Enemies of the People? By Mel Cooper, Oxford, UK
|Owner - Lord Rothermere. A non-dom, no-tax payer. |
In 1936 the Mail supported Hitler.
For me one of the rich ironies of the situation is the Daily Mail calling the judges “enemies of the people”! I guess no one at the Mail has read much Ibsen or has spotted that the title of the play by Ibsen which gave such currency to the phrase, An Enemy of the People, is, in fact, ironic. The guy who is the "enemy" is trying to get his community to go against their own short-term venal interests and unethical narrow vision for the sake of longer term ethical goals that will ultimately benefit everyone and also be better for the community. But they won't listen, and so they say he is their enemy and eject him from the community after ruining his life -- because he is telling them truths they simply do not wish to hear. The play is totally on the side of the "enemy of the people" and portrays his treatment as being a McCarthy style Witch Hunt. Dr Thomas Stockmann is actually a principled hero trying to warn his neighbors of the dangers and implications of their choice.
Ah, well ... nothing seems to change and no one seems to learn. The Brexiteers' campaign spookily echoed for me the kind of speeches that Senator Joe McCarthy used to make, full of innuendos, lies, fake statistics. If you say Hillary Clinton is dishonest often enough, people believe it, despite the fact that in thirty years no one has ever found anything to pin on her after multiple investigations. Whatever happened to the notion of Innocent until Proven Guilty? And it is the same with the judges and with people who are still trying to get the UK to think properly about Brexit. We are all guilty until we can disprove it.
Everyone's favourite Brexit Lie, of course, is the £350 million a week for the NHS. And hundreds of millions for the farmers’ subsidies we will lose? And how much money will the UK have to replace for medical research projects? Those pesky students who may just cheat and stay beyond their student visa time entitlement (it seems a whole 1% do!) won't be troubling us as much any more; but neither will they be returning to their homelands as friendly ambassadors for the UK and its way of life. Nor will all the Eastern European workers who no longer feel welcome here, who are encouraging their friends and relatives not to come, and who are currently not taking away jobs from UK citizens because they are mostly taking jobs that either the UK citizens simply do not want or for which they are under qualified. Need I go on ...?
And as with Brexit, the reporters at those papers are muddling issues. This was not a ruling about leaving the EU or staying in the EU; the judges were not attacking the outcome of the very close Brexit vote; it was a ruling about the constitutional implications of doing this Brexiting without consulting Parliament and getting its formal approval to trigger Article 50. Well, that's what I think anyway ...
Not only are the pro-Brexit papers hysterical, they also went to town belittling the judges involved, and the Daily Mail (supported Hitler in 1936), in particular, seems to be at great pains to point out that one of them is ... eek, gasp, horrors ... gay and living openly in a marriage with another man!
What the Brexiteer newspapers seem to me to reflect is the growth of what I am beginning to fear is the New Totalitarianism. This has been unleashed by the Referendum and moral fools like Nigel Farage are simply refusing to acknowledge the connection between the increase in incidents of racism and abuse in this country and their narrow, tribal and self-righteous disparaging of the European Parliament and of Johnny Foreigner. Anyway, we are the UK, so of course Johnny Foreigner must obey Head Mistress Theresa May and do as they are told and give us the absolutely best deal for leaving the EU. How can they do anything else, given our moral, marketing and intellectual superiority?
It also seems to me fairly rich that these judge bashing folk are the very people who were hollering a while ago about bringing back sovereignty to the UK. Well, my impression always was the sovereignty lies with Parliament; that this is a Parliamentary Representational Democracy, not a one man or woman, one vote Democracy; and that that is exactly what the judges have now confirmed. If you believe in Parliamentary Democracy, then the judges have made the right judgment.
I also wondered recently whether anyone has a right to take away my EU citizenship without my permission! But I guess that is a mere side show.
The whole thing is, as predicted, a hell of a mess and the mess will go on and on getting messier. Whereas, if REMAIN had prevailed perhaps we could now be attending to the problems of the refugees; and looking at ways for an EU-wide legislation where everyone could co-operate to prevent tax avoidance and evasions in all member states; and talking about ways to "reform" the EU bureaucracy; and not only could the UK be part of the debate but helping run those debates and having moral weight and a voice in those debates. We could be thinking about Climate Change! We could be thinking about how to mitigate famines in Africa! We could be discussing the growth of the right wing Totalitarianisms all over Europe. We could be launching diplomatic initiatives at the UN on all kinds of issues to do with peace and prosperity in the Middle East! Instead we are consumed by the problems and unfathomable protocols of Brexit. Does it really bother you, Michael Gove or Boris Johnson, that I do not consider this to be the best deployment of the time and energy of the UK?
So since when do I not have a right to go on telling people that I think Brexit is a dreadful and dangerous move; that I perceive it as an act of self-harm? Since when is it wrong to try to warn people that I truly believe they have made a bad mistake but that mistakes can be rectified?
Just like the slogan about £350 million a week for the NHS, the slogan "We are not turning our backs on Europe, we are opening ourselves to the world!" is questionable in the extreme and is probably a lie. Brexit does mean turning our backs on Europe. Ask the Europeans! That is how they perceive it. Brexit means buying into decades of the UK governments failing to educate us about the EU because it was far better for them to have the EU and its perfectly democratic parliament as a scapegoat. And does the rest of the world really give a damn? When we are a small island off on our own on the fringes of Europe?
My view is that the People in this country have been conned by a lot of self-serving politicians whose agendas mystify me; that they have been emotionally and intellectually suckered; and have been taught to confuse Nationalism with Patriotism. So now institutions like the Daily Mail (Lord Rothermere) and The Sun (Murdoch) are accusing the actual patriots, who can see the overwhelming reasons for remaining as part of the EU, of being traitors. Little England rules okay!
Yesterday, four major newspapers behaved irresponsibly and effectively were supporting and inciting mob rule. Fuehrer May and Comrade Jeremy Corbyn have a duty to educate the public, not to keep saying mindlessly that Brexit means Brexit and We Respect the Will of the People. Benjamin Disraeli used to say that if in a Democracy the Masters are the people, then it is the duty of Parliament and all politicians to educate their Masters. This is the failure at the core of the Brexit debacle. I certainly respect the despair and the concerns of the people who voted for Brexit because they felt they had no other way of voicing their frustrations and were convinced by the mountebanks that this was a legitimate way to show their quite justifiable angers. However, the slagging match which was called the Debate About Brexit did not educate anyone about anything very much. David Cameron simply did not leave enough time to undo decades of misinformation about the EU or to introduce into the debate some consideration of the wider issues that went beyond mere questions to do with marketing and business. The sheer emotional blackmail (you MUST respect the vote) and the strident shouting, bullying and hysteria as voiced by the Right wing Press that have continued to this day are in themselves an indicator that the Brexiteers are not at all confident about what they are doing and are blinding themselves to their own logical inconsistencies and amoral mendacity. But so be it! If I question the received opinion about Brexit and about the vote, then I am clearly yet one more enemy of the people.
Unfortunately, I have yet to hear any arguments from the Brexit side that are not entirely venal. I am open to listening; I am open to being convinced. It happens that for me, though, and for about 16 million more voters in the UK, the arguments for staying with the EU, being part of an idealistic approach to a union of the peoples of Europe, being part of a commitment not to be throwing bombs at each other again but to solving our mutual problems rationally in a forum for everyone, these arguments for me outweigh all the ones about the way the EU does or does not work for the people and that it has an overweening bureaucracy at its core.
But hey, I accept that I am just a voice crying in the wilderness. I accept the majority decision for bringing the Trojan horse of Brexit into Troy. I am not Cassandra. I may as well just shut up and let everything happen as it will.
|copyright - Guardian Newspapers|
l accept that the Brexiteers don't want to stop and consider that perhaps they are blaming on the EU things that would be better blamed upon the successive governments of the UK and that this government does not need EU approval to put these “local” things right. It will, however, I suspect, be much harder to do once we leave the EU and its overarching legislation about workers' rights, and its budgets to help the poorer areas of Europe (like Wales? Some of our northern cities?) and the common pot out of which we benefit that pays 50% more towards research projects of serious importance than we put into the budget ourselves. We will soon be able to overfish in our seas once more and keep all the de-valued money that would go to the EU budgets that we share. We won’t have to worry about climate change in Europe, only in the UK; and we can stop thinking about solutions that involve our neighbors in favor of those that only involve the UK; nor do we have to sit at a table with the rest of the EU and work out a European wide approach to various refugee and migrant problems; and all kinds of other good things. David Cameron has created a split that means a little over 50% of the voters have a mandate not to co-operate with the Goliath of the EU any more and work together on all the various non-market issues that trouble us all. No longer do we need to jaw-jaw.
And so what is there to do except sit back for the next few decades and see how that works out? The Daily Mail insists! Who am I to question the received opinion of the Daily Mail? We certainly mustn’t debate it in Parliament, think it through, reconsider, study aspects that might be a mistake, think of other approaches. That would be traitorous.
Note: We absolutely must not listen to those Cassandras who are foreseeing catastrophe. The People have spoken. Whatever they say simply must be right! Have you ever known the Voice of the People to be mistaken? We do not dare suggest anything else, dare we? We must respect the Will of the People -- even if the People have been conned; and the con artists like Boris Johnson are going the be the only real winners. And the constituency that voted for leaving the EU will largely be the losers.
To my way of thinking this is the first step on the ladder that is climbing in the direction of the New Totalitarianism and anyone who is worried about Brexit had better just go hibernate for a decade or two until this decision and its implications works through the Political System; and certainly had better shut up totally meantime! Dissent is no longer allowed. It is unpatriotic! It is un-democratic!
And judges, it would appear, are not supposed to exercise independent judgments in cases where the editor of the Daily Mail could get apoplectically annoyed and even provoked into a dab of gay bashing. Isn’t it fortunate that one of the judges wasn’t Muslim or Jewish? Think of the fun they could have had with that!
Perhaps we should lock the three judges up in the Tower of London until Article 50 is triggered and the negotiations have taken place and been finalized without any interference from gays, Jews, Muslims or Remainers? Next, do you think some Trans-sexual will have an opinion on the matter! Or we could bring back burning at the stake the way Mary Tudor did to assert her authority in religious matters. Perhaps the Evangelical Brexiteers might even be appeased then, just as Hitler seemed to be when the UK handed him the Sudentenland? I guess all Remainers must now shut up and stop acting like Enemies of the People so that there can be "Peace in Our Time".
Mel Cooper, Oxford, 5 November 2016