What if the leave camp actually had a point? Not about quitting the EU, I hasten to add. Though I believe reform is urgently necessary, I’m still convinced we’re better off in than out. Nor about the downsides of freedom of movement (wage depression in some industries and increased competition for housing and public services), all of which government policy could counteract, and tax revenues from migrant workers would help fund. Certainly, not about £350m-a-week for the NHS or our ability to leave the EU without any sort of economic hit.
But that stuff about smug, out-of-touch metropolitan elites? I can’t help but wonder if there was something in that. It’s easy to scoff when the line is trotted out by MPs, peers and billionaire business magnates, but they’re not really the point. That’s just one faction of the ruling class cynically managing to marshal anti-elite sentiment against those on the other side of the argument. The interesting question is why the accusation landed with the public.
“Sick and tired of sending out cash to the rest of the country so they can whine about London and the immigrants who made it for them,” tweeted Ian Dunt, a broadly left-leaning journalist, yesterday.
Was this sweeping, insulting generalisation intended to parody attacks on migrant workers?…