Tweet Checking: Why Piers Morgan is Wrong About Brexit
This column is dedicated to the great speculative fiction author Harlan Ellison, who died last Thursday at the age of 84. Ellison’s works and observations are too numerous to name, but if there is one thing he said that must remain paramount, it was this: “You are not entitled to your opinion. You are entitled to your *informed* opinion. No one is entitled to be ignorant.”
He was a man of vulgar eloquence, as opposed to sudden left-wing Europhile hero Danny Dyer, who is really just vulgar. His rant calling David Cameron a “twat” has been made the viral toast of Twitter, leading to a little embarrassment when people are reminded that Dyer is actually a Leaver.
Is this really the height of discourse now? (Am I even one to talk? This very column is filled with profanities.) I guess we’ll have to remember one of Ellison’s other great ruminations: “The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.”
5. Brexit Central
It’s almost pathetically easy to undermine this one, because all you have to do is click on the link and point out the stats they ignored, such as:
67% of the general public—including 57% of Leave voters—think that the government is handling Brexit badly.
A plurality now consistently hold Leave to have been the wrong decision.
“Only 29% of people think that is it likely that the government will be able to successfully negotiate a deal in time for Britain to leave the EU next year.”
“Only 14% of people think that the government will get the sort of deal it has stated it wants.”
The figures show that the country is deeply divided and that the great majority of people are still very confused and conflicted, especially if we take the stats Brexit Central is promoting and contrast them with the others given.
As for ‘only’ 37% of people wanting a second referendum, that’s a massive leap from the 18% of last October. A majority of voters also believe in remaining in the single market according to the Big Brexit Survey released back in April.
What the colloquial “people” really need is not twists, turns, and spin, but real leadership that is actually willing to point out the short-comings of popular opinion.
4. Katie Hopkins
One must wonder whether Hopkins really is this crazy-stupid, or if she is exploiting the crazy-stupidness of her audience to ever greater heights.
In the choppily edited footage of her “report”, there are indeed Remainers swearing, “Bollocks to Brexit!” to be exact, but she also attempts to contrast it positively with an anti-EU/pro-Tommy Robinson demonstration, many of whom have “Screw EU” signs, which many would consider equally vulgar. But you know, that’s a march; I and anyone else involved in politics should expect it. It’s long been the case. And why is a woman who swears constantly on Twitter (just one example) suddenly making a stand on this?
She complains about marchers pissing—and indeed, there is a shot of a Remainer taking a yellow liberty, but you know what, that’s what happens on long marches: people need to void their bowels. Are none of those anti-EU folk going to drain their Carlings and go and bleed the lizard around the back of a bank?
As to “racially abusing Leavers”, there’s literally none of that in the footage—pure invention.
The biggest caveat is her complaint that she’s “never seen so many white people in one place”—and when she makes that comment in the video, a South Asian woman in the march is walking past.
I dare you, crack a can, and watch her video, it’s a fake news masterpiece—there’s some race-baiting against Muslims theown in for good measure as well (and yes you idiots, I know that “Islam is not a race”, but what else can such vile comments amount to in this climate?).
3. Paul Joseph Watson
You didn’t think it was going to be all Brexit, did you?
Out of a population of 1.1 million, 47,000 is 4.27%. In London, 22%—that’s 1.7 million people—used a main language other than English. Overall 138,000 in 2013 in the UK spoke no English at all—that’s only 0.22% of the population (that also includes Celtic language speakers). Not only is it a non-issue, it seems unlikely to become an issue.
The Birmingham report also gives prescriptions for the future: “Increase take up and provision of ESOL training to support non-English speakers understand and exercise their rights; engage with democratic processes, access services and the city’s economy opportunities.” [p14]
But even then, how does Watson think Brussels survives as a city? Or Bolzano in Tyrol? Or Tel Aviv? Or Birmingham and London themselves? Multilingual cities exist and thrive, as they have throughout history. Ancient Athens, Rome, Jerusalem, Agra…the list goes on.
What gets me though is that Watson still declares himself to be “Anti Alt-Right” while implying the desires of a white separatist…
2. Toby Young
There’s such a clusterturd of bollocks in this one that I’m going to have to bullet point it bit by bit:
When voting rights were historically awarded is irrelevant—what matters is the rights that are now under threat.
The open letter Gina Miller tweets a link to is very precise about what particular rights are under threat from Brexit: “equal pay for work of equal value, parental leave, anti-harassment laws, properly paid holiday rights, working time and important features of our anti-discrimination provisions, including on pregnancy and maternity, have been introduced or substantially developed by the EU.” Surprise surprise, free marketer Young hates all that stuff…
San Marino, Monaco, Andorra, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein—five of the nine countries he cites—are not members of the European Union, so including them makes no sense.
Portugal and Italy were fascist dictatorships before those years. Nobody could vote.
The UK did not allow all women to vote in 1918, only women over thirty—full equalisation did not occur until 1928.
In terms of best places for women to live ranked by U.S. News & World Report, we rank 12th behind Germany (11th), Austria (9th), Finland (6th), Netherlands (4th), Denmark (2nd ), and Sweden (1st)—all prominent members of the EU. Switzerland, not a member but attacked by Young, ranks 7th. (Yes, non-members such as Norway rank 3rd, and members like the Czech Republic rank 23rd, but the picture is more nuanced than Young seemingly makes out. We are not the pinnacle, never have been.)
Remember: this man got into Oxford on BBC grades because his life peer and prominent sociologist dad phoned a tutor up and essentially got a favour. Meritocracy indeed.
1. Piers Morgan
One person elsewhere put it that it was like asking how the human race could have survived before modern medicine.
The UK has been a member of the EEC since 1st January 1973 (and with the Maastricht Treaty, the EU since 1993). That’s 45 years, a long time to be part of transnational economy only to then suddenly leave. A lot of agreements are undermined. Norms become un-normal. Things become racked with uncertainty. Businesses don’t want to invest in a market they no longer may be able to access as easily—if at all—and that goes on both sides of the Channel. Shortages are already apparent. Standard transactions become impossible. Standards themselves become unknowable without clarity. When the rules change the game changes too—and that can have both foreseeable and unforeseeable consequences that bode badly for the country.
Historic example: when the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was ended, it was a net good, but only really for the slaves—the economies of dozens of African nations and tribal hierarchies, dependent on the Trade for centuries, collapsed, leaving them in anarchy and ripe for European colonisation. They simply couldn’t cope with the sudden economic change. To say that before the 16th century they coped perfectly well without European slavers means nothing.
And speaking of colonies, before the 1970s, we still had an empire to exploit—until we didn’t, which is one of the main reasons we joined in the first place.
About the author
Harris Coverley writes the Tweet Checking column for Disclaimer and is constantly looking for readers to help him correct the worst of internet. No stupidity or falsehood is too great a challenge.
He lives in Manchester and holds an MA in Intellectual History from UCL. He also writes short fiction and poetry, the former of which only Disclaimer has had the good sense to publish.
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