Welcome to the Old People’s Home, the New UK!
Why are those who voted Leave so convinced of their wisdom, even though it is proving hard to find a robust practical benefit of Brexit?
Because this was not a practical preference at all.
Neither immigration or cultural dilution explain why regions with the least immigrants voted so strongly to Leave. My own view, based on years of experience talking in depth with people across all regions, is that one of the key aspects of adult self-esteem started to wane as the industrial age was eroded by the information age – in real time, beginning in the 1980’s. That aspect was potency, evidenced by being taken seriously, of having a role that made a difference. Being someone that mattered.
This is why May cannot be seen to waver in her determination to enact Brexit. For many Leavers, the harder the better, because only a hard exit will fully validate their conviction. Her speeches renew each day that sense of potency that winning conferred on Leave voters. You can see in the joyful amazement of her re-conditioned Brexit team, Davis, Fox and Johnson a mirror of this recaptured mojo. These faded men suddenly found themselves touring the world’s capitals, talking up Britain to world leaders, charged with negotiating a New UK – in their own image.
They will not easily give this up – and why should they? It has been many years since they mattered. Once, when their industries put heat in our homes, ships on our seas and buildings in our cities, their potency was evident in our physical world. Now much of this work is done by foreigners, if not here then in countries where labour and materials are cheaper. No wonder they want less of them, they have stolen their potency!
Momentarily they are back in the sunlight, so any evidence of flaws in Brexit will be ignored, any objectors will be insulted and ridiculed, any set-backs will be seen as signals that we must Brexit harder, be more alone, be stronger in our resolve. Trying hard is a well-known recipe for managing fear of failure.
The fact that there are moral arguments, that Brexit is based upon notions of superiority which must inevitably prove false (there is no people, race, culture that is better than others), will make not a jot of difference, because the restoration of a sense of potency, of being in the driving seat, of representing the ‘will of the people’ will cap all other debates.
We have re-conditioned people who’s sense of potency was fading, as it must in all of us as we age.
We are heading for an old-people’s home, where people cheer and clap an ethnic nationalism, all of us young and old alike.