The Tory Party on all sides – and to a lesser extent, a slow-off-the mark Labour party – may well have succeeded in handing Brexit on a plate to UKIP, a party that has only one MP. More importantly, the referendum campaign has been presented and managed by all sides in such a way that the real facts about power and exploitation have been sidelined. Instead, taking centre stage, we have been assaulted with arguments about ‘foreigners’ and ‘sovereignty’. Not since Thatcher’s coup in neutering union power (and persuading millions of workers to reject ‘society’ and join the ‘me’ generation) has anything like this been seen before. If Brexit wins, a reinvented Tory Party, ever shifting rightwards, will have captured UKIP supporters in its wake, as well as many Labour voters persuaded to blame not the capitalist class for their woes but the ‘outsider’. Such a reinvented, re-united Tory Party will then wish to repackage the inevitable recession resulting from Brexit as an opportunity for everyone to tighten their belts and heave-ho for the foreseeable future.
UPDATES: 1. Tory Chancellor George Osborne has released a budget he will seek to run if Brexit wins the EU referendum. It is aimed squarely at the poor and essential services to raise £30 nillion in cuts and taxes. 2. The EU has stated that visa-free travel across Europe for Turks has been rejected as Turkey has failed to meet all the necessary criteria.
But the full implications of Brexit are yet to be fully appreciated, The doom and gloom statements from the likes of Cameron and Osborne and the top financiers are not short off the mark: the problem was not what was said, but who said it. Cameron et al are the equivalent to many of the PPI salesman: you might be eligible for a payout, but don’t believe a word that’s said.
Indeed, the entire referendum campaign has been riven with disinformation, untruths, if not downright lies (from Brexit) and obscurantism (from Remain). Take just one issue: that of Turkey. Last week the Murdoch press – renowned for retailing falsehoods (the latest example was only yesterday, when the Sun stated that UK shares were ‘boosted’ by the likelihood of Brexit, when, in fact, the exact opposite happened and which was clear to all who could be bothered looking) – ‘exposed’ what were purportedly leaks from Britain’s embassy in Tiurkey. These leaks appeared to show that Britain would support Turkey in a bid for membership of the EU. Prime minister Cameron merely responded by saying the notes leaked were simply conversations exploring a variety of options. He failed to explain why Turkey’s bid doesn’t have a hope in hell of being accepted, either soon or in the foreseeable future. Why? Because all EU members have to approve any new bid. Cyprus, for one, will never agree to Turkey entering the EU. Similarly, Greece. Other countries in Eastern Europe too. And Britain will block such a bid while Turkey wages war on its Kurdish population and its government is seen as oppressive – though, of course, Britain can only block Turkey’s entry if Britain remains an EU member. As for any visa-free roaming deal, this is unlikely to be agreed while Turkey remains an unsafe country and its president continues to issue threats (re refugees) to the EU. And even if a deal is reached, visa-free would only apply to the Schengen countries and Britain – in or out of the EU – would still insist that any Turkish traveller enters the UK with a visa, as per current conditions. But Cameron et al failed to explain any of this, allowing ignorance to continue to remain the main feature of the ensuing debate.
And while the Little Englanders will no doubt wallow in the glory of their retreat from the EU, should Brexit win the referendum, the immediate effect really will, as the pundits claim and Brexit now admits, see a recession. The UK is the fifth biggest economy in the world and its recession will, in turn, affect economies across the EU, leading to a wider, continental recession. This domino effect could, ultimately, see a global recession. By then this recession will have been named the ‘Boris Effect’ (though he wouldn’t give a toss). And, as with any recession, jobs will disappear in their hundreds of thousands, inflation will rocket and poverty will be even more rampant (though it won’t be the bankers or the wealthy – their resources hidden in tax havens – who will suffer).
There will be other consequences… after Brexit, Scotland will likely seek readmission to the EU, and possibly Wales will too. Meanwhile, The Troubles will return to Northern Ireland.
Meanwhile in Eastern Europe, the far-right governments will react by moving even more rightwards, while in southern Europe, in contrast, anti-austerity movements will find favour – particularly in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece. Europe will be riven and the EU would either collapse or shrink back to an inner core.
But the real question that should have been asked in the referendum campaign – and will never be asked by those in power – is who or what is really effecting people’s livelihoods?
And who or what ensures people remain on low pay that is hardly enough to live on? And who or what forces people sanctioned from ‘welfare’ to commit suicide? And who or what creates divisions within society where those divisions can be manipulated for the benefit of certain sections of society? And who or what organised the end of free tertiary education, the draining of resources from the Health service, the collapse of Council services, the withdrawal of resources from elderly or community care, the shortage of houses and the abolition of legislation that prevents unjust rent rises?
Those who govern, who are in power and who own most of the wealth, prefer that none of these questions are asked, let alone answered. The irony, of course, is that the workers and dispossessed of Britain have more in common with the workers and dispossessed across Europe than they have with the likes of Cameron, Osborne, Johnson, Gove, Farage, etc.
So, if the right answer is “post-capitalism”, then what should have been the question – and will it ever really be asked?
The problem with the EU referendum is that as with much of politics the choices presented to an electorate are binary – either or; vote for one mainstream party or the other; vote in or out of Europe; vote for or against migrants. This approach is an insult to our intelligence. It is an approach that packages ‘solutions’ around the aspirations of politicians and has little to do with the real aspirations of the people they purport to serve. If you vote Remain, the current government pursues its current policies of austerity and cuts; if you vote Leave, a more hard right Tory elite wil be ushered in with its own version of austerity. This Referendum has not only descended into a campaign of hate (and murder) but has from the outset been the epitome of delusion. True empowerment will only happen when the politics of delusion and hate is ditched forever.