Subjective reality and Brexit

Sociolinguists at Manchester Metropolitan university recently created the above accent and dialect map for Greater Manchester, to illustrate local opinions about some of the region’s different twangs. Looking at the results for the Brexit vote in our region, it's quite amazing that the fault lines appear to be defined by this map. 

Put simply, the areas labelled as ‘posh’, ‘well-spoken’, ‘artsy’, ‘metropolitan’ and ‘multicultural’ appear to be the Remain voters (the red and yellow areas of Stockport, Central Manchester and Trafford). Meanwhile, the other areas of Manchester whose accents are less politely described voted to Brexit. 

So what does this tell us? Are the forgotten towns of Greater Manchester and their people racist, ignorant and thick? Or do they feel let down by a European model that doesn’t give them the benefits received by the region’s other areas?

Do the Remain areas mirror the idea of large, conglomerate businesses where most of the money and resources are in the hands of a few? Or are they just better-placed to know the holistic direction in which we should travel?

Whatever the answer, it’s obvious that the subjective reality of those living in the Remain areas is totally different from those living in the Brexit areas. The radius from the centre of the map is less than 15 miles, so this is one of the biggest questions that any elected Mayor must answer. 

I voted Brexit with my reasons being very simple and nothing to do with European immigration. In my own community in Didsbury which lies within the golden triangle I get the impression with many that I am like 'a scab' who crossed the picket line. A few of my reasons are listed below:

1. There’s no democracy in the European Union and it seems to be full of people who are very keen to tell us what’s right and wrong for us, without us knowing who they are. The oxymoron term 'liberal fascism' springs to mind here.

2. When we joined the EU in 1975, it was made up of northern European countries with similar ideologies and our decision to join was an economic one. The EU is now a political body that’s exhausted its economies of scale to the extent that we now find diseconomies due to the sheer number of countries now involved. The blocking of the EU-Canada trade deal by Belgium’s Wallonia region is a prime example of how difficult and complex it is to get things done.

3. There’s no financial accountability in the EU to the extent that accounts haven’t been filed for 25 years. This means there are no audit trails and no reference to what’s been spent when and where – leaving the system wide open to financial abuse. Where else would this be tolerated?

4. There’s political unrest all over Europe and a good chance that by the end of 2017, Marie Le Pen could be President of France and Angela Merkel ousted by a far-right party in Germany. If either of these things get close to happening all bets are off for the EU so it’s best that the UK operates independently. The way things are right now, anything could happen in any other European country – and the banking crisis is far from over.

5. We should have the nous to realise we’re a massive market that the rest of Europe can’t afford to alienate. All key European business leaders seem to acknowledge this, and any Mayor elected here needs to understand the importance of encouraging trade wherever possible with our European neighbours. After all, Norway and Switzerland aren’t in the EU and, like the UK, have a different currency, but have no problem gaining access to the market.

6.The EU appears to be a price protection cartel that prevents access to the global market. Arranging our own trade deals with individual nations means we’ll have more control of our economic foreign policies around the world.

7. Having travelled extensively around southern Europe, I’ve concluded that you can’t economically align countries like Germany and Greece with the same currency because they have totally different ideologies and ways of dealing with things. The insolvency of Greece and other southern European nations isn’t a problem that’s going to go away any time soon, and it looks like German banks may be over-exposed to risk in this area.  

8. Having a different currency than the rest of Europe means we very rarely take part in the key decision-making policies anyway.

In short, last summer the vote was cast and the decision made to Brexit. So that’s how Manchester needs to set itself up for the future to attract and secure investment. As we move towards becoming a world-class city, we now have the chance to define our personality. The Mayor’s job is to create opportunities, raise expectations and instil confidence into all the forgotten towns of Manchester who expressed their opinions last June. The map doesn't lie, and we must now sit down and move forward together!