Sunday, 15 September 2019

Treading water

Blogging is hard at the moment. There is no shortage of noise but very little to say unless you want to join in with the ideological trench warfare that has broken out between the two Brexit camps. With the Lib Dems having declared war on Brexit they've become the home for the archetypal Waitrose warrior remoaner so we could have enormous fun at their expense but it doesn't actually add value and it's pretty much covered by Twitter.

Course we could follow the theatricals of Brexit negotiations, but as EUreferndum points out, there are no negotiations to speak of. A deal is not in the offing and despite media speculation to the contrary, circumstances have not changed nor has the EU's position. Noises have been made about reconsidering the backstop if the UK comes up with a workable proposal but that isn't going to happen.

Initially I had thought that the Johnson administration was going all out for no deal but it seems they are instead playing chicken with an oncoming reality juggernaut. Johnson thinks he can "handbag" the EU at the last minute and come home victorious. But procedurally, or by any other measure, that's just not how this works. Johnson will come away with nothing so we now wait to see what the situation is regarding an extension and an election.

There is plenty of speculation to be had there - especially so since general elections are the comfort zone of pundits. I'm happy to indulge as and when we get to that point, but I'm not going to sit here dreaming up phantom scenarios that may never happen. But what now can be usefully said when it has all been said and the nation is bored rigid with it all?

There is something to be said about the deterioration of both politics and the media - with politics now polarised to the point of self-destruction while the media indulges in its own set of fantasies. But this is hardly new either.

So what about conference season? Conferences have long been the domain of anoraks and social climbers and have very little to say worth hearing. Whatever policies they might dream up have only a limited shelf life in that Brexit will choke up the machine and divert funds they would otherwise use. As to the Lib Dems, they have to convincingly explain how you put the country back together after nullifying the 2016 referendum. They appear not to have thought about that.

As it happens, I still think we are odds on for no deal. The closer we get to Brexit day the more ghastly theremainer bunch get; oozing self-righteousness, snobbery and entitlement with zero self-awareness. I don't see any scenario where they could hold the balance of power.

One thing that did catch my eye today, though, was a clip from an interview with Harriet Harman following noises about her replacing John Bercow. She says "It would show parliament has changed if a woman was Speaker." - She asserts that if parliament decides on a man to be the next Speaker of the House of Commons 'it will render women in politics invisible'.

Leaving aside that we've had Betty Boothroyd who was admired and respected, this is absolutely quintessential Westminster bubble stuff. Self-absorbed, narcissistic, issue illiterate and breathtakingly banal. This is ultimately why so many seek to use Brexit to punish the establishment. This is what we are all sick of.

And then there's Labour's muddle on Brexit. Corbyn is under pressure from the London metropolitan wing of Labour to come out as an all out remain party, but Corbyn is acutely aware (or should be) that if he does so, he'll be alienating the northern leave voting working class base. Since there is no outright position that allows him to ride both horses, Labour has to keep it deliberately vague. 

In many ways Labour's identity crisis represents the wider identity crisis in the country and since one side has to lose, politicians simply duck the issue. The only reason we have remained in the EU this long is because politicians have fought to keep the issue at bay, never allowing it to become a primary issue. Our EU membership has a certain Dorian Gray dynamic where our EU membership presents as a glossy young facade while the real portrait in the attic is a snarling, decaying ogre.

This to a large extent explains why things are such a giant mess. We are finally having the national debate we should have had at least a decade sooner but at a time when our politics is the least equipped for it. Two decades of rolling and cameras in parliament has debased politics to the point where Westminster antics resemble those of a sixth form common room and more akin with the European Parliament - lacking legitimacy, gravitas and credibility.

As has become usual to say now, there is nothing for serious commentary to say until this phase reaches a conclusion. Both leaving and remaining have seismic consequences and one way or another, there will be a lot to say after the fact and either way we won't have heard the last of Brexit for some time to come. Between now and then, we are just treading water. 

No comments:

Post a Comment