Racism and Authoritarianism Reach Climax Together in the Brexit Bill 216

There is in practice a link between racism and authoritarianism. You don’t get many racist anarcho-syndicalists. You don’t get many anti-racist fascists. It doesn’t just work at the extremes – the “Alf Garnett” caricature of a devotion to the monarchy, strong central authority and the military, accompanying racism is a recognisable truth.

Yesterday, we got the joyous union of both tendencies, as Westminster passed the Brexit Bill which simultaneously promised to keep pesky foreigners out of Britain and remove centuries of equally pesky checks on executive power.

There is no motivation for Brexit other than racism. I still have never had a conversation with anyone – including here on this blog – in which their motivation for supporting Brexit did not come down to stopping Eastern Europeans from coming here. Those who consider themselves “left wing” like to frame this racism as a desire to protect British workers from wage competition – a peculiarly nationalistic concern for the working class of one nation only, with the chance for working class people from other places to better themselves completely ignored.

This is an extremely wealthy country. Yet many people are terribly poor. The extremely rich have through mass media promoted right wing populism diverted the blame away from the 1% who suck out all the wealth, and on to poor immigrants. The 1% are chuckling at the gullibility of much of the population they have kept in deprivation and propaganda-fed ignorance. Fortunately new media opens the possibility they may not chuckle long.

As I have repeatedly said, it is indisputable that immigration grows the economy and this effect is positive for wages, vastly out-weighing any short term effect from increased labour supply. If immigration damaged wages, the USA and Germany would have the lowest paid workforces in the world. The argument is plainly a nonsense. Not only does immigration in itself inject dynamism into an economy, EU immigration is linked to free flow of capital and goods from which the UK economy has vastly benefited.

If you do accept that immigration from Poland to the UK decreases wages in the UK because of increased labour supply, then you must in logic accept that it also increases wages in Poland due to decreased labour supply. It is a peculiar kind of socialism that objects to wage levels being raised in the country where they are lower. It is a “socialism” which values the working class in one country only. It is, to use the precisely correct term, national socialism. Which is why its going hand in hand with last night’s vote to remove all caps on executive power, is of a piece.

Popular racism is the only glue May has to hold together some kind of support after her dismal election performance. That is why she attempted to shore it up by the official “leak” of the Home Office draft document on how to implement a ridiculously hard-line anti-immigrant policy and strangle the economy. The government spends billions on security and today every printed or electronic copy of a classified government document bears secure and hidden signs that show its full provenance. They have extraordinary tools at their disposal to catch the “leaker”, but I guarantee you will never hear any more on this one.

Evidently pandering to the racist vote was more important to the Tories than success in the Brexit negotiations. Indeed, I concluded long ago that the most likely explanation of the Tories’ extraordinary approach to the Brexit negotiations is that they wish them to fail. Nothing I have seen since has caused me to reconsider. Having been clearly told “no cherry-picking” by the EU, the British government has replied it wishes to remain in science and education, trading standards, intelligence-sharing, defence and foreign policy mechanisms (to name but a few), and to retain its market access and open borders, while ending free movement of people and having its own exterior trade deals. This is the most unrealistic negotiating position it is possible to imagine. FCO diplomats are utterly baffled, and rigorously side-lined.

So having ramped up the racism, last night we had the authoritarianism.

Regulations under this section may make any provision that could be made by an Act of Parliament (including amending this Act).

That is one of the quite astonishing clauses that MPs last night voted through in surrendering the entire legislative power Parliament gained over 600 years, to the Executive. If the Act is held to limit the scope of that executive legislative power in any way, the government can simply make a provision to amend the Act to remove that limitation.

In decades to come, society will have recovered and historians will be scratching their heads over why decent people failed to stop this madness at this very obvious tipping point. To which the answer is, because they were bewitched by the attraction of simple xenophobia. They supported it as long as this “strong government” promised to reduce immigration. The axis of racism and authoritarianism once again attracted the weak-minded to be manipulated by the psychotic.


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216 thoughts on “Racism and Authoritarianism Reach Climax Together in the Brexit Bill

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  • What's going on?

    “There is no motivation for Brexit other than racism. I still have never had a conversation with anyone – including here on this blog – in which their motivation for supporting Brexit did not come down to stopping Eastern Europeans from coming here.”

    Then you need to get out more. You have been pulled up, quite rightly, for this comment, even though there were a significant number of people who voted leave due to racism.

    I know loads of people who voted leave who don’t have a problem with freedom of movement and certainly aren’t against Eastern Europeans coming to work in the UK. However, many of them say that they don’t want the UK to ever become part of a European superstate. Why? When it comes down to the details they want elected British politicians making laws that apply to the UK without the involvement of ‘foreign’ politicians. These people are perfectly happy to have English, Welsh and Scots MPs all working together to legislate for Great Britain, but somehow UK, French, German and other representatives working together on international issues for 28 European countries gets their goat. Most of them feel that the EU is fine for the other 27, but the UK is somehow Special And Different. They can’t see it, but there is an underlying racism or xenophobia behind their position.

        • MJ

          It wasn’t just the English who voted. It was all the inhabitants of the UK. The vote would not have been won without the contribution of the large minority of Scots and Irish who also voted to leave.

          • What's going on?

            I’m not so sure that is true. If only people in England and Wales had been able to vote then Leave would still have won. (Of course that’s not to say that there aren’t Irish and Scots in England and Wales.) In any case there is a cultural divide in the country between people who don’t feel European and those who do. Caveat: This last sentence is very much taking things in general lines.

      • Ba'al Zevul

        As we are 100% dependent on sea traffic for even the bare essentials, an island mentality would seem to be a given.

        • What's going on?

          That’s interesting, we are 100% dependent on sea traffic so we have an island mentality. Yet our island mentality has caused us to cut off our overseas trade. Bye, bye to the ‘bare essentials’?

  • Gary

    Many on both sides seem to confuse ‘immigration’ and free movement. Moving to a country permanently, contributing and benefitting for life is good for the individual and the country. Free movement will see ‘brain drain’ and loss of labour in one area and temporary workers coming to another and doing what Scots have been forced to do, go to London, earn money, sending it home or not, them coming back home. It meets the cheap labour needs of the country, keeps wages down and means that employers don’t have to invest in training nor pay decent wages to fruit pickers. Said fruit pickers will not meet the tax threshold and will try to live cheap and take the money home where it will do them more good. It benefits the employers and no one else. If the people could be persuaded to live here permanently then all would benefit. Many of the arguments are based on racism and ignore the fact that the difference between free movement and immigration DOES make a difference. This, sadly, is only a small problem, the major one being that the EU is dysfunctional and has been made so by outside interference. Greece was admitted on fraudulent accounts, unsurprisingly it ran into trouble and sadly, their debt has not been restructured, the EU has treated them poorly. Regardless of the Greek government’s behaviour, their people are OUR (EU) people. The EU may afford the protection that a large trading bloc provides, but it has been so damaged that it is painfully inefficient and unable to act swiftly. Additionally, no citizen has been consulted on the ‘ever closer union’ Either the EU becomes a country, or it is a trading bloc. The lack of a shared vision does not sit happily with members citizens. I seem to remember the French vetoed UK membership as they thought we’d end up leaving, they were right. Countries have long memories and England still reflects on it’s history instead of looking to the future. The Tories wanted us in, so that we’d become deregulated and privatised etc, now that’s done they can’t stomach the social protections it offers and want us out. The EU is a great idea, but continued expansion, fraud, mismanagement and frankly not giving a hoot about what happens to the PEOPLE involved, has killed any love most had for it. Free movement only works if it’s already a single country, ultimately that has to be the aim for ‘ever closer union’ But while the countries are wildly different (due to fraudulent figures supplied to gain entry) this will distort the markets. I feel that these fraudulent entries, as assisted by some major accounting firms, only benefit those who fear a more powerful EU. A powerful and efficient EU would certainly be a threat to USA among others. I didn’t vote LEAVE but I struggled with it. I agree, the majority who want out ARE racists, BUT, some aren’t, the EU really IS dysfunctional. It will either come together as a country, in the coming decades or century, or pull apart. The middle ground is not an option//

    • SA

      You express a lot of how I feel about the whole debacle of the EU and of Brexit .
      I would add two things that are somewhat interconnected. The EU to fully achieve the aim of being a strong independent economic free trade area needed to include countries with some sort of parity in living standards , GDP or however else you mean to measure this, followed by a maturation period before any attempts at political integration. The initial EU project tried to achieve this. There was a sudden change in direction with the collapse of the USSR and instead it became a geopolitical project to expand NATO. The bar for joining was lowered In order to include as many countries as quickly as possible resulting in ultimately a massive exploitation of some of these countries resulting in major asset stripping in terms of manpower. Witness how countries like Lithuania and Bulgaria have become emptied of their populations and are declining rapidly both socially and economically.
      My opinion is that the main purpose in rushing to incorporate these countries into the EU was the expansion of NATO. Instead of resulting in a strong economic independent block the EU has now transformed into an extension of US power and the EU has lost its independence. The other negative result was that the EU has now become a multi-tiered organisation with inequality of various countries.
      Notice also how that the independent political stance of Germany and France at the time of the Iraq war has transformed into the same bloodthirsty warmongering that we saw EU countries leading into the war on Libya and currently in Syria.
      I still believe in the EU and if UK had remained in the EU especially with a left of centre government the both the EU and UK would have had a chance to withstand this trend. Unfortunately with Brexit now we will become fully in thrall both economically and politically to the USA.

    • craig Post author

      The far right governments in Poland and Hungary are hardly the EU’s fault and arise from unfortunate but very real strands in both those countries’ political histories. Those right wing parties are of course highly Euro-sceptic.

  • SA

    As a remainer I still feel very uncomfortable about saying that all brexiters are racist. I worry that this ignores the very blatant racists we share a European Parliament with (until withdrawal) and who have strongly blatantly racist governments, examples include Poland and Hungary. Also the cause of the civil war in Ukraine has at its root support by the EU for a basically racist government, inserted through an undemocratic coup. So opposition to the EU is not only based on racist grounds.
    The other extremely worrying aspect of the EU is that it has become almost synonymous with NATO and is a geopolitical organisation strongly supportive (some would say controlled by) of the USA global policy, and not an economic entity for the benefit of its members, who can easily be sacrificed, as in the case if Greece.
    If the EU is ever to become a power for the good it has to be an indepndent block and counter the hegemony not only of the US but also of the dollar, the WTI and the IMF.
    The fact however is that the train has left the station and we are nothing outside the EU.

  • SA

    A question I always wanted to ask Craig:
    Would Scotland remain as a member of NATO after independence?

    • Tony Little

      That’s a question that only a future Independent Scottish government can answer. Unlike “Lord” Robertson I do not think that Scotland outside NATO would bring the “civilised work” to an end, however in geo-political-military terms, the position on Scotland in the North Atlantic would make its membership unopposed should she wish to remain.

      I suspect that the terms and focus of NATO will change over the coming years, particularly with the uncertainty that the Trump Presidency has on that organisation, but speaking personally, I would like to see it review its operational scope given the changed circumstances of the decline of the old USSR, and become a far more clearly defensive/ humanitarian organisation, rather than an extension of USA (and UK) military “policing” of the world.

      • Phil the ex-frog

        “I would like to see it review its operational scope given the changed circumstances of the decline of the old USSR, and become a far more clearly defensive/ humanitarian organisation”

        Mr universe contestant declares world peace.

      • nevermind

        They have agreed to carry on cooperating closely with EU defence matters and events, staffing the Brussels office. On the issue of defence the negotiators seem to keep sticking to NATO and the EU.
        Today is flying day overhead, despite the 65 mph winds, I’m watching attack loops, training for’ humanitarian eventualities’…..

        As for abandoning partners in Europe and bowling over the whole democratic system, because you can and are not stopped by anyone, except Gina Miller, who has just adjusted the Governments hasty action, by force of law, they will have to have a vote I Parliament on the 1 billion, as yet unpaid gift, to the DUP.

        Jeez using Parliament, that is such and old hat when you can decide whatever you want now.
        Parliament has become obsolete and I got the sneaking suspicion that this is just another round of cuts, the idea being that they end up by firing all opposition MP’s and allocating their constituencies to the nearest Tory serfdom.

  • Phil the ex-frog

    The miserable little excuse for the fco is hilarious. Sidelined they are. If only the good old fco were still running the show wot!

  • Loony

    Right wing nationalist governments, where do they all come from?

    Take a look at the UK – a substantial number of the “British ruling class” are acting to frustrate Brexit and to deny the will of people. Establishment lackies hurl abuse at all those who dare to hold a contrary opinion to the received wisdom. All the rime living standards and wages continue their inexorable decline – as they must because the rubicon has been crossed with regard to energy. No acknowledgement of this from the establishment and their lackies just an ongoing frenetic attempt to obscure the truth with more abuse. All of these is cheered widely from the sidelines by the clowns within the EU.

    What do you think happens next? Come on it is not hard. People will be elected who will execute the will of the people, and if this garbage does not stop then it is not only the will of the people that will be executed.

    …and who will be responsible for all of this? It is a racing certainty that those who are currently heaping oil on the fire will not be putting their hands up in acknowledgement of their own culpability.

  • Robert

    I’m a bit unconvinced that 100% of Leavers are racially motivated. I did vote remain myself, but I had to weigh my dislike of the EU’s support for big business and an even stronger dislike of the CAP against the merits of staying. I’f I’d been swayed by these dislikes it’s not clear to me that that would make me racist.

  • John Goss

    “In decades to come, society will have recovered and historians will be scratching their heads over why decent people failed to stop this madness at this very obvious tipping point. To which the answer is, because they were bewitched by the attraction of simple xenophobia.”

    Nobody knows whether society will have recovered and we will have historians portraying the truth. I certainly don’t even though I hope they will be scratching their heads in disbelief. Simple xenophobia can lead to much worse regimes than the immediate aftermath of Brexit. Here an Israeli musician, Jonathan Ofir, gives his thoughts on modern-day apartheid Israel. I suspect the title might take this comment into moderation.


    • Loony

      Society, as it is understood today, is not going to recover. It is going to collapse.

      Every aspect of modern society is underpinned by cheap liquid energy (i.e. oil) and the age of cheap oil is over. It is not coming back.

      The best chance to ride the wave of change that is underway is for people to have an appreciation of all relevant facts. The fact that people are seemingly wedded to delusional thinking does not auger well and is indicative of a nasty, violent collapse and at best a return to the dark ages.

  • Geoffrey

    Is there a word for “The dislike or hatred of British white working class people ” by middle class people ? It presumably it is not “racist” to hate them if you are British ?
    Perhaps if you are a hardline Remainer you might regard yourself as “European ” and therefore a different race. Presumably then you would be “racist” if you mock or disparage the white British working class.
    Of course we all prefer the good looking Eastern Europeans to the disgusting beer bellied, dribbling, football watching,junk food eating, benefit cheating,foreigner suspicious White British Working Class !

  • Sharp Ears

    President Putin has annoyed Merkel by giving Schröder a (very well paid) job at Rosneft.

    Angela Merkel slams Gerhard Schröder for taking job with Russia’s Rosneft
    The former German chancellor has come under fire from his successor for taking a top job with Russian oil giant Rosneft. The firm is a target of US and EU sanctions that were imposed after Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

    ‘Schroeder and Russia
    The combative Schröder, 73, is no newcomer to Kremlin-based controversy. He has never hidden his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and was heavily criticized for giving Putin a hug at the Russian leader’s birthday party in St. Petersburg in 2014, just weeks after the Kremlin annexed the Crimean peninsula.

    Within weeks of being bounced out of the chancellery in 2005, he became the head of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream, the pipeline company that transports natural gas from Russia to Germany under the Baltic Sea and is majority owned by Russia’s Gazprom.

    Now, just weeks before the general election, Schröder has again come under fire for accepting a $500,000-a-year (425,000-euro) board job with Russia’s Rosneft, which is subject to western sanctions over Moscow’s role in the Ukraine conflict.’

    LOL. Loving it.

  • What's going on?

    So this is how I see things panning out from here on (although I probably have this all wrong!):

    1) Brexit
    2) State of Emergency
    3) National Government
    4) UK rejoins the EU and moves towards adopting the Euro

    Of course we could just join Efta/EEA and avoid all this trouble.

  • nevermind

    O/T but very relevant as these brothers in arms all want the same and speak at each others campaigns events. Farrage invitation to speak at Beatrix von Storch’s rally the other day was long planned, he has turned himself into the Wrecks-anything ambassador par excellence travelling the globe on behalf of hedgehog politics, all spiky and closed up to all.

    The polarisation in Germany is driven by Merkels hold on power, they feel powerless to change anything and hence, they focus on immigration, what a surprise. The east of Germany holds the key to the elections next month and an army of online Trolls are already pestering on the sidelines ready with fake news and simplistic messages designed to con voters.
    If the AFD gets into Parliament, Farrage will claim to have done it, he likes to be recognising himself for the crap he produces.


    • Loony

      You have no need to worry – Merkel will retain power.

      Things are going very nicely for the Germans – southern Europe in ruins, turmoil in the Ukraine, isolation for the UK and a compliant ECB that follows German instructions to the letter, all topped of with a complete disregard for the rule of law as it applies to Germany.

      Farage and the AfD serve as a useful smokescreen to cover the current crop of crimes. Germany could have taught the now defunct Bell Pottinger a think or two about the effective marketing of crimes.

  • CameronB Brodie

    I’m annoyed I’m late to this one.

    People’s beliefs and dispositions are largely shaped through their personal engagement with external semiotic forces – social living is a reflexive practice (no man is an island). Racist ideologies are manufactured by our political class, then reproduces, amplified and disseminated through the media. Holding racist beliefs is a characteristic trait of the ‘authoritarian personality’, which is a social disposition that is currently being groomed by the New Right ‘s media gimps. This is aligned with the (Anglo-American) neo-liberal objective of establishing a social psychology suited to a neo-liberal governmentality.

    We are heading towards a very scary place, IMHO. Human liberty has never faced such a threat, which has the technological power and reach to shape minds through an omnipresent hidden agenda. Time to choose which side you are on folks. Good guy or w…..

    Anthony Giddens: The reflexive project of the self


    Foucault, Governmentality, Neoliberalism and Adult Education – Perspective on the Normalization
    of Social Risks


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