Hold Out For Understanding
James Hutton

Hi James, I read your article with interest and I am going to be critical in the old fashioned sense of the word.

I mistakenly thought that you were going to try and explain the result of the vote — but OK, that wasn’t the subject matter. It struck me that your plea for understanding became vicar like, you know, ‘forgive them father, they know not what they do’ ….. sermonising, and I think that is related to my main criticism, that you are convinced that the ‘leavers’ were wrong.

I don’t think bandying around words like ‘fascism’ helps the piece, the majority who were on the winning side aren’t ‘fascist’ (though the word is frequently misused), are they even ‘right-wing’? I voted leave and I consider myself left-wing …. you can ask me why I voted that way if you like but it is a bit beside the point, apart from anything else, I consider the EU a rather right-wing, capitalist organisation …. it seems forgotten that Merkel is leader (for the time-being) of a right-wing party, the Christian Democratic Union - so German foreign policy, which is too often EU policy by any other name becomes an echo of German policy from much darker, much more genuinely right-wing times, witness the overtures made to Ukraine that to some of us seemed to make their delicate relationship with Russia all the trickier, I’m not saying Merkel started that war — but her naive intervention didn’t help. (cf. German alignment with Slovenia & Croatia before the outbreak of the last Balkan war). Anyhow, I digress, apologies…

A point of style here, I don’t know which Benjamin you are talking about. And I suppose I should cut to the quick or else I’ll be here all night, and if you are reading it, so will you. It’s just that you already ‘know’ the reasons for the leave vote, you don’t have to be particularly humanistic to have your opinions on the matter — they can be reduced to quite practical concerns in the voter …. and there are many different reasons,

  1. Northerners from the rust-belt between Mersey and Humber have seen no tangible benefit since we have been in the EU, the opposite is true, lots and lots of factories and pits (my area of interest) have been shut down, the EU didn’t help.
  2. The subtraction sum written on the side of that red bus may have swayed a few voters, even those silly enough to believe the literalist, childlike interpretation that remainers are convinced we made, don’t believe that hype. (Prof. Griff)
  3. Polish/Romanian etc. workers have undercut wages and caused unemployment.
  4. We won the war so how come the Germans are doing better than we are?
  5. Southern European states don’t follow the rules of the EU’s games and Britain ends up paying for this chicanery.
  6. The EU is a mess of an organisation and makes up ludicrous rules sometimes with serious consequences.
  7. The Common Agricultural Policy

There are many more reasons, all of them logical for everyone who voted - because we ‘leavers’ form a broad church, of course we do, we are more than half the size of the pro-remain voting population.

I suppose I don’t understand why any ‘sophisticated’ humanist analysis gets any nearer the reasons for the result of the referendum. If you want to find out why people voted the way they did, it’s very simple, just find some and ask them why. That said, I do think that there is such a gap between the classes in the UK that many middle-class (are philosophers middle-class) literally daren’t speak of weighty matters with working class people.

Dare you, have you?

(Of course it may just be that I don’t understand philosophy and that is certainly true!)

I suppose its this very them versus us, flavour to your piece that is what I am most critical of, shouldn’t you attempt a cooler less biased approach, isn’t that what you advocate anyway? (without commiting to it yourself, is how I read it).

Don’t believe that this vote was right-wing, look at the collapse of UKIP in the last general election, look at the return of so many leave voters to the most left-wing Labour party for decades.

Do think about whether or not continued ‘remoaning’ will have a dog in the manger effect on the chances of the UK becoming fairer and thriving post-Brexit, Like I say, I’m left-wing, profoundly internationalist and as optimistic for the future as I’ve been at any time in the last 40 years, I’m 54, I used to tutor Hannah (if you are connected to her),

I hope you take this criticism in the spirit it is intended,


Colin Harwood (Doncaster)

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