Referendum rooted in fear

By Raffique Shah
June 28, 2016

Raffique ShahThe referendum was never about Britain getting a raw deal in the European Union and wanting out so that it can prosper on its own. It wasn’t even about voting to stop the hordes of barbarian refugees at the gates of the castle, given its natural moats, the Channel, the North Sea, which, at other critical moments in history, stopped would-be invaders like Hitler dead in their tracks.

No. This referendum was about a once-fearless people now stricken with fear, a deep-seated but irrational fear that was co-manufactured by their leaders and allies of yesteryear-presidential warmongers in the White House, puppet prime ministers in Whitehall-a fear that is today marketed to the masses by far-right nationalists, some may say neo-Nazis, such as Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson in Britain, Marine Le Pen in France, and Donald Trump in the USA.

The vote was about a once economically-powerful people who enjoyed decent standards of living by global measure, but who today feel the pain of inequity; a widening gap between rich and the poor; and increasingly inaccessible higher education and fewer jobs for those who graduate bearing huge debt burdens.

Blame it on the EU, on the asylum seekers who are taking bread out of Britons’ mouths, putting the health service under stress, education out of their reach.

Britons, at least 17.4 million of them, did not vote on facts: they voted on perceptions, some might say fiction.

Who are the barbarians battering their borders that they would like to keep out of England?

According to Eurostat data, the number of first time asylum seekers doubled in 2015 (from the previous year) to reach 1.26 million. Leading the charge were Syrians (363,000 or 29 percent), Afghans (14 percent) and Iraqis (10 percent).

Most of these refugees were absorbed by continental European countries, with Germany taking the brunt. Few made it to England.

What those who voted to keep refugees out should have asked was: what was the common factor that linked Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. The answer is a no-brainer: they are war-torn, strife-ridden countries, rendered bloody, even uninhabitable, by the machinations and interventions of Washington, London and Paris.

It was these latter countries that initiated wars in all three. In the case of Syria, the trio declared open season on Assad, inviting anyone who cared to take a shot at him to fire away. They even armed, equipped and financed them. Out of that reckless misadventure came ISIS, which, like the Taliban and al Qaeda before, are creations of the western warmongers.

So the influx of refugees from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq into continental Europe is a direct consequence of the West’s stupidity, and now citizens of Europe are paying the price, on top of the trillions of dollars those wars cost and the lives lost in them.

Yesterday, David Cameron’s blind backing of Barack Obama’s misadventures in the Middle East has returned to terminate his political career. Today, Le Pen and her fellow-Nazis in Austria, Holland and other countries are smelling EU blood. And tomorrow, that moron Trump might well find himself in the Oval Office playing with the controls for the US nuclear arsenal.

All that I have touched on above have, in different measures, influenced a bare majority of voters in Britain to pull that country out of the EU. And EU members who are fed up with Britain’s bickering are telling London to leave, post haste.

What those who campaigned for the exit will not tell those who heeded their call is that the root causes of Britain’s many problems will remain even if the country stops trading with its former EU allies, if it refuses to take another refugee or immigrant, if it barricades itself like the bastion they think it could be.

Britain’s fundamental problems, like the USA’s or Russia’s or Trinidad and Tobago’s, lie in a generic economic formula that has been touted as a panacea to its many challenges, and a social stratification in which wealth has trumped class, and both remain out of reach of the vast majority of Britons.

Withdrawing from the EU will not ameliorate these intractable problems; rather, it is likely to aggravate them.

That 17.4 million mostly mature English people fell for the diatribe peddled by the anti-EU campaigners tells a sad story of how the mighty have fallen, from an intelligence perspective.

The 16.1 million mostly young people who held firm to the vision of an integrated Europe and a better world should now seek to change their national anthem because not even God can save the queen.

Sing instead Charles Kingsley’s immortal and more appropriate lyrics (paraphrased): “Oh, England is a pleasant place for them that’s (filthy) rich and (stupidly) high/But England is a cruel place for such poor (and smart) folks as I.”

3 thoughts on “Referendum rooted in fear”

  1. One of the main criticisms which I heard in London from many “reasonable” people was the objection to legal immigration. They objected to the influx of Eastern European EU migrants who were flooding into London seeking better economic opportunities. The Polish migrants were accused of “taking their jobs”.

  2. God doh sleep. It is time the Brits understand that as a G8 member country, it does not give them the sole right to take handsomely from the third world like Trinidad for over one century and recently starting with CHOGUM under Manning and others and NOT GIVING BACK RIGHTEOUSLY. Too many PMs in the past, have come and gone -thank God, and for years have taken away from us many of our liberties without any justice for preservation of our rights of the citizenry in the third world pauperizing the people and becoming outright dictators. Mr Tony Blair was a case in point. He must come clean on Locabe and Libya (the continued bombings in Libya with Gadaffi from NATO forces targeting the secret files NOT GADAFFI ….and the mess he left in Iraq (after the falsehood of weapons of mass destruction) and after this the rage of ISIL in the Syria civil war still going on. God doh sleep for the real story after events in Brussels, France this year and more recently the happenings in Florida, USA, the Brits were merely taking stock. Not God, they created all of this mess. The rip offs and con jobs started with the search for El Dorado in the Caribbean many moons ago and continued in a different way over the years (1850 to now) and has never ended. And they trained some of we own very well at that. So let us not be confused; we know our sins follow us to our grave and we know we are all equal before God. I think we should be fair and therefore we should also talk about what a dictator Manning became…NOT ONLY HOW NICE HE WAS. While most of us with all our education and experience were not as fortunate as Manning, his wife and his sons, we suffered in our own country and outside it. And of course the famous statement by Benny Hinn who told him quote “you foolish man” unquote. But PM you rest in peace.

  3. Mr. Shah misses key points on Brexit.

    The Brits have a right to determine their future. Whether they voted from fear, misunderstanding or the chilly North sea breeze is irrelevant. After all that is democracy. A majority of British people have spoken.

    Does Mr. Shah want to undermine the democratic principles upon which western civilization is built? Or does he want democracy only when it is convenient?

    Secondly many of those refugees are economic refugees. Yes some are political but more that a few are seeking a better economy rather than escaping war and strife. For example some don’t want to go to the poorer areas of the EU such as Portugal. They ‘prefer’ London and Northern Europe. If they were really trying to escape war and strife, would they be so picky about location?

    The refugee situation is complex. But supposing CARICOM allowed the free movement of people, what do you think would happen? Here is what is likely. Sweet T&T would be flooded with economic refugees from the small islands as well as Guyana and Jamaica. We wouldn’t get rich well to do refugees we would get the poor. After all Trinidad is the richest nation in the English speaking Caribbean.

    Now Mr. Shah, being a liberal, would probably welcome these immigrants with open arms. But how would Trinidadians feel about accommodating thousands of poor Jamaicans, Guyanese and small islanders? Judging from the recent brouhaha from the denial of entry to Jamaicans, Trinidadians would probably be irritated at a flood of immigrants. Just like the British.

    Great Britain was part of the EU but not part of the Eurozone. They Brits never bought wholly into the concept of other people’s political and economic unions. They maintained a healthy skepticism of the whole European experiment.

    Many commentators and analyst misjudged this. Enoc Powell was one of the few who accurately predicted this outcome four decades ago.

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