The good people of Hungary went to the polls on Sunday and voted by more than 98 per cent against accepting even a few hundred migrants, as per the European Union’s insistence. That poll result must have been gravid with nostalgia for Magyars over the age of about 35. They will remember that sort of election result being de rigueur, rather than astonishing. Indeed, in 1985 the Hungarian Socialist Workers Party succeeded in capturing 98.8 per cent of the popular vote — and even this was a bit of a disappointment, because in 1980 it had pulled in 99.3 per cent. On both occasions the ruling party was aided, of course, by the lack of an alternative on the ballot paper. And indeed by the sort of state thuggery and oppression for which left wing politicians and journos in this country were frequent apologists.
Speaking of which, the Guardian newspaper took a long hard look at the Hungarian referendum result, pursed its lips, nodded its head and wrote the following introductory sentence to its in depth analysis: ‘The Hungarian prime minister has failed to convince a majority of his population to vote in a referendum on closing the door to refugees, rendering the result invalid and undermining his campaign for a cultural counter revolution within the European Union.’
I have to tell you that this does not quite do it for me, as an up sum (as we say in the trade) of that vote. It seems to miss out the fairly interesting 98 per cent figure. But then, the same newspaper was not terribly convinced by our own referendum result and worried about the closeness of the margin and the almost incredible fact that some Leave politicians may have lied during the campaign. What margin of victory would keep them happy, I wondered at the time? Not even 98 per cent would seem to be the answer.
Left liberals take a very selective view of democracy, don’t they? If I had won a referendum with more than 98 per cent of the vote and almost half the electorate voting, I’d feel pretty pukka — as did Hungary’s prime minister, the newish bête noir of pro Euro liberals now Farage is off the scene, Viktor Orban. As he pointed out, the lack of a 50 per cent turnout scarcely diminishes the mandate, either morally, or — given Orban’s parliamentary majority — in practice.
If the same question had been put to the citizens of EU member states beyond Hungary, my guess is the results would not be quite so overwhelming. Probably ranging from something like 60 per cent against in the most refugee friendly countries, such as Sweden and France, to the late seventies in the likes of Greece, Slovakia and Poland. I’ve based those guesstimates on recent opinion polls from the countries concerned. So, not quite the hostility to the policy you would find in Györ or Debrecen, but still a massive majority opposed to more migrants.
More interesting than the figures themselves are the changes which have occurred in the west of Europe in the space of one year. In 2015 a majority of Swedes were still convinced that migrants had made their country a better place in which to live, a sort of vibrant and exciting smorgasbord of quite the most wonderful little people, lightening their drab Nordic lives with their exuberant customs and their noble poverty.
They have latterly changed their minds, having suddenly realised that some elements of the smorgasbord have turned out to be ever so slightly rapey, and other bits blow themselves up just as you’re putting them in your mouth. The trend, across Europe, is all in one direction. There is now widespread aversion to the notion of unlimited migration and also simply to more migration.
As is ever the case with liberals, it is the sudden onset of reality which has fundamentally altered their mindset. It can be a bit of a bugger, reality. And remarkably, this change has occurred despite the continual hectoring from both national and EU politicians and the vilification and indeed persecution of politicians or political parties who dare to voice opposition to the ‘let ’em all in’ policy, as we have seen with Poland and Hungary. You would guess that the feeling against migration, and migrant quotas, will continue to build until all countries are not terribly distant in their views from those of the Hungarians. Last year it was ‘Je Suis Charlie!’ Next year it might well be ‘Magyar Vagyok!’
Meanwhile, over here the shrieking continues. At the Labour party conference, Diane Abbott claimed that the Brexit vote had led to the widespread beating up of foreigners, which of course it has not. She also said that people opposed to the free untrammelled movement of people across the EU simply didn’t like looking at foreigners. This is an epic misjudgment of both the truth and the reasons for which voters wish migration to be, at the least, rigorously controlled.
The reality is that — as Fraser Nelson has pointed out here before — there has been vanishingly little in the way of hostility towards incomers, no matter where they may have arrived from. And the opinion polls support this thesis. Lord Ashcroft’s poll, not long after our own referendum, revealed that there was no animus whatsoever against the migrants per se from Leave voters, simply a genuine worry about the sheer weight of numbers coming in and the probable inability of our infrastructure to cope.
People are not so stupid as Diane Abbott thinks them to be: in fact, they are rather less stupid than Diane Abbott. She is one of those Remainers who seems to yearn not only for calamitous financial news, of which there has been absolutely none, but also for inter ethnic strife — simply so that she can be proved right. But it is very hard to remember a single occasion on which she has ever been right, about anything. And she certainly isn’t right now.