Why Labelling All Brexiteers As Extremists Is Dangerous

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Yesterday’s horrific murder of Jo Cox MP was an attack on our democracy and should be condemned by all without equivocation. That said, the Daily Star headline (above), and the echoes, whether directly or by calculated implication, in a great many comments on Social Media over the last 24 hours is extremely dangerous for our country. The suggestion is that those who wish to leave the EU are extremists, those like me, who want to take back sovereignty from the EU are routinely described as “Little Englanders”, “Xenophobes” or “Racist”.

Consistently over the last few months, 50% of those polled support a withdrawal from the EU and fairly consistently, the other 50% have been regularly abusing them with these kind of insults. When I first wrote here about the EU referendum back in February it was in a debate with journalist Peter Jukes, what was the very first issue I raised?

Jon – Can we agree from the outset, that the overwhelming majority of those who’ll be voting in the EU referendum on 23rd June later this year will do so because they hold honestly held, sometimes strongly held, opinions, whether they vote for the UK to remain within the EU or to leave?

There is likely to be increasingly intemperate commentary in the country over the coming months and if, on the one hand, those wishing to remain within the EU characterise or caricature those who disagree with them as xenophobes or anti-European, or on the other hand, those who wish to leave the EU paint their opponents as unpatriotic or national self-flagellants who have no faith in Britain’s ability to govern itself, then the important issues that are needed to inform any decision the electorate have to make will be lost in a deluge personal insults.

The Needle

Remember that polling is regularly showing around 50% support for leaving the EU, yet at last year’s general election only 12.6% voted for UKIP this on a turnout of 66.4% ; at the last European election in 2014 UKIP support was 27.5% on a turnout of only 35.6%.

At the European elections,  UKIP received 4,376,635 in 2015 they received 3,881,099 votes but they didn’t field candidates in every constituency. What we see is that the UKIP vote is determined and very consistent.

Now, I believe the UK should leave the EU but I have never supported or voted for UKIP, given this opportunity to vote in a referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU I’ll be casting my vote to leave but my politics are moderate and near the centre. I do not believe that wishing to have an independent UK is in any way an extreme political position and I’m sure that many have voted for UKIP not because they want a UKIP government but because they have nobody else to vote for other than political parties that are even more right wing than UKIP.

But here is the point, if around 4 million people in the UK support UKIP and if polls are correct about 30 million (50%) of the UK want to leave the EU, then that is 26 million people who could not bring themselves to vote for UKIP and who are not represented by the more mainstream political parties on this important issue.

Where are they to go ?

It’s important to differentiate between political parties and those that vote for them.

According to the latest party press releases and media estimates (at 11 August 2015): –

The Conservative Party has around 149,800 members, as of December 2013.

The Labour Party has around 270,000 members, as of August 2015.

The Scottish National Party has around 110,000 members, as of June 2015.

The Liberal Democrat Party has 61,000 members, as of May 2015.

UKIP has around 42,000 members, as of January 2015.

The Green Party (England and Wales) has 61,000 members, as of June 2015.

Source

So, if we accept these figures, and there is no reason not to, then the number of people in the UK who are members of the main political parties is around 695,000, or about 1% of the UK population. Let’s be extremely generous and make it 1.1% of the population and include Plaid Cymru and the parties in Northern Ireland

This 1.1% are very important indeed because they select parliamentary candidates and who is on the party list at European elections.

Of the main political parties all but UKIP and the Democratic Unionist Party are for remaining the EU in the referendum.

My point with all of this should be plain; if 50% of the UK want to leave the EU and the main political parties (about 1.1%)  and Remain supporters ( 50%) continue to misrepresent those that wish to leave as right wing, nationalist, bigoted, ignorant, racist, xenophobic extremists then where are the 50% of Brexiteers to put their cross at future elections ?

For Labour especially, this could be a very dangerous issue because Labour are presently attempting to make this a party political issue by misrepresenting a Leave vote with support for a right wing Tory Government led by Boris Johnson. By doing this the Labour Party risks driving working class people that might otherwise support them into the arms of political extremists.

If the main political parties continue to describe or imply that  those that wish to vote to leave the EU are right wing, nationalist, bigoted, ignorant, racist, xenophobic extremists – if the UK’s mainstream political centre, as construed and delineated by only 1.1% of parties membership, defines 50% of the UK as ignorant extremists, and they continue to only have few moderate voices representing them,  then I fear for the consequences for our country.

Where do I and the other moderate Brexiteers go after the 23rd when the political elites that run our parties have treated us with such disdain ?

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26 Comments

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26 responses to “Why Labelling All Brexiteers As Extremists Is Dangerous

  1. Pingback: Why Labelling All Brexiteers As Extremists Is DangerousAlternative News Network | Alternative News Network

  2. dpack

    whilst i agree with you regarding the figures and that not all brexit supporters are racist,islamaphobic,anti “forners” in general etc etc who believe that everything wrong with their lives is the fault of “migrants” and that “forners” rule them but many are, considering the output of the msm im surprised their are not more of them.
    that section of the out inclined voters has been disproportionately loud particularly in comments sections of the media.
    those outers on political platforms are often (but not always) more guarded in their spoken opinions but it would be naive to assume they do not know that a significant section of their support is from those who hold such views and that support is essential for them if they are to achieve their own agenda both during the eu vote campaign and in the event of an out vote that support will demand it’s reward and is quite likely to be disappointed unless things get very ugly from above.in the event of an in vote they are likely to be very disappointed and perhaps a significant section will seek to further their views with less than democratic means.
    whichever way the vote goes cameron has made a very bad mistake with this and should have added an eu referendum to list of manifesto promises to break. imho the aftermath will be very nasty who ever loses.

    there are good reasons to break from the eu and good reasons to remain in ,neither campaign has chosen to promote them to further their position .
    perhaps using the best arguments and real facts for both cases would not be in the interests of those running the two campaigns.

  3. Tom Austin

    “It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to. W. C. Fields”
    Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/wcfields104641.html

    The sentiment expressed in the quotation above has developed to cover pretty much every instance, and it is applicable in this case too.

    Where is the line to be drawn?
    ‘£350,000,000 wasted on the EU every week.’
    This is wrong, but folk were content to peddle this lie.
    Is not a ‘lie’ an affront to our Democracy too?

    This whole thing is no easier for those who are seen as standing behind Dave in this referendum.

    • Actually, I’m not sure £350M is wrong – it may not be the entire story, it may even be said to be misleading but a Lie? Untrue? Wrong?

      Pick any figure you like and I can pick holes in it. With the rebate without – including EU subsidies or without. None of them would tell the full story all could be said to be misleading as just bare figures.

      I guess sometimes there just ain’t enough room on the side of a bus but at least the entire issue has been aired in public and most should understand that it is complex issue (rather like the EU bureaucracy itself)

      Perhaps you’d rather that the entire subject of the UK’s EU financial contribution should not be discussed ?

      • Tom Austin

        I’m sure too (well, pretty sure) that not all Brexiteers are UKIP voters, and the rest are not all the thuggish wing of the BNP.
        But, at least saying as much will get the whole basic racist nature of ‘Leave’ discussed.

      • “the whole basic racist nature of ‘Leave’”

        Thank you for making my point so eloquently.

      • Sabre

        @Tom,
        If you must persist with your simplistic view of the ‘progressive’ eu you’d do well to understand its origins, it was a post ww2 US containment exercise, Europe on its knees followed the US line as a condition of aid. The EU was designed to trap Europe in a political straitjacket severely limiting national governments from straying away from the global corporate neoliberal line. Europe was to be a US client safe for big business and the banks. You carry on with your deluded notions.

        http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2016/04/27/the-european-union-always-was-a-cia-project-as-brexiteers-discov/

      • Tom Austin

        I’m sure theories are no less numerous than opinions.
        Then again, the lawn mower was developed from a gizmo that clipped cloth smooth.
        What all of this has to say of the benefit – or otherwise, of leaving the EU hardly matters at all if what you desire is to destroy the EU, or kid yourself that there could be an ordered dismantling of it.
        We’re still left with: Then what?
        It’s all a little odd – not to say rum; All this ‘Britain First’, ‘We want our country back’, and the overused ‘Sovereignty’ sloganeering. As if the common man in the pre-EU days was thought worthy of the least consideration.
        From Great Britain;ruling the waves etc., to the United Kingdom; UKplc(?) we are a land of privilege, or relative-privilege. Why Brexiteers don’t go the whole hog and take us back to an absolute monarchy is the puzzle.
        For, if it is Democracy that that is to be enhanced and strengthened, the job of doing that would be no less arduous as a stand-alone UK, than as a member state of the European Union.
        But, if democracy is just too much of a bother: Then you can vote for your ‘Green and Peasant Land’.

        I’ll stick to my ‘simplicity’ and you can have your conspiracy theory.

        [At least until one single word is said on the ‘glory’ of a stand alone UK.]

      • Sabre

        It’s not a theory Tom, a lot of the papers are now unclassified although rarely mentioned. Any that are still classified are obviously so for very good reasons ! You bang on though mate you’ll wake up one day and realise, too late, that you were investing in your own nightmare.

    • Phil

      The £350m figure is the gross figure and correct. Net is around £140/50m per week.

      • Tom Austin

        Too late mate. There’s not enough room on the side of the bus for the ‘actuality’.
        Just enough for the lie.

  4. Terry B

    There are a great deal of intelligent, knowledgeable people who have educated themselves enough on the subject matter to have formed their own opinion.
    And then there‘s the lowest common denominator that people like Farage appeal to.
    There was a woman who stood up on Question time in floods of tears berating the conservatives for cutting benefits when they hadn’t mentioned this in the run up to the election so she voted for them.
    Why would any working class person vote for the conservatives??? Because they spent 10 years beating up Labour over immigration and they kept on making statements they were never going to backup, however it scores political points.
    Gojam and others may have formed their own opinions but for the majority it really is all about immigration.

    • For me it is Sovereignty and Democracy because these are the tools we’ll need to solve other problems.

      • Tom Austin

        Whose Sovereignty?
        It can’t Parliament’s sovereignty, because what little they have they could use to come out of the EU via section 50 of the Lisbon treaty;but no. They’d far rather have us all squabbling over pretty much nothing.
        Democracy? Subject of the Crown? Laws made by the HoLs – every manifesto and election campaign a chorus of Del-Boys.

        We should indeed press for Democracy to be introduced into the UK, but we don’t (again) need to be outside the EU to do that.

        So…successive Governments have habitually ignored the UK population, and have preferred to big-up the good old immigrant.
        How can the reasoned response be for the UK population to big-up the very same politicians, and another guy that’s clueless as to what needs to be done, and is nothing short of an out and out racist, dragging the disaffected along in his wake.

        The change we (all ) need is a change within these shores.

  5. Cosmic Mariner

    @Tom Some context for you… Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, former US Assistant Secretary to the Treasury for Ecomonic Policy, explains the EU’s beginnings as a project of the CIA, and assesses its current role as as an anti-democratic tool of corporate control. Whether or not a majority “leave” vote will actually lead to Brexit, Dr. Roberts argues that a decisive rejection of EU membership by UK citizens could embolden other EU member states to follow suit, thus precipitating the break-up of NATO, and in turn, bringing an end to Washington’s designs for a New World Order. https://youtu.be/9otn_5LVQq8

    • Tom Austin

      So we vote ‘leave’, other electorates do the same, the EU crumbles to dust, NATO is disbanded…
      And then what? We all live happy ever after – we’ve all showed what we think of the CIA.
      What could possibly go wrong?

      Oh, something’s coming back to me;something to do with ‘sovereign’ states across Europe, the rise of the ‘far’-right, nationalism taking hold, bits of paper – followed shortly by bits of uncles…

      On the other hand. The US military once had a wizard wheeze – they’d send satellites up, and create a global positioning system, that they alone could use.
      To do this they encrypted the signals. That worked out well?

      -When all is said and done CM et al: It’s not the hand you’re dealt that matters, but how you play that hand.

      Why do we all not conspire together to make a different world possible?

    • Sabre

      I tried telling him. There are none so blind as those that will not see.

      Those that have great interests to protect have the means to protect them.
      Some gullible people insist on seeing supra national bodies as bastions of world peace truth and justice, institutions that are progressing slowly towards a more equitable if not absolutely equal society. Such individuals, it’s difficult not to be rude, need their heads looked at !!!

      Does anyone honestly believe that Goldman Sachs is backing the EU because they just love the little guy?
      Global corporations are backing the EU because they want the best for workers and consumers?
      The US are advising in a ‘friendly’ way of course because they want us to be able to pursue independent policy as a power bloc?

      Tom et al, do you really think that all these resource rich entities are backing the EU contrary to their own interests?

      It’s a single market, a trading bloc, the biggest market, it has to be a winner?
      Asians used to cross the world to undercut Northern textile workers, said Asians find that they are being undercut by children left behind in Asia working 16 hrs days in dangerous factories for a pittance with no education. We’re in a single market, the biggest, the best, we have no tariffs against each other BUT we can protect our single market from the external market? Absolute bollocks Bangladesh isn’t in the EU and yet they dump textiles on our markets, kids get to work in Dickensian conditions, corporations and chain stores make a killing (literally) but we do get cheap to shirts! (They stitch a fashionable logo on and bump the price up)
      The whole of Europe loses yet another employment sector.

      The only concession that I can see to Tom’s argument is that national governments are also corrupt and unjust, no argument from me there, it’s a bit easier to shift the bastards nationally though and hopefully people will, if we Brexit, see that they can either force change through national governments on pain of turning to more resolute parties if need be.

      • Tom Austin

        A ‘rattling’ good yarn from ‘Sabre’: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”—”the more it changes, the more it’s the same thing”.
        It hasn’t proven to be at all easy to alter the course of the UK politically for may years.
        So…we must ask ourselves what has changed? What is new?
        Via Brexit, things shall again be as they have long been. A Nation and a World divided – and a Nation apart.
        If (which is not that much of an if) we wish to see Democracy develop and flourish, can this be best brought about through retreat? Through the entrenchment of an ‘old order’?
        There are – on the other hand – a great many people across Europe; voters, workers, spenders, who intend to work towards more transparent and accountable Democracy in their respective states and at EU level. And it cannot be doubted that there are many in the USA trying to bring about the same thing.
        To vote to Remain beside our fellow democrats is not to yield to the powers ‘Sabre’ says are arraigned against us, but it is instead a fresh signal that we are determined to bring forth a world that operates for the good of the many and not the few.

        I have shown today, that our own Parliament has parcelled-up our entire body of Law for all things to be (legally) changed by any person a Government may (freely or otherwise) choose to dictate the terms under which we all shall live – this was not the EU.
        One final point – as it is customary to avoid campaigning on the day before a vote. [But I will be around if any have further points to make.]
        -‘person’ has a particular meaning when it comes to the law. And in the laws of the USA a corporation is a ‘person’.
        -So – when our law states that ‘any person’ may have absolute power over us all, this may not mean;Tom, Dick or Harry.
        I do hope those who are all for cutting ourselves adrift from Europe are not contemplating ever-closer ties with the USA.

        Pleasant dreams all.

      • Tom Austin

        Oh, my apologies. I hand intended to leave a link to this corporate person thingy…
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood

      • Sabre

        Tom,
        Deluding yourself again. The EU is in large part a US creation, The US wants us IN, TTIP is on the cards The US sees it as the perfect complement to the Trans Pacific Partnership. We are going to be better off in the belly of this neoliberal laissez faire globalists beast according to you. You need to put your thinking head on.

      • Tom Austin

        I’ll leave it for the poor reader to decide which of us is the conspiracy theorist.
        [The one that knows nothing about ‘art’, but knows what they don’t like?]

      • Sabre

        Tom, alas you are none the wiser but at least better informed. ;-)

  6. pandapops

    Hypothetically speaking, if a Prime Minister and Chancellor wanted to leave Europe but were forced into the remain position by dint of their jobs, I can think of much worse ways to galvanise “Leave” support and sabotage the Remain campaign than to link the “Little Englander” rhetoric and with the Remain argument and mae the Leavers feel insulted.

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