Sunday, 17 November 2019

Brexit: tuning out

This has probably been the quietest time ever on this blog despite having passed the three million hit mark this week. I have new responsibilities that must now come first so this will probably become a weekly blog rather than a full time effort. But there's also another major factor. I am not remotely invested in this general election. I live in one of the safest Tory seats in the land and if the polls are anything to go by then the Tories will probably scrape a win, if not a landslide. I might wish it some other way but the alternatives are too dreadful to contemplate.

Moreover, I am simply not interested. When the internet came along, for the first time we were seeing an explosion of political conversation far outside of the control of the traditional media. For a time it looked promising and even exciting. Not so any more now that the various platforms have matured, acquiring their own respective groupthinks and rulebooks. The normal order of coprophagia has been restored.

Twitter especially has a hand in this by way of sanitising newsfeeds. There are the select chosen ones whose tweets rise to the top and then there are those below the line who get clipped if they fly too close to the sun. Consequently the agenda is still set by the Westminster politico-media bubble and Twitter users have again become consumers of talking points. If you're not willing to be a passive consumer of politics then Twitter has outlived its usefulness.

There was a time when I thought Twitter was valuable to correct various faulty narratives but then it turns out that our politics works by a different set of rules. British politics is a parallel universe - or rather multiverse where several alternate realities are created and destroyed every day where something is only true as long as it is convenient to a narrative. Should it become inconvenient it can be casually discarded and nobody seems to notice or care.

For instance we've had Steve Baker this week lecturing a Brexit Party MEP on why Article 24 wouldn't be a viable avenue. This the man who previously told us we could leave without a deal and patch up our trade with a series of mini deals. Once the gatekeepers have spoken, the tribes fall into line and yesterday's reality ceases to exist and nobody ever has to take responsibility for the lies they told.

In this instance Baker has realised that the only Brexit we are likely to get is the Johnson deal, and though remarkably similar (in most instances identical) in effect to the deal negotiated by Theresa May, the deal they spent months railing against - to the point of ousting May, the deal they told everyone was BRINO, has become the new gospel. And now that there is a deal ERG hardliners will settle for, the Brexit Party has to oppose it for no other reason than to stay relevant and make it look like they;re paying attention.

Meanwhile we now have Michael Gove going on the radio to tell us that there absolutely will be a deal by 2020 , attempting to pacify the Brexit Party mob who insist that Johnson will end up extending the transition - which he almost certainly will. Nobody at all serious thinks a deal can be concluded by 2020 but that's the fictional reality the Tory faithful are meant to uphold until it has served its immediate electoral function. When it has it will disappear in a poof of blue smoke as though nobody ever said otherwise to the fact that Brexit will take longer than 2020.

Keeping track of all these narratives is a full time job, but one that no sane person would do given how utterly futile it is. Notionally we should have a media capable of exploding these alternate realities but Radio 4 presenters etc can only cope with a few morsels of detail at any one time and only from nicely sanitised sources meaning they're either wrong or so lacking in nuance as to be counterproductive. Most mornings if it's a choice between Radio 4 and the low hum of traffic jams then the latter is preferable.

The upshot of all this is that politics is as much a top down affair as ever it was with politics being a London blob you either choose to partake in or ignore completely. Given the futility and uselessness of partaking unless you wish to do the bidding of the blob in exchange for social status within it, you could be forgiven for switching off completely - as so many now do. It's almost as though the inanity of British politics was the establishment's immuno-defence mechanism to ward off interlopers.

Far from expanding political debate, the internet has now regressed to a collection of debating silos with very little interaction or cross pollination. The two sides of any particular divide only interact in order to exchange unpleasantries from fixed positions. No idea exists unless it comes from within the bubble. The rest of us can choose to be either spectators or join the ranks of the uninterested.

In the case of this general election I'm choosing the latter. They're welcome to it. There is nothing much to be said until we know which way it goes - which is not decided by the country as a whole, rather it is decided by a few thousand swing voters in a dozen or so seats where the wildcard is really whether the nation can be bothered to show up and vote. This renders most political activism completely useless - not least when those most likely to be the deciders are the zombies still hopelessly enslaved by the BBC.

Come mid December we should know which way this goes. Either we shall have a Tory government with a working majority, in which case we get the first stage of Brexit over the line, or we face a hung parliament and more of the same, and possibly another referendum annulling the first. Either way there will be new battles to fight. Until then, I'm saving what's left of my fragile sanity.

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