Those on the liberal left have always prided themselves on being more caring and compassionate than conservatives. People on the right, they insist, are narrow-minded and selfish, beholden to vested interests. They only care about money and themselves. They are bad people.
This is one of the most persistent myths of modern times. I’ve never believed it. Selfishness transcends politics. Those on the left are just as given as conservatives to self-interest, bigotry and dislike of people different to themselves. And, my word, over the past couple of weeks, following Britain’s vote to leave the UK, haven’t we seen just how. The illusion of the liberal-left’s inherent and exclusive capacity for compassion has truly been exploded.
Consider the recent March for Europe in London, to demand that the will of the people be revoked and that corporate-backed oligarchy be restored. Rich, metropolitan types have shamelessly complained about the result because their holidays in Europe will henceforth become more expensive. They fear for their second homes in Tuscany and the south of France. People have been saying this openly. The burghers of north London fear they might no longer get dirt-cheap nannies and au pairs from Eastern Europe. They fret about the staff on the sainted NHS, staff trained at the expense of poorer countries who we in the UK have since hired on the cheap. Corporate types fear for the future of immigrant workers, those magnificently exploited souls who live six to a room on three-month contracts being paid a minimum wage or less. Such outrageous displays of greed haven’t been witnessed since the heady days of Thatcherism.
Consider, too, the ceaseless insults hurled at the stupid, poor white people who voted to leave the EU. These are folk who struggle to maintain a first home, let alone a second – people who can barely afford to go on holiday at all. These are the fishermen, from Aberdeen to Hull to Ramsgate to Hastings to Cornwall, whose livelihoods have been devastated by the EU – the same fishermen taunted by Bob Geldof and his champagne-swilling chums. These are the people living in Peterborough and Boston who can’t get doctor’s appointments or find school places for their children because hospitals and schools are overwhelmed.
These are people whose small businesses have been ruined by Operation Stack in Kent, whereby lorries clog up the roads for miles, the result of Schengen Area free movement that has led to the mayhem in Calais. Consider those people in Wales who faced the daily, humiliating reminder that their economy was dependent on hand-outs from the EU. Consider, too, all these English people in Dover and Folkestone who know Poles and Latvians, not as cheap domestic staff but as neighbours, parents of their children’s schoolfriends, as equals. All these people slandered as vermin and racists.