Monday, April 22, 2019

Why the Brexit debate has taken on such a hate-filled rhetoric.

I have been following the debate on Brexit with mounting dismay and concern in  recent days.

Last week I made a contribution to a FaceBook page posted by the European Parliament. encouraging EU citizens in the UK to register to vote if they wanted to vote in the forthcoming EU elections. I posted a mild supporting statement because I want the EU Parliament to encourage men and women of good faith and best intentions to become EU Parliamentarians. I want them to put a spoke in the wheel of the emergent neo-Nazis and extreme right-wing radicals that are being increasingly thrown up in Europe, and whose hate-filled views and septic memes are poisoning the well of debate.

Recall, I said the EU parliament.

If the UK gets to vote in this election, I do not imagine that anyone elected to sit in the EU Parliament will be members for very long, much as I would like them to be. I fear that the UK will be dragged out of the EU by the swivel-eyed anti-EU nutters who increasingly populate our debates in Parliament and on social media.

The page suddenly became the target for an attack from the denizens of extremist opinion and angry, irrational rhetoric, the like of which I have never before experienced. It was as if every flag-waving, tattooed, pit-bull owning, motor-cycle riding, and every other form of uninformed right-wing political fantasist decided to air their lack of logic, their factual ignorance about the EU, and, yes, let's admit it, their downright visceral hatred of Brussels and everything that spells European Union.

It was a truly horrible experience. I don't mind personal attacks, I just ignore them. If ignorant and uneducated "...graduates from the school of hard knocks and the university of life...", (which a lot of them proudly claim to be, parading their uneducated ignorance like a badge of honour) want to bad mouth me for expressing my views, well, so be it. They simply make themselves look ridiculous and ill-informed for anyone with a modicum of intelligence to identify. But the levels of sheer hatred and vituperation that some of these Neanderthals voiced was truly awful, and did not bode well for the safe future of this country or of Europe. 

Most of them appeared to parrot the same memes of support for that charlatan, Nigel Farage and his new Brexit Party. None of them appear to have realised that the new entity is a private vehicle for Farage and his galere, over which he has absolute control, and over which he has absolutely no intention of allowing hoi polloi to exercise any control. I wish them joy of the worm, Farage will soon disabuse them of any sense of honour or dignity if he gets his way.

I am far more concerned with the level of hatred and vileness more generally which is flooding into public life and debate presently. Where is this level of rhetoric coming from, who is generating this 'Dad's Army' level of swivel-eyed and misplaced Imperialistic nonsense?

Some of the blame has to be laid at the door of some of our more egocentric MP's. Men like Jacob Rees-Smugg, parading his deliberately mal-manipulated logic, or Mark Francois with his war-like rhetoric, identifying the fact that despite being too young for WWII, he wants to start WWIII so he can get a walk-on part.

Most recently, Nicky Morgan, M.P, a sensible, logical and caring woman, has accused veteran Euro-hater and antediluvian roadblock to progress, Sir William Cash for fuelling violence with a 'vain and bitter' article. This is a very important allegation, because it identifies how the ignorant and the uninformed can be encouraged to engage in vile imprecations, incited by the rabid mouthings and the hysterical language employed by a senior MP, albeit one who has revelled in his anti-Europeanism for many years.

Senior Eurosceptic Cash has been accused of fuelling violence against politicians after he accused Theresa May of "abject surrender" and "capitulation" to the EU. Just reading this use of language, one could be forgiven for believing that Cash and his flag-waving band of false patriots believe we are at war with our colleagues and friends inside Europe. No wonder the Little Englanders and the loony-tune Brexiteer tendency feel empowered to parade their ignorance, and vile hatreds. 

Former cabinet minister Nicky Morgan generously said Sir Bill's words were "not helpful" while former Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt accused the veteran MP, a senior member of the European Research Group of anti-EU Tories, of a publishing "a vain and bitter article".

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, the house magazine of Euro-haters and the headbanger-brigade membership, Sir Bill compounded the wartime memes and the adoption of his Captain Mainwaring persona when he said this was an "abject surrender" and accused the prime minister of "capitulation" and "appeasement".

His comments were strongly condemned by pro-EU Tories.

Ms Morgan, a former education secretary, told BBC Radio 4's Today: "I understand that Sir Bill Cash has written an article in which there are all sorts of phrases about betrayal and capitulation and all the rest of it.

"As my colleague Alistair Burt has pointed out, this kind of language is not helpful. It's not the kind of language that our councillors or frankly any normal people would use."

Nicky Morgan, who has previously received death threats, said she saw a link between the type of comments made by Sir Bill and violence directed against MPs. I say its influence extends even further and influences public debate more generally. Her answers are instructive because they point up the connection between these silly and juvenile remarks by someone who should know better, and the kind of pure nastiness being spouted by supporters of the new Brexit Party.

Asked if she believed there was a connection, she said: "I do. I think it's been shown that the language that MPs or campaigners, mainly in favour of Brexit, are using is stoking up other people, often who are sitting at home watching all this stuff and it gets them really, really angry and fired up and then they say things that they would never say face to face."

She added: "Language is important and the One Nation group of MPs that I am co-chairing has said very clearly that we should all think about the language that we are using in these debates. We need to remember that politics is about much more than Brexit."

Mr Burt, who resigned as a Foreign Office minister last month in order to vote against the government on Brexit, wrote to Sir Bill on Twitter: "A vain and bitter article focused on your prime minister, with your opinions expressed in words such as mendacity, surrender, betrayal, appeasement, bended knee...Does it ever cross your mind what you're contributing to?"

I am afraid that Cash and his satraps know precisely what they are doing. These are dog-whistle words, and he and his  Ton-Ton Macoutes know that they play well with the narrow-minded and blinkered false patriots who are now flooding to support the Faragista circus of clowns and wibbly-wobbly men.

Let us always remember the words of Dr Johnson when he succinctly observed that (False) patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. How many of these new Brexit party supporters will turn out to be simply misinformed and mistaken or downright scoundrels, only time and Brexit will tell!