Remain will never see success if they expect the people who have suffered most under austerity to vote for the Lib Dems.
The United Kingdom is supposed to be anything but right now. The DUP are propping up the Tories, risking the stability of Northern Ireland. The parties are all divided, and with no majority government. Then there is the issue of Brexit, where people are fiercely divided. Yet, it feels as though Remainers are just finally catching up with the rest of the UK. Welcome to hell, my friends.
Brexit gave words to divisions which were already in the country. It’s accelerated hate, and the pace of how hate is expressed in society. But those tensions were already there. Where were Remainers before they found their futures were on the line?
Some people have been fighting since way before 2016. The Coalition Government oversaw extreme cuts that left many people vulnerable. Thousands of disabled people lost social security, mental health services were cut, tuition fees trebled and the bedroom tax was introduced. Some people have been protesting for eight years now about the very worst of austerity. Brexit may be a catastrophic fuck up, but it wasn’t the first catastrophic fuck up we’ve faced. It’s the one getting the most attention.
Austerity matters because people are tired, and utterly amazed at those who would seek to empower those who caused so much pain in the first place. Many Remainers argue that people shouldn’t vote for Labour while Corbyn is so uncertain on Brexit. They argue that instead it’s better to trust the Liberal Democrats. Cable has been clear, if uninspiring, about wanting ‘an exit from Brexit’. He seems like a much more consistent voice than anything that Labour is saying. Yet, for those who have been experiencing the worst of austerity, this is like swallowing bile.
Cable was an architect of the initial phase of austerity. The Liberal Democrats may have curtailed the very worst of the Tories, but they still also propped the Conservatives up for five long years. Not only that, but many Liberal Democrats themselves supported the most draconian austerity policies. Cable even supported the bedroom tax. Many Remainers may want us to forget, to move on but this is a silencing tactic. We shouldn’t back Cable just because he’s against Brexit anymore than we should support Tony Blair.
The problem is that (often older) Remainers largely refuse to comprehend anything outside of their own experiences and desires. Young voters are largely against Remain and yet have still flocked to Corbyn. Why? Because we recognise that the situation is complex, and as bad as Brexit is, austerity is equally as oppressive and disastrous – it’s also been going on for longer. Young people are able to comprehend that while Brexit is bad, the country is still massively and completely horrific even without it. If Remainers want us to protest Brexit then where were they when social security was cut? Where were they when housing benefit was stripped from people who were then left with nowhere to turn? Where were they when the UN warned there had been ‘grave’ violations to disability rights under reforms?
“The problem is that (often older) Remainers largely refuse to comprehend anything outside of their own experiences and desires”
They want us to march with them when they’ve done little to support us. It was centrism that helped deliver this mess in the first place and yet we’re supposed to believe Vince Cable, Tony Blair and Alistair Campbell will somehow save us. They might be the voice of the old white middle class man, but they’re not the voice for anyone who has experienced the pain and horror of austerity, and is likely to see it made even worse under Brexit. So many of the Brexit marches are dominated by white middle class people, and often older people. Yet, it was their damn demographic that voted Leave in the first place and whose politics have failed an entire generation. The reason they care now is because their rights are being threatened, but they didn’t care enough when other people were begging for help.
Brexit will be an utter disaster. It’s already putting a strain on the NHS and has been blamed for businesses struggling thanks to the unstable pound. Everyone should be anti-Brexit, but the problem is it’s utterly impossible to stomach being aligned with Remainers who are worried about losing their internships in Brussels or losing their freedom of movement (as opposed to migrants) when foodbank use soared, child poverty rocketed and rough sleeping went through the roof and they said nothing.
If Remainers want unity of voice then they should rally around marginalised people and those who have struggled under austerity. If they want to know why their voice is struggling, it isn’t because of Leave. The pro-Brexit movement is a shambles. It’s because Remain keep ignoring the voices which need to be heard the most. They’re making all of the same mistakes. Keep on attacking Corbyn and non-voters all you want, but all that means is that working class people see you endorsing the Conservatives, the Lib Dems and figureheads who brought us anti-migrant sentiment in the first place and who punished poor people for the mistakes of the rich. Until Remainers start turning up for other people, they can’t expect anyone else to turn up for their cause.
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