Wednesday, 22 June 2016

The Brexit snake oil revolution

The idea that hard-right leaders of the Brexit campaign like Michael Gove, Chris Grayling, Iain Duncan Smith and Priti Patel give a flying toss about the conditions of ordinary working people is delusional in the extreme.

It's as delusional as imagining that the Thatcher-worshipping former Tory party activist Nigel Farage is an "Ordinary Joe" salt-of-the earth type just because he's always so keen to be photographed holding a pint.

It's as delusional as believing that Boris Johnson is just some kind of harmless comedy buffoon character full of jolly japes rather than the very worst kind of cynical, manipulative and corruption endorsing (Eton/Oxford/Bullingdon Club/Murdoch press/Tory) establishment insider.

It's as delusional as believing that the Australian-born US citizen Rupert Murdoch has been using his vast propaganda empire to promote Brexit because he actually cares about the best interests of the UK and the people who live there, rather than because he thinks it would add to his own wealth, power and influence.

Ordinary working people undeniably have a lot to be angry about, but Brexit is a false revolution. It's a Trojan Horse revolt led by the very same right-wingers who have delighted in trashing our workers rights, repressing our wages, privatising our public property and mercilessly ruining any of our industries and communities that looked like they had the power to stand up in solidarity in opposition to their fanatically right-wing economic agenda.

The reason our NHS is under existential threat is not immigration. In fact without the hard work of immigrant health professionals the NHS would surely have collapsed already. The NHS is in chaos because it's an example of state socialism and the hard-right hate it with an undying ideological passion. 

This burning ideological hatred of the NHS has driven them to do everything in their power to underfund it, to fragmentise it, to force close its facilities, to drive away its workforce, to spread the lie that it's terribly inefficient, so that they can use the ensuing chaos to justify their long-term objective of scrapping the incredibly popular "free at the point of need" principle.

This isn't some kind of conspiracy theory. Several Tories have let the cat out of the bag that this is their real objective. The Chair of Conservative Health Paul Charlson has openly stated that pushing the NHS to the brink of collapse is the only way the government could seek to justify the introduction of charging for NHS services and the Tory blogger Henry Hill even detailed the Tory blueprint for trashing the NHS.

Our public services aren't struggling because of immigration, they're struggling because successive neoliberal governments since 1979 have preferred a hands-off, leave it to the markets approach above sensible state planning. Added to that are the savage effects of the Tory ideological austerity con, which has even had David Cameron's own local council pleading with him that they couldn't cope with the scale of the cuts. We all know that the Tories have loaded the vast majority of local government cuts onto working class Labour voting areas, but the much lesser cuts in Tory areas have still been savage enough to have them screaming for mercy. Our public services aren't struggling because of immigration, they're suffering death by a thousand Tory cuts against a backdrop of hard-right "leave it to market forces" insanity.

It's undeniable that immigrants bring enormous financial benefits with them. They're more likely to be of working age than the average UK population, and they're far less likely to claim benefits than native Brits. If the economic benefits these migrant workers have brought with them had actually been distributed to the communities in which they arrived, the money could have meant new schools, improved hospital facilities and better services for everyone in those communities. Instead, the economic benefits have been siphoned off elsewhere (to the City of London casino, to the offshore bank accounts of their corporate employers, to fund Tory tax cuts for corporations and the super-rich ...) while the communities got nothing but ideologically driven Tory cuts to their wages, labour rights, infrastructure and services.

Ordinary working people have a right to be absolutely furious. But Brexit is a snake oil revolution, and the quack doctors selling Brexit as their cure-all elixir to all of society's ills are the very same right-wingers who caused most of the diseases in the first place.

There are genuine economic and democratic arguments to be had over membership of the European Union, but the right-wing tactic of blaming the devastating consequences of their own toxic ideology on immigration is an outrageously insultingly dishonest over-simplification of the reality.

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