Thursday, 23 February 2017

Brexit: a political class asleep at the wheel

Iraq, MPs expenses, the Rochdale scandal, Leveson, welfare reform, Hillsborough and the Banking crisis is all standard fare for our media and the inhabitants of the Westminster ecosystem. I would not by any means call these matters trivial. This is what most people consider to be front line politics. But in terms of what is political, this is only the very tip of the iceberg.

What passes for political debate in the UK is largely shrill, shallow and prone to distraction by trivialities. Politics has become part of the entertainment sphere. What's interesting is how Brexit really does separate the wheat from the chaff.

What we find is that Brexit has opened up a massive can of worms where all manner of issues are suddenly up for debate again. Amazingly though, the debate has fallen silent. Very often I use the Brexit hashtag on Twitter to take the temperature of the debate. In most respects people have moved on. It is no longer interesting to them and that which is left is a sorry bunch of delusional remainers bleating away to themselves along with the usual die hard leavers publishing their risible wares. Nowhere do we see anything approaching a serious debate.

It seems that only the farming sector has a sense of urgency about it. Following confirmation that the UK would be leaving Euratom, we had a couple of days worth of protest from the nuclear industry and then the issue fell silent. Fishing could well be thrown into complete disarray yet the issue barely registers. Save for the occasional worthwhile contribution in the darker corners of The Guardian, there is little in the legacy media taking on the issues.

As much as the media is not interested, like our politicians, they simply wouldn't know where to start. Each are producing little more than partisan clickbait chasing ever shrinking audiences and somehow journalism has fallen through the cracks.

One gets a sense though that Brexit fever is only on ice. The public are thoroughly bored of Brexit already. Most of what we see in the public domain is largely a rehash of the referendum arguments. There is little to engage in. That which is going on in Westminster is of little value save for the odd sporadic side debate about the usefulness of the House of Lords. But again, such is a distraction. We are not seeing any kind of quality engagement.

In this we should not mistake the various recitals of technobabble as engagement. Much of the new terminology falling into media use is only half understood and is used as a figleaf to disguise their own lack of understanding.

It is for this reason I expect Brexit will be far more shambolic than anyone really anticipates. For sure the government hasn't got a clear idea of what to do but then who is to stop them, and who is providing any alternative ideas? Certainly not the think tanks. The left have nothing useful to offer since they have never taken an interest in the EU and they don't understand it - and the right have only dismal free trade mantras which take no account of developments beyond the confines of the EU.

It won't be until the shit hits the fan do we see any real space race in ideas. By then it will be far too late. The politico-media class will have failed utterly to make its mark on the debate and the people will be left to clear up the mess. Then we really will have a serious debate.

Collectively we are about to find out just how little we know about that which we have become entangled in. The invisible government that most of us take for granted will be back on the agenda. We will be back to those questions of who is running it and how. Perhaps then the purpose of Brexit will become more apparent.

As much as the politicians don't have a clue about Brexit, the people have only a slender comprehension of how deep the rabbit hole goes. Governance has become technical administration and we have gone into a collective slumber while putting it on autopilot. This very much is a kick in the complacency.

Just recently a theme among the remainers has been that we have been sovereign all along - yet at the same time they gleefully tell us that there will be much that we cannot "take back control" over. They can't have it both ways. Perhaps Brexit will be learning experience that proves us Brexiteers right. Too much was silently handed over without our knowledge or consent - putting all of our eggs in one basket.

For all that I have a dislike of Brexiteers for their refusal to admit that there are complexities, the remainers are possibly worse in that they acknowledge that there are complexities - but would rather not tackle them because life with the responsibility of participation is just too much hassle. In that regard the EU has become their comfort blanket.

If the price of freedom is eternal vigilance then it is high time these people were dragged back into politics whether they like it or not. If Brexit proves anything at all it is that for the last forty years our politicians and our media have been asleep at the wheel. Trainwreck Brexit is ultimately the price of their failure.

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