The worse your town was hit by austerity, the more likely you were to vote for Brexit

Originally published at:


From an ignorant American perspective, the troubles that Greece went through shortly before the Brexit vote seemed to explain Brexit; that the UK had suffered similar problems within living memory and the hurt they inflicted on Greece without remorse would be enough to explain why they wanted out while they were in pretty good shape.

Combined with the austerity measures…

The anti-Brexit people have always marked the pro-Brexit as racist ignorant fools; but one could make a great argument that the downturn of 2008 showed that the EU was not a good organization; and it showed that it was unwilling to function as a real nation. It blocked the financial tools to help Greece and refused to help them.


Right-wing populists have exploited the presence of poorly educated low-status people since at least the 1920s. Give them scapegoats and the promise that the country’s elites will be made as or more miserable than they are and they’ll happily cut off their noses to spite their face.

Related: Charlie Stross wrote a barnburner of a post about what to expect as a no-deal Brexit approaches, now that the “billions extra for the NHS” promised as a dividend on the side of the Leave bus has been replaced by an announcement by the Tories that the government is working to ensure that there will be “adequate food supplies.” Gee, that’s comforting.

It’s a different situation. The UK had a much healthier and stable economy than Greece did and didn’t enter the EU by cooking the nation’s books. Leaving the Euro and defaulting might have spared Greece the EU’s reaction of austerity as panacea but with Brexit the UK has traded the EU’s kneejerk demand for austerity for that of the Tories. This would seem like a pointless exercise until Remainers remind us that Brexit was pushed through by making appeals to what truly are racist ignorant fools.


apropos of nothing


The Brits have dumb hillbillies too…

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Still, totally worth it for the blue passports.
Which will be made in France.


What? People are bad at understanding complex causes-and-effects? Even British people? The deuce you say!

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That was a great episode, although Rob missed what was possibly the most major driver of Naziism: foreign money being funneled into the Weimar Republic to attack their elections and political systems.

Very briefly, the whole hyperinflation thing was completely intentional. The Weimar republic paid off all their war debts in Deutschmarks, exploiting a loophole in the reparations agreement, and as soon as they’d done so they laughed and switched over to the “Rentenmark”, and everything was aces for them. Except for the fact that they’d gone and pissed off some very wealthy, very powerful people that were now left holding literal tons of completely worthless paper.

So as near as I can tell, they decided to try and take over the Weimar Republic politically, and then use that leverage to loot the country for everything it was worth, using some blowhard racist crackpot that they viewed as a useful idiot, name of Adolf something. Anyway, that whole thing kind of got away from them, and it’s notable that most of the records that relate to all of this stuff were (very carefully and thoroughly) destroyed during the fall of the Reich, so a lot of the fuckers got away with it. Very similar to how all the money being laundered through American financial institutions right now and being funneled into our politics is having near-identical effects on our systems as it did on the Weimar Republic’s (except that their system was so exploitable that it happened in only a few years, rather than over decades, but ours is still very exploitable because of first-past-the-post voting forcing a 2-party system, and our imbalance in how our rural versus urban votes count because of the Senate).


Don’t get me wrong… I was saddened by the vote, and was shocked by it. I can’t fathom this.

Greece lied and cheated. Aye. That they did. The pensioners, on the other hand, didn’t. They stole the national parks, they privatized the public utilities and sold them to politically connected cronies from outside Greece. They enriched outsiders with Greek resources in the name of austerity.

And yeah, England was stronger. But they did the same things to her, too. But Rue Britannia; they are strong enough to do something about it. And they are.

Frankly the EU is doomed unless it has a MAJOR change in understanding as to the duties to it’s member states. They should be glad that this is happening with words and not swords.

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The stupidest thing possible, because: racist ignorant fools,

Well, that’s one of the points of the EU: avoiding wars on the Continent started by, well, racist ignorant fools. They’ve had far too many of those.

I do agree that some serious changes have to be made, but a member state that isn’t (yet) an economic basket case ragequitting the whole shebang is not a constructive step in that direction but rather the act of a bunch of (say it with me) racist ignorant fools.


The paper talks about back of the envelope calculations and I just gave myself a headache with a couple of those. Not sure I’m any closer to understanding what happened. My county relies heavily on EU input. Not entirely sure why that should be, but some pretty basic services were, indeed are, supported with cash from EU pots. The county has been hit heavily by austerity and the collapse of industry before that. But we voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU. Not that it matters because the rest of the country voted to leave. Perhaps we can cut ourselves free of the main land and float into the Irish Sea.

The thing about “years of cruel Tory austerity” is that we are only talking about six years prior to the referendum. Which isn’t to dismiss the peculiarity of their approach to balancing the books. George Osborne couldn’t give us libraries but he gave us new Star Wars. On a local level, and there is a trickle down effect in play, Plaid Cymru are no better at balancing those accounts than the Tories. But the memory cheats on how short a period it has really been and when it came to general elections the party that paid for these affronts were the Liberal Democrats, the junior partners in the coalition that followed the collapse of support for Labour under Gordon Brown.

Support for UKIP is a peculiar thing. They have only ever won one Parliamentary election and that candidate found himself on the outside pretty quickly. They do break through in elections that rely on proportional counts but never in the first ranking. As a result in the EU elections, which nobody in the UK really understands anyway, we end up with a caucus that fails to represent our interests in Brussels. They don’t turn up for votes on issues that they will whine loud and strong over five minutes later. In the Welsh Assembly we have a block of defrocked Tories waving the UKIP flag who spend as much time knifing each other in the back as anything else. Again it skews proceedings. This is where protest votes truly backfire on the electorate.

Perhaps this underscores the sad aspect of the Brexit saga. David Cameron didn’t have to call the referendum which has less to do with UKIP influence than tribal squabbles in the Conservative Party. He was bluffed, he folded and ran.

Following the 2010 election, when it felt like everything was falling apart, there was talk of the “new politics”. I’m not sure this was ever defined in a fashion that made sense but nobody had a clear mandate to govern. Even in success they had been rejected. I’m sure many Tories were negligent in ignoring this as they entered into coalition with the Lib Dems. Two elections later, the Conservatives remain the majority party, we’ve got peculiar rumblings from the Far-Left and Far-Right, and it is all a bit messy. These really are the new politics.

Many of the communities damaged by austerity (and Greater London might warrant a study of its own) were damaged before the cuts hit. They most likely reinforced attitudes that were already there. But even before that the EU and what we were doing in it has been a point of suspicion and ignorance on a street level. Ask people if they know who the name of their MP you will most likely get an answer. Can they name their MEP? I can’t (even after looking it up a few months back).

They remember the straight banana story though, the guy on the telly who complains about a legal judgement from the European Court (although they more often than not are supporting a decision already made in a British court using an EU law that was introduced by the UK), the complaints about fishing quotas. Never mind the cheap fags and booze brought in on a day run to Calais.

There is an interesting little film former Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg made for Newsnight. He visited a Swansea suburb, lost in a nostalgia for steel industry jobs, for a return of the certainty of jobs for life, a house a pension, united in their rejection of a system that has not served them well. They voted leave and yet most likely they will be hit hard by the reinvention of the wheel that Brexit now demands of us.


Correct. Insulting voters is a sure fire way of getting them to vote against you.

How the general article is completely wrong. Same as the liberal interpretation of Trump.

Change the question.

Just what has the liberal elite done to people that they think that Brexit or Trump is the solution?

If the elite are right and Trump/Brexit are very bad, then what they imposed is dire. They can’t get their heads around that. For the elite, things are great.

Lots of cheap employees, lots of cheap servants, lots of money being made. Why is that a bad thing they ask?

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Would 30% extra on your take home pay solve your personal austerity?

Would 30% extra on services solve the austerity in state services?

You can’t have it. There’s a 13 trillion pound debt to pay, with interest. That includes all those off the book debts like public sector pensions. Your share is £430,000 plus interest.

30% of taxes go on the debts. That’s why you can’t have that 30%.

The cuts are a direct result of the debts, primarily the pension ponzi.

So lets take an example. A young migrant comes to the UK, with a wife and two kids. Just the sort of migrant you say is good for the UK.

They take on a min wage job, so lets look at the numbers. is £7.83 an hour - highest min wage for London.

Income Tax paid comes to £13.11 a week

Second welfare received.

Entitled too puts their direct payments at £17,363.32 a year.

On top, schooling for the two kids is £7,500 each or £15,000

NHS costs £3,000 year [insurance cost, pensions included]. That’s £12,000 a year

State or common goods, police defense etc, comes in at £2,500 each a year, or £10,000

£54,363.32 in total and that ignores future costs such as pensions for two adults, because they accrued rights.

So the state has sold over £54,000 pounds of other people’s money for £13.11 a week.

Year in year out.

So does any remainer want to take me up on my offer. I’ll pay them £13,11 a week and they pay me £54,000 a year, tax free.

That’s why people voted to leave. They know in the EU they cannot change that. We have to leave to get that under control.

They will take it out on Politician such as May who ignore it.

It’s all about the right of consent. The right to say no to anyone, including the state. The right to say no to being harmed by others.

Hello, again…


Wooden ones everywhere these days, being handed out by right blaggers.


Um… No.

Some pro-Brexit left-wingers might have mentioned Greece in the way you imply during the run-up to the referendum. But I can assure you that (from somebody who was glued to as many media sources as I possibly could during those months) the subject of Greece was not at all significant otherwise.

If anything, the fact that the EU was bailing them out with our money meant that the attitude to Greece’s troubles were a) they’d been going bankrupt every few hundred years since 2000BC b) they’d made not paying tax a national sport, and c) they’d cooked their books to get ridiculous loans and brought it all on themselves (cue racist ramblings about The Continentals etc. etc.)

Yes, I know b) and c) are unfair and probably untrue, but this is Brexit we’re talking about.


People whose towns were devastated by this massive wealth-transfer from the poor to the rich were both willing to accept scapegoating of immigrants,

Yeah, that’s not what happened. Scapegoating immigrants is not a prerequisite to voting for Brexit. The raw population growth enabled by free movement within the EU, combined with devastating austerity (and good old-fashioned mis-management) is making life miserable for the working class throughout the country. People aren’t falling into miserable poverty because they’re racist. The cause is the package of economic policies of the politicians in power. Separating something like EU membership from austerity isn’t usually possible, as you normally just vote in a general election and hope your party gets in, but if one site wants to offer up something that can be taken away from them, then everyone who thinks their life is getting worse is going to do it.

For those who like charts:

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