The New St George?

by Harry on June 24, 2016



Jim Buck 06.24.16 at 6:45 am



Jim Buck 06.24.16 at 6:47 am


harry b 06.24.16 at 6:55 am

That’s great. Surprised it got through automoderation!!


kidneystones 06.24.16 at 6:58 am

The Great Peasants’ Revolt of 2016 – – – Looking at the map of the Brexit vote we can see the Leave vote as a revolt against rule by London, as much as a revolt against Brussels.

The SNP has already achieved a high measure of independence and local control within an EU affiliated UK. Wales, by way of contrast has achieved far less. Which explains, in part, perhaps, why Scotland is comfortable remaining within the UK (see Scots referendum), even while electing a great many SNP representatives.

Large parts of England evidently feel similarly disconnected from their more affluent compatriots and suspect, rightly, in many cases that these educated elites regard their mundane concerns with contempt when the elites notice them at all – ‘look at the St. George’s flag flown by by white van, a Labour toff sneered in the run-up to Labour’s epic defeat.

I’m sure some of the data is already available, but I’d guess that the Leave/Remain dispersal in England and Wales divides along income lines: the poorer voting to exercise their long-lost sovereignty over a richer Remain elite, with exceptions, of course. Our own household can hardly be described as affluent, but we’re certainly very mobile and employable, which ain’t nothing.

I teach British culture and I very much look forward to introducing Nigel Farage to my students among the pantheon of British nationalist figures.

My hope is that comparing Farage to Wat Tyler is enough to make my moral and intellectual superiors here spew their hand-ground and fresh-roasted coffee all over their soft, clammy hands. Unfortunately for them, that’s precisely the role history will assign to Farage, at least at this stage.

The masters and dons in the hallowed halls of Oxford, Cambridge, etc. must be wringing their hands and moaning about the rising of the unwashed masses, all the while soi dissant ‘lefties’ weep at the thought of ordinary people imposing their will through the vote.

the horror!

I’d pay money t


kidneystones 06.24.16 at 6:59 am

…to watch David Dimbleby eat his breakfast this morning. He must be having fits.


Hidari 06.24.16 at 7:13 am

‘My hope is that comparing Farage to Wat Tyler is enough to make my moral and intellectual superiors here spew their hand-ground and fresh-roasted coffee all over their soft, clammy hands. ‘

Remind me again what happened to Wat Tyler?


kidneystones 06.24.16 at 7:18 am

@6 Thanks for the thought and the kind words here and there. Farage will fare far better than Wat, I suspect.

Labour voters cheering Farage as the Britain’s Moses. What a remarkable turn of events.


kidneystones 06.24.16 at 7:24 am

Hi Hidari. I suspect a few ‘lefties’ would like nothing better than to see the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 2016 meet the same fate as Wat. I’m actually far more interested to see how Corbyn plays this.

In hindsight, now, it’s a blessing that Labour elected an individual who has at least some connection to the large number of Leave voters among the working-class of England and Wales. Had any of the Remain candidates won the leadership, the Labour elite would be even more cut-off from the rank-and-file than before, leaving great numbers to drift towards UKIP, or some form of nationalist regional party.

The landscape within Britain is going to undergo some remarkable changes now that Brexit is a ‘reality’. I do expect some dishonest efforts from the Remain crowd to try to disrupt/prevent/delay the outcome, but I doubt it will come to much.


Hidari 06.24.16 at 7:28 am

@9 Cameron’s now gone.

Prime Minister BoJo?


kidneystones 06.24.16 at 7:41 am

@ 10 Wow! Send in the clowns. Exciting times.

Best to all.


bad Jim 06.24.16 at 7:45 am

First, thanks for the Thompson tune. The first solo album may have been its label’s worst-selling, but the songs are often on my mind. On my one visit to Scotland, Edinburgh and Inverness, the folk musicians favored his stuff.

In this fissiparous mood, Scotland goes next, and maybe Catalonia follows; they’ve got their own language. Ireland’s hard to figure; the Unionists may want out of the EU, but the border is fractally complicated. The Basques, the Kurds, all the organelles coerced or consumed into eukaryotic wholes, may choose to revert to their ancient identities.

To an American, familiar with fifty-something laboratories of democracy, the prospect isn’t alarming; the results of such experiments might not be optimal, but would they be worse than Kansas or Mississippi (goddamn)?


Faustusnotes 06.24.16 at 7:59 am

Hand-ground coffee? Soft and clammy hands? Can’t you just go away?


Mekral 06.24.16 at 8:06 am

The saddest thing is that even outside the UK the situation of those disadvantaged will not become better off by leaving the EU. Their plight has little to do with the EU than the particular evolution of the UK. And I clearly accept that the establishment had little consideration for their worries.

As @6 Ze K has argued the managers will simply regroup.


kidneystones 06.24.16 at 8:18 am

13@ The irony is really wonderful. Maybe it’s time for your nap.

More on hand-ground coffee and soft, clammy hands and
“Too much Hampstead, not enough Hull.”

This is for you!


J-D 06.24.16 at 8:23 am

‘My hope is that comparing Farage to Wat Tyler is enough to make my moral and intellectual superiors here spew their hand-ground and fresh-roasted coffee all over their soft, clammy hands.’

‘Best to all.’

Mixed messages?


Philip 06.24.16 at 8:29 am

This could be a better result for Corbyn than a narrow remain win where UKIP could have taken more voters away from Labour in the North and he would have had to deal with London Labour, members in the North, and attacks from new Labour. It could be a good opportunity for him but we will have to see.


Jim Buck 06.24.16 at 9:48 am

Wat Tyler is to distant in time to be a controversial comparison to Farage. An anti-Attlee may be a more inapt suggestion. 1945 and all that, but completing the destruction of Attlees project.


David 06.24.16 at 9:58 am

Ah, nostalgia! Thompson and Steeleye were part of a whole movement in the early 1970s with artists as diverse as Ann Briggs and Martin Carthy to Led Zeppelin (they all knew each other) who tried to produce a genuinely English popular music, which was not jingoistic and Little England, but drew on older mythological stereotypes. See Ron Young’s book “Electric Eden” which is astonishingly accurate not only on the music but on the politics of the era as well. All derailed by Thatcher of course, who destroyed English popular culture and left the field open to the flag-waving yobs of the Newer St George.


Lowhim 06.24.16 at 10:01 am

I’m hearing that it’s the older generation that’s done made this vote lean this way. And Scotland and N.Ireland going against it too. What does that say about the future?


Chris Bertram 06.24.16 at 10:20 am

@David I quite enjoyed Electric Eden, but Richard Thompson disputes its accuracy.


David 06.24.16 at 10:27 am

@Chris Bertram, yes, I can understand that. I think there are certainly quibbles in the detail (Martin Carthy is scandalously neglected for example) but the overall portrayal of England and the music scene of my early adulthood seemed eerily accurate. Oh, yes, Young likes the Incredible String band. Somebody has to.


Phil 06.24.16 at 10:27 am

It’s the dishonesty that depresses me. Any warning of the financial chaos that would follow Brexit has been dismissed as scaremongering; Michael Gove went so far as to compare part-government-funded economists to the ‘German physicists’ the Nazis lined up to debunk Einstein. Of course, the pound and the FTSE went into free fall while the votes were still being counted; God knows how long it’ll take to get back to where we were 24 hours ago. And for what? This morning Nigel Farage answered a direct question about whether we could save £350m a week and spend it on the NHS – a key plank of the Leave campaign – by saying, No, that won’t be possible – I never said that, and if the Leave campaign said that, it was a mistake. So that’s all right then.

I said before the vote – and it’s been confirmed a few times since – that many Leave voters were purely and simply making a gesture, and genuinely didn’t think that anything would change; certainly they didn’t think there was the slightest risk that anything would change for the worse. (Most glaring example: a Cornish local authority has asked the government to confirm that the subsidies will keep coming, even though they won’t now be coming from the EU. Good luck with that.) 48% of us saw the risks, or saw through the lies, or just quite liked the idea of being part of a trans-European community. Sadly, it wasn’t enough.


Andrew c 06.24.16 at 12:09 pm

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the UK hasn’t actually left the EU yet so lamentations about disaster are just a little premature.


Lowhim 06.24.16 at 7:03 pm

Yeah, aren’t the drops in the pound essentially not a big deal? UK holds debt in its own currency, isn’t this good? Seems that Krugman thinks this way, and would appear to be right (not that there aren’t other issues at hand)


J-D 06.24.16 at 11:57 pm

Phil @23

‘(Most glaring example: a Cornish local authority has asked the government to confirm that the subsidies will keep coming, even though they won’t now be coming from the EU. Good luck with that.)’

Is that story online? I’d be interested to read more details.


js. 06.25.16 at 3:20 am

Going through my iTunes at random, I think I came across how I feel about Brexit:


ZM 06.25.16 at 4:11 am

Chris Bertram,

There is a very good book that covers the Folk Revival (although it goes back later and is more wide reaching) called In Search Of Authenticity by Regina Bendix. I found it very helpful for an essay I did on Tradition in Modern Britain (and a bit of Germany too). It is kind of in the vein of The Invention Of Tradition, but more anthropological and is a whole book rather than a series of essays by different people. It was the best book I found for my assignment.

I like some of the Folk Revival, but Richard Thompson I really never liked much, and his song Broken Doll which he recorded with Wilco in the USA around 2014 about a woman with mental illness made me decide to basically delete him from my music collection. His daughter toured Australia in 2006 with Will Oldham’s band, and Linda Thompson has appeared on a recent refugee benefit compilation with Will Oldham and Alasdair Roberts both of Drag City.

I will always like folk music in general since the hippies that moved to the small town I grew up in started a folk festival and going was some of my best memories. One year a local potter made ceramic tickets which the school kids painted. But I really liked In Search Of Authenticity as making sense why people who were in many cases divorced from folk culture took up elements of past folk culture in their art work. I think that is one reason my favourite folk revival musician is Jean Ritchie since she did scholarly research but she grew up in a family that was still connected to the local folk culture, which she writes about in Singing Family Of The Cumberlands.

The converse is someone like Percy Grainger, who I read about went in search of folk music to record or use in his compositions, and one time he tricked an old woman who didn’t want to give him her song, by asking her granddaughter to get her to sing it while Percy Grainger hid under the bed.

On Facebook people are changing the Radiohead song Exit Music (For A Film) to Brexit Music. And there is something going around saying the Brexit could be good with music, looking at what music came out of Thatcher era Britain — The Clash, Joy Division, The Pogues, The Buzzcocks, The Smiths, The Cure, Madness, The Specials etc.

I think the Brexit is not a great political development, but it could be really good for music. British music seems to have stagnated a bit over the last decade or so, compared to the Brit Pop era from my youth.


David 06.25.16 at 10:09 am

The English folk revival really began as an outgrowth of skiffle and the importation of American music into the UK in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The first songbook I ever bought was the Penguin Book of American Folk Songs, edited by Alan Lomax, but even my teenage self realised that there must be English originals behind many of those songs. Quite soon, artists like Martin Carthy and the Watersons began to track back these original songs, and it became clear that there was an entire popular cultural heritage here, quite different from the prettied-up Grainger-style songs we were taught at school. This produced a wave of enthusiasm for authenticity that, crucially, was not just about preserving the old, but also making the new. Traditional music had always been played on whatever was available, so the move to electronic folk and then folk-rock in the late 60s and early 70s was a natural development. Richard Thompson said once that there were too many people doing that already, so he looked round for something different, and settled on bleak, almost biblical songs derived from traditional themes. Not everybody’s cup of tea, I agree, but a stunningly important figure in popular culture.
But whilst there are some new faces on the traditional scene (Sam Lee, for example) the reality is that the cultural underpinning which produced the folk revival has been destroyed over the last generation, and I don’t see any possibility of rebuilding it. Traditional music looks to have slid definitively back into the ghetto. It would be nice to think that a consequence of Brexit would be a revived interest in national history and culture, but I think that’s unrealistic. That said, I will certainly read Bendix’s book.


ben wolfson 06.26.16 at 6:31 pm

Oh, yes, Young likes the Incredible String band. Somebody has to.

There are people who don’t?!

(I prefer the Etchingham Steam Band’s “Hard Times of Old England”:

Comments on this entry are closed.