How not to react to vile attention-seekers

Yesterday Remoaners became Leave.EU’s unwitting promotional team.

Tom Slater
Topics Brexit Politics UK

The right-wing pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.EU was trending on Twitter yesterday, after it put out another xenophobic poster, this time of Angela Merkel. This particularly subtle little number showed the German chancellor seeming to Sieg Heil, next to a strapline proclaiming ‘We didn’t win two world wars to be pushed around by a Kraut’. It appeared soon after Merkel was reported to have rejected Britain’s Brexit proposals.

It was grim, xenophobic stuff, though a bit tame by the standards of some of Leave.EU’s prior output. During the referendum campaign it often blared about ‘invasions’ of migrants. But many Brexiteers were quick to dismiss its attention-seeking antics. And in fact, yesterday showed that Leave.EU’s target audience is more the Remainer media and political set than it is the supposedly suggestible masses.

Remoaners couldn’t help themselves. They just had to share it and mouth their condemnation, racking up thousands of retweets and pushing the poster to a much wider audience in the process. And their frankly outsized reactions to what was, at the end of the day, a grim poster put about by a non-official Leave campaign group, shows that this was as much about venting spleen at Brexit Britain as it was about Leave.EU.

One prominent broadcast journalist shared it, declaring ‘Britain’s reputation is going to take years to recover’. David Lammy MP penned an apology to Germany and the EU for such ‘xenophobic bile’, while handily posting a screenshot of said xenophobic bile below. Channel 4 News raised it in an entirely separate discussion about the Brexit talks with a German MEP, just to get her reaction.

They were all effectively saying: ‘This is disgusting. This is vile. This. Is. Not. Who. We. Are. But let’s all stare at it anyway.’ It was ridiculous. And it all completely played into Leave.EU’s hands. As The Sunday Times’s Tim Shipman pointed out, the leaders of the campaign group are on record saying they use the outrage of their opponents to spread their message. And though Leave.EU has since apologised (which might be a first), the past 24 hours can’t have been all that bad for it.

So, yesterday, leading Remainers effectively became Leave.EU’s unwitting promotional team, purely because that poster played to their prejudices about Brexit Britain and gave them an excuse to virtue-signal. That poster was vile. But the response to it was pathetic.

Tom Slater is deputy editor at spiked. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Slater_

Picture by: Getty

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Forlorn Dream

24th October 2019 at 1:07 pm

I’ll quote here from a Bird and Fortune sketch…

I don’t like the word xenophobia.
Oh, why?
Well, it suggests an ‘irrational’ hatred of foreigners. It’s also a Greek word and I hate the Greeks.

Lol, that was a time when we still appreciated satire.

A Game

19th October 2019 at 4:38 am

Germany’s recent history is incessantly used to manipulate them into being what Merkel et al want them to be, blindly signing up to anything as a reflex to prove, over and over, they are not THOSE people. Its quite awful to witness.
I actually don’t think Merkel’s schtick evokes Hitler. I think it evokes Soviet East Germany, where she grew up. Most of her actions as a politician show a general contempt for democracy. Her input to EU machinations, reinforces that contempt for democracy. With the right “think”, she sees herself entitled to do anything. Who does that sound like? USSR. The Third Reich didn’t bog themselves down with correct think. Part of their total immorality. They knew they were depraved. Did the Soviets ever think they were depraved? No. They were fighting the good fight. Just like Merkel seems to want to dress up her dictatorial tendencies as.

So Merkel deserves as much flak as anyone wants to send her way. This meme was just a cheap shot in the wrong direction.

Neil McCaughan

10th October 2019 at 6:08 pm

There’s nothing wrong with xenophobia. It’s normal and healthy. Xenophilia is an abnormal behaviour, displayed by those who cannot fit comfortably into their own society, and is especially characteristic of traitors.

Ed Turnbull

10th October 2019 at 12:14 pm

Nope, Spiked are wrong on this one (its writers aren’t always on the side of the angels). The poster is most certainly not ‘vile’ (had it alleged, for example, that Merkel ate Jewish babies for breakfast I’d agree with Tom Slater), but it *is* the following things:

1) funny (it’s *banter*, hardly a rallying call for pogroms); and it’s funny because
2) it’s utterly on point.

We used to have a culture of robust mockery and satire in this country. But now we have a situation where a writer in Spiked (of all publications!) has a fit of the vapours at a cheeky poster poking funny at a foreign power that’s attempting to interfere in our internal political issues. How did it come to this?

Jane 70

10th October 2019 at 11:16 am

@ ANDREW LEONARD: cultural relativism’s chickens are coming home to roost; the truth now seems to be a relative concept as well :

While being significantly mathematically challenged I never thought to see the day when the wokesters would institute their own right on maths curriculum.

And I would just say that men and women are equal but different, and yes, the male IQ distribution curve covers the extreme ends of the spectrum, whereas women’s IQs tend to cluster toward the centre.

Andrew Leonard

10th October 2019 at 12:57 pm

That article is frightening.
In coming years, I think we will have to start asking ourselves these questions:

1. Are we culturally too close and too dependent on the United States?
2. Are institutions that provide free services, like public education, NHS/Medicare, and state broadcasters, not the social bargains we believe them to be?
3. Is truth, or our best approximations to the truth, something we obtain by discovery, or something we actively contribute to? In computer science terms, is truth read-only, or read/write?

The writable status of truth would be considered valid by those who suppose that truth exists to be ‘edited’ for best social affect.
Philosophically, I think this notion has been a long time coming, but as suggested in my previous post, it got a big boost as a result of the reaction to the holocaust.
That is why today, in spite of science suggesting otherwise for many decades, all genders/cultures/populations are regarded as being equal. Its all about tampering with the writable truth, for the best social outcome (or so the theory goes).
If and when reality departs from the egalitarian truth set, we can determine who the villains are (TINA valid explanation).
So I would say that the Western world is now facing a major epistemological crisis, which is making itself felt throughout society.

Ven Oods

9th October 2019 at 11:18 pm

‘I wish you would all stop telling us what we must find offensive or “‘vile” ‘

When I read it, the word ‘vile’ seemed to be describing the reaction of those professing outrage, as in:

“They were all effectively saying: ‘This is disgusting. This is vile. This. Is. Not. Who. We. Are. But let’s all stare at it anyway.’ “

H McLean

9th October 2019 at 10:59 pm

The thing that the Rule Britannia crowd never seem to understand is that while Britain did win those two world wars it was all for naught because in the aftermath and in every way that counts Germany won, and won big. It may be distasteful to blame modern Germans for the sins of their forefathers but it would be naive in the extreme to think they do not seek dominance over Europe in other more nefarious ways, such as the EU.


9th October 2019 at 8:02 pm

Frankly, anybody who thinks that this country can simply be divided into ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’ is an absolute tool, and anybody who uses epithets such as ‘Remoaner’ is an even bigger tool.

Jerry Owen

9th October 2019 at 7:21 pm

We are known for our ‘ black humour ‘ , I can’t see what all the fuss is about . We have far more important things to worry about like .. like well the Earth is on fire, like !

Amin Readh

9th October 2019 at 11:45 pm

And today, Slater, it has given you the chance to mouth off with this stupid attempt. What a tit!

Jerry Owen

10th October 2019 at 7:07 am

And your point is ?

James Knight

9th October 2019 at 5:55 pm

This poster is moronic. Back in the real world, I have heard more second world war references from Remoaners than Brexiters.


9th October 2019 at 8:07 pm

I suggest that ‘Remainers’ are a little less obsessed with Hitler’s Germany and Spitfires than your average ‘Leaver’. In fact, it’s more of a sickness than an obsession.

Jerry Owen

9th October 2019 at 10:00 pm

Can you quantify your assertion?

Andrew Best

9th October 2019 at 5:11 pm

True though?
3 years of being screamed out that we are racist, stupid, etc etc
We have had enough of the upper orders respecting every one but hating us, bring in no deal and get us out of the EU
To quote our Scottish brethren

Jane 70

9th October 2019 at 3:11 pm

Recommended as an incisive, but humorous antidote to all this outrageism: ‘The Great Betrayal’ by Rod Liddle. Terrific account of the ineptitude, snobbery, mendacity and establishment double speak which has brought us to the present impasse.

As to the poster, well in effect we are being pushed around by the usual suspects, and I’m sure our German neighbours won’t be too upset.

Apparently, German industry is heading for recession, so the EU’s powerhouse is starting to look a bit shaky.

Jim Lawrie

9th October 2019 at 6:57 pm

For Remain there’s no mileage in a weak Germany.

I don’t know why didn’t finish the phrase as in “Two World Wars and one World Cup.” In the 80’s the left used to revile working class football fans for singing that, blind to the tongue in cheek nature of football chants. As is the above article.

To the tune of “She’lll be coming round the mountain when she comes”, in order to poke fun at the pomp of the Orange Order and proclaim in what low regard we held them, we used to sing at Parkhead “I’d rather wear a turban than a sash”.

Jane 70

10th October 2019 at 6:19 am

A tale from my years at Heathrow: an Immigration Officer nicknamed Gem gained fame for the following: a German visitor announced to Gem -“ We’ve come to beat you at your national sport,”
Gem replied-“ We’ve beaten you twice at yours!”.

This did the rounds for many years but would now be verboten.

Jerry Owen

9th October 2019 at 7:36 pm

I bought that book about a month ago , I never finished it as events since made it redundant, or rather the extreme events !

Jane 70

10th October 2019 at 6:13 am

Yes I agree, although I have enjoyed it. Rod Liddle on Lady Hale and the arachnid jewellery would be a joy to read.

Andrew Leonard

9th October 2019 at 2:57 pm

“It was grim, xenophobic stuff, though a bit tame by the standards of some of Leave.EU’s prior output.”

Too bad. In fact, I support this.

All strong nations have at least a tinge of racism and “xenophobia” about them. Japan and South Korea fit into this category. These societies are strong, proud, cohesive, united, and generally progressing in the right directions.

In contrast, anti-racist, immigrant loving and locals loathing societies such as the USA and the UK, are weak, apologetic, self-hating, divided, lacking in community spirit, trust, and self-confidence.

What these later type countries share is an extremist form of care culture.
All societies are built on an element of care, but only post-WW2 Western societies take this so far that they are now consuming their own social, judicial, cultural, and political standards.

Margaret Thatcher said that the problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money. That’s not quite true. When you run out of money, for a while you can use the furniture for firewood.

Care culture is ruining the West. It should be confronted, not appeased.

Jane 70

9th October 2019 at 3:22 pm

Merkel has a lot to answer for: her crazy decision to open the borders to all comers without bothering to seek the informed consent of EU member states was in small part responsible for the subsequent eruptions, Brexit being the most significant.
It was one of the reasons why I voted Leave, along with the shameful treatment of Greece and its people.
Your point about care culture is telling: we cannot shoulder the burdens imposed by failing states and dysfunctional corrupt societies riven by extremism, poverty and sectarian strife; why should we?
I would add to care, the predominance of a rights based culture, which seems not accept limits, so the elites inform us that we must adopt a de facto open borders policy, without actually confirming this officially.

Andrew Leonard

10th October 2019 at 3:14 am

Jane, by ‘care culture’, I’m not only referring to the burdens you rightly mention, but also domestic matters, such as the ruination of women’s sport and women’s loss of privacy by having males allowed into public bathrooms/toilets.

Apparently we must care so much that ancient social standards must now be abandoned. I stand against this, and part of my reason for doing so is that, beyond a certain point, care becomes a zero-sum game.

The modus operandi of modern Western culture is; be a part of one or more ‘cared for’ groups, and avoid being a member of a group whose rights and resources become the basis for the emancipation of one or more of the ‘cared for’ groups. Of course, avoiding group membership is impossible when it is based on immutable characteristics. That is the cunning insight of Intersectionality. However, it is important to remember that care culture precedes Intersectionality theory and its practical expression as victim culture. Care culture is the fertile land on which this ideology flourishes.

Jane 70

10th October 2019 at 6:12 am

@ ANDREW LEONARD-(no reply option to your reply).

Quite agree, and this could lead to an essentially nihilistic, anarchic society.
Recently I alluded to this on another thread: what’s to stop this lunacy progressing to demanding a lowering of the age of consent? Children’s autonomy oppressed by adult rules; a ‘hands off ‘ revision of the taboos on incest and bestiality?
No limits, no ‘hierarchies’, no unearned ‘white privilege’.
And the gender free/ fluid encroachment on female sports, public lavatories and prisons is awful; no other word for it.

Andrew Leonard

10th October 2019 at 9:23 am

It’s complicated Jane.
However, it is worth considering what simple assumptions are being played-out.
In the years leading up to the global financial crisis, there was a widely held assumption that median house prices could never fall. Imagine a group of people going to the races, believing that at worst, they would break-even for the day. That would surely change behaviour, drastically.
But know imagine what impact our social assumptions might be having.
Men and women are equal in ability and interests and aptitude, in all respects.
All cultures have equal value, and are morally equal.
All population groups are precisely equal in talents and intelligence.
What then happens when we find that in practice our expectations and observations do not match?
Essentially, the current period is about determining what occurs when our unproven assumptions are put to the test.
What is critical to note, is that these assumptions were in part a reflexive response to the holocaust. They exist in part, to engineer a particular social outcome, not to tell us about the state of the world. Truth and goals are now in conflict, and are fighting for dominance.

Andrew 70 🙂

A Game

19th October 2019 at 4:46 am

A Leonard:
“What these later type countries share is an extremist form of care culture.
All societies are built on an element of care, but only post-WW2 Western societies take this so far that they are now consuming their own social, judicial, cultural, and political standards.”

Well, that sums that up. Quite brilliantly. And its so hideous to have to live in and witness, without the numbing effects of the Kool Aid.

Dominic Straiton

9th October 2019 at 2:53 pm

Britain has been working to prevent French and German hegemony in Europe for four hundred years,because when it happens we are always threatened with invasion.And here we are in 2019 with Germany demanding that a part of Great Britain is annexed because of the “Irish backstop”. I dont think there is anything wrong with being offensive about that.


9th October 2019 at 8:14 pm

That’s true, but I’m not sure the couple of million Irish who died because of your ‘hegemony’ in Ireland in the 1840s would agree that the Brits have behaved less despicably than the French or Germans. You can’t really blame Ireland for being neutral in World War II, can you?

ubi solitudinem faciunt pacem appellant – it’s the English way!

jessica christon

9th October 2019 at 2:39 pm

I wish you would all stop telling us what we must find offensive or “‘vile” – don’t you realise that people can see something is crass without being angered or offended by it?

I haven’t even seen the Merkel poster but the caption has a point, and it’s funny that the same ones in the outrage mob usually don’t have any trouble putting world issues into a historical context (especially where the British Empire can be blamed) but put German dominance of the EU into a historical frame (where part of it is still within living memory, FFS) and suddenly it’s Fawlty Towers. Ridiculous.

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