Saturday 4 November 2017

Why Brexiters should pick fruit and veg

The National Farmers Union (the only right-wing pro-Tory union) has joined the chorus of complaints about the fact that the Brexit vote has chased away thousands of seasonal migrant workers, and left food rotting in the fields across Britian.

Hundreds of tons of Apples in Worcestershire, blueberries in Scotland, raspberries in Kent and various other crops like broccoli, cauliflower and pumpkins have been left to rot because there's simply not enough workers to pick them after the Brexit vote.

The NFU's monthly Land Labour Survey found a 29% labour shortage in September, up from 17% in 2016, which raises the question of how much worse these labour shortages will get after Brexit goes ahead, especially if the hard-right Tory fringe get the ruinous "no deal" cliff edge Brexit they're pining for.

These agricultural labour shortages also raise the question of how the Tory transport minister Chris Grayling thinks the solution to post-Brexit import tariffs should be for UK farmers to just "grow more food", when Brexit and the subsequent collapse in the value of the pound is already causing huge agricultural labour shortages, and massive financial losses as perfectly good food is left to rot in the fields.

One potential solution to the crisis of food rotting in fields is for the people who actually voted in favour of the absolute madness of allowing a bunch of inept and disgustingly self-serving Tories to pursue a shambolic "make it up as we go along" Brexit to get off their lazy arses and go and pick the fruit and veg themselves before it all goes rotten.

It's hardly surprising that Brexiters (and British people in general) don't want to do the poorly-paid backbreaking physical labour that seasonal migrant workers do. It's bloody hard work, and it's really poorly paid.

Of course Brexiters in particular would object to doing backbreaking physical labour for the minimum wage, because they're the kind of people who wanted to "take back control" and "get our country back" just by making a mark on a piece of paper, then going home and letting someone else do all the actual work.

What is surprising is that so many Brexiters failed to realise that the wealth and prosperity that they enjoy (which includes the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables on our supermarket shelves) is the result of the labour of the working poor, including an awful lot of poorly paid seasonal migrant workers.

Now it's obvious that not all Brexiters were motivated by xenophobia, but plenty enough of them were to swing the referendum in favour of Brexit. A post referendum ICM poll found that 23% of Brexit voters supported the proposition that EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU should be forcibly repatriated to their countries of origin.

Extrapolate that result and some 4 million of the 17.4 million Brexit voters actually want the fields cleared of all EU seasonal migrant workers, as well as a mass purge of EU workers from our universities, NHS, emergency services, high-tech industries, and all other sectors of the economy. And in return they want the forced repatriation of some 300,000 UK pensioners from Spain, as well as another 900,000 British people who have used their EU right to free movement to make their lives overseas, and who might just be somewhat peeved at being forced to return to Blighty.

Of course something as insane as this is unlikely to happen, no matter how much this extreme but significant minority of Brexiters pine for it, because ethnic cleansing, nationalist discrimination and forced repatriation are the kinds of overtly fascist policies that most of Europe left behind in the 20th Century with the adoption of the European Convention on Human Rights (liberal British values bestowed on post-war Europe by the determination of Clement Attlee of the Labour Party and Winston Churchill of the Tories).

The sad truth is that the significant minority of extremist Brexit voters didn't just want this agricultural crisis to be happening, they actually want it to be much worse, with all EU workers expelled, and even more perfectly good food left rotting in the fields.

And what is worse is that these people who have inflicted this damage on the UK agricultural sector because of their xenophobic whims won't even volunteer to do the work that needs doing now that they're becoming aware of the problem they've created. They'll just sit idly by and expect others to clear up their mess.

So if you're one of the significant minority of Brexiters who voted the way you did because you wanted the foreigners expelled, go and pick the fruit and veg before it rots in the fields.

It doesn't matter if you're retired, picking fruit and veg slowly and inefficiently is better than leaving it to rot. 

And it doesn't matter if you already have a job. Fruit and veg picked at weekends and on Bank Holidays is better than produce left to spoil because there's nobody to pick it at all.

And if you're one of the Brexiters who voted without really thinking about the consequences of your actions for the agricultural sector, maybe you should lend a hand too, because it's highly unlikely that the four million odd seething xenophobes you sided with are going to take any responsibility for their actions at all isn't it?

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