As the Brexit Saga continues, David Hardy focuses on the work of infamous socialist commentators to try and turn the ‘Brexit debate’ into a ‘Right vs Left’ issue.

According to perceived wisdom at times of crisis a person’s true colours are often (inadvertently) revealed. In certain circumstances it behoves an individual to pick a side thereby revealing sympathies or predilections that hitherto might have been masked. 

Witnessing the latest machinations in the Brexit saga following Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament has certainly exposed some rather interesting latent loyalties – not least with regards to those who identify as true Labour. Guardian journalist Owen Jones and ex-BBC presenter Paul Mason have been at the forefront of a particularly illuminating Brexit by-product in the last 48 hours: the unmasking of the north London ‘socialist’ set.

Both Jones and Mason like to portray themselves as archetypal socialists closely affiliating themselves with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his supposed quest to establish a fairer, more egalitarian society. For these two honorary members of the left-wing commentariat it’s always been about standing up for the working class, defending the disenfranchised from the rich and powerful (Tories) who would exploit them – or so they have always claimed . . .

And then along came Brexit. And with it arrived a once in a lifetime opportunity for the working man/woman to give the establishment a bloody nose, perhaps more. Indeed, as the pro-EU mainstream media was only too happy to confirm, those who voted to leave the bloc were invariably the have-nots: labourers, fishermen, hairdressers, the working poor etc. The haves meanwhile – the professional graduate class – opted for the status quo, to remain in the EU. 

Despite the best efforts of the media to paint it in such a way, Brexit never was a Left v Right issue; it was and always has been a class struggle. Brexit is in fact the latest manifestation of an ongoing clash between the workers (manual, ‘uneducated’ class) and the owners (professional ‘educated’ class). Analysis undertaken by Statista indeed showed that 64% of the lower working class demographic voted to leave the EU with just 36% voting to remain.

For the Remain side Brexit never was about tariffs or the jurisdiction of the ECJ or any of the EU’s many other esoteric institutions and practices.  Brexit has become much simpler than that: it’s about putting the working class back where it belongs: in its box. The entitled middle class Remainer is dismayed not so much at the prospect of leaving the EU, but with the knowledge that it is their social and intellectual inferiors who in all probability tipped the balance. It gnaws away at their souls. It horrifies them.

While the Blairite faction of the Labour party naturally opted to support the establishment-friendly EU, those who consider themselves true Labour faced somewhat of a conundrum: how to also stay on the right side of wealth, power and influence (pro-EU) without betraying a working class which had, in voting to leave the bloc, decisively rejected the neo-Liberal project? 

Thus, the likes of Mason and Jones initially presented themselves as floating voters: to leave or to stay? It was a tough call, apparently. Their subsequent conversion to hard-core Remainers suggests however that this early indecision might have been a pose – part of an elaborate ploy whereby sensitive to working class support for leaving the EU certain left-wingers wished to retain some scraps of credibility prior to doing what they had always intended to do: enlist for Remain, the side of the establishment.

From Tony Benn and Peter Shaw, to Dennis Skinner and Corbyn himself, old time socialists have always been implacably opposed to the EU. Put yourself into Mason and Jones’ shoes then. Imagine the level of self-deception required to convince oneself that kicking the working poor in the teeth – airbrushing them from the Brexit debate – is the right and proper thing to do, that silencing them is ‘for their own good.’

Labour itself has gone even further. Not only has it cynically ignored the voices of some 5 million of its own Brexit supporters, it has launched a vicious attack on a demographic that has always been solid Labour. Nowadays left-wing apparatchiks persistently refer to a phenomenon they call the ‘far right.’ But who exactly are they referring to? Where does this unpleasant collective reside? It resides on the UK’s many rundown housing estates. Mason and Owen’s Brexit-supporting ‘far right’ is in fact largely comprised of the working class – only they don’t quite possess the courage to call it that. Whatever gets them through the night. 

By invoking the spectre of fascism the Joneses and Masons – fixtures of the elite political and media circuit – have however managed to assuage their consciences to some degree. Indeed, by some twist of logic beyond the current writer’s comprehension, within the last few days Labour MP Jess Phillips has explicitly compared the proroguing of parliament to conditions in 1930s Germany. Phillips is yet another leftist performing mental gymnastics in order to assuage what is presumably an acute sense of guilt. She has good reason: imagine aligning with just about every corporate power base in the world from the global banking sector through trans-national corporations and Brussels’ bureaucrats. Tony Benn would be spinning in his grave. Up the workers indeed.

Desperate to justify their support of the elite and abandonment of the working poor, Jeremy Corbyn’s party of pro-establishment ‘socialists’ have indeed begun to grasp at ever more irrational straws. And so, after much soul-searching the party has finally arrived at a conclusion that simply beggars belief: the establishment (Liberal-left Remain voters) are now the underdogs and in need of protection, while the working poor (‘far right’ Leave voters) are the new villains of the piece intent on subverting democracy . . .

But instead of castigating the poor for their treachery it is far more amenable to portray them as victims of their own stupidity, the useful idiots of the real ‘far right’ villains: Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees-Mogg. And thus we arrive neatly back at the much more palatable Brexit narrative wherein evil Tories exploit the vulnerable:

‘He (Boris Johnson) and his elite backers and the dark money from far right America,’ tweeted an increasingly erratic Mason earlier in the week, ‘just don’t understand the British working class.’

Where the truth is so very painful, Mason and Jones prefer self-deception to honesty. They simply prefer to recast Brexit as a ‘right-wing coup.’ In order to combat this ‘far right’ threat to ‘democracy’ Jones and Mason have recently called their followers to assemble at College Green where both men have made rousing speeches urging ‘mass unrest.’ Addressing themselves to picnicking dentists and architects – what footballer Roy Keane once infamously called the prawn sandwich brigade – this pair of ‘socialist’ rebel rousers are urging their well-heeled, entitled followers to carry out a real coup the ultimate aim of which is to disenfranchise . . . the working poor! Imagine trying to square that particular circle. Awkward.

Is it any wonder they sound ever more unstable? Some have called their recent actions ‘unhinged.’ Certainly, the rhetoric has become increasingly belligerent as Mason and Jones have seized the moment with something that smells awfully like opportunism. Underneath the blundering, almost theatrical behaviour however one senses deep and profound anguish.

Sublimation is the psychological process whereby the energy from socially unacceptable impulses is displaced into more acceptable actions and behaviours. Individuals wracked with shame and guilt will thus often reroute this energy into other avenues in much the same way Jones and Mason are doing by orchestrating their prawn sandwich revolt. Take a listen to just a few moments of their recent homilies. Hyper is the word. Firmly now on the side of power, wealth and privilege it’s almost as if the waling and screeching is a deliberate attempt to drown out what must surely be the chastisement of their inner voices. 

Pity then poor Paul Mason and Owen Jones. Instead of instigating a genuine anti-elitist protest in the mould of Peterloo, these avowed defenders of the weak and dispossessed have merely fuelled a middle class tantrum at the aptly named College Green. Stood on the brink of possibly the greatest working class insurgency of our lifetime, where they could and should have stood in solidarity with the fishermen of Grimsby or the ex-miners of South Shields this pair of lifelong ‘socialists’ opted instead to join the forces of the pro-EU establishment. Talk about an open goal. 

For when push came to shove the professional socialists’ convictions failed them utterly; ditto almost the entire Corbyn-lead Labour party. Little wonder certain left-wing media darlings are beside themselves with a mixture of rage and shame right now – pure sublimation. For the Brexit crisis has revealed a painful but incontrovertible truth: the depth of which this self-described class of ‘socialists’ have always despised the working class. 


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