Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Acts of chicanery

Before this blog existed, my previous blog warned that Ukip was laying down the foundations of failure. Their failure to adequately plan and their persistent pandering to the grunter wing was always going to make them unpalatable. This made it all the easier for the Tory Brexiters to cleave ownership of the campaign away from Ukip and make it their plaything. If it now transpires that we do not leave the EU, I will hold Nigel Farage most responsible.

Of course, he will not take the blame, nor will his role as the architect of failure be recorded in the media. The Ukippers - or whatever they become, will simply cry "establishment stitch up". They will, though, be right about this to a point. If we stay in the EU it will be a pincer movement of chicanery between Parliament and the EU. It is quite remarkable that the only time in living memory parliament has really exerted itself is to avoid taking powers back from Brussels.

Here I'm reminded of Morpheus's immortal line in the Matrix: "You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged - and many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it". 

This was clear in the parliamentary debate earlier today where the leader of the opposition challenged May to outline how her deal protects workers rights. Both sides seemed to be in agreement that it was the function of the EU to provide the legal protection of rights, not parliament itself. The rot runs deep. They still view the EU as a political crutch even though we are notionally leaving it. This further underscores my view that the EU is a symptom of the dysfunction in Western politics.

I do not think, however, that chicanery alone is enough to keep us in the EU. It still needs a figleaf of legitimacy if the establishment is to pull a fast one - which is why they will need another referendum. Without it, it'll be a disaster. Remainers will win the battle but lose the war. Politics will be broken beyond repair.

Even with a referendum, though, it is far from likely that the result will be clear cut as we will see a new anti-politics mood emerging and a re-run would look much the same as the last one - only uglier. It certainly won't settle anything even if remain wins. The sore will continue to fester as the rhetorical tables are turned on the victors of 2016. 

Here I turn to a highly plausible analysis, by Sophie Pedder, of what is happening in France in which she notes that "Attempts by the far-left (Mélenchon) and far-right (Marine Le Pen) to piggy-back on the gilets jaunes have failed. This is an anti-political movement that defies easy classification. Such populists are becoming part of the rejected establishment". Britain could certainly follow. With Ukip spent and Farage a busted flush, and the Tories Brexiters exposed as carpet-baggers, the mood is sure to sour.

There is only one certainty here and that is that there is no return to the 2016 status quo and anyone who thinks reversing the referendum restores a degree of political normality is deluding themselves. Being that I am generally anti-politics and anti-Westminster, I actually urge them to try it. I could perhaps temporarily forgo exit from the EU to bring politics to a crashing halt. I have a vision of what could happen, and though it is against to law to openly encourage it, I would not be at all sorry to see it happen. 

Whatever reprieve remainers may buy themselves it is only temporary. The only consent they can garner is a reluctant resignation on the back of a public overwhelmed and bored by the tidal wave of establishment propaganda - but it will remain the case that there was always a viable exit from the EU and the establishment did everything in its power to defy the mandate. That will remain an artefact of British politics for a long time to come. Their treachery will be remembered. 

It all comes down to that gulf between Westminster and the rest of the country. That, ultimately, was the cause of the 2016 vote - a damning verdict on a widely despised political class - and gulf will not be bridged by olive branches and electoral bribes. This is a schism that must be resolved. 

This is a schism that has existed for twenty years or more. It has widened over the years and its roots precede so-called austerity - and there is no remedy in sight for many of the economic drivers either. The order that has existed has been the product of an establishment with an iron grip over the narrative able to keep dissent bottled up and voiceless. The referendum was a safety valve, but if that valve is once again closed it won't take long for the pressure to build up again - only the next time it blows, there will be no patience for negotiated outcomes.

Ultimately this establishment timeline has been living on borrowed time for at least a decade. It can afford itself a life-support machine but a situation in which roughly half the country is denied a voice is unsustainable. We need a new settlement based on a consensus and that is not EU membership. Unless there is a shift in the balance of power away from the establishment as we know it, this can only end in misery. If we remain by acts of chicanery then British politics descends into all out war. You ain't seen nothing yet. 

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