Friday, 15 March 2019

Uncivil is the new normal

To this day it is still the case that among the most vocal remainers you will not find many among them making the case for what the EU project actually is. The remain/leave argument in many respects has become completely detached from the issue. It is a fault line in domestic politics. more generally though, the clamour to put a stop to Brexit is a clamour for things to go back to normal.

That would be the worst outcome for the UK because that normal is unhealthy. We can safely assume that were they to cancel Brexit our political class would rapidly return to its usual habits. That then leaves a lot of angry people completely robbed of their voice with only one word on their lips. Revenge.

Notionally we get to take our revenge at general elections but somehow this time it isn't enough. Already our normal channels of democracy are tarnish and voting is a largely forlorn ritual that gets us nowhere. Those of us who waited decades to have a voice only to have that voice erased would once again find ourselves in the political wilderness having no say in what is done to us.

In recent months we've had the great and the good piling on insult after insult then having the temerity to lecture us about civility in politics. It's interesting that AC Grayling should see fit to lecture us about irresponsible use of social media when yesterday he insults us all by attempting to link the massacre in New Zealand with Brexit. There is no low these fanatics will not stoop to.

It is at this point when I start to see uncivil conduct not only as inevitable, but also a public obligation. When there is no meaningful outlet for public dissatisfaction it will look to other means. If our parliament moves to casually discard a vote of 2016 proportions, then we have no choice but to look at direct action and protest - and with feelings running high, I won't be surprised if some take the view that peaceful demonstration is insufficient to get their attention.

For all that we hear of the need to tackle the spread of online hate, there is nothing more likely to make me hate than to see the same old faces mouthing the same old empty platitudes. Nothing sickens me more than than the endless posturing and virtue signalling. Nothing angers me more than to see these idle wastrels airing their stupidity on a daily basis. What makes my loathing go nuclear is the certain knowledge that there's next to nothing we can do to get rid of them.

I expect in this climate we will see a lot more intimidation of MPs and a lot more vandalism of constituency offices. Politics will become quite dangerous. They are going to need full time protection and hazard pay. Moreover, when they are attacked I doubt very much they shall enjoy much in the way fo public sympathy.

For as long as we have a remote ruling class and a political settlement impervious to democratic inputs, especially while local and national taxes climb upwards, there is a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. They will, of course, attempt to police debate more stringently and call for tougher action on "internet trolls" but this sort of action is really just an attempt to shut down criticism of any kind.

If we want to restore civility to politics then we have to ensure that people do have a voice and a means to use their own power to change things and address the injustices in their lives. If, though, parliament is saying our votes only matter when it suits them, they are saying our votes do not matter at all. From that point they sit with zero legitimacy with no moral authority. There is then no obligation on any of us to uphold the rule of law. If politicians want a return to civility then it is they who must respect us.

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