Friday, January 25, 2019

"The ruling class that drove Brexit"

[Arron Banks and Nigel Farage. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA]

"The media loves to blame far right movements and moments on the working class. Our Brexit research tells a very different story...

After Trump’s election, millions of words were typed about how ‘blue collar’ areas had turned out to vote Republican. Yet Clinton led by 11% among voters who earn less than $50,000. Trump secured his victory by winning among those who earn $50-200,000
Much the same can be said for the far right in Italy, whose core support is in the wealthier – though now de-industrialising – north, rather than in the more impoverished south; or about Brazil, where 97% of the richest areas voted for the fascist Bolsonaro, whilst 98% of the poorest neighbourhoods voted for the Workers’ Party candidate, Haddad.
We see a similar distortion in debate about Brexit. 
After the vote, journalists went on endless tours of deprived areas to report on how working-class people voted Leave (which many did). 
However, they somehow forgot to mention that wealthy counties like Wiltshire backed Brexit, while some of the poorest areas of the UK – the western parts of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as Liverpool and Leicester – voted Remain. 
Academics who studied the class breakdown of the Brexit vote found ‘the Leave vote to be associated with middle class identification and the more neutral “no class” identification. But we find no evidence of a link with working class identification.’
This is nothing new. Ruling classes have always sought to blame bigotry on the working classes. Too often in recent times, the liberal media have been willing to champion this myth, rather than confronting the prejudice in its own ranks.
The way we talk about social media is central to narratives that blame the oppressed for their own oppression. 
Online bigotry, abuse and trolling are often framed as problems of the unwashed masses, who need to be regulated by ‘benign’ institutions such as global data corporations or the police. 
In reality, whilst racism, Islamophobia, misogyny, anti-immigrant hysteria and other forms of bigotry feature up and down the social spectrum, their recent mobilization is part of a different story. It has been led and co-ordinated by elite networks, seeking to reshape the world at the dusk of neoliberalism. 
And they are often in direct collaboration with these supposedly respectable institutions, from Facebook to the FBI.
To put it another way: the decade since the financial crisis has accelerated the emergence of a new global oligarch class. With growing wealth has come growing power and a growing ability to shape political debate through the dominant communications technology of the era: TV and the internet. 
As has long happened with right-wing movements, they have done so in close collaboration with military and security networks. Because the era is neoliberalism, those networks are largely privatised, made up of mercenary firms with names like Palantir, Arcanum, SCL, AggregateIQ and Cambridge Analytica.

Brexit, Arron Banks and the missing millions

Take, for example, the Brexit referendum in the UK. The Leave movement operated a bit like a solar system, whose two largest planets were surrounded by a collection of moons. First, there was Vote Leave, the official Brexit campaign, fronted by Conservative politicians Boris Johnson and Michael Gove, and orbited by numerous other campaigns and front groups. 
Second was Leave.EU, associated with the further-right UK Independence Party, fronted by iconic blazered bigot Nigel Farage and primarily funded by an insurance man called Arron Banks. (Banks, by my sums, claims to have funnelled about £15m into the group and its various moons...)
READ MORE in detail from source at openDemocracyUK here.

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