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THE reasons behind the apparent success of the Brexit Party can be attributed to three main causes. The first is the strategic planning of the far right itself, the second decades of media sensationalism which have primed the ground for racist political discourse. The third, and most important, is the growing distrust in elected politicians felt by a significant part of the working-class voting electorate.
Continuously ignored by the mainstream neoliberal political establishment, the working class has also felt alienated by a significant part of the left, sidelined for sexier social justice causes than bread and roses for the worker.
Meanwhile they have been continually hammered by unemployment, low wages, grinding poverty, and a staggering lack of opportunity.
The answer, Corbyn’s Labour with its promise of socialist transformation, has been lost in translation. Lost amid the everyman posturing of Tommy Robinson and Nigel Farage and lost among the lies propagated by the far right’s fifth column attempt to subvert society.
The fifth column approach of targeting working-class voters, hijacking leftist political ground and shifting the Overton window is a primary tactic in the far right’s arsenal. Knights Templar UK refer to it explicitly. Benjamin Jones, leader of the UK chapter of the racist Generation Identity movement, urged activists to get around potential social media bans by going “off brand” to subtly stir up divisive rhetoric.
The racial tensions conjured up by the far right’s co-option of Brexit is just the tipping point; the fascists have bigger plans afoot. The act of leaving the EU is not the problem, the peril is in who now lays claim to Brexit itself.
Right from the start, Dominic Cumming’s Vote Leave campaign capitalised on fear, playing the politics of division. The Britain full of opportunity for the working class promised was appealing to many, not to mention the fact that there has always been a socialist case for leaving the capitalist EU.
The EU’s approach to trade and workers’ rights is anathema to any real socialist movement. It has also imposed severe austerity on economically struggling countries who’ve been unable to break free. Unelected officials on the EU Commission can pass binding legislation that Britain as a member country cannot veto. Without leaving, it will be nigh impossible to implement true economic reform. This is precisely why so many long-time socialists and communists are calling for a “Lexit.”
Unlike the neoliberal Tories and the Blair administration, Corbyn’s Labour has no failure of policy. It would be the only party in decades to significantly improve the lives of the working class were it to come to power.
The failure has been in the delivery of the message. This is hardly Corbyn’s fault. With swathes of the neoliberal media stacked against you, and bitter inter-party rifts, attempted Blairite coups and virulent smears, the Labour leader has had his work cut out.
Yet amid the noises made about social justice, which is vital to any Labour movement, a significant portion of the working class feels they have been overlooked.
And while fears over purported “hordes of migrants” have always been held by Farage and ‘Kipper types, enabled by the media’s irresponsible sensationalism, traditional Labour voters are sticking their colours to The Brexit Party for a different reason.
Farage, the ex-banker, excels in pretending he represents ordinary voters who feel sidelined by politicians. The truth is, as the son of a hedge fund manager, he has never been working class — yet he is the face of Brexit once again.
Most of those comprising the Leave voter block are not high Tory fat cats. They are ordinary working-class men and women, people often living lives of toil, hardship and poverty.
The economic disenfranchisement the working-class experiences has fused with the political alienation they feel. Farage, the fraudster, has stepped in to fill the void. Rather than naming and shaming neoliberal capitalism, he lays the blame at immigrants’ feet.
No-one is listening except us, he promises. Take back control.
The tragedy of Brexit is the widening gulf between working-class Leave voters and the liberal left, the societal division that now exists between Leavers and Remainers. It can be witnessed in the explosion in popularity of Tommy Robinson, the rebirth of fascist, ethno-nationalist movements and the lurch to the far right made by Ukip.
It’s manifested in the rise of Farage, a man reported by Channel 4 in 2013 to have so concerned a former English teacher at university that she wrote a letter stating he should not be made a prefect because of his fascist, racist views.
Now, the far-right Gerrard Batten leads Ukip, while Farage thrives in the polls.
Batten is a man who employs Tommy Robinson as his grooming gangs “adviser.” He has refused to sack Carl Benjamin, aka Sargon of Akkad, even after he told Labour’s Jess Phillips he “wouldn’t even rape her,” a remark designed both to disparage Phillips and to ostensibly imply there are some people “worthy” of the heinous crime.
Farage has now distanced himself from Ukip. In doing so he is even more of a danger. The threat is the false perception of him as a politically incorrect but harmless “geezer” coupled with his dubious celebrity pull.
Tight with the Trump administration, and the wealthy ultra-right Mercer family, he fraternises with Stephen Bannon, a white nationalist with links to Generation Identity, and other ethno- nationalist groups.
The far-right will not stop with Nigel Farage and his pound shop Enoch Powell imitation. The “Identitarian” movement, itself a prelude to open fascism, waits behind his “ordinary bloke” facade.
The Brexit Party, Farage’s political vehicle of choice, leeches support from both left and right, but particularly from the disillusioned, disenfranchised working class.
The left must reach them instead. Before too many are lured in by Farage’s facade, and the promise of an alternative to the fat cat neoliberalism which has ground them into the dirt.
After May’s Brexit fiasco, the Tories are imploding, leaving a political vacuum in their wake. The new enemy that will be worse is the racist far right.
The left must demonstrate it is the party of the working class by taking the initiative. We must indicate to leave voters we will oversee a full exit from the capitalist EU.
The alternative is too costly: an open doorway by which fascism and racism will gleefully enter.
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