Rosie's Brexit Diary
21 December 2018
Yellow vests - class divisions rear their ugly head again in Britain
The Gilets Jaunes riots in France
Here is an informative 6 minute video published on the 20th December: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m7T4CSb8SV4
This is a quote from a factual report in the Daily Telegraph of 8 December:
“There were an estimated 125,000 protesters across France, with 1,385 arrests – a record for a single day in postwar France. More than 700 were detained in Paris alone. At least 135 people were injured, including three police officers. The emblematic Parisian avenue, the Champs-Elysées, was shrouded in tear gas and echoed to the sound of stun grenades as police battled a crowd of more than 1,000, who sang the Marseillaise and chanted “Macron resign”.
Police demolished burning barricades with armoured vehicles, deployed for the first time in the heart of Paris. Officers fired repeated salvoes of tear gas and water cannon to drive back and disperse protesters. But they regrouped and moved on, sometimes returning to confront the police minutes later.”
Despite all the violence in the cities, every report from France says that the mass of the public support the Gilets Jaunes.
Away from the cities the protests in France are peaceful. Here is a report from Nora Bensaadoune, a Guardian writer who moved from Paris to a rural town She reports that all the protestors have different opinions and they are discussing matters, listening, thinking - that social networks are being recreated and bringing back community life and a sense of belonging. Then this:
“It’s unclear whether President Macron’s TV statement on Monday, including a pledge to increase the minimum wage, will stem the anger......but when all is said and done I much prefer an anger that brings people out of their homes and stirs debate and passionate outbursts to the fear that separates people into bubbles. That fear can deadlock an entire society.”
Of course, France is an enormous country and vastly less crowded than Britain, where England is fast becoming one of the most crowded countries on the planet. You might expect much higher levels of violence in Britain with the degraded state of our justice system, public services and roads - as well as the nasty surprise to discover that, when David Cameron pledged to implement the result of the referendum of 2016, neither he not the Conservative Party had any such intention.
Yellow Vests UK has sprung up in Britain and there is a huge contrast to the Gilets Jaunes movement. Yellow Vests UK use words and passive resistance, they appear to have been inspired more by Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi than by the French. Even so, the old rifts in British society are making themselves felt again and dividing the supporters of leaving the EU against one another. It is very depressing. Right and wrong, truth and democracy should be constants, regardless of social class.
Criticism of the Yellow Vests UK appears to based upon the fact that they are poor, badly dressed (naturally), speak with a working class accent - and, well, exist. The EU has de-industrialised Britain and the working classes have suffered the most and lost their livelihoods and communities. The state education system has let them down and so has the Labour Party. And still they do not riot. The traditional working classes are the bedrock of British society and it was largely they who fought and won the First World War and who fought and won the Second World War.
I would love to see the movement for Brexit and for democracy overcome these old divisions in our society, divisions which were stoked and exploited by the political parties and trade unions for decades. I (Rosie) will hold my hand up here and admit to being a member of the traditional middle class, with a slightly posh accent, generally rural in outlook, and a lot of education - but not necessarily rich [and quite different to the modern definition of middle class which tends to be urban and is solely measured by wealth].
But as the working classes have been abandoned by Labour, and deceived by the modern Conservative Party, they are now joining UKIP - with the result that the middle classes are leaving UKIP. It really is deeply disappointing and my arguments on the comments pages at the Daily Telegraph seem to get nowhere.
Nora Bensaadoune, quoted above, puts her finger on the issue: “I much prefer an anger that brings people out of their homes and stirs debate and passionate outbursts to the fear that separates people into bubbles. That fear can deadlock an entire society.”
The middle classes have too much to lose - our democracy and our justice and our sovereign nation. Put away your fears and make common cause with those who have the courage of their convictions. Watch the videos and judge for yourselves:
19 December, 6 minute video, talking to Anna Soubry (listen carefully to the words used by each side) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mppVchHyaiA
20 December, 14 minute video, outside Cabinet Office
14 December, 1 minute, Westminster Bridge
The arguments used by the Yellow Vests are basically sound - and without doubt a huge improvement upon that of the Remainers’ “Bollox to Brexit”, and who still try to convince us that is leaving, rather than staying in the EU, that will impoverish us.