Tuesday 4 December 2018

There Is No "Brexit Culture War"

Most Labour MPs, and practically all journalists of roughly the Guardian persuasion, are really Clinton Democrats, while many Conservative MPs at least affect to be Trump Republicans, as do most of the journalists on the right-wing papers. 

Their solution to living in a country where next to nobody would vote for either of those is to pretend to be living in a country where they would.

We are therefore expected to believe that some sort of "culture war" first came to a head at the EU referendum, and has since been given even greater ferocity by the reactions to the result. But there is absolutely nothing to back that up.

Those of us who hold certain socially conservative views cannot pretend for one second that they are shared by 17,410,742 people in Britain, predominating at least among active voters in great tracts of the country. That is simply not the case.

Meanwhile, we on the Left, a subculture that can often have very little to commend it, are managing to function more effectively than at any time in living memory while splitting down the middle between Hard Brexiteers and outright Remainers.

One does not always even know where a comrade stands on this issue, and one even more rarely has any cause to care, despite the fact that that view, known or otherwise, is invariably held very strongly indeed.

Of course, with the European Court of Justice set to rule that Article 50 can be revoked, then we are all going to be on the same side in the referendum between Remain and what is, to half of us, the only thing worse than Remain, namely Theresa May's deal.

Identity politics are very much of the moment in academia, which carries over into journalism, rather more so now than historically, and thence into parliamentary politics. But in the country at large, the defining issues are economic policy and foreign policy, in that order.

They are issues of poverty, or at least of the fear of it but very often of the terrible reality, and then they are issues of war. They key indicators are therefore class and generation, and also sex, specifically maleness.

The all-women shortlist system has done more than anything else to turn the Parliamentary Labour Party from 50 per cent Broad Left 25 years ago to 85 per cent Hard Right today.

Jeremy Corbyn's very highly politicised following is largely young and male because it is motivated by rage against the effects of deindustrialisation and against the harvesting of young men in endless, pointless wars.

But the economic changes of the last 40 years have turned into the ruling class the public sector middle-class women who dominate the PLP, while the wars of the last 20 years have barely affected them, having largely been waged for explicitly feminist reasons, albeit to no good effect for the women of Afghanistan, and to catastrophic effect for the women of Iraq and Libya.

To those beneficiaries, who are Thatcher's Daughters, the anger of the young men who are accruing to Corbyn is incomprehensible.

As is those young men's closely connected discovery for themselves of the various schools of heterodox economics, and of the traditional Great Books that, for ostensibly if questionably feminist reasons, have been excluded from school and university curricula.

Such, however, are the driving forces of British politics today. Economic policy, and foreign policy. Deindustrialised poverty, and war. Class, youth, and maleness.

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