Opinion: EU vote has created upsurge of intense emotion

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Whatever the long term effects of the decision to leave the EU may be, the more immediate consequence appears to be an upsurge of intense emotion, at least among those who regret the result.

This has expressed itself in various ways. According to Sir Bob Geldof, it has focussed around a sense of betrayal among the young, who feel that their future has somehow been hijacked by elderly and predominantly white people.

For others, there is outrage in the reported increase in racist attacks, ranging from verbal abuse to more violent acts against minority groups.

And again, there are those who think that the choice to leave reflects a deep degree of selfishness, in which people have turned their backs on their European neighbours in favour of a ‘fortress Britain’ mentality, and are concerned only with their own comfort and needs.

What all this emotional outpouring seems to reflect is a widespread incomprehension among those who might legitimately be called the liberal elite about why the nation voted as it did?

Enclosed in what, for want of a better image, could be described as their ‘Islington bubble’, the Guardian-reading left have become radically disconnected from the man in the street and cannot understand why some 17 million ordinary folk did not listen to the experts and choose to stay in what the liberals regard as an enlightened and beneficent EU.

The traditional ‘hard’ left, however, which has never been sympathetic to the capitalist values enshrined in the EU structure, together with a large swathe of the population which has felt disenfranchised by the economics of the free market, are now experiencing a new sense of empowerment as a result of the Referendum.

Even more fundamentally, those who have traditionally occupied leadership roles in politics, the Civil Service and the BBC, and who tend to share a core set of assumptions and values, have begun to discover that the liberal secular state which they have been busily promoting since the end of the Second World War has resulted in at least two major problems.

Firstly, the predominance of the market and its offer of almost limitless choice has extended into the realm of ethics, such that the notion of right and wrong has been subsumed under the criterion of how far behaviour either promotes or frustrates our rights and desires.

Our growing sense of entitlement has eclipsed the idea that certain acts may be wrong in themselves and should be avoided, even at some personal cost.

Secondly, that multiculturalism which the EU elite have held so dear as a sign of growing

tolerance among the rank and file, has in fact led to many people feeling a deep sense of

loss of belonging and a radical alienation from their environment.

Rather than promoting harmony and toleration, the effect of this top down imposition has been to create greater segregation in many communities.

The ideals of freedom and tolerance are rightly promoted in the West, but if they are disconnected from an abiding sense of personal identity and ethics, they can lead to the kind of confusion and anger which we are witnessing now, not just in Britain but in other parts of the western world.