Brexit Fallout: Shaming Leave Voters Is Despicable, And Will Backfire

Shame

Remainers were not able to win the EU referendum, but they are determined to make wavering Brexit voters regret and feel ashamed about their vote

I’m now starting to get quite angry at the effect the bullying, hectoring and self-entitled sore loser contingent within the Remain camp are having on soft Leavers.

Many people were genuinely conflicted in their decision, and have already displayed an enormous amount of personal courage in overcoming the incessant Project Fear messages crafted by Will Straw, David Cameron and their Britain Stronger in Europe henchmen. To see them now cowed and bullied into feeling bad about their decision by furious Remainiacs intent on associating them with racists and xenophobes is offensive in the extreme.

Newsweek magazine details some of the abuse received by just one left-wing Brexit supporter:

Here is one of the hateful comments that was posted on my Facebook profile by a male friend in Berlin: “It’s plain & simple: You voted with the fascists and now you use their lingo (that the mainstream media covered it wrong) to justify your naivety. If I hadn’t heard that sentiment a gazillion times from morons in Germany or the UK, it would be pretty funny, but now it just makes me sick and I have to say it somehow fits ya…[sic]” Not content with that, he then followed up with an even more insulting private message to me, at which point he was defriended.

This next one came from a senior male ex-colleague: “You voted leave??? A racist hate campaign based on lies which were admitted not even 24 hours after the vote? I am shocked. But at least Trump sent his congrats. Unbelievable.”

Another male friend, this time from London, wrote: “When you’ve got commenters on the Daily Mail site saying they feel misled and would change their vote if they could, then you know you’ve got problems.” I told him I didn’t feel misled. He didn’t like that very much. Cue more vitriolic and deeply patronizing comments where I was told to “look up this” and “look up that” as if my IQ had dropped.

Newsflash! I didn’t go to bed left-wing and wake up right-wing. As all my real friends know, I believe in integration, tolerance, multiculturalism, the NHS and equal rights. So just to say it once more for those at the back not really listening—that’s definitely not fascist. Perhaps some of my so-called friends would like to talk to people up and down the country, not just in London, and learn how disenfranchised and disappointed many in the U.K. are with the EU, the Conservatives and austerity politics in general.

Latest to succumb to the browbeating is divorce lawyer Ayesha Vardag, who pitifully recants her Leave vote in the Telegraph:

I think there has been a lack of informed debate on both sides. I was not uninformed. But perhaps, in this instance, I was too informed, and I should have voted with my natural, liberal, European-spirited tribe rather than according to my concerns about the federal project, which now feel to me esoteric and unimportant.

With all this, I sound as if I’m making excuses. But I am only trying to explain, I suppose, why I voted as I did and why, too late, I have changed my mind.

I hate much more than anything about the EU the divisions in our country, the racism and xenophobia that have been given voice and legitimacy, the indignity of the shameful lack of leadership in our country, the destruction of our national esteem in our own and others’ eyes, the horrible, horrible mess that engulfs us now.

I feel, bizarrely, personally responsible for everything that goes wrong now, because, with my vote, with my expressed opinions, I contributed to it, and I shall be sorry every day. And those who know me well know I don’t much like to say sorry.

I’m sorry I voted out, given how it has transpired. I am so sorry so many people I care about are upset about the referendum result. I feel guilty that I voted for something that has made them so afraid and unhappy. I also feel massively panicky about the market instability, the social division and the failure of sensible direction at the top.

Guilt trick – successfully accomplished.

This blog is no great fan of Ayesha Vardag, but one should still deplore the fact that a fellow citizen and voter can have such opprobrium heaped upon them – including accusations that they are effectively in collusion with racists and reactionaries – simply for voting based on their perfectly valid and mainstream criticisms of the European Union.

And it is not just angry trolls on social media whipping up this anti-Brexiteer hatred. It is politicians and commentators and supposedly respectable people who have decided to characterise the EU referendum as a battle of good versus evil in which any dissenters from the pro-EU status quo automatically fall into the evil category.

This can only backfire. Loudly and shrilly accusing half of the country of being racist simpletons didn’t work when the establishment was fighting to keep Britain in the EU; it will certainly not work as disappointed Remainers seek to find their footing and regain their influence over political events. Indeed, we already see the opposite happening, with even some Remain voters recoiling from the arrogance and intolerance of their own side.

The Spectator carries the story of one Remain voter who now openly wishes that he had voted Leave:

As the week progressed, and demonstrators with radical piercings marched on Parliament in solidarity with EasyJet and George Osborne, I found my mood change. As one Guardian commentator after another dismissed the opinion of the poor, the old, the white, the uneducated, I began to wonder if the Leavers hadn’t been right all along. Perhaps the Remain side were out of touch with what much of Britain thought.

[..] As my mood changed, yet more taboo thoughts rose to the surface. If the EU has transformed working conditions for the better, why are there so many zero-hours ‘contracts’? Why do ‘left wingers’ trust businesses so reliant on cheap labour? If it’s so important for crime prevention, how do we explain Saliman Barci and Arnis Zalkalns? We are ‘informed’ that we need young blood because there’s a pensions crisis, but won’t migrants also grow old? We are told by Jeremy Corbyn that immigration has no impact on housing, and it’s all because the Tories are too mean to build 300,000 houses a year. What if he’s wrong and the EU did in fact have a negative impact on housing stock?

Then came the petitions. Remainers calling for the referendum to be ignored, or worse, re-run, revealed themselves to be the enemies of democracy. How many of them would tolerate similar calls from the Leave camp if the vote was reversed? And what happens if a re-run took place and a slender majority did vote Remain. Did they really think the Leavers would take that lying down?

By now, I also wanted to repent. I’d voted Remain, but had not realised that my vote would have counted for more if I had voted Leave. I regretted my vote because if the margin had been wider, perhaps those commentators who make a living decrying our country, our electorate, our past, would pause to reflect on what voting meant to ordinary people rarely allowed to make national decisions. For an overwhelming majority of Leave voters it wasn’t about sending messages to Brussels, or wiping the smugness off Cameron’s face; it was about deciding which choice would be best for them, their children, and for the country they love.

In case it was not already apparent (with the ascendancy of Jeremy Corbyn, the SNP and Donald Trump) these are not normal political times in the West. The establishment was already discredited and seriously off balance even before the stunning EU referendum result further highlighted their disconnect from much of the population. And now, many people within and around the establishment seem determined to compound this disconnect by either explaining away the people’s decision to vote for Brexit or angrily chiding them for it.

But for every tearful recanting of a Leave vote under duress on social media we are likely to see two or more hearts hardened against pleas from establishment figures for the people to defer to their arrogant self-interest masquerading as dispassionate expertise. People just aren’t buying it any more.

Ayesha Vardag, for her faults, has absolutely nothing to apologise for when it comes to her vote in favour of democratic self government and against a failing, dysfunctional and terminally un-reformable European Union. And though wall-to-wall catastrophisation of Brexit in the media and screeching denunciations of Brexiteers on social media have caused her to recant her vote, she will be vindicated in her initial decision in the fullness of time.

And this sneering, arrogant and deeply ignorant anti-Brexiteer inquisition being waged by disappointed Remain supporters will not succeed.

 

Shame - I will not do it again

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Rich Divorce Lawyer Chastises British Public For Envying The Wealthy

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Wealthy people contribute a tremendous amount to Britain, filling the Treasury’s coffers and bestowing no end of positive good on society. The unsung heroes of the economic recovery, the fact that their actions are ever criticised and their worthiness questioned is an intolerable affront towards those fine people whose labours benefit us all.

And who is better placed to lecture us on this topic than Ayesha Vardag, the ‘Diva of Divorce’ and Britain’s top divorce lawyer, herself the midwife to so many acts of social good?

The Guardian chronicles the Divorce Diva’s long list of grievances against the poor and the dispossessed:

Miss Vardag said: “There’s a strange, underdog culture in Britain whereby the rich and successful are bashed repeatedly.  It’s the antithesis of America, where hard work and success are celebrated. 

“We revile the successful and forget that they pay taxes and generate employment, but at the same time we complain about a culture of failure and layabouts living off the state. 

“You don’t get the prosperity and economic success that funds a world-class welfare state by sending all the rich people abroad.”

A few observations are in order here. Where to begin?

A world-class welfare state? Seriously? Has Ayesha Vardag seen or experienced the British welfare state? Of course she hasn’t. Nobody who has could call it ‘world class’ and keep a straight face. But we can discern her point – if it were not for people like her and the clients that she represents, us poor serfs would not have our self-perpetuating, callously undifferentiating, woefully inefficient and ruinously expensive safety net.

But the crux of Vardag’s argument rests on the assumption firstly that the wealthy are under some new and unprecedented attack (supposedly by the covetous forces of the greedy working classes), and secondly that these beleaguered people are all engaged in work that greatly contributes to the nation and for which we should be grateful. Neither of these assumptions is true.

The truth is that many of the super-rich, while perhaps not being worthy of envy and hatred, are also not worthy of praise, respect and a free ride in the press. It is quite possible to become very rich by doing and contributing nothing at all, while it is equally possible to contribute an enormous amount – to the community, to people in need, to any area or aspect of life where the market fails to assign the correct (or any) monetary value – and be incredibly poorly remunerated. Vardag offers no recognition of this basic fact.

You don’t have to be a foaming-at-the-mouth socialist to realise and acknowledge that there is rich variety within the ranks of the “rich and successful”, not all of them the modern-day job creating heroes that Ayesha Vardag would have us believe.

This blog is the very last place that would ever advocate taking any portion of person’s wealth out of envy, or as a punishment for hard work and success – Labour and the Liberal Democrats can squabble between themselves for that honour. But unlike Ayesha Vardag, who makes her own money profiting from a definite societal ill, neither does this blog believe that the wealthy should be immune from questioning that may sometimes be sceptical and vaguely hostile. That’s the nature of democratic free speech.

The nascent Organisation of Aggrieved Moguls , now firmly embedded in the United States of America, seems to have established a franchise in the United Kingdom. If it follows the trajectory of its US parent, we can soon expect to read newspaper columns penned by the likes of Alan Sugar, Philip Green, James Dyson and the Duke of Westminster in which they bleat about being persecuted like Jewish people on Kristallnacht:

From the Occupy movement to the demonization of the rich embedded in virtually every word of our local newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, I perceive a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent … This is a very dangerous drift in our American thinking. Kristallnacht was unthinkable in 1930; is its descendant “progressive” radicalism unthinkable now?

This ludicrious utterance by Tom Perkins in the letters page of the Wall Street Journal was just one of several recent pronouncements by paranoid rich guys in which they see in fairly mainstream Democratic party policies and public opinion the genesis of some terrible coming pogrom.

But Perkins, Vardag and the lot of them do the general public – in both Britain and America – a huge disservice. We may sigh ruefully when a senior neurosurgeon rolls past in her expensive car. We may daydream when walking past a solid, beautifully built house in Hampstead or on the Upper West Side. And we almost certainly gulp when we learn exactly how much Wayne Rooney will earn every week under the terms of his new contract with Manchester United. But we can do all of this within the context of understanding that rare and highly demanded skills fetch a high price in the labour market.

And while Wayne Rooney has to demonstrate his continued value by performing for his team in front of fans and television cameras every weekend, there is a great deal more opacity when it comes to the wealth of some of those working in banking or in the C-suites of many large corporations. Quite how they earn their multimillion pound or dollar bonuses is far less clear to people, particularly when they continue to be awarded regardless of whether the bank or corporation has had a bumper year or incurred a massive loss.

Policies and actions such as Gordon Brown’s punishing 50% top rate of income tax or the Liberal Democrats’ musings about a mansion tax may well be bad, counterproductive policies, but they hardly represent the dawn of a new age of wealth-bashing or concentration camps for the rich.

If Ayesha Vardag is truly curious as to why the elites (she incorrectly identifies them as only the wealthy) are mistrusted and vilified, she needs only look at the divorce proceedings case to which she is counsel and which compelled her to enter the debate in the first place. The Telegraph summarises the background quite nicely:

[The husband] is represented by Baroness Shackleton of Belgravia, a Tory peer and solicitor whose previous divorce clients have included Diana, Princess of Wales, and Sir Paul McCartney.

Pauline Chai, 68, his wife, has spent £920,000 on legal costs after starting divorce proceedings in London in February last year, and a further £92,000 in Malaysia.

She is represented by Miss Vardag, a lawyer who made her name acting for Katrin Radmacher, a German heiress, in a landmark Supreme Court case on pre-nuptial agreements.

A serving House of Lords peer taking time out from legislating to go head-to-head with Vardag,another lawyer who made her career fighting a case for a German heiress. The sums of money involved are only secondary – what is most striking is the complete detachment from the normal issues and travails of life experienced by most people.

Rather than sneering at the little people for being envious of their betters in the City of London or Wall Street, the Ayesha Vardags and Tom Perkins of the world – and particularly those working in banking, since it is this industry above all that generates the vast majority of public ire – would be better off explaining and educating why their high salaries and bonuses are at their current levels, so that there is finally some public understanding of the inputs which lead to such astronomical outputs. Many people may be keen to hear Vardag’s own personal justification.

Then we can have a real debate, not based on green-eyed envy from below or sneering class warfare from above, but on the facts.