There is much to dislike about the Lib Dems’ stance on Brexit, which is to overturn the vote through another referendum – a very European solution to the problem of voters not doing as their betters expect.
This is one reason not to support the yellows, who have fallen greatly since Nick Clegg led them into coalition in 2010. Another comes with the recent comments from the new leader Vince Cable on race and Brexit.
Speaking at the Lib Dems’ spring conference, Cable said too many older voters were driven to vote to leave the EU by ‘nostalgia for a world where passports were blue, faces were white and the map was coloured imperial pink.’
He also attacked his own party for being too white. ‘Looking around the auditorium, we are very, very white. We must prioritise making our party more ethnically diverse.’
Having attended a few Lib Dem events, including the 2015 leadership hustings in London, I can confirm the party is rather pasty. But progs’ obsession with making all institutions more colourful strikes me as unhelpful, and more likely to stir rancour than settle it.
Having read a lot on the progressive view of privilege, I understand their dismissive asides about white people in general, and ‘pale, stale males’ in particular. But such speech increasingly has the tang of a racist slur, and would already be denounced as such if directed to any other group.
Many who follow or work in politics are probably comfortable putting white people down in this way, and most who avoid politics outside of election season will barely be aware that Cable exists.
But this constant carping about whiteness is bound to filter through to the outside world, including the white UK population which is 86 percent of the total, according to the last census in 2011. And I doubt it will sound good to the layman.
Any white person listening to Cable or like-minded publications could easily come away thinking they are surplus to requirements these days. India Knight, a journalist for The Times, even put it explicitly once:
‘The march of diversity is inexorable, and it will eventually trample everything in its wake – neo-Nazis, peculiar presidents, hateful online bilge, the lot. At some point in the future, everyone will have mixed blood, and that is that.’
Actually, everybody already has ‘mixed blood’, assuming Knight is referring to DNA drawn from more than one region of the world. Even Cable’s pasty followers are unlikely to be 100 percent Northern European, much like my podcasting colleague Jazza John.
But even if Knight weren’t mistaken on the science, the political strategy of constantly complaining about whiteness, especially for those who do not buy into multiculturalism, seems foolish, if not immoral. What the sociologist David Goodhart dubs the ‘somewheres’ – those rooted to a place – deserve to be politically represented as much as their counterparts, the ‘anywheres’.
Elsewhere in his speech Cable said: ‘Allied to the poisonous rhetoric about “traitors” and “saboteurs”, and what Theresa May calls “citizens of nowhere” we have a toxic brew which fuels the populist right.’
Many others have criticised the use of the word ‘traitors’. But if an MP seeks to disenfranchise the biggest voting bloc in the UK’s voting history, that is plainly a betrayal of principle, whatever the voters’ race, age or attitude to foreigners.
The ease with which some metropolitan liberals dismiss more than half of those who voted in the EU referendum shows that voters were right to think our rulers often view us with contempt.
The Liberal Democrats, once an outsider party, increasingly look like they want to seal that contempt in government, in unflattering contrast to prime minister Theresa May’s reluctant commitment to carrying out voters’ wish to leave the EU.
The Lib Dems’ reward for this is polling numbers in single digit percentages. One can only hope it continues until they reverse their undemocratic course, and that Cable never holds public office again.