Richter Scale, Global Bite

The Jingoism of British Conservatives

Leading UK conservatives act as if they know everything. But they know little about the world outside

Takeaways


  • British conservatives tuned out on Europe, then complained Germany’s “dominance” justified Brexit.
  • #Brexit removed UK as EU’s “offshore balancer” – one of the most stunning acts of isolationism in our time.
  • Many UK tabloid owners are foreigners or #PanamaPapers type domestic tax avoiders.
  • David Cameron not only conceived of the #Brexit referendum idea but let jingoism out of the bottle.

The UK was a pivotal player in European affairs. In keeping with its favorite historic role as the “offshore balancer,” it has served as a somewhat distant, but effective member of the EU until now.

Abandoning its historical role

That the UK would effectively remove itself from that vital role via the Brexit vote is one of the most stunning acts of isolationism in our time.

That Britain’s conservatives were the ones to bring this move about is even more stunning, considering that they are usually the ones to preserve — not wreck — deeply engrained national traditions.

To add madness to all this short-sightedness, British conservatives also argued that an important reason for puling up the drawbridge and removing their country from the continent’s politics was Germany’s “dominance” in European affairs.

That is the height of folly and irrationality. After all, Brexit makes this scenario much more probable.

UK conservatives: Jingoism rules

This turn of events should not come as a surprise in a political camp that increasingly panders to jingoism.

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That is a deliberate choice on the part of the Tories. By playing to anti-foreigner sentiments, they expand their voting pool.

Most leading conservative politicians in the UK also hold a world view where the UK is plainly superior to all other cultures. They act as if they are there to judge everything and everybody, while really being not knowledgeable about the rest of the world. No language skills, no first-hand insights.

Tabloids as enforcers of anti-foreigner mindsets

Perhaps the most important factor the Tories are utilizing is the bosses of British media empires. They are calling on their journalistic brigades to whip the British people into an anti-foreigner frenzy.

The peculiar irony in this curious display of media power? Most of the owners of the mass circulation tabloid newspapers are either foreigners themselves – or, equally apropos in Panama Papers times, they do not pay taxes in Britain.

Rupert Murdoch owns tabloids like The Sun and the establishment The Times newspaper. The owners of the middle-class’s favorite paper, the Daily Telegraph, live in tax exile, as does Lord Rothermere, the owner of the influential Daily Mail, with 16 million online readers.

Theresa May: A prisoner of dark forces

Theresa May, the new Prime Minister, is a prisoner of these forces, no matter how reasonable and rational she may want to act.

It was David Cameron who not only conceived of the Brexit referendum idea but who, like the sorcerer’s apprentice, let the jingoism out of the bottle.

Theresa May may try to become the master of these dark forces. However, no amount of lofty rhetoric about independence will heal the deep level of resentment that sears British society.

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About Stephan Richter

Stephan Richter is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Globalist. [Berlin/Germany]

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