Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Claire Fox: the ultimate hypocrite


There is a particular type of Brexiter I utterly despise. Every day I deal with run of the mill kiptards who think leaving without a deal and bucking out on to WTO terms is a walk in the park. Mostly they're noise to me. People of average intelligence, starved of information and bombarded with propaganda will end up with stupid opinions and that's just part of life. There is no hate here for me. These people are what the mute button was invented for.

What really gets my goat are those who trot out the slogans who should know better but enjoy the rhetorical sport of arguing the toss as though it were wholly inconsequential. Julia Dunning-Kruger is especially guilty of this, as is Claire Fox. These are people who argue that there is no hard or soft Brexit, just Brexit. Soft Brexit, according to scripture, is not Brexit at all.

It takes some nerve to say that when leading campaigners from the Vote Leave camp, from Kate Hoey to Arron Banks, Nigel Farage, Daniel Hannan, Campbell Bannerman and Owen Paterson, have all been on record pointing to Norway as a viable and desirable option. The internet never forgets. It's all there if you go looking for it.

More than that, there has been three years of debate over the respective merits of Efta/EEA and even if you take the view that the so called Norway Option isn't Brexity enough for you, it certainly is Brexit and fulfils the 2016 mandate in that the ballot paper was simply an instruction to leave the EU. Norway, quite famously, is not in the EU.

At any point, Fox could have examined the debate, but like her fellow Spiked travellers, everything has to be made binary. No nuances, no grey areas. Everything is black and white. She is by no means stupid (so I am told) so we are dealing with a particularly lazy, ignorant and dishonest individual. Soft Brexit very much was an option and the best of an array of suboptimal outcomes.

What I find, though, is that those who attempt to remove nuance from a debate, attempting to polarise it, are seeking to manipulate those who listen to them and trust them. The hallmark of a demagogue. They rely on simplistic and pleasing soundbites that carry weight with your average grunty kiptard, but to anyone else who has properly interrogated the issues, it's intelligence insulting. Speaking of which, Claire Fox is the ultimate hypocrite. Writing in The Spectator she observes:
Until six weeks ago, I had the privilege of being a commentator who could sit on couches endlessly pontificating. Now as a politician, I’m the target of my fellow commentators. They either discuss me in my absence or ask a series of staccato questions with little room for context or nuance.

Maybe I’m fair game. After all, I have spent two decades as a Radio 4 Moral Maze panelist interrogating witnesses. This, perhaps, is my comeuppance. Yet what I’ve learned about the way the broadcast media works in recent weeks bothers me and I’ve been asking myself a question: what good does it do if journalism is reduced to demanding politicians ‘answer me – yes or no’? What do we lose when the media’s attitude to anyone who wins election is to deny them room for intellectual reflection or the chance to properly explore and think through ideas?
I mentioned this concern to one radio producer and she assumed it was because voters would expect simplistic answers, deliverable outcomes and ‘populist’ slogans from politicians. Ordinary folk, in this view, are not interested in complexities or subtlety.

But that assumption is telling and wrong on two counts. It is not the voters who insist on a black-and-white, one-dimensional approach; it is often the media who assume that anyone elected automatically becomes a robotic parroter of party-line soundbites.
Except that Claire Fox herself has no interest in nuance whatsoever and has deliberately set about making the issue black and white. Her assertion that soft Brexit is not Brexit is very much a robotic soundbite. There is a whole world of debate about Efta, one which she has, of her own volition, opted out of. She then presumes to speak on behalf of all who voted Brexit when she aligns herself with a party pushing for no deal.

She then goes on television, from a position of total ignorance, to tell us that "no deal presents us with more opportunities" while having nothing of relevance to say when asked about the Norway Option. I would very much like to know what these opportunities are because reading through the EU's Notices to Stakeholders, they make for pretty grim reading. "Crashing out" is an entirely accurate description of no deal. Disconnecting the UK from the regulatory ecosystem its trade has evolved inside and whacking us with tariffs is a hammer blow to the economy.

But then from the YourTube clip, you can see she's one of the lightweights who has made no serious attempt to examine the issues from a technical perspective. Like Gisela Stuart she blathers about democratic renewal, as though Brexit of itself were a wonder drug. The naive belief that cutting all ties with the EU frees us to act unilaterally without consequence. The critical error made by nearly all Brexiters is assuming the EU is the cause of the problem rather than a symptom. The EU certainly is an impediment to the exercise of sovereignty but Brexit in the first instance merely transfers the power from an unaccountable dysfunctional government in Brussels to one in London. The public are still powerless spectators.

So very often the likes of Fox brush off the trade debate (as demonstrated) as a peripheral concern, but had she bothered to avail herself of any of the deeper analyses, she would have bumped into the central dilemma of globalisation, where trade and technical governance are intimately linked and harmonisation through binding treaties, regionally and globally is the main way to maximise trade (upon which jobs depend). There we find there are no satisfactory answers to the trade offs between democracy, sovereignty and trade. There is always a compromise to be made - which is why you might actually want to think hard about the form Brexit takes. Embarking on such an enterprise without a destination in mind most likely leaves us worse off and no better off in the sovereignty stakes.

It actually comes as no surprise that Fox has joined the Farage party. Her horseshit suits his. It is a party without an intellectual foundation that relies entirely on soundbites and outsources all of its thinking to the Tory Brexit blob. They always thought detail and planning was superfluous. "Invoke Article 50 now" said Fox. We don't need no stinking plan or any fancy book learnin!

How's that working out for you?

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