no sense.
[at least Mr Nielsen buys in to the concept of ignorant elitists, which I agree with]
It was a handy stick to beat blinkered elites with, and they did.
[this, perhaps more than anything, demonstrates how out-of-touch Mr Nielsen is. The demographic areas he mentions have perhaps suffered most from economic depression since the financial crisis, and before that, and had the most to lose from mass immigration driving down wage packets. It was people’s day-to-day working reality that encouraged a leave vote. This was something a middle-class former professional like Mr Nielsen is unlikely to fully appreciate, despite his socialist leanings. Furthermore, the EU grants for local schemes have always been British taxpayer’s money recycled back to them. It was an exercise in EU self-promotion at our expense, and many knew it]
It also makes no sense that many of the areas (South Wales, Cornwall) who voted decisively to leave were actually beneficiaries of European development aid and that it is doubtful they would be receiving from Westminster in the current climate of austerity.
[ah, here we have it; the all-too-predictable cry of ‘racist’ – always useful when your own arguments are founded on sand. If in doubt, shimmy, feint and hurl the ‘racist/ bigot/ xenophobe’ slur. Always a winner with the ignorant and indoctrinated. The fact that millions of working persons saw their wages stagnate or reduced due to swamping of the lesser-skilled end of the labour market seems to be lost on Mr Nielsen. Schools, hospitals and other public services creaking under the pressure of an inflated population are factors that don’t bother him much either. But then again, he’s a middle-class person who has no doubt benefited from mass migration in cheaper goods and services without his own position being put in jeopardy. Just a guess – I could be wrong. Oh, and the incident Mr Nielsen refers to – quite possibly a gang confrontation and nothing to do with racism. Even if it was, why should that be connected with a vote to leave a political union like the EU? It’s an argument that doesn’t make any sense – Britain is a multi-cultural country and was so a quarter of a century before we joined the then-EEC. It will remain one after we leave the EU]
An then, of course, there was the darker side of stirring up prejudice against immigrants, legal and illegal, and refugees and asylum seekers, as a result of which an act of crowd hysteria was acted out at a bus stop in Croydon last week that nearly cost a 17 year old his life.
[Here’s the other canard. Phobia is an irrational fear. We are led to believe by Mr Nielsen that a maniac Leave voter took Ms Cox’s life because he had an irrational fear of the European Union. Of course it had nothing to do with Thomas Mair (Cox’s killer) being a mentally-ill person then. No doubt Mr Nielsen missed the news about Mair seeking urgent treatment for mental health problems the day before he committed the murder. It leads me to wonder if Mr Nielsen is utilising this undoubted tragedy for political gain]
Europhobia cost Jo Cox hers.
[Well. God forbid the ordinary person has a real say in how this country is run, eh? They might come up with the ‘wrong’ results like Brexit. We must put those uppity working class types we purport to represent back in their box. It just won’t do to have the plebs having a say in their future. We vote in our politicians to ignore their election pledges, abuse their expenses and engage in heinous shenanigans like voting for wars whilst selling out their country’s interests to the EU and globalised elites. We want our stale representative democracy to remain in place, even though we spend ages complaining about it and writing to the Worcester News on the benefits of proportional representation. We look around and we see disasters like Switzerland. The highest per capita GDP in Europe and a society which is tremendously cohesive, politically stable and where the ordinary citizen is the most enfranchised on the whole of the continent – possibly the world. Voter satisfaction with the political system is overwhelming – 75% in fact. Decentralisation, direct democracy and bottom-up decision-making has lead to the most peaceful and prosperous nation on the continent. God forbid that should happen to the UK]
As for “direct democracy”, what Mr Goad and UKIP are after amounts to a form of vigilante ‘law’.
No thanks to that.
Peter Nielsen, Worcester