Monday, 4 July 2016

The early days of a better nation?

Revolutions eat their own.  The defenestration of Boris Johnson and the likely humiliation of Michael Gove ate symptomatic of a Tory party in panic, which would be all the more potent if the alleged opposition party was not engaging in an internal spat to rival that which consigned it and the country to the doldrums after 1979.

Whilst the breathtaking arrogance and self-delusion that has propelled Johnson both to power and to his current status as a buffoonish vandal, standing in the ruins that he has created and snivelling that it's all down to those of us who remember the blatant lies, obfuscation and manipulation that he set in train, the world continues. The sclerotic disintegration of the UK is only of peripheral concern to others, either to mitigate the impacts or to take advantage of the collective idiocy. Yet the paradox is that this may prove the basis for a much more fundamental destruction of the delusions that have led to this debacle.

Those of us who have regarded the anachronisms and particularisms of the government and institutional set-ups as obstacles to progress may feel encouraged.  As the clock cannot be put back, there is now no option but to engage and set out an alternative path that does not feed either the neoconservative and authoritarian agenda or the false nostalgia perpetuated by a certain breed of middle-England Tory based on a romanticising of the 1950s where little people knew their places.

In unleashing the politics of the mob, Farage and Johnson knew exactly what they were doing, but they stand naked before their own creations now that it is clear there is no negotiating strategy and no attempt to engage with the other half of the nation that did not buy into the last-ditch imperialist delusion.  In bringing this to the point of cataclysm, in the long-run they may have done the countries a favour.

Watching the Tory leadership farrago, you would be forgiven for thinking that this is business as usual.  Yet the destruction of class-based politics and party loyalties is now nearly complete.  The Tories flattered to deceive in the Scottish Parliament elections this year, and are probably fatally compromised by the reversion to type of the English grandees in dismissing both the symbolic and practical implications of our vote to remain.  Despite the cynical and effective ploy to destroy the Liberal Democrats for their willingness to be complicit in the last administration, the Tory support level has not been rising.

As for Labour, shaking heads and despairing may no longer be enough.  There are still good people whose belief in the Labour Party's vanguard role, but the evidence is to the contrary.  Leaching support to the Kippers and out of touch in England, still waiting for revival in Scotland, and faction-ridden, this is not a good place.  A determinist view of politics suggests that a message based on class politics and a reliance on a declining core support is doomed to failure.

There is cause, despite all this, for optimism.  The forces unleashed by the schism are not immutable, and the reckoning will not be as clear cut as the cretins who attempt to portray the remain campaign as sore losers and anti-democrats would wish.  Those of us who objected to the leave campaign, as it was almost impossible to disagree with given the slippery evasions and lies that emanated from it, should not assume that all those who voted for it are the kind of ignorant, raging xenophobes whose rantings and spewings fill the airwaves and the social media space.

In the longer term, whatever the position with the EU, the United Kingdom is broken.   Running a nation state where there is a fiction of feudalism and subjecthood suits the oligarchs and neocons perfectly.  As a minimum, a constitution founded on citizenship and innate human rights is needed, within a federal structure that supports national and regional aspirations and independence.  Given the fissile nature of politics, an electoral system that supports pluralism and reduces impotence for those not unlucky enough to be in the 200.000 swing voter camp is required.  Scotland and Northern Ireland have established democracies, and the outcome was striking - it is necessary but not sufficient for a modern politics.

If this means that traditional party boundaries and loyalties are swept away, then so be it.  A programme of reconnection and democratic regeneration, alongside redressing the economic imbalance that has existed for decades and been exacerbated by the corporate welfare to the banks may result in an emergent realignment of politics.  The coming-together of groups who are excludedfrom the current system, or whose dispersed support means that they are under-represented, can only be seen as an opportunity. In the current emergency, ideological nuance needs to take a back seat, common interest and the need to salvage the country takes first place All is not lost - and as the country moves from shock, and in half its citizens, grief, there needs to be a focused anger and determination. I am not sanguine, nor optimistic, but exploiting the weakness, folly and delusions of the idiocracy and the plutocrats makes the game still worth playing.

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