OK, I admit it. I voted Brexit. And no, I’m not a ‘populist’

Is Brexit the universal pancetta? (Picture: HJ_WEST on Flickr)

Is Brexit the universal pancetta? (Picture: HJ_WEST on Flickr) - Credit: HJ_West Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

I've had enough. This week I was emailed by a friend who suggested Brexit isn't the universal pancetta – I think she meant panacea – that I think it is and I might be 'delighted' by the fact that she had to pay more for her US dollars to go on holiday because I voted with the 'populist' vote.

She was, of course, referring to the fact that I voted Brexit, which I did, there I've said it.

I didn't reply to my friend on the subject, I kept quiet, as if ashamed to have been a Brexiteer. But no longer, I don't know about you but I have had enough, you see, of being called populist.

Populism, according to a quick internet search, means to have support for the concerns of ordinary people – well I'm ordinary and I have my concerns. But I reject the nomenclature; I have had enough, I repeat, of being called populist.

The reason is, it seems to be, that the term, which has been bandied about in recent months with increasing regularity, has taken on somewhat derogatory terms.


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To be populist now means to be unattractively nationalist, to be racist, to be anti-immigration, to be reactionary, to be ignorant, to be uneducated, to be making decisions based on emotion rather than logic, to be anti-establishment and anti-progression.

Populism is now something of which one is accused; it is an insult, a slur.

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And this slide in meaning, means that somehow, because I voted Brexit, I am all of those things. I say it again, I reject the assumptions made within the accusation that I am populist.

In June 2016, I exercised my mandate within a democratic system so why am I a populist and not a democrat? It isn't as if democracy has been affronted, it has been strengthened surely. Liberalism seems only to be liberal as long as you agree with it.

We continue to try to define the times, and history and hindsight will define it better, but to accuse the Brexit movement of being wholly a populist movement misses the point.

The point is that the accepted wisdom of the Economic Liberalism which has held sway across the political divide, largely since the Second World War, has failed to listen, has failed to understand, and by blaming everyone else, is continuing to fail to ask why it is being challenged. Was the instigation of the NHS a populist move? Surely it was, and some of our greatest reforms and progressions have been made through the mandate of populism – where there has been support for the concerns of ordinary people.

I was unable, last summer, to give my mandate to the European Union in its current form. It wasn't an easy decision but I stand by my view that Britain should divorce from the EU. I voted for progress, not for stagnation within a supra-national institution that is insular in outlook, protectionist in stance and undemocratic in process.

However, I suspect what will happen is that Britain will effectively pay for a softer Brexit leaving us members of the EU in almost all but name – by paying for our way out the EU mandarins can say they have punished us sufficiently and our leaders can claim victory by claiming consensus and economic advantage.

Radical change is mitigated, some sort of consensus achieved, and the EU can avoid losing too much face.

Democracy, will therefore, be served, the voice of the British people is heard, the EU pensions and budgets are secured, and Britain can progress, with no shortage of pancetta.

In other news, it seems I hit a nerve last week in my discussion about the importance of manners prompting a number of you to share your thoughts on the subject.

Tony Peek, of Newton Flotman, Andrew Wenley, who didn't give his address, Erika Wilkin, of Holton, Barbara Hopkins, of Lowestoft, Deirdre Gordon, of Stratford St Mary, June Curtis, of Newmarket, and Elizabeth Mooney, of Diss, all put fingertip to keyboard to share their thoughts, and some of their stories about good manners.

It seems we all agree and most of us agreed with Deirdre's view that: 'We need a brexit from the cold, selfish and inconsiderate behaviours that have become to-day's norm. Manners cost nothing but their rewards are limitless.'

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