Friday, 24 June 2016

The worm has turned

Yesterday, I posted the surprisingly prescient results of my unofficial blogpoll on the EU Referendum. While I was a strong supporter of Leave, I have to say I settled down to listen to the results last night feeling that a defeat was almost inevitable, and that once this had been confirmed by a few declarations I would head for bed. However, when I heard the Sunderland result – 61-39 for Leave, as opposed to a forecast of 53-47 – I realised that things might not be going entirely according to plan.

So I woke up today to the glorious news that Britain had decided to leave the European Union. It’s made especially delicious by the fact that today is my birthday. Many commentators in recent months have made the point that the motivation behind this goes well beyond a simple dissatisfaction with the EU, and represents a general feeling that the political élite have ceased to listen to or represent ordinary working people. This has been widely expressed by writers of impeccable left-wing credentials such as John Harris of the Guardian and Stephen Bush of the New Statesman – the latter reporting from Hull Wetherspoons.

It was well summed up by these comments from David Cowling, the BBC’s head of political research, in an internal memo, which were included as “Quote of the Day” on Guido Fawkes’ website (and still are, for now).

It seems to me that the London bubble has to burst if there is to be any prospect of addressing the issues that have brought us to our current situation. There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist. Because these discontents run very wide and very deep and the metropolitan political class, confronted by them, seems completely bewildered and at a loss about how to respond (“who are these ghastly people and where do they come from?” doesn’t really hack it). The 2016 EU referendum has witnessed the cashing in of some very bitter bankable grudges but I believe that, throughout this 2016 campaign, Europe has been the shadow not the substance.
This applies especially to the Labour Party, as it was originally set up to give a voice to the working class, and still makes a claim to represent their interests in a way that no other party does. But, in recent years, it has often given the impression of regarding the attitudes, lifestyles, opinions and values of working-class people with utter contempt. A prime example of this was the smoking ban, which has absolutely devastated working-class pubs, clubs and bingo halls while leaving establishments favoured by the comfortable middle class largely unscathed. So last night I tweeted the following:
And I make no apology for that. Of course it’s only one small factor amongst many. But all these things add up, and I firmly believe it did play a part in convincing many voters that “these people no longer speak for me”. It is a connection that has been drawn by others, notably Frank Davis. Personally I really couldn’t care less whether the Labour Party lives or dies. But I do care strongly that ordinary people, the kind who keep the ordinary local pubs of Stockport and so many other towns in business, deserve a voice in the corridors of power.

34 comments:

  1. It is a result worth stepping into a dumpy pub and buying a pint of pongy bitter to celebrate. The fridge of lager will still be there tomorrow.

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    1. I've been in the Griffin, Heaton Mersey, this lunchtime. Got my free pint from my Holts loyalty card. The bitter was suitably brown, and actually rather good.

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  2. Professor Pie-Tin24 June 2016 at 17:22

    What a night.
    I haven't pulled an all-nighter in years but the remaining five bottles of my Lidl Belgian 6-pack and a large guzzle out of a bottle of Dalwhinnie ( thanks Scotland ! ) saw me through to dawn and Keith Vaz's tearful admonition to all those thick proles who voted Leave which was enough to send me off to bed in high spirits.
    Okay so the nation is divided but we're all still in with a chance of getting through to the last eight of the Euros - with the exception of Scotland.Oh dear,what a pity.There there. Wahaay !

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    1. What a night indeed. I had no beer in the house for my (virtually) all nighter so I woke up with a whisky hangover. Never mind eh?

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  3. When can we start the smoking in the pub then?

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    1. The more I think about it the more i think it might be possible. Leaving the EU used to be a fringe issue. Over half the electorate just broke their tribal loyalty and told both main parties to stuff it. The electoral system is not kind to emerging parties but the kippers might not go away now they got what they want.

      Both Labour or Tories have declined and lost their grassroots. The decline of trade unions and sneering at white van man has done for labour. The Tories have collapsed as a mass membership party.

      Who is to say there will not be enough MPs after a general election to amend the smoking ban?

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  4. It's absolutely true that "the motivation behind this goes well beyond a simple dissatisfaction with the EU, and represents a general feeling that the political élite have ceased to listen to or represent ordinary working people". Unfortunately, leaving the EU and handing the keys of number 10 to Boris will do the square root of bugger-all to fix those problems, whereas it definitely will hammer the economy and the tax base. If you thought Stockport was a bit run-down now...

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    1. Boris has zero chance of being the next PM..

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  5. I am a ordinary working class person who came from a working class family,the wife and i have never missed a vote since we were able to and always voted Labour.
    I did have concerns over the EU but i am now even more concerned for our future and the future of my children and grandchildren.
    After this vote which many have said is down to the working classes voting in dissapproval against the EU,we will now have a far more right wing tory party fronted by Boris.
    Then there is the more far right wing Nigal Farrage who will no doubt try and get his finger in the pie.
    I have heard there may be another vote to leave the UK in Scotland and Finn Shein now want Ireland unified.
    I now find these to be very worrying times,i hope i am wrong and all turns out for the good.

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    1. But in 4 years time, you can vote out those who don't measure up. EU eurocrats? Sorry but the other 27 countries are stuck with them..

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    2. Brilliant! We get to vote Murdoch out?

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    3. Yes, you simply don't buy his papers or watch his telly channels. It's called voting with your feet.

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    4. "voting with your wallet" you mean. Truly, you equate that with the democratic process? What a funny chap you are.

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    5. Democracy is good. But real choice in daily life comes from free markets.

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    6. Smashing. I'm off to the shops to buy my EU membership.

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  6. Funny for someone who doesn't care about the Labour Party, you spend a lot of time discussing what it should do. Isn't that what you lot didn't like about the EU, they supposedly telling us what to do?

    I'm genuinely surprised you thought you'd lose. Personally I bet a large bet on Brexit as they ran a much better campaign and nearly everyone I spoke to was for exit.

    Fair play for managing to shoehorn the smoking ban into the picture, though. The result must give you hope that one day not only will we be drinking in fume filled boozers again, but that people will be able to drive around naked at 100mph with a fag in one hand and a kalashnikov in the other.

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    1. Syd Differential25 June 2016 at 08:55

      Well if it's Gisele Bündchen doing the naked smoking and shooting driving around I'd be the first person to fire up a fag.

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    2. Well, given that all the final opinion polls were showing a Remain victory, and the momentum seemed to be running that way, it was a fair conclusion that Remain was the most likely outcome.

      Having said that, I did feel there was maybe a 20% chance of a 1992-style upset, and there had been a fair bit of anecdotal evidence that the national polling figures didn't really represent the feeling on the ground.

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    3. The polls have a bit of a problem revealed more starkly at the last general election. Internet polls are skewed towards people with strong opinions and a strong desire to express them in public. Phone polling has been stiffed by the decline of landlines & increase in telephone marketing causing call screening and hostility to cold calls.

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    4. Yeah I know someone in that game and he admitted they no longer have much faith in their methods.

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  7. I think they've tied themselves up in knots trying to adjust for this, that or the other factor. They should just say "here are the views of 5000 entirely random people, make of that what you will".

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  8. We haven't left the EU first. 37.6% of the British people have indicated that they would like to leave the EU but that vote is advisory not binding. Now I am not suggesting that any politician would have the balls to ignore that advice and do what they know is best for the country.. But they have gone curiously coy on the topic. Cameron has said he will not initiate the procedure but leave it to his successor who will be elected in October, five months down the line. Giben Daves committment to the EU it isn't surprising that he hasn't the heart to start the leave process. But what is surprising is that the leading outers are quite content with that, as if they are appalled with ther enormity of what the vote means and need time to decide how to water it down.

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jun/24/a-pyrrhic-victory-boris-johnson-wakes-up-to-the-costs-of-brexit
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/guardian-comment-boris-johnson_uk_576faf9be4b0d2571149c8b9

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  9. I’m going to keep the map showing how each district voted to plan future craft beer crawls. In England there is a very strong correlation between those areas who voted remain and areas with good craft beer bars per head of population. So not just Manchester, Leeds, Bristol but also places such as York and Tunbridge Wells.
    Meanwhile Birmingham which is a bit undeveloped on craft beer for its size comes out as a leave place.
    I am therefore expecting good craft beer bars in the future in Warwick/Leamington, West Bridgford (Rushcliffe), St Albans and Harrogate!!
    A case could also be made that the stronger the leave vote the more you will find micropubs opening up.

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    1. Or we could draw the conclusion that in the Remain areas you're far more likely to find craft wankers and overpriced, pretentious, shitey beer.

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  10. Happy Birthday Curmudgeon! :) Maybe in the years to come you'll be able to say, "Don't forget my birthday... it falls on Brexit Day!" (I have two nieces: one born on Bastille Day and one born on Hiroshima Day.)

    As I've mentioned over on Frank's blog, it could well be that the smoking ban decided the fate of the Brexit vote. The voting pattern tracks closely with the differences in smoking population, and also reflects the reality of the smaller rural pubs being hit the hardest by the ban. I've long argued that smoking bans and taxes have had significant "unintended consequences" in society due to resentment over Big Government sticking its nose in where it didn't belong and resentment by a minority group due to increasingly unfair treatment while being denied a reasonable voice at the table. Throw in the vapers who have been pissed to high heaven with the EU dumping on vaping, and it's not unreasonable AT ALL to speculate that a good 5% or more of the Brexit vote was triggered, at its roots, by the Antismokers.

    - MJM, who, 30 years ago, would have been staunchly against Brexit -- but the antismoking movement taught me a lot about what trusting the government to "do the right thing" can be a BIG mistake... especially when the government has too much power.

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    1. Junican posted an age breakdown of the vote on his blog, and between you, Mr. Mudgeon, Junican, and Frank, I'm actually more confident than ever that "the smoke vote" played a decisive role in this. The "Remainers" were largely too young to have really experienced the full extent of destruction caused to local social life by the smoking ban or to have much in the way of anti-government feelings because of it. But the well of resentment in the over-35s has just been sitting there waiting for a chance to assert itself -- not being powerful enough on its own to sweep a bevy of Nigel Farages into office, but certainly strong enough to make itself felt on a divisive issue where the general population was reasonably split. I don't think it's unreasonable at all to say that the unwanted smoking ban, a ban that the government itself had laughed off a few years earlier as something that they'd never do, brought about a swing of 5% or more in the Brexit vote. I'd say it most CERTAINLY brought about a swing of just the two percent that made the difference.

      Note: I *am* writing this from Philadelphia, but in seeing the extremely strong Brexit support evidenced by a STRONG majority (I'd say over 80%, maybe over 90%) of the smoker-blogger-activists-emailers I've read and been in touch with, I have little doubt that I'm right. Sometimes peering in from the outside can give one a clearer view because you're able to "look down" and see the strength of the various sworls of the weather as they're sweeping around rather than just be surrounded by them all.

      - MJM

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  11. I wasn’t going to comment on this post, but as someone whose livelihood will be directly affected by this narrow-minded, and quite frankly ludicrous decision to turn our backs on Europe, perhaps you ought to know the strength of my disquiet.

    The company I work for manufactures Dental materials, which are classified as “Medical Devices”. Before anyone starts saying this is something imposed by the EU, let me stop them and say this is a global classification, which applies to all countries where such items are produced and sold.

    Our products are CE marked which enables then to be sold within the single market. When our membership of the EU lapses, in two years time, we will not be able to transfer our CE marking across. Instead we will have to re-register with one of the European “notified bodies”, with all that entails, just to continue what we are already doing, at present.

    A new European Medical Devices Directive comes into force next year. Industry and government representatives from the UK have been consulted and had considerable input into this document. Leaving the EU means we will no longer have any influence on this, and similar regulations affecting UK manufacturers. However, we will still have to comply with this directive if we wish to sell our products within the single market, and seeing as a large chunk of our sales are within the EU, we would be foolhardy not to. So already the talk of “cutting red tape” bandied about by the “Leave” campaign is already proving to be complete and utter b*ll*cks!

    The Brexit campaign is already proving to be based on half truths, or out and out lies, but unfortunately a gullible chunk of the Great British public believed the claim that the £350 million a week would go straight into funding the NHS. On the other hand, the stern warnings given by leading industrialists, as well as the Governor of the Bank of England, dismissed as “scaremongering” by the likes of Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, have already started to come true, with markets and the pound in free fall and Britain’s credit rating downgraded.

    The saddest thing though about all this, is we have cut ourselves off from people who were our friends and allies. UK citizens will no longer have the automatic right to live and work in any of the other 27 EU countries; a right they enjoy at the moment, but not for much longer. On a personal note, my wife and I were looking to move somewhere warmer, when we retire in five or six year’s time.

    That apartment in Spain, no longer looks the certainty it did a week or so ago; but it is younger people who will miss out most, losing opportunities to study and work in other EU countries.

    I trust you enjoyed your birthday Mudge, and I won’t begrudge you your little moment of triumph. However, pause and reflect at the damage you and all the other “Little Englanders” have done with your short-sighted decision. Turning our backs on one of the largest trading blocks in the world is madness, and it is a sad reflection of the state of our once great nation that pretty soon, tiny countries such as Estonia and Slovenia will have more influence over European affairs than we will.

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    1. You're fully entitled to vote Remain because your job depends on it, Paul, and I respect that.

      But to go on to decry anyone who voted Leave as "narrow-minded" or "Little Englanders" is tarring everyone with the same brush.

      Sorry, but you have really gone down in my estimation for that.

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    2. Up here in Sunderland we are all racked with guilt that middle class people in Kent might not get a Spanish retirement home. It should have been at the front of our minds but wasn't. We were to busy being racist.

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    3. Don’t you just love the politics of envy? Hadrian obviously didn’t build his wall far enough south!

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  12. My “Little Englander” jibe obviously touched a nerve, Mudge and whilst I accept it may not apply to you, it unfortunately reflects far too many of those who did vote to leave. As you have probably gathered, I am not exactly over the moon at the referendum result as, like many people, I was perfectly happy with the status quo and getting along quite nicely with my life, thank-you very much. And by the way Lairy Nige, if that does include hankering after a property in Spain so be it!

    The decision to hold a referendum in the first place was deeply flawed. Certain decisions are far too important to be left to the whims of an, at times, uneducated and often ill-informed electorate. You may regard this as patronising, but the quote attributed to Winston Churchill that “A five minute conversation with the average voter is enough to put you off democracy for life”, rings very true; and no more so than it did last week!

    The main reason the referendum was a bad idea is it was obvious from the outset that the country would be split down the middle. The final 52% - 48% result is hardly a consensus and the same would also have applied had the vote gone the other way! All the referendum has achieved is to expose deep divisions within the country; divisions which will take a long time to heal. And all this to satisfy the over-blown ego of a smug, soon to be ex- Prime Minister who, having managed to swing the Scottish Independence referendum his way, thought he could do the same with a vote over Europe. Instead “Call me Dave” may well go down in history as the man who destroyed the Union between England and Scotland and tore the United Kingdom apart.

    I really fail to understand the deep antipathy felt, in some quarters, towards the European Union, although I accept the Conservative Party has had a problem with Europe for many years. There has also been a steady drip-drip of misinformation and black propaganda over the past few decades, from papers like the Daily Mail, and in a more extreme and often abject xenophobic form in the Sun.

    Well you and your hypothetical man in the Stockport pub have had your say, and we will all have to live with the consequences. You may both be right and things will turn out for the better, but only time will really tell.

    I won’t say any more, as the last thing I want is for this to degenerate into a feud, and on a totally unconnected and I trust, more conciliatory note, I was pleased to see your letter published in “What’s Brewing” today.

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  13. Just a few things to say about the outcome of the referendum,
    I went to work early on the Friday morning to find out the sad news the the out voters had won,a fellow worker asked a worker in the yard if we had now left the EU could he not now have his high vis vest on,these are the sort of people who voted out.

    On Saturday i did a pub crawl round Bristol and on the way back to Nottingham i had a the pleasure to sit next to a Spanish woman who was in her mid thirtys and worked in Mancheter and her husband was about to leave Spain to join her and get a job over here,i said i had voted to remain,her two simple words were "Thank You" we talked all the way to Birmingham and she said they would now have to probably leave the country,she was a professional worker who would help our country out in many ways,but will now leave.

    I was lucky in having this week off work on a booked holiday so i sorted out my simple finances in getting a five year fixed rate mortgage so i do not have to worry about interest rates going up,i can not do anything about food prices that will now no doubt go up.
    To sum up the country now seems more divided than it has since i was born and there now seems to be animosity against anyone who is not a British national.
    I do hope things turn out right in the end but as i said in an earlier post i fear for my children and grandchildren's future after this vote.

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  14. Anyone who came to this country legally is welcome to stay.
    Anyone who engages in racist abuse is a moron who should be prosecuted.
    It's far too early to say what will happen to interest rates, food prices etc and such things are subject to fluctuation anyway, in or out.
    I voted to leave but I respect the decision of anyone who voted to remain, as I would expect anyone to respect my decision and that of the majority.
    I hope you enjoyed your crawl in Bristol. I'd be interested to know which pubs you went to.

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  15. There's something that mystifies me a bit from here across the ocean. I keep seeing sentiments, even more or less exact wording from Remain voters along the lines of what Alan has posted: " i fear for my children and grandchildren's future after this vote. "

    What mystifies me is that I had always been under the impression that Britain had one of the strongest economies in Europe. But these concerns make it sound as though Britain was the "poor man" in the Union, having been grudgingly accepted in so that it could share in the scraps from the tables of all the other, wealthier, countries.

    Can someone explain why my earlier view of the strength of Britain might have been mistaken, or why its economy and economic base has collapsed so badly in recent years that it can no longer stand on on its own?

    - MJM, in Philadelphia USA...

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