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In daring to assert Russian interference in Brexit is a myth, Nick Clegg is excommunicated

John Wight
John Wight
John Wight has written for a variety of newspapers and websites, including the Independent, Morning Star, Huffington Post, Counterpunch, London Progressive Journal, and Foreign Policy Journal.
In daring to assert Russian interference in Brexit is a myth, Nick Clegg is excommunicated
We live in a post-truth world, one in which daring to speak truth in defiance of establishment orthodoxies is to be guilty of heresy.

Ask Nick Clegg if you don’t believe me. Britain’s former deputy prime minister, and erstwhile leader of the country’s Liberal Democrats, is now a top executive with Facebook in the US. In this capacity, working within the belly of the beast of the hegemonic social media platform, Clegg is in a position to know if the shrill claims of Russian interference in the EU referendum of 2016, using Facebook to spread disinformation, are borne of any real substance.

Well, guess what: They don’t have any substance to them, nor indeed have they ever. “There’s absolutely no evidence that it [Russian interference] happened in the Brexit referendum,” Clegg said in a recent interview on the flagship BBC Radio 4 ‘Today’ morning show.

His assertion, predictably enough, met not with a mea culpa from the bastions of Western liberalism responsible for peddling the myth of Russian interference, but with a tsunami of outrage and a torrent of invective. In the process of which, Nick Clegg, one time darling of the liberal left, experienced his own figurative excommunication from the high church of liberal centrism. Because in daring to confirm that a key pillar of Western liberal thought in our time is predicated on hot air, he declared himself an apostate.

Consider, for example, the response of Labour MP and arch centrist David Lammy to Clegg’s assertion. Tweeting in response, he proclaimed: “Horse manure. What about the disinformation spread by Russian state media, RT and Sputnik, on Facebook? Hope Zuckerberg paid you a high price for any integrity you had leaving office.”

Aside from the towering example of parliamentary language Mr. Lammy deploys here, it’s impossible to properly fathom the desperation to seek the cause of Brexit anywhere other than where it actually resides – namely within the very liberal centrist ideology which Mr. Lammy and his ilk champion.

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In the interests of context, David Lammy was already a study in liberal meltdown prior to Clegg’s interview. For the likes of him, the 17.4 million people in Britain who cast a vote to leave the EU in 2016 did so in the manner of unthinking drones, directed on this day by Moscow to vote leave rather than remain – as they should have were they behaving according to the dictates of the high church. 

Since then, Mr. Lammy has been on a one-man crusade to locate Russians under the bed.

In the same interview with the BBC, Clegg, who for some unconscionable reason received a knighthood from the Queen in 2017, expands on how he arrived at his conclusion that Russian interference in the EU referendum is a myth.

To wit:

“We ran two full analyses of all the data we have in the run-up to the Brexit referendum, we’ve shared all of this information with the select committee in Westminster and elsewhere – we have found no evidence of a significant attempt by outside forces.”

Times columnist Hugh Rifkind also piled on against Clegg for daring to commit blasphemy in questioning the holy cow of Russian interference in the Brexit referendum. In a piece he wrote in response, he opines: “What was it about going to work for the fifth richest man in the world that changed his mind, I wonder?”

Here Rifkind is referencing the fact that prior to starting work at Facebook for Mark Zuckerberg, Clegg, as befitted his position within the liberal establishment, was a devoted adherent of the ‘Russia is behind everything that goes wrong and always will be’ school of liberal mania.

The crucial difference perhaps is that in his capacity as Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications, he’s had the opportunity to examine the evidence, or lack thereof, and changed his view accordingly. 

What Lammy, Rifkind, and every other disciple of the high church fail to appreciate – or are in denial of – is the fact that the world changed forever with the 2008 global financial crash and ensuing economic recession.

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It was no mere blip this crash. Instead it was the result of the insurmountable contradictions that exist within a neoliberal economic model that has only ever existed as tyrant in the lives of the majority, and faithful servant of the needs of a small minority.

It is from within this minority of stakeholders in the now rotting corpse of neoliberalism that these unhinged claims of Russian interference and influence emanate. Its peddlers are people for whom austerity and recession are and will only ever be words in the dictionary. For them and theirs, life prior to Brexit was gravy.

Not for them foodbanks, low wages, insecure employment, zero hours contracts, benefit sanctions, and a crushing daily struggle to survive. Not for them any reason to question the mantra, the big bright shining lie that this world is the best of all possible worlds. Because for such people, those struggling to ‘make it’ in this world are victims of their own personal failings and not any failure of the status quo.

Brexit was a scream from the bowels of austerity Britain. It was in large swathes of deindustrialised Britain the voice of the dispossessed, discarded, and disdained unleashed against the aforementioned status quo, characterised by hot yoga classes, chai lattes, and sushi bars.

It is neoliberalism, not Russia, that is the question. And the normalisation of economic injustice and suffering the former cultivates had by 2016 reached the point of critical mass, producing both Brexit and Trump. Brexit, I have never believed, is the solution to that suffering, but the fear it has instilled within the dark heart of the high church of liberal centrism is all that it deserves.

With this in mind, Nick Clegg’s excommunication is small price to pay.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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