When reading a Gerry Hassan article the first task always is to get past the pompous pessimism which regards Scotland as inevitably its own worst enemy – bent on disregarding the carping criticism of a left-wing intellectual elite whose fundamental premise is that, whatever the rest of us are doing, we’re doing it all wrong. We saw this most vividly during the first Scottish independence referendum campaign with something that I came to think of as the Hassan-Riddoch syndrome – an incessant bewailing of the asserted fact that the Yes campaign was forever talking to the wrong people, at the wrong time, in the wrong places, in the wrong manner, about the wrong things.
There is much of that same condescendingly nit-picking tone here. The assumption that, absent the expert guidance of those who know better what is best for us, the people of Scotland will make a complete mess of things. Some might consider that this holds troubling echoes of the paternalistic unionism peddled by certain exponents of the Scottish cringe. I couldn’t possibly comment.
Disregarding the irritation of high-minded lecturing about our susceptibility to the folly of “rigged, crony, crooked capitalism”, there is much in this article with which I would have no quibble. But much that is shallow-minded drivel. The analysis of where we find ourselves at this juncture in history is as clear as it might be when dealing with a situation in which absolutely nothing is clear. The observation that “There is no British politics left (beyond Westminster)” is pithy and apposite”. The remarks about the SNP are as prejudiced and ill-informed as I would expect.
But I was pulled up short by the following,
“All or most Leave voters aren’t racists, stupid, uneducated, duped by a duplicitous campaign, or just motivated about immigration.”
Which begs the question, if not that then what? This has all the appearance of an empty platitude. It hints at the vacuous notion that, because everyone is entitled to hold and express and opinion, it follows that all opinions are to be treated as equally valid. Pish! Opinions based on ignorance and prejudice will always be inferior to opinions founded on factual evidence and reasoned argument.
If you are going to claim that Leave voters are not racists, then it is incumbent on you to explain why they responded to a campaign that was openly xenophobic.
If you assert that Leave voters are not “stupid” and “uneducated”, then the onus is on you to explain why they were so easily taken in by the obvious nonsense being spouted by the likes of Farage and Johnson.
If it is your considered conclusion that Leave voters were not “duped by a duplicitous campaign” then you should be prepared to explain what motivated their choice if not the acknowledged lies of the Leave campaign. Who were they listening to if not the ranting Europhobes who have subsequently been shown to have nothing to offer other than their inane rhetoric?
What was it that prompted these people to vote Leave if not the ludicrous vision of Little England isolated from the problems of mass migration while benefiting from international trading arrangements which are, in the truest sense of the word, incredible?
Why the reluctance to come right out and say that Leave voters got it wrong? Why the determination to avoid saying that those who imagined there might be something significant to be gained from quitting the EU were wrong?
Where is the sense in pretending that there was a rational case for voting Leave which validates this choice? If there was such a rational case, why didn’t the Leave campaign deploy it? And, given that they self-evidently didn’t deploy this rational case, what could Leave voters possibly be motivated by other than the irrational case?
In his eagerness not to offend Leave voters, Gerry Hassan instead insults Remain voters by implying that their pragmatic motives were inferior to, and could thus sensibly be outweighed by, the dishonest and entirely emotive appeal of the Brexiteers.
How very dare he!Views: 2857
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