Thursday, 4 July 2019

We are no longer the same country and our system of government must change


Britain's political meltdown is far from an isolated case. Britain just has a unique set of circumstances where the dangers are amplified by way of having all of our external trade relations tied up in a single treaty framework. For the UK there is a single point of failure. A liability introduced when Lisbon was ratified. Article 50 is a dead man's switch.

There is no doubt that social media is behind it, but not in the ways imagined by tinfoil hatters who think Russian bot farms and sophisticated computer algorithms are brainwashing us. Something more organic is happening. The illusion of social hierarchy is evaporating.

With Brexit and Trump driving the professional and academic classes to the brink of madness, with a deep derangement setting in, it has wiped the sheen from their prestige. QCs, economists, professors and CEOs, it turns out, are not necessarily any wiser, more mature, better informed, or even morally superior. That's not really news to anyone who works with academics, some of whom can barely spell, much less write anything coherent, but social media brings the illusion into sharp focus.

Brexiters are blamed for "creating divisions" and cultivating a "them and us" narrative, but there very much is a them and us. There are those, typically in the remain camp, who believe they have a divine right to rule and the referendum of 2016 was a mistake. What they mean by that is constitutional questions are too difficult and too important to let the plebs have a say. That we were allowed a say, to them, is an aberration.

For many of them, Brexit came as a deep shock, and one they still struggle to comprehend. Ensconced in their own self-satisfied bubble, doing very nicely out of the status quo, they never knew what hit them. Rather than attempting to understand it, they went to war, using their privilege to defend their privilege. And what a grubby spectacle it has been. The sustained lawfare - the legal jihad against Brexit, using means that simply aren't available to the rest of us.

There's a lot of money sloshing around too. Were I an independent remain campaigner they'd have been throwing money at me and finding me TV and radio slots. Their respective crowdfunders rapidly balloon upwards as grifters like Jason Hunter and ambulance chasers like Jolyon Maugham exploit every opportunity they can to raise their own profiles.

Remainers point to the Eton/Oxford educated Brexiteers and scoff that they are hardly outsiders to the establishment, but the likes of Rees-Mogg, Johnson and the rest are really just old money relics from the old ruling class, capitalising on Brexit to further their own ambitions. The real money and the real power is firmly lodged on the remain side. It's a question of who commands the institutions. Academia and state media etc.

Christopher Booker once observed that when he worked at the BBC, its bias manifested itself in the booking of guests - someone bright and articulate to support the argument they approved of, and a humourless bore for the opposite side. Now all the legacy media does it. I recall just last week we saw a think tank trade wonk placed opposite Mark Francois - the ideal pick to discredit and shame the leave side.

Then for all of the veneer of progressiveness and tolerance, we see that the remainer blob is startlingly intolerant, ever quick to accuse leavers of white supremacy and fascism, while in the same breath salivating at the thought of the elderly shuffling loose of the mortal coil. It has become abundantly clear that the remain establishment actively despises ordinary people and resents them having any say. If they could undo Brexit they would do so in a heartbeat and brush it under the carpet like it never happened.

Their weakness, however, much like the left in general, is an unfailing lack of self awareness and blistering sanctimony. This makes them susceptible to the sort of political judo pioneered by Trump. When I saw that the Brexit Party had pulled their back turning stunt in the European Parliament, I thought it was a naff gimmick (which indeed it is) and one best ignored. But no, the remainers had to go into overdrive comparing it to a similar act by the Nazis in the Reichstag as though there were any parallel whatsoever.

For all that they demand a second referendum, in the wake of all this snobbery and self-righteous finger wagging, there is certainly no guarantee they would win it. The very act of nullifying the first referendum might very well spark a surge of defiance. Even before the referendum there was an unhealthy culture war but the sustained effort to cancel Brexit has turned it into a fight to the death. There is a lot of mileage in provoking remainers because the reaction is so rewarding. 

But then at the same time I have some sympathy with the remainers. Some of them anyway. I'm guilty of that same elitism at times. The Brexit Party, typically made up of yobbos and morons, seem to have made a virtue of ignorance, and as no deal warnings become more urgent and more shrill, the more they seem to enjoy parading their ignorance. There is a certain nihilism to the whole thing where the national interest takes a back seat to petty political vendettas.

Ultimately this political standoff will not come to an end until we leave the EU, be it with a deal or without. Probably the latter. We then enter a new phase of musical chairs until we reach the next impasse over what to do next. The polls are all over the shop but none of them take into account the severity of no deal fallout which could see the right eviscerated. It is now impossible to say where this leads. All I know for certain is that the credibility of the Tory right is about to take a major battering as their no deal promises turn to dust.

By that point the fever will have lifted but we then face the long and bitter task of rebuilding EU relations and reconstructing Britain politically. There is much talk about reuniting the country but I'm not even sure that's any longer possible. Even if the Union survives, the class divisions are stark, as is the north-south divide. It's going to take a new constitutional framework because we are no longer the same country and the old institutions are simply not fit for purpose. Westminster is not a workable system anymore. It is a relic of feudalism.

Any new political settlement must recognise the necessity for the public to have a greater say so that we do not end up back here again. Brexit is what happens when more than half the country are excluded from the decision making process. The Westminster system as is ensures a winner takes all style of government with very little moderation. It has been interesting to see during the course of Article 50 negotiations just how impotent parliament really is.

What we don't want is a continuation of this model where there is every possibility of a populist party like Ukip 2.0 taking absolute power and inflicting their moronic delusions upon us. With a politically exhausted party system, it cannot be ruled out. Recent experience has shown our democracy to be a democracy in name only, where we get to elect our dictators but the rest of the time we are voiceless spectators and decisions are delegated to those who nominally represent us. This is wholly inadequate.

Progressives have enjoyed the better part of four decades having it all their own way, with a near total command of the institutions and dominance over the narrative. It has done enormous damage and that primarily is why we are where we are. Remainers may not like it but that time is now at an end. Having failed to prevent Brexit, they must now realise and respond to demands for greater democracy if only out of enlightened self interest - otherwise they face four decades of the other lot having total control. Once we sweep the extremists on either side away, the one thing we can all agree on is that our system of government needs a radical overhaul. If we fail to exploit this window of opportunity then this destructive culture war will rage on with no possibility of reconciliation. Nobody wins from that. 

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