Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The death of British politics

The Labour party. Once a genuine movement. It had ideas and a purpose and even a brethren. It meant something, and people could equate with its values and be proud of being part of it. No more. What's left of it is in two pieces. Paternalistic snobs and spent throwbacks. What's left has no vision beyond obtaining high office for its own sake. Not surprising they have been routed from Scotland. In that respect our Scottish cousins are way ahead of the game.

I should be celebrating. I despise it as an entity. I have never had any great love of it. As I've matured though I have learned an appreciation for old Labour; those not inclined to be screwed over by Tories, but on the whole Labour has had little to contribute for the span of my adult life. To see it put out of its misery should be a good thing. To all things there is a time and Labour's is passed.

But look at where the votes are going. Ukip. Ukip is not a movement. It has no intellectual foundations. It has no infrastructure and it is devoid of a mission. And what values of Ukip can you be proud of? For Ukip to be taking over from Labour says more about Labour than it does Ukip: the death of an ideal.

Ukip knows what it hates but has no destination in mind. It is a generic up yours to the entire edifice of politics. And that right there is a croaking canary. Not just for Labour but for politics as a whole.

The Tory government we have now has no real mandate. It is a caretaker government. It is failing to push an agenda and is not succeeding even with the timid tinkering it proposes. It is living on borrowed time and sooner or later will fall into the hands of the right of the Tory party. There was a time when I wanted exactly that but this referendum has exposed them as entirely clueless. Libertarian children who have no policy ideas beyond an ideological wrecking ball. Our politics is spent.

And though I have my own reasons as to why I think Britain is better of out of the EU, one only need to look at John Harris's short film on Brexit attitudes in Stoke-on-Trent (a Labour heartland) to see how deep the rot has spread. The refrain from one woman is "every time I've voted, nothing ever gets done". A sentiment we call all relate to. And we have Ruth Smeeth telling her in earnest "it's not that we don't have legitimate worries, but this (leaving the EU) isn't the way we're gong to fix it".

But at this point it would seem the public are no longer interested in the reassurances of politicians. Certainly not from Labour who have only just decided that immigration might be a concern to people who vote for them. Only in the face of losing another million votes to Ukip does it decide that working class votes matter. But there is no basis on which they can be trusted.

Brexit seems like a double or quits bet to ordinary people. Their mills and factories and skilled jobs have gone. Their towns are dilapidated their high-street boarded up and housing out of their reach. What could they possibly have to lose?

And it is clear that people in Stoke-on-Trent, for right or wrong, do see a connection between things as they are and immigration. The statisticians and the policy wonks lean to the contrary, telling us that it is universally good for the economy, but if immigration control is not the answer (which it isn't), what exactly is?

And that is the question our political parties are ill equipped to answer. Remote from the people they serve, convinced of their own superiority and unreachable to new ideas, they are unlikely to stumble across an answer. We are at a dead end.

There are several factors at play here. The internet quite obviously has sucked the life out of retail and globalisation has taken its toll on heavy industry - and all the things that made us proud of who were were have gradually been eroded. The response of the great and the good is to rub their noses in it. We have snobby liberals like Peter Davison of Dr Who fame tweeting "Dear young people. Please don't let you're future be stolen by mad old farts who want to return the country to an age that never existed."

Except that age did exist of an industrious Britain where communities grew up around factories, mines, docks and shipyards. All gone now. Everything that made a community in a real sense has gone and little has grown up in its place. The communities we have are online and we barely know our neighbours. Our councils no longer speak to us or even serve us. There is no means of participating. Now the UK is a sterile wasteland and a distinctly unhappy country. As much as our politics no longer serves the public, it has no solutions for them.

But I won't continue in this vein. You have read this article before. I am sure I have said these things before and better writers than me have articulated the same in more concise terms. The short of it is, our politics is spent because we are spent.

And so with our politics exhausted, our communities demolished, our heavy industry wiped out, and our public services ripped from our control we are now free to road the land without a stake in society, belong to nothing with nothing to call our own. Voting to change the ruling party will achieve nothing. We know that because we've tried it. So now that we have exhausted all the other avenues, give me one good reason why we shouldn't vote to leave the EU. Nothing else will bring change will it? And let's face it, it's time for these dinosaurs to die.

No comments:

Post a Comment