Divided Britain

Lynsey Hanley

The only thing we can say for certain in the immediate aftermath of the referendum is that David Cameron will be remembered as one of the worst prime ministers we’ve ever had: at once ignorant of his own people and reckless with their lives. And yet I don’t entirely blame the Tories for the disaster they’ve set in train, even though the avoidable misery and cultural polarisation we are now seeing only tends to happen under Tory governments. Labour’s last period in office was the biggest missed opportunity since Thatcher’s decision to spend North Sea oil revenue on tax cuts and subsidising council house sales. Between 1997 and 2010, Labour sowed the seeds of the cynicism and anger that have propelled today’s result.

New Labour thought that accepting economic growth for its own sake – create more money, doesn’t matter how – was all right as long as the proceeds were redistributed afterwards. (You could argue that the European Union works in much the same way, which is why people gave it the same treatment they did Labour in 2010.) During Labour’s long boom, once the honeymoon was over, everyone was just as miserable as they are now, they simply had more money (or more credit). I remember endless drunkenness, fights on trains, people under pressure. I remember casual aggression in daily encounters of a kind I haven’t experienced since. The end of the boom almost felt like a release.

Shortly after the result of the referendum became clear, Tony Blair told Sky News that it wasn’t his fault voters hadn’t got with the programme. ‘The way to bring these people back to a sensible view of politics is to go and provide them with answers to the problems we face. It is about the future, not in taking our country back to a time that doesn’t exist in the world anymore.’ In theory I have a degree of sympathy with this view. Voting for Brexit is no better an answer to the problems we face than sitting in a bin going ‘Lalalalala’. Yet Blair still can’t seem to accept the reasons he lost power. For one thing, it’s hard to trust anyone who uses the phrase ‘these people’.

‘The answers to the problems people face,’ Blair went on, ‘is not to turn on migrants or to divide the country, it’s through education, it’s through infrastructure, it’s through understanding how the modern world works.’ Again, on the surface there is little to argue with; but God, the condescension. As if British voters need schooling in ‘how the modern world works’.

A lot of people voted Leave to show the political class that the way the modern world works was not working for them. Proponents of Remain argued, not entirely wrongly, that membership of the EU protected workers’ rights. But if your workplace offered zero-hours contracts, timed your toilet breaks, charged you for your uniform, gave you shifts and then dropped them on at the last minute, and didn’t pay you enough to cover your bills, why would you be persuaded by that argument?

The referendum result suggests that working-class people would prefer to unite with very posh people to give middle-class people a kicking than to submit to the middle-class idea that what is good for them is good for everyone. There are people for whom the EU has worked in a direct and tangible way: business owners (at least, the ones who don’t complain about ‘excessive red tape’); academics and students, who know that the free movement of both knowledge and people matters to their universities and their professional prospects; individuals who have made use of their right to move to or out of the UK.

Which brings us to immigration, and its perceived effect on the way people have voted. Trevor Phillips said ten years ago that Britain has been ‘sleepwalking into segregation’, with people from different ethnic groups living separately. Not only do the facts not bear this out, but other kinds of segregation, which have been growing – spatial, economic, educational – have been ignored. We have been ‘sleepwalking’ into division, but on entirely different terms from those picked out, with obvious yet inaccurate relish, by David Goodhart, Phillips’s colleague at the Integration Hub. The real divisions are all about class, not ethnicity.

A week before the referendum, the BBC’s head of research wrote an internal memo:

There are many millions of people in the UK who do not enthuse about diversity and do not embrace metropolitan values yet do not consider themselves lesser human beings for all that. Until their values and opinions are acknowledged and respected, rather than ignored and despised, our present discord will persist.

But the problem has nothing to do with ‘metropolitan values’, or a lack of enthusiasm for diversity. It is about class, and the way that the social, cultural and economic privilege of an enlarged and confident middle class has been compounded over time, not necessarily at the expense of working-class people, but with the effect of making it appear so. You can’t make the Labour Party, as Tristram Hunt and others would have it, a place where social conservatism coexists with social progressivism. You have to choose the latter because that’s where we are all headed, and it is the only way we can get the ‘modern world’ to work for everyone.

If someone doesn’t like immigrants, or what they perceive to be the effects of immigration, social or economic, that’s their problem. It isn’t something politicians ought to be seeking to ‘fix’. Seeking to cement ideas about the past by taking some people’s nostalgia at face value leads us nowhere, and gives that nostalgia an unwarranted level of respect. Most people are quite able to see beyond their own experience and relate to others as individuals, not as faceless members of an alien group.

The area I grew up in, a peripheral West Midlands estate with relatively little immigration, has in the last ten years elected a BNP councillor, swiftly rejected him and replaced him, along with a Labour councillor, with two Greens. In that time I have seen precisely no commentary on the tendency of the ‘white working class’ to embrace environmentalism as an answer to their ‘well-founded fears’.

But enough looking at the facts. Just over half of us have consented to do the dirty work of a minuscule elite, cutting off our collective nose to spite our face in order to express a class grudge. That is what class does. And for all my anger at what Labour failed to do with their 13 years in power, this could only have happened under the Tories.


  • 25 June 2016 at 4:07am
    Higgs Boatswain says:
    One of the many interesting findings released by the Migration Observatory at Oxford University in its report last year on "UK Public Opinion Towards Immigration" is that "while vast majorities view migration as harmful to Britain, few claim that their own neighbourhood is having problems due to migrants. For example, in an Ipsos MORI poll commissioned by the Sun newspaper in 2007 only 15% said that migrants are causing problems in their own neighbourhood, while 69% said that migrants were not having a strong local impact, either good or bad (Ipsos MORI 2007). [....] Later, the Citizenship Survey 2008-2009 found that approximately 85% think that people of diverse backgrounds get along well in their local area." There seems to be an interesting gap between the beliefs of the British public about the effects of immigration and individuals' own experiences of it. This raises very worrying questions about the role of the media and some political figures in creating misconceptions about the effects of immigration, even among people who are not hostile to the immigrants living around them. Indeed, it might even be heartening to reflect that, as the Migration Observatory report put it, "those living in a person’s own neighbourhood seem the most popular - or at least least negatively-viewed" of all migrants. Maybe we're not simply a nation of racist xenophobes after all. Maybe we're just horribly horribly badly served by the people who are supposed to be informing us.

    • 25 June 2016 at 8:04pm
      streetsj says: @ Higgs Boatswain
      I seem to remember something similar from surveys on schooling: most people were happy with their school but we're concerned about schools in general.

    • 25 June 2016 at 11:57pm
      Stu Bry says: @ Higgs Boatswain
      "This raises very worrying questions about the role of the media and some political figures in creating misconceptions about the effects of immigration, even among people who are not hostile to the immigrants living around them."

      This is definitely true.

      The main culprits are the right wing tabloids but the BBC are also to blame for allowing those publications to set their agenda but also for embracing diversity in front of camera to an almost comic extent.

    • 27 June 2016 at 1:19am
      philip proust says: @ Stu Bry
      "To an almost comic extent." For example?

    • 29 June 2016 at 3:11am
      John Cowan says: @ Higgs Boatswain
      That's a pretty normal state of affairs. Most U.S. citizens (including me) despise Congress: "Reader, suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress — but I repeat myself" —Mark Twain. Nevertheless, we allow that our own Congresscritters are actually pretty good. For that matter, most Nazis approved of Jews they themselves knew and interacted with, right up to Hitler, who had some three hundred favored Jews who he personally exempted from the camps.

    • 29 June 2016 at 9:00pm
      patrick hutchinson says: @ Stu Bry
      Thanks. But go a step further; whose ownership controls these manipulated hotbeds of predjudice and mental dereliction?

  • 25 June 2016 at 9:20am
    rm1 says:
    The anti EU vote had a variety of origins, but progressives need to realise that wanting to have a say over the size of the UK's population is a legitimate democratic concern and not necessarily the result of racism or xenophobia.

    • 26 June 2016 at 12:05am
      Stu Bry says: @ rm1
      "wanting to have a say over the size of the UK’s population is a legitimate democratic concern and not necessarily the result of racism or xenophobia."

      That is true but if an individual is so enraged by the size of the UK's population that they are willing to harm their own, their families and their fellow citizen's economic prospects to address it they are surely fueled by racism or xenophobia.

      It is also unlikely that Brexit will reduce immigration. Daniel Hannan of vote leave admitted this on Newsnight less than 24 hours after the result.The economy is now reliant on immigrant labour.

    • 26 June 2016 at 9:29am
      rm1 says: @ Stu Bry
      The economy is no more reliant on immigrant labour than before Brexit. Furthermore a desire to privilege population control over economic expansion is an entirely legitimate qualitative decision and as such has no logical connection to racism or xenophobia. Of course there are elements of racism and xenophobia in the leave vote but the left cannot dismiss legitimate concerns over population density in one of the most densely populated countries of the world.

    • 26 June 2016 at 11:18am
      cizinka says: @ rm1
      Are you just as concerned about the millions of Brits living in EU countries? (Not to mention the stag parties...)

    • 27 June 2016 at 7:35am
      Alan Benfield says: @ rm1
      "one of the most densely populated countries of the world."?

      Hardly: the UK ranks 51st by population density (262/km2) and isn't even the most densely populated in the EU, being beaten by The Netherlands (404/km2) and Belgium (371/km2).

      The fake panic about population in the UK is a product of the right-wing press. While there are parts of the UK (notably Kent and East Anglia) where a large influx of (mostly Eastern European) immigrants has perhaps disturbed the provision of local services and put pressure on cheap housing and low-paid jobs, most people in the UK have never seen an immigrant.

      And if anyone is responsible for the collapse of the NHS and other public services and the poor provision of decent affordable housing and jobs which are not McJobs, it is successive UK governments, starting with Thatcher in 1979.

    • 27 June 2016 at 7:37am
      Alan Benfield says: @ cizinka
      Millions? About 1.3 million, according to EU statistics (and about 3 million EU nationals living in the UK).

    • 27 June 2016 at 9:51am
      timsossidge says: @ Alan Benfield
      erm actually 32 of the countries in front of Britain on that list of the worlds most denseley populated nations are independent microstates and small islands like Monaco or Jersey .Strip thiose away and we're placed at number 20 - but then quite a lot more after those are smallish nations anyway . It's only that that pushes us down to number 51 . If England was a country all on it's own it would be the sixth most denseley populated country on Earth .

    • 27 June 2016 at 9:53am
      timsossidge says: @ Alan Benfield
      Alan what percentage of people in the UK would you speculate have never seen an Immigrant ? 97 % or 98 % perhaps ?

    • 27 June 2016 at 10:08am
      Alan Benfield says: @ timsossidge
      Ah, when is a country not a country, eh?

    • 27 June 2016 at 10:20am
      timsossidge says: @ Stu Bry
      "would you say that the economy is reliant on unending Immigrant Labour year after year then ?

    • 27 June 2016 at 10:22am
      timsossidge says: @ Alan Benfield
      come Alan ! Grow up ... no one thinks Jersey , Hong Kong , Macau or Micronesia are ' countries ' . I assume your glib little repo0nse means you can't think of any proper reply ?

    • 27 June 2016 at 10:26am
      Alan Benfield says: @ timsossidge
      No idea. Have you? The debate having been dominated by unsubstantiated bollocks, I just thought I'd add some...

      The point here is surely this: the argument isn't really about population. Immigration has been taken as an easy way to whip up anti-EU feeling which is largely a result of the gradual drift since 1979 into neo-liberal policies (the UK government being in the vanguard) which have made life for the poor harder by reducing the number of affordable homes and by reducing workers rights, leading to the upsurge in McJobs. While Britain is happy to crow about 'job creation', nobody seems to ever ask whether many of the jobs so created are actually worth having.

      As always, when economic times are hard for the poor, they are the ones who are most directly affected by immigration, in that they are competing for the crap housing and crap jobs at the bottom of the heap.

      Add to that the constant agitation by the right-wing press and right-wing pols against the EU (often using lies and distortion) and it isn't hard to see why many are happy to jump on the anti-EU bandwagon, even if they have no personal experience of the negative effects of immigration.

    • 27 June 2016 at 10:56am
      timsossidge says: @ Alan Benfield
      according to three separate reports by UCL , The House of Lords and The Institute of Estate Agents - depending on where you live in England and South East Wales ( though not in the rest of Wales , Scotland and Northern Ireland ) Immigration has added between 10 % and 35 % to house prices . The Central American Plains Indians in the US in the 1840's had not yet experienced the impact of white ' settlers ' in the way that residents of Cumbria and Shropshire have as of yet seen only minimal ( and the case of the former almost non existent )inward migration today . So they , like those Indians of old must just relax and wait for their turn yes ?

    • 27 June 2016 at 10:59am
      Alan Benfield says: @ timsossidge
      No, my glib little response means that I really can't see what the point of this argument is: Britain isn't a particularly densely populated country by developed world standards or even by the standards of our near neighbours.

      Anyway, if you can pick and choose your statistics, you can prove anything. Where I live (Zuid-Holland, The Netherlands) has a population density of 1239/km2, 3 times the national average. What does that prove? Not a lot, really, except that a lot of people want to live and work here.

      In Den Haag (The Hague), the capital of the province, population 500,000, 50.5% of the inhabitants are immigrants (like me). About 16% are classified as 'Western' (which covers Europe and the US/Canada). We have quite a few Eastern Europeans, too. Its population density is about 6340/km2.

      By contrast, London (about 9.8 million) has a population density of 5,177/km2, which makes it a very densely populated place indeed, but not quite as densely populated as where I live. About 37% of the population are immigrants.

      Does this amount to much? Not really, except to show that simplistic arguments about population always run into the wet sand of reality.

    • 27 June 2016 at 11:03am
      Alan Benfield says: @ timsossidge
      Links? I'd like to see what those reports say in detail.

      And what to they say about the effect on house prices of government housing policy since 1979?

    • 27 June 2016 at 12:45pm
      Alan Benfield says: @ Alan Benfield
      P.S. Your attempt to draw a parallel with the US in the 19th century is entirely bogus. I have yet to hear of immigrants to the UK expropriating the residents of anywhere by force and killing them if they resist.

    • 27 June 2016 at 1:06pm
      timsossidge says: @ Alan Benfield
      yes so England as of mid 2013 had ( as a stand alone country ) 413 people per sq km compared to Hollands 409 at the same date .Only 45 % of Londoners identify as ' White British ' . I don't know what conditions are like there? Do you have as much permanent immigration per capita as the UK ? It's common knowledge about the Dutch language tests being introduced to bring Migration down . Do substantial numbers of visible ethnic minority citizens of other European Nations up and re locate themselves to where you live like they do here ? Are 40 % of your Eastern European population on wages so low they qualify for large Tax Credit payments from the govt ? Do you have the serious housing shortage of the UK .Are towns all over the place dotted with cranes building 5 - 8 story tower blocks in town centres that have not changed for 50 years ? Does the Netherlands govt spend more on it's Health Service as % of GDP ? Does your govt welcome anyone who has AIDS anywhere in the world to come to your country to be housed and treated indefinitley ? Do educationalists shift the terms of education to adapt to the cultures of incomers ? Different European countries have different experiences of the whole issue .

    • 27 June 2016 at 2:38pm
      Alan Benfield says: @ timsossidge
      Ah, so here we get down to it: it's 'little England' we are talking about.

      "Only 45 % of Londoners identify as ‘ White British'" - what's that all about? Sounds like racism to me.

      "Do you have as much permanent immigration per capita as the UK ?" Yes. According to this page: UK has 11.3% immigrants while NL has 11.1%. But you have slightly more EU migrants in total than we do: we have more non-EU migrants.

      " It’s common knowledge about the Dutch language tests being introduced to bring Migration down " That is actually false. Where did you read it? There is a means test applied to non-EU migrants (they have to be earning the minimum wage), but there are no language tests and certainly no restrictions of any kind on EU citizens.

      "Do substantial numbers of visible ethnic minority citizens of other European Nations up and re locate themselves to where you live like they do here ? " - Yes. You have about 700,000 Poles for 65 million people (1.1%), We have about 115,000 for 16 million (0.7%).

      "Are 40 % of your Eastern European population on wages so low they qualify for large Tax Credit payments from the govt ?" No, but that is the fault of your government, not ours. Perhaps migrants here are actually getting paid a living wage?

      " Do you have the serious housing shortage of the UK " No, because housing policy here is not utterly idiotic like it is in the UK and we have a plentiful stock of rent-controlled social housing, due to government policy.

      "Are towns all over the place dotted with cranes building 5 – 8 story tower blocks in town centres that have not changed for 50 years ?" No, but see above.

      "Does the Netherlands govt spend more on it’s Health Service as % of GDP ?" Yes, 11% as against 9%

      "Does your govt welcome anyone who has AIDS anywhere in the world to come to your country to be housed and treated indefinitley ?" I have no idea, but I doubt that any EU country does, including the UK. Why choose AIDS, anyway? Something you read in The Sun? This sounds like it's based upon one of those bogus 'immigrant with AIDS gets free council house and treatment forever on the taxpayer' stories you might read in that paper or others like it.

      "Do educationalists shift the terms of education to adapt to the cultures of incomers ? Well, actually, yes: many NL universities now offer courses in English to attract, for example, British students...

      And your point was...

    • 27 June 2016 at 3:31pm
      rm1 says: @ Alan Benfield
      Most people live in England and realise it has grown rapidly and that population density which any geographer knows is high has an increasing impact on quality of life. This cannot be ignored although of course there are many other issues for which migration (not the same thing as population growth ) is wrongly blamed. If the left persists in addressing concerns about population growth merely as racism or xenophobia it is going to be unable to address any of the other problems for which migration is often an unfair proxy.

    • 27 June 2016 at 5:58pm
      timsossidge says: @ Alan Benfield
      Alan : OK I'll take as give you haev roghly the same level of permanent immigration we have here ... ( I'll look it up)... Look up yourself ' INTEGRATION LAW FOR DUTCH IMMIGRANTS ' You'll find that all Non EU Migrants to Holland have to pass a test showing basic facility with the Dutch language and Society and History . They have to finance the course that enables them to pass the test out of their own money or any benefits they receieve. And there is a fine if they don't pass the test within an allotted time frame . On the relocation issue I stated clearly ' visible ' ethnic minorities ..OMG - I'm drawing attention to peoples ethnicity how dreadful this must be for you .This is why we have over 200,000 Somalian Migrants from other European countries living here .A cross party governmental group led by Norman Fowler of all people launched a bill in 2009 that opeed up Britain to welcoming anyone anywhere in the world with Aids to come here and be housed and treated indefinitley . Now we have nearly 75,00 people in the UK with full blown Aids , 70 % of whom were born overseas . AIDS treatment takes up over £2 Billion of the £170 Billion health Budget . And on education - by tailoring ' I meant deciding that Non EU youths need not be taught about British or European History as it is ' not of interest or value to them ' . On the Ethnicity issue where are you in the Netherlands - we have somewhere between 14 % and 17 % Visible Ethnic Minorities or mixed race now and that is due to rise to 20 % by 2020. If Immigration is just let to continue as it is we'd arrive at 35 % by 2040. What might society look like then . Maybe we'd have a situation with an even more reduced welfare state than now , sharp ethnic splits and the bottom 15% on the socio economic spectrum all being drawn form those ' visible ' minorities . That's a highly plausible scenario . Is it desirable ? You answer .

    • 27 June 2016 at 6:01pm
      timsossidge says: @ rm1
      58 % of UK population growth is down to recent Immigration and a further 20 % down to previous waves of Immigration .

    • 29 June 2016 at 3:15am
      John Cowan says: @ Alan Benfield
      It seems that when the English arrived that is exactly what they did. DNA evidence shows that most people in England are much more closely related to folks on the Continent than they are to Celts.

  • 25 June 2016 at 10:58am
    Graucho says:
    First the American colonies, then the Irish, then the Scots now everyone. When it comes to hacking people off and spawning independence movements the Tories are serial offenders. They need the political equivalent of marriage guidance counselling.

  • 25 June 2016 at 3:44pm
    Graucho says:
    Also ...

    • 25 June 2016 at 8:13pm
      streetsj says: @ Graucho
      That's a very interesting and well written article, especially in its unhysterical tone. I love the sign off too.

  • 25 June 2016 at 4:46pm
    IanHPA says:
    This artificial dichotomy between the snobbish inners and the underclass outers is an illusion. The truth is that the electorate were conned, lied to and deceived into voting out by right wing politicians and the right wing press. Somehow, the Brexiters managed to bamboozle the voters ito believing Conservative austerity policies under which they were suffering were the fault of the EU and immigrants. A lie of magnificent and historic proportions. We will all suffer as a consequence. The Brexiters' lies are already unravelling and we all; hipsters, pensioners, soft southerners and gritty northerners will have to take the consequences. Away with these tired cliches. You have been had and that's an end of it.

    • 25 June 2016 at 7:09pm
      MMello says: @ IanHPA
      I'm not British and I don't live in UK, but I'm a little shell-shocked buy the referendum's result. So I spent some two to three hours, yesterday, trying to find some indicator that could explain the often cited "suffering", "poverty" and "austerity" that, supposedly, motivated the Leave vote.

      I looked into Wages, Wages versus Inflation, Unemployment (relative and absolute), Hours Worked, Income Distribution and, when it was clear Leave was an over-50yo decision, Pensioners' Income.

      And I found nothing. Not a single indicator that is, in 2016, in a 10-to-20-year best level.

      Can anyone point me to a statistic - anyone! - that illustrates what "suffering" is everybody talking about?

      (I'm really sorry to certainly sound alien. It's just that I AM an alien).

    • 25 June 2016 at 7:11pm
      MMello says: @ MMello
      CORRECTING: "Not a single indicator that is NOT, in 2016, in a 10-to-20-year best level."

    • 25 June 2016 at 8:30pm
      streetsj says: @ IanHPA
      Don't you think most people can see the lies from both sides, or at least they cancel each other out.
      Where Remain failed, in my view, was in not articulating positive things about the EU. Everything was about how awful it would be if we left - to some that felt like a challenge and an insult.
      My personal view is that the EU is a fatally flawed institution. I think its aims are wrong - ever closer union is not a good objective. I think we should welcome diversity. The single market is also flawed. As with so much government in the West, it has been hijacked by big business and is run in their interests to reduce competition. The Euro is the perfect example of forcing uniformity disastrously.
      It is very revealing that the response from the EU Presidents is to attempt to punish the UK to discourage other members from leaving. If they are so concerned their members want to leave perhaps they should look at themselves and their institution and ask why.
      I am optimistic about the future for the UK.

    • 26 June 2016 at 2:46am
      Peter Smith says: @ MMello
      I am 82 years old; I have enjoyed a fulfilling but not especially lucrative career in Canada and the US. My father was a Suffolk house painter; my parents and seven children lived in a tiny terrace house. Two of us went to grammar schools - all four girls and the youngest boy did not. All six siblings stayed in England, five of them in jobs/marriages that kept them solidly working class - but MY GOODNESS, did their day-to-day lives resemble those of our parents and grand-parents? TOTALLY NOT. Were they taken in by the tabloids? You betcha.

      I have not seen any graphs - they must be out there - but it struck me very hard while watching the results come in (it helped to be five hours behind the times) that the small REMAIN patches outside of London, Scotland and NI were in most cases, places where there are university communities. My own choice of words for the dividing line is sophisticated / unsophisticated.

      My 90-year-old council house sister (partly because she has never spent one £ on booze or tobacco) has been on cruises to places I still dream of visiting, but the Mail and the others somehow help her see the world only through Dacre / Murdoch eyes. I shall NEVER forgive them for degrading every medium they get their hands on - "giving the people what they tell us they want."

    • 27 June 2016 at 12:18pm
      Pageturner says: @ MMello
      "As the rich have got richer, low and middle-income households have been squeezed by falling real incomes caused by years of rising household bills and lack of wage increases . . .The authors warned that rising inequality could indicate a recession was on the way, with the global wealth-to-income ratio hitting a peak. “The ratio is now at a recent record high level of 6.5 (the average wealth is 6.5 x income), matched previously only during the Great Depression"

    • 28 June 2016 at 11:02am
      timsossidge says: @ MMello
      it's mot just ' austerity ' that has motivated the leave vote -it's a cocktail of elements . I dont know where you live but we have to be clear - Britain may be the fifth richest country in the world as measured by nominative GDP -but average standards of living are not comparable( obviously !) to the US , Canada , Australia ,New Zealand or even Germany . Homes are mostly quite small and cramped - and in an environment where wages have stiffed and the cost of living has risen hugeley -it seemed to many working class and lower middle to middle middle class people that the country is now arranged for the needs of the Rich and " Minorities " . People do not suffer here in the manner of the Third World but there is often not much wiggle room once basic expenditure has been met either . The assault on Welfare while still 'welcoming ' in nearly 690,000 Incomers a year (2015) just combines to create feelings of ' things not being quite right' . House prices are way out of the reach of most people under 40 , too many University degrees provide no guarantee of employment ,people find it hard to get school places for their children within driving distance . Statistics can only ever convey a small part of any story anyway . Life is not what it was here just 20 years ago . Something had to give .

    • 29 June 2016 at 9:23pm
      patrick hutchinson says: @ IanHPA
      Thanks. Now you're talking. Who'll make the neo-liberal wolves in sheep's clothing pay?

  • 26 June 2016 at 2:08pm
    whisperit says:
    Its hard to be optimistic. As Lynsey Hanley points out, it's all about class. But Corbyn's mumblings about "protecting workers' rights" have no traction in a zero-hours working culture; instead 'immigration' and 'bureaucracy' have been wheeled on as the usual scapegoats/covering narratives by those who don't want to talk about the politics of global and national inequality.

    The Labour Party will now retreat into its default damage limitation strategy and re-establish a rightist leadership whilst talking about how the Party 'needs to listen to the grass roots' - which it will frame as a need to 'get tough' on immigration.

    Meanwhile, Johnson, Farage and co will go on riding the populist pony.

    Welcome to the Circus of Evil Clowns.

    • 29 June 2016 at 9:24pm
      patrick hutchinson says: @ whisperit
      Right on.

  • 26 June 2016 at 11:00pm says:
    The outcome of the Referendum is a product of the campaigns on both sides with politicians not focusing purely on the benefits and pitfalls of being in or out but became frenzy with scare mongering and unqualified promises of what would happen if Brexit. The result does not truly reflect whether we should be in or out as much as a vote for the ‘haves’ and ‘have not’s with those areas who feel well off voting for and those who have experienced the impact of government policies and extreme austerity suffering and using this opportunity as the only way they know how to send a clear message to Parliament (not just one party or the government), that enough is enough and things must change.

    The people who voted Brexit did so for understandable reasons and on a level were right but one cannot think that this has been like an acrimonious divorce where people have bitten their own noses to spite their faces and that is always a recipe for disaster!!

    It is still rather sad that on such an important and momentous decision that will affect every individual in the country that some 40% did not bother to vote and became empathetic as they will also suffer the consequences of this major change.

    Time will tell but there will be serious consequences felt across the country over the next two years that will impact on the next generation. ALL politicians from ALL political parties must now go away and serious rethink its tactics, policies, manifesto’s, and how it better engaged with the ordinary person on the street or face the rough of the nation in the future. The past style and way of Parliament must now change dramatically if it is not to survive and become the people's Parliament and that it a major undertaking for all.

    Whether readers are of faith or no faith – may your God be with you and for the Country to find itself again as a nation and not risk bankruptcy and waking up to discover another controlling power as bought us out!

    Wish Mr Camaron well!

  • 27 June 2016 at 12:23am
    timsossidge says:
    The referendum has let the genie out of the bottle ..only totally blind liberals can now honestly state with a straight face that none of this has anything to with identity issues for many British people....but even if Immigration since 1997 had consisted soleley of returning white Brits from overseas with their kids - we would still have had a re ignition of population growth and the concomitant problems that raises for housing , transport , welfare obligation , and health access.......

    • 27 June 2016 at 3:34pm
      whisperit says: @ timsossidge
      My concern with your take, timsossidge, is that you appear to have taken the analysis of the problems offered by Farage and co entirely at face value. It's the same analysis that the English National Party, the BNP, the National Front and other far right forces have been foisting upon us for decades. And you know where that leads.

      The reality is that global capitalism hurts. The visible signs of rapid capital transfers, unchecked resource depeltion and borderless economics are rapid changes in the demography of the working population, which flee from those areas which have been exhausted and marginalised and follow the money.

      If you wnat to stop the hurt, the answer is to treat the disease, and put restrictions on capital movement and rapacious resource exploitation. Attempting to solve the problems by restricting population movements is like treating lung cancer by trying to stop the victim coughing.

  • 28 June 2016 at 3:29pm
    Jonathan W says:
    Trying to diagnose why seventeen million people voted for Leave by writing articles and blog posts is always going to be limited, flawed and inadequate - like the people who cast the votes. "Life is too big, too amorphous, to be captured by art"- and so it is with this type of analysis.
    We should never have had the referendum in my opinion. I agree that Cameron will go down as the worst Prime Ministers in the UK's history; Murdoch said he was a light weight, and he's been proved right.
    Cameron advocating Remain; Goldman Sachs/JP Morgan and the rest of the cartoon villains of deregulated neoliberalism advocating Remain.
    90% hostile media advocating Remain.
    Unprecedented levels of immigration - debate the figures all you like, it's unprecedented; exasberated by the unprecedented cuts under Tory induced, media endorsed 'austerity'.
    A lying Leave campaign - media backed.
    Angela Merkals stance on the refugee crisis - again, media induced islamaphobia, not entirely media induced, but almost.
    These are the main reasons the giddy multitude voted Leave. The more educated Leave voters probably voted so based on more informed, rational and less seemingly base reasoning. That's my analysis, but I'm not an expert. I'm probably wrong to conclude they're any more rational.

    • 28 June 2016 at 5:11pm
      timsossidge says: @ Jonathan W
      well said Jonathon

  • 28 June 2016 at 6:22pm
    ianpointon says:
    EU workers rights are not just undermined by the precarity of casualised employment, zero-hours contracts and oppressive conditions at work.

    Access to Employment Tribunals to obtain redress of injustice and compliance with rights at work has been effectively closed off as a result of the charges regime introduced by the 2010-15 ConDem coalition government.

  • 28 June 2016 at 9:22pm
    timsossidge says:
    Lynsey's passing comment on David Goodhart's " obvious yet inaccurate relish " with a link to his book's review by Jonathon Portes must be seen in this context as sour grapes . He gave her book a qualified review a couple of weeks back ! That she is oblivious to the fact that people feel uncomfortable about the rapid change of their communities through immigration simply gives voice to the disconnect of modern liberals that Goodhart describes.

  • 29 June 2016 at 8:58am
    timsossidge says:
    response to John Cowan : our principle ancient ancestors who came here 200,000 years ago are indeed people from the top band of Northern Spain who in turn came there from Africa ...long time ago all this though

  • 30 June 2016 at 8:31am
    nickye says:
    It's very upsetting to see the country divided like this, but I'm not really surprised - I think this has been a long time coming.

    I actually don't think that the voting is as straightforward as it's being presented. I know a wide variety of people who have voted in a variety of ways - and many like me, who although I did vote Remain, were not greatly enthusiastic and only made their minds up at the last minute.

    I have been shocked at some of the nasty comments I've seen, even among people who are usually quite reasonable. Where I live in a middle class area (although I grew up in a council house - and I think Lynsey's book is really interesting adn thought-provoking, I would say life-changing for me, and I could write another whole post about that!) I'm upset that the assumption seems to be that people who voted Out are uneducated and/or older. If you look at results though it was nearly 50/50 in Michael Gove's constituency of Surrey Heath, and the same in many places. The trouble is with a yes/no answer, we don't know why people voted the way they did. They did so for a variety of reasons.

    Much as I hate racism, I've been shocked in the last few years how acceptable it has become to denigrate working-class people, or those on lower income, or doing 'lower' jobs (by the way if they all didn't turn up for work tomorrow the country would come to a standstill). I even saw a Polish guy on BBC news the other day saying that the English are lazy. Prejudice from any direction ought not to be tolerated. It has bound to have caused resentment, with unlimited immigration, and at the same time the terrible inequality and housing situation.

    There is no way I could afford to buy the house I have now - it is a two bedroom terraced house in the south east. I feel so upset about this and worry where my daughter will live. When I was in my 20s I bought a small flat in Surrey, on my own, while earning probably slightly less than the average wage. Now even someone on a good salary is either paying extortionate rent or is unable to move out of home.

    I would have liked a box to tick which said - would you like a reform in the EU, and for money to be distributed more fairly. I would definitely have put my cross in that box.

    I'm upset that people just see 'social mobility' as being the answer. Everyone can't have a middle class job, but everyone deserves a decent place to live.

    We are still so defined by our class system in this country. I was reading a brilliant book earlier this year - 'The Year of Living Danishly' by Helen Russell. She moved from London to Denmark and talked about how people mix much more, people of all types of jobs have similar lifestyles. This says it all - a university professor said he regularly played played squash with three other people - I think they were something like an accountant, carpenter and supermarket worker. I think that says a lot about their country compared to ours.

    When I was growing up in the 1970s in a council flat, then house, this was just normal to me. I've been shocked since I've got older to hear the vicious comments about people in council housing. When did home become 'property', 'a pension', rather than a roof over our heads?

    Anyway sorry this is my first time on this forum and I have rambled on. It's something I feel strongly about. Lynsey's book has been a life saver for me and explained why I have never really felt I fitted into either working or middle class life. I can relate to a lot of it.

  • 30 June 2016 at 9:31am
    TMNW8 says:
    When the history of these times comes to be written, David Cameron will be remembered for having promised a referendum to the right wing of his party, of which the consequences were disaster for the UK, power struggles within his own party and in others, a serious crisis in the European Union, turmoil in the world financial markets, and other long-term consequences that presently are impossible to imagine: the greatest political error ever committed by any politician in time of peace.

    • 30 June 2016 at 10:17am
      streetsj says: @ TMNW8
      Well we'll see in due course but I think you're mostly wrong about that.

      The counterfactual we'll never know is what UKIP might have achieved in the 2015 (or later) general elections without the (promise of a) Referendum. People have forgotten that they polled the most number of votes in the 2014 euro elections (OK, small turnout, protest vote etc but still).

    • 30 June 2016 at 10:23am
      frmurphy98 says: @ TMNW8
      You're absolutely correct. This is all on Cameron, a weak leader with no conception of the mood his austerity fetish had created in the nation.

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