• Their Hysterical Reaction Tells Us Why The Remainers Lost

    Among the many hysterical reactions to the Brexit decision, a particular post on Facebook caught my attention.  The author was convinced that the decision to leave was the equivalent of the Visigoths’ sacking of Rome; civilisation itself was apparently in its last days.

    It did not seem to occur to him that the decision to leave the EU was the product of a vote in which a majority of his fellow-citizens had simply, as part of their democratic right, acted on a view, or views, on a subject of interest to the whole community, that were just as valid as, but different from, his own.  The barbarians whom he castigated were not invaders from elsewhere; they were Britons like him, enjoying the same right as he had to consider the issues and express a view.   It is what is called democracy.

    The fury and hatred aroused by the discovery that there was actually a majority that disagreed with those who thought that they alone were capable of reaching the right and proper decision – and the vitriol with which those sentiments are expressed – provides us with an insight into the mentality of many of those who simply could not believe that any view other than theirs was possible.

    For them, whether to remain or leave had ceased to be a practical issue to be calmly and rationally assessed.  It had passed beyond the bounds of rationality and was approached with all the zealotry of the religious fanatic. “Europe” had become a symbol of who they were or wished to be – making common cause with all those of similar sensibilities across the continent.

    The fact that the European Union was not “Europe” but simply a particular arrangement that – in some views and on some criteria – impacted adversely on the practical everyday lives of millions of their fellow-citizens was simply not a factor worth acknowledging, let alone considering.  Many of those fellow-citizens, when they looked at the EU, did not see an embodiment of the glories of European civilisation, but an economic and political regime that served the interests of big international business rather than their own.

    The zealots apparently believed that a judgment based on perceived experience should and could not stand in the face of their own more lofty convictions.  Little wonder, then, given their lack of concern for democratic opinion, that they were equally undisturbed by the fact that the “Europe” they espoused provided an essentially undemocratic form of government imposed by unelected and unaccountable European bureaucrats on those who had never been asked in more than 40 years to agree to its growing pretensions.

    The conviction that there was a kind of objective truth about the EU which could not be gainsaid led to a further error by the custodians of that supposed truth.  For them, the referendum would be won if the less enlightened could be led to the truth.  So, an endless procession of serious figures – the grandees whose views had always prevailed – were wheeled out to ensure that people were in no doubt as to how they should vote.  What they did not seem to realise was that, the more insistent their supposed betters were, the more likely ordinary people were to disregard what they were told.

    One of the most surprising manifestations of this de haut en bas attitude is the attack made on Jeremy Corbyn by his parliamentary colleagues for failing to do enough to lead Labour voters into the remain camp.  No attempt should have been made, it seems, to find out what those whom the party claims to represent actually thought.  The task, according to Corbyn’s critics, was to tell them how they should vote.

    It is becoming clear that many Labour voters – almost certainly a majority – voted to leave.  It is true that Corbyn, partly perhaps because his heart wasn’t in it and partly in an attempt to placate his critics, found himself caught in a sort of no-man’s land.  As a consequence, the Labour leadership missed the chance to place itself at the head of that majority who were fed up with the obvious, serious and growing deficiencies of the EU as a model for European integration.  Instead, Jeremy Corbyn – through timidity rather than conviction – placed himself on the losing side and missed the chance to exploit the unavoidable blow to the authority of the Tory government that the Brexit decision represents.

    He took refuge in urging Labour supporters to vote remain on the surprising ground that there were provisions, particularly concerning workers’ rights, that could not be changed by an elected British government.  How odd that Labour should endorse the concept of government by an unelected European bureaucracy!  How much more constructive and politically astute if he had faithfully represented the views of Labour voters as a step towards a democratically elected Labour government that would be the best protector of workers’ rights.

    And how ironic that Corbyn’s opponents are now using the failure of their own analysis and strategy, and their own arrogant assumption that it was the voters’ duty to come to them rather than the other way round, to attack him.  Among the many insights the Brexit decision provides is a spotlight on how far detached most of Labour’s parliamentary leaders are from the voters they claim as their own.

    Bryan Gould

    26 June 2016





  1. Henry Barnard says: June 26, 2016 at 5:59 amReply

    I don’t necessarily disagree seriously with your overall views on the subject. There’s a lot of food for thought in them. But to paint a picture of the remainers reactions as being `hysterical’ is really over the top. Most of my family in Britain (Scotland, Wales, and England) were remainers. They are disappointed and concerned… but hysterical (not a single one).

    The only real hysteria I saw on the night was that of Nigel Farage who also talked about a victory for `ordinary’ people and `decent’ people (as if those who voted remain were neither) capped off by the totally insensitive remark that this was a revolution won without a single shot being fired.

    I am sure if one’s trawls through Facebook comments one will find hysteria on all sides.

    • Dorothy says: June 26, 2016 at 8:06 amReply

      I’ve been trawling through Facebook comments and seriously, as a leaver, I am truly appalled at the insults being flung at leavers, I.e. ‘idiots’, ‘morons’, ‘uneducated’, ‘unintelligent’, ‘scum’, ‘monkeys at a chimps tea party’, to name but a few. I could expect it from some of the elite who look down upon us all as ‘commoners’ but from our own working class and middle class people who have voted for remain, I find it so arrogant of them to assume that all leavers are racist, fascist and uneducated just because they didn’t have the same opinion as themselves. Also the doomsday scenario being painted is melodramatic, so I agree in the most part with this article

  2. Gordon P says: June 26, 2016 at 7:42 amReply

    The problem Corbyn had was that he listened to the Blairites, Mandelson, Brown, Campbell and Miliband and did not follow through with his own convictions. He needs to rid the party of this deadwood and move on, he should become a leading light to assist the country to leave the EU and bring both sides together. Unless he does I am afraid the Labour party is doomed to become lower than the Lib Dems.

  3. peter johnson says: June 26, 2016 at 9:03 amReply

    Well said Brian. I actually took time out to look at information available regarding the positive and negative aspects of the EU.
    I did not choose to listen to politicians for or against leaving with their own vested interests in their opinions.
    This was a vote that each individual thought ,what does it mean to me to stay or leave, which is our democratic right to do.
    I am surprised by the abuse and speculation from the stay voters,no one knows what will happen ,what I am sure of is that it’s time to pull together and make our country succeed in this new beginning.

  4. Lexa dudley says: June 26, 2016 at 9:38 amReply

    I am not a labour voter but I remember watching you on
    The TV many years ago,when debating was an everyday occurrence, I can’t remember what us was you were debating, but you stood in the house with notes and delivered your speech. It is was a revolution to me. Perhaps if they had debates in the house again. Orderly ones not screaming insults the people would have understood what is happening.
    The youth I fear look at their iPhones and if it says do this or that they do. They are unable to think for themselves which is both sad and frightening.
    I hope you are well.
    Best wishes lexa

    • Lexa dudley says: June 26, 2016 at 9:40 amReply

      It should read WITH OUT NOTES

  5. Joseph Scott-Jones says: June 26, 2016 at 10:12 amReply

    The issue as I saw it – perhaps biased by the BBC voxpop but certainly supported by the “Brexit” leave campaigners was not focused on the economic benefits to the working people of the U.K. ( who, let’s face it are unlikely to benefit significantly under any regime whose focus is on economic “growth.”) The issue that Farage and Co were repeatedly quoted talking about and the working class people interviewed on the street focussed on was immigration and the ludicrous idea that immigrants were causing long delays in NHS waiting times and overcrowded school classrooms.
    I very much appreciate the idea that unelected EU officials make rules that impact on the UK and that being able to legislate within the borders of your own country creates more independence and increases your ability to compete economically and create your own employment conditions. I think there are strong arguments for better societal outcomes from broader inclusive collaborations across borders, but I also appreciate that the majority have made a decision and it now has to be dealt with.
    I do think that given the main reason expressed for leaving was to exclude people of other cultures from the UK and not an economic argument there is a responsibility on the Labour Party now to focus on ensuring the shift to the right the Brexit success is countered by a strong vocal support for the benefits to society of diversity.
    If traditional labour voters are racist it does not make racism something the Labour Party should support, it should rather be something the Labour Party should abhor and condemn and if necessary educate people away from.
    That was the opportunity Jeremy Corbyn missed out on – to balance the right wing anti immigration rhetoric with strongly expressed opinion about why leaving ( or remaining) was better for education, health and social justice in the UK.

    • Ryan says: June 27, 2016 at 9:03 amReply

      Immigration or more precisely, uncontrolled immigration of course has played a massive role in lengthening not only NHS waiting lists but also housing, schools and employment. Or does a cities worth of people every year balance the status quo? Without a city built each year with schools and hospitals the infrastructure of this country would’ve ended up crippled. This is an opinion shared by a massive percentage of the majority that won the referendum. It seriously frustrates me when people deny that the rate of immigration we have been experiencing has been benign. If this problem was tackled I seriously believe the outcome would’ve been different.

  6. Murray says: June 26, 2016 at 1:07 pmReply

    Trying to overturn a democratic result looks like hysteria to me Henry.

  7. Michael Davie says: June 26, 2016 at 3:52 pmReply

    I endorse, almost in its entirety, your analysis of the messianic reaction to the situation. I would only defer in respect of two aspects. I don’t know enough of the world of big business to know if this is the authentic voice of rational boardrooms or the greed of gangsters. I believe that the auditors have been unable to approve the accounts for a number of years. This suggests to me that coercion is applied in the spending of funds and I’m not at all sure that I would be able to resist threats to my family’s safety. The other point with which I would be unable to totally concur would be the desirability of a labour government. Though it had to be said that if a sufficient number of that party could be found with the honest integrity of Mr Gould then I would be less apprehensive. My concern is that the hissy fits thrown by the critics is due to their seeing the loss of their stealthy progress towards creeping controlling socialism via the EU by which any national government exhibiting the slightest leanings towards the tory values of self reliance and free thinking would be regulated into ineffectuality.

  8. James says: June 26, 2016 at 9:35 pmReply

    Good Lord. Bryan Gould writes something sensible. There must be something about NZ which gives perspective to those living there… for he sure didn’t have any insight when he was in Westminster. Maybe he’s just far sighted.

    • Lou says: June 28, 2016 at 12:11 amReply

      How odd. I remember Mr Gould as being very articulate, very sensible and very insightful during that time. He certainly convinced me. Unfortunately his Labour colleagues were too desperate to jump into the EC bed to listen. Yes, far-sighted indeed.

  9. dave says: June 27, 2016 at 1:03 pmReply

    Well said Bryan. My local MP was almost foaming at the mouth and certainly near hysterical red in the face at our last CLP meeting depicting the leave campaign as full of “hate”. Last time I looked Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are doing better than most, and certainly better than Greece, Spain, Portugal etc.

  10. Chris Joyce says: June 27, 2016 at 1:15 pmReply

    One always likes to find something in such articles to disagree with – just to show that one is taking a ‘balanced’ approach; but Bryan’s analysis seems to me spot-on, particularly with regard to the near-impossible situation Corbyn found himself in: “a sort of no-man’s land”.

    How well I remember Bryan’s own magnificent contributions to the 1975 campaign and those of his now departed colleagues: Douglas Jay, Barbara Castle, Peter Shore, John Silkin and the others. The problem then, as now, is that the Labour Party continues to fail “faithfully to represent the views of Labour voters.” It is astonishing – but perhaps not – that so many of Corbyn’s shadow cabinet colleagues have now turned against him because he failed to instruct Labour supporters firmly enough to vote in accordance with the wishes of their betters.

    The party now finds itself – to adopt a phrase – on the wrong side of history.

  11. Michael Andrew Lloyd says: June 27, 2016 at 7:47 pmReply

    Politicians are not the arbiters of mankind’s destiny, whether elected or otherwise. The natural role of social leadership is fulfilled by individuals who are wise, mature, honest, affectionate to everyone and above all trustworthy. Wise enough to understand and respect the inescapable fact that far higher agencies play a decisive role in the unfolding of daily human affairs. We are not merely the playthings of gangster corporations and their two-faced political puppets. If we were, we’d all be dead or fully enslaved already.

  12. David Stanley says: June 28, 2016 at 7:03 amReply

    We are facing a direct attack on democracy I wish people could see that. Never mind all the twaddle from both sides as the main fight is about keeping democracy in Britain. You might not like UKIP but it has held steady while Labour and Conservatives are tearing themselves apart. The artificial attack on our strong £ is just part of the elite ruling class club attempting to reverse a democratic vote.

  13. Mark Watkins says: June 28, 2016 at 11:27 amReply

    Well said & a well rounded response, Bryan.

  14. Andrew Wallace says: July 3, 2016 at 10:53 amReply

    Bryan Gould absolutely nails it. I am a really big fan of Bryan’s radical Keynesian ideas. Unfortunately what is happening to the Labour Party is complete madness. Corbyn’s dilemma is horrendous – he has been a prisoner of the Europhile orthodoxies and done their bidding and is now the sacrificial lamb. Irony piled upon irony as Corbyn in spite of the wrongheaded EU position is still the only convincing driver of left social democracy.

    Look forward to Bryan’s latest thought on the coup.

  15. Gil Flirt says: July 3, 2016 at 5:48 pmReply

    Remain have shown they will revile all those who aren’t like them, don’t agree with them, or who they deem inferior. The far right must be crowing. Once people accept that others aren’t worthy to vote, the right wing has won. And remain have already tolerated that message.
    Now they rail against democracy. “Democracy has failed us. Stupid voters.” That sounds like a far-right battle-cry.

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