Sunday, 27 January 2019

Be careful what you wish for


As younger man I would often complain that our bland identikit politicians were devoid of any driving philosophy. I would still make that complaint even today as politicians so lacking ideology of their own are far too easily sucked into someone else's, albeit unwittingly - which is how we ended up this deep in the EU. But now we've gone dangerously in the other direction.

For a decade we had to put up with Blair's paternalistic authoritarianism followed by Tory wets led by Cameron who, apart from tinkering with the welfare system, did little to discontinue the Blair regime. The closest thing we've seen to a radical policy for decades was the decision to hold a referendum on the EU - and such was not done willingly.

Now that we have voted to leave, the managerialist consensus is pretty much dying on its arse, and as each day passes and the centrists look ever more elitist and out of touch, and real politics is coming back with a vengeance. I don't remember anything quite like it since the mid eighties.

And the thing about this kind of politics is that it brings out the worst in us. Real politics is an ugly business. Behind the veneer of professional politics we've lived under is the same old squirming bag of bigotries on both sides and is none too pleasant to behold. Worse still, it's proving pretty popular.

From the Tories we are increasingly seeing crass jingoism and nationalism of the belligerent kind, while the left continues its descent into depravity and virulent antisemitism. I don't find common cause with either and look upon the whole mess with dismay. (Not that I had anything to vote for before all this).

The problem for me, though, is that my political wish has been granted. All that time when I was saying "politics doesn't listen to people like us", since about 2012 I have gradually stopped being "people like us". Somewhere along the line I ditched my headbanger libertarianism and the more I've learned about trade and international development over the years the more pig ignorant "people like us" really seem. 

On that score it's interesting that one James Delingpole should have reappeared on my radar after being an irrelevance to me for so long. I stopped paying attention to anything he wrote the moment he threw his lot in with Breitbart. I don't mind robust right wing commentary as readers of this blog well know, but there has to be some standards. I was, though, generally in the same political ballpark and used to enjoy a good Gerald Warner rant as much as the next guy. 

This latest offering, though, telling us how we have nothing to fear from no deal, as issue illiterate as it is, is a reminder of where I was politically and were it not for the steep learning curve I've traversed, I would probably be making all the same arguments from a similar position or superior ignorance. As shockingly ignorant as it is, it makes me uncomfortable to think that I too was every bit as moronic.

In a lot of ways I'm not the same person I was five years ago. The process of blogging here and elsewhere with a view to understanding the issues has been a major growing experience. It makes me wonder then, why people like Delingpole and Brendan O'Neill have stood still in all this time. But then I know the answer to that. These people are peddlers of narrative. They are propagandists; - an artform where details don't matter, truth is wholly subjective and the aim is simply to please the audience. 

As professional space fillers on the media circuit their role is simply to turn their minuscule intellects to any passing talking point and trot out the party line - peppered with the popular canards of their respective axe grinding. There is no actual need to delve into the complexities. Anyone who does is obviously engaged in smokescreen tactics to confuddle the masses and subvert the popular will!

At some point in their lives men like Delingpole decided they knew enough and need not trouble themselves with further learning. As EUreferendum describes, the Tory set have lower orders to bail them out when things get complicated. 

All they need do is have someone else do the donkey work and bone up on the central points at the last minute if they can be bothered. And that's pretty much the nature of our political class. The bone idleness and bluff on display is no different to that of politicians like Paterson and Redwood. Where they come unstuck is their propensity to leave out anything that happens to be inconvenient or anything that might make them unpopular with their followers and donors. 

The consequence of this is a political class that simply doesn't entertain detail and does no learning of its own. They construct their own alternate reality and have stooges like Delingpole to do their PR work for them. In place of bland functionaries with now have ideologues who fall back on trite notions such as "free trade" entirely oblivious to the world as it actually is by way of having their exposure to it prefiltered.

For as long as we've had the backstop of the EU the damage these people can do has been contained. Now we have removed that backstop the witless prattle of these buffers and chancers has real world consequences - especially so at this pivotal moment that will decide the UK's economic and geostrategic standing for the next fifty years or more. With a privileged know-nothing ruling class, joined at the hip with an indolent and shallow media, there is scant chance we can hope to survive them being in charge.

The coming weeks will decide which way this goes. Theresa May's deal will probably come back for a second vote and MPs will have to decide whether they see it through or whether they let the clock expire. The ultras were never going to vote for a deal of any kind so our fate rests in the hands of the remainers and the opposition benches. The ERG are not the kingmakers here. Should we slide over the cliff it won't be on the strength of no deal argument. 

To that extent the noise generated by Breitbart and BrexitCentral really is little more than noise. Should we leave without a deal, though, Delingpole's name will be somewhere at the bottom of a long list of liars, blaggers, chancers and self-servers who told every lie under the sun. Being that the internet never forgets, this will be the last time anybody takes this manchild seriously - save for the last remnants of his intellectually subnormal readership - for whom he will be penning creative excuses while the adults clean up after them.

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