Defined as “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief”, the term “post-truth” can now be found in the dictionary. Examples of the neologism have been all around us in 2016, which can be dubbed the beginning of the post-truth age, with its reason-defying political outcomes, notably in the UK and the US.
Brexit has shaken up British and European politics. The fallout of the vote is set to continue sending tremors throughout British society for months and years to come as the protracted and painful process of extricating the UK from the onward march of European integration is pursued. The negotiation of the British departure from the EU is to begin when new Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May triggers Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union, which outlines how a country would go about leaving the bloc. PM May has gone on record as saying that “Brexit means Brexit” and that she would launch negotiations with Brussels soon and waste no time in getting about the business of respecting the result of the 23rd June 2016 referendum. She also declared that she would do so without consulting the British parliament. Related to this promise, the latest soap opera-esque development is the successful legal challenge mounted by “Bremainers” (i.e. pro-EU) which led to a high court decision that the PM indeed had to consult parliament. A majority of MPs and Lords oppose Brexit and thus run counter to the PM’s intention to pull off the EU divorce Band-Aid swiftly and relatively painlessly. This had led to claims by Brexiteers that the “Bremainers” – whom they rebrand as “Bremoaners” for raining on their parade, are trying to deprive Britain of a future free of EU influence. They are, hence, none too pleased.
Gina Miller is the person who spearheaded the legal challenge, her view being that the UK ought not to leave the EU, but rather stay in and lead efforts to reform it from within. She reportedly launched the challenge in order for the exit process to have full legal clarity going forward. 51-year-old Miller has come in for a firestorm of criticism since the court ruling. A considerable portion of this criticism is based not simply on her ideas, but rather on her origins and perceived un-Britishness, as she was born in Guyana – or British Guiana as it was still known at the time of her birth and would continue to be known for another year or so before it gained independence from Britain on 26th May, 1966. She has been living in the UK since she was 10 years old, having moved there in 1975. Miller, her critics bombastically claim, is unfit to be involved in UK politics because she is not truly British. What is more, her interference in the Brexit process shows that she does not respect or understand British democracy.
Online, there has been no shortage of negative comments directed at Miller. This is par for the course in 2016, as just about everyone has a social media account and use it as a platform to make their voice heard, whether their point of view be well thought out or not, so this comes as no surprise. What is, however, interesting and telling is the abysmal lack of knowledge of hard historical and political facts that the comments of the average Joe about Miller reveals.
Below is a selection of facebook comments taking aim at Gina Miller’s Guyanese background, along with explanations of how downright unwise they are. Their profile pictures have been changed to angry faces and their only the first letter of their last names are visible.
Forbes Burnham went from being the UK’s stooge in Guyana from the 1950s through independence in the 1960s, and then for 4 years after independence until he turned on a dime, declared a Communist state, ordered political assassinations, rigged elections (as he had been so well trained to do by the Brits themselves over the previous decade), stacked the public service with his cronies, alienated entire swathes of the population, and ultimately maintained a 21-year stranglehold on power until his death in 1985. Maybe Gina Miller should have stayed and lived in a country governed by the dictator Britain handpicked, stubbornly installed and unwittingly groomed.
The high court challenge amounts to “pulling out all the stops” if this person is to be taken seriously. I should direct their attention to the British Guiana of the late 1950s and early 1960s: around that time in British Guiana, just as elsewhere in the then British West Indies, leading local politicians were mostly anti-colonial trade unionists. The previous generation would have spent much of their political careers pushing for improved living conditions for the working poor in the region’s British colonies. Bleak economic and social conditions had led to budding unrest across the region in the 1930s, pushing London to set up the West India Royal Commission in 1938 as a sort of fact finding mission to gauge the scope of the problems causing discontent in the region, and to make recommendations for addressing them. Fast forward just over a decade and you find the British Guiana political landscape populated by left wing workers’ party type entities. The principal group was the People’s Progressive Party (PPP). The leaders of this party – Cheddi Jagan and Forbes Burnham – openly expressed their affinity with Communist parties in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and Latin America.
In 1953 the PPP won legislative elections in the colony. How did the British respond? Well, they chose the “going against and attacking democracy” route when they suspended the colony’s constitution, deployed troops and put in place an interim administration after democratic elections produced a result not to their liking. Until we hear news of Gina Miller raising an army to storm the Houses of Parliament, Peasy B is woefully offside.
The 1953 invasion was not to be the last example of London’s machinations in British Guiana. The constitution was restored in 1957 and elections were held, which the PPP won despite British hostility. The PPP won an election again in 1961, in a clear indication that London’s opposition to the PPP was clearly contradictory to the will of the colony’s population. London was blind to that clear indication because they had the electoral system changed from the first-past-the-post model which they still use even now to proportional representation, all but sure that the new setup would allow them to topple the PPP and install their PNC puppet Forbes Burnham by ostensibly democratic means, without resorting to a second invasion. Can you say “hypocritical idiots”?
Gina Miller as an establishment-backed puppet. I see this claim about the Guyanese-born Miler, and raise Darren H the fact that after the British Invaded British Guiana in 1953, they orchestrated the split of the PPP party into 2 factions – the new one led by Forbes Burnham even going by the same name for a while, before opting for the name People’s National Congress (PNC). In the ensuing decade, the ultimate establishment tandem of the UK and the US stopped at nothing to ensure that the PNC’s Burnham rose to prominence before granting the colony independence with him firmly seated as their chosen puppet prime minister. I bet Darren H would be interested in learning that he has picked the wrong Guyanese-born person and the wrong historical period over which to level his accusation.
The Britain to which Gina Miller purportedly does not belong, and which her detractors are so ardently attempting to defend in their misguided comments is a place of peaceful demonstrations. Not so was British Guiana in the run-up to its orchestrated independence. In February 1962 at the height of the Cold War, at the behest of the British, the CIA along with the American AFL-CIO trade union helped to organize and finance a countrywide general strike and anti-government protests. CIA operatives went as far as setting up fake radio stations to go on the air and organising for some newspapers to print false stories about the Communist government inviting Cuban warships into its territorial waters. These protests and the 80-day general strike were characterised by widespread riots and arson. Having failed at ensuring the PPP lose elections throughout the 1950s, the overall aim of this early 1960s subversion campaign was to portray the government as inept at running the country in a time of turmoil so that it could be discredited and lose favour in the colony.
Unless Gina Miller uses her personal funds to set up a fly by night anti-Brexit radio station saying that Boris Johnson wants Britain to be annexed as the 51st state of the USA, or bribes someone at the Evening Standard to print such stories to be passed out for free, as is the paper’s custom, outside every tube station in Greater London then Dave B’s comment falls flat. As for the “voice of the majority” being respected, that part has been addressed a bit higher up in this post. Daph G says “too many foreigners telling us what to do”. Sounds like a quote that one could spot in a letter to the editor in 1950s 60s, British occupied, American manipulated British Guiana. Freddie D, John C (not Cena btw) and Pauline L can all be rebutted here too.
Well, Dudley B, I’m afraid I can’t muster much in the way of a counter other than to say that “Google” and “Bing” are two words that come to mind to answer your question, basically.
Trump gets his information “from the shows”. I dare say these post truth social media users shown here are the same. If any of them were to read this post they wouldn’t see the error in their comments. Instead, in true Farage fashion, they’d then absolutely wrongly conclude that this is therefore a dastardly plot by G Miller to get revenge on Britain for its manipulations in British Guiana when its people wanted to take their destiny into their own hands. What’s good for the goose apparently isn’t good for the gander after all.