Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Brexit: pockets of unreality

My favourite comedy of all time is Red Dwarf; the tale of the last human alive (Dave Lister) and his quest to return to Earth from three million years into deep space, with only a neurotic hologram of a former shipmate, a mother hen mechanoid, and a creature that evolved from the ship's cat for company. In one episode, prophetically titled "Out of Time", the gang go raiding a derelict spaceship found abandoned in deep space.

The ship contains closely guarded secret technology and is surrounded by by unreality pockets, a security measure causing very strong hallucinations. During one of these Kryten, the mechanoid, becomes convinced that Lister is a 3000 series android (an unsuccessful model, due to its hyper-realistic appearance), after which he is forced to obey orders from Kryten, a 4000 series. The next bubble gives the gang animal heads as illustrated. The further they fly the more of these pockets of unreality occur.

One could very easily see it as an allegory for Brexit. The closer we get to the prize, the more absurd the surrounding political landscape, almost as though it were designed as deterrence. It would be comforting to think there was an intelligent design behind it all but there really isn't. We've flown into a pocket of unreality where the normal rules of time and space simply don't apply.

The allegory only goes so far though. It is the general public flying through the pockets of discombobulating unreality, whereas Parliament resides in such a pocket on a persistent basis, as outlined by EUreferendum blog last night. In a fantasy construct all of their own, the ERG have convinced themselves that EU contingency measures amount to "concessions". This is nicely eviscerated by EUreferendum, saving me the bother.

In the Red Dwarf episode, the crew conclude that the disturbing hallucinations are too severe to endure all the way through to their destination thus decide to go into stasis, a form of cryogenic sleep until they arrive. Sadly we have no such technology of our own and must endure a higher frequency of absurdity. The hallucinations become more deranged the closer we get to D-Day. 

Far outside of the unreality minefield, though, things are very real indeed. The rest of the universe carries on as normal while politicians chase after their own delusions, further illustrating the disconnect between politics and the urgent needs of the country - as though to exemplify why Brexit is necessary. If there is an argument for leaving without a deal it is only as a wake up call to a completely detached political class. The ultimate Brexit paradox is that we very probably need a no deal Brexit in order to have a political purge of the sort of politician that advocates a no deal Brexit. 

Meanwhile, much of what is now hitting the news is only coming to the fore because of the EU's contingency measures which now confirm much of what the blogosphere has been saying for the last three years - and only now is there a glimmer of awareness from The Economist:
The biggest worry is not that the world’s view of Britain is changing. It is that this darker view of Britain is more realistic than the previous one. The Brexit vote could almost have been designed to reveal long-festering problems with the country: an elite educational system that puts too much emphasis on confidence and bluff and not enough on expertise; a political system that selects its leaders from a self-involved Oxbridge clique; a London-focused society that habitually ignores the worries of the vast mass of British people; and a Conservative Party that promotes so many pompous mediocrities. The reason Brexit is doing so much damage is not just that it is a mistake. It is a reckoning.
Of course it does not go as far as recognising its own role in this morass, but you have to give them points for trying. One could almost think they've been reading this blog. Brexit is no mistake though. This state of detached unreality is simply not sustainable. It was always going to come to a head and now we are counting down the days. As much as Brexit is a necessary corrective, the EU itself is a symptom of this very dynamic. For all their utopian ideals, with policy driven entirely by econometrics, there is no real world feedback in the system, ever widening the gulf between the governors and the governed.

In place of democratic input there is a strata of what they call civil society which is made up of NGOs and grant funded academics which the system believes to be authentic democratic input. But it's a closed loop of political cogs groomed for the life in the NGOcracy - marinated in political correctness and Agenda 21 dogma. 

This is how they end up believing that we are only too happy to pay more for our winter heating if it saves the planet. This is how we get 5p charges on carrier bags and bans on plastic straws. This is why, when Europe is taking to the streets, they sign an international compact on migration. Their priorities are a million miles from our own. Reality does not intrude.

This same self-absorption has plagued Brexit talks from the beginning where it;s not only the government disregarding anything said by Barnier. They're all at it. We are now staring into the Abyss and the Labour party (and others) seem to think that we can simply vote down the deal and toddle of to Brussels and ask for something completely different. The writing is on the wall. The EU will not stand for any more sodding around and it is not going to open talks again without a very seriously good reason. The window is closed and still Westminster is negotiating with itself. 

What we are looking at here is the culmination of decades of political degradation. Ours is an old and creaking system limping by on legacy prestige. It has yet to come to terms with its own lack of vitality and gravitas. The veneer of competence has long since evaporated and the public grows impatient. There is no mood to tolerate any further chicanery. 

This was made clear yesterday. Reality is closing in. We are now seeing more impassioned protetests in Westminster, and not of the clean living, well groomed remainer kind. Here we see Anna Soubry hounded by evidently right wing protesters and though she holds her composure, there is a brief moment where she looks genuinely frightened.

For the record, I'm not ok with this. Hounding her in this manner doesn't sit right with me. This is yobbery. But then Soubry is no innocent either. She would overturn the 2016 vote in a heartbeat if she could, and the ongoing legal attempts to thwart Brexit are playing with fire. This is reminder that they operate at our sufferance.

Elsewhere we see similar manifestations of anger. The big yellow "Bollocks to Brexit" bus has been touring the country of late, visiting mainly remain voting places - to a small but cordial reception. But not so yesterday, when the people of leave voting Durham turned out to block the road and pelted the bus with eggs.

Our political class is used to doing as it pleases without the intrusion of the real world. Without that impetus, and by neglecting to engage with anybody outside of the bubble, they have nurtured and strengthened their own pocket of unreality. They have done so to such an extent that they will fight to preserve it and use every arm of the state to ensure there is no "rude" interruption from the public. 

In a sense Westminster is becoming The Alamo. A futile battle to the last man against overwhelming forces, with too few defenders and attacked from all sides. These are the last days of the siege. If you see Anna Soubry in a Davy Crockett coonskin hat, you'll know why. The bubble of unreality is about to pop.  

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