Post-fact Britain

I was in the graduating class of 2000 with 99 other students representing more than one hundred countries. As an individual I already have three nationalities and four identities. I am British, Italian, Polish and a foreigner living near Geneva, Switzerland. As a result of this mixture I said, when I was in Tanzania in 1999 that I was European because that was the simplest way to describe my identity. When I first heard about the Brexit Referendum months ago I thought that this was so stupid that I thought it was not a serious project. It did become a serious thing, especially in a post-fact Britain.

Because these narratives typically involve a selective use of facts and lenient dealings with matters of truth, they have given rise to symptoms of a post-factual democracy. A democracy is in a post-factual state when truth and evidence are replaced by robust narratives, opportune political agendas, and impracticable political promises to maximize voter support. source

For months I saw that The Guardian and other newspapers were heavily critical of the European Union. You couldn’t read an article from their website without getting the feeling that Europe was a terrible place. This bias, this message encouraged me to switch to French language media to get a less biased, less anti-European narrative. The Guardian is relatively open compared to the British tabloid press. The British tabloid press lied and misled its readership. Twice The Sun lied about the Queen supporting Brexit. Twice it suffered no consequences.

It is well known that Murdoch is anti-European. Few men have done more to fuel anti-European frenzy than the Australian-American media tycoon Rupert Murdoch, owner of several newspapers and the UK’s most important private television news channel. In his book How Britain Will Leave Europe, former Minister for Europe Denis MacShane describes how former Prime Minister Tony Blair considered holding a referendum on adopting the euro, only to renounce the plan for fear that the “shadowy figure of Rupert Murdoch” would use his media empire to campaign against it. Source

When you control the media it is easy to push your agenda forward. Conspiracy theories are always about how our privacy is being invaded and about how our phone conversations, e-mails and other communications but few of them address the problems of indoctrination or brainwashing. They rarely look at the message that we are being given on a daily message. We have to ask “What is the root message that we are getting?” In the United Kingdom the root message was “Europe is bad”. Imagine if the BBC, The Guardian and other news sources had provided both sides.

The website notes that as an EU tier 1 area, “companies can benefit from the highest level of grant aid in the UK”. Earlier this year the sports car company TVR announced it would build a factory and create 150 jobs there. Will it still come? Will the Circuit of Wales, a multimillion-pound motor racing circuit a private company has been proposing to build on the town’s outskirts creating 6,000 jobs? Will the £1.8bn of EU cash promised to Wales for projects until 2020 still arrive? source

Imagine if the Fourth Estate in the United Kingdom had been used to provide people with clear examples of how the EU was investing in the UK. Imagine if instead of focusing on getting people to vote Leave the British media had provided a complete and unbiased view of the European Union. Wales voted against the EU and yet this article shows that they had a lot to gain by remaining within the EU. Between 2014–2020, Wales will benefit from around £1.8bn European Structural Funds investment. Source . 

In his first public comments since last week’s historic referendum vote, the owner of newspapers including the Times, Sun and Wall Street Journal said leaving the EU was like a “prison break … we’re out”… Source

There was a period when we could read about the imbalance in wealth and investment between Rural England and London. This imbalance was making people uncomfortable and one of the reasons for which the BBC decided to become decentralised was to address this concern. It is interesting that for a number of months the BREXIT campaign has focused all of that dissatisfaction at the EU rather than London. In a 2010 article by the BBC we find this sentence: But even fans of London admit it is too expensive, too dirty and too crowded. And its critics say that it sucks talent, money and opportunities out of the rest of the country. source. Brexit has not resolved this issue. Could this explain why around 7 percent of the British population have emigrated from Great Britain?

According this this article 4.9 million brits emigrated from the United Kingdom to live as migrants in other countries. This figure is from the UN population division. In theory I am British migrant as I live outside the United Kingdom. Brexiters (I will not play their game and call them brexiteers) made such a big song and dance about migrants coming to the UK and yet  British people are the single most mobile population in Europe. In Switzerland you can’t go a day without meeting Brits. Can you imagine the backlash if Europe decided to behave like England did?

I believe that people spent so much time worrying about privacy that they forgot to think about the prominent message in the media. They were groomed to see Europe in a negative light and voted accordingly. By choosing to provide people with the message that they wanted to hear the Leave campaign won. In a Post-fact Britain the checks and balances to hold brexiters to account failed. A campaign was won on lies and instability has resulted. The silver lining for other nations is that pro-european sentiment has risen. They have seen what a farce anti-European movements are.

 

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