When you don’t understand the question

In the run up to Christmas I went to quite a few parties and social events. I do not mention this to boast about my social life, but because I ran into quite a few Remainers – some were old acquaintances I had not seen for a while, others were new to me. It was an illuminating experience.

Most of them were friendly – one was not, but then I never liked her very much anyway – and the majority accepted that they had lost. Quite a few had voted Remain only because they had been influenced by the speeches by the great and the good, others because they liked going on holiday to Europe, some because they backed the status quo. They had moved on and accepted that Brexit would happen. A few had voted Remain simply because most of the people they knew were voting Remain.

But the ones I found most interesting to talk to were those who had been vociferous Remainers and still believed that Britain should remain in the EU. And especially entertaining were those who did not know that I had spent the campaign working as Campaigns Manager for Better Off Out.

The conversations often revolved around the fact that Leave voters “believed lies”, or rather less politely “were ignorant” or “stupid”. We’ve all heard these unpleasant slanders, but I took the opportunity to probe further. What seemed to be behind these comments were that the Remainers I was talking to felt that the Leave voters had not understood the question posed in the Referendum.

These folks were keen to talk to me about the “real issues” at stake. Each person had their own take on these, but they tended to be variations on the economic issue. They were concerned with trade with the EU. A few of them actually worked for companies that did business in the EU, but most did not. They seem to have bought the line that you need to be in the EU to trade with the EU. They were worried about the economy or jobs. Despite the lack of any economic downturn since 23 June, they were convinced that disaster would strike soon. They felt that leaving the EU was economic suicide. People who voted to leave had, apparently, not understood the economic issues at stake.

They were keen to tell me that the Brexiteers had not understood the question.

But actually, it was my party-going friends who had not understood. The ballot paper asked us if we wanted Britain to be a member of the European Union. It did not ask us if we want to buy cars from Germany, nor if we wanted to sell pizza to Italy (I jest not, I know one company that does).

Of course, trade with the EU will be affected by the terms of whatever trade deal emerges from talks with the EU. But for me at least such issues were unimportant.

Essentially the question on the ballot paper was a constitutional one. Should the UK be an independent sovereign country or a member state of the European Union?

When a Remainer says that Leavers were “ignorant” or “stupid” or “did not understand”, what they really mean is that the leavers did not agree that economics were of prime concern. They are concerned about the money, the cash, the lucre. Not that they would ever admit to anything so vulgar, of course. They talk about the economy, the jobs, the exports, but their concerns always boil down to money.

And money was not on the ballot paper. Freedom and independence was.

Next time a Remainer tells you that Leavers were “stupid”, you know who is really showing their ignorance.

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Rupert Matthews

Rupert Matthews

Rupert Matthews is a freelance writer and historian. During the recent EU Referendum campaign he served as Campaign Manager for Better Off Out and spoke at meetings from Penzance to Aberdeen, Belfast to Dover. Rupert has written over 100 books on history, cryptozoology and related subjects. He has served as a councillor for 8 years and has stood for both the Westminster and European Parliaments. You can follow Rupert on Twitter at @HistoryRupert or on Facebook as rupert.matthews1.

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3 comments

  1. Ian HolmesReply

    I find it truly amazing that in today’s PC world, TV celebrities and what passes for comedians, which are people who tell jokes for a living, or as today’s self centred TV elite tend to do, which is to give us a running – sometimes funny – commentary of the foibles of life, but mostly centering around the stupidity of anybody who does not think like them.
    They aren’t allowed to discriminate against ethnic minorities, be anti-Semitic, can’t slag off the Irish, Welsh, Scottish, gays, or anybody who thinks they are a minority therefore the victim of discrimination or any slight that might show them in a bad light, even though some of them do their damndest to attract such vitriolic comments.
    Yet strangely enough, they are free to victimise 52% of the British population by accusing them of being ‘thick’, ‘stupid’, ‘intellectually flawed’, ‘racist’ even, ‘bigoted’, and for the TV celebrity of all shapes and sizes, on this 52% of the population, it’s open season to discriminate in such a bigoted fashion.
    These people are paid to perform, like seals in a zoo, to entertain the public, to make us laugh, not to give us the benefit of their often biased, often ignorant and bigoted (Bob Geldorf springs to mind) opinion, not to hector us from the TV sofa as yesterdays people like Eddie Izzard does at every opportunity afforded him, nor for the very pro-eu BBC to use every opportunity to ram home the message that the 52% only voted to leave, because they were ill informed, and too stupid to understand the simplest of ‘in or out’ questions on a ballot paper.
    Every man and his (or her) activist dog will gleefully stand up and be angry on behalf of somebody else, especially if they are a perceived minority, but who will stand up for us, the silent 52% majority, who are being verbally attacked every single day inside our own homes from the object most of us can’t live without nowadays, the TV, and notably from people who have mostly been university educated (at the taxpayers expense), are totally self centred, often treating their fans and the general public with haughty disdain, and enjoy a very good living courtesy of the BBC, a state funded organisation, which is riddled with pro-eu activists and performers, and like communism, really has no place in today’s world.

  2. Gordon WebsterReply

    In the words of Socrates – “when debate is lost, insult becomes the tool of the loser.” I agree Rupert, and find that it is the remainers I debate online with who understand nothing, and who have swallowed Project Fear ‘hook line and sinker’. Some I suspect are in business selling to Europe, or are perhaps gaining mirage gains from using cheap immigrant labour, but the rest seem to wallow in the “wisdom of their own conceit,” – John Stuart Mill. Unlike Leave Voters they have not sought to challenge the Scare Stories or look at who controls and backs those making the allegations, so they have no answers when probed or questioned closely.
    The more and more you look at the EU, the more you accept that it was an American Project, guided by money channelled through the CIA. It uses CIA Manual “Colour Revolution,” tactics of buying up and programming the gullible and easily led, then programming them to make noises loud enough to scare Main Stream Media into sensationalising.
    To date they are winning, when you look at the money being poured into people like Ms Miller, and others, to provide a smokescreen for Mrs May to get away with doing nothing. We should never forget that Mrs may in her speech to the City, was alleged to say that “liberal globalism must be protected.” It ain’t over yet, not by a long chalk.

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