Saturday, 1 December 2018

The toxic crusaders

We all say that politicians are liars and that our politics is dishonest, but of late I have come to understand something I did not previously. The politicians are not alone in this. Almost everyone engaged in politics is on some level lying us. This is certainly true of party activists and it's certainly true of the many sycophants in this game - and even more true of our media.

As to me, I do not knowingly lie because working things out and trying to understand is hard enough without having to maintain falsehoods. I can't be bothered. You can't really understand your own position if you haven't really acknowledged the weaknesses in it.

In respect of that I am more in a minority than I thought. Most people are not really interested in understanding the issues. For whatever reason they decide upon their desired outcome and will tell virtually any lie to that end. Very few people actually think for themselves or even argue their own case for something. They trot out the mantras they've been spoonfed by their favourite politician or radio show host.

Personally I have no political heroes. I do not tune in to Question Time to cheer on my team or the person who best represents my views, I have no favourite news presenter or political chat show host. I don't expect to be informed by Newsnight, I know I'm just going to be sickened by Channel 4 and these days I would rather sit silently in traffic than suffer BBC radio of any kind. I do not need to know the views of London think tank drones and political hacks.

As to print media, though the Speccie has tried to move away from being a Toryboy rag, it has nothing to say for itself that adds value. I can pick up the London bubble talking points through osmosis. Meanwhile the so-called newspapers aren't worth a damn. I can no longer name a single columnist I respect and most of their news content is recycled agency copy. To me it's all equally worthless.

Similarly I am not interested in a Brexit debate between Corbyn and May. What value does it add to listen to two politicians with no idea what we need, what we want or how to get it? I need not tune in to hear their vision for Brexit since neither has one. Nor am I interested in after match analysis from some or other airhead political editor. None of this noise adds clarity to the debate or adds to our understanding. They are a wholly subtractive influence. Amidst all this noise, the only thing I can really make out is the steady ticking of the clock.

The short of it is, if there was going to be a political consensus there would be one by now. The only real consensus I can see (if the Brexit hashtag is anything to go by) is that Brexit is just too complicated to deliver - whereupon backbenchers I've never heard bleat their "people's vote" shtick - having completely convinced themselves that the nation is behind them. Easy to do when you live in a self-reinforcing bubble.

There are others, though, pushing the line that the public is bored of Brexit and that's reason enough to just drop the whole enterprise because no-one will really grumble save for a minority who don't really matter.

Here I think back to November 2016. I accepted an invite to the local sports and social club fireworks display. It was a working class family affair and not really my scene. My host introduced me to a friend of hers. Quite clearly as working class as they come. He told me that he voted to leave. "I don't understand what the delay is" he said.

I tried to explain that Brexit is not as easy as it looks and we need time to prepare but he was not minded to listen. "It's quite clear what they doing" he said. He then turned away from me and went to the bar. His body language was clear. He didn't want my explanations or elaborations even as a leave voter. He knew what he voted for. And so do I. Patience with our ruling class is very much running out.

Ultimately, when MPs say that the Brexit momentum has dissipated, they think it's fine to simply abandon those voters like the man in the Almondsbury Social Club. The sort of place you can find in every city and every town where you can find the voters who've been voiceless for decades. Ignoring them is ultimately the reason Remain lost in 2016.

Right now the noise coming out of politics is a desperately shrill demand to remain but I sincerely doubt it's genuinely representative of the country. We could have another referendum but Remain still has the same fundamental problem. They're smarmy, condescending, dishonest to the core - and however unlikeable the Tory Brexiters are, the odious paternalistic centrist toads of Westminster are worse. A do over referendum, putting them front and centre on our screens for another few months is more than likely going to produce the same result.

I think that's a safe bet because I'm far from alone in finding the media ghastly. I'm not bored of Brexit but I am bored of the connivances and deceptions and endless repeats of the same debates. I am bored of going over the same technical issues time after time. I am bored of know-nothing politicians and finger-wagging academics. 

And there's one horrible thought to entertain. If we stayed in the EU we'd be voting to keep this political morass.  That then would be the most we could ever hope from our politics and media. If that is to be our future I can't see the point in further political engagement.

In 2016 people voted for fundamental change. The ghastliness of the referendum itself was enough to swing it. A second vote would not conduct itself any better, and the Adonis's, Majors and Blairs would be just as vile now as then. Another vote may even boost the sense of defiance. 

One could certainly be forgiven for concluding that almost any price is worth it to be rid of this treacherous lot once and for all. One can also be forgiven for thinking that if our politicians tell us our votes can't affect change, then we shall have to find uglier means. I do not think our establishment truly understands how toxic they are. 

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