I did not think that a Leave vote would have particularly pretty results but I must admit that I did not expect quite this degree of party political meltdown, legal and administrative cluelessness or, most worryingly, bald, blatant far right triumphalism. No one seems to know quite what the hell is going on or what is going to happen next (not even tomorrow morning, never mind in the coming weeks). However, it is becoming very clear to me just how deep running and comprehensive this political failure is. It could have been otherwise – we are only talking about a few percentage points and polls that until mere weeks ago made this result seem unlikely; however, this is a tipping point that has been trembling for some time and there is a lot of blame to go around.
I do not think that I have any particularly revelatory insights to offer but in the spirit of blogging (and self-therapy), this has been on my mind.
New Labour's total and complete abandonment of working class concerns in the mid-90s has everything to do with this ugly, ugly situation that we're now in (in the UK at least). That smug, elitist, metropolitan condescension and contempt – as Peter Mandelson infamously put it, "they have nowhere else to go" – is perfectly real and very much alive in the academy, too (that prodigious production line of easy, familiar platitudes to which we can all nod with a furious, righteous solemnity). Which is not to say that many millions of people have not been systematically deceived, manipulated, conned – they have – but their consciousness is not "false" and their grievances not altogether imaginary.
That sense of abandonment and victimisation, whether or not it is justified in precisely the way it has become manifested, has been made to resonate violently with the racist and xenophobic resentments that have always lurked and festered there, out of the sight of polite society (add in some Machiavellian Tory opportunists and voilà). That complicity between the merely frustrated and the truly hateful cannot be ignored – a vote for crypto-fascism is a vote for crypto-fascism – but every time we tar everyone with the same brush we are part of the problem.