Monday, 21 August 2017

Westminster is dying - and we should let it die

Sam Hooper today writes how the dark forces of socialism are on the march, poised to topple a flagging Conservative party. Meanwhile, he asks, "what are we conservatives doing to retool ourselves to better fight the next general election? We are creating juvenile Jacob Rees-Mogg fanclubs on Facebook, engaging in pointless speculation about a cast of future leadership contenders all alike in blandness, and spending more time trying to ingratiate ourselves with the Tory party machine in constituency and at conference than figuring out what we should actually stand for, and how we can persuade others to stand with us".

There was a time where I too might have mused over the future of the Conservative Party. In the early days of the Cameron regime I penned a rant or two about how Conservatism needs to get back to its roots of small government, low tax and liberal pro-growth policies. It wasn't so very long ago that the thought of any Labour government, let alone one led by Corbyn, would be unthinkable. That would ordinarily prompt some urgency in contributing to this debate.

Now though, I don't care. Let the chips fall where they may. It doesn't matter. Some would have it that a Corbyn government would the the fast-track to economic and political ruin. That is not a sticking point for me in that I think we are headed there anyway. Why put off the inevitable?

When you look around the usual Toryboy suspects on Twitter, they're still bleating about the same hobby horses they made their names on over a decade ago - and haven't grown since. That actual grown-ups would be cheering on Patrick Minford is really all the proof you need that statecraft is no longer an instinct within the Tory party.

Ultimately the Tory party is not capable of governing in the national interest simply because its denizens do politics, not policy. The IEA, for instance, wouldn't have the first idea how to craft a policy of any kind. Like Ukip they believe a stated objective is a policy when in fact policy requires some kind of inclination as to how one might achieve certain ends.

The adoption of a unilateral free trade approach tells you the thinking in play. Trade is the art of making careful individual decisions designed to increase wealth and prosperity. Strategic decision making. Each of those decisions must be evaluated for the public good - not just in terms of their GDP value. There are political, environmental, social and defence concerns all of which must be considered. That which makes a country what it is.

Unilateralism is a total disregard for any of those delicate and careful decisions - policy-making without risk assessment. The consequence of that is sweeping, unpredictable, often devastating change - the damage from which is often irreversible. People who want unilateralism abandon any concept of strategy. This is not how responsible democratic governance works. Governance has to be by consultation and consent.

By the same token, the Labour party has its own distinct nostrums based on their own obsolete ideas with no idea how to implement them. I'm at a loss to decide which of them is worse since we are basically dealing with children whoever we elect.

During the 2015 election I ran a running critique of Ukip's performance throughout, pointing to their manifest deficiencies, but two years on from that I realise that Ukip was the canary down the mine. It would seem that all of politics is imbued with the idea that statecraft comprises of silver bullets and miracle cures. All you have to do is win the power and start pulling levers. We see this reflected in Rees-Mogg who clings on to silly notions of deregulation - along with the same old tiresome canards from libertarians.

And then there are other clues round the edges, with Hilary Benn asking in all seriousness whether drones could be used to drop aid over Syria. Him, Diane Abbott, Rebecca Wrong-Daily, Rees-Mogg, Emily Thornberry - these are profoundly unserious people. I cannot name a single MP who holds my confidence as an actual adult who resides on this planet. Moreover, this is not confined to politics either. Our media is in a similar state of decay and television news has lost the plot entirely.

It feels to me like every corner of public life is in a state of terminal institutional decay. Academia has lost the plot, the police have lost any semblance of prioritising ability, and if it weren't for IT running half of public administration we would now be in a very serious mess.

Britain has a disease. It is a toxic combination of slovenliness, indifference and apathy, the hallmarks of which can be seen in every tier of society. The gormless excuses we've heard for failing to tackle the Rotherham scandal, the inability to adequately respond to Grenfell, all points to a corrosion of civic governance.

In a lot of ways this is exemplified by Brexit whereupon we have seen the blind leading the blind from the get go, with the media all at sea, and government unable to bring any kind of clarity to the situation. Key figures are still unable to adequately define the customs union. Making as success of Brexit now seems utterly improbable.

We cannot go on like this. A political collapse is imminent. I have doubts that this administration can see out its term, and if Corbyn can hang on to his leadership by keeping his mouth shut, a Corbyn government is an inevitability. One which will very rapidly hit the rocks.

I think that the UK is only capable of taking stock when it is actually forced to confront the consequences of the systemic rot. There is no obvious cure. We just have to let the fever take it's course and wait until it breaks.

In that respect I am not interested in saving the Conservative Party. It does not deserve to survive, nor indeed does Labour. If the whole Westminster system slides into the Thames I couldn't care less. Representative democracy as we know it has withered, the system is spent, and the sooner it collapses, the sooner we can start rebuilding. Whatever fate awaits us is one well deserved.

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