Saturday, 11 March 2017

Let it burn...

By now, if you've examined most of the popular reasons for leaving the EU you will have found they are a bit thin. This rampant global free trade agenda of Brexiteers increasingly looks like a delusion. As to deregulation... fuhgeddaboudit!

There is one reason though that seems not to be spoken which is "I just don't want to be in the EU". Of itself, superficially, it is a wholly irrational reason. It's not even a reason. But for me, it very much is. The EU is all about the creation of a supreme government for Europe. I don't think Europe needs one and if it does I do not want the UK to be a subordinate of it.

I could list a number of philosophical arguments as to why, but ultimately it comes down to whether a large construct like the EU can ever truly be a democracy. I do not believe it can - and I don't think that is the direction of travel. But my reasoning is even more superficial than that. I'm British and I very much want to stay that way.

We are told that such irrationality is the basest of nationalist sentiment, but what it is, is identity politics. And what's good for the goose is good for the gander. How many times have we seen tear soaked remainers blubbing to the camera that "My European identity is being taken away from me". Course this is utter rubbish. Identity is entire a construct of the mind and the EU, as much as it pretends to the contrary, is not Europe. It's just a political construct. So why are their irrational identity proclamations more valid than my own?

Well, the answer is... they're not. And so we have have a free and fair way of settling the argument. Referendums. We had one and it turns out that for whatever reason, the majority of the UK does not want the EU for a government. Cool beans.

Now that matter is settled we now move on to the more pressing question of how we leave. There should be no reason on earth why Brexit should be an economic armageddon. In fact, doing it carefully with skill and patience would mean no discernible difference in the short term. In that regard, Brexit ought to be a fairly mundane procedure. So why all the fuss?

Well, the problem here is that Brexit most likely will be something approaching an economic armageddon precisely because we are not doing it with skill and patience. That gives even me pause for thought where I start to wonder if this whole enterprise is worth the bother. It is, but not for any of the reasons I went into this for.

Last night I had a long chat with blogger, Devil's Kitchen, who was asking what we need to do, as activists, to ensure we make a success of Brexit. I had to disappoint him. At this point I don't see how this can be anything other than a total mess. All the best advice has been casually discarded and we have a political class not even the least bit interested in the details. The government doesn't really understand how Brexit must be done. They think it's a case of hopping over to Brussels to give Johnny Foreigner a swift handbagging and then talk turkey on tariffs.

To be blunt, there's not a lot any of us can do about that. All the best possible research has been made available for anyone who cares to look and if isn't your bag then even Open Europe has grasped some of the basics. Howsoever, you can lead a horse to water, but if it's not thirsty then what is to be done?

The problem we have here is a clan of born-to-rule Tories with a sense of entitlement, who know nothing and can't be told anything. They're surrounded by ambitious social climbers and party hacks, aided by cowardly civil servants who don't want to put their head above the parapet, and they take their information from a media incapable of learning or retaining knowledge. As far as they are concerned, anyone not in the gang is not entitled to an opinion.

This is a rather toxic recipe that will ultimately lead to a national humiliation. If we get a half way workable deal from the EU it will be by way of an accident of events rather than sound political judgement. At this point, since an intelligent and measured Brexit is out of the window then I'm prepared to let the chips fall where they may. One might even say that a national humiliation is exactly what is necessary.

The way it looks to me is that we have lost the capacity to make a success of Brexit - or indeed anything else. Back in 2003 I was a supporter of the Iraq war. I believed that if we could do for Iraq what was done in Germany in the years following the second world war then such an enterprise might well be transformational. I still think, had a few variables been different, it could have been done. What was missing though was the political and institutional competence.

What we saw from the army was a certain hubris in telling ministers they knew what they were doing having cut their teeth in Northern Ireland. The political system lacked the necessary inquisitiveness and ability to scrutinise and left it largely in the hands of the army. By the time Westminster realised the adventure was falling apart it was already too late to do anything to correct it.

I think we are suffering from a systemic decay because our political system is overwhelmed by a self-serving class of entitled incompetents and nothing short of a purge is going to fix it. To me it's a wonder that anything still works at all. I think we achieve a base level of good governance because we have good legacy systems but on the whole our political class is incapable of responding and effecting successful change - and Brexit will show this dynamic in its full glory. With a system this broken, the only solution might very well be to knock it all down and start over.

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