Speaker: A Disorderly Brexit
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Before wibbling on about how undemocratic the EU is, with all its appointed this and that, it would be honest to mention the appointments are largely made by the (democratically elected) EU parliament. I'm sure it's not perfect. Bureaucratic and boring and officious. But I think the claims it's undemocratic are a over-egged.
andin, in reply to
And various agenda's, voiced and not, gained far too much importance
Another Labour shadow cabinet minister has resigned, with many more to come apparently. Corbyn has issued a statement saying he's not resigning.
I'm utterly amazed Labour's decided now is the optimal moment to start eating itself. And yet not surprised.
Dennis Frank, in reply to
I'm old enough to remember when the assimilation of immigrants was normal. It produces a mutual-benefit outcome, which seems to evaporate when the flow escalates. Your illustration, Russell, is of the domestic reaction to this. Better to focus on why rather than any tit-for-tat interaction. My observation was of the pattern of cultural behaviour that has emerged in recent years: non-assimilation, the development of enclaves which breed radicalism & induce polarisation between folks. The tolerance & mutual understanding & rapport that arises from assimilation is noticeably lacking nowadays. Policies of excessive migration are the cause.
Brexit appears to be a symptom of collective anger at trickle-down economics breaking its promise to share the gains. However, it does matter who the anger is directed at. It's all too easy to scapegoat foreigners and 'bludgers' instead of the rentier class, which caused much of the fiscal mess in the first place and likely set everyone else below them against each other.
andin, in reply to
I beg to differ, the “problems” already existed or were gestating. Migration (excessive or not) for all the wrong reasons just exacerbated them
linger, in reply to
I’m old enough to remember when the assimilation of immigrants was normal….
Let’s unpack the assumptions in your argument:
(i) “assimilation” was once “normal”;
(ii) “assimilation” is no longer “normal” ;
(iii) this is due to increased volume of immigration, and/or increased concentration of immigrant groups in enclaves.
This is at best an overly simplistic comparison, and a false causal conclusion (the volume of immigration into Britain has not increased that much in recent years, though the perception of it has due to Daily Mail fear-mongering; and I invite you to name a Polish immigrant enclave, for example).
Firstly, what counts as “assimilation”, anyway? “Fitting in” should never have to entail the total loss of ethnic or cultural identity – especially in a supposedly democratic nation.
Secondly, some ethnic/ cultural/ linguistic groups are less easily “assimilated” than others, in that their identity signifiers – including e.g. religious practices, clothing styles, and language use – are (i) more noticeable to outsiders, and/or (ii) more centrally bound to their identity – and as a result also (iii) cause more resistance from outsiders, so that it is harder for them to be allowed to “fit in”.
When you compare past groups of immigrants with present groups of immigrants, you are not comparing like with like, either in terms of the cultural traits central to identity, or in terms of the majority’s level of tolerance for difference. (By and large, I would hope the mainstream is now more liberal than it once was, in terms of encouraging and respecting ethnic/ cultural/ linguistic diversity.)
Finally, residential “enclaves”, where they exist, do not necessarily indicate a desire for separatism. More often, they reflect a practical economic reality (e.g. poor immigrants have limited choice of residential areas, especially when jobs are mostly available in larger cities with higher land prices). Again, this is partly a function of whether the mainstream allows the minority to fit in.
I’m old enough to remember the racist jokes made in the 1970s about Samoan chain migration to Auckland. Perpetuation of those attitudes does not make me laugh.
Sacha, in reply to
I'm old enough to remember when the assimilation of immigrants was normal. It produces a mutual-benefit outcome
How does it benefit migrants or locals when the former are expected to forget who they are? I don't want to live with Ethiopians or Koreans or Canadians who are expected somehow to 'fit it' with their Maori, English, Scottish, Irish, German, French, Dutch, Chinese, Samoan or Tongan antecedents. What a ridiculous notion.
Sacha, in reply to
residential “enclaves”, where they exist, do not necessarily indicate a desire for separatism.
Mutual cultural support, more like. It's not as if there are walls around the many South Africans on the North Shore or the Chinese merchants of Dominion Road. Everyone else is welcome to enter and share respectfully. Many of us enjoy that opportunity to broaden our horizons.
Auckland is one of the most diverse cities on the planet. I sometimes forget it's not the same across the whole nation, but even then the rise of Filipino farm-workers in Southland or Tongans in Oamaru is quite an change from previous decades. How do we support our fellow New Zealanders to move beyond fear lest we surrender to local nastiness like Farage or Trump offer?
linger, in reply to
The answer's in the question:
support our fellow New Zealanders
... and see immigrants as being "fellow New Zealanders" from the outset.
Sacha, in reply to
There is a disability angle to this decision
And a bioethics one too
I'd be amazed if a single referendum could really trigger such a large event. Surely even the Brits aren't that daft? I mean we only changed the way we vote and it took two referendums to get there. This is a much, much more massive change. It's going to look pretty silly if the polls reverse rapidly, to go ahead with something that's immediately unpopular because the Brits used a referendum as a protest vote against the government, not fully realizing that there is really a lot more than their current government at stake.
That said, I haven't followed it closely, because I take British politics about as seriously as they take the EU. A remote and weird system, strangely backwards. I guess you get that when you once had an empire and still haven't gotten over losing it. If they continue down this path I'd be surprised if they can even keep their kingdom. Perhaps that's a path they just have to walk.
"Brexit isn’t a sudden seismic event, it's not a political earthquake. The language being used by politicians of all stripe implies that it is though. But it’s not. It’s more of a slow erosion process, but admitting that would mean that those who were in positions of political influence during the long goodbye would have to accept responsibility for their utter failure to engage on the European Union."
Indeed, it is the result of a slow erosion process. And it is not only in the UK, where Members of the European Parliament (MEP) have been treated as second rate kind of politicians, that applies to virtually all EU member countries. Some have been running as candidates for national elections, and lost, some have perhaps been representatives in national or regional parliaments, but then chose to run as MEP candidate, as a kind of semi retirement job.
The EU Parliament lacks democratic power, as some commenters mentioned, as the Commission proposes and/or decides on stuff they may need to deal with.
This is as much a failing of the British governments to bring their own people closer to Europe, as it is a failing of the EU itself, to bring Europe closer to the people in all member countries.
We have an organisation that started as nothing much else but a free trade region, but which increasingly took on more responsibilities, working towards bringing Europe together, which though was mostly done by administrative and closed meeting room political agreements and measures.
Few know in any country, who their MEPs are, few Europeans follow what the EU decides, and the mainstream media has also failed in reporting much on EU matters, apart from when it was in crisis. The constant balancing acts between national governments and the EU Commission and Parliament, trying to only do things that will not upset national governments, and trying at the same time to keep Europe together, has failed abysmally.
The GFC handling was showing the limits of the EU and Eurozone, that a union of nations with poorly aligned legal and financial systems, run on the lowest common denominator basis, was a poor kind of construct. Then the handling of the Greek financial crisis brought it close to break up point, and the refugee crisis last year nearly did the rest. Now we have the real disaster, the "Brexit", and that will spell the end of the EU as it has been known, it will now go into reverse gear, which a meeting of foreign ministers already showed yesterday. A looser union, where individual governments and countries have more freedom to decide their own priorities will simply mean the drive for a united Europe is history.
Also they cannot now punish Britain, as that will cause an escalation and tit for tat actions, so they will be forced to give Britain terms for trade and other relations, that will only be marginally worse than what they enjoy now, plus they will allow Britain to set its own rules re migration and so forth. This though will be an encouragement for other nations, where enough people may raise their voices to also hold referendums, to follow Britain, and this will lead to a break-up, perhaps apart from a core EU of only a few member states.
At the same time the UK may break up, as suggested by a fair few, Scotland seems determined now to leave Britain, and who knows what Northern Ireland may decide. But there are regions in Spain, Italy and other countries that also want independence, they will feel encouraged to follow their ambitions.
Europe will change fundamentally, and not for the better, with all its flaws, the EU was at least a project that needed to be done better, could be remedied if the will was there, but the Brits, always wanting to play their own special role (see many exemptions of conditions they got), have in their majority thrown the spanner into the works.
Just thirty years ago, the first EU passports were issued, and now we can look forward for those to be turned back into more national types of passports:
As for UK politics, Cameron kicked a huge own goal, and for the rest, it will be turmoil and instability for years to come. One European leader on the sideline is smiling though, Vladimir Putin will be very pleased about a weakened EU and Britain.
Some good points made above. Assimilation does indeed depend on a variety of factors. A more nuanced view is helpful when the blogosphere is full of simplistic analyses. It's human nature for some contributors to recycle the pc leftist view that unlimited migration must be allowed, and assume anyone who thinks it is bad for society is a xenophobe or racist.
Since the right thinks unlimited migration is required for economic growth, we get left/right collusion, which alienates and disgusts centrists. Since centrists have been around a third of the electorate in western countries for years, the antique binary political frame fails to represent reality. When both wings of the establishment screw up all over the place, centrists are likely to catalyse the outcome. It's happening.
Kinda weird that there's no book yet published that explains identity politics. Likewise that it's obvious psychological motivations produce political alignments, yet political psychology seems unable to coalesce as an academic discipline. Assimilation of migrants does not mean they lose their prior identity, merely that they develop another to use concurrently. In fact we all acquire a new identity that derives from our presentation and interaction in any group involvement. We are walking portfolios of multiple identities. This ain't rocket science, just a fundamental fact of group psychodynamics that nobody wants to admit is essential to contemporary sociological analysis and commentary.
Marc C, in reply to
Hopefully, the EU responds to this event by seriously addressing its democratic deficit. If it does not, other countries will leave. And if that includes a major continental power then the risk is a return in a few decades to the pre-1945 rivalry among states, which seriously risks leading to war.
Matthew, there is a shit chance of more democracy to be introduced to the EU Parliament and system. No national parliament in any of the member states will want to surrender more power, the drive is in the other direction. The dissatisfaction with national governments is growing all over Europe, and this has not only to do with EU politics. Look at the make up of the parliaments, in France, Italy, Spain and even Germany, where governments have lost popularity and struggle to form coalitions to govern. Not just by coincidence is Spain holding its second general election within six months this weekend.
Angela Merkel herself could not govern without a coalition partner, which are now (again) the SPD in the Bundestag. But the SPD is not polling around only twenty percent points. It is not helping them to support Merkel and her government.
What we have in New Zealand, a large proportion of people not bothering with politics anymore, is happening in Europe also, and those that bother, they do increasingly vote left or right leaning protest parties and movements.
With the refugee crisis having pushed the EU and its member state government's limits, with more people fearing migrants more than welcoming them with open arms (remember the attacks in Paris, Brussels and alerts even in Germany), there is no chance that people want to give up national sovereignty and hand power to a central EU Parliament and the Commission, believing in open borders and so forth.
We are seeing Europe return to something a bit more similar to the times between the Great Wars. That will though happen gradually, and can take a few decades.
Just back from the pub on a lovely Sunday summer afternoon in London. There’s a weird, subdued atmosphere in the city (at least this part of it: I’m in Southwark, which went 72% Remain). Most of the conversations other tables were having (however jocular) seemed in some way to be about Brexit. Lots of City workers live here. There’s going to be enormous disruption to that community once the full effects of this result start to come through.
Oddly, not many people here are talking about the failures of the EU. They’re thinking instead about job security; the collapse of the pound and impending price rises for food and fuel; restrictions on freedom of movement for themselves and their children; further cuts to public spending; the horrifying prospect of a Prime Minister Johnson or May or Gove.
Or at least that’s what people in my social, professional, and media bubbles are discussing. I’m sure conversations elsewhere in the country are different. Because there’s a large and frightening cultural and economic divide in the way this referendum and its results are being interpreted. The statistical breakdowns in Lord Ashcroft’s exit poll are pretty stark and telling. A clear majority of those in paid employment voted to remain; those on state benefits or pensions voted to leave. Two thirds of council or housing association tenants went leave. The age gap has been widely reported, but the educational one is also vast: there’s a clear correlation between lack of education and support for Brexit. Those who said they paid “little or no attention” to politics went “leave” by 58% to 42%. These are people who weren’t going to be moved by arguments about the fate of the Erasmus programme, or the effect of Brexit on university research funding or arts charities that rely on EU funding, or the ability of young people and professionals to move freely in pursuit of job opportunities from one European city to the next. And yet, of course, they’ve imperilled all that. Those who stand to lose are understandably pretty angry, and so the culture wars get more and more ugly.
What makes it even worse is that the leadership of the Leave campaign clearly didn’t want or expect this result. The haunted, subdued demeanour of Gove and Johnson at their shared Friday morning press conference gave that game away. This was shadow boxing; political theatre. They wanted a close result that would “send a message” to Cameron and improve their chances of succession to the Prime Ministership once Cameron departed. They didn’t want Brexit itself. And yet here we are. It seems, politically and economically at least, like a July 1914 moment: a perfect storm of botched brinkmanship and miscalculation that leads to a result no one wanted or expected. And just as in 1914, it’s the young who will suffer most for the follies of their parents’ and grandparents’ generations.
linger, in reply to
there’s no book yet published that explains identity politics
In much the same way as there’s no book yet published that explains gender politics. Oh, wait, no, there’s hundreds.
This very site still hosts a series of posts written by Che Tibby 10 years ago about identity politics and nation-building, under the heading of “Metics” – though at present, you have to know they’re there in order to find them. For example: Metics 1; Metics 2; Metics 3; Metics 4; Metics 5 …
We are walking portfolios of multiple identities
Indeed – which means it’s not really a matter of “assimilation” at all, but more accurately “integration”: ways of building social networks bridging cultural/ ethnic divides, and thereby adding other layers of belongingness to those concerning cultural and ethnic identity.
And you know this, and yet still you choose to use the loaded word.
Sacha, in reply to
the pc leftist view that unlimited migration must be allowed
Matthew Hooton, in reply to
Before wibbling on about how undemocratic the EU is, with all its appointed this and that, it would be honest to mention the appointments are largely made by the (democratically elected) EU parliament.
That's not really correct. The president of the (unelected) Commission is nominated by the (unelected) Council and the "parliament" gets to vote yea or nay. The president then appoints Commissioners based on "suggestions" from member states. The parliament can approve or veto the Commission as a whole. See http://ec.europa.eu/about/index_en.htm
This is really quite inadequate in a democratic sense given the enormous powers of the Commission and its commitment to "ever closer union" in a constitutional sense.
Imagine if our Prime Minister and Cabinet were appointed like this: regional council chairs would meet, and choose a candidate; parliament then gets to say yea or nay, the Prime Minister then appoints Ministers on the "suggestion" of regional council chairs; and parliament gets to vote yea or nay on the Cabinet as a whole.
And then imagine the Cabinet is the only body even able to suggest legislation? Which, as the Commission puts its arrogantly, "is then adopted by the co-legislators, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers."
And imagine if the stated goal of this system was "ever closer union" when in fact NZ regions believed themselves to be sovereign states.
And imagine if our second largest economic and population region, Canterbury, with a slightly different culture from the rest of us, had argued for decades it was unhappy, especially with "ever closer union". And the response from Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin was to sniff "we'll that's just because you aren't committed to the New Zealand Ideal."
Wouldn't Canterbury be likely to want to leave?
Matthew Hooton, in reply to
Brexit appears to be a symptom of collective anger at trickle-down economics breaking its promise to share the gains
How does that explain Labour voters voting Remain and Tories voting Leave?
It's very simple, as pointed out by someone John Harris* talked to post-result: "If you've got money, you vote in ... if you haven't got money, you vote out"
The breakdown of results (scroll about halfway down the page) bears this out: Got a degree? You probably voted in. ABC1? You probably voted in. No formal qualifications? You probably voted out.
There's no starker illustration of the disconnect between those in power and those on the outside than the fact the referendum was called in the first place. A mere formality with an absolute sure thing result, intended for one thing and one thing only - to silence the rabid right-wing of the tory party - has turned into the biggest shitstorm since...Suez? WW2? The 'invisible' masses, overlooked, ignored, condescended to and used as a punchline for decades, finally got a chance to make their voices heard. Thanks for that, pigfucker. What exactly did you think was going to happen?
*John Harris is one of the very few journalists woth reading any more, mostly due to the fact he actually spends time outside London talking to normal people, which makes him more or less unique these days.
Rich Lock, in reply to
Labour voters voting Remain
Apart from the majority that didn't, you mean? Where are you getting your figures?
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