Many of us have come to accept that the EU Referendum is about England, its England’s Referendum in virtually every way but I have started to think that it is not about the EU in most ways at all.
I have been watching some of the coverage of reporters going around England talking to a wide variety of people. Now while the fear of immigration and movement into England comes up very frequently, I tend to find it is not about the people themselves, it is about the fear that they might just work for fewer wages and therefore be employed by companies wishing to pay fewer wages.
When you consider the stats, people in the bottom 10% in the UK have an average net income of £8,468 per year but the top 10% an average net income of £79,042. Inequality is even higher when you look at original income which for the bottom 10% is just £3,738 and the top 10% £102,366, 27 times larger than those at the bottom. In the UK the top 10% of people own 45% of the wealth but the bottom 10% only own 8.7% of the wealth. The UK is the 6th most unequal country in the OECD and the 3rd most unequal country in the EU.
So when more and more people come into the UK, and in particular England, and if those people searching for a better life are willing to work for less than people can afford to here then frustration and resentment occurs. Are the English racist! Of course not, there are racists in every part of the UK, but I do think that many in England are afraid. People in England are afraid about their jobs, they are afraid about housing provision, about access to health services and to schools, they are afraid, that doesn’t make them racist or even anti EU.
When you add in the things that we have blogged about in the past regarding the Conservative agenda which is about punishing the poor while making the rich richer, about the increasingly subtle agenda of the privatisation of public services and the erosion of workers’ rights and union rights, the plan to withdraw from the European Convention of Human Rights while blaming the EU and the people themselves who express their fears.
But there does come a point when you have driven down living standards, when you have eroded the dignity and self-respect of people, and overseen the destruction of the economies of local communities all over the UK that people will start to fight back, and in this case the EU referendum is being seen by many in England as a way to do that. Even if it means hurting themselves even more, this referendum is about giving certain Tories and certain elitist bosses, the bankers and the establishment a kicking.
The fears that many working class people in England have are as valid as any, like I said I don’t believe that English people are racist, I don’t. Just look at the wide diversity of communities voting leave and you see this issue crosses cultural boundaries. While this may also be about the civil war within the Conservative party, are ordinary voters thinking about that, I doubt it. The failure here is the failure of the politicians to improve our standard of living, while they have looked after themselves and their friends too many of us have fallen behind.
The concerns that many people have are about the things I have described above and it does come down to,
When You Have Nothing, You Have Nothing to Lose.