Thursday, 6 July 2017

The paradoxical coalition

A wounded administration is still a dangerous beast.  Impotent, illegitimate and corrupt, the Conservative/DUP bastard provides Theresa May with political cover if and when Labour extricate themselves from the morbid engagement that makes them far more valuable to the Tories than any shady deal, being played as the Tories take further steps towards the cliff-edge and the abyss that awaits them as the consequences of their policies hit home.

There is a much more upbeat tone around those of us who believe that the referendum settled nothing - inadequately executed for internal Tory consumption and then debate constricted in the fascist tones of populism and the inevitability of an outcome that the serial liars and traitors (Daniel Hannan is merely one of the most egregious of this sub-species) portrayed as entirely unthinkable - the summary ejection and the realisation that the European project can proceed to impose its own terms, while music to the ears of Trump and Putin, is already impacting on the economy, the psychology and the viability of the nation.

No time for triumphalism, though, because the debate is not rational.  There has been not one attempt to articulate what the purported benefits of implementing a suicidal strategy would be, principally because there is nothing in the cupboard beyond dribbling propaganda and a feebly-articulated desire for a simpler, nastier world.  In the face of challenge, all the fools and captured charlatans can come up with is that the referendum was a democratic vote, and that therefore it remains immutable.  If that is the case, can we please return to 1975 and apply the same logic?

Most rational people, and representatives, can see the folly and stupidity of a blind pursuing of a reckless policy.  The General Election provided a freshly-elected Commons, with MPs who are not bound by the decisions of the previous House, and who should, if they are discharging non-partisan responsibility that their oath implies, be looking out for the interests of the British nations.  Where a political position is both superseded and insane, then there should be no shame in rowing back from the brink - and, as has been demonstrated by the recent election, the power of the hard right plutocrats is diminishing.

This does need new thinking - and to reflect that there is no settled faction within the Commons.  MPs are representatives not delegates, both of their constituency and their parties.  Given that, despite the apparent acquiescence of the party, much of the Momentum machine is now issuing threats of deselection to anyone who dares question the Coalition of Dishonour that Corbyn is leading alongside the far right Brexit loons in the Tories and DUP, this will require a change of approach, and the kind of cross-party bloc that has not been seen before in Westminster politics.

We have moved beyond the phase of second referendums and procedural debates at the centre into the existential crisis of a bankrupt policy and an amoral, seditious administration.  There is a solid phalanx of pro-European engagement represented in Parliament, the SNP, Liberal Democrats, Plaid, Greens are in a pole position to focus as a bloc to attract dissenters from the main parties, without obligating support on every issue.  Having a clear, disruptive and challenging strategy to bring forward an alternative course on Brexit, and peeling off both Tory and Labour votes when necessary, would be a genuine act of opposition in a legislature where, on the central issue, there is a monolith thwarting debate and claiming a mandate that does not exist either in constitutional theory or the rapidly-changing base of public opinion.

This is not a time to assume that rationality will prevail, even in the face of evidence.  If there is a face-saving climbdown to be had, that would be, in the short-term, better than rubbing the May nose in the ordure that her behaviour deserves - revenge and realignment need to wait as part of a long game.  The meretricious and the downright criminal will get their comeuppance, but we cannot afford either hubris or triumph in the near future.  Until Labour recognises the opposition role is there for the taking, it is quite possible that Corbyn and May can thwart the changing will of the people.

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