Normalising anger and violence as part of the political discourse

This kind of thing worries me: “Every attempt by the political class to delay or dilute Brexit will only increase our anger” — written by Nigel Farage.


Let’s leave aside the fact that Farage has written that a 52-48 result in the referendum would constitute unfinished business and necessitate a second referendum. What worries me here is the implication that because delaying Brexit will cause anger, therefore we should do it immediately.

As though anger in itself is enough reason to go along with a policy.

That is the logic of a toddler.

On Nigel’s own basis, the most tactically effective thing for remainers to do is express more anger than the Leavers — then we’d win, right? But we don’t do that, because the Remain case (being based more on facts than on emotion) attracts followers of the kind who respect facts. That is why no Remainer has murdered a pro-leave MP, shouting “Europe First!”, and no Remainer will. We don’t have that kind of anger.

In a civilised society, that is considered a good thing.

But headlines like Farage’s are dangerous because the normalise the narrative that anger is what wins political arguments. And in doing that, they invite more violence of the kind that took Jo Cox’s life. (“… without a bullet being fired“, as the man said.) They tell Leavers that, in order to win, they need to up the level of their anger.

It’s no surprise that Nigel Farage is lowering the tone and nature of political discourse in Britain — he’s built his entire career on doing that. But I do wish he wouldn’t do it in a way that makes a virtue of anger and violence; that he wouldn’t portray them implicitly as the attitudes adopted by people who are right.

Whatever your position on Leave vs. Remain, I hope we can all agree that what the discussion needs at this stage is not more anger.

[Note. This post began life as a thread of tweets.]

3 responses to “Normalising anger and violence as part of the political discourse

  1. andrewrilstone

    I best part is where the guy who flies off to Washington to shmooze with the President of the USA complains about “the political class”.

  2. I absolutely agree with you.

  3. Pingback: What drives political decisions in the UK? | The Reinvigorated Programmer

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