By MICHAEL BLACKBURN.
IN THE UNITED STATES Trump has his Deplorables (all cosy in a basket). Here in the UK we now have the Brexit equivalents: the Stupids. We don’t get our own basket. I don’t know what we get: a fish and chip shop, maybe. A saloon bar, if there were any left. A 1950s living room in some museum?
That’s us Brits, though, according to Lord Kerr of Kinlochard (that’s Kerr as in Cur, by the way, not as in Car). In a debate at the Institute for Government he said it’s only immigration that keeps the country running, and that “We native Brits are so bloody stupid that we need an injection of intelligent people, young people from outside who come in and wake us up from time to time.”
It was nice of him to use the regal “we” as if he somehow shared in the collective guilt though it’s clear he doesn’t consider himself one of the unlettered oiks who failed the intelligence test of the EU referendum. When he says “we” he means “you”, of course. So bloody British.
Kerr is a Europhile, which almost goes without saying, a career diplomat deeply committed to the European project, a former Private Secretary, Ambassador to the United States and to the European Union, now retired to the pastures of directorships in the private sector (Scottish American Investment Trust, Scottish Power, etc). An Establishment mandarin to the core. We shouldn’t be surprised at his loyalties, then.
Like so many on the remain side Lord Kerr looks at events from a purely economic perspective. It briefly occurs to him that there may be some other motives at work in the referendum outcome when he asks “what is this nativist thing, this nationalism thing?” but then ignores it because he doesn’t want to engage with it. Nativism? Nationalism? Too ghastly to contemplate.
TO HIM, PEOPLE are just economic units. The country is no more than a large aggregation of such economic mechanicals. Politics is about managing and controlling that aggregation, irrespective of the wishes of the people. He makes his anti-democratic views plain, rejecting the notion that the government should make policy to fit the desires of the majority. Far better for the government to make the policies it wants then create the majority to back them. That’s what he calls “evidence-based policy”. It make you wonder why they bother having an electorate at all.
You can see why the outcome of the referendum is such an annoyance to the Europhiles and mandarins. It’s the triumph of the gullible, the uneducated, the ill-informed. Look at how they were misled, Kerr says, about immigration (repeating one of the numerous cliches of the remain side) — some of the areas with the largest vote to leave were those with the smallest amount of immigration!
But that’s what happens when you “outsource the xenophobia and the racism” of the great unwashed to the hands of Farage and his gang. Kerr says “zeenophobia”, which irritates me just a tad, as if I weren’t irritated enough already. In the lordly view of the philosopher kings who should be ruling us unconstrained by our grubby, politically incorrect ideals and desires, there’s no place for any kind of non-economic motivations, least of all those inspired by love of country. How can you trust simpletons to vote the right way if they’re going to be hoodwinked by a bus with a slogan on its side?
When I first heard of Kerr’s comments I was mildly amused. When I listened to the debate I was amused and annoyed. Now I’ve had time to mull it over I’m just annoyed. If you wanted a clearer example of the arrogance and superciliousness of the Establishment in matters of democracy, just observe the good Lord at work. His manner is effortlessly and efficiently reasonable (reminds me of the awful Chomsky) but the content and intent are authoritarian.
We’re used to all the regular epithets being thrown at us. We’re used to being called racist and zeenophobic. Why not call us bloody stupid as well? We don’t care. We are the Stupids. This is our country and the country is ours. A country of Stupids. Find a policy to fit around that, Your Lordship.
Currente Calamo columnist, poet, writer and lecturer Michael Blackburn lives in Lincolnshire . From 2005–2008 he was the Royal Literary Fund fellow at the University of Lincoln where he now teaches English Literature and Creative Writing. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications and anthologies over the years, including Being Alive (Bloodaxe) and Something Happens, Sometimes Here (Five Leaves Press). His most recent collection is Spyglass Over The Lagoon. A selection of his Fortnightly Currente Calamo columns, Sucks To Your Revolution: Annoying The Politically Correct (US), is available as a Kindle ebook.