Monday, 20 June 2016

Brexitwatch: how the Leave campaign poisoned the political atmosphere

Nigel Farage is complaining the Leave campaign is being victimised over the murder of Jo Cox.

We do not know who killed Jo Cox or why. Quite properly, that can be decided only by a court of law.

We do know that the Brexit leadership has run a deceitful, inflammatory campaign that has unleashed forces that make violence more likely.

When you tell people: 'we want our country back', that can only mean their country has been stolen or taken from them by someone. (The man accused of Jo Cox's murder said: 'Freedom for Britain' when asked his name.)

When, like Michael Gove, you dismiss any informed voices who disagree with you with the words: 'people in this country have had enough of experts', when you denigrate the same people as 'elites', you paint a picture of a Britain where ordinary folk are being betrayed by a corrupt cabal holding power. (This 'elite', of course, does not include Gove, Boris Johnson, Grayling, Priti Patel, who are all themselves cabinet ministers.)

And when you studiously avoid offering any coherent policies on what you will do if Britain actually leaves the EU, but simply demonise immigration from Europe as the cause of anything anyone dislikes, you unleash what Polly Toynbee described (before Jo Cox's murder) as 'furies' which you cannot control.

Today Stephen Kinnock put it like this: 'There are those who say we must “take our country back”, who castigate those on one side of an argument as an “elite”, in the pay of an establishment, in it for themselves and detached from the real world. Those people have to realise that their aggressive words and dangerous rhetoric have consequences. If you try to light a fuse, you can’t be surprised when it catches.'

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