Thursday, 7 February 2019

Whatever Brexit may cost us, we can't afford not to leave.

Remoaners are having a fully blown hissy fit at the moment. I think it's dawning on them that they have pretty much zero hope of reversing the referendum. They are not taking it well. A recurrent theme is the old canard of Brits being nostalgic for empire and glory which is the fashionable but eye-wateringly tedious talking point of the moment.

Says Alex Andreou (who he?) "For many Brits “sovereignty” equates to “dominance”. It’s not about the UK deciding for itself, but imposing its will on others (eg. Ireland). Anyone not submitting is “inflexible”. It’s a post-imperial hangover".

As much as this is achingly dull received wisdom, Brexit is nothing of the kind. Admittedly there is a slight whiff of English imperial supremacy to the utterances of Boris Johnson but the remoans can't seem to get their heads round the notion that voters are entirely capable of arriving at their own views and have individual value systems not derived from an Eton education. 

What this is really about is a people who don't want an unaccountable, opaque and technocratic entity making their laws. Certainly though, the behaviour of this government, particularly in respect of the Irish question, could be interpreted as imposing our will but it doesn't really stack up. 

This process is wholly mishandled by a government that simply doesn't know what it has enmeshed us in and why the EU cannot bend or break its own rules. With our political class having only a superficial understanding of the system, they don't really get what they are up against. The UK government doesn't want a border in Ireland and for us that is largely a political decision whereas for the EU is is a legal and systemic imperative.

To a large extent Article 50 never was a negotiation in the same way that I can't negotiate with my desktop computer. To get certain outputs I must give it certain inputs from a limited range of options. This gulf of understanding has tainted the entire process from the beginning. It reminds me of that scene from A Space Odyssey with the chimpanzees trying to comprehend the inanimate monolith. 

They think this is a political negotiation and that the EU is simply being intransigent or deliberately obtuse. Being that Westminster is largely a closed loop the messages from Brussels are simply not received which is why the EU is increasingly impatient in that the UK government appears to reside on another planet. they have trouble understanding why the UK struggles to take on board even the most basic premise. I share their dismay.

This is a very British problem and I actually wish it was as easily explained various pundits think it is. The Fintan O'Toole wise sage act wears awfully thin and doesn't really approach the nub of the issue. It has more to do with the culture of Westminster and quite a bit to do with Theresa May herself.

Recent testimony from Sir Ivan Rogers illustrates how gatekeepers prevented him getting anywhere near the PM. As I understand it that was the work of Nick Timothy who essentially was a Josef Fritzl character, keep in Mrs May locked away from influences that may distract her. This, though, is not at all unusual. SpAd culture runs deep and they very often are political appointees working outside the civil service, with virtually no subject knowledge, believing themselves to be gurus in anything they apply themselves to. They then act as gatekeepers, not least out of self-interest in that a monopoly on ministerial access is something to fiercely guarded.

Consequently ministers are often unaware that they are in a tightly controlled domain where information is pre-screened and rationed and the only independent source of information they are likely to get is from our Just In time media. The second part of the problem is that of the information that does circulate in the public domain, much of it is sponsored or agenda driven, originating from one of a dozen lobbyists masquerading as think tanks.

Here the classic rule comes into play. Garbage in, garbage out. Tory think tankery is near universally comprised of cleverdick poshboys and utterly talentless middle aged white men with well groomed girlies to push their agenda on TV for them. the graduates among them will either be Oxford PPE types or LSE economics and never once will any of them have held a real job and will only be dimly aware that something outside Zone 2 exists.

These prats are all interchangeable between the newspapers and the think tanks and the SpAd circuit, they all know each other, they attend the same shindigs and book launches and hang around in the same Mayfair clubs. They really do fancy themselves and they develop a circle of mutual grooming - frequently referencing each others work. The only time anything original gets in is if one of them happens to steal it. The chances, therefore, of quality information getting into the offices of state are nil and the chances of any outside voices getting a look in are similarly small.

Westminster has become a monster. It is a festering pit of self-regard and entitlement. It has zero self-awareness, and is forever in transmit mode. They do not think themselves capable of error and it is our job simply to receive their infinite wisdom. This is not something confined to the right of politics. This is the uniform dynamic. It's deeply tribal and it's bent as bent gets.

In respect of that the notion that what we are seeing now is a "post-imperial hangover" cannot be wholly discounted. Eton and Oxford certainly are relics and the House of Commons processes, rituals and traditions are all archaic throwbacks which produces certain behaviours - but mainly I think it's generally the result of a wider problem in politics.

The short of it is, you have to be a particular type of person to even want to be an MP. To have a chance of winning you not only need to join a party which means suspending most of your critical faculties, you also have to do a lot of lying and a lot of sucking up. That's going to produce a pretty dreadful person. Then when you put them all together (650 sociopaths in one room) in a public school setting like Westminster, fed largely on the output of the politico-media circle-jerk, you're going to get something quite ugly, monumentally incompetent and dangerously self-satisfied.

This is partly why we are leaving the EU. The public themselves are heartily sick of our political establishment and they are absolutely right to be. Time and again our arrogant so-called elites do as they please without any reference to public opinion and between general elections couldn't give a tinker's toss what we think. The referendum was the one chance to stick em in the eye.

So to then asset that those who voted to leave are in some way pining for Empire or on a psychological level never got past winning WW2 (as O'Toole's latest theory holds it) is actually something of a insult. And a calculated one at that. O'Toole is an Anglophobe.

Leave voters I know most certainly do have an over-optimistic and somewhat naive assessment of our trade potential and our position in the world, but if anything has propped that up it has been the EU which is a power amplifier - or at least projects power. Both leavers and remainers suffer from this delusion - our prime ministers especially. 

The EU has propped up the illusion which is in part why UK prime ministers in recent years have jetted round the world attending various summits believing themselves to be far more important than they actually are. The ones who mourn this "influence on the world stage" the most are the remainers. If anyone is having trouble letting go of the imperial delusion it's our remain establishment. In respect of that, the idea that this band of narcissists would move toward ever closer military union so it can engage in military adventures like Libya under an EU flag is absolutely terrifying.

If there is one thing O'Toole is right about though, Brexit is not strictly to do with the EU. It is partly a culture war on our own elites, and forcing them into leaving the EU puts the brakes on whatever else they plan on doing to us without consultation or consent. And actually what we find when we look at the EU, Merkel and Macron are similarly out of touch and losing their legitimacy. The whole EU project is a confluence of arrogant and widely despised elites. Not for nothing will the next European Parliament be stacked to the rafters with populists.

Then as bad as our own establishment is, the EU itself has sprawled to become a vast bureaucratic enterprise creating nonjobs for NGO wonks and PR spivs involving plenty of foreign travel and jamborees in exotic locations. They then slide effortlessly into our own apparatus of government where each establishment serves as a landing pad for politicos kicked out of office. The result of this is a locked in technocratic paradigm in governance which is largely impervious to democratic impetus and utterly oblivious to the harm it does.

That our establishment is presently making a royal pigs ear of Brexit is largely to do with the fact a task of this complexity and magnitude is far beyond their mediocre abilities. That Britain finds itself "humiliated" is largely because the voters have done us the favour of exposing how the tree has rotten from the inside. We would find any other departing member to be in a similar state of disarray and it is only a matter of time before German and French politics disintegrates in much the same way.

It's all deeply horrifying to smug pantywaist little twerps like Hugo Rifkind. As one tweeter put it today "being humiliated by the EU is some kind of fetish for the lickspittle spineless London chattering class". Indeed. The idea that we would reject their benevolent guidance sickens them to the core.

The narrative that we are pining for empire and have a deep psychological defect through having been a former colonial power is really just a lazy excuse from a pundit class who cannot for a nanosecond entertain the notion that it is they who are spitting on enlightenment values and pissing on democracy. They don't see why Brexit is necessary largely because they themselves are part of the problem.

As someone who favoured a less dramatic Brexit than the one we are facing, I am deeply concerned by the potential fallout, but I am still absolutely convinced that Brexit is both necessary and urgent. The people have to claw back their own sovereignty from an idle and narcissistic ruling class who sit on their hands while everything we value is undermined and eroded. Whatever Brexit may cost us financially, we can't afford not to leave. 

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