Denis MacShane tell us that just five of the richest men in Britain paid for 61% of the Leave campaign and that Brexit was ‘for the rich, by the rich, of the rich.’ This truth is seeping out just as the true nature of the vote and purpose of Brexit’s sister ‘populist’ phenomenon across the pond reaches new depths of weird depraved farce.
One of the consequences of the Brexit ‘victory’ has been a well documented spike in race crime and hate crime in England and Wales (I haven’t seen comparable figures for Scotland). This is perhaps not surprising given the drip-drip effect of xenophobia into the mainstream: from the Tories coyly racist ‘Are you thinking what we’re thinking?’ (2005)
to normalising fascists like Nick Griffin (2009); or indeed the Prime Ministers own hate van (2013) or the immigration poster fronted by Nigel Farage (2016).
There is evidence that the Brexit campaign was so imbued with racism, and the issue of immigration was so central to it that some people thought that ‘LEAVE’ meant just that.
You, the other, the foreigner, the immigrant, the non-English, should Leave Britain.
As the messages beamed out, not just from every Dacre and Murdoch rag but from thousands of JCDecaux ad sites, as a fascist sits on a tv panel beside a Dimbelby its clear they’ve been invited in. It doesn’t take a huge leap to imagine this saturation, this surround-sound of casual, assumed racism having a wider impact.
England’s self-styled ‘national liberation’ was based on, predicated on, and motivated by racism. Take a moment on that.
And there’s no doubt that one of the targets of this new culture of hate were Scots themselves from the Economists Skintland, to the notion of ‘Jockistan’ and a new deluge of anti-Scottish cartoons and imagery.
The culture war was clearly against what you could call (they did) The Unbrits.
But if you are feeling for a moment self-superior, if you are feeling for even a second that Scottish society is inculcated with values and an ethos far removed from all this, it’s worth noting the recent reaction to Young Fathers recent performance from the Scottish Portrait Gallery.
The piece combines poetry, music, movement and a searing social commentary on power and race. With music & concept by Edinburgh-based Mercury winners Young Fathers it is spoken by the bands Alloysious Massaquoi. It’s intense, moving, evocative and surprising, partly because we live in such an unacknowledged monochrome white-privileged culture.
The comments underneath are just a tirade of vile racist violence.
“Behold the enraged ape. Jealous because all his ancestors came up with were sticks and mud huts” says one.
“Absolutely disgusting. A disgrace to Scotland. Everyone involved in this is a dos cunt” says another.
“Black people arent Scottish” and “Wait this man is basically pissing on our heritage and our culture, and not only do we encourage it, we put it up in a fancy Youtube video for everyone to see as if it’s a good thing? Who sat down and thought that making this was a good idea?”
It’s difficult not to think that the ‘contagion’ from Brexit has no border. That the mainstreaming and emboldening of fascist sentiments has been given a shot in the arm and that Scottish society has as many unexplored and unexamined assumptions as its neighbours to confront.
Young Fathers are a creative force working on a different level from anyone else. They are vital assets to Edinburgh and Scotland who should be celebrated and appreciated. No doubt they will go from strength to strength. One thing is certain we need their analysis of privilege and power more than ever in this new madness of Brexit euphoria and chaos.
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