Knowing one's place belongs to the Britain we are leaving behind

Knowing one's place belongs to the Britain we are leaving behind

by Dr Sutherland MacNeill
article from Tuesday 10, December, 2019

OCCASIONALLY IN THE FOG OF WAR for votes a moment of truth arrives. That deep down many remainers are both pro-migration and anti-foreigner. All too often remainers have extolled the benefits of the economic contribution migrants make to the UK, disregarding any balanced debate as being impolite. Then the Prime Minister makes a contribution to the debate.

When Britain had an Empire we were also extremely pro-foreign labour whilst not being quite so pro-foreign, or pro-native as it then was. We made great use of the Coolie, the affable local who could pull a cart, wash your clothes and above all else, knew his place was below everyone else.

There was a time when leavers and the working class knew their place too. Then in 2016 we decided we had rather had enough of our place and wanted a bit more: control over our own destiny and taking ownership of the country we live in. That is what Brexit means.

Instead of economics, Leavers placed greater belief in values. When material wealth is lacking, other wealths make up for it. Wealth of spirit, esteem, community, culture, history and society. Conservatives used to value these things too. Small c conservatives still do.

It is perfectly reasonable to complain about the number of migrants in the UK if you have issues with migration. If you worry about the burden of numbers, the change and disintegration of demos, a shortage of schools and maternity services when the taxes of cheap labour cannot possibly pay for the welfare state of an advanced economy.

It is also perfectly reasonable to be pro-migration if you think that in fact our demos needs to change, to be more open and less constrained by patriarchal traditions, and to empower the world's poor by allowing them to rise within our economy to our own level. I happen to endorse the first position. Many Eurosceptic socialists will happily endorse the second and instead reject the unaccountable and centralised EU as neoliberal and exploitative.

It is NOT remotely acceptable to revert to the colonial attitude of being pro-Coolie and anti-foreigner. It is the attitude that existed in the UK before the Great Reform Acts and Representation of the People's Act. The attitude that valued greatly the economic contribution of the working class and of women but heaven help us all if they try and scurry up the greasy hole behind the rest of us! 

This will not do. Brexit was about a wafer thin majority of the nation, especially of working class women and men, who took back control of our destiny.

It is no one's place in our country anymore – to remind the rest of us of our place.

When Europeans migrate here to work and we let them in on the basis of the right to settle automatically after a qualifying period we accepted them as our own.

We may not like to remember this. Some of us thought it was a short-sighted and bloody-minded optimism that was misplaced. But we are all British and we made a contract with many migrants to come as they are, live as we do and join us. Going back on our implied consent to this is a dangerous first step in accepting an erosion of rights to our own country that we struggled for centuries to achieve – and had to struggle all over again for just a few years ago.

The Empire is gone. The colonies are gone. The colonialists have not. They are looking for another class of Coolies to administer. We mustn’t give their sort an inch.

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