Amy Hoggart explains Brexit. Whilst this is comedy, it is also one of the most accurate versions of the history of our current problem.
Amy Hoggart explains Brexit. Whilst this is comedy, it is also one of the most accurate versions of the history of our current problem.
Into the Valley of Stupidity Rode the 600, MPs
Warning – Contains Humour, flashing lights and insults for BOTH Labour and the Conservative Party – It is Insult Inclusive!
Must Try Harder – Poor Communication
600 MPs campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU. They did so because it made sense for trade, defence, jobs and the NHS.
And they did such a poor job of campaigning that, evil marketing genius, Dominic Cummings and the Leave campaign, easily kicked their collective arses and won. Ouch.
Must Try Harder – Arrogance
Before getting D – for communication skills, they cockily assumed that no one would be exposed to 1000,000,000 Facebook adds containing, persuasive, attractive but wholly untrue slogans – Take back control, Britain for the British, A Leave vote will save the NHS, We will get back our lost UK Sovereignty, Save the bendy banana, etc. MPs assumed an easy referendum victory and then overcommitted – The Government did not set the bar high enough requiring a 66% result before a constitutional change was triggered – Even, not-so democratic Turkey, managed that. They said that this vote would be final, thus changing an advisory referendum into a vehicle allowing the educationally deprived British public to make direct British law for the first time in history – INSANE.
Must Try Harder – Rat-Ification
And then the Labour leadership got behind job reductions, economic recession, loss of foreign investment, NHS staff shortages and the Tory and right wing media ideological coup that is Brexit, saying they would deliver a secret rainbow, paradise and unicorn version of Brexit where Bambi’s mum would be brought back to life and everyone would go to work on hover-scooters. (You can’t say that I am wrong because no one has ever seen their plan!)
Must Try Harder – Forget Britain
And whilst this shaming and shameful charade has been playing out, like the end of the Roman Empire – None of the real British issues have been dealt with. We have lost time, money and the political will to sort out key systemic UK problems because these very British issues have all now been blamed on Brussels – INSANE.
It was not Brussels that made some regions of the UK poorer than others – The EU offered salvation to these troubled poor spots with regional EU investment money. After Brexit, that cash lifeline will now disappear. They did not cut Government support for local councils by 60% – The UK Government did that to top up the coffers after bailing out failed UK banks after the 2007 – 2008 UK / US Sub-Prime bank scam. It was the UK Government that chose to let in all the EU workers in 2004 – They were needed then and are needed now to fill jobs, work hard and make a net positive tax contribution to this country – We could have controlled the flow of incoming hard workers at ANY time. There has never been a Brussels / EU legal directive that Britain has disagreed with. Why should there be? Why would 27 reasonable states cook up a law that was repellent to us? They wouldn’t. And we have always had a veto on adopting new EU laws anyway. Even the UKs stupidest negotiator, Dumb David David David Davies admits that we have never disagreed with any new EU laws, “It is the principle”, he says with the sort of simple arrogance that makes you want to cry, laugh and puke, all at the same time.
Must Try Harder – Selfish Selfish Selfish
MPs and Head MPs continue to put job security and their personal ambitions before country. This is, morally…treasonous. TMPM just and only wants to hold on to her job for another week, and another week, and another week. That is all – She does not want consensus, a great deal for business, solutions for the regions, or a safe and protected NHS. No – Just her job, for one more week. Last week was proof of that with, “I will go off to Brussels to ask them to re-open the closed UK-EU negotiations and remove the backstop, which took 2 long years to agree upon.” Impossible (or as the right wing press would tell you – A great victory of TMPM) All she wants is the PM job… for another week.
Must Try Harder – Jezza
F knows what he wants. A not so secret Euro super sceptic, he has played an awful tactical long game, hoping not to be PM (he never wanted that) but for labour to walk over the bombed out Tory rubble of a failed Brexit, into power and Government. A fairly avoidant strategy, based, not on his successful leadership (there hasn’t been any) but depending on Tory humiliation and British people leaving their Brexit CULT of their own free will (Maybe he needs further education on Cults to realise that people trapped on the inside of them almost never leave of their own free will.)
Oops – What he didn’t reckon on was the uselessness of MPs, the power of the media to make Brexit still seem like a reasonable option (Brexit was at no time a better economic plan than staying in the EU. There was never a Brexit plan. There couldn’t be one, and, there is not going to be a better choice than trading from WITHIN the EU, any time soon.)
God knows why JC wants an election – TMPM would probably get an outright majority by the time the press has made Jezza into Soviet Satan and the majority of good British people finally admitted that they STOPPED THINKING, READING OR CARING about Brexit, sometime in Autumn 2016 and now, simply, wanted it all to be over.
Must Try Harder – Facts Fact Facts
All the facts are against what 600 MPs are going to do next – MPs will now be fully complicit in grinding out some sort of half-cock divorce with the EU, and, then grinding grinding out 5 to 10 years of post divorce EU trade negotiations with 27 states, where UK PLC will move either from, our current, First Class and Beneficial EU trade agreement to a Second or Third Class Non-Beneficial Agreement. – MPs will now “help” their 70 million constituents by deciding whether we shoot ourselves only in one foot, in booth feet OR, in the head! That is what our 600 MPs will decide for us. Well worth their £77,000 salary, topped up with some dodgy expense claims. And, well worth our votes and continuing support…?
It’s never too early to sidestep a cult
We don’t have to stretch and think of Waco, ISIS or the Moonies to find examples of Cult recruitment methods at work today. There will be many attempts to recruit you this year, much closer to home.
Whether it is Veganism, Brexit, continued support for Trump’s wall, Sci-entol-ogy, The NRA or Jehovah’s Witness – All have disturbing aspects of a Cult and we need to be more aware of the mechanisms they employ to protect ourself and our loved ones from being inducted against our conscious will.
BTW – If you are part of one of these groups, reading this article will in no way change you. Your programming will enable you to easily resist the 5 points below – In fact you will have already been inoculated against anything in written form that calls your group a cult. And, articles such as this one will drive you in deeper as they act as proof that the “enemy without” exists, thus reinforcing your commitment to your group.
Bizarrely, it is the phenomenon of your inoculation that forms part of the proof that your group is… a cult.
5 False assumptions about cults.
We think of US extremes and people being taken away from their families, being brainwashed to reject all outside communication and performing any act to support and show loyalty to their charismatic leaders – Including bringing in cash and actively recruiting new members. Yes that describes the obvious destructive cult, but be warned, there are other versions that can be equally bad for your rights, your agile mind and your future.
But, is it time the alarm went off? Actually, the sick, simple and poorest in our community are not the main target of cult recruitment. It is YOU. The hypnotic mechanisms of an effective cult induction programme are, actually, reasonably sophisticated and work best on the educated mind. Most dangerous is the thought that your education is sufficient to protect you from cult messages or you will never be inducted into a cult because you live your life exercising choices, freedom and your wits. Remember. there are those that went to investigate and never came back…
Whilst the mechanisms are manipulative and powerful, force is not normally part of the initial process. The opposite is the case. Love, energy and acknowledgement of the individual are the tools that will attract you in at the beginning (You will be enslaved later.) In my work with corporations as a soft skills trainer, I see that tough love by management is used as part of a behavioural regime of intermittent behavioural reinforcement, that conditions executives to work extra hard, buy into stretch goals and sacrifice more of their free time and other choices in the service of the main corporate mission and a big company vision.
With cults, a dirtier and more subversive version of this happens later in the conversion process and cult induction journey. To start with, the targeted individual is showered with praise, positive affirmation and is deliberately encouraged to feel fabulous and great about themself. This aims to break down the barriers that any sane individual would have when contemplating joining a band of isolated extremists.
The subtle part of the process then follows. The target passes through a barely noticeable series of non-return doors. These suck the prey in and make resistance difficult. Think about yourself at this point. You are really nice, middle class, and an educated person. With a good level of self-worth? So, what will it be difficult for you to do in these surroundings – being showered with love by decent and, supposedly, like-minded people? The answer – Be rude, ask challenging questions, get angry or walk out. (For the Brits it is, “I didn’t want to make a fuss.” This allows the brainwashing to take hold…
The mechanisms of the one-way route during your induction into a cult are ingenious by design. Once your mind has flipped over from resister to congruent follower, You will be filled with a simplified alternative version of reality and “educated” that all other ways are not just wrong but that they threaten the existence of the cult itself. Brilliant gas lighting. When you are fully under the spell of the cult, you will eventually be trusted to venture out on your own. You will be theoretically free to run away – but you will not.
And, it is YOUR mind that will keep you there.
You will, by this stage, super-believe in the tenants of the cult. Hour upon hour of repetition of the key cult messages and models will have worn you down and ensured your compliance with the beliefs of the cult group. And, you will be super-inoculated against all attempts by outsiders to rationalise with you, contact you or plead with you to leave.
So clever is the communication strategy, that the more you plead the more the new cult recruit will smile and say, “They said you would say that.” Evil genius – Your newly brainwashed logic circuits will assign the role of “testing your faith” to outsiders where their pleas make you an active participant in maintaining the cult’s parallel universe. The outsider’s logic will ensure the new cult recruit now believes that the all-wise cult leader was RIGHT all along!!! In a twisted way – you have to admire their dirty craft.
No, there will be a point in your life when you will be vulnerable. This will come when you are in a state of emotional flux – The death of a parent / child / friend, divorce, recovering from long illness or after being made redundant.
At this point in your life journey, your normal programming about, “Life being fair” or “You get out what you put in” etc. will fail you. In this moment there will be no easy answers at hand. It is now that you will find yourself most open to external warmth, love and the “meaning” of a cult. This is when their powerful weapons of persuasion will work best on you.
Your uncertainty and doubt is their opportunity.
Think of young offenders in prison – lonely, frightened and confused – perfect fodder for the clear, simple story of a radial preacher – Providing a richer context and narrative for their poor and low value lives. It is almost too easy.
People are not rational. That is a myth. We buy emotionally, hate irrationally and our fears can be manufactured quickly, grown cheaply and exploited simply. We are herd animals with the additional hindrance of actively seeking out stories, membership to tribes and having a desperate need to be loved and approved of.
Time and again in Europe, South America and the USA, a population has been swept away by a charismatic leader, only to pay a great cost later. Cult mechanism fuelled the growth of Soviet communism, Chinese communism, Nazi propaganda, the messages of Brexit, and, the divisive communications of British Trade Unions in the 1970’s and the persuasion of the many to give up so much for the benefit of the few. (- please note the balance.)
A Cult Leader
A great public speaker, who understands rhetoric and the key fears of their target audience, can quickly work out, practice and find a platform to deliver cult promises representing a clear and simple alternative to the current state of business.
You too can become a cult leader…
You could do it yourself – Just jot down all the complaints of your community (no matter the actual origin), work out which faction to blame (it does not have to be this targeted group’s fault), come up with a simple alternative reality (it does not have to work) and, hey presto – You have a cult and a speech that will definitely start to draw people in and have them loyally follow you.
You will grab the hearts, minds and wallets of the people who resonate with your list of rapidly cobbled together complaints – just about every time.
For good or evil, a repeated message of clarity, simplicity and improvement works – Obama’s “Yes we can”, Blair’s “For the people”, May’s “The will of the people”, Trump’s “We are going to build a wall”, Thatcher’s “No one has to remain working class – vote for me and your can own your own home”, or, Boris and Dominic Cummings’ “Take back control and save the NHS with lots of money we currently pay to the EU.”
It is so much easier to start a cult than fix real core problems. Problems are
complex, multi-sourced and require intelligent consensus, time, money and commitment from a disparate range of stakeholders. Gathering the necessary support requires… a compelling vision, a charismatic speaker and the recruitment of followers. OMG – we are back here again!
And a democracy (multiple groups having a say and being listened to) makes it much easier for one strong and clear alternative cult guru’s voice to be heard and followed.
Irony stacked upon irony
And once in, there is no quick way out. Rational debate is not possible. The time for listening will be over. Facts will fail.
For the cult member, the need and desire to stay congruent with the cult’s key messages, to feel consistent, loyal and belong to the cult in-group, requires violent rejection of logic and all alternatives. And, more – Rejecting, even the possibility, that their cult might have got it wrong.
And it is this dynamic that generates aggressive words, physical intimidation, lawyers letters, or, at its most miserable extreme, fighting to the death in a foreign land, whilst deluding yourself that you are dying for something valid and real, and, you are dying as a sainted martyr.
Stay vigilant people
Your next cult recruitment message promising a good and simple alternative the complex issues we face today will be coming your way today or tomorrow. Wake up and smell the coffee before you end up being asked to drink the Kool-Aid!
About the Author
Matthew Hill is an Intercultural Trainer, Speaker and Marketeer.
We could always just rely on the Jacob and the Government to sort this out…
Only joking – The Cabinet must have now been briefed to such an extent that even the deafest of them has finally read Sir Ivan Roger’s 10,000 word piece and FULLY and DEEPLY realises the folly and cost of full-on, half on, or any BREXIT at all. So what is to be done? Here are 10 colourful suggestions that would put us on the road to a safer UK, a solution or two to the deep Britain problems that we actually face (as opposed to all those made up ones like bendy bananas and being force to adopt the Euro in 2022 that Good British Brexiteers have been brainwashed to believe), and give us a better chance of keeping our jobs over the next decade.
Reader Warning – If you have a limited sense of humour or possess rabid cult levels of Breximatosis, please do not read further and consult a foreign doctor at the NHS…while you still can.
Stoke Mandeville hires 650 surgeons specialising in spinal repair from the EU and sets up a long row of M*A*S*H style green tents in Buckinghamshire to deal with all the MP’s that are currently suffering from Simpering Spineless Servant Syndrome – SSSS. They all have steel rods inserted to replace their current jelly-like backbones, recover from the op, take a collective quadruple espresso and start representing the 54 Million people who did NOT vote leave and the 17.4 million Good Britons who certainly did not vote for this.
With their new found powers, they wake up and respond to the country’s actual impending economic crisis and start endeavouring to reflect the majority of their constituent’s current position on Europe. I.e. they look below the cult zombie tropes, “The will of the people” “Leave means Leave””It’s democracy” etc. to see what citizens ACTUALLY want in their region.
They sweep all the muddled party leaders aside and start to act as one intelligent body as they last did during World War II to get us through the biggest mess since… World War II.
Theresa May resolves her internal crisis of conscience about her, “I want to be Prime Minister for another week, no matter what the cost to my party, my country or greater Europe, and, even though I am a secret Remainer.” dilemma.
Next, she issues a genuinely courageous apology for getting it all so terribly wrong. (triggering Article 50 before she had obtained consensus or had constructed a viable Brexit plan – We are still waiting for a viable Brexit plan that will be better than Remaining.) She is then able to acknowledge the brutal truth of the country’s current perilous position and begins to show INSPIRING LEADERSHIP to take us back from the cliff edge and return to a prosperous and constructive dialogue about fresh relations with Europe.
Britain’s Got Traitors – Each week, one of the biggest names from party politics, on both sides, is prosecuted for treason with celebrity “barristers” presenting real evidence of their lies, duplicity, political shenanigans, and, immoral self-interest during the referendum campaign and the last 2 years.
If found guilty in the game show, the studio audience then vote on an appropriate punishment for the exposed and disgraced politician.
The programme will be beamed around the world to raise revenues to help reverse the losses in UK income suffered due to frozen foreign investment, unpicked, unsold British fruit and our anaemic pound.
Jeremy Jezza Corbyn delivers a sincere apology for helping convert a 20 year xenophobic Murdoch media campaign and crazy Tory plot fuelled opinion poll into a real and dangerous law when he should have done the opposite. (the clue is in the name – Opposition party). He is then rewarded for his moral strength with an honorary seat at Oxford University teaching “Social Ethics” and the “History of the Working Class” to confused Millennials. And, we award him an honorary mustard coloured cardigan with pipe and warm slippers.
Vince Cable – Simultaneously the brightest leader of any political party and leader of the least likely party to make ANY progress at all over the next decade.
Vince is given a vast prescription for Oil of Olay, Royal Jelly and magnums of Red Bull and put on the speaker’s circuit to spread his wisdom and magic, night and day to the British public in EVERY town hall in the UK.
Spreadsheet Phil – Philip Hammond is publicly pardoned for backing BoJo as Maybot’s replacement as PM in a typical Tory moment of madness in the wake of the 9th of June 2017 disaster. As the closest thing to sensible in Government – he takes over the Tory party leadership and Cabinet and begins the difficult task of sorting this mess out beyond Theresa’s Plan A, Plan A and, now, Plan A. The least exciting of all the options but the least worst Tory one.
Again, let’s get the public involved. When King Edward VIII abdicated in disgrace in 1938, he was paid off in cash and shipped out the become Governor of Bermuda. Let’s have the same for Farage, Jacob Rees-Mogg, BoJo, Maybot, DD and Psy-Gove-Path. (We can put Mr. Wetherspoons, Lord Digby Jones, James Dyson, John Redwood and Nigel Lawson on the boat too.)
Or, maybe we could have them form a crack leadership team organising democratic elections in Venezuela?
Each of the 17.4 million BREXIT voters is asked to pay £2,353.00 compensation for listening to all the Brexit lies and BELIEVING them – Think of it as a great lesson in economics – That choices have consequences. This will cover the economic losses we will face as we spend the next 5 to 10 year negotiating Second Class, non- preferential trade agreements with the EU and the rest of the world. The money is collected and given in compensation to the 16.8 million people who voted remain. This will balance out the costs for the economic damage caused, IF it is REPTEATED every year for the next decade.
Dodgy Dave Cameron takes his kids to the Tower of London and joins a guided tour. Secret cameras record what happens next. When in the White Tower, he leaves his kids (again) and wanders off to look at one of the cells. A sharp eyed member of the public slams the cell door shut and Cameron, who started this whole fiasco, gets the opportunity for a little contemplation time – to regret and confess his mistakes with quill and parchment. His publisher replaces his planned autobiography (which does not contain an apology), with the new, more honest, tome, confessing the level of his cock up and what he really did with that pig’s head. And, all the royalties from the new best seller are sent as compensation to Polish painters, plumber and plasterers by way of an apology.
(Humour alert) We get a jump on Trump and pay a cheque to his mate, Mr Putin, asking him nicely, to send in 1000 vodka drinkers and 500 troops to quietly invade Western Europe – starting with Luxembourg. Our rude and dodgy neighbour, Junkers, is then forced to telephone the head of our somewhat depleted UK army and ask for assistance. We will then, for the first time since this mess began, be in a position to make a few small demands about our Exit from Brexit before we all face Wrexit.
Notice – No Europeans where hurt during the writing of this post.
Why do we want annoy the EU when they are our best chance of peace and growth?
An Opinion Piece by Matthew Hill
The EU governments and press laughed at the collective miss-step of UK citizens, some of whom believed that the NHS pot would be topped up to the tune of £350 million a week or that UK employment would GROW along with the economy after Brexit, or that their farm protest vote against the British Government’s DEFRA ministry was a protest vote against an EU department.
As that laughter died down, European minds would have liked to talked about our common issues, mutual interests as well as the need for defence and everybody’s prosperity. Instead they have been waiting for the Westminster farce of “politics ahead of country” to play out. They are still waiting.
The kindness of strangers
It is at this point we witness the kindness of strangers – Germany’s Federal Minister of Finance, Wolfgang Shaeuble, French President, Emmanuel Macron, Former Belgian Prime Minister, outspoken and popular EU Politician, Guy Verhofstadt, and President of the European Council, Donald Tusk – have all thrown us a lifeline and and asked us to reconsider and stay IN and do what is best for the EU and best for Britain – Reverse Brexit and Breturn. It is STILL the best deal on the table, though many will lie and say it is not.
If only we would listen
We are currently being held hostage the Jacob Rees Mogg’s ERG – Hard and proud Brexiteers who wish to speculate with their cash on the volatility they have created with their propaganda, whilst working Joe Britain frets about his car job, Tesco job or lorry driving job. It is the Tory Euro sceptic bullies who started this and have threatened the ever fragile Theresa May’s job every day for the past 2 1/2 years, knowing that she will do absolutely ANYTHING to keep it. No matter that this will condemn Britain to the roughest of roads. And, it will not stop on 29th March but go on for at least 5 years with a weaker UK battling for trading rights with much bigger and stronger Continental Europe.
If this was made into a film – Theresa May would play the Bank Manager, being forced to allow robbers to plunder her own bank to save her family who are sitting trembling in their living room, facing a masked, though strangely well dressed, man with a shotgun. Oh dear.
You know its bad when logicless and factless ranters have to resort to jingoism and forced patriotism – The PEOPLE have spoken – Not quite – 17.4 Million good Britons did NOT vote for this. They rebelled when asked about a VARIED list of valid grievances, most of which had very little to do with the EU. That resulted in One vote on One Day for a Planless, factless, untrue myth.
How Red, White and Blue patriotic is it for a Prime Minister to be prepared to say and do anything she needs to say, just to stay in the job? How patriotic is it to pursue Brexit when she was a Remainer knowing that staying IN was the better option. How patriotic was it to bribe the DUP with £1,000,000,000 to keep herself in the job and her minority party in power, or to call an election in 2017 in order to receive a blank cheque from a divided nation to pursue her version of a bank robbery with Tory Euro-sceptics wearing the masks and holding the weapons? How patriotic was it to chase Brexit when 95% of economists agreed it will be bad for the country.
The EU cares more about Britain than do Tory Euro-sceptics. Europe wishes for us to prosper. And for the right reasons – DD – The Ex Brexit Minister, David Davis pointed out the EU to UK surplus – They bring £290 billion worth of goods and services here and we send £230 billion to them.
DD and the many Brexit Ministers who followed continued to bash into a brick wall against EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier just long enough for the confused British public to finally start to realise that we have no power to get a better deal on Brexit?
Now with the EU court decreeing that Article 50 can be reversed tomorrow, Brexit is completely cancellable. That reversal is the UK’s best opportunity for us to survive and prosper by taking the best plan, the only plan – Staying on First Class and preferential trading terms with our biggest and nearest trading partner.
If we can swallow our colonial price, our European friends may forgive us our moment of madness on 23rd June 2016. The powerful influencers – Shaeuble, Macron, Verhofstadt, and Tusk – are still (just about) offering us a welcome and semi-dignified return to Europe on the same terms. Remember – Europe represents a QUARTER OF THE WORLD’S ECONOMY.
So, What are our Euro options in reverse order from bad to good?
4, No Deal – We collectively fall off a cliff and beg President Macron to please please be kind to us in Calais as our lorries mount up and every pork pie, bottle or brown sauce and Parker pen is inspected by 3 bored French customs officials.
3, Hard Brexit – Bringing an economic recession, a departure of critical EU labour essential to keep the wheels on the British economic bus and the prospect of relying on the kindness of the rest of the world who, obviously, are already supplied with everything they need by OTHER countries. In a decade or two we could recover, though we will have lost at least 6% of our cumulative growth potential as we scramble to catch up.
2, Soft Brexit – We take the Norway style EEA deal and pay a premium for access to the Single Market and have the freedom to control migration (we already have this BTW.) This is marginally worse than option 1. We will swap our preferential First Class Ticket for a Second Class one but only shoot ourselves in the foot, not the head! It will not satisfy the racists, the Euro sceptics, or help the stressed and economically ignored regions of the UK (they will still lose their valuable EU regional grants). It will hardly have been worth all the grief, cost and social division. Or, lastly,
Many politicians are now starting, late in the day, to seek cross party engagement to form an effective opposition to the intransigent dictatorship of PMTM. At the same time the more engaged Brits are warming to the idea of general resistance against the damage of No Deal / Hard Brexit and its costs to the British people.
Maybe we will face a brighter, cancer free, future after all as Brits wake up and face the real prospects of the Zombie No Deal Apocalypse. Let’s see what happens today.
When we were IN, we wanted the additional benefits of being OUT. Now both parties want us OUT with the benefits of being IN – BRETURN – An Opinion Piece by Interculturalist, Matthew Hill Enough is enough of “Brexit means … Continue reading
Words from a divided nation
This week Prime Minister May called a snap election to, “unify the country” and allow her to negotiate with the EU on behalf of all of the UK so that she may go out there and get all the good things and have none of the bad.
It will not play out like that.
The scene of the crime – Prime Suspect – David Cameron – Do not approach
Before we look at the cultural aspects of BREXIT, let us remind ourselves how we got into this mess in the first place.
Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne had suffered from criticism and power plays from various factions within their OWN party. This was a Conservative party spat, a “Blue on Blue” bun fight. Chancer Cameron had bluffed his way through the Scottish independence vote and won. He had made another reckless referendum offer before the 2015 election and had never, in his wildest dreams, considered that the UK would be so stupid as to vote the wrong way. And then, in an historically irresponsible and arrogant move, proposed that a simple majority, either way, would dictate the UK’s future relationship with our closest neighbours and largest trading and defence partners. When, the old, the poor and the anti London / anti-elitists (and racists) voted to leave in June 2016, the UK was plunged into uncertainty and became the laughing stock of Europe, all over again.
And now CULTURE
In the war of words BREXIT supporters tended to focus on “immigrants taking our jobs in the UK” and, ”taking back control from Brussels”. Subjects on which both sides were quiet or silent were the cultural and historical perspectives that will come into play now we are leaving Europe and how these will affect us all.
The cultural benefits of immigrants
Between 2004 and 2014, 2.5 million EU citizens chose to come to the UK to live and work. This has made a net positive contribution to UK GDP, productivity measures per worker and tax revenues for the Treasury. In addition, the cultural benefit has been palpable. [Most British people struggle to speak even one language properly (innit)] The vast majority of newly arrived workers speak their native language and passable English as well. Many speak two or more languages and add to the country’s human capital, fuelling the most important parts of the British economy – the export of goods and services to other countries. Having freshly arrived people from our target export markets helps us with both local language and market wisdom as we send our crated goods on their way in lorries headed for the Continent.
A Small Island Near Europe
Immigrants work harder
This sometimes unpalatable truth is most threatening to the unskilled sector where jobs are performed by employees that are exchangeable and expendable. This is not the fault of the newly arrived workers or the indigenous population. It is the way jobs are designed today with most school education being instantly forgotten and individuals adapting to the job market, ending up as minimum wage and sub-living wage employees. Our history as a rich and formerly powerful empire has created a subtle level of expectation for many British workers below which they will not consider working. The average Brit is not rushing to get up at 5 AM and wait for a van on a street corner to head off and pick vegetables on a chilly spring morning. Other EU nationals are.
Fight or trade?
From an historical perspective, when a couple of tribes live in close proximity they have two strategic directions in which to go. They can either battle or exchange goods and services. The main rationale for the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957 thus establishing the European Economic Community, the EEC, was to facilitate trade and exchange as the best way of preventing the repetition of the double tragedies of the 20th century.
Nostalgia can be a dangerous thing.
Whilst we are on the subject of not learning from history, let us remember that what unified Germany and the Axis powers in their support for Hitler’s strategies and ideas in the 1930s were austerity measures set out in the Versailles Treaty of 1919. Imposed by the victors upon the losers, it created an attractive option for Axis powers – support the German war effort in return for the restoration of lost power and lands – Hitler promised to turn back time.
The EU agreement was the equivalent of a peace treaty. When a peace treaty is signed all parties agree to forgive, to back down from aggression and to cooperate. A lot of European history and baggage has been locked away in the cupboard, for the sake of trading cooperation, EU subsidies and grants and peace. Culturally speaking, Brexit is the key that opens this cupboard and opens many wounds from the past. [Do we really want to re-examine the roles perpetrated by Hitler and Napoleon at a time when we will be negotiating trade tariffs?]
Do we really want videos of the Euro-skeptic rhetoric played before we enter the room with our Continental cousins?
The subjects discussed around European dinner table may turn to reparation, retribution and rebuke.
New bilateral treaties
Instead of the centralised and overly controlling Brussels technocrats telling each of the EU member states what they can and cannot do, we are now in the unique position of sending out negotiation teams to each EU country and negotiating separate bilateral terms regarding defence, trade and the mobility of citizens (country nationals).
To some this represents the essence of opportunity and control. We will finally have a say on our terms of business in Europe. They are perhaps forgetting that it won’t be all smiles and handshakes. We have 950 years of history that will be raked over, brought up, and may well be used against us. This will not be a quick squiggle of a Mont Blanc pen on parchment in some grand hall. Troubled President, Francois Hollande of France immediately hinted at damaging changes France may make to border controls. If British lorry drivers feel frustrated by striking farmers and burning lorries full of lambs now (within the protection of the EU), what will they face if this civilising treaty is ripped up for the Brits? The bottleneck of the channel is our weakest point. Something the wise business people of Britain are well aware of. Add to that the predictable Air Traffic Controllers strikes in summer (we have just suffered from our 47th Strike in the last 8 years) and we begin to form a clear picture of our rather isolated future.
Can we afford the divorce?
Our future will be in the hands of a dubious, and tarnished group of British ministers along with overstretched lawyers shuttling from EU country to EU country trying to preserve as many of our assets as we can like a skewed game of giant Monopoly. And, who will get custody of the golden child? The City of London generates more than 30% of UKPLC’s GDP. Outside the protection of the EU, Germany, France are already having a pop at attracting the golden goose and shrinking the number of eggs it produces. If we don’t retain custody of the country’s best cash generating asset, we will again become an “embittered single parent” after the divorce, contemplating putting on a superhero costume and climbing up the walls of Brussels in a futile and crass protest shouting, “Former EU Fathers for Justice”
Facing a coalition of the weak.
The goodwill and support shown to Britain by the majority of the 10 enlargement states that joined the EU in 2004 that we have enjoyed and required for the past 12 years is beginning to evaporate. Especially as, in their own living memory, the promises of infrastructure grants and bountiful economic progress have begun to disappear, disappoint the local population and put their politicians under pressure. Poland, the striking example of post 2004 success, is now the 7th ranked economy within the EU. As alone most Central European countries are virtually insignificant, they still relish being part of one of the largest trading blocks in the world. As slighted states, sitting across the table from us surrounded by “divorce” lawyers, the energy and relationship will shift. They have got what they want. Why should they now continue to support us so generously? We are on the outside of the tent “looking” in.
Flags and racism
In your culture trainings you teach that culture is less about countries and flags and more about a range of values, beliefs and drivers that subtly influence behaviours and choices. This subtlety will be lost when Brexit becomes a hard reality. We are seeing a return to table thumping Popularism, less sophisticated and more hostile country stereotypes and an increase in racial slurs, prejudice and, inevitably, violence perpetrated upon immigrant populations. And, these include British populations abroad. The Brits in Spain are already treated with disrespect due to their lack of language skills and integration into local society.
You are about to cross the line
The EU is a mechanism designed to control the behaviour of member countries. Brexit is currently pushing against that reason and control. The Pandora’s box of cultural difference, historical resentment and Britain’s lack of future power will make for a volatile negotiating environment to send our ministers and lawyers into. The British election voter should be fully aware of what cultural consequences they face after the inevitable June Tory election victory aimed at repairing an avoidable Tory mistake.
Part if this blog post was written for Farnham Castle Intercultural Training last year.
Then and Now…
Part 1 – THEN – 27th June 2016
“This weekend, with news of the results of Brexit spreading across the world, has been a very challenging time for a lot of People, and I would like to share not only what I went through but what some of my fellow European and pro-Remain British friends may have gone through too.
I am an Intercultural Consultant. I help expatriate and global managers adapt to their new environment. In facilitating their adaptation I always refer to the Culture Shock curve and its five stages: Excitement, Denial & Depression, Culture Shock, Acceptance and Acculturation. The last time I experienced the Culture Shock curve for myself was moving to Singapore 10 years ago!
Over the course of this weekend I moved through the first two phases and am now heading, at some speed, towards culture shock.
The excitement phase was before the Referendum results, I think most of us were positive that the UK would vote remain and thus demonstrate that we are a strong Europe and that Europeans fit naturally along side British folk. When the results came in on Friday morning, as I woke up at 5:30am, I couldn´t believe that Brexit had happened. I was in complete denial, I just couldn´t wrap my head around it although I had an aprehensive feeling that it might happen, but again, my excitement was stronger. I found myself accepting the decision of the British public, as I live in their Country, and I need to accept their wishes but, trust me, I still felt out-of-place especially going heading out for dinner that evening. The atmosphere felt colder than usual, but I put this down to my own projections.
Tears in the morning
The rest of the weekend was set aside for the depression phase – waking up in tears not knowing what the future will bring, especially working as a freelance Consultant and delivering Trainings to, mostly, European expats – teaching them how to integrate into the UK, so that was a big shock ! What will I do? I thought I would spend the rest of my life here, I have friends which are now part of my Family, I have a home that I bought, I have a car, what will that mean? What does the future hold?
I also had a few talks over the weekend with a few Young British People and asked them what they thought of Brexit and a lot were shocked and angry. They said they were “Europeans” and not British citizens, what will happen for their future and their kid´s future? They won´t have the opportunity to have work experience abroad, travel, learn languages and go abroad to train themselves, so, overall, a big shock all round.
When I spoke to European friends and colleagues most felt betrayed, stabbed in the back, not welcomed and also fearful for their future.
We now know that nothing major will happen over the next two years and that, as Europeans, we will be able to stay. What will be the conditions after though? I think the acceptance phase after the shock sounds like, “One way or another if there are no Jobs, I/we will have to move back to Europe”. I think this is what our culture shock is about, leaving a beautiful country, our friends, our lives.
For now, however, we need to wait and see and try to get out of the shock phase to get on and live our lives.
Part 2- NOW
6 Months post Brexit:
Six months have passed since the Brexit Referendum vote. What has happened up to now? How do I feel? And, how do we as Europeans feel in the UK?
Since the announcement of the referendum and even after Brexit was voted into reality, many of us, in the intercultural world and in broader Training and Development have noticed a significant slowdown in business. A colleague of mine mentioned that some of his programs had been canceled, another said that some clients were backing out of training committements and that they wanted to wait for the New Year. Why is that so?
Unfortunately there is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, Brexit was one major event and shock in 2016. This was closely followed by the election of Mr Donald Trump, and now we can hear, throughout Europe, the loud voice of right wing movements, Austria was close and France will be the next test. What will happen there? At the pace we are going, everything is possible!
What will this mean for the world…for Europe?
What we can see is that there is mistrust of politics in general and a fear of the unknown and its consequences for peace, employment and our way of life. All of those participating in racist actions, protest votes and the results they are generating are people that want CHANGE . They are asking – who else can give them change? Noone but those who run against the existing political system.
We need to bring back trust and respect for one another. It is through cultural consciousness that we may avoid further conflict and make sure that our children grow up in a peaceful world, where citizens are respected, have a job and can practice their religion without challenge.
So, where am I then, after these last 6 months? I think I am still in the shock phase. And there is hope. I am edging toward the acceptance phase. we need to wait and see, and to see past what the press is telling us, go past what politicians are trying to sell us (from their own position of confusion, choas and fear) and make sure that our objective is for harmony and making sure that we engineer the conditions that allow for all of us to live together in peace.
Author Profile – Nadège Welsch
Nadège is Franco-German starting her career with a major German Telco based in Munich where she worked with Latin America, Eastern Europe, Middle East & Africa.
She expatriated to Singapore for a year and half before immigrated to the UK to pursue her passion for culture. With an MSC in Business Psychology she created Be-a-Chameleon seven years ago, training individuals as well as groups in cultural awareness, working effectively across cultures and working effectively in multicultural teams.
Nadège speaks English, French, German and Spanish and is a passionate advocate for cultural consciousness.
We are all global citizens now, but what does this actually mean?
If we accept that an individual can have multiple non-opposing identities, it would logically follow that it is possible to have multiple citizenships, as indeed many of us do…yet this multiplicity seems only to mean that we can use different passports to facilitate travel from one political system to another….and has nothing to do with sharing values, rules etc. Having looked at the questions for the UK citizenship test and scored a big fat zero on history, just scraping through, I am having an(other) identity crisis…… a UK passport holder born, brought up, educated and tax paying in UK for most of my working life, having taught English, acculturation and intercultural communication for 35 years, I am somewhat surprised at the criteria for citizenship of “my” country.
multiple non-opposing identities
Multiple non-opposing identities
For the first time I ask myself “Do I want to be a citizen?” Though I feel a strong connection with my home culture and I understand that on a deep level I probably make assumptions and bear prejudices that would link me to membership of a group of “people like me”, I have long preferred to introduce myself to “others” as a European- thus avoiding the Westerner (i.e USA) or the British (i.e. football hooligan) labels. I am proud of the values which underlie the formation of and continuance of EU, and believe passionately that the institution, for all its faults, has gone a long way to building bridges, to signalling a third way of “doing things”; an alternative to purely money or military oriented politics…. And a clearly stated definition of citizenship.
Yes, I like that…….
To note the ease with which I can explain my choice of association and acknowledge the possibility of duality here may go a long way to explaining my utter bafflement at recent events; but does this also indicate that EU citizenship as a concept is doomed to be more divisive than inclusive? A Them or Us sense of belonging which by its very nature hints at republicanism?
This brings me to a third model: global citizenship, whose qualities seem to be espoused by international NGOs like Oxfam and which is defined as a quality a person demonstrates whose identity is linked more with a common humanity than with any political or other allegiance- but if citizenship means to be held to account by a system; history; shared values, how can any of us possibly call ourselves global citizens except as representing an academic intellectual stance?….
Recent developments have forced me to reflect on what it means to belong….to an organisation at odds with my personal values; to a country hurtling towards xenophobia and isolationalism……
Am I the only one to feel like le Petit Prince?
“To establish ties?”
“Just that,” said the fox. “To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world….”
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
About the Author – Daphne Laing is a renowned education professional in the field of culture, language and citizenship.
Laughing through the tears…
(Reader Warning – This is a opinion piece that takes a helicopter ride over a complex subject and contains ironic humour. People with Breximitosis should stop reading and rush to their nearest chemist for ointment, now.)
Looking back on the dramas of the last 3 years in this Dis-United Kingdom, there are some things that have now become clearer and other things that we may never know.
Five + Issues – It seems that there were multiple “Don’t Wants” being voted AGAINST in 2016, leading to ONE big and problematic result on 24th June. The issue NOT headlining in any informed or effective way was the benefit of British reform in Britain and EU reform in Europe, whilst, continuing our First Class and Beneficial trade agreement with the EU – Remember, this First Class Ticket was, is and will always be, much better than downgrading to a delayed second class or third class non-preferential deal, and then, going out, cap in hand to beg China, India and the US for scraps from their table.
When we divorce the EU on 29th March, we will go to the back of the queue and start again from zero. This could take 5 or 10 years to complete.
Perhaps it was one of the quieter issues that was to prove the most profound – the voiceless hard working good people of regional England and Wales protesting at the referendum box against the powerful and monied London elite and their pursuit of personal and corporate gain, whilst continuing to marginalise the existence of the regional population. Enough is enough came the message from the forgotten and economically excluded.
The disenfranchised voted and hoped to be heard. Tragically their genuine and severe needs will now be ignored. Austerity was not an EU initiative – Deep British problems are not being dealt with as we invest hours stirring up xenophobia about EU workers – Good hearted people for the most part, diligently working in shops, picking lettuces or painting walls. It was a Conservative Government policy to strip local councils of 60% of their funding to refill empty coffers after key banks were bailed out following the 2008 Sub-Prime trading scam in London and the US.
Irony – It was the poorest parts of the country that wished to distance themselves from the EU. Despite the fact that they were the greatest beneficiaries of EU largesse when it came to being awarded valuable Regional Development Grants. I was in Cornwall this week – They will lose £60,000,000 in support.
Fisheries – We heard a lot about “loss of control of our country” – The one concrete example was UK fishing grounds (should that be water?) The depleted fishing fleet of the UK will now, theoretically be able to fish more freely in the UK 12 mile zone without competition. And, what do good British fishermen hope to do with their catch? Export the majority of that fish to Spain! And that will be much more difficult on 30th March 2019. Or, this, our only small benefit, will be traded away by a UK Government Brexit negotiation to France and Spain for some other concession, because the Brexit trade deal will not be done on 29th March. Did I mention? We will have extracted ourselves from our First Class and beneficial terms and, then go back to the back of the queue and start negotiating for all or some of the rights we have won over the last 47 years, all over again. – Brexit is like a very expensive Groundhog Day.
Racism – The police are reporting a spike in verbal racial abuse, physical racially motivated attacks and, we see, a general increase in xenophobic rhetoric. This harks back to the extremes of the UKIP campaign and the ethnocentric chant of “Give us our country back” (from Whom and to Whom?) Scapegoating the Polish for coming over here and displacing us with their intelligence and positive work ethic, seems to have found resonant favour with the mob. These shouty but poor students of history, have dulled their senses to facts and our shameful British past (we are all immigrants. Britain robbed, stole, enslaved and killed in the name of empire AND the British Government (not the EU) gave right of abode to the 800 million people of empire in 1931. And, the right to work in the UK to 507 million people in the EU in 2004 – The UK chose to do this whilst other countries in the EU did not.) BTW – The sacrifice of Polish and Czech pilots during WWII is conveniently forgotten in the heat of the moment as fear fuelled emotions spill out. The first thing lost in a Populist war is truth.
The lies – the Leave campaign talked of a two year divorce, our £350 million a week contribution to the EU becoming available to fund NHS hospitals, the EU having taken our UK sovereignty, 60% of British laws coming from Europe, an immediate halt to all immigration, EU directives about bendy bananas, and, that the EU would beg us to continue trading on terms of our own choosing as they needed us SO MUCH. (David David Davies and his BMW trope.)
Unfortunately none of this was true.
And, the Remain / Stay In campaign was not above telling vast fibs in support of their cause. Their message though, was undermined more by internal conflict, an arrogant complacency based on the notion that not that many people were crazy enough to want to leave, and, that they would be OK to still win, even as they continued to fight internal political battles with each other instead of devoting enough time and their full concentration to produce an agenda leading and honest campaign for reforming Britain for Britain and fighting for EU reform within the EU. And, cock up time – They only chucked out old school messages using old school means whilst Leave’s evil marketing genius, Dominic Cummings, used the latest digital technology to get his cult Leave message across, deploying more than 1000,000,000 paid Facebook adds, targeting hidden voters and those in the swing zone.
Corby-Nation – The most complex sub-plot surrounded the leader of the opposition – (Quick reminder Jezza – The leader of the Opposition opposes Tory policy – Just saying). Jeremy Corbyn suffered an assassination attempt before May’s 2017 General Election but was overwhelmingly saved by Union members and the young. Since then logical criticism of JC (He is a Brexiteer whilst also leading the Labour party) has been forgotten in favour of crazy, spiteful and personal attacks (He is the grandson of Joe Stalin / He is more antisemitic than the Tory party / He is a vegetarian / He is an old man / He is not part of the British elite etc. etc.)
PS – Honest Jeremy did, however, contribute to this disaster himself too. His Mr. Consistency brand did not allow him to give a clear boost to the Remain / Stay IN campaign and his lack of political leadership and poor planning abilities have been rather obvious in the last 2 years.
Onwards to the Negotiation table – In the early 1970’s we put away the history books and moved on from the past. The EEC, The European Economic Community was the thing. No more mention that Britain had been at war, at one time or another, with just about all of the major EU players. The only exception being Greece (and some say we did try to organised an internal coup there…) 1973 was time to trade and thus prevent further war in Europe (something forgotten by the hardline Brexiteers). The EU was set up so that peace could conquer hate.
From a cultural perspective, those dusty history books look like being opened up again and used against us in a court of law, as the goodwill of 2016 morphs into irritation, anger, disgust and attack around the negotiation table, as we attempt, slowly, to sort out 27 new bilateral trading agreements with people who used to admire us and call us a friend.
Cultural Perspective – For interculturalists this mad moment provides an expensive and invaluable case study with rich content for the classroom – Brexit being an example of the dangers of Government lead patriotic rhetoric, the power of the media to spread negative country stereotypes and inflame broad and scary levels of xenophobia and an example of complexity keeping reason and clarity from the masses and, the reversal of 40 years of relatively reasonable diversity and inclusion practice in the workplace happening in a matter of months.
What’s happens next? – The exit negotiations were triggered way too early when Theresa invoked Article 50 before there was a plan, before establishing cross party support, or, we were ready. This will have consequences – Investment in UK PLC will continue to be on hold, the pound will stay weaker until clarity emerges and, as always, speculative and dirty money will continue to pour into UK shares and UK property and be washed by the London FX markets. – Yes the UK is just as corrupt as Continental Europe. The economy will move into mild recession as uncertainty rules and the economically deprived regions, that voted Leave, will begin to feel the immediate cold wind of economic downturn (except the few marginal Labour seats amongst former mining communities – They will receive a DUP type bribe to covet their vote for PMTM’s Brexit deal.) We will see a more violence Northern Ireland. And, Summer holidays will be 10% – 20% more expensive in 2019.
The End – Going Going Gone – On behalf of the leavers – Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, David Cameron (accidentally) and Jeremy Corbyn we will not be hearing a very British and special word any time soon – “Sorry” (They have not uttered this word themselves though, I like to think they are experiencing a few sleepless nights of burning shame and guilt.) History will not be kind to the Pale Stale Males listed above.
(Number of words in the original post – 1066 – that is a British history joke about an early EU initiative.)
The Author, Matthew Hill, is currently applying for Albanian Citizenship.