There has been a spate of hate crime following last week’s referendum on Britain’s EU membership. As a result, some have suggested that those in the Vote Leave campaign make some effort to calm their supporters and pass adverse comment on any such behaviour. Sadly, the best they can do is an apologia in the Telegraph from the loathsome Toby Young, in which he lets it be known that it is nothing to do with him.
More less than totally grown-up politics from Tobes
Under the title “A vote to leave the European Union wasn’t a vote to repatriate immigrants”, Tobes tells of his reaction to actual hate crimes: “At first, I treated these stories with a degree of scepticism. They seemed to be part of a narrative that characterised those who’d voted for Brexit as knuckle-dragging troglodytes … These reports of racist incidents struck me as just one more example of the Remainers gleefully holding up ‘proof’ that all their apocalyptic doom-mongering had come true”. Most revealing.
Thus his detachment from reality. But then comes a moment of rare candour: “One reason I didn’t want to believe this was happening is that for the past three months, when I’ve been energetically campaigning for Leave, I’ve dismissed accusations of racism and xenophobia as ‘smears’”. Then there was an attack on the Polish Centre in West London, which happens to be opposite the West London Free School.
But this was all too brief a brush with reality, because then he was away with the fairies: “I hesitate to say ‘shame’, because I still don’t think the Vote Leave campaign was guilty of racism or xenophobia. The emphasis wasn’t on leaving Europe, so much as joining the rest of the world. The leaders of the campaign were always anxious to stress that they embraced Britain’s diverse, multi-ethnic character”.
Empty and meaningless phrases: “Joining the rest of the world”. It gets worse. “For many of us on the Leave side, it was always a more progressive cause than it was a conservative one, wanting to restore the British people’s hard-won democratic rights”. Not heard of the Human Rights Act, then, Tobes? We already have those, thanks.
But let me put Tobes straight. It was Vote Leave that put out the infamous leaflet saying Turkey was going to join the EU. It was Vote Leave that put out that map with Turkey in red and its population alongside, with the clear inference that this would be the cause of more immigration. It was Vote Leave that chose to also put Syria and Iraq on that map. It was Vote Leave that told (wrongly) that we had paid £1 billion for Turkey to join the EU.
It was Vote Leave that persistently and deliberately scratched the racist itch. Turkey was joining the EU. Turkey was next to Syria and Iraq. Nudge nudge, wink wink, scary brown Muslims, know what I mean? It was Vote Leave that chose to make the campaign all about migration. There was sweet Jack Shit that was “progressive” about that. It was full-throated promotion of xenophobia. And the people doing it knew what would happen.
So when Tobes concludes with his Pilate-like washing of the hands, telling “If the genie is out of the bottle, then it’s up to us to put it back in again”, he is - not for the first time - full of crap. The whole point about the genie being out of the bottle is that you can’t put it back in again. Vote Leave have caused this mess. And now they’re just walking away.
Toby Young is a total and utter disgrace. No change there, then.