I have a strict rule never to respond to anyone with #FBPE (Follow Back Pro-EU, apparently) in their Twitter ID. Declaring yourself FBPE is a warning sign you may have have lost the plot and are about to disappear down a rabbit hole of anti-Brexit sanctimony and sweary anger. Sorry, it’s a strict rule.
But on social media you cannot help seeing FBPE from time to time, and Mark Wallace of Conservative Home stumbled across a marvellous conversation between two FBPE people today that deserves highlighting because it captures perfectly the illiberalism and social attitudes of the most extreme campaigners against implementing the result of the 2016 referendum.
A TV repairman (you don’t see many of these post-1986) goes into the house of a FBPE person and a conversation ensues.
Bakehouse Cottage #FBPE (that’s @Bakehouse2016 – Helen Holdsworth. EU citizen. Political Theorist. Without the NHS we’ll all be dead but #Brexit will kill the NHS) welcomes him with some anti-Brexit chat, as you do if you are FBPE person.
“Enter my house a Brexiteer & leave a Remainer. Today the TV repair man. “Nobody explained any of that before the referendum,” he exclaimed as I explained Customs, economy, how the EU works, etc. “You’re who I want as Prime Minister,” declared my newest Remainer. (TV now working)”
Several observations. The TV repairman is obviously highly skilled at dealing with excitable middle class customers and humouring them. He sounds as though he is trying to get the TV fixed with minimum fuss and then get away quickly.
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In response, David Woodhouse #FBPE (that’s @dwmw2
Kernel hacker. Known to occasionally promote an attitude of violence towards complete morons) responds. He is unconvinced that Brexit voters can be spoken to.
“Hm, now there’s an idea. I took the alternative approach: I’m not employing you to work in my house if you seem to be a Brexiteer.”
Blacklisting Brexit-voting workers or people who “seem” to be Brexiteers? Nice liberal.
Bakehouse Cottage #FBPE think it is at least worth trying to change attitudes.
“But if we don’t talk to Brexiteers we have no chance of converting them to Remain. Take the view that their skills are different from yours & mine. I can’t repair TVs or fit carpets or rehang doors. And they don’t understand the EU until it is explained with examples.”
They don’t understand the EU? Oh yes, they understand it fine. Which is why we’re leaving the EU. Incidentally, I can’t fit carpets or rehang doors, but I still voted for Brexit.
David Woodhouse #FBPE presses on: “I do understand that point, and I do occasionally try. But really I’m not very good at it. I’m mostly just angry. It’s *OK* not to understand, truly it is. We shouldn’t hate people just because they are hard of understanding. But there is a line to be drawn, after which a sufficiently advanced level of incompetence is indistinguishable from malice. Put another way…”
Some serious swearing then follows.
I love the TV repairman in this story. #JeSuisTVrepairman. In telling Bakehouse Cottage #FBPE that she should be Prime Minister it seems, let’s be frank, highly likely that he is taking the piss.
What saddens me about all this is that the referendum bitterness has created yet another new version of our oldest sport, that is British class warfare. It’s been building for a while, this new cultural civil war. The middle class bubble has got bigger since the 1990s, thanks to the increase in the number of people going to university and hearing the standard-issue arrogant and self-satisfied line on politics. But this has created a new demarcation line. Those who didn’t go and waste their time at university because they wanted to get on and get a job instead now find themselves sneered at and patronised by people who otherwise call themselves liberals and progressives.
What amuses me about all this is that there may be a hilarious electoral postscript in the decades to come. Those being sneered at have the vote. And smug middle class liberal/lefties may be stunned, repeatedly, by the results of elections when the patronised decline to do as they are told.