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.

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