Saturday, 25 June 2016

The revolt of the dispossessed

The vote in favour of Brexit appears to have surprised everyone, not least the Brexiteers themselves. As politicians across the political spectrum in Britain and Europe scramble for answers to the question 'what next', the reactions from those in the Brexit camp and those in favour of staying in the EU could not have been more different. After a strangely sombre Boris Johnson addressed the media yesterday, trying to look presidential and like a PM in waiting, the Brexiteers have now gone into hiding. As the BBC correspondent Norman Smith noted, not one of them could be reached for comment at this critical moment and as the economic warnings of Remain campaigners come true. The reason is clear. Neither Johnson nor Gove ever had a plan of what to do next. Their campaign was predicated on questionable assumptions and base prejudices against immigrants. Now, that clear policies and a coherent strategy is required, they are nowhere to be seen.

Gurnos Estate in Merthyr Tydfil with a life expectancy of 58.8 years 

As for the other side, consider Nicola Sturgeon's response to the recent vote. Her cabinet made it clear that they will explore how to keep Scotland in the EU, something that conveniently overlaps with her overriding policy goal to take Scotland out of the UK. It helps that she has also quickly reassured Europeans who live in Scotland that they are welcome there. It is this inclusive political tone by Sturgeon that is such a far cry from anything Johnson can ever muster. 

As for the actual culprit in the room, the vote has made one thing crystal clear to anybody who wants to see it: Jeremy Corbyn has not got a chance in hell to ever make it to Downing Street. Whilst his anti-capitalist rants carry some favour with a small vocal left wing group in London, it cuts no ice in the traditional Labour heartlands which reel from cuts to local services and feel left behind. In that sense, the revolt of the poor in Merthyr Tydfil and Yorkshire was just as much a revolt against the Westminster elite as one against a Labour Party that had cocooned itself in anti-capitalist rhetoric and shadow boxing with their Blairite wing. If Britain is heading for a snap election in about a year's time, the Labour Party will likely to disappear from large parts of the country as an electoral force. 

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