I subjected myself to looking at the comments beneath another Guardian piece on Facebook this morning, and one of the commentators stood out. His name was Darren, and he’s a committed Brexiteer. Darren is, sadly, typical of many people who have enabled the rise of Brexit, Trump and so-called “populism” in general.
I’m going to be nasty here. It’s not something I’m good at, and I feel uncomfortable writing this, but what drives me on is the fact that Darren and his ilk are nasty every single day of their lives. Darren’s arguments follow the cliché: facts and experts are bad, vacuous soundbites are good.
From Darren’s comments, I’m going to make the following assumptions about Darren and his type:
1. Darren says that he trusts Dave down the pub more than he does experts. When it’s pointed out his use of the internet (and a computer) to make this point is down to experts, he comes back swiftly with “but they’re not the wrong type of expert”. The wrong type of expert is – of course – anyone who bats for Remain.
2. Darren makes some valid points – about the 2008 crash. But Darren has decided that because ‘experts’ didn’t foresee the 2008 crash, they’re all greedy and that is what drives their support for the Remain cause. Darren glimpses that the world is not in a good place, but surely he cannot believe all the ‘bad’ people voted Remain?
3. Darren has made up his “own mind” over the last 20 years and “did not need no politician to tell me how”. He does admit that he distrusts British and European politicians equally and that the Tories are not his government. Yet I suspect Darren doesn’t see the irony in that by “taking back control” he merely transfers power from European politicians back to British ones. The fact that British politicians already have more power than he realises is - of course - lost on Darren. The fact our European members of parliament are elected using a more representative system than British MPs will also be lost on him.
4. Darren disregards people who argue against him as “a repeat and a bore and frankly just a puppet who just follows the European propaganda machine”. That Darren must surely read the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, The Sun or The Express, or listen avidly to the likes of Katie Hopkins or Nigel Farage on LBC, thereby swallowing their own distorted views of the EU, is presumably lost on him. After all, he makes up his “own mind” after reading papers owned by tax-dodging, non-resident billionaires who all backed Brexit.
5. Darren is adamant that the likes of Tony Blair, John Major and Peter Mandelson talking up Remain is proof they’re speaking up for their own benefit and not his. That may be true, but he’s obviously going to be in for a big shock when he discovers the Brexiteers have their own agenda too, and it doesn’t involve making his life any better (and why would it? These people have been making his life worse for years – why stop now?).
For example, Darren didn’t bother to look closely at the immigration figures and ask himself why most immigration comes from outside the EU. He also won’t want to acknowledge that pretty much all of this immigration occurs because there are jobs in this country that need filling, jobs he and I are either not qualified or willing to do. Dare we point to the rapid collapse of the NHS – with its sudden loss of imported talent as EU nationals understandably bugger off back where they’re wanted? – as an example.
6. Darren’s poor spelling and grammar betray his lack of education. This makes me sound catty, and perhaps I am. This is one of my main areas of prejudice. I hate ignorance, and I loathe ignorant people.
Here’s my rant. Darren is one of those people for whom nothing is their own fault. My guess is Darren opted out of his democratic duties by not voting for 20-odd years, but he made the effort to come out and vote in favour of Brexit. Darren doesn’t see the irony of propping up the out-of-date British parliamentary system by not even bothering to vote, then in a fit of pique decides to award additional powers to the very institution that is responsible for 90% of his woes.
I also suspect that if you mentioned to Darren that his lack of education might count against him (and be responsible for his own poor place in life), he will refuse to accept responsibility for this. Assuming he doesn’t reject all education as ‘elitist’, my guess is that he’ll point the finger of blame at his teachers for his educational failings. It couldn’t possibly be Darren’s fault, oh no.
I wrote this post a month or so ago, but now that the day of Brexit draws near, and having struggled to articulate my own sense of frustration and rage at the idiocy of so many people (the comments accompanying this BBC story have simply relit the flame), I can contain myself no longer.
Here’s the deal: if you want your lives to get better, stop beating a stick at the one political institution that had very little to do with your problems. Look at the government we elected on 38% of the vote. Look at our electoral system. Look at our politicians. Look at our mistakes, our follies. The future isn’t going to be golden because of Brexit, so who will you blame then? I know one thing for sure: it won’t be yourselves, and it won’t be the people who will bring us to whatever hellish future awaits us.