Mark Collins – Responses to Brexit Referendum at London Review of Books

The pretty progressive and pretty good periodical has quite a round-up of reactions (July 14 issue):

Where are we now?
Responses to the Referendum

David Runciman, Neal Ascherson, James Butler, T.J. Clark, Jonathan Coe, Sionaidh Douglas-Scott, Daniel Finn, Dawn Foster, Jeremy Harding, Colin Kidd, Ross McKibbin, Philippe Marlière, James Meek, Pankaj Mishra, Jan-Werner Müller, Susan Pedersen, J.G.A. Pocock, Nick Richardson, Nicholas Spice, Wolfgang Streeck, Daniel Trilling

Read on.

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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One thought on “Mark Collins – Responses to Brexit Referendum at London Review of Books”

  1. And excerpts from a piece at the LRB June 28:

    “Brexit Blues
    John Lanchester

    Kipling asked a good question: ‘What do they know of England who only England know?’ But there’s a variation which, today, might be more relevant: ‘What do they know of the UK who only London know?’ The answer to both questions turns out to be the same: ‘Not nearly enough.’ England is so small, geographically, that it is easy to forget that it is also surprisingly big. There is no rich country of equivalent size that is more densely populated. The only country which has both more people than England and more people per square kilometre is Bangladesh. What this means, experientially, is that there is a kind of denseness to England and to Englishness; England is both very similar to itself and significantly different when you move ten miles down the road. When my family lived in Norfolk, I could have instantly picked the difference between a Suffolk and a Norfolk accent – I’d have been doing so unconsciously, without thinking about it: that person isn’t from round here. The Suffolk border was about fifteen miles away. I moved to London in early 1987 – when I got a job at the LRB, as it happens – and I don’t miss Norfolk, but I do often think of it…

    To be born in many places in Britain is to suffer an irreversible lifelong defeat – a truncation of opportunity, of education, of access to power, of life expectancy. The people who grow up in these places come from a cultural background which equipped them for reasonably well-paid manual labour, un- and semi- and skilled. Children left school as soon as they could and went to work in the same industries that had employed their parents. The academically able kids used to go to grammar school and be educated into the middle class. All that has now gone, the jobs and the grammar schools, and the vista instead is a landscape where there is often work – there are pockets of unemployment, but in general there’s no shortage of jobs and the labour force participation rate is the highest it has ever been, a full 15 points higher than in the US – but it’s unsatisfying, insecure and low-paid. This new work doesn’t do what the old work did: it doesn’t offer a sense of identity or community or self-worth. The word ‘precarious’ has as its underlying sense ‘depending on the favour of another person’. Somebody can take away the things you have whenever they feel like it. The precariat, as the new class is called, might not know the etymology, but it doesn’t need to: the reality is all too familiar.

    What, over the last few decades, has been the political ‘offer’ to these people? In truth, nothing much…

    …The white working class is correct to feel abandoned: it has been. No political party has anything to offer it except varying levels of benefits. The people in the rich parts of the country pay the taxes which support the poor parts. If I had to pick a single fact which has played no role in political discourse but which sums up the current position of the UK, it would be that most people in the UK receive more from the state, in direct cash transfers and in benefits such as health and education, than they contribute to it. The numbers are eerily similar to the referendum outcome: 48 per cent net contributors, 52 per cent net recipients. It’s a system bitterly resented both by the beneficiaries and by the suppliers of the largesse.​..

    John Lanchester is the author, most recently, of the novel Capital and the non-fiction How to Speak Money.”
    http://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n15/john-lanchester/brexit-blues

    Mark Collins

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