Are You One of Them?
It's only natural that Margaret Thatcher will remain the face of the famous expression 'is he one of us?' But it's a sentiment that permeates the way in which British society works, and has always worked. We smile upon those who remind us of us; we interact with those who remind us of us; we give jobs to those who remind us of us; we do favours for those who remind us of us.
Aside from the obvious fact that they never listen and they never learn, it remains the case that media figures continue offering misleading polls and predictions, and also delivering tatty coverage of political affairs, simply because their approach toward research is lazy, blinkered and targeted solely at those who remind them of them. Pollsters and media figures don't talk to V-neck wearing, Daily Mail-reading suburbanites in their sixties, nor do they talk to Northerners working in factories. They talk to posh white kids in Starbucks; posh white kids at the Glastonbury festival, and posh white kids engaged in student politics. They listen to their arguments and broadcast and publish them before the nation. A good journalist would surely have interrogated the logic of an unemployed white man in Ebbw Vale who chooses to remove the UK from the EU despite the fact that immigration in his town is minimal, and despite the fact that the EU has invested huge amounts of money there. Like so many working class Welsh, he continues to condemn Margaret Thatcher and other elitist Tories for destroying Welsh communities because they care nothing for Wales, but has now decided to hand even greater social and economic control to an elitist Tory government in Westminster.
They might also have investigated the possibility of the Brexit vote giving some Brits a feeling of liberation, in the sense that many now seem to feel free to air their racist views openly. I always accepted the fact that there are good, sound arguments for leaving the EU, and of course, none of those arguments have anything to do with race or immigration. However, this doesn't change the fact that a great many people who voted for Brexit did so because they are vile racists with aggressive anti-immigration views. Of course, none of those people had good reasons to vote for us to leave ... but those are the reasons they had. And we now have white British people ordering Poles, Romanians and, er, Pakistanis, to leave the country.
It's possible that some thought the referendum was similar to walking out of a cinema halfway through a film, and that we would be out on Friday morning, and anyone not sufficiently 'British' would already be packing their bags. It doesn't work that way, of course. Now, it's very easy to argue that these people do not understand politics and cannot grasp the true cost of Brexit, and this is probably true. But they still had reasons to vote for Brexit. We need to face the fact that, however subconsciously, they voted to leave because they believed that a leave vote would legitimise their open expression of racism toward anyone they choose to target. In some cases, this will be someone not white; in some cases, this will be someone not British; and in some cases - let's face it - this will be someone not English.
And isn't it time we started talking about that?