Wednesday, 22 November 2017


What The Papers Say – The Guardian – Still Puzzled By The Brexit Vote? Take Yourself Off To Blakenall Heath.Still Puzzled By The Brexit Vote? Take Yourself Off To Blakenall Heath.
WHAT THE PAPERS SAY is an occasional series in which we feature articles from the Mainstream Media (MSM) which seem to echo our thoughts or that we find of interest. With this in mind, our attention was recntly drawn to an article – https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2017/oct/12/still-puzzled-by-the-brexit-vote-take-yourself-off-to-blakenall-heath?CMP=share_btn_fb – written by Rev Giles Fraser for the Guardian.

We’ve reproduced it because we feel that it compliments the main thrust of the series of Liberal Future/BreXit Now! articles that we’ve been featuring. Links to these articles (and information about Liberal Future) can be found below the article by Rev Fraser. The Liberal Future articles and Rev Fraser’s article highlight the vast gulf between ordinary working families and the global elite – represented by the likes of multinational corporations, banks and their client politicians – regarding Brexit. We like the way Rev Fraser tells it as he see it – that, in respect of Brexit, many folks have little or nothing to lose – and we feel that Guardian readers especially need to hear it.

It goes without saying that there are no official links between Rev Giles Fraser, the Guardian and the National Liberal Party.

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Still Puzzled By The Brexit Vote? Take Yourself Off To Blakenall Heath.
By Giles Fraser

Rev Giles Fraser is a Church of England priest, journalist and broadcaster. His weekly columns for the Guardian are thought-provoking as he tends to tell it as he see it. This is particularly so with this Brexit article which highlights the vast gulf that exists between ordinary working families and the global elite. Check out his other Guardian articles here: https://www.theguardian.com/profile/gilesfraser

The phone went one Sunday evening. It was the bishop of Wolverhampton, my then boss. There was this job he couldn’t find anyone to do. Would I go and look after a parish to the north of Walsall – https://www.theguardian.com/uk/walsall – called Blakenall Heath? Big barn of a church, no money, struggling. Just for a bit, he said. I’d like you to pack up and go there in a couple of weeks. We did, with a new baby and no idea what we were letting ourselves in for.

People generally didn’t go to Blakenall Heath unless they came from there. Unemployed men would sit around in their front gardens on discarded sofas, looking bored. Some of my parishioners spent all day in their dressing gowns. Burned-out cars decorated the roadside. Back then the vicarage was ringed by flats whose residents would frequently shoot at each other with air rifles. At night, the pellets would ping off our roof. Even the local police didn’t like going into Blakenall Heath. It was treated as a ghetto.

Blakenall Heath seethed with the anger of the unheard. And that anger found its way into my bones. It wasn’t just about the poverty. It was deeper than that. As the months went by, I began to get some sense of what it felt like when nobody listened to or cared in the slightest about what you said. It felt like no one gave a shit. Every now and again the place would show up on some list of crap towns for posh people to snigger at. Other than that, you weren’t noticed.

In Blakenall Heath my politics changed. Both theologically and politically, my student liberalism had few answers for a place like this. Indeed, I began to suspect that the broadly progressive version of capitalism that I had accepted might even be a part of the problem. These weren’t the “left behinds” – a term that implies that with a quick hop and a skip they might just catch up. This place was the inevitable byproduct – waste product, even – of market forces, and the price that more prosperous parts of the country had secretly accepted as worth paying for the many other benefits that capitalism delivered to them. The problem was systemic.

In Walsall, 67.9% voted leave in the referendum – https://www.expressandstar.com/news/politics/2016/06/24/eu-referendum-result-walsall-votes-to-leave-with-huge-majority/ – on a huge turnout. And then, this year, they voted out Walsall North’s londstanding Labour MP, David Winnick – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/politics/constituencies/E14001011 – who had campaigned to remain in the EU. Remainers will never understand what went on here if they think it’s just about money. Homo economicus – who seeks to optimise their economic prospects through rational self-interest – doesn’t live in Blakenall Heath. Homo economicus doesn’t buy his cooker through weekly instalments at BrightHouse at 69.9% APR – https://www.brighthouse.co.uk/on-finance A remain campaigner told me about a doorstep encounter he had on a bombsite of a council estate in the Midlands. “You have a lot to lose financially if we leave the EU,” he explained, rationally.

“Oh, yes,” she gestured to her run-down surroundings, sarcastically. “I could lose all of this?” Which is why Brexit – https://www.theguardian.com/politics/eu-referendum – pub logic goes something like this: so what if the country collapses economically? At least then they will know what it feels like to be us.

Remain still don’t get why so many people voted leave. They keep repeating that it is the poor who will lose out the most, appealing to Homo economicus. They keep believing that it was stupidity or gullibility that made poor leavers side with dangerous fools like Boris Johnson. But that is not going to cut it. The people who really hate the way Brexit is going are the people who have got something to lose. When you have nothing to lose, being told you could lose it all doesn’t really count for much. Which is why the more Nick Clegg and his Waitrose friends speak of the coming apocalypse, the more some will feel: fine, bring it on.

This logic has understandably panicked the progressive middle classes. But the language of the cliff edge offers little fear to those well practised at falling off it. And until we find a radical way to rebalance our economy, such that all share in its benefits, the middle classes will find that democracy will sometimes hand power to those who are perfectly prepared to play chicken with economic failure.

• CHECK OUT Liberal Future here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/706779429376233/

• CHECK OUT the series of Liberal Future/BreXit Now! articles here:

Liberal Future Says BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/liberal-future-says-%e2%80%a6-brexit-now
Liberal Future: English Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/english-youth-says-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Scottish Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/scottish-youth-say-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Ulster Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/ulster-youth-say-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Welsh Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/welsh-youth-say-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Cornish Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/cornish-youth-say-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Guernsey, Manx and Jersey Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/liberal-future-guernsey-manx-and-jersey-youth-say-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Alderney & Sark Youth Say BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/liberal-future-alderney-sark-youth-say-brexit-now
Liberal Future: Fermanagh, Armagh and Tyrone Youth Say … Choose Freedom – BreXit Now! http://nationalliberal.org/liberal-future-fermanagh-armagh-and-tyrone-youth-say-%e2%80%a6-choose-freedom-brexit-now
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