Nostalgia and Fear Sent us Down the Brexit Path!
Posted on March 29, 2017
I was watching Newsnight on BBC 2 last night and a short feature with Nick Clegg visiting Ebww Vale came on.
Ebbw Vale was once a steel town providing work for the local community, however, that has long since gone and it is now home to 25% unemployment and it would appear, little hope outside some EU funded regeneration.
Over 60 per cent of the town voted to leave the EU, despite its only source of infrastructure finance coming from the Union, which today, Britain starts the long and painful process of removing itself from.
I say Britain, but with a dissolved government in Northern Ireland and a second Scottish referendum on the horizon, it is possible that it may just be England and Wales left. Ireland could even become united in circumstances no one could have ever imagined.
What was striking about this mini-documentary, was the fact that the elder people were desperate for a return to an era where the steel factory fed the community, somehow deluding themselves that Brexit offers them a return to the past.
They are so desperate for a Brexit Tardis, they are prepared to let go of EU funding that has helped build a skills college, a sports centre and a host of regeneration projects, to return to a golden age which never really existed.
How can they honestly expect a right-wing Tory government (similar to the one that closed them down in the 1980’s) to rebuild them a factory and create a protectionist steel economy via Brexit? It is the stuff of delusion but they are adamant and won’t be budged.
The other major concern these people have is immigration and the taking of British jobs. How bad does someone have to be at making bread in Greggs to lose their job to a Romanian guy speaking broken English?
EU immigrants can’t undercut anyone in these jobs, because there is a minimum wage in force, so if a local person can’t hold down a low-skilled job, I’m sorry, I want to know why?
The documentary then turned to the young people at the local skill centre (built by the EU). To them the steel mill was part of local history to be proud of, along with the acceptance it has gone and is never coming back.
The EU funded Ebww Vale Skills College
They were quite different from the elder folk, benefiting from the EU funding at the skill centre and not caring whether an Eastern European worked in the community; such is the lack of work there aren’t enough foreigners in town to worry about anyway.
By tradition, workers migrate to where prosperity is, like when the British construction industry upped sticks and moved to Germany in the 1980’s (Auf Wiedersen and all that) so they are unlikely to be a problem in Ebbw Vale.
Nostalgia is a very British thing, it is something we all indulge in as we are getting older, remembering when summers were hot, Christmases were white, music was better and a copper could kick you down the stairs without explanation.
However, despite the flaws that always come with a union, things are better for many influences from that have come from our EU membership. Employment rights, human rights, cleaner air and beaches, health and safety at work, going into a pub without getting secondary lung cancer; these are all positives in my book.
Of course, there are cases where the use of human or employment rights are abused by parasites (much to the delight of The Daily Mail) but there are thousands of mundane cases every day where innocent people are protected from the likes of Mike Ashley at JJB or corruption in Law and Order.
My concern is that whilst this is all about getting back control, that control will be handed to the establishment to assert more authority over the masses. All the signs are already there in the media as the billionaire news group owners start to let loose with headlines attacking those who are challenging Brexit.
The owners of The Mail Group, Express Newspapers and the Murdoch Empire, benefit enormously from being free of EU regulation, which is not a great idea if you want to live in a democracy striving for some kind of equality.
In effect, I am predicting (I may be wrong of course) that those longing for a return to a glorious industrial powerhouse of yesteryear, have been mugged off by the establishment and their lives will get worse, not better.
Brexit has been the establishment old guard’s last chance at reasserting control over the masses who have been increasingly enjoying the benefits of freedom of choice and economic movement. In fairness, with billionaire media barons supporting them, they have secured a significant victory of grabbing back control on their terms.
For instance, Theresa May has stated that the government is committed to employment rights remaining in line with EU regulations….”if it is in the interest of the economy”. Read that again and you will see that it is not a commitment at all, it’s an opt-out clause.
Nostalgia and immigration won the day this time, but I do wonder how much the younger and more progressive generation will take before a people’s rebellion starts taking shape. They may be beyond caring, but the older folk of places like Ebww Vale will soon see that they are the least concern to a post-Brexit Britain whoring itself around the world, buying and selling low in a bid to try to stay afloat.
A £50 billion pound Brexit divorce settlement and other fiscal penalties, may just well be the starting point of an unstable era in British history and indeed, an uncertain and potentially fractured European Union. Putin will be licking his lips as he eyes up a map of the Baltic States.
The desperate thing about it is those who signed up for nostalgia, protectionism and the closing of borders, will be the worst affected.
Like everyone in Britain, I love a bit of nostalgia, I just never thought we would end up getting exploited for it.