Wednesday, 26 July 2017

British politics is circling the drain

One of the difficulties of running this blog is that there are only so many things to say about Brexit and I think I must have touched on most of them at least once - and eventually you get to a saturation point where you simply cannot bring yourself to say it again. On that score it is useful to have some fresh blood on the block to keep up the pressure.

What makes it more difficult is arguing for the Brexit I want to see while having to chart the Brexit we are going to get. As yet we do not know what that looks like but the debate in Westminster is is still barely half-informed, still struggling to bring forth any coherence and the Brexiteers are getting away with murder as they make a complete hash of it. Our entire political establishment has lost the plot. I have never seen anything quite so surreal in all my days.

There does seem to be a convergence of opinion on Twitter now where the sane remainers and pragmatic leavers are at least on speaking terms - and gradually we are seeing various voices getting to grips with the EEA and the potential of it. It's encouraging to see but it's a debate that needed to happen a year ago.

Strangely though, with silly season upon us, we appear to be entering a second phoney war. The field is still wide open to speculation, nothing is yet decided and the government has largely gone AWOL. Though it is unwise to make any political predictions this feels like the sort of vacuum in which politics as a whole could collapse.

As much as this government is threadbare there is still no sign that the opposition is going to get its act together. It's too broken to mend. Labour is a zombie party. It doesn't know what it is, who it represents or what it even wants. It would appear that "moderates" of the party are marking time in the hope of forming a resistance to Brexit but Corbyn's bed blockers won't let them get near the controls. I'm not sure how long that can last but the absence of coherent opposition can only hurt the country.

Eventually a crunch point for British politics will come. There has to be a seismic realignment of political forces simply because this cannot go on. It only takes a catalyst. It's now a question of what that catalyst will be. I strongly suspect it will be a major crisis on the Brexit front.

As it now looks I am starting to entertain the idea that Brexit talks will collapse. This will bring us to a state of emergency where an election will be called which the Tories cannot win, but Labour can't either. I don't think an election can solve this. Neither party is capable of commanding the confidence of the nation and nobody sane wants to see a Corbyn government. It is now abundantly clear that he is not a leader - and not even in control.

All the while in this political vacuum, the remainers are gathering their forces, but actually I think they are wasting their time. There is a hollow sense of inevitability about it all where the sequence of events required to stop Brexit simply won't materialise. We are circling the drain.

As much as I am resigned to this I now think it needs to happen. That things have sailed this far out of control tells us that Westminster is no longer capable of defending the nations interests. The system isn't working. Parliament is incapable of asserting itself, politicians are decadent and foolish and beyond the reach of us mere mortals. There is no dialogue - only noise.

In that respect remainers have got it wrong if they think stopping Brexit is going to fix anything. All it can do is sustain an unsustainable limbo where things can only get worse. I now feel that a political cataclysm is the only thing that will focus their attention. After which we will have to have a serious debate about how we now do government because Westminster as a system is not fit for purpose. It just doesn't work. If it serves any purpose at all then it is to prevent such failures. If it can't do that then the system needs a reboot. It has shown itself ill-equipped to deal with anything challenging.

I hope I am wrong and I would like to be. We may yet see sanity prevail - but at this point there is no indication that it will. For a long time I have suspected a political reckoning is on the way. Politics has been detached for so long in its own pocket of unreality, making error after error, that there has to be consequences.

For all that remainers speak of the supreme arrogance and foolishness of the Brexiteers I just see it as symptomatic. This to me doesn't look any different to the urgent hubris that ratified Lisbon, using all arms of the system to ram it through. The same threadbare politics that took us to war in Iraq. We stumble from crisis to crisis with no control over our government with wholly inadequate constitutional safeguards. I would rather see it fail one final time than to see it limp on a moment longer.

From what I can see of the remainers, avoiding Brexit is largely about avoiding the inconvenience of political instability. It's based on a naive assumption that their worlds can continue uninterrupted while we brush it all under the carpet. This would be unwise.

Some have suggested that stopping Brexit would cause civil unrest. I don't think so. It's not in the nature of leavers. It's the left who take to the street and smash shop windows. Thwarting Brexit will have a far more profound and lasting effect. The voters will quietly conclude that their vote doesn't matter - and from there we have turned a corner.

The politicians will go back to their usual inanities, politics will continue to degrade. Without the catalyst for serious reform and introspection I think we are on a collusion course for a collapse even worse than the worst Brexit. We'll have a widely despised political class and a public just biding its time to take political revenge.

All the while, the social contract will be broken. A government without legitimacy, without moral authority cannot hope to maintain societal cohesion. As soon as you tell voters their vote is irrelevant, we'll have lost something vital. There will be no obligation for decency in politics, things will turn sour like we have never seen and the state will turn inward and ever more authoritarian, living in fear of what the public may do.

Brexit is our one chance to sort this all out. I would prefer it we could have a sensible, negotiated Brexit, because I still think that is the best option for the UK - but if it's a choice between a clear out and limping on with the status quo then let the chips fall where they may. Britain as we knew it is gone. A decision was made last year - one that said we cannot go on like this. It wasn't a plea to end austerity. It wasn't a suggestion to tinker with a policy here or there. It was a coherent demand for political change. God help those who stand in the way of it. The Brexit vote was a manifestation of decades of dissatisfaction. Add one more betrayal and see what that gets you. You won't like it.

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