Thursday, 6 October 2016

Into the totalitarian abyss

The once-United Kingdom's descent into the abyss continues.  For a century, it has been a managed decline, with governments and politicians of all hues attempting to arrest the process.  Listening to the rhetoric emanating from the Tory conference it is now a challenge for the political leadership to accelerate it.  Isolated from the consequences of their actions, where damage to lives and prospects is dismissed as "bumps in the road", this is a amoral and unrepresentative coup by a group of people whose disrespect for the rule of law and those who dissent from their vision is based around no concept of representative government or accountability.

Perhaps the only vaguely-positive spin that can be placed upon May's performance was that she was seeking headlines in the absence of any strategy or vision, diverting the electorate from the moral vacuum at the heart of her coup.  That this could be the most generous assessment possible represents the extent to which the referendum campaign and its consequences have shifted the country into a space of mob rule, where even to express caution and scepticism, let alone dissent, is called out as treachery and by extension turning those who do not buy into the mendacious drivel as legitimate targets for obstructing the "will of the people".  This is not representative government.  This is totalitarianism underpinned by a baying, self-serving media whose interests have never aligned to those they patronise and incite.

What is now clear is that the Tory party is heading towards totalitarianism.  The last time the word "democracy" was abused to the extent that it has been in the last week was by the former Eastern bloc states.  For a Prime Minister to use their party's gathering to accuse those who wish to test the legality of government intention through legal means of "subverting democracy" is a terrifying portent of the abuse to come, legitimising attacks on those of us who believe that the rule of law and the balance of power needs to be validated in a failed state with no workable constitution, and close to a direct incitement to violence.

Add this to the rhetoric of pure, full-throttle racism and hatred epitomised by the proposal to make firms declare either the names or the proportion of their non-British employees, and you have a vision of state control that would have seemed to come straight out of the inter-war fascist period or apartheid-era South Africa.  This is not a state to which anyone should aspire, yet the reporting of the conference suggested that the vast majority of those sycophantic fellow-travellers lapped it up.  It could have come straight out of the pages of the Daily Mail (Hurrah for the Blackshirts) or the Scum, so it is small wonder that last week had seen May brown-nosing Murdochs, father and son alike.

As an aside, I assume that the May disdain for human rights, demonstrated so effectively when she was an undistinguished Home Secretary (making Charles Clarke and Jack Straw look like Roy Jenkins), would be tempered if the lawyers she excoriated were fully paid-up Tories.  To diminish humanity, license war crimes and insult professional military personnel was a triple dog-whistle that received the acclaim the Tories felt it deserved and which scared the rest of us to the marrow.

The final insult was to those of us who are capable of assimilating more than just the Little England narrative.  May's denouncing those of us who are internationalists and outward-looking as "citizens of nowhere" is chilling and inflammatory.  I identify as a citizen of Scotland, Europe and the world with British identity and culture - hardly complex yet apparently treachery.  A small-minded bigotry that reveals more than anyone would want to know.

Hardly surprising, therefore, that the tone of the Conference was dictatorial.  After the charm offensive to Scotland immediately after the palace coup, May has rowed back so that the charmless and clueless David Mundell and Ruth Davidson are now peddling both a Unionist line of "lump it, you peasants" and attempting to undermine the legitimacy of the devolution settlement.  As this is in parallel with the ever more dangerous dismantling of the Irish peace process, this is a potential powder-keg waiting to be tripped by the blind idiocy of those who have never reconciled themselves to a universal franchise, let alone citizens' rights and power.

It was all straight out of the UKIP populist neo-fascist handbook, so it was small wonder that the diminishing band of monobrows staged their own sideshow.  With the Tories moving ever more to the right and spraying like incontinent tomcats to denote their territory, it is hardly surprising that the lunatic fringe feels ever more marginalised.  The fusion of the Tory right and UKIP was obvious during the referendum campaign - the antics of Fox, Davis and Leadsom during the last few days demonstrate that the inevitable process is coming to an end.

This is no longer a battle about Europe.  This is no longer a battle about party politics, but a battle to save the political process and the wider humanity of the country.  It should not be forgotten that the Nazi party achieved power on a minority of the vote, and that then it subverted the constitutional process to entrench itself.  For the hard of thinking, I am not calling the Tories Nazis (at the moment) but the techniques are parallel, and the end could be similar.  The real issue is that there is now a force in government that has no respect for the law, no respect for the legitimacy of debate and opposition and which has implicitly licensed a descent into authoritarianism.  This is to be resisted, and there will be many of us who will be reflecting in the months to come about the limits to this.  May has let the genie out of the bottle and the consequences will not be the ones she professes to desire.

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