Friday, 24 June 2016

Down the plughole

I had intended maintaining a vow of silence for at least a week after the referendum, aware that there would be a maelstrom of reactions and partial analyses, not wishing to add to the verbiage and the noise unduly.  However my sadness today is sufficient to provoke a cathartic rant, if not a perceptive rallying-cry to those of us who find ourselves on the losing side.

The use of referenda to provide decisions on complex issues is dubious at best.  Arguments and issues are nuanced and multi-faceted, and do not boil down to binary choices. Factor this alongside the tendency to use the process to antagonise the government of the day and they become an exercise in demagoguery, fuelled by the techniques of media manipulation and the least attractive abuses of psychology to determine the outcome.

What should have been an internal squabble within the Tory Party over its fractured relationship with Europe has now, as Tim Farron observed, taken the direction of travel straight over the cliff.  The egotism and impotence Cameron has demonstrated throughout his time in office has been rewarded by an irrevocable process that stands to undermine the prosperity of the very groups who appear to have embraced the suicidal project with the most enthusiasm.

With my generation and older people endorsing the Leave campaign disproportionately, the younger voters who expressed their views have even less incentive either to engage or to co-operate with the blinkered and retarded vision that they have had foisted upon them.  Already driven to the margins by the cost of housing, debt and the poor prospects for permanent careers, the potential is there for some massive fissures in society.  As the economy suffers, this will become even more apparent.

This is the inevitable consequence of dog-whistle politics and the systematic exclusion of huge swathes of the electorate from meaningful engagement through an unfit system, whereby votes outside swing seats do not count.  Impotence breeds discontent, especially for those groups excluded from either the metropolitan elite or the relative prosperity that has been provided for specially-targeted groups of voters.  No wonder that there is an incentive to hit back, even against rational self-interest.

Understanding why the vote went the way it did is one thing.  The consequences are another.  The dissolution of the United Kingdom is now a probability rather than a vague dream of regionalists and national parties.  The distribution of the Leave votes demonstrated, predominantly, an English Nationalism on the right, much closer to Madame Le Pen than any mainstream national movement, but nevertheless a group excluded from much of the dialogue of politicians - possibly deliberately as it has hallowed grievance to be manipulated in the direction of the interests of unelected plutocrats and propagandists,

The irony that such luminaries as Murdoch, Rothermere and Lawson, parasites and hate-mongers, will escape the consequences of the decision they have manipulated should not be lost. It is a strange anti-establishment narrative that permitted Farage, Gove and Rees-Mogg to join with Boris "Pleb" Johnson in their hypocritical perversion of outrage and disempowerment.  Cameron's vanity and weakness has resulted in the entire edifice collapsing, and that in itself is an act of treachery for which he bears sole responsibility,

Having become a resident of Scotland subsequent to the 2014 referendum, my choices are more interesting than for the losing side in England.  Betrayal is in the air.  I am sure that the tipping point in that campaign was a combination of economic uncertainty and the question mark as to how Scotland could remain in the EU.  Both of these have now been blown out of the water - with the added side-order of lies and misrepresentation by the Unionist side.  Scotland and London were the two strongest supporters of an outward-looking world, and Scotland is actually better placed to implement an independent vision.

With both the economic competency argument and the EU referendum now irrelevant it is hard not to see that the UK will become defunct. Added to this is the risks that are attached to Northern Ireland and the fragile, precious progress that has been made through the last thirty years.  A myopic and evil outcome that barely registered in the campaign, but which nevertheless has the potential for vileness to be reconstituted,

Not that this is necessarily alien to the far right's fame plan.  Farage's disgusting, depraved comment about a revolution occurring without a shot being fired rings hollow - two motherless children and a widower bear witness to the toxicity of the campaign and the bare-faced denial of any causal link between hate speech and the actions of someone who may well turn out to have been clinically-sick but suggestible. Farage is unfit to hold any public office and those who court him should be called out and shunned accordingly.

The world has shifted.  I feel fearful of the future, but also challenged to make the best of the current self-inflicted immolation. Viscerally, the case for Scotland as an independent state with its own relationship with Europe is now irrefutable; a massive margin to support this cannot be gainsaid. The inability of the Labour Party to either connect with grievances or to make common cause with the rest of the centre and left will be a st,bling block elsewhere, but the need to reshape politics is urgent. The next weeks will be febrile and frightening, and predictions will be dangerous. Yet fuming on the sidelines is not going to be enough. There will be millions of disappointed purchasers of scummy snake-oil; to change the narrative requires preparation and reflection. In the meantime there is always whisky.

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