Here’s something few people are saying after Brexit. A large chunk of left wing people mainly in England voted to leave (Lexit it was called probably by some Hipster arsehole in media in London) because they thought it’d deliver Jeremy Corbyn into Number Ten. It didn’t. It never could have and anyone that thought that was, and is, an idiot. I get why people voted for racist reasons, or for misplaced ideas of sovereignty or to just protest and get their voice heard. I don’t like most of them but I get why people voted to leave apart from one group, and that’s those mainly on the left in England who voted to leave.
Now I know there was people of the left who did the same in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, but for what seems to be different (and possibly just as daft) reasons as expecting Corbyn to march into power. For years the left in England has been looking for someone to hang a hook on and that was Corbyn, but although I think some of Corbyn’s ideas are good to fine, he’s not the answer especially when his party is still abstaining on crucial votes and may do so still on things like Trident but he’s not really the problem. The problem here lies in some of his supporters.
Brexit Strategy is a short documentary film by Elizabeth Mizon filmed in Bristol. It’s infuriating to say the least at times, but there’s a good example of what I mean when the obviously well-educated, well-off economist near the start tells us as to why she voted to leave based upon the wish of Corbyn ushering a new era of egalitarian politics.The look on her face suggests she’s realised all too late that she made a mistake and was, at best, naive, at worst a bloody idiot.
As for the film it’s a snippet as the problems of the left in England, or at least the part of the left that’s dominated by a clear and sharp middle class voice. Unlike the left in Scotland that has a mix of voices from all classes, or a fluid left in Wales where Plaid Cymru move into the space vacated by Labour in working class communities, there’s not been a left movement of late in England that has done the same. Instead the middle class has dominated speaking often abstractly of working class communities they sneer at like Emily Thornberry.
I’m also a Bristol resident and I’ve had conversations with Labour supporting, leftish friends who on the whole wouldn’t go down a street like that to chap doors and speak to people. The problem is that part of the reason so many working class areas in England voted to leave isn’t just so their voices weren’t being heard, but that many are fed up having middle class left wingers speak for them. There’s a clear detachment with many on the left in England with the most vulnerable and that’s one of the many reasons why so many working class areas voted to leave. They were excluded and failed from the progressive politics middle class academics wanted by voting to leave, so they’ve been twice shafted.
The EU Referendum was a mess, but the English left could have looked at Scotland’s independence referendum and learned from where we went right, and more importantly, wrong and adapt that to create an argument to stay in the EU. They could have followed the example of the Radical Independence Campaign and instead of having conversations in leafy parts of Bristol like Redland or Clifton, or talking to vaguely stoned students in Stokes Croft, they got their hands dirty speaking to people in places like Hartcliffe or Knowle. It’s all very fine and well to talk of coming together now, but why did it have to take something as fucking awful as Brexit for people on the left in England to even start considering it?
It is sadly too late for England. Unlike Scotland, Northern Ireland or poor wee Gibraltar they didn’t vote to stay, and there’s no hope of turning back as the Tories cluster round Teresa May, one of the scariest prospects in a field of scary prospects for the next Prime Minister. The English left has for years had the chance to come together or at least put up a fight. It’s not. For years large chunks of the left turned a blind eye or played down what Tony Blair and Labour were doing for 13 years with things like PFI to doom future generations to debt. Now that’s not everyone, some on the English left tried, but too many looked at Brexit wrongly and naively. Now it is a gory mess that’s blown up over all our faces and they’ve helped it happen based upon nothing more than a strong wish. I hope those people get to live with themselves in the years to come.