Our discussion on Friday centered itself mainly around the aspects of Brexit and British populism that are perhaps overlooked by scholars and media. Namely, feelings and sentiments held by the “leave” camp surrounding immigration.
Of course the role of immigration in British culture has been a touchy subject long before Brexit, particularly in regard to eastern Europe. The migrant crisis of 2015 worked to exacerbate these existing anxieties and as we discussed, is perhaps not as well recognized as it ought to be.
In class we saw the areas of the UK and the demographics that tended to vote for the “leave” side on average. In discussion, this was built on and unpacked some more. Older, more conservative individuals in the UK were worried about immigration and wanted to maintain autonomy from the EU.
This got me thinking about the built-in biases that individuals such as ourselves carry into these analyses. Most people do not think the way we do. There is a large portion of society that is never exposed to post-secondary thinking or the liberal values that are so well-drilled into students or faculty such as ourselves.
This makes topics like immigration an intimidating and confusing unknown to a lot of people, which subsequently became a focal point for the “leave” campaign to utilize.
As we discussed, these issues are therefore brushed aside in conversations similar to ours. We would never even consider going into the subject of immigration as a factor for Brexit, as they are wrong and therefore inherently sterile in our eyes.
What should be checked at the door by more by journalists, academics and professionals is their principles when delving into these kind of issues. If you want to understand populism, maybe you need think along the same lines.