Brexit was a peaceful revolution. The people spoke and the political class together with its values and priorities, beliefs and prejudices, what continentalised left-wing intellectuals would call its Weltanschauung, crumbled. The EU bureaucrats who shared the British intelligentsia’s progressive views lost out to direct democracy. Britain’s dear old peasants had stood up for themselves. That is why Mr Blair is screaming populism. The progressives including Mr Cameron never believed it would happen. The EU was their eternal rock and yet now all that once seemed solid has melted into air, all that to the left was ‘holy’ has been profaned and for the first time they have to face the real conditions of life. It is no wonder that they are so angry, that they have marched and demonstrated and tried every dishonest delaying tactic possible to try to thwart the decision of the people.
When the people voted for Brexit, it was not a mere calculation of personal benefit. It was an act of patriotic nationalism, a determination to free Britain from the restrictions and meddling of unaccountable foreign officials with whom the people felt they had nothing in common. They were voting to restore a British identity that in recent decades had been steadily eroded by a political class that did not value it and indeed hated the primordial loyalties on which it was based.
The years before Brexit were characterized by a deliberate attempt to dismantle and downgrade the United Kingdom by Britain’s political class and particularly those who called themselves New Labour. They devolved powers to a Scottish parliament which was bound to lead in time to a demand for a referendum on complete independence. It is strange that those who are now so loudly critical of the direct involvement of the people in the Brexit referendum failed to criticise the Scottish referendum on the same grounds. In Wales there was no popular demand to have a devolved assembly but New Labour decided it was one more opportunity to fragment our beloved country. Finally there was an attempt to split England into eight Regional Assemblies, something that had strong backing from the EU. The EU wanted to weaken and fragment the British nation and to be able to deal directly with the regions, cutting out the British Parliament altogether. In 2004 there was a referendum to establish a devolved autonomous region in the North-East of England. Nearly 80 per cent of the local people voted against it. The master plan had been to hollow out Britain by moving power outwards to the EU and inwards to artificial bodies that commanded no deep loyalties. No wonder our people took their revenge at Brexit.
When the first tranche of East European countries joined the EU in 2004 their citizens were in principle granted freedom to move to any of the existing member states but individual countries were able to block the entry of immigrants from the East for seven years and all but three did. Guess which government rushed to let them in immediately in unlimited numbers against the wishes of its own people in order to encourage a destructive diversity? Yes, ours. It is not the East Europeans in themselves that are the problem, for their grandchildren will become ordinary indistinguishable patriotic British citizens as happened with those who came here as displaced persons after 1945. The problem is the sheer number, close to a million, who have arrived in a short space of time. England now has the highest population density of any sizeable country in Europe and in consequence no one can afford to buy a house, the countryside is being concreted over and traffic is gridlocked. It was all entirely foreseeable, but for our political class these hardships for the indigenous people were a price worth paying for the destruction of traditional Britain. Another leftist attempt to weaken British identity was the new policy of multi-culturalism, a way of taking away the pressure on immigrants to integrate and assimilate as all previous immigrants have done successfully. There is an insidious pattern in all of this.
The political class had injured and insulted the people of Britain in many ways and came to think it could do so with impunity. Brexit was pay-back time, a time for the current burst of populism that has scared Mr Blair witless.
Does anyone still remember good, honest, trustworthy Mr ‘weapons of mass destruction’ Blair, now attempting a come-back to fight populism? In 1985 thanks to Mrs Thatcher, a patriotic Prime Minister prepared to put her own country first and defy the EU, obtained a rebate worth about £5 billion a year on British financial contributions to the EU. In 2005 Tony Blair under pressure from the EU’s big spenders agreed to a large cut in the rebate which between 2007 and 2013 cost the British economy £9 billion, the equivalent of £344 for every British household in Britain. He called Mrs Thatcher’s rebate ‘an anomaly’ and betrayed his own people by giving away their money. It is because of politicians like him who go native and favour the EU at our expense that it was necessary to leave by a direct decision of the British people, otherwise known as populism. Mr Blair kowtowed to the EU for the same reason that he had dragged us into the Iraq war. He sold his country because he wanted to strut on the international stage and be seen as a ‘statesman’. He wanted to be remembered in history – that at least he has achieved. Populism is the repudiation of his kind of politics. And Brexit is just the start.
The central questions which the ‘public intellectuals’ always evade or lie about are ‘What holds Britain together?’ and ‘Why are we as a people so loyal and dependable?’. Indeed why do we always quite unselfconsciously speak of ourselves as ‘we’. I am suddenly reminded of an experience I had when I was attached to the University of Delhi in 1974. The leading Indian anthropologist M N Srinivas, a man of great distinction and outstanding ability, was scheduled to give a public lecture on the nature of Indian society. I sat shabbily dressed in the auditorium surrounded by the well-heeled upper middle class of Delhi, for whom it was a grand social event, clutching biro and notebook, waiting for new insights. Srinivas now delivered his lecture in well-tuned English. It was one of the worst lectures I have ever heard – truly awful. At question time a shrewd Indian in a suit and a wheelchair asked him ‘What makes India hold together?’ Srinivas replied that it was loyalty to the Indian Constitution. The questioner now moved in for the kill: ‘Are you seriously telling us that when we fought the war against Pakistan in 1971 our solidarity and determination to win were inspired by the Indian Constitution?’ Srinivas was saved from answering by an interruption from the floor. A wild Muslim jumped up and shouted: ‘I was not loyal to India. I am a Muslim. I wanted Pakistan to win.’ I feared that there might be trouble, but to the fury of this enraged follower of the Prophet the Indian bourgeoisie merely chuckled and tittered. He frothed and ranted for a while and then left quietly at the request of the security guards.
I left the lecture hall knowing for certain two things that I had more or less known before. The first was that if a country contains a large Muslim minority many of them are going to be disloyal. More to the point both Britain and India are held together by primordial ties and not by mere documents. It does not exclude new comers. In the days before Greece joined the EU a Greek colleague seeking British citizenship swore his oath of allegiance to the Queen in my house on my bible. Afterwards speaking of Britain I said: ‘the land of my fathers is dear to me. Now it is your land too and it must be dear to you. You must accept my fathers as your own together with their values, history and traditions.’ I am as aware as any one that these are in a sense invented but it makes no difference. At the core of our British nationalism lies our centuries old individualism and sense of personal independence, a solidarity that excludes only those who adhere to an alien authoritarian ideology. We are not going to throw out those who came here in good faith from the EU. We merely ask that they become British in their public identity and loyalty.
After Brexit there were alarmist reports about a rise in crimes involving racial hatred, which included the murder of a Polish factory worker in Harlow. It was soon amplified into a full flung moral panic by the BBC and our hysterical progressive-remainer press and blamed on an upsurge of nationalism following Brexit. It now turns out that the Crown Prosecution Service are not going to charge the violent fifteen year-old killer with a racially aggravated offence. Also no charges have been brought against his companions who turn out not to be the ‘racist gang’ imagined by the left-wing press but just a bunch of lower-class yobs. It was just one more tragic single punch homicide of a kind that has become all too common in our lawless society. The answer is not to moan about Brexit but to initiate a draconian clamp down on teenage hooligans gathering in public places. It is worth noting that the leftists who deliberately talk up and amplify any kind of violence that can be termed ‘racial’ are the same people who try to talk down the impact of violent crimes in general, lest the public turn punitive. I can still remember their response to a report of the British Crime Survey that there had been 1,800,000 crimes of violence in a particular year, many not reported to the police. The progressives rushed to reassure the public that in only 12 per cent of these attacks did the victim need medical attention, a mere 216,000 people. Are we not all equal when attacked? If you knife us do we not bleed?
We do not in fact know whether so-called ‘hate crime’ is rising, merely that more have been reported and recorded. What constitutes a ‘hate crime’ is merely subjective, and it is more likely to be reported as such in times of general excitement and to be recorded by police officers under pressure to appease their left-wing masters. Very few of these ‘racial attacks’ involve violence or even significant hostility. Usually they are nothing more than ordinary pieces of verbal abuse and hassling, which the aggrieved are deliberately encouraged to interpret as racial hatred. It is all total humbug, rhetorical fodder for those who dislike the British people’s new assertiveness. I note too that no one has ever seen fit to moralize about the abundant hate mail sent and death threats made by Scottish nationalists at the time of the Scottish referendum.
There are of course bad forms of populism such as that of the Peronists in Argentina, who for decades held screaming public rallies demanding the Falklands, but our populism has been a peaceful one. When bombs go off and shots are fired in Brussels, as often happens, you can be sure that no British populist is involved. We demand nothing from others. We simply want our country back. What is wrong with that?
Christie Davies is the author of The Strange Death of Moral Britain, Transaction 2004.
This article is from the summer edition of the Salisbury Review – buy.