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Op Ed: Brexit – Bob Lefsetz – More Industry Responses

It’s kinda like vinyl records.

They make no sense, but there’s a vocal minority whose heartfelt desire is to jet back to the past.

Oh, don’t get your knickers in a twist, put your emotions aside, I’ve got thousands of discs, and a turntable to play them, but I don’t, because it’s too inconvenient. But the truth is it makes no sense to listen on vinyl to that which has been recorded digitally.

Sure, there are a couple of rich, high profile acts that record to tape, like Dave Grohl, but everybody else uses Pro Tools. It’s a complete digital chain. And at the end you put the result on a record, where you have to compromise the sound just to make sure the needle won’t jump and compensate for the inner groove being shorter than the outer?

Makes no sense.

But it FEELS right.

Kinda like a return to what once was. When albums were king and listeners couldn’t easily cherry-pick the tracks they wanted to hear.

But there’s a huge contingent of people who love the new system, who use it to their advantage, not only Drake, who releases endless mixtapes, but the wannabes who can now participate, who can record and post their material, options that were unavailable to them previously. You had to have a deal to record, and distribution, both retail and radio, were closed off to you. You still can’t get your product in the record store, that inane place with little inventory the Luddites can’t stop venerating, and radio is still closed, possibly more than ever, but you can get your stuff into the iTunes Store and post it on YouTube and Spotify where people can hear it for free.

ANATHEMA! Those entities are the ENEMY! They’re ruining the business!

So which way is it? Was the past better than the present or do we live in a changed world and the best thing to do is adapt and cope?

Or, to put it another way, if we had a music industry vote, how would it turn out? Would streaming be eviscerated, albums be everything and record labels be all powerful once again?

But we can’t go back, that would be ignoring the digital revolution, which happened spontaneously, with Napster. And when that outlet was closed, new ones popped up, not only utilizing P2P but lockers and…

So one can argue we’ve created some order in a land of chaos.

But it doesn’t FEEL that way.

Now you understand Brexit.

Daniel Ek is the foreigner.

The youngsters are the elite.

And the old farts are the same as ever, unable to fathom a changed world, doing their best to return to the old.

Yes, I think it would be close.

The old acts would certainly vote for a return to the past, their recorded revenue has sunk precipitously. You could tell them that live money has gone way up, far outpacing inflation, experiences being king in a digital world, but they’d say there’s still a shortfall. And that they’ve got no desire to employ social media to enhance their “brand.” They just want to spend 500k to make their albums and drop them every three years, parceling out singles to radio thereafter. They’re sick of the competition, when everybody can play it diverts fans from their work.

And this appeals to a segment of youngsters too. They’ve read about the old days, they want some of that. You can tell them all day long that odds are they won’t get a deal and even if they do they won’t get rich but they don’t believe that, they think they can sell 10 million discs.

But the fans, who get no media, having no house organ, love the new world. They can sample everything for free, dig down deep on websites, learning more about their heroes, even interact with them on social media. Sure, the world is imperfect, one can catalogue the failings ad infinitum, but is it really possible to return to the past, and is the past really that much better?

It’s a global music business. Which means successful acts can make more money than ever, without leaving home their wares are available to stream and buy in far distant lands. But few acts can achieve this ubiquity, shouldn’t we cripple this option so the disadvantaged can get ahead?

I’m fascinated by the Brexit vote. Things haven’t been up for grabs since the 2008 crash. It’s kinda like making Trump President. If you’re bored with the status quo, if you believe you’ve gotten the short end of the stick, put the stick you have left in the spokes of the bicycle and watch the whole thing crash, see how it all plays out.

But then I realized, both of these financial meltdowns were preceded by the music business meltdown, we’ve been coping with change for fifteen plus years.

But I don’t want to give up my iPod.

Which I gave up for my iPhone.

I don’t want to give up my Sonos system, I don’t want Alexa to lose her hearing and be unable to play the music I call out to her.

I don’t want to only be able to play my tunes at home.

I certainly don’t want to go back to recording cassettes.

MP3s don’t sound as good as vinyl. Then again, Tidal allows you to stream in CD quality, as does Deezer, and it turns out most people don’t want to pay for it. Funny how we’ve stopped hearing about the quality issue, the war is over.

So, feel damn lucky you live in today, that the music business has adjusted so much. The landscape is confusing, progress still needs to be made, but if you want to return to the past…

You’re probably playing vinyl records.


Hi Bob,

BREXIT and the touring business

Reading the above comments about Brexit and its virtues made me put "pen to Paper"

Most populist movements such as UKIP in the UK, National Front in France, Gert Wilder in the Netherlands and the Northern League in Italy require the demonetization of a perceived threat from outside. The EU fulfills that role. For the States with Trump it is similar

Sure there are faceless bureaucrats in the EU, there are in the UK, there are in the US, someone has to clear up the mess that politicians make and try and get it to work

There is a democratic process in the EU, although it is not well understood, it compares quite favorably to the UK where the current government got 36% of the vote, ie 64% of the voters did not want them and a second chamber the House of Lords who nobody gets to vote for and is made up of hereditary peers, bishops, political donors and political has-beens

As for touring….

Ah yes I remember the old days before we joined the EU. As a merchandiser I remember them very well. They were wonderful. Hours of waiting at Dover as the agents prepared the forms. Different brands of tees for different markets, were they made in the Common Market as it was then or were they made in India? Scandinavia wanted CM only and if you had a stubborn customs officer, they would open every box. Documents for each country, T3 (1 set for each country) for Europe and EUR 1 for Scandinavia. Bribing customs to get through borders quickly. Arriving at a freight agents at 4 in the morning and having to wait until 8 when they opened to get them cleared into a country, with only the smell of stale sauerkraut stored in the warehouses to keep you company.

Local tax office showing up at gigs to check the paperwork. I well remember my boss at the time (now a player at Live Nation) clambering through the back window of our portacabin with the loot as the officials came in through the front at a Pink Floyd gig at Versailles.

Financial police arriving at Prince gig in Milan wondering how we had several hundred shirts on display when our paperwork assured one and all that we had only one box…More tees in bribes.

Whole day wasted on Spanish border as my dumb ass assistant had spent the night having wild sex with a Metallica fan and had failed miserably in his only gig which was to get the forms cleared and they wanted to know where the paperwork was

And there was the VAT issue……………..!!

And that is just the swag. For the band and equipment every cable and plug and guitar string had to be marked on the carnet for each border (Some of these tours had 30 semis loaded with steel, staging lights, sound and whatever…lot of paper)

Band and crew being woken up at each border crossing, for passport checks, scaring the shit out of first time visiting USA crew members as we came up to East German border, insisting that they would be reqd to do a drugs test to get in

Sure there are faults with the EU but to go back to those days (whilst they are funny in retrospect, they were a real PITA at the time) would be a nightmare.

Another excuse to put ticket prices up for sure??


Steve Brickle


Richard Griffiths' email below is just SPOT ON! People were not thinking about the consequences just the moment of protest. I even know of quite a few people who said they weren't voting as they were absolutely sure the country would vote to stay in without question.

It is an absolute disaster. Big companies are no longer (according to IOD) going to recruit, rumours HSBC might move 1,000 jobs to Paris, at weekend at airport it was £1 for 1 Euro!! Everyone will need new passports (who pays for that!), might not still get European medical cards not to mention the chaos it has already caused the economy.

People were just so so shortsighted and they have put our country back further than it has been for decades. We might never recover, at least not in our lifetime. What a shame for our children to have to put up with this nonsense.

Lets hope Scotland manages to stay in and we might just move there!

Jane Skillin


Jimmy Murphy writes: "I have friends in London who tell me the police refuse to patrol certain sections because they have become more ruled by Sharia law than British law. So the rights of the majority are being lost to an ideology that is not in agreement with the spirit of a free England. Already the Muslim mayor has banned certain types of advertising featuring women in bikinis."

Either Jimmy's friends in London are imaginary, or they are lying to him, or they get their news about the city they ostensibly live in from the Trump campaign. None of these things are true. And all repeating them does is help stir up resentment and hatred.

Michael Hann
Music editor
Guardian News & Media


Dear Jimmy Murphy,

I'm not Muslim but I am a proud Londoner, so I hate seeing lies being propagated about my hometown. Your friends are wrong on both counts. The Metropolitan Police are not 'scared' of any part of the city, so please do not try and discredit them. They do a fantastic job keeping order. Also there are no parts of London, or indeed the UK which are ruled by Sharia law – I thought this ridiculous rumour started by Steve Emerson on Fox news got discredited?

Also our new Mayor has not banned bikini ads, he responded to complaints about one particular body-shaming poster campaign. A quick look on Google informed me that American authorities have previously banned ads by Tom Ford and The Breast Cancer Fund for being a little 'revealing.' ads get banned everywhere so please don't jump to the wrong conclusions and start blaming one section of society for everything.

Finally the EU referendum was about the UK staying or leaving the 'single market' ideology of the EU. It was a political and economical decision – not one based around religion.

Ajay Srivastav


Noel Gallagher may have been spot on…go figure.

"''I see politicians on TV every night telling us that this is a f–king momentous decision that could f–king change Britain forever and blah, blah, blah. It’s like, okay, why don’t you f–king do what we pay you to do which is run the f–king country and make your f–king mind up,' he continues. 'What are you asking the people for? 99 percent of the people are thick as pig shit.''

Lorin Cole


Dear Bob,

My fellow Brits are giving you a hard time! The referendum campaign (shouting match) was very divisive and the bitterness continues. It's not going away soon.

For what it?s worth, I have worked with the UK government and the European Commission over many years. For some, that makes me knowledgeable; for others, it makes me biassed. Anyway as a result, I voted Remain.

I anticipated Brexit would precipitate an immediate crisis in government and financial markets. I have no idea about long 5+ yr situation though I am gloomy.

The Brexit guys were clever in fixing on sovereignty, immigration and money. The Remain campagign was poorly done.

For me, power is more important than sovereignty.

Lots of rubbish spoken. One of your correspondents talks about "anonymous bureaucrats". In fact, all EU officials have tel numbers and email address on the website and are generally more easily approachable than UK officials. Some Brexit guys attack the EU as unelected bureaucrats. In fact, UK bureaucrats are unelected too. The Leave campaign had a very successful Big Lie about the amount of money that the UK contributes to the EU budget – they said it was much more than the real amount. But it wasn't really the money that swayed people.

At heart it was a deep moral division between those who want independence and to put themselves first and go it alone and those who see themselves as interdependent with other Europeans and put higher values on trust and neighbourly commitment. There are virtues in both positions, but we have lost the will to negotiate them.

Wish us luck!

John Howkins


I wonder what the average recipient's age of your newsletter is, Bob? As a 24 year old living in Japan, who once considered himself European, I guess I now have to call myself global. As a home-schooled student of history I have never wanted to refer to myself as British, let alone English. Disgusting figures like Cecil John Rhodes keep me up at night, too waspish.

One thing is for sure, the Leave campaign promised heaven and earth, a new utopia of British rule for British people. The old, poor and stupid bought up that slice of pie. Punished over and again by austerity politics, whose blame was placed squarely on the EU, after 8 years of defending your disability, unemployment, solastalgia, of course you're going to protest with the slightest power you hold so dear.

'member when we won the second world war? Let's make Britain great again!

The comedic news on Friday came from Iran's Secretary of State, calling for Scotland to secede and fully punish England for its centuries of cruel imperialism. Too right. Isn't it funny when the modern states airbrush history from schoolbooks?

When the majority government, and its shadow cabinet, is in favour of remain, but the electorate votes to leave, are the people being represented properly in other areas of policy? This risky referendum process has exposed the disparity between the UK government and people, and can only further undermine future promises and expectations especially as the Leavers are now backtracking on key campaign promises.

The local economy of my hometown depended on foreign students, hence I voted to remain. Now, with a safe career abroad, I might just enjoy the benefits of a country not in severe flux.


Sean Thomas


One thing that remained clear to me throughout this debate, nobody can really elaborate on how the EU directly negatively effects them. A ton of people will talk about "EU laws being dictated to us", far fewer can tell me what they can't do in their daily lives that they would like to.

They're also adamant it's about FREEDOM and stuff, yet for the most part none of them made a peep of noise about it before a couple of months ago. Hardly sounds like they were in shackles.

But it lends another question. There are problems in this country, whose fault are they? Because every election we hear about how it's one party or the other's fault that things got so bad for some people. Yet if our democratically elected government (the one that only 25% of the electorate voted for last time, yet holds over 50% of the seats in parliament… since we're talking democracy) has been powerless thanks to the EU, surely that means it wasn't our government's fault? Which is it? It can't be both.

Andy Vale


Bob. You can reply to these emails with confidence even if you are not British if you read the new Varoufakis book And the Weak Will Suffer What They Must. Great insight into the founding of the EU, it's evolution and why we are where we are right now. I have been living and working in London for over 8 years now and although I don't have an opinion/position on Brexit if same happened in America I would tend to view Remainers as traitors. And I do not think that is too strong.

Rick Riccobono


Good that you’re promoting the dialogue re: Brexit. But Brexit is not the problem. The problems go much deeper. Please take time to read the attached. In the USA, it is clear that neither party is listening to the people, and will soon vote for candidates that nobody wants. The same is happening world-wide. The “fucking disaster” that RIchard G talks about isn't Brexit, but the draconian and destructive policies visited on hundreds of millions of people, in the UK, in the USA, and world-wide.
“…The globalized economy is not working for most people of the world. ( ) International trade agreements and new government structures like the European Union serve corporate power and put the people and planet aside to ensure profits continue to come first. They undermine democracy and national sovereignty, leaving people feeling more powerless.
By pushing austerity and commodification of public services, people are now more economically insecure with less wealth and lower incomes. The response of many is anger. Some protest austerity, others blame people of a different skin color, heritage or ethnicity. The surprise vote in the UK to leave the European Union is the latest, and perhaps the biggest, example of the blowback economic and political elites are getting for their actions…"

David Rubinson


As a Brit living in Europe I value the EU, and like to remain. It has made some great achievements that we all benefit from and probably overlook these days as we are so used to it and take it for granted. However I think the out vote was about 1 topic above all, bloated bureaucracy and unaccountability. These aspects need to change.

To perfectly illustrate this, look at the treatment of Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, an elected MEP (Member of EU Parliament), when he asks to review the notes on the already agreed upon TTIP trade deal:

Simon Young


Hi Bob,

Interesting replies. What suprises me most about the many leave voters is how people are parroting lines that have been printed over and over in our newspapers for the past few years, ever since Boris Johnson (a journalist at the time rather than the elected MP he is now) wrote a piece that mischaracterised who the EU are.

It's understandable though. The UK working class is reeling from the kind of cuts to public services that span generations and have been told to hate 'others' instead. The immigrant. Gay people. The person claiming benefits. The disabled. The EU. All instead of focusing the blame at the real culprits – successive Governments who have a bigger allowance for booze (£1.4 million over two years) than most of us will earn in a lifetime!

So after the Brexit we have racists out on the street telling British people to go home because of the colour of their skin and attacking those who look different to them, emboldened by a vote that promised a return to a mythical past. Meanwhile the politicians are falling over themselves to pass the buck or playing political games to secure their futures.

It seems that we haven't learnt anything from Rome. We just have 650 Nero's now instead of one.

Reece Morris-Jones

P.S. Have you noticed the big difference between the US and the UK? We still read newspapers!


Mate, you were on the money with your analogy. Unfortunately I think it probably would have been true with either outcome.

Things in uk politics have reached a boiling point… Not to sound too hyperbolic. There was a big change that happened in the heart of the entire country so I don't really know what will happen next. Mass manipulation has left us all with a huge shadow over our heads and our future. True either way. Day to day lives of immigrants won't ever be the same. What's the key identifier of an immigrant? We've seen it in history, the US, and in Europe.

There is reason to be optimistic, but I can't quite articulate that yet.

Hopefully all of this works out and we get back to moaning about made in Chelsea, the royal family, if Kanye is really that crazy, the price of a pint in london, and wether we can take good enough selfies on our iPhones that constantly tell us we're the most important things that have ever existed, books/being educated/analytical/critical thinking don't matter, our opinions do and that there's nothing wrong with a short attention span because we're all so 'busy'… I dunno feels like global mass manipulation to me. Tech is incredible but we're probably missing it's point. I guess I'm trying to say that going forwards sometimes looks like going backwards and vice versa… So I have no idea which direction the UK is heading in except a spiral.

Sorry for all the waffle but you were on the money, philosophically speaking. But I like vinyl a lot, but I listen mostly to digital mainly because it's easier and involves less commitment. When I'm not too stressed out, falsely busy or whatever, vinyl takes a bit more effort but the value of the experience/ritual is pretty apparent.

Anyway I live in a small town near Nottingham, I'm black, born and raised in the UK although I have a strong connection to Uganda. I play folk, not hip hop, but I've had experiences in almost every broad genre I can name.

Last week I went for a walk in the town I've called my home for 5 years or so and it felt like not a single person could look me in the eye.

These times they are a-changin'.




Reading those replies to your Brexit email makes me feel sick. Every point they made can be proven false simply by looking it up properly. As part of a very musically orientated, liberal city in South England, very few of us wanted Brexit. In fact, hardly anyone under 40 wanted it. Deprived areas, rural areas and bitter, gullible old fucks with nostalgia complexes completely screwed the younger generation on this because they didn't have the desire or ability to research the situation for themselves.

The Leave vote was orchestrated by the Murdoch press and pushed through by three groups of people: racists, the ignorant and the misguided. There have already been multiple incidents of racial abuse where anyone with brown skin has been told "We voted leave so GET OUT!" (as if it's a reality TV show?!).

The Leave campaign used lie after lie to manipulate the uninformed and this has been obvious to anyone with even the most basic knowledge of the workings of the EU. It capitalised on the fears, prejudices and anger of the poor and the uneducated. Half of the UK is furious with the result of this disastrous referendum: a referendum which only a few idiots wanted in the first place! People are pissed off with the financial inequality in this country and the Leave campaign – headed by a few dishonest, career-driven politicians – used this to direct that anger towards the EU. By doing that they hoped to present themselves as the saviour of the UK economy/sovereignity. All those who condemn the "bureaucracy of Brussels" have no idea what the EU represents or why it was set up.

The "meddling laws" that keep coming up as points of contention are usually just guidelines that every member must agree to so that a decent standard of manufacturing or living can be enjoyed by the people.

Depressingly, the bold claims of putting the EU membership fee back into the NHS was denied by the Leave campaign only hours after the result was announced. THAT WAS THEIR MAIN SLOGAN!

The most frightening thing that has happened is an immediate increase in the momentum of the far-right. Nationalism is a dangerous thing and if I wasn't white I would feel very scared right now.

Please understand that NOBODY had the facts on this one. Not even the Remain campaign bothered to put forward the basic information that could have so easily saved the day, despite the manipulative power of the right-wing media.

The dust will take a long time to settle on this one and I sincerely hope that the murder of the humanitarian politician Jo Cox on June 16th will be the worst of it.

Steve Brook



Richard Griffiths is 100% right, and I’m surprised at most of your correspondents not seeing that. Maybe the rest of us in the UK are just too busy figuring out where we go from here.

To me, the Brexit vote is just like the rise of Donald Trump – two of the leaders of the Leave campaign (Boris Johnson and Michael Gove ) are ex-journalists who are experts at manipulating the press and media / they had most of the UK press behind them / they fed people with a constant diet of lies and half-truths / they didn’t worry about being responsible or having a long-term plan because they honestly didn’t expect to win / they told people to ignore all of the experts who said Brexit would be a disaster.

And then we have the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, who was so worried about betraying his 'principles' if he stood on the same platform as the Tory Prime Minister, that he ended up saying and doing nothing.

This is a disaster for Britain, a disaster for Europe, and a disaster for the world. And, like Richard, I’m also an eternal optimist !!

Mike Donovan


I'm also a Londoner, watching my country tear itself apart over issues many simply don't understand, whichever way they voted. This is what happens when you let demagogues tell lies. And both sides did, tho to my mind the Leavers told the biggest porkies. And are now claiming they never did. I'm ashamed of my own country, and its politicians especially. Hoping – and warning- that it doesn't happen to you too.

Best regards,

Tom Green


As an older British pensioner, I believe leaving was the right choice, the EU has failed us, blocked us trading with numerous countries that prior to joining we enjoyed healthy relationships financial with. It's going to take time but we were a great nation before the EU and under the right leadership will be again. By not taking the Euro we were never fully accepted, more like tolerated by EU member states, after the referendum see how quickly they rallied round saying, get this sorted and get out now. No love lost their, This is just the tip of the iceberg as other member states follow suit.

The EU was a good concept in the beginning but ended being driven by greed and power by few that destroyed the individual identities of countries, and over time fell apart instead of keeping pace and addressing changing times.

Rule Britannia

Rob Taylor


Oh my.

Some of those replies received, what a shame there's such hate in the world.

There were plenty of reasons to leave the EU, some of which those replies showed, but let's be clear, immigration was used by the leave campaign and yet over half of our immigration comes from outside the EU.

The real reason for our big debt, the real reason that things are hard for the working class is because of the banking crisis and the austerity that the conservative government is forcing on the people. Yet it's so much easier to blame immigrants! Anyone who voted for brexit because of immigration has been mislead but the right wing politicians and media.

As for the leaving the EU gives us more democracy. We have a majority government who only got 24% of the electoral votes last year. We have an unelected House of Lords. To say that it was the EU that made our country undemocratic is a joke. Next we'll be leaving the UN or the WTO for the same reason because clearly it's not our own fault!

As for the comments about Muslims. 🙁 such bigotry is horrible. I live in London and I know people in the police, and I've never heard of areas where the police won't go. The majority of Muslims immigrants in this country aren't EU nationals, so again, how did that even become part of this debate!

I'm sure in the long run the UK countries will be fine (although they may all break up themselves), but we're in for a bumpy ride and it's my generation who will suffer as this is in our peak time.

Any of the "lets make Britain great again" propaganda in the campaign failed to acknowledge that it was the empire we built up by force that made the country "great" and I for one do not want to go back to those days.

The undercurrent of hate that seems to exist not just in Britain but across the world really needs to be addressed.

Have you heard this song by Anais Mitchell:

We need more artists like this challenging people. Art can play a big part in helping us counter the hate.

Keep up the good work.

Dave Giles


Brexit is dogshit!!

Johnson Somerset


Surely the biggest problem was that the Brexit gang had no programme, except leave. That too was opportunistic by Johnson and Gove, driven by a lot of lies.

We now have no effective government, and the people who brought them down don't know where to go and what to do.

As for the great British Public, we are reminded us that they love Simon Cowell.

God it is depressing , but at least I am 73 and won?t have to put up with much of it. But my Grandchildren, I wish them good luck, they need it.

Peter Jenner


Unfortunately it wasn't just a hankering after the past – others were voting against a government that ironically had survived on divide and conquer and suddenly when it speaks the truth (Brexit is bad for economy) it's people are already divided and conquered

So many voted by what they see on televised debates or biased newspaper articles

Fact is EU citizens are good for this country – end of

We had a huge place at the EU table – and instigated many of the laws

We had no Schengen Agreement, kept our currency and haven't been taking our fair share of refugees

The EU migrant us fit healthy and young if they stay and have kids , said kids will speak English- soooo

All fears based on myth – but not just an urge to return to the past ( impossible)

Thus country my lovely country feels alien to me now – at least I'm in London – where we live amongst many EU citizens , benefit from foreign investment – so that's a small comfort-

diane datson


I Googled everyone named below who supports Brexit. Fucking psychos, the lot of them.

You’re 100% right on the old vs young schism. It’s the Boomers.

Hitting a LOT of I’m-not-racist-but-here-are-some-racist-views cliches too.

– Using "flock" to dehumanise immigrants, like poor families fleeing warzones are some kind of animal stream to be diverted out of sight

– Calling the EU "Soviet-style authoritarian union state of states” fundamentally misunderstands a) the fucking SOVIET GODDAMN UNION* and b) the EU

– "The people of the UK voted to return to a situation where they could determine their own laws rather than have them imposed by unelected bureaucrats." = this is the most incorrect and inaccurate reading of what has happened possible. It’s just based on conjecture, zero fact. Conjecture and racism. This sort of language is a product of the right wing tabloid press stoking up latent racist sentiment by making the EU out to be this evil, overarching foreign-led cabal. Which it isn’t.

– "Just because nobody wants to go back to books doesn't mean they want Shakespeare replaced by the Koran." Yep, you aren’t racist at all!

– "I think that the vote reflects that many older people feel that with their prime earning years behind them they were conned by the establishment and a rigged system. Their golden years and lack of security are not looking so golden." – Yeah, all those pensions and subsidies they creamed off the top after WW2 were a total con. Fucking Boomers. Nothing’s ever enough. Thanks for fucking your children out of myriad opportunities you self-aggrandising, solipsistic shits.

– "I see it as more of a pulling back on the reins of the march towards Socialism in the USA" – GET IN THE BIN YOU THICK FUCK.

– "I have friends in London who tell me the police refuse to patrol certain sections because they have become more ruled by Sharia law than British law. So the rights of the majority are being lost to an ideology that is not in agreement with the spirit of a free England.
Already the Muslim mayor has banned certain types of advertising featuring women in bikinis. I'm sure certain styles of music are not far behind.Much of this immigration has come through the EU." – FACTUALLY UNTRUE ON EVERY CLAIM. Sharia Law thing was a myth invented by racist press in the US; ad ban is based on body-shaming which happened BEFORE the mayor took office. Sorry Jimmy Murphy, you’re a racist piece of shit.

– "The greatest generation no longer impresses me… They raised these people." – BINGO.

Ben Patashnik


Thanks Bob.

Hallelujah! Although it seems that the Remainers may want to play a game of 'Best of Three’; apparently the first one was only a practice one!

Watch all the delay tactics, while those in charge panic and anyone over 35 who voted to leave is blamed in the media for destroying the younger generations' future. Interesting that after calling anyone who wanted to exit the EU a quitter, our Prime Minister throws his toys out of the pram and jumps ship – leaving us with a potential buffoon in charge, while the Political establishment and media throw everything at Corbyn to try and get rid of him. I love Europe, I don’t like the current EU. I love Football (soccer), doesn’t mean I like FIFA!

The exit is the best thing for UK, Europe and the rest of the world. Here’s 3 videos which are very hard to argue against:

1. A short film (14.05) setting out the democratic case for voting Leave in the forthcoming EU Referendum. The argument relies on a factual account of how the EU works, and an historical analysis of how much influence Britain has been able to wield within it, rather than scaremongering and conjecture.

2. Running at 5.58 in length Paolo Barnard, the most censored Italian economic journalist, reveals the truth about BREXIT, the European Union and financial dictatorship. Full of energy which makes it interesting

3. From Peter Hitchins

Thanks for your writings!

Peter Pawan


I have to admit that I too thought that your Brexit/vinyl analogy was wide of the mark. But what has made the deeper impression, and depressed me as much as the referendum result, are the letters you've published. Did you hear almost exclusively from supporters of the Leave campaign, or is it just coincidence?

I agree with the letter from Sophie Yau: this vote was never about the EU. The result demonstrates that a fundamental misunderstanding of the EU and Brussels (to which we sent our elected MEPs – yes, we voted for our representatives in Brussels) + years of Government cutbacks + inherent distrust of 'the other' + distrust of politicians from both the Tory and Labour parties produced an attractive but toxic cocktail that was too tempting for many to resist. It's not the Britain I lived in for 25 years, and one I'm ashamed of, especially given the rise of post-referendum racism and violence.

The socio-economic ramifications of this vote are terrifying.

On a side note: other than PJ Harvey, Damon Albarn, New Order, James, Adele, Billy Bragg, Jarvis Cocker (playing a secret set), and Ellie Goulding, the performers at Glastonbury were silent about Brexit.

All the best,
Alison Bracker


Richard is absolutely spot on here. 100%.
A referendum that should never have been called, should never have been set at anything over 50% wins and a weak opposition who haven't communicated to their voters that this should never have been an anti-establishment protest vote.
Strongest leader in UK is Nicola Sturgeon.

Geoff Ellis


Well, you really have stepped into the doo doo with the Brexit post.

Take the 90’s NAFTA trade agreement between Canada, Mexico and the USA. That is more or less equivalent to the European Common Market the UK voted to enter in a referendum in 1975. The Common Market was governed from Brussels, Belgium. In NAFTA’s case, the equivalent would be say, Winnipeg, Canada.

Now, imagine that the bureaucrats running NAFTA in Winnipeg decide that a small’ish political union would be good for the USA, Mexico and Canada to include passing common laws, a common currency and the free movement of people (ie. no border controls). Also, add more countries to NAFTA from the North of Canada and South of Mexico. This is the equivalent of the European Union.

The European Union came into being in the early 90’s with the Maastrict Treaty but UK citizens were not asked in a General Election or a Referendum if they wanted political union. The UK political establishment did everything they could to not give UK citizens a Referendum until David Cameron was pressured by his own side, the Conservatives.

Would US citizens agree to NAFTA + political union without a vote?

Best …
Dinesh Vadhia


Hi Bob,

I thought this resource would be good for you to understand the technical ( truths ! ) about a Brexit.

As of right now, there are a lot of people scrambling for position politically.

I hope they get it right for everyone. I was in the remain camp but I'm an optimist. I hope that the back room deals and negotiating will benefit everyone.

One of Britains biggest trade partners is the USA and we have no trade agreement in place.

Steve Daly


Hi Bob

I am shocked by the ignorance still being displayed by some of the email you have received about Brexit since your very interesting and sound refections on the underlying desire by the Leave campaign to return to the past ( and good old England etc). They forget that that vision is also deluded, "Good old England" had the working classes living in much worse conditions than today etc etc. There are many other factors too that have arisen that are better described by people better placed than me to describe this to you, so I am attaching a few links that I think you will find very interesting reading and inform the debate better than most of the comments you have posted.

The first link is to an article by Chris Patten, the last British governor of Hong Kong and a former EU commissioner for external affairs, is Chancellor of the University of Oxford. (He is also a prominent Conservative )

Have a read of this article in the Irish Times, you will find it interesting as to the view of Berxit from Ireland where I now live having left London last year…

Now they have won and what Kipling said of the demagogues of his age applies to Michael Gove, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage.

"I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?"

The real division in Britain is not between London and the north, Scotland and Wales or the old and young, but between Johnson, Gove and Farage and the voters they defrauded. What tale will serve them now? On Thursday, they won by promising cuts in immigration. On Friday, Johnson and the Eurosceptic ideologue Dan Hannan said that in all probability the number of foreigners coming here won’t fall. On Thursday, they promised the economy would boom. By Friday, the pound was at a 30-year low and Daily Mail readers holidaying abroad were learning not to believe what they read in the papers. On Thursday, they promised £350m extra a week for the NHS. On Friday, it turns out there are “no guarantees”.

"I sometimes fear that
people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.
Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you…
It doesn't walk in saying,
'Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution.'"

Michael Rosen

The above represent what I believe are the real issues and consequences of Brexit

very best regards and thank you for all your articles and insights that I have been reading over the years


Robert Stephenson (Blastbeat)


Hey Bob

Love the analogy, though you may have opened a can of worms with some people who subscribe to you.

The UK as a nation, as with the music industry, needs to find a way forward.
Whether everyone likes it or not, that's how it is,….

And, the mix of people here is as diverse as musical styles, of which some people prefer certain 'genres'… It horses for courses.. We're all immigrants in some form or another….

pete spiby
Off of Black Spiders



Greetings from mere England.

Think 1861 but without muskets.

In Britain we talked about regaining our sovereignty, which in the language of 1860 was ‘States Rights” after all the Civil War was never about slavery (yeah right ! may have spent too much time south of the Mason-Dixon line).

This is a revolt, do not underestimate it , fuelled by a currency of neglect, Robespierre and Lenin would have seen this for what it was, but in a very English way, pathetically and happily devoid of guillotines .

I say England as that is all we will be, the Scots look as if they are out of here, and as no there is no larger EU umbrella to shelter under, where it didn't matter that much if you lived in Ireland or Britain, it now does, and we hear the faint murmurings of a potential resumption of our low grade Civil War in Northern Ireland. We have no political leadership, the left is holidaying in the 1970s, and the right doesn't know what to do as it never expected to win.

Our young are furious at the old who have voted them out. Imagine the perception (we don’t know if it is a hard reality yet) that where last week you could work in 27 European states, that may now go, imagine saying to someone young in Arkansas no more California dreamin' for you, as you now are barred from the rest of the Union.

The deprived areas of the UK that have the most economic investment from the EU voted to leave. Yes there is a whiff of wish for a past that never was , but that ain’t really it. Its resentment about an unequal present. They see a country where the economic imbalance is so large between the South East and the rest, and where they have not seen any real rise in wages for years. Where If you work really hard at making your underclass feel really under, they get really grumpy. This may be the UK, but it could be the US, and is what La Donald and his Tea Party antecedents tap into.

its not often you see the majority get 'mad at it’s money' and vote against it .

It was William Yancey who said of Jefferson Davis welcoming the Confederacy "the man and the hour have met" and "Prosperity, honour and victory await his administration." This could have been Boris Johnson, like the South the Brixteers promise an economic future based on sovereignty, and hope ……that didn’t turn out so well .

All the best,

Adam Singer


What a depressing set of comments on the Brexit piece. I suppose it shows the demographic of this newsletter. Old folks playing with the future of youth

Jorg Mohaupt


Hi Bob,

The Brits are going to face the extremely serious repercussions of their actions now.

It is going to hurt them in many many ways… and the majority of them has absolutely no idea! I predict a lot of unrest in the UK, for the foreseeable future.

Please read my article on the subject here:

Kind regards,

Annabelle Gauberti
Solicitor of England and Wales


Completely in agreement here with Paul Hardcastle.

Maria Hoppe


The Brexit vote is nationalism good people blinded by racism in sheeps clothing Farage is centre stage he gets more airtime than the Prime minister you have the far right on the rise across Europe. You as a progressive gave them a metaphor for what tech has done to and for the industry and the advantage it creates for change and opportunity it's a beautiful thing to perceive beyond the Horizon. America was built by visionaries let's hope Trump gets the slap in the face he needs not literally of course because only America can save democracy.

Kenny Rose


Dear Bob,

It made me quite angry to read all of those replies this morning. All of the fear, uninformed nonsense, open racism and white male complacency. I hope you were just trying to prove your original point by sending those out but I was really taken aback at reading all of these.

Thanks for being an old white male (no offense) who dares to think openly, differently, and embracing the future – complicated and different to our past as it may be.



The point the Brexit respondents seem to missing entirely in their criticism of your position is that America is very familiar with having to compromise regional rights and power in fealty to a central governing organization. Our EU is the Federal Government. Yes, the issue of states rights versus federal dominion has fueled crisis after crisis in this country. We do have recourse with the Supreme Court but these two forces have countervailing priorities.

In the end, our red states rely on Federal subsidies to survive, much as would Greece, Croatia do with the EU. The blue states pay more than their fair share of taxes into the system to the benefit of the less viable states. Mississippi etc. would be bankrupt if it weren't for this handout. So we are familiar with the inability of a sovereign region to operate without regard for the administrative policies of a central government that has to maintain stability over a diverse constituency.

Winston Churchill called for the formation of a United States of Europe in 1947. He deemed it the only way to stabilize a continent that experienced war and conflict almost continually due to the absence of alliances based on unifying interests. To say that Britain should abandon a system that has worked quite well for a period of time because of a global refugee crisis that has upset the pensioner's apple cart and angered xenophobes is hardly forward thinking. How about Scotlend and Northern Irelost as punctuation marks to this knee jerk reaction?

Thanks I feel better.

John Brodey


And that's the current state of the UK for you… Two sides, each unequivocally believing in their stance, completely dumbfounded as to why anyone would think differently. You can taste the sourness in the air all over this green land. My Estonian girlfriend and I (a Brit) are getting out of this burning ship ASAP – from Tuscaloosa to Timbuktu; anywhere will do.

Piers McEwan

Ps. Oh, and to all the previous responders generalising about Eastern European migrants (my girlfriend included, who ain't living in a bedsit sending all her money back home etc etc)… You're the whole damn problem.


Haha this is funny. England complaining about Eastern European immigrants! What a joke. The US has exponentially more immigrants even if you size by proportion. I'm so glad other people are having these issues and bitching about them too. America isn't the only super power fed up with how things have gotten. Vote for pizza.

– Dennis Haskins


What I don't understand is:

A) Overall, in which quantifiable and measurable ways will we be better off outside the EU?
B) Which laws have the eu imposed that are detrimental to the average UK individual or organisation/business?
C) What are the economic / social upsides to us leaving the EU?

Ian Robinson


Hey Bob,
I really don't know what all the fuss is about. There's a lot of Chicken Lickens running around with garbage bin lids sitting on their heads, saying the sky is about to fall on their heads!
The countries doing the best in Europe are the ones that didn't vote to go with the EU – Switzerland, Iceland, Norway.
EU was a great excuse for the Beaurocrat control freaks and their puppet Politicians to build a nice big cushy castle for themselves.
Never mind the fact that a handful of countries (I think about 10 were net contributors out of the 28) would be left holding up the rest of the leeches.
Personally, I think this is the beginning of the end for the EU.
It should have stayed what it was set up for originally – a huge trading Bloc, and the leeches would be much further along the path of being strong economies today!
Go Britain. Show them all how wrong they all are.
Countries in every other part of the world (including Australia, where I live) will be beneficiaries of a true free-trading world, where the survival of the fittest and innovation, will reign again, like it was always supposed to.


Doug Walker


Let me guess, most of those leave-justifiers are white and over 55?
Do they really expect we (the other 27) let them have a good deal with us, if not necessary? Haha, no! They have nothing one of us 'needs' and we couldn't get from another EU country. If they can produce all they need by themselves, I doubt but I'm interested seeing this.

We still have 27 countries were we can work and our kids can study, do interns and learn international thinking and ideas. Little England will have not much input and very little output in a global world.

They obviously haven't understand yet that the immigration problem won't change a bit, that wasn't and isn't a EU-thing.

Tells s lot about their 'knowledge', huh ?!?

Never thought I'd agree with what some former leaders said: don't have the simple people vote for important international decisions, they won't understand it and they won't be able to think out of their own money pocket.

True dat !

EU was meant as a peace project. It needs reforms no doubt but things aren't easy with 28 countries not even speaking the same language. However it's a very good thing for all members on the long run and I do want a good future for my kids and grand kids.


Alexandra Winkler, a proud member of one of the EU founder states


Brexit is good in the long run

Jeffrey Farrell


That was the vote, move on.

Bill Welsh


Please don't publish this under my name, as I simply want to communicate my perspective to you, but not to stand out.

As an American who had a home in the English Midlands during the first wave of EU emigration to England, I saw many Poles emigrate to my region because as EU members they could.

They were blond and light-skinned — so they blended in well; and they spoke perfect nearly-unaccented English, were highly educated, and beat the socks off of their young Midlands counterparts when it came to working hard. They took the good jobs away from the benighted locals in my geographic area. Many of the locals were lazy, undereducated (leaving school to have babies at the ages of 15-17), and not motivated to work hard. These English kids were accustomed to depending on or actually living with their parents, lounging around all day collecting "benefit", and smoking and drinking with their friends while their parents watched the grandchildren at night. When they were obligated to look for work to continue to collect welfare, they quickly discovered that Poles had taken the good jobs and they, perhaps understandably, took umbrage at being left with the dregs. No one wants to see the status quo upset.

Despite the animosity, the Poles remained. They opened Polish food shops in my small town; the local Tesco started to stock Polish items. They continued to work hard and to have a positive effect on the local economy. Then, in the mid-2000s, they realized living in these small towns with undereducated English people who condemned them was not ideal. They started moving back to Poland where they actually foresaw a BETTER life for themselves. The numbers are documented somewhere. I cannot think of a more fundamental insult to the English but I'm not sure it was viewed that way by my neighbors.

I suspect many of my English Midlands neighbors voted to leave the EU because they didn't like being shown up by foreigners.

I got run out of that Midlands town, but that's another story.

Am loving the dialogue you have stirred. It's important for the music industry at some point, because much depends on US:UK commerce in this global economy. I'm also oddly disturbed by the parallels with Donald Trump's current popularity in the U.S..

Best wishes


A lot of this sounds like "states rights" and the bitching you hear from people in border states about all those brown people who work too cheap, have too many kids and steal jobs from the real 'muricans. Turns out, a lot of those immigrants are doing low-paying hard manual labor jobs that Americans don't want to do. The immigrants the Brits are pissed about may be white, but they are still "other". Americans used to talk like that about white immigrant groups a few generations ago (Italians, Irish, etc.). It's still "us vs. them" and it sounds pretty ugly.

Amy Primeaux
Houston, TX


Whoa, Bob, your letter really stirred the pot!

Love the responses of British people complaining about immigration — so the chief colonizer has become the colonized. Serves them right.

And that guy complaining about $19b of value — what about the value of UK stocks declining by $125b in a single day, coupled with a 30% currency devaluation. Let those numbers sink in!

I think you made a really clever point — the world has changed. Globalization can no more be ignored than the spread of the Internet and streaming music. Those who deny it so forcefully only reveal themselves to be behind the times.


-Forest Casey



And there it is. Take Richard Griffiths email, replace Corbyn with Trump, U.K. with US, Boris with any of a number of Trump surrogates, a few other minor changes and that's what you could be looking at come November. Except we won't be thinking about how we can now stay at the Four Seasons instead of the Metropolitan.

Rick Canny


"That doesn't happen in the States"?!?! — Paul Hardcastle is sorely wrong….if he thinks it's the elected officials who are really writing the bills that become law in the US.

Jimmy Murphy is just repeating an already disproven bullshit meme about UK police being afraid to patrol Muslim areas.

And Lavon Pagan has no idea about what "Socialism" actually is.

Amen, Chris Lusher….


Hugo Burnham


These Brexiters are fucking nuts. I lived in London for several years prior to 2010. The few remaining friends I have there still will all likely return home now because all the big banking gigs will be lost to France and Hong Kong when HSBC and Barclay's are forced out of the UK.

Sure, England will be more English, because everyone else will leave. What a victory.

Daniel Goldenberg | Hall Webber LLP


The parting on the left is now parting on the right.

Peace and Love,

Dan Millen


As a 25 year old living in Scotland, Brexit IS a fucking disaster. I could accept the result if this was a nation of people who had done their research and came to their own conclusions, but it's the result of a nation of xenophobes believing everything they were told by the right wing campaign leaders.

I'll save my heartbroken ramblings but this is a good read explaining how the working class have been sucked into a false revolt. :

The guy who wrote in saying his pal told him Sharia Law was ruling in some parts of England more than British Law – if your pal thinks they're living under Sharia Law they should probably seek help. This is a prime example of the kind of lies that were told by the Leave campaign to scare people into voting out – there were so many lies from that campaign that people essentially voted without knowing what they were voting for. For example, when Nigel Farage promised £350 million extra to the NHS if we voted leave. Here he is trying to worm his way out of that one, hours after the result. :

Of course the government don't want to save the NHS – they want to privatise it and sell it to their cronies!!

This wee guy from a small town in Wales also voted out, despite benefiting greatly from EU funding. He also didn't have a clue what he was talking about:

The responses you published previously were pretty scary – if that many people think that Brexit is a good idea, you will be looking at President Trump.

Justine Ward



i live in london

and these two statements are nonsense: "the police refuse to patrol certain sections because they have become more ruled by Sharia law than British law.” "Already the Muslim mayor has banned certain types of advertising featuring women in bikinis."

sorry but “i have friends who tell me” is not a reasonable fact-checking tool

the people of london voted overwhelmingly to remain

and the people who live in communities where they phone the police if they see a black man voted overwhelmingly to leave

‘i am afraid of what i do not actually know’ is what swung the referendum

go to any large city in the UK and what you will experience this week is disgust and despair

while little englanders in suburbia wave their flags and think there’ll be a return to the 1950s

Marc Seal


Bob, just to clarify your reader's comment below about Sadiq Khan banning ads that feature women in bikinis, he is bang off the mark. Sadiq banned them because of the backlash one company received from 1000s of people last year due to the ad's blatant body shaming. It had NOTHING TO DO WITH HIM BEING A MUSLIM.

It is also bullshit that that the police don't go to areas of London that are supposedly under sharia law. That is a lie pure and simple.

I'm American who's lived here for 14 years, became a British citizen 7 years ago because I wanted to be a part of Europe.

This whole Brexit issue is fear of change, fear of multiculturalism. It is the old worrying they're becoming redundant. Baby boomer never thought they'd old, but now they are and they've screwed the rest of us. As another reader said, the majority of those who voted for it think it's going to be the British taking back control but just this morning BoJo said that he wants a points based immigration policy but access to the single market. A political cake and eat it too situation. My family are considering moving to Ireland or Canada.

Keep up the good work,

Lindsay Faller


Hi Bob

Need to correct the comments about Sadiq Khan, London's mayor. He is a moderate, inclusive and open person, who is also Muslim. Just like there are moderate, inclusive and open people who are Christian.

This is a mayor who in the last few days has addressed Pride in London (to a very positive reception), pleaded for London to remain open and diverse in the light of the Brexit vote, and broke his Ramadan fast at a synagogue in an expression of interfaith respect and unity.

Any implication that he is a hardliner is utterly false.

Instead, take a look at this:
– the parallels with Trump are no doubt obvious. The poll quoted is post-vote and with a large sample size. Very robust results.

Kieron Faller


My antennae went up when I read Jimmy Murphy's reply concerning the London mayor banning bikini ads, along with the alleged Sharia "no go zones."

If you want to read what the London mayor REALLY did, here is a link. It is not as Murphy says.

The Sharia no-go zones are another myth of the right wing that Fox News loves to chatter on about.

Don't like to see your excellent blog used to spread more immigrant hate propaganda. There's enough out there as it is. There are legitimate arguments that can be made on the immigration issue that don't descend into demonizing immigrants.

Tom Moore


Re: Jimmy Murphy
On the point of the London mayor banning the bikini ads, it wasn't the bikini itself but the body shaming underlying the ad –
Just wanted to make that clear!!
Khan also addressed the crowds last weekend at London Pride

Sophie Yau


Jimmy Murphy makes two bold claims of fact: "I have friends in London who tell me the police refuse to patrol certain sections because they have become more ruled by Sharia law than British law. So the rights of the majority are being lost to an ideology that is not in agreement with the spirit of a free England. Already the Muslim mayor has banned certain types of advertising featuring women in bikinis."

As someone who has lived in London all his life and knows many people from diverse backgrounds including Muslims and police officers, I can inform your readers that the first claim is absolute rubbish.

As for the second, this link explains it all, and is to do with body-shaming, not Islam. It is widely supported by women in London of all faiths and none at all:

Best wishes,

Mat Snow


I don't usually reply to your interesting emails but as a British citizen and for 40 years a Londoner, Jimmy Murphy is completely wide of the mark.

The "police refuse to patrol certain sections because they have become more ruled by Sharia law than British law" is a tabloid scare story and totally untrue – at least according to the police. The Mayor of London is indeed a Muslim but we Londoners elected him and he has not "banned certain types of advertising featuring women in bikinis" – not sure he's going to "ban" anything but the object is to restrict "offensive advertising" following an ad campaign featuring a bosomy and scantily clad young lady under the slogan "are you beach body ready?" . Personalty I didn't have an issue with it but some did – and he was addressing that. It wasn't his idea.

I'm totally with Richard Griffiths on this – Jimmy is deluded if he thinks that us leaving the EU means that free trade music and entertainment on demand and brotherhood of men will prevail. The racists are already on the streets abusing people on the basis that "we won now fuck off".

Also, most Muslims in the UK came (or their families came) from the Indian sub-continent ie Britiains former Empire, not the EU


Jane Clemetson


I wouldn't have disseminated Jimmy Murphy's email if I were you Bob – it is inflammatory and largely fiction


Joe Taylor
Record of the Day


Jimmy Murphy's post needs a slight correction. I have lived in London for 54 years and am not aware of a single square foot of our capital (or any other British city) that the police refuse to go into for any reason.

Secondly the proposed restriction on advertising on the tube has nothing to do with Islam and is focused on body confidence issues. Whether that is the right or wrong way to deal with it is neither here nor there. The mayor's religion has little or nothing to do with it. This is an article from a London daily that is about as left wing as the New York Post.

Describing Sadiq Khan as a political moderate with no sharp edges whatsoever rather under states the case. He has taken great steps to distance himself from the Socialist who leads his own party. Khan won his election in the teeth of the most racially divisive major campaign run in my lifetime and in the face of slurs and outright lies that have already led to legal action, retractions and fines.

Well ….. it was the most divisive until last week when one party rolled out advertising borrowed directly from Nazi German propaganda.

ardent music
ian blackaby


Re: Jimmy Murphy's ignorant screed, the story about parts of London being ruled by Sharia law is a complete myth. And here's the real story of why the "Muslim mayor" banned a small amount of ads from the Tube:

Just like Donald Trump's thousands of cheering Muslims in NJ on 9/11, these tales are propaganda designed to inflame hatred and prejudice.
Don Kaye


Well it appears that the scourge of crazy internet misinformation is not limited to America.

Sad. But I think Brexit should serve as a wake up call to Americans who think Donald Trump can't be elected. If informed people don't pay attention and vote, the unthinkable can happen.

We need to get informed and verify all the bs that fills the Internet. You can vote for whoever you want but please folks, make sure it is based on accurate information.

Keep preaching Bob.

Charlie Vanture


Hi Bob,

In case you're interested, what follows is the counter-argument to Rebecca Bardess' arguments for Brexit, which I posted as a comment to the post on her website:

Watch out, Sally, Teresa! It seems Ms. Bardess cannot even get the date of the founding of the EEC/EC/EU right! It was actually established by the Treaty of Rome, signed in 1957 (not 1973) by the original EEC members (Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) and coming into effect on 1 January 1958.

How can anyone who really knows what the EU is about make such a fundamental mistake? Well, Ms. Bardess knows rather less about the EU than her aggressive writing-style might lead one to believe. (Much less to tell us all about "Capitalism, fascism, socialism and communism: quick guide" – oh please. What sort of "qualifications in both law and politics" does Ms. Bardess really have, I'd like to know.)

Let's get right to the "Doctrine of Direct Effect": was it "introduced by the EU"? Not at all: rather, it was the result of the development of European Court of Justice case-law – specifically of the 1963 case "Van Gend en Loos v Nederlandse Administratie der Belastingen (ECJ Case 26/62)." This established the "direct effect" principle, namely stating that laws created by the EEC/EU could be relied upon (i.e. brought up to stop a government doing something) by individuals (and not just states) in any EU country before that country's courts. In this specific case, the Dutch customs authorities had tried to charge higher duties on a certain import, whereas EU regulations required that the duties be lower, on their way to disappearing altogether. The Dutch had to give way.

"See?" Ms. Bardess might now exclaim. "The unaccountable EU is creating laws we have to follow, just like the Dutch customs authority was forced to follow!" Well, not really, and this goes to the heart of why the EU is actually something the UK should be glad to be involved with.

What the EU is all about is contained in the body of treaties that all member-states have signed and ratified since the beginning, from that Treaty of Rome to the Treaty of Lisbon (signed DEC 2007, into force DEC 2009). There are two things I'd like to point out:

1) These member-states (including, for now, the UK) hereby signed over to the EU the power to make such laws ONLY IN A LIMITED NUMBER OF AREAS, namely (as you would expect) the areas which could best be improved for all through such international cooperation: trade (all customs duties between member-states are now zero, completely wiped out; plus, one official represents the whole EU in international trade negotiations); agriculture (because farming from EU countries influences supply/demand throughout the European market); research (because everyone working in common through all member-states is the best way to make progress; lots of EU money to the UK for research); Digital Single Market (because, obviously, Internet policy has to be at a level above just the nation), climate action (because that is also at a level above the nation, and obviously the EU was a stronger negotiator at the recent Paris Climate Talks as a united entity), etc.

Yes, the EU also has offices for e.g. Foreign Affairs, Migration, and the like, but don't be fooled: the powers that member-states have signed over to the EU through the treaties in these other areas are quite minimal, those offices only exist to coordinate as best they can under their limited remit. Surely, for example, every reader of this is fully aware of the extensive power any UK administration has to run its own foreign affairs, with no limitation (and only occasional attempts at coordination) from Brussels?

2) It's HARDLY true that the UK has no representation or ability to influence or even forbid whatever the EU (usually starting from the EU Commission) might propose. No one is dictating to anyone here! Rather, there are actually TWO separate checkpoints where UK voters can exert their influence:

– In the Council: That's where representatives of national governments (and often the PM himself) sits. The Council HAS to pass laws that the EU bureaucracy proposes – often, such laws have to be passed unanimously, meaning that the UK can veto. When that is not the case, they are passed by "Qualified Majority Voting" in which nations are given votes in proportion to their populations (so the UK has a big vote), and in which a bare majority is not enough but usually something more like 60% of the QMV. UK voters, of course, vote directly for the PM/government representing them there – direct democratic influence, no "dictating."

– Often laws also have to gain the approval of the European Parliament, as well. Well, as you know, each member-state has a number of MEPs sitting there in the EuroParliament that are, again, proportional to its population and which are directly elected by the country's voters. Democratic influence!

Of course, the UK cannot always dictate whether a law is accepted or not (except in those areas where unanimity is required). But let me assume, just to make the argument, that Ms. Bardess is from Bristol – how reasonable would it be for her to insist that Bristol's representatives have the power to veto whatever passes into law at the Parliament in Westminster that they do not like? Of course that's not how it works when political units get together to cooperate for the common good, whether at the national UK level or the EU level. Rather, when a law is passed, it applies to all (whether Bristol voted for it or not) – precisely the doctrine of direct effect!

So again: The UK signed over its powers only in a limited number of areas, precisely where cooperation is needed; and it has plenty of power to vote on what is going on and, in many cases, to forbid something if it really doesn't like it. (What in Heaven's name is that "communist superstate that dictat[es] our rights to us" that Ms. Bardess goes on about?) Meanwhile, UK citizens get to reap the benefit of that cooperation, for example:

– EU-wide anti-trust: Without the EU, companies could buy out their competitors throughout the EU, become big, powerful monopolists ready to wipe out in a similar way their competitors in the UK. But the Competition Directorate-General (Commissioner Vestergarde, from Denmark) takes care that can't happen.

– Did you happen to notice that, just recently, roaming charges were wiped out throughout the EU, so that when you travel outside your country and make/receive calls/SMS/data in some other EU country you won't be charged extra? Yes, that is what happened – and surely you can see that this ONLY could happen within the framework of collective EU action! Thanks, EU!

– And then there is all of that EU money that goes back into the UK, to help support poorer areas (such as Cornwall, for example – you've surely read how most of those benighted people nonetheless voted "Leave"?), to help build infrastructure, for research at universities, etc.

By the way, Ms. Bardess' claim of "No taxation without representation" as a motivation for voting "Leave" is completely baseless: THERE IS NOT A SINGLE ITEM OF UK TAXATION THAT IS ESTABLISHED OR DICTATED BY THE EU! So how does the EU get its money, you ask? Principally through the yearly contributions charged to each member-state based on their GDP (that's not a tax; that's an item of spending which your UK national government has to decide how to fund – or do you want to tell me the UK's funding for higher education "taxes" you?), and through the customs-charges on goods coming from OUTSIDE the EU which are charged on a uniform basis at all points-of-entry everywhere in the EU. Again, yet another fundamental misstatement of fact here, which has to make us wonder what Ms. Bardess really knows about the EU.

"Some were also alarmed that they no longer had control of their borders": the UK is much more in control of its borders than most other EU member-states, in that it has an "opt-out" not to be part of the so-called Schengen Area of free movement. You have TOTAL control over your borders when it comes to people coming who are not EU citizens. For EU citizens, granted, you do have to let them come to the UK – this is but the mirror image of the many millions of UK citizens who can travel freely throughout the rest of the EU, including the many millions who have chosen to retire in the sunnier, cheaper areas of France, Spain, Italy. (BTW from 2004 to 2008 the UK actually DID have the power to keep out even those people from fellow member-states from the newly-arrived Eastern European lands. Yet another exception for the UK, although this expired in 2008, mainly because one thing the EU is fundamentally about is that its citizens can go choose to live anywhere within it that they want.
Again, that includes UK citizens, and they've taken advantage of this in their millions.)

BTW the UK ALSO won in negotiations last February the right NOT to have to pay social support/welfare payments (under certain conditions) to people in the UK from elsewhere in the EU – another exception the UK has been granted. Unfortunately, that was a concession the rest of the EU made conditional on a "Remain" vote in the referendum – you've blown it.

If I might quote from George Soros (, "Britain, I believe, had the best of all possible deals with the European Union, being a member of the common market without belonging to the euro and having secured a number of other opt-outs from EU rules." But here I'm afraid Ms. Bardess might resort to "Well, George Soros – we all know he is just a manipulative liberal millionaire!" No, Ms. Bardess – just look at the facts of what he is saying! They are true: the UK truly was the EU's favored child – a full member-state, enjoying all benefits, but with a collection of unique exceptions granted to no other member-states!

Fellow readers, please also take care whenever anyone starts to mention the "Illuminati" or the "Bilderberg Group" – these are always nothing more than crackpot allusions to alleged world-encompassing conspiracies employed to make the referer sound more informed about such mysterious things than s/he really is. Yes, the "Bilderberg Group" is a regular yearly meeting where top politicians and business figures gather together to talk, in sessions about which no information is ever released. Could you tell us exactly how, Ms. Bardess, and exactly what sort of nasty conspiracies are now afoot in the world as a result?

But back to the immediate point: Brexit. The EU is admittedly a complicated phenomenon, rather too complicated. It requires some study, but that study is worth it to find out exactly how it works – after which I maintain that one gains appreciation for its great historical worth and service (Nobel Peace Prize 2012), for its imperfections as well – but mainly for the conclusion that it represents no threat, that the UK is far better in than out, and has been forced into a major blunder by a majority of its voters.


BTW, Bob, I chewed it over but really found your "Choosing Brexit is like choosing vinyl" metaphor rather far-fetched. Maybe rather "like choosing for 8-track tapes, when they don't make them any more and the only ones you can use are what you already own or can find at garage sales" – maybe that.


Below you will find more missives from readers, testifying as to their truth re Brexit. But if you read only one thing on this vote/crisis, you must read Glenn Greenwald's article on Greenwald delineates the real issues at play, primarily the war between the elites and the have-nots, the contempt the former have for the latter. The educated upstarts believe they're entitled to a pass because they weren't born with a silver spoon in their mouth, they had to fight to get ahead, so when they do things to their advantage they believe it's just the American Way. But who's looking out for the little guy? Unions have been decimated, jobs transferred overseas and you just can't make it in America anymore, no wonder the underclass is mad. This is a bigger issue than Trump spewing inaccurate inanities. This requires all the so-called "winners" of the world, especially the bleeding heart liberals, to examine their own values and behavior. It really has got less to do with right
or left, Republicans or Democrats, and more to do with elites on both sides of the aisle. Elites who have advantages those on the bottom do not, elites who can't even fathom what's happening on the bottom. I lose my job to overseas workers and then despite a flat screen costing two hundred bucks I've got to work a service job that doesn't pay the bills? What are all these displaced people gonna do for a living in the future? How are they gonna make ends meet? You can make fun of them all you want, but they're entitled to vote too. But then you'd have to have empathy, you'd have to refrain from climbing the greased ladder to stop and lend a hand to your brother and sister, you'd have to sacrifice for the greater good. I've been bothered by income inequality for a decade, frustrated that I could no longer get to the top as my brethren have. But I could not foresee this rampant unrest, the contempt for those who think they're smarter, have all the answers and reign herd over the rest
of us. When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose. Bob Dylan said that fifty years ago, the last time this country was up for grabs, when being a rock star was about speaking truth as opposed to garnering corporate endorsements. Which side are you on, indeed. We lionize and criticize the billionaires when we just don't realize the problem is us, the elites, we're to blame, the sons and daughters of sons and daughters of immigrants, who grew up with advantages and just couldn't get enough. The iron curtain may have fallen under Ronald Reagan, but greed was suddenly good, just ask Gordon Gekko. And I believe we live in a global village, but Clinton passed NAFTA and what exactly are those put out of work supposed to do for work? In both cases, a relatively thin layer of people profited handsomely. What about everybody else? We're asking that question now.

Glenn Greenwald – "Brexit Is Only the Latest Proof of the Insularity and Failure of Western Establishment Institutions":


You're right: Brexit is a bit like going back to vinyl – only not as much fun.
I agree with Richard Griffiths, it's a bloody disaster.

It contradicts our open-mindedness, our sense of fair play and our inclusiveness, our history of acceptance and of standing up to extremism.

We are a small island close to a large continent. Throughout our history, ancient and modern, we have shared bloodlines, culture and ideas (and a few wars). My Dad who is 92 risked his life as a tail-gunner in WW2, he believes it was worth it for a peace in Europe that has lasted over 70 years.

Many Brexiteers believe that we will now return to the 'rosy' days of the 50s. That's your vinyl, right there. It sounds attractive but is it future-proof? Will it ever be centre-stage again? Of course not.

And they have very selective memories. In the 50s (and 60s and 70s) our food was terrible, our towns and beaches polluted, business, sport and politics were parochial, male preserves and our health was far worse too, rickets was still a common problem.

We've come a long way. Our changing face owes everything to the more open and cosmopolitan order in Europe. I'm proud to live in London. I consider it to be a great city of the World…of The World! And our immigrant population make it what it is.

This is a victory for Fear not Hope.

Republic of London, anyone?

Simon Toulson-Clarke


An Englishman, a Scotsman, and an Irishmen walk into a bar.

The Englishman wants to leave so they all have to.

Sent from my iPhone that thinks too highly of itself

Michael Barber


Dear Bob,

As a full time resident of London and member of the legal fraternity, I can assure you that the 'Music Editor' of the Guardian is living in a bubble.

The imposition of Sharia law is rife in the UK, with Muslim women and children bearing the brunt of the suffering ( especially in terms of divorce, inheritance and child custody issues).

I can also assure you that the London Metropol Police have designated numerous areas as 'unsafe' to patrol by police in groups of less than three officers due to constant harassment and threats by so called private 'Sharia Patrols' ( bear in mind that London police are still mainly unarmed ).

Finally, I can confirm that the new Lord Mayor of London has in fact, stated that advertising depicting women in "immodest states of attire" will no longer be accepted on any advertising media owned by the city (I.e. London transport ).

Instead of listening to people who pursue a left wing agenda such as that espoused by the Guardian, I suggest you do some research and talk to real Londoners who have witnessed first hand the seismic shift we are experiencing due to cultural changes.

Kind regards
Anthony McAuslan
Eaton Square, London


Hi Bob,

As a 29 year old from the UK I feel ashamed to be English. The vote does not reflect my age group in the slightest.

I'm lucky to have been born here but it doesn't give me a right to say who can live next door to me.

Ed Hogston


Hi Bob,
Conceived in London of Scottish parents, born in Canada when HST was still the US president. I find the Brexit both emotionally and intellectually engaging. I understand both the leave (gut-wrenching) and remain (settle) points of view.
My bias is that Scotland was betrayed. I know wealthy Canadian expats in London who would insist any construction contractor must be Eastern European because they give good value, unlike Brit workers who are supposedly lazy. I understand that Farsi is more widespread in Wales than Gaelic.
Most of all, I understand there's as a generational dividing line and I believe the young own the future.
Please keep encouraging this dialogue.
It's far from clear-cut but one of your readers is going to nail it! …Certainly long before I get a valid insight from mainstream media.

Keith Brown
Crystal M+th Management


I don't often like to comment about these sorts of things but as an ex-pat, now a citizen who loves this country, I will.

Try going to a restaurant on the Edgware Road in London as a Western woman!
The Edgware Rd is a main thoroughfare into the center of London and a host to Hilton Hotel that serves many US clients year round.

It's now about as "Beiruit" as you can get – formerly English and Arabic banners above doorways are now totally Arabic.
I met two American visitors recently who were literally thrown out of two successive Arabic restaurants near to their Hilton hotel – they loved that cuisine – "because they were women and did not have their heads covered"!! Thrown out !
Come to Chicago says I – we have that cuisine in many neighborhoods and you'd be very welcome and well fed.

Are you kidding? This is London not the Middle East and this kind of scenario is now being played out in so many neighborhoods in the UK. It's disgraceful and no-one, not one politician will step up and but these bullies down.

My wife and I walked that road on a visit last year and were spat at by Arabic women whose husbands sit outside their restaurants smoking their pipes. Can you imagine how we felt as Londoners? They think they own the place and they contribute nothing but hatred and instability to the economy and their community.

You think that can't happen here in our beloved USA? Dream on and look at the enclaves that already exist in Michigan and Minnesota and beyond.

I am no hate monger but this kind of behavior wether here or in the UK must be quashed.

Let's get back to the EU.
The entire EU paradigm has to change – it should never have been politicized – keep it as a free trade block with strict immigration policies to keep out the dangerous and the unwanted and limits on entries. A Federal Europe was always doomed to fail. America take note of all that is going on across the pond and don't be distracted by erroneous facts and speculative arguments.

All that said – please – don't vote for the wrong GUY in November.
For all his rhetoric he's sorely misinformed and plays to fear and sorely misinforms us.

Also note that the decisions made about Brexit have no comparison to what we have to decide in America.
We do have to tighten our border security, that's for sure but we have to make fundamental choices for our future and the next Presidential term..

The Brexit vote to remain lost because the "entitled" Millenials didn't vote – 35% of 18-25 year olds voted – what happened to the other, now angry 65%? Did they expected someone else to vote for them? A vote counts (when it's not usurped by an electoral college !).

Obama should never have got into this EU scenario and shame on him for commenting. Big mistake and a vote changer.

75% of the older population did vote – and they remember how fractuous and unstable a European Union – a Federation dissolving national sovereignty – would be and has been. Wisdom won the vote.

Take note America.

Vote wisely in November.

Michael Freeman



I wish I could take credit for the below, but it is a comment on Reddit I came across a couple of days ago that I think perfectly sums up Brexit (+6300 to date):

"Australia has had five prime ministers in five years, the poor yanks look as though they'll have to choose between two options both of which have more disapproval than approval, and the UK leaves the EU. It seems like a ridiculous amount of instability. One might even call it absurd.
But it's not surprising.
You can't feed a society exaggeration, hyperbole and propaganda for over a decade, and then claim surprise when people don't seem to be making rational decisions on the basis of well established truth.
There's a cost associated with not telling the truth. There's a cost associated with polarized, adversarial public discourse. There's a cost associated with media more concerned with profits than the public interest.
It is, apparently, time to pay the piper.

For the record, I am British, under the age of 40, college educated, of mixed ethnicity, and have been working in the US for the past decade. I still get to vote by absentee proxy, and I'm sure you can guess which was I cast my vote based on the previous info. I Googled the majority of pro-Brexit writers that you published, and although generalizations are never perfect, the consistency of these writers (male, white, over 50) is unerring.

I know the above comment makes me as much a part of the adversarial public discourse that the Redditor in question laments but it is tough to resist. Any objective, rational assessment of the impact to Brexit on the economy and our global influence is damning and yet the pro-Brexiters trot out the same lines that Boris and Farage have fed them for the past few months about sovereignty and playing on nostalgia.

Nostalgia, lest we forget, is collective amnesia, and us Brits have been involved in a decades-long cycle of it. How else do you explain working class people going to the polls every 4/5 years and voting the same Old Etonian, Oxbridge grads into power in the hopes that they will represent their best interests; interests that Cameron, Boris et al. could barely comprehend, yet alone advocate for.

Keep up the good work, fella.

Matt Howe.


I love the comments about the EU being run by unelected bureaucrats, how the EU has destroyed democracy.

Perhaps one day I'll laugh about the irony that the only election I've ever been allowed to vote in was for my Minister of European Parliament. And now I'll no longer be able to do that either.

I was born in a small northern European country called Latvia that was occupied by the Soviet Union (talk about un-democractic. For all those who believe the EU was destroying sovereignty because of some fishing quota regulations or whatever, they don't know what it's like for another country to roll in with tanks and start giving orders. Sovereignty my ass).

Obviously, no voting there.

When I was still a little kid, my family escaped to America as political refugees. After ten years of a legal battle, we were granted legal residency but not citizenship, so, still not able to vote (despite working and paying taxes. I seem to remember someone once being upset about taxation without representation?)

And then I moved to London for a university. On my EU passport (after my home country declared independence when the Soviet Union collapsed, they worked hard to join the EU. They joined, ironically, so they could "protect' their sovereignty against Russia one day rolling in with their tanks again. Hyperbole? Just see what's happening in Ukraine right now).

So of course, I couldn't and still can't vote in the UK. Well, I "can" vote for Ministers to European Parliament. That was the first election of any kind I could ever participate in. I was 25.

You can't call something un-democratic until you truly live in a place where they block you from the voting booth altogether. My mother, in her late 50s, has lived her whole life never being allowed to cast a single ballot. For anything.

Yeah, I hear that immigrants like me have been mooching off the system this whole time. Mooching, like when I paid university fees as a foreigner that were so high that I subsidised the education of several Brits. Like when I've been paying into the universal healthcare provider, the NHS, for ten years and in all that time I've been to the doctor exactly twice (yes, twice.) Like when I provide employment to dozens of British crew members on my film sets.

Great. I guess the UK no longer needs contributions like that. That's fine. Good luck.

But that's not even what I'm upset about. I'm upset about the unadulterated racism that has now come to the surface. Now that Brits feel they've been unshackled from the politically correct chains that apparently made them bite their tongues this whole time, when all they really obviously wanted to do was shout racial and xenophobic slurs about "going home to your own country" to anyone in the street with a different colour of skin or accent.

My friends tell me I'll be okay. I'm white and I have an American accent. Is that supposed to offer some comfort!? The only reason I'll be protected is because of circumstances that were entirely out of my control in the first place? Is that supposed to make me and others like me feel better? That if only my skin was a darker shade or I sounded like one of my cousins who still lives in Latvia, I'd have to be afraid to walk the streets of Britain? But no, I'm white. I sound American. Others will suffer, physically, emotionally, psychologically. But I'll be fine.

What's so Great about that?

David Silis