Happy UK Independence Day!

“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they patronise you, then they call you a ‘Little Englander’, then they call you a ‘bigot’, then they say you’re ‘thick and uneducated’, then they call you a ‘racist’, then they spread lies about you and smear your name……….and then you WIN!”

  • Marcus Stead, 24 June 2016

At 5am on the morning of 24 June 2016, it became clear that the Leave vote was winning the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Some hours later, when all the results were in, it was confirmed that 51.9% voted Leave, while the remaining 48.1% voted Remain.

As the morning progressed, the sun came up as normal (it was a sunny, clear morning in many parts of the country), interest rates remained at 0.5%, war didn’t break out, and the ‘triple lock’ on state pensions remained in place.

When the stock markets opened at 8am, the FTSE fell some 8%, and the BBC reported it as though a major financial crash was taking place.

A considerable number of Remain supporters with no idea of how stock markets work took to social media to tell us that ‘billions of pounds’ had been wiped off the value of shares and that a major crisis was underway.

They forgot to mention that the market had rallied in recent days due to the publication of a few dubious opinion polls that showed ‘Remain’ were narrowly in front, and that the supposed ‘crash’ was, in reality, nothing more than the market correcting itself.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, delivered a televised statement in which he effectively admitted that he had been joining in the Remain campaign’s ‘Project Fear’ with his predictions for doom and gloom if we dared to vote Leave, and that in fact the bank made perfectly sensible contingency plans for this situation. There was certainly no need to panic.

By 9:30am, the FTSE 100 index had recovered to 6,055. To put this into perspective, on August 19, 2011, it was 5,040, and on November 16, 2012, it was 5,605.

Just one hour later, it was pretty much at the same level it was at the previous Friday, before the surge of the earlier part of the week.

By the time the markets closed, the FTSE 100 was higher than it had been on Monday. The daily drop had been just 3.15%. In fact, one company I own a small number of shares in (The Wireless Group) actually rose during the day.

A pound would have got you $1.46, the same as in January 2016, while a pound would get you €1.22, exactly the same as in the second week of April 2016.

There was no need at all to change your holiday plans or panic about your private pension.

Early in the morning, Prime Minister David Cameron announced he would be standing down at an appropriate junction within the next three months, and said he believed new leadership was needed to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is the process lasting a maximum of two years by which a country can leave the European Union.

Later on, a ‘No Confidence’ motion was tabled by representatives of the Labour Party against their leader, Jeremy Corbyn.

How the Country was Split

A detailed analysis can be left to others with more resources and money than I have, but there are a number of clear conclusions we can reach with what we know.

To put it simply, London and Scotland voted Remain, most of the rest of England and Wales voted Leave, while in Northern Ireland, Remain just about won, but voting was largely divided along sectarian lines.

So who voted Leave? It is safe to assume that a majority of people who would normally support the Conservative Party voted Leave, but by no means all.

Those who support UKIP would, by definition, be expected to vote Leave.

Yet this alone wouldn’t be enough to get Leave past the winning line. Something else has happened, something far more important and profound.

It is now very clear that vast numbers of people in traditional, Labour-supporting working class areas have voted Leave.

They are too entrenched in their party loyalty to vote against Labour in a general election (though this may well change), but the circumstances of this referendum gave them the opportunity to express their long-held anger.

There is a great deal of resentment in the mining towns of the South Wales Valleys, and of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, as well as the mill towns of Lancashire, against the way Labour has treated them over a period of at least a decade.

These areas feel taken for granted by Labour, and many believe their MPs to be remote and part of a ruling elite that ignores their concerns, especially on the issue of immigration. Which brings me on to my next point……….

A Divided Country, and ‘Generation Snowflake’

It has become increasingly clear to me in recent years that London now thinks, behaves and votes very differently to the rest of the country. It is as different to the rest of England as England is to Scotland, arguably more so.

Much of London now consists of an enclave of well-off British people along with poorer people from other countries in search of work who have made the city their home.

The clear dividing line is this: A well-off, cosmopolitan liberal elite versus ‘Middle England’ and the traditional Labour-voting working class areas.

It is this cosmopolitan liberal elite that dominates the political classes of both main parties as well as much of the civil service, arts and media, especially the BBC.

They are barely aware of life beyond their bubble in which they live, work and socialise.

To them, mass, uncontrolled immigration means a supply of cheap nannies, waiters and a range of restaurants to eat in.

They have no concept of what it is like to have to wait weeks for a doctor’s appointment, or a council house, or to be unable to get their children into the local school. They don’t know what it’s like to be in an unskilled job and not to have had a pay increase for many years due to an oversupply of labour caused by mass immigration.

They live so far away from such communities that they cannot relate to how 20 years of mass, uncontrolled immigration has utterly transformed vast swathes of the country. They also don’t realise just how few people outside their bubble have nannies, or drink espresso coffee, or give two hoots about hipster culture, or hang around in pretentious cafes where they charge £6 for a bowl of organic cereal.

But in their minds, they know best. They are middle-class. They are well-educated. They are the enlightened ones. The people on the council estates and the people in the Midlands market towns should allow themselves to be patted on the head and told everything is OK by their rulers, or be told that their concerns about mass immigration are ‘racist’.

In a general election, they’d have got away with this, but as I’ve already explained, in a referendum such as this, those party loyalties are swept aside.

The Leave side won because a coalition of traditional, working-class Labour-supporting communities teamed up with the ‘Middle England’ voters who normally support the Conservatives and delivered the establishment a very firm message that they were sick to death of having their concerns ignored, primarily on immigration, but also on sovereignty and the erosion of parliamentary democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn made a serious error of judgement when he abandoned his 40-year campaign to get Britain out of the EEC and then the EU upon becoming Labour leader.

Have you ever seen a hostage reading out a ransom list from his kidnappers? Because that is how Mr Corbyn sounded whenever he appeared on TV to support a Remain vote. His heart very obviously wasn’t in it. The Blairites in the party had got to him. He would have been better off standing his ground and going down fighting.

By 5am, it was clear the Leave side was heading for victory. The British electorate had voted for Parliamentary sovereignty, democratic accountability, sensible controls on immigration, the ability to forge links with the wider world, and the ability to determine our own foreign policy.

The wiser elements on the Remain side did the sensible thing and congratulated their opponents on their victory, and acknowledged that a period of reflection was necessary to help them reconnect with the communities with whom they now appeared remote and out of touch.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for a sizeable minority of Remain supporters, who took to social media and decided the country needed a good telling off for daring to come to a different conclusion to them.

The worst offenders were the younger members of the cosmopolitan liberal elite, which are part of ‘Generation Snowflake’, a phenomenon that has been written about in a number of outlets recently, and has manifested itself in various forms on university campuses across the country.

We have, as a society, created a generation of people who think they are entitled to be shielded from opinions and viewpoints they don’t like, and that anyone with whom they differ is fair game to be lied about, called names, verbally abused and shouted at. This manifested itself with the abuse Boris Johnson experienced when he left his home on the day after the referendum.

They claim distress when presented with ideas that run contrary to their world view, and are unable to cope with opinions that don’t fit in with their narrative.

In other words, they feel they have the right not to be offended, or to respond to views with which they differ in such a hostile way as a means of silencing and intimidating their opponents.

What is most astonishing is that this small but vocal demographic seems to be completely unable to comprehend that it is perfectly possible for somebody to take a different view to themselves and still be a decent person.

In the context of this referendum, they consider themselves ‘tolerant’ and ‘outward-looking’, but that supposed tolerance doesn’t extend of those who believe Britain should be a self-governing democracy. Their noisy ‘humanity’ doesn’t stretch working class communities that have been changed beyond recognition by mass immigration.

Sneering, condescending comments about the concerns of the working classes and ‘Middle England’ communities is par for the course with them, but many have taken it a stage further this time by expressing outright hatred for the entire elderly population, because many of them voted Leave.

They completely fail to grasp that with age comes wisdom. A mentally-sound 85-year-old has a lifetime of extraordinary memories and experiences to draw on when forming an opinion, whereas a mollycoddled member of Generation Snowflake will barely have grazed their knee without their mothers rushing them to A&E for a plaster, followed by counselling sessions for their trauma.

It also shows an outright lack of respect for the thoughts and wishes for those who have lived through war and hardship.

This isn’t the first time I’ve noticed such appalling behaviour from this demographic. I wrote an article about them behaving in a similar (though not as aggressive way) following last year’s general election.

I have heard quite a few members of this demographic say they are thinking of leaving the country because they don’t like the referendum result, or post messages on social media ‘anyone who votes Leave is a dick’ and similar.

That’s the mind-set they’ve been brought up to believe is acceptable. If you don’t like a decision – give up, sulk, shout down and abuse your opponents.

The education system and our mollycoddling, politically correct culture lies at the heart of the problem. They were certainly out in force in the morning after the referendum.

The tone was highly embarrassing – for them. There were too many people with too little life experience, and far too much to say about people they don’t understand and can’t relate to on any level.

The younger ones (including many well into their 30s) are highly middle class, spoilt, and are totally out of touch with how most people in wider Britain live, think and behave.

I fell foul of a group of them on Facebook by breakfast time when most of the results were in. I put a short, light-hearted comment on the wall of a Remain campaigner I have known for nine years. She is an educated woman and a devout Christian who appears on TV and radio occasionally. In my short post, I said it was now important we all pulled together for the greater good of the country.

She, herself did not help matters by overreacting to the initial fall in the stock markets when they opened. She claimed the markets were in ‘freefall’ (they were not) and that ‘billions of pounds had been wiped off’ (technically correct, but billions of pounds had been gained in previous days, so this wasn’t anything like the disaster she was making it out to be).

I do not know and have never met her husband, but, as a bright Cambridge graduate (and I have no doubt she is bright), one would probably expect him to be on the same level as her intellectually.

This is either not the case, or he deliberately behaved in the appalling way I am about to describe.

Below my comment on her wall, he launched an attack on me that lacked any kind of structured argument, where he accused me of not caring about other cultures, of lying to people, and, far worse, of wanting to see children in Britain starve to death.

I gave him a brief reprimand for his absurd comments. He had crossed that all-important line between dissent, which is normal in vibrant political discourse, and dishonour, whereby you launch nasty smears on your opponents.

More people from her social clique added comments. One ‘lady’, who was by no means in the first flush of youth, made a long, rambling, incoherent rant against me and Leave campaigners in general, claiming I had ruined life in this country for future generations, that I hated foreigners and that I was a ‘Little Englander’, or words to that effect. We had never even heard of each other before this exchange, incidentally.

Like so many who have behaved in this way on social media, she did not write in sentences or paragraphs, it was just a stream of venom, emotion and hyperbole.

The one piece of this long rant that I did bother to challenge was this: She claimed that she worked in the UK’s American Express office in Brighton, and claimed that foreign staff there had been in tears that morning because, and I can remember this quote clearly, ‘they think we don’t love them as much as they love us’.

I briefly chastised her for dealing in sickly sentiment rather than fact. This referendum isn’t about ‘love’ or even ‘liking’ people from other countries. It is about whether or not we want to live in a sovereign, democratic nation with all that it entails.

She replied along the lines of that she didn’t want to deal in cold, hard facts, and she preferred getting emotional. I have no time people who act in such a way. For ‘emotional’, see ‘irrational’.

But let’s return to her story about the foreign staff crying. I think one of two things has happened:

  1. She was making the whole thing up for effect.
  2. She, or her colleagues, had, to suit their own narrative, told the foreign staff that people in this country think they are not welcome here, or are in danger of being deported, and this upset them. There is no basis or reason whatsoever to believe that post-Brexit, we will not fulfil our duties to those who are already here. If this is the case, she has been upsetting people completely unnecessarily, and ought to be ashamed of herself.

Going back to the ‘we don’t love them as much as they love us’, again, I have no way of verifying the accuracy of her statement, but actions speak louder than words, and British history is full of examples of Britain saving continental Europe from fascism and tyranny. Not once in history have they had to save us from such a fate. That is surely a greater demonstration of ‘love’, (if you want to call it that) than joining them in an undemocratic, doomed political union.

I’d had enough of this banal baby talk by this stage in any case.

Shortly afterwards, my ‘friend’ of nine years defriended me from her Facebook list, and I have no idea how many of her other trendy liberal friends have been attacking me on her wall in the time since.

This was just one instance. Many friends have reported similar encounters at the hands of the keyboard warriors of Generation Snowflake. They have shown themselves to be immature, rude, childish and intellectually weak with their reaction to the democratic will of the British people.

No doubt if the result was the other way around and Remain had won by a narrow margin, they would have been less than magnanimous in victory.

They abuse, smear and insult their opponents, yet turn into delicate little flowers and cry foul whenever they are challenged. They need to be told to grow up, and be put back in their place.


Author: Marcus Stead

I am a journalist, author and broadcaster, working mainly in political journalism and sport. I am a contributor to political website Spiked, Private Eye magazine and I appear as a political analyst on a number of outlets, including Radio Sputnik.

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