Cable’s ‘Leave voters miss white faces’ comment denies history

Vince Cable: Shifting the blame?

It seems Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has departed from reality.

His claim that older people who voted ‘Leave’ wanted to return to a world where “faces were white” is not supported by history – or the current facts of EU immigration.

In case anybody has forgotten, Britain has been multi-racial for centuries. There have been non-white faces in our crowds throughout the lives of even the oldest people in the United Kingdom.

In fact, recent revelations have suggested that the first human beings on these shores had dark skin pigmentation.

The Roman Empire, the slave trade, the collapse of the British Empire and the arrival here of people from other countries as a result of that – all brought people of different skin colour to the UK, before we joined the EU.

And has immigration from the EU brought a huge influx of people of different colour? Not in This Writer’s experience.

I know people from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, and other countries who have come here to work. All of them are white (and, as it happens, really decent people – hard-working, polite, and great company).

I don’t think the older people who voted Leave (many didn’t, remember) did so because they don’t like to see faces of a different colour from their own.

I think they did it out of nostalgia for a Britain that they remember as being strong in its own right, rather than a small part of a much larger bloc.

I think they associate the weaknesses of the UK with our membership of the EU – probably a false connection, in my opinion.

The vast majority of our time in the EU has been spent with a neoliberal government in Westminster – either under Thatcher/Major/Cameron/May or Blair/Brown – that have concentrated on the financial and service sectors of the economy rather than manufacturing.

In fact, the Conservatives deliberately destroyed the UK’s manufacturing base in order to weaken the strength of employees in pay negotiations at a time of full employment.

I would suggest that it is successive British governments that have weakened the UK – not the EU. Mr Cable was a part of that, as a senior member of the Coalition government formed by the Tories and Lib Dems between 2010 and 2015.

Perhaps he isn’t trying to call older voters racists.

Perhaps he is just trying to shift the blame.

Sir Vince Cable has denied suggesting older Brexit voters were racist.

In a speech at his party’s spring conference, the Lib Dem leader said too many older people who voted Leave longed for a world where “faces were white” and were “driven by nostalgia”.

Tory MPs have labelled the comments as “wrong” and “unwise”.

But Sir Vince called it a “simple truth of the matter” that the majority of the older generation voted Leave while younger people favoured Remain.

Source: Cable denies branding Brexit voters racist

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12 thoughts on “Cable’s ‘Leave voters miss white faces’ comment denies history

  1. NMac

    Muddled thinking from Cable. Personally Mike I believe your synopsis of the situation is much more accurate.

  2. Growing Flame

    In fairness to the leader of the Liberal Democrats( and I never thought I would ever say that!) I don’t think that Vince Cable is unaware of the long multi-racial history of Britain. But he knows that many white Britons ARE unaware of this and may really struggle to imagine that there were any faces other than pale or pink ones prior to, perhaps, the Second World War. Most EU immigrants are white, of course. But, like Black and Asian people, they are DIFFERENT, talking with an accent , having different religions, cultures etc.

    It is the difference and unfamiliarity that alienates the Brexit voters. As a Remain voter, I despair about it all but I can see how Brexists are just floundering in a sea of worry and anxiety, fuelled by endless Sun and Daily Mail “outrage” headlines about anybody who does not fit a very limited mould of white, British, heterosexuality.

    Because of the endless wars that Britain has pursued with other European countries, as well as with countries in the Empire, many Britons are left with a mindset of permanent paranoia about foreign invasion and takeover. Other countries are , literally, always the enemy and the notion of international co-operation to mutual benefit never really took hold with an older generation brought up(like me) on stories from the last two World Wars. I know how long it took me to clear my brain of notions of British superiority and the inevitable incompetence and malice of all other nations (except, of course, other ,nominally White, English speaking places like America or Australia).

    I really don’t know what to do about people who voted Brexit to try to return to an imaginary Britain that looked like an edition of Miss Marple without the murders, but I think the blame lies with the Brexit voters and their Establishment controllers, not with a powerless observer like Vince Cable.

  3. Carol Fraser

    Actually he is on the ball on this one. At the turn of the last century there were very few black faces to be seen. In the 50’s, after the war when there was a labour shortage, the West Indians arrived to run the NHS, bus service, etc. They were not welcome and in lodging houses signs saying “No blacks” was common. In the 60’s the Indians started to arrive and actually took over Southall. They weren’t welcome either. I was at school in Ealing at the time and there was much disquiet and if I recall it was during that time that the “rivers of blood” speech was made.

    Some older people I know both voted out. They are 80+ and she curiously is German born, they are white and prejudiced. They seem to think that the EU is going to take over, influence from the trash rags, in their case the Fail and the Torygraph.

  4. Tony Dean

    “In case anybody has forgotten, Britain has been multi-racial for centuries. There have been non-white faces in our crowds throughout the lives of even the oldest people in the United Kingdom.”

    Got to disagree with you there Mike, where I live a non-white face is as rare as rocking horse poo and unicorns.
    (The official statistics for the area back that up.)

  5. aunty1960

    I HATE this anti older people anti older generation and that they are all stupid blinkered prejudiced and dinosaurs

    It is the young people who are chasing down the sreets and having serious fights between ethnics and different gangs and factions, having a beating up glassing gangwarfare because of difference

    So old people all northerners, all working class all white people are racists and bigots

    These white elite Liberals really get my back up and insult us.

    A lot of people voted Brexit including intellectuals, academics, professionals business farmers and ethnics from commonwealth backgrounds. This bias is ignorance and wants to swash paint a whole generation and social background

    Why do people not vote LibDems? Was it something to do with cuts and being two faced conniving b*****ds for the sake of power?

    1. Mike Sivier Post author

      You know, you’d get a lot more comments onto this site if you didn’t swear in them all the time. I’ve starred out the profanity in this one because I wanted to make the point to you.

  6. Zippi

    I think that most people voted to leave the European Union not out of some nostalgia but on their personal experience; remember that those older people are the same people who voted for us to stay in the Common Market. Has anybody bothered to ask those people why they have now voted for us to leave the E.U.? People are too eager to label people, these days and I, for one, am disgusted with this attitude. As for the race thing, that certainly doesn’t hold true, because I know many people who voted for us to leave who either live, harmoniously, in multi-ethnic communities, or are themselves of non-white, non-European ethnic stock and they see, themselves, the effect that the policies of the E.U. have had on them and the prospects for their families and children. They want balance. If more people knew what was in the treaties, to which we were signed up, without consultation, they might feel differently about the whole thing and we might be able to have a more reasoned debate, rather than the current situation of I’m right and you lot are ignorant fools and that seems to be the case whichever side of the debate you are on. Shame on Mr. Cable, though; I thought that he knew better.

  7. The Toffee

    In case anybody has forgotten, Britain has been multi-racial for centuries. There have been non-white faces in our crowds throughout the lives of even the oldest people in the United Kingdom.


    Not unless you’ve been watching recently made bbc historical dramas.

  8. Pat Sheehan

    I have an elderly aunt who only votes in elections for people wearing a tie, a dark, pin-stripe suit or a ‘dog-collar’. If they are an accountant as well then all well and good. She is generally regarded as ‘a dear, little old lady who wouldn’t hurt a fly’: one of that dying breed who would famously crawl down the street over broken glass to vote herself out of her house or onto an NHS trolley in a forgotten corridor just to vote ‘Tory”! Because she always voted Tory! And her parents voted Tory! Maybe a white face helps: she’s never been faced with that choice though And the Brexit vote? She hates the French and all things French after a brief holiday in Brittany went badly wrong – sixty years ago! The ‘moule’ weren’t to her taste.

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