|Source: Daily Telegraph|
The Telegraph’s map shows how London and a few other city centers voted strongly for the EU, while the rest of England voted decisively against the EU. (As the Guardian notes, Labour voters at the edges of London and Liverpool voted against the city center).
Before the results were in (HT: NY Times), pro-EU columnist John Harris wrote Thursday in the Guardian
The UK is now two nations, staring across a political chasmMeanwhile, pro-Brexit James Bartholomew made a similar point today in the Spectator
Leave voters aren’t lemmings jumping off a cliff, and the left urgently needs to understand their choices.
Two nations, in short, are staring at each other across a political chasm.
Even those who understand that something seismic is afoot among predominantly working-class voters are still too keen on the idea that they are gullible enough to be led over a cliff by people with whom they would actually disagree, if only they knew the facts. But most people are not really being “led” by anyone. In my experience, Farage, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove et al are viewed by most people with as much cynicism as the people fronting the remain campaign. Moreover, this argument is dangerously redolent of that lousy old Marxist trope of “false consciousness”, whereby people enthusiastically following the supposedly wrong cause are only a speech or poster away from enlightenment, and a sharp left turn.
We need to face up to two things. First, a lot of people want out of the EU because they are worried and angry about the consequences of the free movement of people, and in that sense they have made their choice rationally. Second, even if Farage, Johnson and Gove would doubtless use Brexit as an opportunity to further our journey towards an essentially sink-or-swim society, there are plenty of working-class voters who would probably go along with that.
Britain’s great divideBoth reminded of whjat Peggy Noonan — a moderate Republican and former Reagan speechwriter — wrote in February:
The referendum has exposed a huge rift between the metropolitan elite and the rest
Every election is divisive, but none has pitted rich against poor like this one. The social divide has been far more dramatic than the divide between the two main political parties. In general elections, the professional and managerial classes favour the Tories by a margin of four to three. The difference is nothing like as marked as the social divide in the referendum vote. As a generalisation, the split has been between the educated ‘haves’ on one side and the working class on the other. The Remainers found ways of making this point — casting themselves as cosmopolitan and ‘open’ against the crude and (presumably) closed-minded Leavers.
I came across quite a bit of scornful self-righteousness among the rich Remainers. In one street of private houses, a woman repeatedly shouted at us: ‘You’re all bonkers! Get out! You are not wanted here!’ A prosperous-looking man at the doorway of his private house informed us that immigration was a good thing and was economically necessary: the implication being that those who seek controlled immigration are both anti-immigrant and ignorant of the economics of the matter. His irritated parting shot was: ‘I hope you lose!’
The divide shows how changes brought about by globalisation and large-scale immigration have affected different classes in contrasting ways. For the ‘haves’, it has been a boon. The Notting Hill crowd now has cheap, highly qualified Polish builders, well-educated Polish cleaners and perhaps a Romanian nanny for their children. They go to Caffè Nero and are served by polite Italians. They feel deliciously international and open-minded while enjoying cheaper, better services than they otherwise would.
At the other end of the spectrum was Gladys, who I met at the door of her council house on Monday. She was reluctant at first to say which way she was voting. She got her council house in 1975 after two years waiting for it. But now she worries for her sons and grandchildren. How are they going to afford somewhere to live? The cost of mortgages just goes up and up, she said.
Gladys was not xenophobic or racist. What bothers her isn’t immigration, as such, but the government’s inability to respond to immigration and the resulting shortage of housing and school and hospital places. The rich folk across the road could get round these problems. Hector and Harriet could go to a private school if necessary. If there was a two-week wait to see their NHS GP, they could go private. They have already got their own flat or house, which has gone up nicely in value, thank you very much.
Trump and the Rise of the UnprotectedMy European history isn’t very good, but the French Revolution happened in part because the Elites became tone deaf. (IIRC it was also a factor in the Russian and Chinese revolutions, although both involved a well-organized grab for power by one faction against another). In a democracy, we get to have our elections via ballot box — as long as the system isn’t rigged. In that regard, such a vote is a triumph (and not a failure) of the system of democracy that England pioneered in the 2nd millenium.
Why political professionals are struggling to make sense of the world they created.
I keep thinking of how Donald Trump got to be the very likely Republican nominee. There are many answers and reasons, but my thoughts keep revolving around the idea of protection. It is a theme that has been something of a preoccupation in this space over the years, but I think I am seeing it now grow into an overall political dynamic throughout the West.
There are the protected and the unprotected. The protected make public policy. The unprotected live in it. The unprotected are starting to push back, powerfully.
The protected are the accomplished, the secure, the successful—those who have power or access to it. They are protected from much of the roughness of the world. More to the point, they are protected from the world they have created. Again, they make public policy and have for some time.
I want to call them the elite to load the rhetorical dice, but let’s stick with the protected.
They are figures in government, politics and media. They live in nice neighborhoods, safe ones. Their families function, their kids go to good schools, they’ve got some money. All of these things tend to isolate them, or provide buffers. Some of them—in Washington it is important officials in the executive branch or on the Hill; in Brussels, significant figures in the European Union—literally have their own security details.
Because they are protected they feel they can do pretty much anything, impose any reality. They’re insulated from many of the effects of their own decisions.
One issue obviously roiling the U.S. and western Europe is immigration. … It is of course the issue that made Donald Trump. Britain will probably leave the European Union over it.
If you are an unprotected American—one with limited resources and negligible access to power—you have absorbed some lessons from the past 20 years’ experience of illegal immigration. You know the Democrats won’t protect you and the Republicans won’t help you. Both parties refused to control the border.
Many Americans suffered from illegal immigration—its impact on labor markets, financial costs, crime, the sense that the rule of law was collapsing. But the protected did fine—more workers at lower wages. No effect of illegal immigration was likely to hurt them personally.
It was good for the protected. But the unprotected watched and saw. They realized the protected were not looking out for them, and they inferred that they were not looking out for the country, either.
The unprotected came to think they owed the establishment—another word for the protected—nothing, no particular loyalty, no old allegiance.
What marks this political moment, in Europe and the U.S., is the rise of the unprotected. It is the rise of people who don’t have all that much against those who’ve been given many blessings and seem to believe they have them not because they’re fortunate but because they’re better.
You see the dynamic in many spheres. In Hollywood, as we still call it, where they make our rough culture, they are careful to protect their own children from its ill effects. In places with failing schools, they choose not to help them through the school liberation movement— charter schools, choice, etc.—because they fear to go up against the most reactionary professional group in America, the teachers unions. They let the public schools flounder. But their children go to the best private schools.
This is a terrible feature of our age—that we are governed by protected people who don’t seem to care that much about their unprotected fellow citizens.
And a country really can’t continue this way.
In wise governments the top is attentive to the realities of the lives of normal people, and careful about their anxieties. That’s more or less how America used to be. There didn’t seem to be so much distance between the top and the bottom.
Now is seems the attitude of the top half is: You’re on your own. Get with the program, little racist.
|Source: Financial Times|